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The holiday season can be especially stressful for those who are alone. I would wager a guess that most folks at one point in their lives have had a blue-blue Christmas. If you haven’t experienced a lonely holiday, you are indeed lucky.

It’s amazing how much loneliness can hurt. The hurt can be so intense, it’s almost physical and nothing will trigger it more than when we hear Christmas music. For me, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” always brings on the waterworks.

Among the casualties of COVID are breakups. Lawyers are reporting surges in clients who are seeking to divorce their spouses. Couples who are forced to spend time together, whether quarantined in a small apartment or a mansion on the beach, haven’t fared well. An increased number of couples are experiencing financial hardships which may contribute to a higher divorce rate.

I read there is an increase in mattress sales. How odd, I thought, since folks are struggling financially. Further investigation revealed that a manager of a Mattress Depot store was interviewed and stated: “About one in four customers that are coming in are experiencing a divorce, a breakup, a separation or opting for separate bedrooms.”

When folks are on edge, they are more likely to become aggressive and act out in self-destructive ways. These stressors can bleed out to other areas adding new pressure onto relationships.

A niggling irritation can become a full-blown down and dirty argument.

Individuals who have anger issues are prone to self-destruct. Woe to those who become collateral damage when their grenade-like anger explodes.

An unfulfilled expectation that could have been talked-through results in a devastating breakup.

Time spent apart caused an irreparable infidelity.

Too much time alone feeds into the negative aspects of one’s partner while swallowing up the positives.

Breaking up by phone or text in the season of COVID seems to be in vogue. Imagine your significant other reducing your relationship to ashes by sending a missile by text or making a firebomb phone call? Pretty cowardly, eh?

Perhaps the cracks that already exist in a relationship are magnified. There is a huge push for love and happy feelings during the holidays. If a couple’s foundation is shaky it likely crumbles.

It seems like a lifetime ago, when in spring, stay-at-home measures took effect aiming to curb the spread of COVID. Who could have foreseen that we would be celebrating Christmas with COVID as our invisible companion? Of course, some of us would rather have a visible non-threatening companion.

The holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year, so they say. The confluence of COVID, families apart, and breakups may prove difficult as most things were this year.
I was surprised to learn that scientists have shown that Dec. 11 is the most common day for couples to breakup. Perchance they didn’t want to spring for Christmas gifts.

Hearing “Deck the Halls” for the millionth time can be distressing to those who are facing a lonely Christmas. I mean, really, who feels like decking the halls when one wants to stay burrowed under the covers until Jan. 2?

I recently returned from an extended stay with my grand-babies and family in California. We celebrated a joyous three-in-one holiday: Thanksgiving, my birthday, and Christmas. Flash-frozen in my mind is Luca running along the fence that separated us at the airport excitingly calling: “Ammie—Ammie.” He jumped into my waiting arms. I met and held my new granddaughter Nova Malia, who was born in June. She took my heart by surprise. When I will see them again is anyone’s guess.

Maybe some of you are missing someone too. If your spirit is heavy, it’s OK. However, refrain from being paralyzed by how awful it feels. I know it’s exhausting to put on a happy face, it’s easier to say, “bah, humbug.”

Even in this long season of COVID where restrictions can make us feel isolated on a good day, find a way to boost your spirit. The adage “people are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges” is gospel truth. Reach out to trusted friends. Let your faith, even if it is a tad shaky, comfort you.

Having been widowed twice and recently endured a heart-shattering breakup, I am familiar with being lonely at Christmas. I will miss my family and the comfort of a relationship. Using gratitude as a well-worn tool will help me move through loneliness and keep me grounded in the present moment.

Last week, I was in a shilly-shally mindset: Should I decorate my house or not, listen to Christmas music or not? I chose the former. It was time to begin a new life, again.

When I heard these lyrics: “Christmas Eve will find me where the love light gleams, I’ll be home for Christmas if only in my dreams,” tears began to flow — the water-works kind. But life has shown me that tears are restorative.

Dear readers, cry your healing tears if you need to. Wait for the storm to pass. It will, you know. Life pulls us forward, but we gotta unclench our fists and let go. We know within our deepest selves, we don’t always get want we want, but get what we need — always.

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Celia Marszal-Iannelli
Celia Iannelli is a native New Yorker enjoying a second career — in 'retirement' — as a freelance writer. She lives in Jamesport.