A cup of lonely

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Christmas is a week away. Most everyone is caught up in the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations. On television or my social media feed, I am bombarded with images of people smiling, laughing, and everyone is happy and joyful as they are surrounded by friends and family in festively decorated homes. It is the time of year when many people gather together to celebrate the sights, sounds, and wonders of this magical season. But not everyone has someone to share these things.

As I perused my Facebook feed today, a friend in the quilting industry posted a thoughtful and very honest comment about how she sometimes feels invisible. Reading this instantly brought tears to my eyes because this year, unlike previous holidays, I’ve been on my own quite a lot and if I’m really honest, I’ve been drinking from the cup of lonely lately. In the past several years, both my parents and my two closest friends passed away. My circle of close friends and family has grown very small. This past summer we became empty-nesters and in early October, my husband took a new job where he works in a different city during the week. We have partially transitioned from the east coast to the west coast but until our home in Virginia sells, we aren’t able to live in the same city during the week. And I haven’t made any friends here yet. It sure has felt a little, well, “isolating.”

My husband and I are fortunate to be able to see each other on weekends, but those two days are always jam-packed with a honey-do list, catching up on chores, paying bills or doing computer work. It’s hardly time for relaxing and always passes in the blink of an eye. At first, it was a novelty for me to have some time alone during the week to catch up on my work or have the ability to sew until the wee hours of the morning. It was kind of fun to eat standing over the sink to save meal prep time or so I wouldn’t have dirty dishes to wash. But after being a full-time wife for almost 30 years and a full-time Mom for more than 23 years, this single-person existence became old and tiresome pretty quickly. 

This isn’t meant to be a full-blown pity party and I really shouldn’t complain. I have much for which to be grateful. But the silence can be deafening and the lack of involvement and purpose from having family living at home has been more difficult to cope with than I originally anticipated. I’ve found it challenging to focus; I’m not interested in marathon sewing sessions, and my creativity has taken a dive to the depths of the ocean. Simply put, I’ve been lonely. 

What’s my point? This new period in my life has opened my eyes to the fact there are many people who experience loneliness on a profound level. They live quietly going through the motions of life desperately wishing for someone to care. Loneliness is a real problem — especially at Christmas!

So rather than sink further into my own lonely blues, I’ve decided to take action right here in my own little neighborhood. I don’t know my new neighbors very well yet but there’s an elderly lady right down the street who lives alone with her little dog. I’m going to stop by with a plate of Christmas cookies and spend time getting to know her better. And the couple who lives just across the street from me have been going through some serious health issues. I’m going to make baked spaghetti for them one night this week and take it over with a salad and loaf of garlic bread. I’m going to continue sending funny cards to someone dear I know who lives alone since her husband passed away last year. And I’m going to keep my eyes and ears open to see if there’s anyone else in the neighborhood who could use a visit or some holiday cheer right about now. Because being lonely — especially at Christmas — is a dark and dreary place. Taking someone a treat and sharing a smile will not only brighten their day but will do a world of good for me as well. 

I hope you have family and friends to celebrate the Christmas season with but please remember the folks who are alone. Because no one deserves to have no one. At Christmas or any time of the year.

  1. I was touched by your piece and can relate to the lonely feelings you express. The contrast of this to the “Holiday Hype” make it easy to be depressed this time of year… as well as stressed out by gift buying and money problems and the general political climate, at least in my case. Thanks for your recommendations to reach out to others and for sharing your thoughts on loneliness during the holidays. Peace

  2. Take care. I am glad you have a plan to help. Take a walk around your neighborhood, look at photo albums and remember the good times. Knowing that this will pass. Moving away from a military community was very hard for me. I still miss the sense of being part of something good.
    Hope the house sells early next year if not before. Some homes here have sold the day they have gone on the market. Just amazes me to hear that. Love you, Kimberly

  3. I don’t know you…. or you me… our paths have never crossed. I have moved many many many times… across a state, a different state, across the country and even different countries. Being a quilter…. has its advantages. Find a quilt (fiber/embroidery) guild, even if you don’t intend to be a member forever, it is an entre’ to a whole lot of like minded people. In the meantime, befriending your neighbors is a good place to start!!!

    • Hi Beth! THANK YOU for your words of encouragement today! I do intend to visit (and perhaps join) the local quilt guild here. That’s one of the first items of business for January. Quilters are always so welcome and accommodating and that’s a great place to start making friends. I’m also going to join a women’s group at the new church we’ve been attending in January. It’s always difficult “starting over” when you move to a new place. This is our 15th move in 29 years. You’d think I’d be used to it by now! LOL. Wishing you peace, love, joy, and all good things in 2018. Merry Christmas, Beth!

  4. What a lovely person you are. The elderly lady down the street will love your visits. My mother lived independently with dementia the last 5 years, and the next door lady was so wonderful to drop by with her dog each day when she walked her. My mother loved the visits, even though she didn’t remember her from the last visit! Our family loved that she cared enough to be a different face each day. Hugs to you. We love you! I took your Mystery Quilt class in Houston and learned so much!

    • Hi Michelle! Thank you for taking time to comment here on the blog! I truly appreciate your comments and I’m so sorry your Mom had dementia; my Mom died from dementia in 2016. What you said about the visits — so true! I know my neighbor, Mrs. DuBois, has family but they never visit. I see her slowly walking her little dog (who is also elderly) and I know a visit will do her (and me!) and world of good. I’m heading over there in just a little bit. Thanks also for your comments about the class in Houston; I hope to see you there again next year!!!! Merry Christmas to you!

  5. Christmas has been bittersweet for me these last few years. My dad and stepmother died followed by my sister Nancy. She fought cancer for 17 years. I love seeing my kids and their families, but there is still the ones that have left us in our thoughts.

    • Jean, thank you for sharing your thoughts here with me. I’m so very sorry to learn that you lost your loved ones in the last few years as well. They truly leave a hole in our hearts. I am comforted by the thought they are in heaven right now, but I still miss them here with me. So very sorry about your sweet sister who had to fight that dreaded cancer for so many years. In spite of your loss, I truly hope your Christmas is warm, happy, and filled with loving and wonderful memories of your family. And I hope you’ll hug the ones still here a little tighter. I know I will. Merry Christmas and wishing you many blessings in the coming year!

  6. Love you Kimberly! You are such a people person I’m sure the solitude gets ols fast. Your plan is great and those neighbors will be so appreciative! Soon your boys will be home for Christmas and you’ll all be together.
    Looking forrard to seeing you at VQF this summer. Maybe I’ll have a quilt made with your Solidish collection to show you!

    • Dear Karen, I’m sending tons of love right back to YOU, my friend! Thank you very much for taking time to leave a comment here; reading it from you made me so happy! And I’m truly looking forward to VQF this summer (as always — the highlight of my teaching year!) And if by chance you have a quilt made with my new fabrics, I’ll be over the moon thrilled! But mostly, from seeing YOU! Merry Christmas to you and your family!!!!

  7. I can identify with your situations. Your plan will help you and your neighbors. Having a ‘weekend’ marriage is very difficult. Try to give each other slack. Plan at least one weekend to be just for fun. Sending wishes for a quick sale of the house and a return to a less lonely lifestyle.

    • Hi Robin! You’re so right; we need to give ourselves permission to have a weekend to “date” now and then instead of making it all about repairs, chores, and the “must-do’s.” You’re so kind to take time to leave a comment here; I appreciate it more than you could know! Reading your words was true affirmation that I am indeed, not alone. Wishing you all good things in the new year and a very Merry Christmas to you!

  8. I understand you perfectly Kimberly as I’ve experienced it too. I left my ‘whole life’ behind when I married Dennis and moved to VA. It took a very long time to adjust but making new friends helped immensely. These past months Dennis is working in Charleston SC and like Kent his time at Home is gone in a blink. Hang in there dear girl because you’ll have a better story to pen next Christmas. Merry Christmas dear lady. Miss you.

    • Dear Caroline, you are such a lovely, gracious, warm friend! Thank you for taking time to leave a comment here. I loved reading your words and could just “hear” you saying them in my mind in your lovely voice. I’m sorry Dennis is away so much; and sorrier that I didn’t know that you’ve been alone so much lately! I’ll be back in VA in January or February; I’ll let you know and we can plan to get together for lunch and have a grand time getting caught up again! Miss you, and Merry Christmas!

  9. Kim, this blog hit me at the perfect time. Thank you. I had a lonely depressed day yesterday. I’m trying to do better today and do just what you described. When I’ve mentioned to friends that I would be alone on Christmas Eve, breaking a lifetime tradition of having a sizable family gathering, I’ve gotten responses that were probably meant to be empathetic but missed the point. They might say, “I know what you mean. (Spouse’s name) and I will be alone, too.” What they miss is that I don’t have the “and” since my husband passed away.

    So I’m putting on my big girl panties and baking cookies, decorating the house (because I’m worth the effort as much as company is), writing cards, and listening to great Christmas music.

    Kim, you sparked my recovery. Merry Christmas. I think you’re one of the busiest quilters in the business. You always have a bright smile. It’s contagious.

    • Dear Barb — Oh my dear friend, I can only imagine how hard this time of year is for you — let alone ANY time of the year! Wish we lived closer; I’d have you come to our house for Christmas Eve and Christmas and we’d have a ball! Seriously, thank you for leaving an honest comment about your lonely day yesterday. I almost didn’t publish the post; I wrote it late last night when I was overtired and feeling particularly blue. And the last thing I wanted was for anyone to feel like I was throwing myself a pity party. But waking up this morning, reading all the lovely, supportive, encouraging comments made me feel so “hugged” and loved….and not so lonely. I’m sending that same feeling out to YOU, my friend. And I love your “can do” attitude about putting on your big girl panties and decorating the house. Because YOU are WORTH every ounce of effort! Wishing you so much love, happiness and a very merry Christmas! And I’m sending you a cyber hug for now — but next time our paths cross at an industry event, prepare to get a BIG hug from me in person!

  10. I know what you are going thru! Ron is gone and many times when he is home I am gone….but the big difference in you and many others is your outstanding outlook and determination to make this work. Also, you aren’t just sitting around hoping it will get easier…you are doing something about it! I love that!
    May others who feel lonely this time of year and all thru the year, read this and find some sort of kinship. It isn’t always about us, but about others. We can share a plate of cookies and it makes both of us feel better! AND we made a friend!

    • Charlotte — Thank you for taking time to write and offer such sweet encouragement and friendship! I feel for you; whenever I read on FB that Ron has to travel to the rig, my heart goes out to you. You are such a wonderful (and cute!) couple and I know it must be very hard for him (and you!) to be away so much. You and I can truly relate to each other in this situation of “days off and days on” of being together with our hubbies. Thank you again for writing — it means the world to me — and for always making me laugh. You are truly one of the most talented and funny ladies I know! Merry Christmas, friend!

  11. You are so wonderfully helpful. May your Christmas be blessed beyond belief and hello Mr. Kim.

    • Darci, thank you for leaving a comment of friendship here on the blog. You are so sweet to remember Mr. Kim, too. I’ll tell him tonight when I chat on the phone with him and he’ll love it! Also, I want you to know that your posts on Facebook are something I look forward to seeing more than you could ever know. You always post such interesting things; your photos of your trips are especially wonderful and I live a tiny bit “vicariously” through you! Merry Christmas, my dear friend!

  12. I feel your emptiness and share it with you a little. Suzie and I are fortunate to have a lot of time with each other these days, and that is a great blessing. But that period of transition from “active” parenting to “advisory” parenting is extremely challenging and can feel like a loss a purpose. I’ve been in this mode for several years now and still feel like I’m missing something. But God can fill this void with other wonderful things if you let Him. You sound like you are on the right track, but don’t forget daily time with Him. He will help you remember you are never really alone in this world! We love y’all! Merry Christmas!

    • Tommy, you are so sweet and thoughtful to leave such a wonderful message of friendship and hope. We just love you and Suzie so much; our friendship has continued to grow and deepen since that first meeting (was it 2005?) so many years ago even though we don’t see you in person very often. You nailed it when you said “advisory” parenting; I’m still trying to get the hang of it. As you said, God can fill the void and He does; I’m blessed to have a personal relationship with Him and I know He loves and cares for me. Thank you again for reaching out. Kent and I send you and Suzie all the love and happiness in the world and merry Christmas to you both!

  13. It is easy to become a recluse, but in reality it doesn’t take that much effort to reach out and offer kindness and friendship to neighbors and others who could use a friend, or even to strategically build a friendship with someone you would like to have as a good friend. I’m so proud of you for reaching out to a single neighbor lady, as well as the neighbors who are not in good health. Bless you.

    One wonderful role model shared how she developed a great friendship with a fellow quilting pro who lived on a different coast. They’d schedule their week phone chats over a cup of tea and the friendship grew and continues to grow.


    • Hi Darlene! Thank you so much for taking time to comment and encourage me! What a blessing you are! I love the idea of scheduling weekly phone chats with another friend, even though they lived miles and miles apart! Friendship can happen anywhere and that is very encouraging. Thank you again…..and I wish you a very wonderful, happy, and merry Christmas!

  14. Long distance hugs to you my friend!

    • Hugs right back at you, Ann! I miss seeing you. (Maybe in January or February, though!)
      Merry Christmas and happy belated birthday, my friend!

  15. You’re such a loving, giving woman. I’m sorry you’re feeling lonely right now but love your unselfish solutions that will benefit you and others so much.
    I’m one of those lonelies you speak of. Little family, single woman and everyone else so busy with their own families. I spend a lot of time alone, and while usually I do good and enjoy my solitude, during the holidays it does become too much and weighs on my spirit. The commercialism of the season also brings me down.
    I did some gifting for a charity this year and that has been uplifting. Trying to do more to help others…. in turn that really helps me moreover!

    • Regina, I’m sending out tons of cyber hugs to you to let you know you are not alone; just as you have made me feel “not alone.” I hesitated last night before posting on my blog. It was late, I was tired, and feeling particularly discouraged. I’m so glad I posted it now. It makes me feel so much better to know there are kind and wonderful folks out there — like yourself — who understand, empathize, and care so much. I’m so proud of you for your charity quilting; the recipients of your love and talent will be blessed beyond measure because of you. Thank you again for leaving a comment. Merry Christmas, my friend!

  16. I totally understand. No family lives in our state. Just my husband and myself. Have lived here since March 1st. Really know no one here. No friends. I attend church and a quilt guild and volunteer, I have invited people over in hopes to become friends with others. Just has not worked out.

    • Dear RM — We’re kindred spirits, I think. I sending you a cyber hug right now. If I lived near you, you could count on ME to show up at your house! Hang in there and try not to be too discouraged. Keep asking those acquaintances over and one day, someone will come and you’ll bond and have a new friend (or two, or more!) Keep going to church. We’re going to a new church and the people are friendly. I just need to engage more. Starting in January, I’m joining one of the women’s groups. I encourage you to do the same. In the meantime, please know I’m sending you a big wish for a merry Christmas!

  17. Hi Kimberly,

    I was also the “home” half of the commuter couple and it is hard. We had different phases of the experience. For 1 stretch he did come home every weekend and other times that was not possible. In the beginning it was fun to have time to myself but you are right it does get old fast. One thing we did that helped was randomly I would go to where he was. I would work from there, Wi-Fi is a wonderful thin, and we would have our evenings together. I would be there over a weekendso it would also give him a break from traveling. His last job location there was a local quilt shop and I joined their block of the month club. Hubby would pick up the block every month and I would work on it when I visited. If I didn’t get there for a month or 2 he would bring it home so I could more or less keep up. I applaud you for reaching out in your neighborhood. It is a gift for you and your neighbors.

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