Reflections on the Gift of a Quiet Christmas


I spent Christmas alone. To be clear: I chose to spend Christmas alone. There was no shortage of tables at which I might have gathered, all of them surrounded by family and friends who I love dearly. But as the year draws to a close, as we reflect on the storms and sunshine of the past twelve months and look ahead to unknown waters, I wanted a day of still seas. No pressures, no demands, just the sound of my own voice without the winds of the world to overpower it.


I did miss my family and our Christmas traditions—the pancake breakfast, the pile of carefully wrapped gifts from Santa. But for every pang of nostalgia, I created a fresh memory for myself. I tried my hand at making homemade vegetable stock. I broke my previously held record for length of time spent in the shower. I read the January Martha Stewart Living. Read it. Cover to cover. Not flipped through the pages and took notes for later research. It's a smashingly good issue. I know this. I read it. (We can thank it for the images in this post.) 


While I was chopping carrots for stock, getting pruney in the shower, resisiting the urge to pull out my laptop as a companion to my magazine, I thought a lot. I thought about wanting. About gifting ourselves more with what we want, as I did yesterday. Not selfishly, but intentionally. So that when we do go out to weather the winds of the world, we have built within ourselves a strong and solid hull of incontrovertible truths. In my case, I know I am: a girl who still needs to tinker with her veggie stock recipe. A girl who takes fifteen minutes to wrinkle up in hot water, give or take an hour. A girl who can face the fear of a Christmas alone and come out the other side, happy.


I shared these thoughts with a wise friend who brought my attention to an essential element in conversations about wanting: gratitude for what you already have. Gratitude for material possessions, yes. And for accomplishments, absolutely. However, I'd like to add gratitude for that quiet inner voice that needs still seas to be heard. Because when we listen to that voice, we realize that we have within us everything we will ever need.


Images: Martha Stewart Living, January 2013.    

  • Logan

    Have to say, I am loving being able to follow you on this new journey, Anne. Lots of love + Merry Christmas!

  • Vanessa joie

    beautifully written. I did not face my solitary christmas with as much grace. lots of love to you!

  • jill johnson

    well said. happy christmas to you & may you have still seas ahead in 2013, when you need them…and a strong wind from time to time.

  • Alice

    What a beautiful post. I often read your blog, but I really wanted to comment on this post because it was so lovely! A very happy Christmas to you. x

  • Maddy

    Just found this post and am excited to explore your whole blog! Beautiful sentiments.

  • Rita

    I needed to read this today. Thank you!

  • victoria

    wonderful post, Anne. I so wish I had done the same. my head is filled with noise. I need some quiet time in the worst way to sort it all out.
    much love and contentment to you. xo

  • chandra / oh lovely day

    merry christmas anne! my husband and I do something similar, although we aren’t alone since we have each other and our son. But we much prefer the quiet, relaxed Christmas at our home in LA to the hustle and bustle traveling nightmare (b/c all travel usually is with a 2 yr old), then the rushing from house to house to visit everyone for 5 minutes and then on to the next. we just enjoyed our own little family, and a quite neighborhood walk, and playing with a new toy and watching a movie together after Charlie goes to bed. we do miss our families, but, being alone at home is so nice. Glad you had a nice holiday as well.

  • Kimair

    what a lovely post anne. sometimes you need a bit of alone time, and it’s even scarier to do it at a time when you feel like you should be surrounded by people. i’m glad you were able to do what makes you happy, at your own pace, in your own time. bravo…and happy holidays! xo

  • Pat Schneider

    How insightful. Thank you. I sense a change in how you will be using your writing/blog. While I thoroughly enjoy the posts on fashion and decorating, please let some of your thoughts on living peek through. We’re all in this together!

  • robin pulsifer

    wow. again, wishing i could meet you for coffee đŸ˜‰ i’ve too participated in months of reflection, similar to yours. i did not spend christmas alone but would have welcomed it with open arms. i loved this post.

  • Lacy

    Yes! Yes you do. You have always had everything you need and always will. Love this post, love you!

  • Jora

    Merry CHristmas, Anne. This was so lovely and it really touched me. xoxo

  • Lacy

    Loved this. Thank you for such a touching piece about solitude and the importance of your inner voice. Reminds me of Mary Oliver’s Poem, West Wind #2.

  • Cori Magee

    I am impressed and a little jealous. I don’t think I would be strong enough to do what you did. In fact, I’m sitting here back at work after a week and I’m sad. But looking within and feeling satisfaction with my own life might be the key!
    Congrats to your accomplishment. xo

  • Amy Anderson

    To everything in this post. Well said.

  • Nan

    I too had my first Christmas alone. Scary at first, yet so fulfilling. As I take the days that follow I am finding….me.

  • Emily

    I love this post, Anne. Not only is it so well written but it articulates feelings that I have had regarding the holidays. This year, in particular, felt so manic and full and all I wanted was peace and simplicity.
    Your post also made me think about the importance of being alone sometimes. Of learning and nurturing our spirits.
    Wishing you an intentional and peaceful new year!!

  • Kimberly

    What a beatiful post. Just found your blog from Kendi Everyday. Love it!
    New follower!

  • Erica Howard

    We had a similar experience this year! Best to you for a year ahead filled with happiness, gratitude and light.

  • Erin

    What a wonderful post Anne! I think we all need to take some time to reflect on ourselves and be alone with our thoughts. I love the insights you are sharing lately. Happy New Year!!

  • Jenn Stark

    beautiful! xx

  • Becky

    so beautifully written. so real and true. you rock my socks off for reading martha stewart. guilty pleasure in which i blame my mother on. happy new year.