Hi, I'm Shirley

Welcome to my blog on apartment living.  You can also visit my food blog where I share Recipes, stuff on Food Talk and Cooks' Resource. 

The Contemplative Christmas

The Contemplative Christmas

Holiday Season 2013 - Door Wreath 007 Ver2.jpg


It seems here at Annsliee studio, my tree top apartment, the time from Thanksgiving to Christmas just goes so fast.  This year again I will be celebrating A Contemplative Christmas--alone.  That is to say, a Christmas season truly focusing on what it means to me.  No, it doesn't mean I have forsaken or am ignoring family and friends.  And it definitely does not mean this is a protest against what some would call the "commercialism" of Christmas.  I say, bring the gifts as did the three magis!  It simply means, for me, slowing down to an absolute crawl and luxuriating in spending a good amount of time alone.  It's precious time to reflect, to do some personal growth--and when I return to the real world, hopefully, find myself the better person.

 Boston MA, One evening in December 2013 (Courtesy of  Ellie M.)

Boston MA, One evening in December 2013 (Courtesy of  Ellie M.)

Many people and for many reasons will find themselves alone, or at least think themselves alone: whether it is due to an illness, being out of town or even out of the country and away from family and friends or having to be at work or even on the space station.  Some will be alone due to unreconciled disagreements with loved ones.  Then there are those who simply choose to be alone.  This blog is for those who choose to do so.  And perhaps even for those who simply find themselves alone.  I found some really wonderful ideas on the internet on making a Contemplative Christmas and even patted myself on the back for having already done some of them.  

So if you choose a Contemplative Christmas, here are some things you can do:

*For Christians (or even the not so Christians), set aside time to read the story of Christ's birth, imagine what it must have been like for Mary and Joseph in the winter months looking for a place to stay.  Any parent who is expecting a child or given birth, especially in the worse conditions, can empathize with that night.  You don't have to be a Christian to appreciate Mary's circumstances with not even a midwife to attend her.  



*If you haven't yet done so, decorate your home, your apartment, your room!  Put a wreath on the door and let the world know you're open to the meaning of Christmas: love, peace and joy!


 Still in Boston, MA (Courtesy of Ellie M.)

Still in Boston, MA (Courtesy of Ellie M.)

Add a tree (big or small).  My fondest memory of one Christmas was after working half day on Christmas eve, I rushed off to get a live Christmas tree.  I thought it was small one, but after dragging it up three steep flights of stairs to my apartment, I swear to this day, the tree grew on the way up.  It wasn't very small, it was over 6'!  

You don't have to go for the big or elaborate decorated Christmas tree!  Even a hint will bring a quiet smile to your face. Have fun and create your own Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

Add a bowl of your favorite ornaments to a cocktail table, a side table, your night stand, your dresser; better yet, add it to your dining table.



 annsliee bowl of ornaments

annsliee bowl of ornaments

Dining alone or just one other, dress up the table for dining such as adding a floor length table cloth and roses.  

 Recipe from   www.bbcgoodfood.com

Speaking of dining, don't forget to cook!  Sip on a glass of wine while making up your menu (do an occasional gaze out the window), then off to the store, carefully walking up and down the isles filling your basket with your favorite holiday foods.  Add one never-had-before food item. I love snacking on smoked oysters, green olives, cheese and crackers, and a great bottle of sherry--preferably Harvey's Bristol Creme sherry.  

You hate to cook!  Not a problem.  Order out. Now's the time to go for your favorite foods.  Pizza anyone?  Or even try something new or different for a holiday meal--snow king crab legs with lots of garlic butter or a real ground sirloin 2" thick burger where the juice runs down your arms.  Just broil it in the oven. Love roasted leg of lamb?  Don't deny yourself!  If you really can't stand being that alone, drag a friend to the table for that lamb!

More and more restaurants are catering to folks who don't want to cook for the holidays.  I say God bless 'em.  Just go early, if you want a good table:)


Christmas morning is one of the most quietest mornings for street traffic.  It's a wonderful time for that long, thoughtful walk.  If you're fortunate to live near a park, it's the perfect place to go.  Or just take a walk through the neighborhood, enjoying the outdoor Christmas lights and decorations.  There is so little distraction, it almost cleanses the mind of "stuff."  As you slowly return home, let your thoughts turn to a special treat, like a nice hot Irish coffee cocktail.  Take your time and have a late or should I say breakfast brunch.  May I suggest switching pancake Saturday to pancake Christmas Day!  


This hot, creamy classic Irish Coffee will warm you to the bone.


  • 1.5 oz Jameson Irish Whiskey
  • 1 oz Brown sugar syrup (one part brown sugar, one part water)
  • Hot brewed coffee
  • Unsweetened cream, lightly whipped

Glass:Irish Coffee


Add the whiskey and syrup to an Irish Coffee glass and fill two-thirds of the way with coffee. Top with one inch of whipped cream.

Recipe and photo from Liquor.com



Ever tried no music?  No TV?  No cell or telephone calls?  No internet (this is hard!)?  Even for a short period of time?  Having tried it, successful or not, still be sure to play Christmas music.  The list of great Christmas DVDs is almost endless.  It seems every artist has made an album.  You don't really have to wait for holidays to play them, they'er great anytime of the year.  Include a thought-provoking book to read during your Contemplative Christmas or just a light-hearted book that is not too demanding.  After all contemplation is about taking and using quiet time to gather and examine one's thoughts and feelings.  

In this very busy, hustling and bustling world we live in, Christmas becomes the ultimate punctuation of stress as we try to fulfill "made" obligations.  You can still do this before and after Christmas but for people who choose the reflective Christmas, time is given to self.  In the end, they come back the better person. 

The list of things to do--or not do--is of course very long.  And I would of course be remiss if I left out things to do if you simply are not in the contemplative mood.  So I'm including here a list of sources that expand on some things to do when alone for Christmas--by choice or not:


Christmas Alone  

Christmas Alone Bliss

50 Ways To Enjoy Solitary Christmas

Christmas season really is the most beautiful time of the year.  However you choose to cherish it, I MUST add one more wonderful thing you can do.  Scour the internet for Christmas flash mobs.  They are great and will definitely put a smile on your face.  Do start with remembering our men and women who serve in our armed forces and then

Enjoy the US Air Force first ever Flash Mob!  

It's grand:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cKE8pyfcZc   


This post was updated December 2015.

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