Christmas without Kids

Managing the holidays when you don’t have kids

I’m one of those women who “missed the boat” – I didn’t ever find the “right” guy to settle down with, and as a result, never had children. I wanted to have kids – especially once I reached my mid-30s – but I couldn’t imagine being a single mom. I just didn’t think that I had it in me. I admire those women who are willing to become a mother on their own, but I just couldn’t imagine taking on the complete responsibility for raising a child.

For a long time I was pretty sad about not finding the right partner and missing out on the experience of being a mom. But over time it’s gotten easier. The reality is that I have a great job, wonderful friends and a terrific life. But whenever the holidays come around, I find myself feeling some of that sadness again. I have wonderful family memories of Christmas and to this day remember my excitement and anticipation waiting for Santa Claus to come down the chimney and eat the cookies my sister and I always left out for him. In my dreams I had always pictured how on Christmas morning, I would be lying in bed with my partner until our kids ran in, jumped on our bed, and dragged us downstairs at some early hour to open up their gifts from Santa. I’ve accepted the fact that that dream will never happen. But when the holiday season rolls around and I see couples with their children smiling and enjoying the holiday spirit, I can’t help but think about what I missed out on.

I could let myself get maudlin and depressed, but instead I choose to fill the holiday season with meaningful experiences and relationships. Sometimes, I fly across the country to spend the holidays with my sister and her partner and their children. One year I went to Mexico with some friends, and we sang carols at a local seniors’ home. Just last year, I hosted a Christmas dinner for friends who were stranded in the city because a storm closed all the airports and they couldn’t get home to their families. This year, I’m volunteering at a local soup kitchen to help serve a Christmas dinner to people in our community who need a warm meal and a friendly face. Some single colleagues and friends who are staying in the city for the holiday are volunteering too. In the evening we’re all planning a pot-luck, Christmas dinner. After eating way too much, I’ll go home to my two beautiful dogs and remind myself of all of the things I am grateful for this year. I didn’t really choose or expect to be single or childless at this stage in my life. But I made a decision a few years back not to let those circumstances define my life and how I feel about myself.

I hope that other childless women and men out there who are feeling sad or lonely or regretful over the holiday season read my story. Our lives may not look the way we thought they would, but I’m sure we’re all blessed in so many other ways.

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