Boomers coping with the holidays on their own

Everything else has changed this year, so why should the holidays be any different? For baby boomer writer Carol Viau of Waynesville, North Carolina, they’re not the same as other years, but with the right frame of mind, still festive.

The difficult year of 2020 is drawing to a close. The stress of the worldwide pandemic, physically and emotionally, has been felt by all of us. Stress is real for baby boomers— we are among the most vulnerable to the coronavirus.

Now, after living through shutdowns and fear of the invisible virus, Thanksgiving is past, Christmas and Chanukah are coming. The holidays are here.

Carol and Paul Viau at home.

My husband and I are trying to be responsible about the decisions we make about being around people, from wearing masks when we go out to, sadly, cutting back on time with family and friends.

Since the shutdown, few people have been to our house, and that was during good weather, when we could sit outside on the deck, socially-distanced.

Paul stringing lights on the tree.

Now winter is upon us and we’re retreating into our haven of a home.

We weren’t sure how we would cope with being on our own for Thanksgiving. We wished that we could be with family and friends. But, after talking it over with my husband’s brother and our sister-in-law, we decided— jointly —to do the holidays on our own. Three of our four family members around us are 70+, the other in her late 60s.

We pay attention to the CDC and government guidelines, urging everyone we know to modify personal behavior during the pandemic. My husband, Paul, and I came to the realization that traveling to be with out-of-state families and grandkids is too risky now.

So, what could we do to celebrate the holidays?

As Thanksgiving drew near, we shopped for only the two of us, but were determined to have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. I set an autumnal-looking table, and we put on nicer clothes (rather than the ultra-casual look of this year). We took our time to enjoy the candlelit meal.

We were surprised that melancholy didn’t set in, and talked about making it through Thanksgiving via phone calls and FaceTime with our families.

Now we’re decorating the house for Christmas, knowing that we won’t be having company or visitors. The festive decorating is just for us— for our own enjoyment, our own celebration of the holidays.

We’re determined to be of good cheer this season. Christmas is not cancelled, I’ve heard said, and we agree, wholeheartedly.

As we unpacked each ornament for our Christmas tree, happy memories came flooding back. There are a lot of years, exciting places we’ve visited, and great times stored in those ornaments.

There are two that my mother hand-stitched for me when I was a child. They are treated with loving care, as is every ornament on our tree.

Heirloom hand-made stockings and a Christmas quilt made by Jennifer, my longtime U.K. pen pal and good friend, are proudly displayed in our living room. Seeing these lovingly-made works of art bring back the happy times, when we could visit in-person.

We even had fun decorating the fireplace mantle, using a Buffalo check face mask on the deer artwork. “Bambi” is happy doing his part to slow the virus spread.

We hope you are doing your best to follow government health guidelines. We boomers still have a lot of living left to do.

The good news is that help is on the horizon— vaccines are imminent. We all need to hold on until then.

In the meantime, for the 2020 holidays, it’s important not to dwell on what we can’t do. Rather, choose to concentrate on the good things we have —life, love, and in our case, a house festively decorated for Christmas.

That’s helping us get through being alone this holiday season. Cheers to 2021!


  1. I agree, Carol, we may be alone this year but we have our memories in our decorated rooms that bring back great times spent with good friends especially with you and Paul- Jennifer & Eric Smith

Post a Reply to Carol Viau Cancel Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *