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While the holidays may mean the hustle and bustle of family, friends, shopping and fun to many, to many others there is no time in the year when their lack of -- or separation from -- friends or family is more obvious.
If working or living far from loved ones, Skype can be your best friend. Better still, it's free. Simply set up an account, have your loved ones set up too, and you can see and hear each other live, and for as long as you wish. Phone calls, hand-written letters (gasp!), emails and Facebook can also help ease the separation as can being sent a goody box from home (favorite movies, snacks, candy etc).
Go to holiday parties, and if you don't have a date, so what? Guaranteed there will be others going solo too (or wish they were!) Enjoy yourself and pick and choose what parties you attend and make sure you're comfortable with going or staying home. You don't have to attend functions if you don't want to. It's okay to focus on you at this time.
Local libraries, museums, and downtown areas have a lot going on for free. This is a great time to join a book club (libraries and book stores will have lots of information for you) or wine or food clubs. Many grocery stores or specialty shops have free happy hours, wine-tastings or cooking classes.
Spending a little time focusing on others can be an endless gift, not only to them but to you. Volunteer at charity shops, at soup kitchens, churches or care homes for disadvantaged kids. Visit lonely older people at nursing homes. If you have a talent , use it! Play piano, bring in your pet or read some Christmas tales. It'll make them -- and you -- feel so much better.
Connecting to others is key to lessening isolation and you'll probably make friends in the process. Remember that you are not alone in being lonely. Many others are too, no matter how busy they may seem. Smile, and be responsive and open to others. To make friends, you need to be friendly.
If you know another, or others, who will be alone over the holidays, take a chance and invite them for a potluck. You'll probably have a great time.
And if nothing seems to work, talk to someone.