No one wanted me to spend the 25th alone. But just for once I wanted to do Christmas properly

With my mum and dad dead, there were some traditions that only I knew how to observe – like ordering a Chinese takeaway and lazing around in a tracksuit

You never get more invites for Christmas than when you announce you are spending it alone. Couples whose weddings I hadn’t been invited to; fretting mums-of-friends I had never met before; an Instagram mutual I had spoken to exactly once at a party: as I stormed through the December of 2018 telling everyone my Christmas plans, paragraph-long texts began to come in – from close friends to people whose numbers I didn’t even have saved – offering me a seat at their table, a serving of turkey and a supermarket-fresh pyjama set to unwrap on the day.

“Although socialisation underpins the very nature of society, and I am glad forever for it, it does mean we mistake solitude for loneliness,” I would reply. Either that or: “Thanks.”

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