From Joyful Holiday Memories to the Reality of Homelessness – One Person’s Journey

holidays alone, homelessness

Editor’s Note: If you want to help Loki, please visit her GoFundMe page.

They call it “the most wonderful time of the year,” and on the surface, it seems to be. There seems to be more goodwill and less horror, but that is an illusion. Isolated cases of Christmas “miracles” and images of happy families filled with joy and laughter make us forget how things are for a few weeks each year.

The fact is, especially as you get older, the holidays often bring more pain than joy. As you are bombarded with images of families gathering at tables with enough food to feed the whole neighborhood and children opening a room full of gifts, you might feel the season’s pain.

This could be because these images serve as a painful reminder that you have lost so many loved ones, and they are no longer here to enjoy the season with you. As all the luxury of excess is displayed in advertising and media, you are reminded that food, gifts, and electricity wasted on lighting up the entire block with holiday displays is something you cannot afford or participate in.

As families gather with so much waste and abundance, some poor soul is perishing that same night outdoors with little more than the clothes on their backs. The world would mourn if they were a dog, but humans are worth little to our culture.

Also, many people find themselves outliving their family, and it’s happening at younger ages. Fewer people are having children (financial reasons being chief among them), and a person today who is only 35 years of age might have outlived their grandparents and parents. They might have been an only child, and perhaps their parents were too. There might be some distant relations somewhere. But many people, even so young, have outlived their family and now rely on finding a new family of friends they can celebrate with.

For me, the holidays are complicated. Very complicated.

On the one hand, they remind me of the only time there was a scrap of joy in my house growing up. My mentally ill, abusive adoptive parent was always much happier around Christmas. To her credit, she made Christmas morning fun and exciting. Being allowed into the living room on Christmas morning was a thrill to discover what Santa had left me. 

The most thrilling Christmas I ever had was when I was in second grade, and I received a new Barbie doll, a carry case, some clothing, and a Barbie house. I still have the doll, case, clothes, and furniture in that house in storage! Thankfully, those items weren’t stolen, though many other belongings were, and I am still devastated.

In the last several years, Christmas has become a time when I want to be all alone more than ever. Free of the complications of family dynamics, I just want to focus on my gratitude.

Since losing my home in 2017, I have spent Christmas mostly alone. I have my rituals. I get a hotel on Christmas Eve if I am in the van. If I am housesitting (where I am right now), I do the same rituals yearly.

I buy groceries to make a nice, simple dinner. I use the house phone to talk to my dear friends and open gifts they’ve sent me, and then I watch my favorite Christmas movie, “The Muppets Christmas Carol” (where I will never not cry when homeless Bean Bunny is freezing out in the snow). I don’t care who thinks it’s silly. That movie brings me comfort.

Chronic housing insecurity and homelessness have given me a different perspective on the holidays in general. I don’t really miss the fanfare and excesses of the whole thing.

When I pass a house that is decorated and lit up so much that the ISS can see it in orbit, I don’t see it as joyful. I see it as a horrible waste of electricity. If there is one thing a modern human learns very quickly when living in a vehicle or tent, it is that powering your devices and equipment is an enormous challenge, and electricity and fuel are precious commodities.

The years blend together at this point, especially since 2020 began. The last three years have been the hardest I have experienced in a long time, not that I ever had a good year in the last 25 years.

I am definitely not expecting any improvement in 2024, given my research into AI and how it will affect everything from the economy to the elections. Furthermore, as the noose tightens on everyone in the lower income brackets, we will see crime rise even more than it has now. 

Being robbed twice in the same week earlier this year has caused me unimaginable anxiety and suffering. I fear every day that they will rob me again. Not to mention, I am currently sleeping on a pile of foam on the floor of a home office. That was threatened on Friday the 13th, of all days; I received a warning that an eviction might be imminent and may come to pass at any time.

I live with the constant fear of my van dying again, being robbed again, and my roof being gone again.

You can begin to calculate how high my cortisol levels are. Given that all of the above has happened to me repeatedly, this isn’t me “catastrophizing.”

The van is old and will fail. It will cost a lot. I am at risk of being robbed again because I cannot afford a high-security facility. This temporary roof will be gone at some point, and I might not even have my van to lie down in.

I am grateful for whatever I have left. As of this writing, my van still needs another $1,000 or so in repair after being at the dealership for around 60 days. I have lost so many opportunities to sell my crafts this year because I can’t get to a post office whenever necessary.

I have had to come up with a lot of repair money, and my latest GoFundMe keeps stalling out. I have very little to look forward to in 2024 or ever. All I want for Christmas is an ending to decades of non-stop suffering.

Homeless Loki

Homeless Loki


Homeless Loki is a disabled homeless person also on the autism spectrum currently homeless in upstate New York

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