4D Wellness

A Loud Christmas & New Year. A Solo Birthday Retreat

The beauty of family coming together. There’s nothing quite like it.

Yet, my two week Christmas break was a whirlwind.

That’s one of the reasons I decided to have a solo birthday treat. (I’ll share the other reasons below.)

Happy Birthday, Abs! #33

I spent the 2nd to the 3rd of January in the Lake District.

24 hours of pure, relaxed (kind of – I’ll post more on this on my YouTube Channel) bliss.

I woke up and drew my curtains to a beautiful lake view.

Greens and greys of different shades.


But the rain didn’t dampen my spirits in the slightest. I got a birthday wish fulfilled of waking up to a stunning lake view. And everything after that and everything before that was simply a bonus.

Solo Birthday Ideas

Before I decided to take this Lake District retreat, I googled ‘things to do on your own on your birthday / how to celebrate your birthday solo’. Here were some suggestions in case you were wondering the same… 

  • Movie marathon (or TV sitcom)
  • Adopt a pet (I seriously considered this for the umpteenth time, but then returned to the same reasoning that has held me back up til now – it just isn’t feasible for me right now)
  • Create something – bake a cake, cook an indulgent meal, do a craft, paint, etc.
  • Book a spa treatment (I did this, too :))
  • Be altruistic – volunteer your time, donate to charity
  • Read-a-thon – read an new book or an old fave (I did this with a movie, watching Dirty Dancing, an old fave)

If I’m being honest, I would’ve loved to spend my birthday with my closest and dearest.

But the hassle of arranging a lovely dinner, evening out or planning anything for more than myself was an overwhelming concept for me knowing it would be such a busy Christmas.

Another reason – my birthday is a notorious time for last minute cancellations because people are ‘too broke’, ‘tired’ or ‘hungover’, or all of the above! I get it, though. The 3rd January comes just over a week after Christmas Day and two days after New Years.

Do I have this problem every year?

Thankfully not!

My 32nd Birthday

Last year (Jan 2022) my birthday fell on a Bank Holiday Monday (New Years’ Day Observed), so I enjoyed brunch with my friend, Amina who had travelled up from London; a spot of shopping at the Manchester Arndale Centre and then watched Swan Lake (performed by the Russian State Ballet of Siberia, accompanied by their orchestra) at the Bridgewater Hall in the late afternoon (thank you, Aunty Cornelia for a treasured gift), joined by my other friend, Sianna; and ended a wonderfully decadent day at The Ivy in the Spinningfields with a bunch of my close friends and family.

But this year, the 3rd Jan 2023 was a Tuesday, the first working day of the year for most people. I knew (assumed/ had a strong hunch based on previous attempts) it would be too much hassle and there’d be too many nos, maybes or last minute cancellations, so solo was the best option.

And because I am someone who loves my space, I did enjoy myself…probably even more than I’d expected.

So, will I do it again?

Who knows…

Christmas Day 2022

Christmas Day was loud, chaotic, filled with laughter and also a few tears!

That’s what happens when you have thirty plus people in a room together, mixed with good food, alcohol and games.

We played limbo, musical statues, pass the parcel 2.0 and ended with a slightly contentious quiz.

A contentious quiz? Well, there was a slight furore around points and a debate on whether the Quiz-master had posted points in the correct order blah blah or whatever it was.

Anyway, disagreements, frustration and a few tears ensued.

The highlight of Christmas, though was family and loved ones coming together. And I appreciated this so much more considering I spent last Christmas on my own, staring vehemently and frustratedly at a positive PCR test! In an effort to protect my grandmother and other vulnerable members of my family, I took the L on this count. And, of course the previous occasion where COVID bamboozled Christmas Day was 2021 where we weren’t all in the same place together.

2021 was a half-Manchester, half-Zoom Christmas. Boo hoo.

2022 was a solo, salmon-for-Christmas dinner (I really loved my dins) Christmas.

But 2023…

Praise God!

Boxing Day with my brother and cousins
A table set for 30, though you can’t see everyone as a few heads are behind the camera!

New Years Day 2023

Another day of family coming together, this time at my Aunty Cornelia’s home.

I love having a blog because it’s a space for me to journal and remember. And these are memories I will cherish and seek to retain for as long as I live.

And do you know what is incredibly ironic, timely, serendipitous – my cousin messaged these same words earlier today, without realising I’d already typed the same words the day before when drafting this post!

This tells me that I’m on the right path. Thanks, Dom!

Because as much as I said this season between 2022 entering 2023 was an overwhelming time with so many people around, it was also a blessed one. And what a beautiful way to start a New Year – with loved ones – breaking bread together, praying, encouraging one another, laughing, flicking through old photo albums, eating yummy beef stew with dumplings and honey-roasted parsnips (mmm, amazing!), and watching your grown-up Aunts fight over some Adidas goodies. Sibling silliness never ends, huh? Haha

So, this was my 2022-23 Christmas, New Year and Birthday season, as ever rolled into one.

What did yours look like? 

P.s. I am completing the Daniel Fast this January. Fancy joining me?

2 thoughts on “A Loud Christmas & New Year. A Solo Birthday Retreat”

  1. I’m so happy you had a fulfilling Christmas/New Years/Birthday celebration Abs! I felt you deeply when you lamented about previous years being hampered by Covid. Praise God this year was different. Here’s to 2023 being incredible!

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