DEAR ABBY: Now that the year-end holidays are here, I find myself once again in the sometimes difficult position of having to explain to acquaintances and co-workers why I don't celebrate them.
I am single. My parents died many years ago, and I have no family. My only surviving sibling and his wife are both alcoholics who drink to excess over the holidays and cause tension in their family. I have attended Al-Anon meetings, and because I refused to look the other way while they were drinking, I was cut off.
Co-workers take time off at Christmas, but I take mine at other times of the year. Over time, I have found that I would rather spend a so-called holiday catching up on correspondence, taking a walk, reading a good book or sewing. Outside of work or professional organizations, I do not do anything about the year-end holidays. I understand the religious and historical significance of these celebrations and keep them in my heart, but do not observe them in a visible manner. This is my choice.
When people ask me what I'm doing for the holidays, it is an awkward moment. How can I gracefully explain that I choose to keep the holidays in my heart only and enjoy the day as a small vacation for myself? -- LONG BEACH LONER
DEAR LONER: You need no advice from me. Your last sentence expresses your sentiments beautifully.