Holiday Entertaining

No One Should Eat Alone on Christmas Day

December 25, 2016

Last month, numerous outlets reported on a London-based restaurant, Shish, whose Muslim owner was opening its doors on Christmas to the homeless and elderly. The signage hanging outside the store read, "No one eats alone on a Christmas Day!"

It makes total sense that this was considered newsworthy. Nice things go viral, after all, and there's a considerable paucity of nice things that float through our feeds. The mere fact that this was considered remarkable was somewhat depressing to me, though. My first thought was, why is this treated as some shocking phenomenon? Is this the extent of our desensitization—that we're so unaccustomed to seeing kindness play out in this way that we treat it as news? But here we are, living in a time wherein gestures like these are considered rare and, thus, exceptional.

You obviously don’t have to be a restaurant owner to weave this philosophy into the way you approach Christmas. I'm sure you know people in your own life who don’t have communities of their own to celebrate the holidays with, even if they’d like to. I'd say this is the philosophy underpinning our 30 Days of Thoughtful Giving—to be mindful about the privileges you take for granted in your own life, to act on that awareness, and to thread this kindness year-round. It's not that hard. At the risk of sounding like a cornball, think of how you could welcome people outside your blood family into your home and to a meal tonight. Imagine how to do this in the least self-congratulatory way possible, and how to not make this exercise about yourself—how to ground this in selflessness, not selfishness. I’m hoping that, if something like what Shish does for its patrons happens next year, it’s not news.

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Who are you eating your Christmas meal with? Let us know in the comments.

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Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.


Linda B. December 25, 2018
I am eating my Christmas dinner with my television.
Melody K. December 25, 2018
I have a friend in the downtown area who is homeless. I met him while he was panhandling --- or flying, as they say. Since summer, I bring him PBJ sandwiches on homemade bread, and hit him with a few bucks. He also like a bottle of coffee if I buy one. I have also scrounged up coats, clothes, our old never used anymore sleeping bags, and socks. (BTW, they don't care if they match!! What a wonderful way to donate lonely mismatched socks!) My friend, AKA Twitch, or Douglas, is a complete riot, and one of my inspirations. He is smart, funny, and how he keeps positive is beyond me. I took him to a cafe for lunch for Christmas. I asked him if he needed a comb for his hair --- which was WILD! He said no, he had a comb, and this was his street persona!! I bought he and his buddy a small $10 heater, (yes, they find places to plug it in), and found a used hiker back pack they could carry their stuff in. I cannot tell you how grateful Twitch is, for of course --- all the stuff. However, even though there is no way I can rescue him, he is the most grateful after all the people that pass him by with his sign panhandling, someone noticed, and is treating him like a real person --- as he says. I am grateful to Douglas for giving me the joy of giving to someone else, and exemplifying having a positive attitude even in the most dire living conditions. I am proud to call him my friend!!!
Jessica H. December 26, 2016
Thank you for this and all your posts. Thanks love Food52 but you bring another perspective that has been by turns funny, heart warming and thought provoking. Kudos to you and hope to see more in the new year.
dml December 25, 2016
What a lovely thing, to offer food and companionship to anyone who seeks it.
randii December 25, 2016
Good grief. Perpetuating the myth that solo diners on Christmas Day are pathetic. Not so, my friends. some of us like it that way.