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Christmas at the UDF Convenience Store

Ms. Inglish has spent plenty of Christmases alone, so she knows all of the best places to go to when you're by yourself.

Be an elf to yourself on Christmas Day. Find the friendly world of the UDF cafe.

Be an elf to yourself on Christmas Day. Find the friendly world of the UDF cafe.

Try Something New on Christmas or New Year's

If you celebrate this holiday and are alone on Christmas Day or for part of it, the day and evening can be troublesome, even lonely or boring.

You may be missing family and friends across the miles, thinking of past Christmases, or unable to book a flight to a holiday gathering. Still, places to go present themselves, even if just for an hour or two. It may be a day to try something new.

Plenty of Time to Look Around

Some cities like mine have options for the single person alone on a holiday, but the streets are still nearly vacant and the shops dark and empty, except for those that leave their decorative twinkling lights switched on.

This makes a good day for window shopping without the distraction of open retailers that draw you in to spend money. By the time you have visited two or three stores, you are ready to go home. But today, you can walk down the block and see what is there at your leisure. There may be a shop, gallery, or small art museum you have not noticed before.

Some business districts are so busy during the November–December rush that one does not have the time to really look at the shops and see what is on the street. Parking is usually full—not a meter or a car park space to spare. Not so on Christmas Day! You'll have parking lots empty and parking meters free on the holiday.

What's Open on Christmas?

Going against the grain of American business practices, most places are closed on Christmas Day, at least in my city of over a million people.

Early in the morning, a few bars are open, and some serve breakfast on Christmas, but Waffle Houses are open the entire day and evening. Other restaurants are closed, except for 20 larger, more expensive places and area McDonald's stores. Even 24-hour laundromats are closed.

Starbucks is open until 6:00 pm, but Tim Horton's and Panera shops are all closed. All the lines were long at all the Starbucks drive-thrus I passed this year. Drive-thru beer stores were open, too.

About UDF

Everyone here is always fun, friendly, and helpful. They may not know my name, and I don't always remember theirs but I always get a smile and usually share a laugh.

— Laura F. of Erlanger KY, on about UDF

Brightly Lit Gathering Places

A few tiny urban markets with barred windows on dim street corners are open on this holiday. Beer drive-thrus are open as well.

Independent neighborhood convenience stores look a bit seedy, but some of them are open, along with some gas stations and cafes with bad coffee. Speedway is not bad, better than BP Duchess cafes.

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Read More From Holidappy

The brightest spots in the city this year were two United Dairy Farmer shops with brightly lit cafes and large food service areas. The shop in the northeast part of town had gasoline at the cheapest price in the market area, and its cafe was full of people talking over coffee. The shop across from the university campus had no gasoline pumps but was full of people talking, reading and enjoying food and drinks—it was only a few doors south of the open Waffle House, which was nearly empty.

I visited these two happy shops after strolling through the life-sized nativity at Christmas Corner downtown, sponsored by State Auto Mutual Insurance since 1931. It has grown to cover nearly 1/2 a square block, complete with Christmas carols to back up the scenes of shepherds and sheep, wise men and newborn King, angels, stars, and more. Dozens of trees were covered with multicolored twinkle lights at night and white spotlights bathed each scene as well as storyboards.

It was a good day.

The New General Store

Even the holiday and ChristMas Store in Frankenmuth, Michigan, closes four days a year, but not United Dairy Farmers stores. They never close, are brightly lit and use bright colors in their decor and displays. Each has a small grocery department with cold cases and shelves of foods, some fruits, automobile needs, hot and cold foods to eat, hot and cold drinks, snacks, hand-dipped and packaged ice cream, and several other items.

The only way the old man can deal with his despair now is to sit for hours in a clean, well-lit café.

— Ernest Hemingway, from his short story.

Alone for Christmas or New Year's? Go to the UDF. There is no need to remain isolated!

Alone for Christmas or New Year's? Go to the UDF. There is no need to remain isolated!

© 2015 Patty Inglish MS


Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 28, 2015:

@MsDora - Chinese grocery stores can be fun for us here and I remember that one of ours has a small bakery with seating, but it was closed on Christmas. I wish we had a Chinatown.

This year, on the way to friends', I drove through a historic district that was always jammed with traffic on other days. It was enjoyable!

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 28, 2015:

@Rachel Alba - I love the nativity scene in Downtown Columbus at the insurance company. The Christmas carols are played at a nice volume without booming and each part of the pathway to the manger in the stable has a spotlight and a plaque with information. Christmas night just after dark, about 40 people were visiting and all of them seemed happy to be seeing it.

UDF is especially nice because of the seating area with a large bay-window type of arrangement. I don't remember 7-11 ever having those.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on December 28, 2015:

This is refreshing, Patty. Window shopping on Christmas Day is a brilliant idea; we'll know where to go for the after Christmas sales. No UDF here, and the Chinese grocery stores are open but nothing fancy and relaxing. These ideas are themselves a treat. Thank you.

Rachel L Alba from Every Day Cooking and Baking on December 28, 2015:

Those live nativity scenes are beautiful and remind people of why we are celebrating Christmas. I haven't seen a UDF around where I live either. I hope you have a blessed New Year.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 28, 2015:

@Jodah - Thanks for visiting! I've an old friend who performed with his band several weeks in Queensland about a decade ago - he did not want to return, fascinated by the exotic birds outside his door. I must visit one day.

These UDF stores usually have such friendly people -- One winter, a clerk came outside and poured a coffee pot of hot water over my car door lock to thaw it out! But this year, the temps have been 40 - 60 degrees and no ice.

Happy New Year to you and your Family & friends!

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on December 27, 2015:

I enjoyed this hub Patty. We don't have UDF stores here in Australia and there is not much open Christmas Day. I loved the photos particularly of the old general stores. Thank you for sharing this different Christmas hub.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 27, 2015:

@Ericdierker - Thank you for the fun reminder of Petula Clark's "Downtown!" I wish you and your family a health and happy New Year.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on December 27, 2015:

Very cool. A treat to read. To my knowledge we have nothing like it in bigger cities here in the west. But there is always something if you go downtown. Petula Clark - Downtown.

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