After nine Christmases alone, James Gray got fed up and decided to do something about it: He placed a newspaper ad looking for companionship.
Now, he has more invites than he can handle and has actually received Christmas cards for the first time in years.
Gray, 85, a retired butler living in south London, wasn't looking forward to eating smoked salmon once again by himself on Dec. 25.
"I'm used to the loneliness but I don't want it to be the same this year," he said, according to the Independent. "I think there must be quite a few lonely people around and I am on my own, so it would make sense, I think, if someone came here for Christmas lunch.
"I think the last time I saw someone on Christmas Day was when I saw my accountant about 10 years ago, he said."
This year, he took out an ad in the Irish Post looking for fellow retirees who didn't have family who might want to have lunch at a hotel on Christmas.
The initial responses weren't encouraging. Only one woman responded to his ad and she soon bowed out after deciding to spend the holiday with someone else, according to the Irish Post.
Just when it looked as if Gray was going to be alone again, the offers started rolling in, including one from as far away as New York City. He also started getting Christmas cards from people who sympathized with his loneliness.
"It is so touching to me, after all these years alone, to see this response from people," he said, according to the Metro. "I’m so appreciative of the offers. I should have done this years ago."
In addition, he's started to receive gifts as well, ranging from a Quality Street toffee penny, which plummeted out of the first card James opened, to a bottle of whiskey, the Irish Post reported.
Although Gray has lots of parties to choose from, the invite he'll most likely accept is from Jake Morrison, a 21-year-old Liverpool resident who has already organized a lunch for people in Gray's situation.
He has offered to provide travel to and from London and a hotel for him.
UPDATE: The story has been updated to include the gifts Gray has received. Readers can send him cards via the Irish Post at ‘Mr James Gray’ c/o The Irish Post, Suite A, 1 Lindsey Street, Smithfield, London EC1A 9HP, UK
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