As Love Actually so adeptly pointed out, Christmas is a time for people with someone they love in their lives. Being single for many a holiday season has taught me one thing: That's the damn truth. Eleven months of contentment with my life and singleness are inevitably upheaved the moment I see the first string of twinkle lights or hear the dulcet tones of Bing Crosby ring out in Bloomingdale's. I'm not saying it makes sense; I'm just saying it happens.
Some people go to the gym and others go to therapy; I write about it. In truth, I love the holiday season, and I've always thoroughly celebrated Christmas, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, and New Year's. I love the atmosphere, decor, and overall sense of joy and wonder that come with the holidays. And, the treats. I love the treats, too.
So for me, and for you, should this story apply, I cathartically effuse about the holiday scenarios that disproportionally affect single people and the lovely little feels only we can understand. Join me, why don't you?
If you're single, and you want to indulge in the holiday spirit, then you have to go looking for it. Hard. No partner to help you tote home your Christmas tree? Order one and have it delivered. I did. No cozy companion for strolling through decorated neighborhoods? Dig up enough friends to fill a Zipcar. No one to bake for? Feeling a certain danger of having an entire pie in the house? Am I the only one this happens to? Bring it to work. They'll love it.
There's a reason people love to go home for the holidays. Being around family is like pushing the "easy" button on holiday fun and hilarity. But, what if there's no family around? You make the holidays for yourself. It's a little more difficult, but it's less difficult than missing out on the good stuff.
People are bored. They love to have something to talk about. Politics start fights and the weather is dull — they've only got you. So buckle up. You'll be a specimen under a microscope for a few days, and then you'll go back to being one of the many, many single people traversing the wild terrain that is Tinder. Oh, that's another thing. Don't tell your family about Tinder. Your mother already worries about you enough.
Your married friends who have been married longer than two years will start to live vicariously through your tales of singlehood. They're not looking to hear you complain about the five horrific first dates you went on last month and the 50 men on OKCupid who haven't responded to your emails. They want you to tell them that you met a hot stranger in a bar and went home and had amazing sex. And then felt like a million dollars after it. In other words, they want you to lie. Indulge them or don't, it's up to you. I personally like to remind them that while the grass is always greener, at least it's growing on their side of the fence.
Oh good glory. The engagements, marriages, pregnancies, gender reveals, and births seem to multiply like the contents of Bellatrix Lestrange's vault at the holidays. What's a single to do?! Avoid, you say? How is that fair? Why should I remove myself from my daily dose of distractions simply to prevent myself from feeling blue/angry/lonely/unfortunate at the holidays? Eff that.
I'm going to continue to Facebook my favorite BuzzFeed posts and Instagram my cat and Tweet about Netflix. It's my right! Why don't all of yoooooooou keep your major life milestones to yourselves? Isn't the simple fact that you have them enough? Or can you not enjoy them until your social world knows about them, too?
I think it would be so fun to get holiday crafty — making presents, ornaments, watching old Christmas cartoons, etc. And yes, dammit, I want to ride on the Polar Express in my jammies. But, I can't, because I have no children, and going alone is both creepy and sad. I actually sometimes feel bad for my future children, knowing how many paper mache menorahs and handprint Christmas ornaments they're going to have to make for Mama. If you have some children you'd like to let me rent for the afternoon, please get in touch.
The beautiful necklace, the decadent silk pajama, all of the romantic, glorious presents marketed not to women, but instead to those who love them, will not be yours this year. Unless you buy them for yourself and strut about your apartment in ridiculously expensive back-seam stockings for the hell of it. Wait, is that just me?
Find a way to skirt the romance of all this holiday gift-giving, and enjoy a little something for you. Just you. Learn how to give yourself the things (material and immaterial) that you want. And, learn how to do it fast, sweetheart, because Valentine's Day is in three months.
Okay, this one is actually amazing. An easy being-single-at-the-holidays picker-uper? Go stand in line at the airport. Can you imagine toting more than your expertly packed bag and laptop around terminal A? Have you seen these families with kids, strollers, car seats, multiple bags, and laptops trying to get through security? It's comedy, I tell you! Comedy!
Want a pre-flight beverage? Nope! You must corral your children in the Gate 15B holding tank pre-flight. Have to pee? It's a team sport. And, sugar, we're not even on the plane yet. I'll take my red wine, noise canceling headphones, and latest issue of Us Weekly please and thank you.
I love cufflinks! And ties! And beard oil! I have literally no one to give these things to, and stockpiling them for my future husband feels like the beginning of a psycho thriller. Giving presents makes me feel better than anything in the world, and dammit I want a guy to give them to. There, I said it.
Solution? Donate to a charity you love, or send a family member something thoughtful, or send elaborate holiday cards to absolutely everyone. In my opinion, as commercial as it sounds blah blah blah, I love giving and receiving gifts. And, the holidays are the best time to indulge in spoiling others. Besides, the wrapping paper is so much cuter.
Decorating my first solo-tree ever (it's three feet tall and white and my cat eats it) felt a little grim. I wished for a partner in tree trimming and champagne and fun tunes on the record player. But, once I let myself feel those lonely-ish holiday feelings rather than denying them, I looked at my cute tree, my menorah, my weird jelly dreidel thing stuck to the window, and remembered why I decorated in the first place. It makes me happy. I like seeing my place all holiday-ed out. Because I love the holidays. And, whether my house has five people in it or just one, I'll be celebrating.
When you are "the single one" in your family or friend group, simply by virtue of being the only one left, people think there is something wrong with you. No matter that it's simply an issue of timing, and the relationship calendars of others have absolutely nothing to do with you – you're broken. Let's fix you.
Even if you're not asking for dating advice, you're getting it. Never mind the fact that those doling out such advice did not, I repeat did not, procure their spouses by listening to similar advice. Notice you didn't actually do anything wrong here; you just simply happened to be the Last Single Standing. If cousin Jane hadn't started dating her boss, she'd be here, too.
I have no words of solace for this one. You kind of just have to take it. Nod, smile, and try to remind yourself that these bits of "wisdom" are coming from a good place. Everyone just wants you to be happy. It might help to remind them that you actually are happy, too.
If you and your beloved aren't renting a car to go see the folks, guess what happens? You're in the back seat of Mom's hybrid SUV sloshing around among empty water bottles and dry cleaning. Out and about with the fam? Brace yourself for being introduced to your parents' friends like you're for sale. Just in case someone happens to know someone who might know someone who'd be perfect for you. Where you put your foot down is when they try to seat you at the kids table. Plop yourself down next to your favorite aunt in defiance and have yourself a merry little Christmas.