Christmas can be a time when emotions run high. It is certainly a period for many of us to take stock of our lives: our careers, our relationships, our families. It can bring great joy but it can also be a trial. This year we asked 12 different women, from all walks of life, to write about their own, unique experience of Christmas.
As we all gallop towards the son of God's birthday, you've probably been reminded the love of your life isn't going to be yanking your cracker this year. But let's be real, any finger chewing you’ve been doing about being single at this time of year has probably sprung from the warped imagination of Richard Curtis. Hopefully, none of you are gratefully dating a middle-aged politician who thinks you’re a thicko with fat legs. I would also hope none of you are longing for a creep with a video camera to turn up at your house and tell you they’re obsessed with you. Still, flying solo at Christmas doesn’t always make you (or your family) feel like you’re smashing it.
If Christmas love, actually, is unrequited slow-dancing to Norah Jones and having your tits tweaked by a man who thinks your brother’s mental health problems make you unfuckable, then we’re all in big trouble. But luckily, I happen to know it isn’t. In fact, being single at Christmas has many unexpected perks and none of them involves crying Lindor tears in a bubble bath and drawing hearts on a frosted window pane.
During this period of joyous festive carnage, a free woman needn't stay at home silently eating sausage rolls in a onesie when she can go to bed with mulled hiccups every night, eat advent calendars for breakfast, and turn up to work tipsy. She may shriek along to Mariah Carey songs in her period pants while adorning her flat with overpriced Etsy fire hazards, then get drunk and rock up to church in a sequinned bolero.
'Tis the season for arctic fags and creamy diabetes cocktails. 'Tis the season to tie up some loose romantic ends, or try giving your glorious muff to a few wise men. 'Tis the season to have full stomached, heavy-lidded, sex with a cuddly stranger. 'Tis the season to say "'Tis"!
If you’ve ever felt like a sad sack at a work Christmas bash, remember it's the adults with Jaegerbombs who are going to need to explain their transgressions to a babysitter. Mark from IT’s Volvo is blinking patiently at the station as he wipes plum lip gloss from the corner of his mouth. Debs was definitely meant to be on the 10pm back to Godalming, but now her reindeer tights are on inside out. This annual display of raw midlife sexuality can make a single gal feel weirdly smug, like an Emperor surveying the fall of Rome.
Being single at Christmas has many unexpected perks and none of them involves crying Lindor tears in a bubble bath and drawing hearts on a frosted window pane.
When it comes to making things work for the single self, there’s no beating around the mulberry bush on this one, it can be depressing. Don’t be thick. Put safeguards in place. Avoid smug Time Out suggestions for couples designed to make you feel like drinking a hip flask of antifreeze and lying face down in the snow. Don’t let couples gooseberry you into going to Winter Wonderland and setting fire to your money. Ferris wheels are never to be ridden solo. You are neither Cameron Diaz nor insane, so don’t rent a cottage with a roll-top bath. If you’re new to this game, or feeling emotionally precarious, steer clear of ice rinks. A sobbing woman being helped to her feet by a giant penguin is a buzzkill.
Your newsfeed might be all matching beanies, teeth and gluhwein but don’t be fooled. Walk closely behind a couple at the market Instagramming gingerbread and you’ll soon catch murmurings of step-family acrimony and quiet arguments over £50 reed diffusers.
You can breeze through department stores confident in the knowledge you won't have to unwrap a travel-sized assortment of hand creams or another Lush bath bomb that will get stuck in your crack. Leaving bemused boyfriends drenched in Pomegranate Noir flailing in the aisles, you can jump on the train home and arrive on your porch two gin-in-tins drunk and ready to eat.
Of course, as your key turns in the lock, there will always be a be-cardiganned relative waiting by the letterbox to ask you, with a watery smile, why you don’t have a boyfriend. Help yourself to a bottle of prosecco. Bask in their pity. Look them dead in the eye while you crack a hazelnut and tell them it’s because you’re still worried the rash is contagious.
Once you’ve done a few hours of this, you may be ready to plunge back into the novelty of your former teenage life, which means Wetherspoons reunions and patronising your school friends with your cosmopolitan lifestyle. Sleeping in your childhood bedroom with your whistle-nose cousin is not the ideal environment for furious masturbation, so the Christmas period can sometimes be a sexually frustrating time. Beware. Yes, it is novel to hook up with your Year 11 boyfriend who now manages a Slug and Lettuce, but don’t get too gassed. 2016 is naht the year to razz up to mum’s on Christmas morning in a Corsa with rims, covering a lovebite.
The last thing you really want in this state is to be pestered for coitus.
Beyond Christmas Day you will be thanking baby Jesus you are single, because you are good for nothing. Your entire body will have become one enormous noxious Christmas fart and burp. This little piggy in a blanket will be too full to sleep and spend the night rolling from side to side, sweating brandy between mum’s crisp linens. The last thing you really want in this state is to be pestered for coitus.
When you wake up on Boxing Day, you will enjoy your nutritious breakfast of gravy, chocolate and cold potatoes and feel #blessed you have nowhere to be. Because good girlfriends are already putting in the hours with bae’s rellies.
Battling a hangover, good girlfriends are required to talk property prices with uncle UKIP over turkey fricassee. There will be terse compliments, china spaniels, smoked salmon blinis and ambitious plans hatched for your uterus. An afternoon of such simmering passive aggression will inevitably release itself in a high stakes iPhone game where you end up screaming "JUST TILT YOUR FUCKING HEAD UP" at his nan.
Luckily for you, there will be no apologies. You won't have to defend your mum's choice of napkin ring at a motorway service station. All that’s left to do is hoover up the last of the cheeseboard, wrap the rest of the ham in clingfilm and have one more go at convincing auntie Pat that she doesn’t need to worry about you. Then you and your majestic new paunch head towards the new year, where your mates are waiting to remind you that, regardless of whatever Richard Curtis might make of your life, you are probably smashing it.