Theres something about twinkly lights and snowflakes falling on a hushed street that can send even the most confident woman into a free-fall, scrambling for the nearest warm body to spend the holidays with. This time of year lends itself nicely to reflection, to family, to untold amounts of love and cheer and wassailing, but can also very easily be horribly, awfully depressing. If you find yourself pushing through throngs of rosy-cheeked, hand holding couples stopping to kiss under every available sprig of mistletoe, don’t despair. Don’t get mired in the “woe-is-me-I-need-a-man” blues.This is a time for reflection, but it’s also the best present the universe could ever give you — built in downtime, for you to think about what you want and how you want it.
Think about all the times you’ve spent the holidays in coupled lockstep with someone else’s traditions. If left to my own devices, I spend Christmas day waking up late, fighting with my sister over couch space and then reading quietly with a mug of tea in my hand. This is my Christmas tradition with my family, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s perfect to me. But it’s a stark contrast to the Christmas I spent at an ex-boyfriend’s house in California, where I found myself captured on film for their annual holiday video, bra-less with dirty hair. After watching everyone open presents, I joined them for dinner where I got stoned with the hostess and sort of wished that I was alone.
If you find yourself single or away from your family on Christmas, guess what? — you are now in complete and total control to do whatever you feel like doing. If you have some friends in town who are also opting out of the family drama that is Christmas at home, get some wine and hunker down. Watch hours of reality television on Netflix, or repeat viewings of “Home Alone.” Cherish the meaningful people in your life, call your family, be your own version of merry.
With relationships come obligations. If you’re unattached, revel in all the obligations that you are no longer obligated to partake in! If you were in a relationship, just think, you’d probably find yourself at a party corralled in the girlfriends and wives corner, clutching a glass of mediocre, red wine and making small talk. Holiday parties are the best part of the season, and we should not squander them making small talk with people we don’t know. Holiday parties are for getting drunk, eating Christmas cookies, wearing sequins and listening to “All I Want For Christmas Is You” on repeat, clutching the hands of people you love. If you’re single this year, take the holiday party circuit by storm. Go to all —or none! — of the holiday parties. You won’t have to muster a smile and dig out the lamé if you don’t feel up to it. That weird guilt that comes with not fulfilling an obligation is no longer your problem. Rejoice!
No longer will you have to smile through gritted teeth after opening a poorly chosen gift, or feel the financial and emotional pressure of buying the right thing for someone you’re dating. Gift-giving isn’t all bad; the singular joy that comes from choosing a present for someone you love and then watching their face light up when they open it is powerful stuff. But since the gift-exchange in a relationship is a litmus test, a mid-semester assessment of where you guys are, it is always fraught with anxiety. If the gift is good, if it’s just what you wanted, then yes, you guys are good to go. If it falls flat, then maybe it’s time to examine where things stand. Last year for Christmas, I received a pair of tickets to see a band I’ve described as “changing-room music at Urban Outfitters.” That was the clearest sign I’ve ever gotten.
If you find yourself single around this turbulent time, use it for self-reflection, for introspection, or for whatever you want. Make a ton of Christmas cookies, give them to your neighbors, your friends, your mailman, and then eat the rest. Take solace in the rarity of an empty home. While your roommates are all at their own holiday celebrations, do the things you’d do if you lived by yourself. Don’t shower, don’t wear real pants, don’t feel obligated to turn the TV down, because there’s no one home for you to wake up. This day of complete and total solitude is a gift. Maybe you have a dinner party later, with some friends that are also spending the holidays away from the tangled mess of family and relationships. Put on a dress, find some nice shoes and eat some ham surrounded by the shining faces of your friends. Be single and make your own traditions this year.
[Photo from Shutterstock]