’Tis the season. Stores smelling of cinnamon candles and tinsel are crowded with shoppers. Baristas are serving peppermint goodies. The radio keeps playing that song about a kid who wants a hippopotamus for Christmas, and an angel is about to get his wings in Bedford Falls. It’s that time of year when families stand in line at the mall to meet Santa and couples get cozy under the mistletoe. But what about us single people?
For some of us loners and beatniks, the holiday season can be a bit depressing. For others, this time of year is downright gaudy, loud and full of slushy public displays of affection and made-for-TV movies that make us want to barf hot chocolate and hide until January. If you’re at all tempted to go that route, don’t. Hiding in a cave and hating the Who’s didn’t make the Grinch happy, and it won’t make you happy, either. The holidays are for everyone, and being single shouldn’t stop you from celebrating.
Start your holidays by doing something nice for others. Despite my earlier crack about single people being grinches, most of our hearts are not two sizes too small; we are more than capable of giving love, which is what the holidays are all about. The Huffington Post recently shared a Kindness Advent Calendar that suggests everyday acts of kindness that are simple and inexpensive. If you have extra time or money, you can also donate to or volunteer with local charitable groups. Focusing on the happiness of others will give you a sense of purpose and make you feel good. As a bonus, it will distract you from any thoughts of last Christmas, when you gave someone your heart, but the very next day, he/she gave it away (you can also rest easy knowing which one of you is on the Nice list this year).
After you’ve gotten that good-karma snowball rolling, troll the ancient Yuletide carol. I don’t mean troll as in deliberately goad people who wear holiday sweaters and enjoy fruit cake more than you do. I mean respond to societal pressure to get into the holiday spirit by giving in and shouting “FA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA!” at the top of your lungs. Do the clichéd holiday things. Bake. Decorate! Make your room or home a place that makes you smile when you walk through the doorway. Deck those halls with things you like, whether it’s a traditional tree with lights or an experimental floor-to-ceiling collage of Die Hard movie posters. It’s easier to get into the holiday spirit than it is to fight the eggnog current, and you’ll probably have fun.
After you’ve hung the boughs of holly, remember that being single isn’t the same as being alone. Celebrate the relationships you do have by reaching out to people who have been important to you throughout your life. Send a card to a past teacher to thank him or her for giving you valuable guidance or just for teaching a cool class. In the spirit of faithful friends who are dear gathering near, accept invitations to holiday parties, or host one of your own. Treat a friend to coffee. Surprise your family by delivering baked goods. If nothing else, just pick up the phone and call someone you love. A two-minute conversation can make your heart warm up faster than chestnuts roasting on an open fire.
Lastly, celebrate the holidays by celebrating you. Give yourself a present, whether it’s totally overpriced jewelry, a pair of comfy socks, or even just a day off from your regular routine to lounge on the couch and eat pickles and cream cheese. Travel somewhere you want to go. Start your own traditions. Most of all, enjoy the perks of being single. There’s no pressure to find the perfect romantic gift, you aren’t obligated to divide your vacation time between your own family and someone else’s, and you don’t have to share any cookies. I, for one, am also happy to know that I won’t be waiting out a snowstorm in some smarmy boyfriend’s apartment, wondering what the hell he put in my drink while he croons, “Baby, it’s cold outside.” Instead, I’ll be at home, in a little Alberta town, baking pies with Mom and Dad and listening to holiday music, because that’s my favorite way to celebrate.
Whether you’re dating or single, this can be the most wonderful time of the year. The holidays are as special as you make them, so walk in a winter wonderland, do the jingle-bell rock, and have yourself a merry little you-know-what.
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