Like I said last week, Thanksgiving is a great holiday that isn’t always single-friendly. For that matter, a lot of holidays seem to emphasize relationships that don’t exist for single people. We’ve all seen commercials where diamond retailers suggest every woman needs a diamond for Christmas. New Year’s Day isn’t seen as complete unless you have someone to kiss at midnight. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day don’t apply to a lot of single people (although they do apply to a lot of singles, and I would imagine they might even be more painful for single parents than they are for single people without kids). And of course there’s also
Singles Awareness Day Valentine’s Day.
What is it about these holidays that requires coupledom? Is it just societal expectation? Is it the commercialization of our holidays? Is it our inclination as a species to pair up?
Whatever the reasons, holidays can be difficult for singles. So what can we do to make them easier?
- Invite your single friends to your holiday events. I know, this seems obvious, but a married friend pointed out recently that as soon as she got married, her single friends stopped inviting her to things. She also admitted she wondered if her single friends would feel uncomfortable hanging out with her and her husband. I can’t speak for her friends, but personally, I would rather be included and given the option of feeling uncomfortable than to just be excluded all the time.
- If you’re single, think about getting other single friends together to provide emotional support for holiday-related tasks. Maybe everyone could get together and write out their Christmas cards together. Maybe you have a gift-wrapping party with eggnog and carols. Maybe on New Year’s Eve you host a no-pressure game night or movie night.
- Let your single friends vent. A lot of singles are happy to be unfettered by romantic entanglements. A lot of singles aren’t. Either way, everyone experiences loneliness, and everyone needs a safe place to express sadness, frustration, and fear. Sometimes what your single friend needs is simply for you to listen while she expresses her feelings. Not your advice, not your judgment, not your suggestions…just your sympathy.
- Include your single friend in some of your family traditions. Maybe your single friend doesn’t bother putting up a Christmas tree in his apartment, but that doesn’t mean he hates decorating. Invite him over to help decorate the Christmas tree (or at least to climb on the roof with you to put up the lights). Maybe your single friend loves to bake but can’t eat all those cookies by herself. Invite her over to help you and your kids make gingerbread men (or even better, NINJAbread men). She’ll have a blast, your kids will benefit from having another loving adult in their lives, and who knows–she might even go home with her biological clock silenced by how horribly your little devils have behaved. (Kidding!) (mostly)
- Exchange gifts. Okay, this is kinda tricky, since it involves finances. But a single adult might have few people (or even no one) to give him presents. They don’t have to be expensive presents. It can be just one present. For that matter, get creative and offer your jet-setting friend a set of coupons for home-cooked meals with your family. Make a scrapbook for your friend who loves to travel but hasn’t had a chance to do something with her last set of vacation photos. Give your friend who bakes a copy of your great-grandmother’s super secret devil’s food cake recipe. You don’t have to spend money. Just make sure your single friend knows he isn’t forgotten.
- Offer to baby-sit. Or pet-sit. Or plant-sit. Whatever. If your single friend has kids, she might need time to get out and do some Christmas shopping without the kids in tow. Maybe the kids need someone to take them out and help them pick out presents for their mom. Maybe she just desperately needs to escape and drink a Peppermint Mocha Latte all by herself. If he doesn’t have kids, maybe your single friend has family out of town or across the world; he might need someone to feed his cat, watch his dog, or pick up the mail once or twice. Maybe his plants will need to be watered once or twice. Maybe he just wants a light turned on so no one will break in while he’s gone. I think a lot of times, people overlook the most practical ways to help someone. You don’t have to be good with words or a huge fan of Hallmark to provide emotional support to someone through a rocky time.
- Above all, care. I promise you, caring goes a long way. As 1 Peter 4 says, love covers a multitude of sins. You may feel awkward and unsure of what to do or say to a friend who is celebrating his first Christmas after the death of his wife. You may be uncomfortable approaching a friend whose husband has divorced her right before Thanksgiving. You may think Valentine’s Day is a horrible time to hang out with your single friend. But I promise you, just showing your friend that you care will do a lot to make his or her holiday better.
What do you guys think? Have I forgotten something? Is there something you’ve done for a single friend? Are you a single who wishes your married friends would do something specific? Let me know!
- Single Parenting Through the Holidays (typeaparent.com)
- Gratitude and more tips for singles during the holidays (partyofones.com)
- Happy Thanksgiving! Reader Stories of Less Traditional Ways to Enjoy the Holiday (apartmenttherapy.com)
- Thanksgiving as a Single Adult (singlewhitechristian.wordpress.com)