Tag Archives: family

Thanksgiving as a Single Adult

21 Nov
English: Photo showing some of the aspects of ...

English: Photo showing some of the aspects of a traditional US Thanksgiving day dinner. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I hate the holidays.

Not the meaning behind them, because I think it’s great to take time to ponder all the blessings in our lives. And not the food, because my mom’s butterhorn rolls and pumpkin pies are possibly the best foods in the world.

But the social pressure? Yeah, I hate that.

As a single person, I’m not divided about what family I spend Thanksgiving with, at least. My mom generally hosts Thanksgiving and invites her family and my dad’s family (neither side is very big). I try to show up early and help Mom in the kitchen. But honestly, there are times I wish I could skip Thanksgiving entirely.

I tried that exactly once, about ten years ago. I stayed at home by myself. I was lonely and miserable. Late in the day I ended up ditching everything and driving to my grandparents’ house, where everyone had gathered.

But the thing is, I spend hundreds of other days by myself without experiencing misery or loneliness. Sure, I get lonely, but not on a frequent basis, and often not just because I’m at home alone. I think the reason I felt lonely that day was because American society has this image of the perfect Thanksgiving, watching the Macy’s parade and carving up a turkey and laughing with your family over a candlelit dinner table.

It’s not exactly a cozy image for a single adult, is it? What about singles who live hundreds of miles away from their parents and don’t have the means or opportunity to travel there? What about the divorced man whose ex-wife has custody of the kids for the holiday? What about the woman whose husband of forty years has died, leaving her alone?

I have this dream that some day I will be able to celebrate in community with all of my dearest single friends. They are mostly women and mostly Christians, and I think we’re all within about ten years of each other in age. I think that would be an amazing way to spend Thanksgiving!

A series of posts at Rachel Marie Stone’s blog has had me thinking about how we celebrate Thanksgiving. Take a look at Plagues and Famine: Better Not to Know?, How Knowing Things Saves Lives, and Can I “Eat With Joy” While Others Can’t Eat At All?, and let me know what you think. (Let her know, too–these are great posts.)

I think next year for Thanksgiving, I will plan to spend my day in a homeless shelter or at one of the area food pantries or soup kitchens that are providing Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless and underprivileged in America. I don’t think it will be possible to feel lonely in such surroundings, and it’ll have to be better than watching another Three Stooges marathon or watching my aunts bicker about how one is eating too much and the other not enough.

What about you guys? What are some of your Thanksgiving traditions? What sort of alternate ways do you have to celebrate the holiday?

4 Things To Say to Parents of a Single Adult

8 Nov

On Monday I posted 7 Things Not to Say to Parents of a Single Adult. But I try to follow up my “negative” posts with something more positive and affirming. So today I’m going to present four suggestions of things you can and should say to parents of a single adult.

  1. You must be very proud of your son/daughter. Finding a mate and procreating is something that happens at almost every level of biology. It isn’t really something unique to homo sapiens. So let’s stop acting like marriage and parenthood are the only accomplishments in life. Every adult, single, married, or in-between, has done something to be proud of. Instead of focusing on marital status, look at the other things. Maybe she’s published a book. Maybe he just sealed a major business deal. Maybe she heads up a charity that impacts lives. Maybe he leads a Bible study in his home. Those are all things to be proud of. Celebrate those.
  2. It must be nice not having to share your child with inlaws during the holidays. Growing up, we rarely had this problem, because one set of my grandparents lived in Florida, while the other set lived fifteen miles away, so Dad didn’t see his folks for the holiday. But occasionally we spent the week of Christmas in Florida…and then my mom didn’t get to spend Christmas with her parents. As a single adult, I don’t have this problem. I celebrate Christmas with my parents the way we always have–we read the Christmas story, then open presents on Christmas Eve (it used to be at midnight, but as we all get older, this starts earlier and earlier in the evening). There are almost always bookish presents for everyone, so we stay up late reading our new books, and sleep in late Christmas morning. I don’t have to compromise on Christmas plans, and my parents don’t have to share me.
  3. (When a child moves back home) Aren’t you glad they aren’t married and bringing their spouse and children back home to live with you! Because yes, I actually know a couple of people who moved back in with their parents, with a husband, two kids, and a dog in tow. At least when I moved back, my parents were getting what amounted to an adult boarder in the upstairs. I contributed financially as much as I was able, and in labor, and I didn’t wake them up for midnight feedings or early morning walks.
  4. How has your relationship changed as your child has grown older? Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your friend with single adult offspring. Just don’t focus those questions on the marital or parental status of said offspring. If your friend wants to talk about her kid’s marital status, let her bring it up first.

Single readers, what do you wish people would say to your parents? Parents of singles, what do you wish people would say to you? Chime in!

Single-and-Not-Dating…With Caveats (Part 3)

27 Sep

Last Monday I started answering a question Edarnut asked me: There seem to be 3 kinds of Christian singles: Single and looking for a spouse, single and dating but not really spouse hunting, and single and not dating. Which are you? And how is the “singles ministry” dynamic between the 3 types?

Then on Thursday I continued my response and talked about how I came to realize I was content with singledom.

Today I want to explain the caveat I added to her category–that is, that I’m not opposed to marriage.

First I need to clarify that I’m not talking about marriage across the board. I’m not opposed to that, either, but I mean specifically that I’m not opposed to my own marriage. I don’t dislike men. I believe in the institution of marriage. (I also believe the government shouldn’t be defining it, but let’s not get into politics today, huh?)

I’m just not actively seeking marriage. I’m not actively seeking a spouse.

Christian readers of my blog are probably familiar with the story of Isaac and Rebekah, how the servant set out to find a wife for Isaac, prayed to God for a sign, and was granted that sign. The servant asked Rebekah for water at the well, and she offered to draw water for his camels too, whereupon he decked her out in jewelry and proclaimed her the bride God had chosen for his master.

Well, I like to joke that if God sends a dude with camels and bracelets to ask me for water, that’s about the only way I’ll end up married. That might sound flippant, but what it boils down to is that if God wants me to get married, He’ll place the right man in my path at the right time and cause me to know His will.

At which point I hope to heaven I’m wise enough to recognize it!

But I’m not anticipating that day. I’m not holding my breath waiting for a Prince Charming. I’m not praying every day for my future husband. Frankly, I don’t know if he even exists, and I’m not fussed either way. Why should I pray for some dude who may not even be real, especially if I’m not even staying awake nights hoping he is?

What I want to focus on is the here and now. The missions God has placed in my life. The passions God has given me regarding how to serve Him. The conditions in which I currently serve God.

So I’m not opposed to marriage. I’m just not out there looking for it.

Single and Not Dating. That’s me. With caveats. 🙂

I’m Pretty Sure I Have a Gold Medal in Singleness

9 May

Just when I was trying to recommit myself to attending church on a regular basis…

I got my quarterly church newsletter in the mail this week. The front page is covered in words, but the biggest one on it is FAMILY.

Okay, I’ll see what they actually have to say… Turn the page…

The preaching minister’s column is about how to have a “gold medal family”–and he talks about your marriage and children. Parents and grandparents get a separate mention. And then he says the family is more under attack today than ever before. Hmm. I disagree, but that’s a post for a different day.

Okay, let’s skip the Preschool Ministry and Children’s Ministry pages, because none of that applies to me. Oh, wait, the page after that is Student Ministry, so I can skip another whole page. Where does that get me?

Worship Ministry. Okay, he doesn’t write about family. He’s writing about…um, Eddie Rickenbacher. Okay. Interesting connection to worship, but moving on…

Next page is Discipleship, where the discipleship minister encourages families to take their family vacation to the North American Christian Convention. There’s even a teen convention! Okay, I don’t have the money or inclination to travel to Orlando, and that’s all he has to say on his page, so moving on…

Oh boy. WOMEN’S MINISTRY. I cringe every time I think of the Women’s Ministry, because, well… You’ll see. What is the Women’s Ministry doing this summer? They’re reading books. The Vow, which might be based on a true story, but looks like a sappy romance. And another sappy romance with a local link. Oh, or you could read about how to raise children who are survivors. Yeah, okay, so the Women’s Ministry is really the Wives’ and Moms’ Ministry. Good to know, I’ll skip that page too, from now on.

What do I have left? Missions, which actually is interesting to me, but then part of that page is devoted to a visiting children’s choir. Note to self: skip church that day for sure. The page after that is about the Family Picnic.

…Aaaaand that pretty much exhausts the quarterly newsletter. On the one hand, there are some interesting figures that tell me how much the church is getting in offerings and how much is being spent on missions. But the figures also get my back up, because the church is also averaging over 600 attendees per week to Sunday morning services. Really? Over 600 people a week and you don’t have a Singles’ Ministry? Nothing? Nada? And all you can do is make me feel, once again, like I’m not welcome at your church because I don’t have a husband or kids clinging to my skirts?

I’m not anti-family. I like family. But my church seems to forget that, as a single, I don’t have what you would call a traditional family. Sure, my parents attend the same church I do, but I’m basically a never-married person whose definition of family is not the same as Mom, Dad, two-point-five kids, and a dog. (For one thing, I hate dogs. Sorry, but I’m a crazy cat lady.)

For singles, the entire church is our family. Our friends are our family. And you’re not doing us any favors by making us feel like we’re not welcome unless we come as a package deal with someone of the opposite sex and a couple of rugrats.

Oh, yeah, and one more thing. I’m pretty sure, church, that you did this whole “Gold Medal Families” things four years ago with the last Olympics. Get some new material.

Do We Really All Die Alone?

19 Apr

A few weeks ago one of my long-time friends died unexpectedly. I had known her for at least twenty years, probably longer. She was a wonderful woman who taught me a lot. She was also, as of a couple years ago, single again.

Elle and her (now ex) husband had chosen not to have children. She had no living relatives that we knew of. The church had a memorial, but there are only friends left to mourn her.

This has forced me to think about one of the fears that lingers in my mind. It’s a fear that I usually don’t acknowledge, for a lot of reasons. I don’t know whether it’s a valid fear. I don’t know if it’s a selfish fear. I don’t know if it’s a reasonable fear. And on top of it all, it’s a fear I know how to rectify.

I’m afraid that, as a single and child-free woman, I will leave no legacy when I die.

What if I die without publishing the novels I have written? What if I die with no one to name in my will? What if I die and people around me are left asking, “Who will make the arrangements?” “Is there any family we can call?”

What if no one remembers me after I’m gone?

You can see why I usually avoid thinking about this. But losing Elle so young (she wasn’t even fifty), when her situation is in many ways similar to my own, I have to wonder. So I’m left trying to examine this fear in the light of day.

Is this a valid fear?

After all, I have plenty of friends, many of whom have children. I first met Elle when she and her husband came to my parents’ Bible study. As I grew older, she became my friend as much as my parents’ friend. She made a lasting impression on me, and my life is made less by her passing. Can’t I become to my friend’s children what Elle was to me?

I’m an only child, but I have young cousins whom I feel I have helped shape, since they were born while I was in my twenties. They seem to enjoy spending time with me. They seem to care what I think of them. The elder cousin friended me on Facebook and lists me publicly as family, so he must not be ashamed of me! Can’t I choose to make them part of my legacy?

Is this a selfish fear?

Do I really have the right to care what people think of me when I’m dead? After all, according to my beliefs, I’ll be with Jesus after death, and won’t care at all what is said of me after, as long as He says, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” So clearly this is an earthly fear, a human fear.

But then again, Abraham was concerned with his legacy. I’m reading Genesis right now, and a lot of time is spent talking about how God will build a great nation from Abraham’s descendants–not just Isaac, but Ishmael too. If one of the heroes of my faith worries about the legacy he leaves behind, don’t I have the right to worry too?

Still, what is it I’m most concerned about? Am I concerned that people will forget me? Am I concerned that they remember me as a great writer? Am I concerned that they’ll remember me as a loving friend? Or am I just concerned that there are people out there in the world who will grieve when my time on this earth is through?

I honestly don’t know what it is that scares me about dying with no legacy, but the fear is real.

Is it a reasonable fear?

I don’t know. Then again, it’s more reasonable than my paralyzing fear of spiders. I know they won’t harm me, but I’m so petrified of them that I can’t even bring myself to get near enough to kill them. It’s more reasonable than my lingering fear of velociraptors, courtesy of Jurassic Park and its sequels (I know, I know). It’s more reasonable than my fear that I can never live up to what my parents expect of me.

But here’s the kicker: It’s a fear I know how to rectify.

It’s an easy one to address, on the surface. If I’m afraid of dying alone, maybe I should get married and have kids.

Of course, that would require a complete shift in my thinking. From my earliest days as a kid, playing with the neighbors, I always refused to play house. If I absolutely had to play house or risk losing my playmate, I would insist on being the daddy. Why? Because daddies got to leave the house and be away from the kids for long periods of time. If I couldn’t be the daddy, I’d be the big sister, because big sisters obviously weren’t the same as mommies.

Don’t get me wrong. I have a wonderful mom. She’s my best friend. She stayed at home until I was in 4th or 5th grade, and then took a job that allowed her to be home most of the time that I wasn’t in school. She played with me, read with me, taught me. I honestly can’t imagine having a better mother than mine. But her dreams and goals for life are not my dreams and goals for life.

My mom grew up wanting to be a housewife. I didn’t. Maybe that’s partly her fault, because she raised me to believe I could be anything I wanted to be, and she never tried to tell me I would change my mind about wanting kids.

So what it comes down to is, even if I marry someday, I don’t want to have kids. For that matter, at my age I’m getting to the point where, unless God sends someone over tomorrow with a string of camels and rings for my fingers and nose, I’ll be too old to go through courtship and marriage in time to have many safe child-bearing years anyway.

Anyway, Elle was married for a long time. But her marriage ended. Things in life aren’t always permanent. And marriage is no guaranteed fix for loneliness anyway. Children are supposed to take care of their parents in old age, but there’s no real guarantee of that, either.

So what do I do?

I don’t know. Maybe I spend time cultivating my friendships with younger generations. Maybe I pray and try to get over this fear. Maybe I bury it again until I experience another loss.

Am I the only one who has this fear? Do any of you feel this way too?

Let me know.

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