Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

7 Ways to Make Holidays Easier for Singles

24 Nov

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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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)
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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!

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?

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