It’s that time of year. Things are ramping up as we barrel towards the end of 2022. The holidays, with all they entail, are upon us. As joyous as it can be, those of us who are single might be prone to feeling a certain kind of way. The family centricity of our culture dials up to 11. Commercials for the perfect gift for that special someone. Churches advertising their “family service.” Coupled friends talking about where they will spend the holidays.
Flying solo this time of year comes with particular hurdles. Maybe you’re worried about the financial expectations of the season on a single-income budget. Or maybe you work an hourly or food service job and can’t travel for the holidays. Or maybe you’re steeling yourself to navigate tricky family dynamics without a teammate.
Regardless of our exact situation, there isn’t a lot of messaging that says, “Isn’t it great to be single right now?” So here I am, your friendly neighborhood singleness writer, to give you a few reminders to tuck into your back pocket for when you’re feeling a certain kind of way.
It’s ok if your feelings don’t line up with the magical merriment around you.
In the church calendar, the time before Christmas is called “Advent.” Advent is a time of anticipation and bearing witness to humanity’s need for God’s intervention. It might be a hopeful season because we know that Jesus came and is coming again, but I would not necessarily qualify it as a jubilant season. In this time, we are invited to pay attention to what remains incomplete and broken around and within us. We remember the darkness that preceded the “great light” (Isaiah 9:2). Advent invites us into a rich paradox and tension that doesn’t line up with the commercial calendar. So if you’re not feeling like Buddy the elf, you’re not weird. You’re tracking with the liturgical calendar.
You can’t control what people say or do, but you have a choice in how you respond.
People be peoplin’. And by that I mean, you know the tendencies of the humans you will interact with this season. That great aunt who always asks why you’re single is probably going to keep asking. The cousin who grills you about your five-year plan will probably grill you once more. You might not be able to control that, but remember that you get to choose how you want to respond. Avoiding in order to preserve bandwidth, redirecting the conversation, or setting a boundary are all options on the table for you. You have the agency to be creative and discerning in how you engage (or don’t engage).
You can ask for what you need.
This one can feel tricky. Because asking is vulnerable and we know people are busy and traveling and whatnot. Or maybe you are worried about intruding on family time. Whatever the case may be, just remember that relationships are mutual and reciprocal. That doesn’t mean the person you are asking is going to say yes. It just means you are allowed to make the ask. Maybe you need help putting up Christmas decorations or you’re feeling isolated and need to be around humans. You can choose to push through and deal with it on your own. Or you can choose to reach out. One is not necessarily right or wrong, but sometimes it’s helpful to remember that the option is there.
There is grace sufficient for you.
This is to remind you that you are a human person. Who am I kidding, I need the reminder, too! We can make plans and strategies for every contingency. We can anticipate needs. We can read our Bible and pray. We can do all the “right” things to set ourselves up well. This doesn’t prevent our humanity (and others’) from throwing a wrench in things. You compromise on a boundary and end up feeling resentful. Plans fall through. People go off-script. Let’s remember that God is not surprised or disappointed by our humanity. Feel free to take a beat and step away if you need to.
Make time for things that invite joy and connection.
When I’m feeling a certain kind of way, it’s helpful to think about something small that could open the door for joy and connection. Isolation can invite me to connect with myself and God. It can also be the impetus for connecting with others. Is there anywhere in your area you could volunteer? Is there a hobby or activity that brings you delight that you could set aside 20 minutes for? Is there a friend you could invite on a walk? It doesn’t need to be a whole big thing. Start with one small thing and see what happens.
What is helpful for you during the holidays? Leave a comment and let me know!