How to Handle Being Single at the Holidays
Even the most independent among us may find it challenging to be without a significant other during the holiday season. This is a time designated for intimate, holiday-themed outings and warm gatherings. We may want someone to hold hands with while ice skating or to cuddle on the couch and sip hot cocoa as we watch A Christmas Story for the 100th time. We may just want to have a plus one at the office holiday party, someone with whom we can share inside jokes and discuss the evening’s shenanigans afterward. When you are single, however, there is no one to occupy this role.
Without a partner, we can often feel a bit left out during the holidays. Seemingly everyone else is decorating gingerbread houses with their families or out shopping for romantic gifts, while the passing days for us are just like any other. Going it alone can be difficult during the moments when we would rather not.
The most impactful way to handle being single around the holidays is to surround ourselves with people. This is the worst time of year to feel isolated. So, attend those holiday parties and tree-lighting ceremonies solo. Ask your friend if you can come help with gift-wrapping or decorating. Get to the family dinner early and help cook or set the table. If there is no family nearby, accept any invitation the spend Christmas Day at the home of an acquaintance or colleague. It is better than sulking at home. This way, although you may be single you can still feel the warmth of the season and know that there are people who care about you.
Sometimes, our pride can get in the way when it comes to holiday gatherings. We don’t want anyone feeling sorry for us so we pretend to be OK when we aren’t. We decline invitations out of pride. No one wants to be treated like a charity case. If this is the situation, by all means, don’t subject yourself to being anyone’s punching bag. But if it is a sincere offer, don’t refuse what could be an enjoyable time just to keep up appearances.
If there is no family, no friends, no outings we feel comfortable attending alone and no casual acquaintances with whom we would feel comfortable spending the holidays, another effective course of action is to volunteer our time helping others. There are those in circumstances more devastating than just being single around the holidays. There are children without parents, mothers and fathers who have lost their jobs and those who financially cannot afford to purchase items for a nice holiday dinner, never mind fancy gifts. The need is great.
Donate to toy drives and assist in distributing the collected gifts, help out at a homeless shelter or a local youth community center, volunteer to serve meals at a soup kitchen. This satisfies the desire to be around people, occupies our time and also lets us feel useful. We will know that we made a difference and that our presence during the holidays mattered to someone. All of that love and care that isn’t going to a significant other can be poured into others, who will be grateful beyond measure for your kindness.
We can also pour this attention into ourselves. Have some self-love sessions. Spend Christmas being pampered at a spa or go see a movie. Get a bottle of the expensive wine and curl up with a good book. Buy yourself a nice pair of boots as a gift. Treat yourself!
The most important thing to remember when single during the holidays is that your relationship status does not define you. You are not “less than” those who are married or in relationships. Being single is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. It is easy to forget that we aren’t actually alone when spending the holidays this way. So, remind yourself, even when you are curled up on the couch watching holiday movies unaccompanied, and especially when you are on your second glass of Merlot or Riesling — that you are important, you are whole and you are loved.