Beating the holiday blues when you’re single
Why does it seem that our singleness is thrown in our faces more often and with more force during the holidays than at any other time of the year? We see happy couples everywhere who we may not have noticed before. We get invited to multiple gatherings and have no +1 to include in our RSVPs. We’re bombarded by TV commercials portraying the idealized happy couple/happy family. Our family and friends grill us on the happenings in our love lives. And then there are the Hallmark Christmas movies. Oh, those Hallmark Christmas movies! Just how are we supposed to be happy alone?
“It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to”
Ah, the dreaded RSVP with no +1. Picture the scenario: You get invited to a Christmas gathering and are loathe to go alone, but it’s being given by a dear friend and you’ll feel like a giant heel if you miss it. You dutifully get dressed up and drive yourself to the event (Oh, what fun!). You ring the doorbell and enter the house by yourself, while everyone turns to look at you. You feel self-conscious as you hand the hostess the wine you brought, but head into the living room with your head held high, only to find that you’re the ONLY single person there. You don’t know how you’re going to make it through, but you tell yourself you’ll just have a couple drinks and then go. Sound familiar?
Last year, I had a coaching client ask me what she should do about an upcoming holiday work party that she’d been invited to. She didn’t want to go by herself, but wasn’t sure whether or not to ask someone, either. After we talked about her feelings surrounding this particular party, and the pros and cons of both going alone and inviting a date, she decided that the best thing for her to do was go alone. Her decision was based mostly on that fact that she didn’t want to have to be concerned with someone else’s enjoyment of the party or feel as if she had to babysit him the whole time. She also didn’t want to have to worry about him potentially being ready to leave when she wasn’t yet. As we ended our coaching session, she was happy with her decision to go alone and was looking forward to the party.
Friends & Family
As Thanksgiving approached, I wrote a couple of blog posts about dealing with the dreaded question, “Why are you single,” as well as navigating holiday gatherings and family dinners, and the ensuing questions and awkwardness that would no doubt come up regarding your singledom. You can read them here https://www.lesliekaz.com/why-are-you-still-single/ and here https://www.lesliekaz.com/a-single-life-thanksgiving/. My number one tip on these subjects is that friends and family are usually genuinely interested in your life and concerned with your happiness, and are not just trying to put you on the spot or call you out. Cut them some slack and be prepared with what you’re going to say.
I see happy couples everywhere!
There are likely happy couples everywhere at any time of the year, but they seem much more noticeable during the holidays for some reason. First, let’s define “everywhere.” Are they really everywhere or is that just our perception of reality? Granted, people do tend to be happier during the holidays, so maybe they’re the same neutral or unhappy couples you normally see and they’re just in their holiday-induced-excitement stupor. Or they may just be flying high on eggnog. If there really are happy couples everywhere during the holidays, good for them, but they really have nothing to do with your happiness, do they? You know he’s going to get her a new vacuum for Christmas and she’ll end up not speaking to him for three days. Keep in mind that all those happy couples may just be ready to scratch each other’s eyes out once the New Year arrives.
How can I both watch TV and be happy alone?
I happen to love holiday ads, but they certainly aren’t geared toward the single person, nor do they do anything to help out a single girl’s self-esteem. In last week’s blog post about living alone at Christmas, I mention one of the very ads that could likely have a single girl staying in bed all day. You can read it here https://www.lesliekaz.com/christmas-alone-to-decorate-or-not-to-decorate. The crazy thing I discovered about this ad and others like it, is that married and coupled-up people have the same reaction to them as we single girls do. These ads are so idealized that no one can identify with them, not even happily married people. So, pay these ads no nevermind. They’re not for you, they’re not about you, and guess what, they’re not really about anyone else, either.
Then there are the jewelry ads. The man who surprises his girlfriend on Christmas morning with a fat rock dangling from an ornament hook on the tree. Or the man who takes his girlfriend ice skating, pretends to fall, and while he’s down on the ice produces a diamond the size of the very same skating rink they happen to be on. He asks her to marry him while hat-and-mitten-clad skaters swirl around them. Ask your married friends if their proposals were anything remotely like this. You’ll get a good chuckle out of the answer. Apparently these ads are meant to make everyone feel insignificant. And here I thought they were meant to sell jewelry!
Oh, those Hallmark Christmas movies!
There’s no way I could write a blog post about being happy alone at Christmas without lobbing a few fireballs at the wonderful people of Hallmark who produce all of those sappy movies. Hallmark Christmas movies are actually a running joke between me and couple friends of mine. They watch them, I don’t. Last year I gave them both those “This is my Hallmark Christmas Movie Watching Shirt” sweatshirts because a client of mine told me about them and I couldn’t pass them up. They both loved them, and the gesture launched us into a lively discussion where I made fun of them for watching those movies and they busted a gut laughing at my sarcasm.
Just so I can’t be labeled a hypocrite, there was one year that I actually spent the holiday season watching those movies. This is how I know whereof I speak when I poke fun at them. I was depressed that year for some reason. And I turned to the Hallmark channel to cheer me up? I think it was actually that misery loves company. But seriously, I limited my watching to only those movies with animals in the stories, like, “A Dog Named Christmas,” and the one with the fireman and the cat. You know which one I’m talking about. And yes, even I will admit that the stories are positive, wholesome and feel-good, they’re just so sickeningly sweet and predictable that they top the charts in the needs-a-bite-of-a-reality-sandwich category.
So, if you’re a single girl and you’re stuck on those Hallmark Christmas movies, just remember that they’re about as real as a 3-dollar bill. And so are all of the ads, and our perception that happy couples are everywhere and we haven’t been invited to join their club. Absorb the positivity from all of these sources and know that your own life has the ability to be both happy and real!
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