There are so many online articles about singleness and the holidays:
- “18 reasons being single during holidays is great.”
- “I hate to admit it, but being single during the holidays sucks.”
- “Scared of being single during the holidays?”
- “A single’s survival guide during the holidays.”
- “You’re single during the holidays. So what?”
Well, you get the message I got as I hopped around a search engine and chose titles from 166,000 possibilities.
In her book, Revelation of a Single Woman – loving the life i didn’t expect, Connally Gilliam relates a story to which a good many onesomes can relate. She attended a thoroughly enjoyable New Year’s Eve party, and was in the midst of warm loving friends. Then, the countdown came: five, four, three, two, one – kiss your spouse. Suddenly it crashed in on her that he was the odd one out in a party of an odd number. The host eventually stopped kissing his wife to come peck her on the cheek and wish her a Happy New Year.♥♥
One of the most challenging things for me personally during holidays is that each of them signals the fact that my life has not turned out as I anticipated. Marriage and family were always in my hopes and dreams. Planning traditions with a spouse was always included. The arrival of each holiday tends to chime loudly that another year has passed with no husband in sight.
Now, when I was younger, an uncle used to regularly ask me on holidays – “so when are you getting married?” Well, as if I knew the answer to that one! Thankfully, he stopped asking. In fact, the last time I was asked anything resembling that question was a few years back when I was on a chorale trip to Greece. The setting was a train on its way from Athens to Thessaloniki. A very attractive young man from the isle of Crete sat in a seat facing me, and after a long conversation he suddenly asked me if I was married. When I said, “no,” he looked at me intently for a few seconds and said, “There’s still time.” I do not even remember his name, but his face remains in my mind – and my photo album – and he will never know just how I have savored those words.
Let me hasten to say that, for me, Thanksgiving and Christmas are two of the most delightful holidays I have now. I spend 2-3 days with a brother’s family, and am totally engulfed in love and laughter with him and my sis-in-law, their two children and niece/nephew-in-laws, and a couple of great-nephews. Participating in Christmas Eve services in my church, driving to Denver on holiday mornings and being welcomed with hugs and a steaming cup of coffee are just the beginnings of the sort of love which drives away the “what-ifs” and “if-onlies.” We draw names, and I love being able to concentrate on what special thing to get for my name. Even during the rare times when bad weather messes up plans, I can fall back on any number of invites. A few times, a host of singles have gotten together to share dinner and a grab-a-gift time. I remember one Thanksgiving when a bunch of us gathered around a very eclectic meal which included tuna casserole and chips and dip because deep snow kept the people with the turkey and dressing snowbound just a few miles away.
New Year’s Eve is not so much of a struggle for me personally these days, either. Sometimes the evening is spent with friends, sometimes as a quiet evening at home doing cross-stitch, sipping something hot, movie watching, and hearing fireworks and hooting and hollering at midnight, and thanking God for another grace-filled year.
Now, Valentine’s Day generally brings more vulnerable and poignant memories and reminders that my life simply has not turned out as it was “supposed to.” I no longer romanticize what I’m sure marriage might have brought to my life because I have many close friends who keep my ideas realistic even in the best of relationships.
My guess is, however, that there are many areas of relationship which are taken for granted by my married friends. Conversations, meaningful glances, even slight touches, jokes. Things which they would miss if they didn’t have them, but which they don’t necessarily take special notice of at the time.
Having someone to do things with spontaneously, traveling short or long, spending time doing home repairs/decorating with someone with the same vested interest, having opportunity for deep conversations, sharing spiritual values, taking care of and being cared for. These are things which many singles long for which are just out of reach. At least, they are certainly on my list of longed-for things which has not changed over the years. What have changed are my responses to these things and an ever-deepening confidence that God knows and cares!
(NIV) Jeremiah 29:11-13: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
♥♥ Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., page 12