The Holidays and Being Single
All articles on this page are Copyright 1999-2003 by Jean Zartner.
I love being single over the holidays. For the most part, I've overcome the negative thinking that comes from comparing my holiday experience to what the media says it should be. The only problem I sometimes have is finding a date for the office party. But if I'm not dating anyone, I solve the problem by inviting a friend. Especially if he's a tall, good-looking friend.
Butting Out of Negative Self Talk
The world (especially the TV, magazines, and malls part of the world) is telling you what a joyful, social, CONNECTED time of year this is. In your bah humbug mind, though, you may find yourself saying:
- "Yes, but I'm lonely."
- "Yes, but what if I'm the only one at the party without a date?"
- "Yes, but I have no family here."
- "Yes, but the holidays are for couples."
Have you had negative thoughts like these? Then it's time to "but" out by taking the "but" out of "yes, but":
- "Yes, I love the holiday season."
- "Yes, the holidays are for everyone - not just an arbitrary demographic group."
- "Yes, I can use this time to find spiritual replenishment."
Every time you hit a holiday hurdle, visualize the phrase "Yes, but" floating in front of you. Now take a big red, imaginary pen and cross out "but."
Choosing the Holiday Spirit that Moves YouBeing single gives you choices. Some of your holiday experiences can be quiet and introspective. You may choose to be peaceful and private. This is like snowshoeing, where you move slowly and are surrounded by muted sounds and colors. Years ago, I decided to simplify the winter holidays. I like to use these days off as quiet, relaxing times. Being single, it's easier to set my own traditions.
Some of your other holiday experiences can be colorful, fast, and exciting - like downhill skiing, where you're usually surrounded by high energy people. Or you can choose the spirit of a snowshoer one day and a skier the next.
Partying Hearty or Partying LiteAs a single person, you can choose how you want to spend your holidays. You can gleefully accept, or graciously turn down, party invitations. If you don't get any party invitations, and wish you had, then it's time for you make some invitations of your own. If you're not in a position to host a big party, start small with get-togethers such as these:
- Arrange to a salad-eating excursion. At the holidays, many of us overdose on sugary goodies, and a salad is a welcome change.
- A movie outing is especially good if you're shy. Select a theater where you and the others can go for a coffee or a drink afterward.
- If you're more adventurous, how about arranging to go to a skating rink?
- Make a list of people you miss talking to, and call them.
Tell the people you call that you're dressed up in party clothes and are drinking a glass of champagne in their honor. They can't see you're in your jammies and drinking warm milk.
Making It Happen
Following the above tips should help you enjoy the holidays more - even if you can't rent (I mean find) a tall, good-looking friend for the office party. If you've got other tips for singles over the holidays, and would like to see them posted on this page, please send them in for consideration.
Everyone should have a friend like Arlene. She is one of most positively positive single friends I have. So I asked her for some tips to help singles through the holidays. As usual, talking to upbeat people like Arlene inspires me to create or remember other good ideas. So I've added them to Arlene's list, too.
Mirrors and Music
One thing Arlene does is look in the mirror every morning and sing, "I love how you love me." The lyricist meant it to refer to another person, but it works great for loving yourself.
After Arlene gave me this tip, I found a great song by Bette Midler called "I'm Beautiful." She sings about how kids used to taunt her for being too fat and not being their kind. Then one day, she decided to be a fierce, beautiful goddess, in charge of her own world of "cosmic fabulosity."
The Joy of Collage
Arlene recommends cutting out pictures and words from magazines to make a construction paper collage. Cut out anything that represents what you want in your life: tangible or intangible. This technique not only helps you look at what you want, it helps you appreciate what you already have
Aha! That gave me an idea that is more specific to the holidays. Make a collage to remind yourself how gifted you are with friends. This collage would be made up of photos, cards, and emails from friends. Draw a gift box with a ribbon around each item (or use clip art gift boxes if you're artistically challenged like me). Put the collage or big box under the Christmas tree if you have one.
But it doesn't matter where you keep it, because the warm glow it creates will reside in your heart.
- Call a friend you haven't talked to in 10 or 16 years and wish them Happy Holidays - especially someone you need to give forgiveness to, or get forgiveness from.
- When you play the woe-is-me, reclusive role - of course you won't meet new friends.
- When you keep saying there are no good men left (or women, as the case may be), remind yourself that you exist, and you're a good woman (or man). So it stands to reason that they exist, too.
- Once you realize that you are fabulous and really believe it - that's when fabulous people will come into your life.
Finding Your Own Arlene
Reading and implementing positive tips such as these is good. But actually having a friend, such as Arlene, to share ideas with is even better. Figure out which of your friends have the most positive influence on your own attitude, and hang out with them more!
I haven't gone to a New Year's Eve party in years. If you're not in a romantic relationship at New Years Eve, it's not much fun to be out with a lot of kissy-face couples smooching at midnight. Other deterrents are: drunk drivers, iffy weather, bad road conditions, too much hype, an air of artificial or forced optimism.
However - this year I decided to go to a party the singles group at my church sponsored. Much to my amazement, I had a fabulous time! One thing that really helped was that I left in time to be home to watch local firework displays from my balcony. That was fun, and then I was able to avoid the countdown to midnight and the embarrassing kissing tradition.
Here are some of the things that helped make that party so enjoyable. Try some of these the next time you go to a party - especially if you feel shy or reluctant a about going.
Women who want to dance
When there's a shortage of men to dance with, try these ideas: Dance with other women. When the dj plays rock-and-roll songs for freestyle (stand and wiggle) dancing, ask one or two or seven women to join you on the dance floor. If you know how to do salsa or cha cha, you can do those without holding your partner, too. Request popular line dance songs. Electric Slide and Macarena still get people up and dancing at parties. Be brave and ASK men to dance. They've been stuck with this intimidating task for years. If they can handle it, so can we!
Women who want to meet men
Scope out where the unattached men congregate. Often they're by the food or bar, sooo go hang out there. Introduce yourself to women at the party. It's less intimidating than introducing yourself to men, and with a stroke of luck the woman you've just met may have male friends who are "available." People will notice you and will start the conversation rolling if you wear something funky or outlandish. Try some kind of unusual or bright jewelry, scarf, or vest. A feather boa is great - as long as it's not shedding! Or carry a seductive fan; people will want to meet you so they can use it! Remember: All women are created equal - and then we accessorize. If nothing else, you can have fun checking out all the pretty dresses.
Walk around as if you're looking for a friend you were supposed to hook up with. You're likely to meet more people if you circulate than if you stay at one table. Go to the party with some additional purpose. For example, perhaps you want to let people know about another event that's coming up. Or perhaps you're trying to start a book discussion group or a cooking group for singles. This gives you a great conversation starter, which could lead to something beyond the party! Use this party as a chance to learn a new dance step. If you don't want to wear a name tag, have a quip ready to help people remember your name. (Jean - like blue jeans, George - like the president, Fred - as in the Flintstones) When you meet someone, repeat his or her name during the conversation. You don't have to stay the whole time. Leave on a high point. Then you'll be more likely to want another experience.
Arrange to have designated Dance Hosts. The deejay or emcee can announce throughout the evening: "Ladies, if you want to dance, ask any of the men who are wearing red carnations (or Dance Host name tags). They are ready, willing, able, and pleased to dance with you." The Dance Hosts enjoy all the attention they'll get. And they don't worry about being rejected. The women feel comfortable asking a man to dance when he is a Dance Host. Have name tags available for the guests. If you want an idea for a mixer, mailto:JeanZartner@SelfNurture.com
Don't feel you have to enjoy the holidays in a way dictated by your past experience or by society's expectations. Set your boundaries for what you want - and don't want - to do. Do the things that feel right in your heart, not the things that you do only because of someone else's expectations. If you miss certain traditions from a previous family life - come up with new traditions.
Personally, I started a tradition years ago, when I moved to Colorado, of spending holidays in the mountains. I hike or snowshoe, or just sit and relax. No matter what, it's always a peaceful, meditative moment. To me, getting closer to nature is one of the most spiritual and soul enriching things I can do.
Perhaps you feel lonely because you think, "Everyone is busy, so I hate to bother them over the holidays." Change your thinking. Think of how you can get together with your dear friends, even after a long separation and just pick up where you left off. Give them a call! Even if they've got a house full of company, they'd love to take a minute to talk to you.
Pace yourself. Friendship is about quality, not quantity. If you didn't get all your holiday cards out in time, use it as an opportunity to reply to the notes and letters people sent you with their cards. Take the next several weeks to do it. Your note will stand out from the crowd of cards they got all in a lump at the end of December. Pace yourself by scheduling which calls, e-mails, or cards you'll deliver over the next few weeks.
If you miss people who are no longer physically here to share celebrations with you, come up with a ritual to honor their memories. You may want to learn more about cultures that have different ways to honor their ancestors and deceased loved ones. That could give you some great ideas.
Many singles love to do volunteer work over the holidays. For possible volunteer opportunities, check with places of worship, singles groups, or a local newspaper column about volunteer opportunities. They often want volunteers to help at soup kitchens, delivering donations to needy families, etc.
Learn to dance.
Enjoy "orphan" parties. I know of singles groups, church groups, and apartment complexes who have organized potlucks for "orphans" (people who are alone on a holiday.) These are great fun. You may want to organize one of your own. Many people now have Friendsgiving gatherings at Thanksgiving.
Learn to flirt. Don't you find that people are friendlier to strangers on the holidays? Well, then it's a perfect time to perfect your ability to be friendly and flirt.
Now, take a minute or so to list 5 things you could do to make your holiday season happier.