It’s the most wonderful time of the year! All around you will see Christmas trees, tasty sweet treats, gift exchanges, and the most beloved yearly Christmas tradition: family/ work/ social gatherings that remind you just how single you really are (insert sarcastic eye roll here). If you’ve been single for any period of time, then you know just how hard it can be to ignore the incessant coupling that seems to come out of the woodwork at this time of year. I mean even radio commercials have a funny way of reminding you that you don’t have someone to buy you “perfect diamond jewelry.” The only exception would probably be around Valentine’s day, but let’s take this journey one holiday at a time, shall we?
To give you hope, dear single reader, I’ve compiled a list of 12 ways to survive this time of year as a single person.
1. Send out your own goofy Christmas card with a pic of what you love to do
I once saw a Christmas card that a young woman made with a picture of herself single in her apartment, single and enjoying life! She embraced her singleness head on and it honestly made for a great card! I also saw one that showed 3 adult siblings- one was holding a sign with her husband that said “expecting,” the next sibling was standing with a fiance holding a sign that said “engaged,” and the final sibling was standing alone and holding a sign that said “Emily.” My sister and I saw that and had a good laugh, because we both agreed that we wished we had thought of doing something like that for ourselves. When you revel in the thing that people bother you about (such as your constant singleness), then you take the power away from them. The good news is, when they are not in power, you can be in power! Or better yet, allow God to be the one in charge! So go out and put together a Christmas card that is uniquely you and own this holiday season for yourself while making others smile.
Few things in life make you feel better than serving others. By giving your time to someone else, you will usually find that your own life struggles fall into perspective. It’s hard to feel sorry for yourself about being alone for Christmas, when you’re serving a homeless family dinner or taking the time out to serve in a women and children’s shelter. Suddenly your singleness doesn’t seem like such a big deal anymore. While going through a terrible break-up or divorce is nothing small and I completely validate your feelings in every way, it’s harder to focus on those negative feelings when you’re helping others to overcome their own struggles, especially when God is at the core.
3. Hang out with the kids in the family
If you have nieces and nephews or child cousins, now is the time to become the cool, fun, single aunt, uncle, or cousin! I know that there are times when kids can be a little too honest or mean (I once worked at a summer camp and one of the kids said that I was “the ugliest girl in the world”), but typically as long as you play with them, they generally don’t care or notice if you’re married or not. If you enjoy playing children’s games, then this may be your chance to avoid sitting around the coffee table discussing why your last relationship failed (or in my case failed to materialize). You may even have a little bit of fun by fostering the creativity and smiles of the children in your family.
4. Surround yourself with supportive friends
Be sure to surround yourself with supportive people at times when you feel most vulnerable, like around the holidays. If you know that your grandpa will bring up your singleness while passing you the mashed potatoes, be sure that you have a good girl friend or guy friend that you can text for reinforcement. If this friend is a Christ follower who can point you toward an uplifting bit of scripture, even better. Be cautious which friends you choose to use as sounding boards though, you don’t want them to feed negativity back into your holiday. Try to find at least one healthy, positive person who can listen to your concerns and offer support in a loving way.
5. Bluetooth headphones
Hear me out on this one. If you’re tired of listening to your ___ (insert name of nagging relative here) complain about how you’re still single and when are they going to get some grandbabies already, then perhaps it may just be easier to smile and nod while listening to some great Christmas and/or worship music! Get yourself some bluetooth headphones (the wires of traditional headphones or earbuds will be way too obvious) and quietly play blissful music in the background.
6. Start drinking!
No, I’m not encouraging you to pick up the nearest bottle of Merlot. I mean drink from the living water, the fruit of the vine. In other words: Be in the word daily! God is the one who gives us our purpose, not the silly nagging of our friends and family. In order to know who you really are, you need to seek God’s wisdom. In order to find your true confidence and your true purpose, you need to seek the answers from the one who MADE you! So when you’re family is driving you bonkers, be sure to bring your greatest weapon, the bible.
7. Recreate fond memories of past Christmases
This one is pretty self explanatory. When you were five years old, odds are you were not thinking about how single you were while sitting around the Christmas tree. I know that some of my fondest memories include baking cookies with my mom, decorating the tree, and watching Christmas specials over and over and over. If you don’t have any fond childhood memories from Christmases past, then now is the time to make your own fun, festive traditions! When you allow something negative, like previous negative Christmas experiences, to take up residence in your mind and your heart, then you are giving it the power. But, you can take back the power by making a conscious effort to make your own holiday traditions with the ones that you love, even if it’ doesn’t involve a significant other.
8. Create meaningful gifts for loved ones
This one kind of goes along with the idea of volunteering. When you’re focusing on others, it’s harder to focus on yourself. This year, for financial reasons, I decided to make the majority of my Christmas presents and I must say that with the amount of time that it takes to think up an idea of what you want to custom make for each person on your list and then actually go and make it, you won’t have the time to wallow around, worrying about what your mom’s going to say about finding a man when you go home for the holidays.
9. Confidence building activities
Before heading into your grandparent’s house to have the same discussion you have at every family gathering, be sure that you build up your self confidence by engaging in an activity that you are good at. I’m a firm believer in reinforcing what I AM good at to help me combat the negative feelings that come when someone reminds me what I’m NOT good at. I’m not good at cooking and I’m not good at running, but I enjoy yoga and drawing or making things, so when I need a confidence boost I participate in an activity that will help to remind me that I’m not a total disaster and I do have many good qualities. I encourage you to find at least one thing that you can do (perhaps something portable, so you can take it along if you’re traveling this Christmas) to help reinforce that you CAN do things right!
10. Reach out to someone else who is single and build a supportive community by doing something fun together
This one may be best for my extroverted single followers, but we introverts have great interpersonal skills, so maybe if you know an extroverted friend who can introduce you to someone single, then this one is totally doable. If you know of another struggling single (maybe a friend, maybe someone new) then this may be the time to reach out to that person and help support each other through the holiday season. This is a great opportunity to be a light to someone else, spread some Christmas cheer and maybe even make a new friend to hang out with come New Year’s day!
Sometimes it’s nice to just seclude yourself in your childhood bedroom with a head full of thoughts, a journal, and a pen. Personally, I find writing to be a great way to process through things, so I’m a big fan of journaling. It’s a safe space to be able to work through some of life’s more complex situations (such as how to deal with your crazy cousin asking you “what your plan is”- seriously I had a cousin ask me that once and he was referencing when I was planning to get married and have kids, because in his eyes, 25 was too old to not be married) without the risk of judgment. I usually like to write my journal entries in the form of a prayer so that I can bring God into the conversation with me. You’ll be surprised how often God ends up speaking to you through the pages of your own writing. If handwriting is not your strong suite or you just aren’t big into writing, then perhaps starting a digital journal would be more beneficial because it’s easier to edit and delete if needed and there’s always the option to dictate your journal entry into a phone or tablet.
This one may seem obvious, but once the holidays rush into all of their craziness, it gets harder and harder to make the time to pray. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not always as diligent in my prayer life as I’d like to be, but I will also be the first to admit that life is much better when I am! Prayer is our way to talk to God, let Him know your struggles, your concerns, your desires. Sure, God already knows all of these things (He is all knowing after all), but when we take the time to pray to Him, come to Him, and ask for His advice and intervention, we strengthen our relationship with Him and God is faithful to take on the burdens we are willing to give to Him. Remember what Jesus says in Matthew 11:29-30 says “Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” While I’m not saying that God will answer your prayer with a resounding “YES!” right away, by giving your worries to God you will take some of the stress off of your shoulders and make the holidays far more enjoyable.
During this time filled with fun and festivities, I pray that you will be able to look past your singleness (even when others can’t). I hope that this list has given you some practical ideas and some funny suggestions to lighten the mood. At this time of year, we can be surrounded by reminders of the reason for this season, but we singles are particularly vulnerable to extra reminders of loneliness, especially if we aren’t careful. I encourage you to be in the word, daily my dear single readers, so that you may be able to guard your heart with the armor of God.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”- Ephesians 6:10-13