O my little Singles, are you out Boxing Day shopping today? I am not, for my cold is fierce. Also, I am a bit of a wimp where shopping is concerned and am afraid of great crowds of shoppers who are frothing at the mouth with shopping-lust.
Last Christmastide, when we were only recently "officially" engaged, Benedict Ambrose groaned and moaned over long distance telephone about not being able to do couples-at-Christmas stuff. He would see couples hand-in-hand looking in shop windows, and drinking cider at the German Market on Edinburgh's Princes Street (under Edinburgh Castle, so very romantic), et cetera, and it made him feel lonely and cross.
Well, let me tell you something. Did we go hand-in-hand looking in shop windows this year? Did we drink cider at the German market? No, we did not. Which is okay. I mean, the first half of December was sort of rainy, and this half of December is mighty cold. I was not in the mood for hand-in-hand window shopping and outdoor cider drinking. These things, I suspect, seem more pleasant from the Singles side of the fence than they are in reality.
But I am not going to lie and pretend there are not some serious advantages to married life at Christmas. The most obvious one is Christmas cocktail parties. When you go into a Christmas cocktail party full of strangers, you profit from back-up. My husband is now my cocktail party back-up.
Of course, Singles can arrange their own back-up beforehand by making arrangements with a Single buddy who has also been invited to the party. The back-up's job, of course, is to talk to you when you are unsuccessful at finding someone else pleasant to talk to, and to leave when you do.
I have to say, I don't think I was ever so Seraphic a Single as to relish the journey home from parties alone. I remember coming home from a Christmas party in darkest Scarborough, Ontario, which might as well be, to a north-and-central-part-of-Toronto person, outer Mongolia. Anyway, I remember being in a bus station, waiting for the 1 AM bus home, all by my little self, having left zillions of couples of both the sacramental and the sinning varieties, and I felt wretched. The minutes ticked on supernaturally slowly and the station was very cold. I had a horrible sneaking suspicious that this was exactly what Purgatory would be like. I would die in a hospital or in a terrible car crash and wake up alone in Sheppard Avenue bus station at perpetually 12:40 AM in December. Nooooo!
Tolkien has a much nicer Purgatory in his story Tree and Leaf. It is a sort of hospital. Me, I am hoping Purgatory is a spa. Maybe like the Floatarium, in which the salt-water floating is better the fewer abrasions you have on your skin. Anyway, being a Searching Single sometimes feels like being in Purgatory, doesn't it? You hope to get out of it, and you don't know when that will be, and it's all up to the Lord anyway, so there's not a lot you can do. However, being a Searching Single isn't really Purgatory, and if you are feeling gloomily purgatorial the best thing to do is get outside and meet up with friends, maybe even for shopping.