"Oh yeah?" I hear you shout. "What do you know? Look at you in your Historical House, with your little Christmas tree from the garden centre on the other side of the woods, and your Mr. and Mrs. McAmbrose Christmas cards, and your Men's Schola Midnight Mass and what have you!"
Okay, okay. I myself am not Single at Christmas this year. But I have years and years of husband-free and even boyfriend-free Christmasses under my belt, so I have learned a thing or two about being Single at Christmas.
The first thing is the truth of the old adage, "Christmas is for children." The local children are a lot more noticeable than usual, in part because they have begun to sing on the bus.
"Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle aw the way," sang a little girl yesterday, unmusically and unchecked. Normally noisy children on the bus are thwarted with short, sharp, parental screams. But now it is Christmas and parents are making allowances. The children are beginning to shimmer and shake like perambulating UFOs.
When you agree that Christmas is for children and not, like Virginia, for lovers, you relax at bit. You detach. There is no call for Christmas to be non-stop jollity for adult you. And you are spared having to buy the Lover's Present. Buying the Lover's Present is hell. One agonizes: Is it the PERFECT THING? Does he have it already? Will he be disappointed? EEEEK! ARRRGGGGH!
If you are Single with children, nephews, nieces or grandchildren, you have the enjoyment of seeing your beloved children happy and excited. Their joy might be contagious; I am not sure. (One of my nephews is too young; the other was so wound up by Christmas morning last year that... hmmm...) My mother, who is a mother of five, gets a great amount of satisfaction from decorating the house and baking dozens and dozens of cookies, a Christmas cake, mince tarts, and Chelsea bun.
If you get along with your parents, you can collar some childish Christmas privilege yourself. Many (if not most) parents never get over the fact that hulking you use to be a teeny little cherub that said "Me wuvs mama." So let your Inner Child take over and bounce around your parents shouting "One more sleep!" and "Me wuvs mummy and daddy!" Well, maybe only women can get away with that. Men can channel their Inner Child by eating more than their fair share of Christmas baking. Surely no maternal heart is going to be affronted by a male child, especially if tall and handsome, protesting, "But it's sooooo gooood!"
In short, if you can get away with it, regress. Now we are six--again. One more sleep!
After being for children, Christmas is for loved ones. Normally I would say "for family" but I'm trying to be inclusive here. I recognize that not everybody gets along with their family. And some people (like me) just can't get home for Christmas and cry during TV commercials showing people doing just that. So instead of getting sentimental about birth family, I recommend that you spend Christmas with your real family, the people who act the way family are supposed to act: supportive, happy, jokey, stimulating, loving. Sometimes they're related to you; sometimes they're not. If you dread going home for Christmas because it always leads to drunken fights, broken crockery and you crying, don't go home. I'm serious. Jesus came to liberate us from sin, not chain us to other people's.
One of my friends is thinking of having an "Odd Socks" party for people who have nowhere else to go for Christmas. I think that's marvellous. B.A. went to one last year, when I was home in Canada, and he loved it. It was great fun.
The important thing, I think, is to make sure you aren't lonely at Christmas. There are two kinds of loneliness: loneliness by yourself and loneliness in a crowd. Avoid both by seeking out those who love you best. And instead of going to the Perfect Christmas Mass alone, like I usually did, see if you can meet up with liturgically likeminded friends.
Meanwhile, here is-> my article in the Catholic Register about being Single at Christmas. Here's one about-> Christmas presents, of which I am in great favour. I am delighted to report that presents have been trickling into the Historical House, mostly by way of Amazon.
Merry Christmas to all my readers, especially my little Singles!
The above is my favourite "spinster aunt" photo of all time. How surprised I would have been if some Christmas angel had arrived to announce that I'd be married relatively soon and living in Scotland.