Monday, 17 December 2012

(Relatively) Alone at Christmas

I am not sure how much "count your blessings" advice Singles can take at Christmas time. As I recall, Christmas is a lonely time of year to be Single. It is also a lonely time of year to be apart from your family, if you are an expat like me, but if you are a happily married expat, you can't really complain too much.

I definitely cannot complain too much because I keep thinking about all those families in Connecticut facing a first Christmas without those little children who were so looking forward to it (and, of course, the families of the murdered teachers). Sometimes I am sad that I have no children, but then something like what happened happens, and I think, nothing can be that sad. Yes, I am sure the families are grateful that they had their little ones for six or seven years, but... Eeek. I don't want to think about it anymore.

There is no such thing as a perfect Christmas. I wonder if we don't get the longing for a perfect Christmas confused with our longing for that truly perfect and everlasting Christmas we hopefully will one day see. As for romantic Christmases, I come from a big family so I have never associated Christmas with boy-girl romance but with family.

Before I got married to B.A., at Christmas I put being home to family above everything and everybody, except the Infant Jesus at Mass. Then I would walk miles to get to Midnight Mass and then miles more to be with my family on Christmas Day. I know this for sure because I have indeed walked at least one mile in the freezing cold dark night from a train station to get to Midnight Mass and then one and half miles from the subway station to get home to my family.

My first married Christmas, the only family around was B.A., and how I cried, poor man.

My second married Christmas, my parents and one brother and one sister came, so I was very happy.

My third married Christmas, the other sister and her son came, so I was again very happy, although more tired, as my mother wasn't there to do the toughest cooking jobs.

This married Christmas, my family isn't coming, and B.A. and I couldn't afford to go to Canada, so we are having Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners, having collected as many Single friends as have not got other Christmases to go to. This is not for them as much as it is for me, as the idea of Romantic Couple Christmas--me, B.A. and a chicken--is shockingly pagan to me. Valentine's Day is for couples. Christmas is for family, or if you haven't got any family, friends.

However, I am sympathetic to those Singles who watch romantic comedies set around Christmas time and think they are really missing something if they can't go mittened hand in gloved hand with a man to the local Christmas market and drink hot apple cider together. B.A. said he always felt cranky when he could not do Christmas market-y stuff hand-in-hand with somebody. Amusingly, although we have been to the Edinburgh Christmas market with family twice, we have never gone by ourselves. This hand-in-hand thing with mittens, gloves, snowflakes and apple cider never really happens, which is okay, since life is much richer and more joyful than anything Hollywood can come up with.


Andrea said...

Thanks for highlighting that married women cry over Christmas for being away from their family and thanks also for highlighting that Hollywood isn't true!

Magdalena said...

Thank you for bringing up this topic! I wonder if you could put up a contest again about collecting points when someone asks you why you don’t have a boyfriend. But with -10 points for every time we bring up this topic ourselves… That would be much more fitting for me, unfortunately. I am really happy that I won’t be alone at Christmas. My brother and two sisters with wife/husbands and in total eight children under 9 will be there, too (in turns). I love my nephews and nieces, and am extremely curious to see the 1-month-old baby, and I’m sure we will have a great time. But this is also where my own little Christmas crisis sets in: I feel so left over. I am the only one of my siblings who doesn’t come with at least two more persons in tow. On the other hand, I am the one who causes least chaos when visiting my slightly stressed-out parents; I am just there and can help wherever necessary… But still there are usually one to two occasions when I will be earning these -10 points, moaning about my bad lot of being alone.

SOOO… I will take some advice of yours and just focus on being the super-hero aunt, having nice chats with all adult family members, and preparing a delicious Christmas dinner (setting the table with the best gold-rimmed china and silver knives and forks; I almost love this part of Christmas dinner most).

And, of course, you are right that nothing can be sadder than what happened to those poor families whose children were murdered. Really, we who are able to lead ordinary lives within functioning families belong to the most privileged people in the world, and I am most grateful for that.

And this comment has become way too long - thank you for listening patiently :)

Sarah said...

I never understood the association with Christmas and singlehood, either, actually. Maybe because I never had a boyfriend over Christmas, so I don't know what I'm missing out on? Or, I suppose, like you, Christmas was a strictly family thing, with lots of little kids.

Honestly, Christmas strikes me more as a kid holiday (I mean, not in the liturgical/birth of Christ sense, of course) than a romantic holiday, simply because so much of our day revolved around making children happy.

I'm single on Christmas once again and had no expectations to be otherwise, and my only heartache will be that I'm an ocean away from my parents and siblings and this is our first Christmas apart. If I were home and DID have a boyfriend, I wouldn't be spending Christmas with him anyway, cause my mom and dad would kill me. ;)

And I took my mittened hands to the Munich Christmas Market with a girl friend, thankyouverymuch. I don't think a guy would have encouraged me to buy a stuffed hedgehog that you can warm up in the microwave like she did. And we got

gwen said...

I think this is why the song "All I Want for Christmas Is You" makes me feel lousy after hearing it. It's so catchy and bouncy, but it reminds me how warm and fuzzy and romantic the holidays could seem if there were a guy in my life, and then I feel all humbuggy... so I just turn it off when it comes on. It's the only solution I can think of.

Seraphic said...

That reminds me of what a terrible, insidious film "Love, Actually" is. It has so many great actors, but it is really the most shameless "Christmas is about Romance" film there is. One might make ironic comments about the British attitude towards family, but they might be very unfair. How much the British media reflects real British life is most definitely an open question.

Jessica said...

For me, Christmas has never really been about romance either, but it does seem to be in the air for a lot of people. Does anyone else want to join me in a brief, soul-cleansing, cathartic AAAAAH! of excitement for friends/personal angst/other confusing emotions over the sheer volume of engagements popping up in my facebook newsfeed? It seems like it's been every other day in December!

Ok, thank you! I feel much better now. :)