If you’ve been single for any real length of time (no, going for a walk by yourself doesn’t count), right about now you may be struggling. It’s the fault of the happy festive season, of course. Singles have long known that Christmas is up there with Valentine’s day and a bullet through the knee cap for enjoyment stakes.
If you live your life alone, Christmas is culturally broken. For a start, it belongs to couples; everywhere you turn, people are shopping in pairs, planning in pairs and socialising in multiples of two. There are two main reasons couples only invite other couples to their homes over Christmas. Firstly, everyone’s a little scared about what single people do when they’re all by themselves. I won’t tell you what I do; I’ll let you guess – much more fun for both of us. And then couples are secretly terrified that their guest singleton will make overtly sexual references at the meal table – because obviously singles aren’t housebroken.
If you do get an invitation from a couple, it may well be a mercy invite – beware of these. Don’t ever accept one; it’s like leaving your home to self-harm. The mercy evening is spent facing off a pantomime-sympathetic (and often simultaneously) nodding couple who are quick-firing inappropriately personal questions at you. The questioning will start during hors d’oeuvres, and it will curl through the evening like a fresh turd from a tall dog’s arse.
The questioners will ramble at the leisurely pace of a Spanish Inquisitor through every detail of your single life – often in front of their children and other guests. You’ll be forced into the position of having to make quips in order to not cry. And while you’re upping the funny factor to make it sound like you’re A-Okay, your hosts are getting free entertainment on a number levels, none of which are healthy or nice. If you do an internet search in January, you’ll find yourself quoted on Mumsnet verbatim – for the vicarious entertainment of bored couples everywhere.
Couples aside, it’s also hard for single people to enjoy Christmas these days as infant mortality is just so low. Everywhere you look it’s ‘family friendly’ activities. So sure, you can go to a carol service, but you’ll have to throw in your lot with 2,000 screaming snotty little kids – and their offspring. Or you could go Christmas shopping, if you could just claim some pavement between the mothers double-teaming their way up the high street. I think that’s the expression.
Between the couples-culture and the families-culture, there’s very little ground to have a good single Christmas. So, here are some things I’ve found helpful in the many years I’ve been alone. And here’s hoping the coming weeks for you will be more festive than restive.
- Get yourself a good cigar, dip the end in a good whisky, and then smoke it. If you’re a lady, a drag queen or simply feeling experimental, first apply your lipstick between stages one and two.
- Some people think it’s funny to allow their pet a ‘taste’ of festive booze. I do not condone this and, although it may be ‘funny’ on some levels, let me warn you that a drunken wolf hound is more impervious to reason than usual. And much more gaseous.
- Do not listen to Christmas music. It will corrupt your sense of reality and depress you, with all its happily-ever-afters. If you feel tempted to listen to Cliff Richard, watch all the Die Hard films in a row, and then watch the news. It’ll sort you right out.
- Set yourself a lovely Christmas table – a special meal for just you. Yes, you’re single. No, you’re not dead yet. Let this be the one night you don’t eat cheese over the sink, and treat yourself correctly. Oh, and dress for dinner.
- For Christmas movie-watching, see my comment about Christmas music.
- Attempt some spiritual activity – seek the Other, the universe, God, enlightenment. Try something new. If you’re Jewish, go to a Buddhist temple. If you’re Christian, visit a synagogue. Broadening horizons is the anti-lonely; it connects you to the rest of the world. If you can, do something wonderful for someone else over Christmas. That is why we’re alive; to look after each other.
- Wrap a present for yourself, then set it aside and open it on Christmas day.
- Take yourself out and about on Christmas day; don’t get stuck in your home on your own. Don’t forget the hills and the trees and the sky and grass; these things were called into existence to help us feel little, in a good way. Out you go, and try and feel ‘held’ by the universe.
- When you return, write about your day. Give yourself three sides of A4 and download your thoughts and feelings. These are precious and valid regardless of whether you have anyone in your life to hear them.
- Bedtime – if alone, well done, you’ve survived. If with someone – remember the lessons you learned on your single journey? Now you get to hold someone with those more experienced, more tempered hands.
© Gvons 2015