Why I Chose To Spend Christmas Alone

This year, I decided not to travel home for Christmas.  The decision came from the usual suspects:  the crowded airports, the cost, the tragedy of having to put on cold underwear on a brisk New England morning.  We’ve all been there.  It’s not that I wanted to necessarily spend the holidays alone.  In fact, if anyone wanted to travel to Charleston I would have loved to have hosted them, but they didn’t want to travel either.  No one really wants to this time of year.  And so I spent Christmas alone.

My decision may seem puzzling but it bothers me that if I was in a relationship or married, I wouldn’t have to justify my decision and new traditions would be allowed and dare I say encouraged.  “This year we’re doing...”, “So and so and I decided to…”.  That would be acceptable.  But somehow “This year I’m…”, “I’ve decided to…” is met with judgement and may have even hurt a few feelings.

There’s nothing new about the struggle of being single and the holidays.  Even if you don’t have the stereotypical annoying relative asking if you’re dating anyone, just look to the holiday movies to remind you that being single and enjoying the holidays are incompatible ideas.

Holiday movies used to be dominated by claymation visions of the north pole.  Then they transitioned into the family plight for the perfect christmas (the dad that put a downpayment on a  pool before he got his christmas bonus and the little boy that thinks he made his family disappear).

These days holiday movies seem to be built around this basic plot: a career focused woman finally finds love and now her life can finally be fulfilled and she can once again enjoy the holidays.  It seems innocent enough and possibly even entertaining but it helps to reinforce the notion that a single woman is never really happen and certainly can’t simply enjoy the holidays.

Here are some movie synopses from holiday movies airing on Hallmark (the channel I love to hate watch):  

  • “When a holiday wish causes a businesswoman to lose her ability to hide the truth, she must rediscover her sincerity while reckoning with her lies.”
  • “A workaholic becomes a Christmas Angel-in-training in Heaven, and she is assigned a hard luck case that helps her learn the true meaning of Christmas.”
  • “A serious woman competes against her carefree department store co-worker during the holiday season in an effort to acquire a coveted company position.”
  • “An on-air personality lets her anti-holiday sentiment slip during a live broadcast, and to save her career she must visit a holiday-obsessed town.”

So this year I made my own decision.  Just for me.  Who knows if I’ll ever get married or have a family so why not start to make my own traditions.

To clarify: I’m certainly not saying there’s anything wrong with a relationship but I just want to shed light on the fact that it’s hard for society to just accept single women as they are and therefore that makes it hard for single women to accept themselves.  

In fact, if you are in a relationship this advice applies to you too.  Think through the Christmas traditions you’re doing just because.  Do you bundle up your 3 kids and fly cross country every year to visit your brother when in reality you yearn to just stay home...just this one time?      

My mom once told me that her recently divorced sister-in-law idolized me.  My look of shock/amusement/awkward confusion encouraged her to further explain.  “Well you travel by yourself, go to the movies, out to eat…”.  And she’s right.  I DO do all these things.  But not because I’m single.  I do them because I want to go on vacation, see my favorite actress, and eat something amazingly delicious and I’m not going to miss out on these things because I’m waiting for someone to join me.  

With the fresh start of 2017 you probably already have a list of things you’d like to change/improve in the new year.  Before you finalize your resolution list, think through these 2 questions:  

  1. What traditions do you want to stop and more importantly what new traditions might you want to try?  
  2. Has there been something, place, or event that you’ve been just dying to try but haven’t because you can’t find anyone to join you?  

You’ve only got one life, now go out there and bring yourself some joy!  

 

Cover photo by Thomas Kelley on Unsplash