Living alone (unmarried and dating or just plain single) really sucks around the holidays. For me it means spending time alone on one of my favorite days of the year.
When I was a child Christmas was the most magical time of the year. I’d wait longingly every year for the holiday to come and I was always ready! I was ready right after Thanksgiving if not sooner. And every year I always got what I wanted, even when it wasn’t even on my list! Now that I’m an adult, Christmas means something different.
Christmas means buying gifts. For everyone. For my horseback riding instructor, for my hair dresser, for my postal worker, for my boss and my direct reports. I always forget someone. I always feel guilty. I always spend way more than I should and I always go broke at some point during the season. It sucks.
No, I can’t go to coffee with you because I broke the bank buying you this gift. Oh? You didn’t get me anything? That’s ok. I’m doing my part to feel like a good friend. No, I understand that you need to prioritize your kids at Christmas. No big deal. I don’t need a gift anyway. #fml
Christmas means eating way too much. There’s Christmas goodies everywhere and staying away from them is HARD! I love baking. I love making my special Oreo truffles. I love making ten kinds of Christmas goodies. But who will taste-test these when I live alone?? Sad day, it has to be me. Ten pounds later I’m sorry I ever started baking.
Christmas means being alone for much of the holiday. Without having multiple holidays to attend and no kids around it means that I will spend at least at least either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day alone. This year it’s both. Hooray.
Do you know how much it sucks to spend Christmas alone? Do you realize how terrible it is to wake up on Christmas day and instead of an excited child and family members I wake to nothing? No screaming children waking me up at 5 am. No dogs barking. No meowing cats. Nothing. It’s just a normal day because I have nowhere to go, nothing to do, no one to parent or tend to. I have literally no reason to get out of bed. So most of the time I don’t, and most of the time I spend most of the morning crying. Getting up only reminds me that I have no good reason to be out of my bed anyway.
It’s December 18th. Do you know where my Christmas tree is? In the closet. Do you know where my Elf on a Shelf is? Not on a shelf, in the box next to the tree. No stockings are hung by the chimney with care. There’s no hopes of Saint Nicholas around here. Nope. Why bother? No one comes over here. There’s no one to surprise with a thoughtful gift. There’s no mistletoe and there’s no holly or ivy. And there’s no Christmas songs.
When I had step-kids Christmas meant something because I was doing it for them. I was decorating for them. I was baking cookies with them. I was making paper snowflakes and garland with them. I was drawing pictures to mail to relatives with them. I was staying up late on Christmas eve to eat the cookies and put out the presents in their stockings. I spent hours buying and wrapping gifts I couldn’t even claim were from me. I was helping them make the memories I had from when I was a child. But when I got divorced I no longer had any kids, so the reasons to do any of this faded.
The thing is, if I had never gotten married I wouldn’t even know what I was really missing. I wouldn’t understand that wonder on kids faces. I wouldn’t understand what it’s like to play the magical elf for a fat man who doesn’t exist. I wouldn’t miss it. Only I do because I have experienced it first hand.
So here I am at thirty-something childless and hurting because I want my Christmas to be magical too! I want to have what all my friends already have and don’t even appreciate! They actually COMPLAIN about it all and it hurts more than you would believe!
I can hear them all now:
“OMG I just *know* my kids are going to wake up at 5 am on Christmas morning!”
“I’m spending so much money on gifts for my kids that I’m going broke.”
“We’re so busy going to both my husband’s/wife’s/partner’s/lover’s and my Christmas celebrations!”
“My kids are acting so crazy now that it’s getting close to Christmas!”
“I just know my parents will get the kids noisy toys for Christmas and I’ll have to listen to them all day.”
“I forgot to move the stupid elf and now my kid doesn’t think it’s real.”
“I wish I got to sleep in on Christmas day.”
No you don’t… you absolutely don’t. Because without those cherub faces you would die. Your heart would break every single holiday that came after and you would die a little bit every time someone complained about their child like it wasn’t the most precious gift in the whole entire world. The mere mention of a baby would make your uterus cramp with longing. Your arms would ache to hold your partner while you watched the kids open presents while screaming the whole time. You would not care. You would look at magazine ads featuring families and you would well up with tears. You would long to see mistletoe and have the chance to kiss someone you care about under it. Thinking of spending Christmas alone would make you sob because once you have experienced the magic of Christmas through the eyes of a child, you can never go back.
Fortunately, most people don’t experience this. There’s not too many people who have children one year and the next year they are gone. Aren’t I just the luckiest one to have experienced this twice with two different sets of kids?!….Nope. Not really, it really sucks. It sucks more and more each year because each year brings that stinging confirmation that I may never have a family. I may never have children. I may spend the rest of my life waking up on Christmas morning to nothing but the tears falling on my pillow.
The worst part is that I’m expected to never talk about this. I’m expected to suck it up and be happy for everyone out there complaining about their kids and their bills and telling me how lucky I am to be single. Asking me when I’m going to get married and have kids of my own. Do you have any freaking clue how lucky you are? Do you know what I would give to have kids of my own? I’d like to have kids of my own like YESTERDAY! Sadly most of my friends have never and will never know this cruel pain, so they don’t want to hear about it either. This only complicates things. No wonder the suicide rate more than doubles around the holidays!
But once again I will suck it up, and I will spend Christmas alone. I will make myself breakfast and wrap myself up a gift to open on Christmas morning and I will try not to think about how I feel so sad, so empty and so alone on one of my favorite days of the year, on what should be one of the happiest days of the year.
So when those of you with children are opening your gifts at 5 am on Christmas morning, I’ll be drying my tears on my pillow. Stop for a second and think about how lucky you are to have so much to be truly thankful for this holiday season.
Merry Christmas from me… just from me.