The Advent and Christmastide seasons are wonderful times of year. Even if you don’t live in a place where the traditional “white Christmas” is experienced, it’s still a lovely time to be spent with family and friends. However, sometimes it’s also a little tough . . . especially for those of us who are single or living on our own, and away from family. In fact, it can sometimes seem like Christmas is altogether more enjoyable for those with kids. So, what’s a single lady (and fella) to do? Here are four tips on how you can make the most out of the seasons as a single person.
Celebrate with your non-traditional family
While most of us have the luxury of living with or near family, that’s not always the case for everyone. Some people live far away from their loved ones and cannot afford to fly out to see them for the holidays. Others have difficult family lives and have chosen to create some distance for the sake of their mental and emotional wellbeing. If you’re in this boat, don’t despair. Remember that family doesn’t always mean those who are related to you by blood.
Your close friends, your coworkers with whom you see outside of work, your parish community – these are all examples of who can be part of your “family.” If you get invited to spend time with any of them or know of any special events at your parish or local religious community, consider joining them. While it may not be the same, you’ll still be surrounded by people whose company you enjoy and who care about you. Trust me, even some solo introverts will show up if you invite them.
Take a cue from kids
No, I’m not talking about pulling a “Big” or a “13 Going on 30” and acting like a kid trapped in a grown adult’s body. You know the tradition of “building” baby Jesus’s manger by having children add little pieces of paper to the manger every time they do their chores and/or acts of charity? Why not do the same, with a twist? While families let their children write down what good they did to offer to baby Jesus, you can leave the pieces of paper blank. Better yet, you can use whatever other material you want to use that cannot be modified. You can offer up all your acts of charity without anyone (except God) as your witness.
There are also a number of activities that are aimed for kids that you can do yourself. Jesse Trees? You can do that, reading the entire Bible passage instead of the little snippets usually aimed for children. Baking a cake for baby Jesus? You can do that and either invite your non-traditional family over for a slice or donate it to a soup kitchen as a treat for those who will be looking for a hot meal on a cold day.
Bring cheer to those who are also alone
Just as you are alone, there are others who don’t have anyone either. In fact, some are even the last surviving members of their families and/or abandoned completely by them. You’ll find many downcast souls in places like nursing homes and convalescent hospitals; people who have no one to talk to, let alone have a lovely time. If you find yourself with free time during this busy season, try spending some time with patients who don’t have family members? Most of these locations have activities and events planned for their patients; you can volunteer to be someone’s adopted grandson or granddaughter and be there to help them during these events.
If you like serving others but aren’t up for one-on-one visits at hospitals, remember that there is a large (and growing) homeless population that needs your help. You can volunteer at homeless shelters or soup kitchens. If you’re fortunate enough to live in a place that has services like Meals on Wheels—which delivers food to those who are too ill or elderly to cook or get groceries for themselves—you can also offer to do that. You can deliver the meals with a smile and brighten up someone’s day. It could be the only social interaction they may have that day.
Or help a big and/or young family
I don’t know about all of you, but I know several families who could use a hand during the holidays. It can be as simple as offering to babysit while Mom and/or Dad get their shopping (or a much-needed nap) done. You can also offer to help them cook if they’re planning a big family dinner for Christmas. If the holidays seem crazy hectic for us single folks, imagine how much more stressful it is for young parents and those with big families. Families with multiple kids under ten will be especially glad for any little help you may offer.
However you chose to spend the holiday season, please remember that being single doesn’t have to mean a depressing holiday season. These four suggestions are just a few of the many things you can do to enrich your Advent and Christmastide season. Whatever your gifts and charisms are, work with what you excel best at, and pay it forward. You’ll be glad you did something to celebrate the season.