’Tis the season to be jolly! ’Tis also the season where single people are reminded of how empty their lives must be by family, friends and those annoying couple-filled commercials. Now don’t get me wrong — sometimes I love being single. But those 40 days between Thanksgiving and New Year’s can make you hate singlehood more than you despise fruitcake. And here are my top reasons why.
Hateful thing #1: Being barraged with everyone’s couplehood
There are a lot of things to be thankful for this year: My health, family, friends, world peace — oh, wait, scratch that one, sadly. But what I’m truly most thankful for is that I didn’t haul my butt back to Wisconsin, my motherland, this November. Not that I don’t love seeing the fam and gorging on cheese curds, but I’ve come to the conclusion that Wisconsin isn’t just the dairy land — it’s the marry land, because it seems that those who never leave the state get sucked into the state of holy matrimony by age 24. This was observed recently, when I traveled back to Wisconsin for two weddings and my high school reunion within the same two months. I hung out with old friends and ex-classmates and was introduced to their husbands, wives, second wives, girlfriends, boyfriends and life partners. The kid who used to eat paste and fling boogers? Yep, even he had a wife. Almost everyone was coupled, and upon learning I was not, they would immediately ask me, “Why not?” Growl. Asking a woman why she’s still single is like asking her what is wrong with her. I was always tempted to answer, “Oh, because I’m an unlovable troll, of course,” but instead would tell them that I just hadn’t found the right person. And then I get away from their smug, coupled-up presence ASAP.
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Hateful thing #2: Not having a special someone to swap gifts with… and being reminded of this by the media
The day after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping day of the year, and since I hate crowds, lines and shopping in general, it’s also my worst nightmare. But I do love giving gifts (and I’m not gonna lie — I like getting ’em, too!), so every year, I brave the hordes of sales-hungry shoppers. As I stroll through the men’s department, I get a little bummed that I don’t have a man to shop for. Sure, I have my dad and brother, but it’s just not the same… and I’m constantly reminded of this fact when I turn on the TV or flip through a magazine and am bombarded with romantic gift ideas. One article told me I could “knit my way into my man’s heart with a home-made scarf.” And there are all those ads showing wives giving their men folk flannel p.j.’s and fleece-lined slippers in a perfect moment of cozy domestic life. But the thing that really gets me — that manages to bring a tear to my eye and make me throw up in my mouth a little all at the same time — are the commercials where the husband gives his wife a diamond ring and then she kisses him passionately and they go running off together all happily-ever-after-like.
Hateful thing #3: Having your family focus on your single status
During the holidays, you’re mingling more with the family. And since that gives them extra opportunities to regard you as that alien creature, The Single One, it can be tough. My parents are divorced and both are remarried, so I get extra servings of the “When are you going to settle down?” question. Even my six-year-old nephew asks me, “Auntie, why don’t you have a husband?” I usually mumble something about not needing one, until my mom pipes in about some eligible bachelor she wants me to meet. Last year, it was the doctor she’d recently seen for a colonoscopy. (I’m sorry, but there’s no way I’d date a man who’s seen that side of my mom.) I know she means well, but she’s always on the prowl for my future husband, and at the holidays, things get even more intense. Let’s consider last year when she really crossed the line. She met a man in an airport and gave him my email address. I later received an email that read, “Hey cutie. ; ) Your mom gave me you’re [sic] email addy, so I thought I’d give ya a shout and see if you wanna hang. Hit me back. I swear I’m not a cereal [sic] killer. LOL!” Happy holidays to me.
Hateful thing #4: Being made to feel like a second-class citizen
You know how people start putting in for time off around the holidays? Then you probably know how those who are hitched have pole position for taking those vacay days. Either they have to meet their mother-in-law for a day of shopping, attend their husband’s company Christmas lunch... or they need to leave early to get to their kids to some caroling event. But us single folk? We can just pick up the slack, cover for our coupled-up colleagues, and toil away — it’s not as if we have a life or anything…
Hateful thing #5: Being pitied
When my single status comes up during the course of a year, acquaintances and relatives flash those puppy-dog pity eyes at me. But come the holidays, the pity party intensifies. Coworkers talking about the elegant little couple-only dinner parties they’re planning drop their voices to a whisper. Friends seem worried that I might dissolve into a teary mess during the holidays and say things like, “It’s OK. You’ll find Mr. Right soon,” as if being single is similar to being diagnosed with a life-threatening disease and the only cure is a man.
And then there’s the holiday-picture humiliation. It goes way beyond feeling crummy when my mailbox is bursting with all those “Season’s Greetings” photo cards showing happy couples in matching sweaters in front of their fireplaces or front doors. When I go home to visit my family, my dad sets up the camera to do one giant shot of everyone and then splits us into groups. First up is my stepbrother, his wife and their three kids. Click. Then my sister, her husband and their two sons. Click. Next my cousin and her boyfriend. Click. Dad, stepmom, dog. Click. And finally, me. Just me. Cli — oh, but hold on! Because my dad feels sorry for me, being all alone and whatnot, he’ll pause for a second, say, “That doesn’t look quite right,” and put the Santa Bear stuffed animal next to me in the photo. Click. And may I add, ouch.
Hateful thing #6: Not having a guaranteed kiss for New Year’s
There’s never a shortage of New Year’s parties to go to, but often, they’re quiet dinners with mostly couples (one of whom always manages to announce their engagement just as the champagne’s uncorked). Like last year, when I went to my friend’s dinner party and was the only single person there. When the clock struck midnight, everyone turned to their significant others and laid one on ’em. Me, I just looked at my watch and willed the second hand to move faster. It didn’t, so I picked up the dog and gave her a smooch. Hello, low point. Anyway, this year’s going to be different. I’m off to a raucous house party with some single friends where I’ll get lampshade-on-my-head crazy and flirt up a storm. Now, that’s something that not too many married people get to say, right? Sometimes being single has a very sweet silver lining…
Laura Lane is a New York-based writer who covers relationships and dating.