How to Navigate the Holidays Alone

This time is for ME

Feeling down in the dumps because you're going to be single for Christmas and New Year's?

You're not alone. Well, sure, you're alone in the sense that you don't have a cutie to go ice-skating with while clad in matching striped scarves from the Gap. But you're not alone alone. Despite the onslaught of trailers for overly sentimental flicks featuring inspirational sports teams/family reunions/elf costumes, all those extra Kay Jewelers commercials (that actually make us pine for the Coors twins), and the music about love and joy that's piped into every pharmacy - despite all that, love is not, actually, all around. There's war and infidelity and existential crises and depression and recession and people in those pharmacies fighting and pushing to get to the front of the line with their gift wrap, emergency box of tampons, and prescription meds. It only feels like love's all around because single people don't spend as much money on holiday gifts and activities, so as far as Madison Avenue is concerned, you're persona non grata. You might as well be an elf. So you and the other single people start hibernating - drinking Coors in dive bars, most likely - which makes you feel even more alone.

During this season, you might find yourself lingering in the self-help aisle at your local bookshop, fingering titles like If I'm So Wonderful, Why Am I Still Single? and Healing Your Aloneness: Finding Love and Wholeness Through Your Inner Child. (We wish we could say we made those titles up.) This extended holiday season is a romance pressure cooker guaranteed to make you feel like the kind of loser who might actually buy one of these books. …

But maybe all your inner child needs is to pig out on some chocolate wrapped in red and green foil. The holidays never used to suck when you were a kid, even if Jeanie from the third grade didn't get you a Christmas card. And it would never have occurred to you to pine for Jeanie on Christmas morning, because you were too busy ripping open your presents and watching your grandmother get soused. Give thanks this year that your to-do list for the season is as uncomplicated as when you were six - except this time around, you're allowed to get drunk, too!

And there are other blessings to be counted:

  • You get to enjoy a year off from celebrating the holidays with someone else's annoying and/or dysfunctional family - no pretending to like their mom's Jell-O mold or fake-laughing at their dad's bad jokes.
  • You don't have to worry that your partner will embarrass you in front of your family by burping, swearing, or talking about your oral sex acumen.
  • And think of all the money you're saving on presents! You don't have to fret over whether your partner will break the ten-dollar limit you agreed on, thereby making you look like a cheap bastard.
  • You can get drunk at the office holiday party and gossip with all your coworkers without having to make your partner feel "included," and then you can make out with someone highly inappropriate and pretend to be embarrassed about it for the rest of the year.
  • Best of all, you can wear your comfy pants with the elastic waistband so you can properly indulge - after all, there's no annoying girlfriend or boyfriend around to complain that they make you look like George Costanza.

Other steps you can take to survive this season from hell include:

  • Doing your shopping early to avoid the worst of the commercial Cheez Whiz (or better yet, doing your shopping online to avoid the trampling masses).
  • Getting together with your single friends and talking shit about your ex and all your annoying lovey-dovey coupled friends.
  • Volunteering at a soup kitchen to put your own crappy holidays in perspective.

But whatever you do, don't impulse-shop for a boyfriend or girlfriend just because everyone tells you it sucks to be alone at the holidays. Remember those "a puppy is for life, not just for Christmas" ads? Don't confuse warm, fuzzy yuletide feelings with the desire to be in a relationship-it's not true love, it's just the eggnog. And the hangover's a bitch.


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