Surviving the Holidays Single

It’s Christmas time, and everywhere we look there is love, giving, laughter, and mad dashes to the mall. It’s the time of year where my married and dating friends start becoming disgustingly romantic and snuggle down together for the season. It’s the season where single geeks like myself might start feeling a bit left out and lonely, seeing as we don’t have a special someone to share the holidays with.

Good news, everyone! (/Professor Farnsworth voice) Just because we’re single doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy the holidays with as much excitement, wonder and warm fuzzies as anyone else. In fact, the Christmas season is bursting at the seams with great ways to spend our time, share the spirit of giving, and forge new and old connections with friends, family and strangers. So grab some eggnog, put on some carols, and check out these suggestions of how to have a special single Christmas.*

(* or Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice or whatever you may celebrate; while this article is geared mostly with Christmas Day in mind, there’s absolutely nothing saying you can’t follow the same ideas with whatever your personal celebrations may be!)

Spend it with family

In many cases, this is the best and most obvious way to spend Christmas. Heck, even if I had a boyfriend or girlfriend, I would still spend Christmas with Mom and Dad. Whether it’s just your nuclear family or every aunt, uncle and cousin whoever drew breath, Christmas can be a time of year when everyone comes together in a show of warmth and family spirit. Also, giant turkeys.

If money or scheduling is going to keep you away from home during the holidays, consider flexing your geek muscles and searching for a tech alternative. Help your parents set up a webcam (if they don’t have one, consider sending one with instructions as a Christmas present!) and have a video chat on the big day. If you and your family are sufficiently quirky enough, consider a setup with your webcam and laptop at the family dinner table for a truly non-conventional Christmas dinner.

Of course, sometimes even that alternative is not an option. Or maybe you don’t get along with your family. There are still plenty of things to do, so read on!

Spend it with friends

Friends can be a second family to us, and Christmas is as good a time as any to bring that family together. While it’s true that some of your friends will be spending the season with their parents or in-laws, I’ll bet that a few of them are in a similar boat as you: single, or unable to make it back to their hometown, or tight on money, or whatever. Perhaps you even know a few exchange students or immigrants from countries that don’t celebrate Christmas and who may want to experience it for themselves. In any event, it is time to assemble your motley crew in the spirit of holiday cheer. It’s like the Avengers, only with more punch, pie and presents and less drunk Tony Stark.

Make a few calls. Invite people over, or find a willing and cheerful host to house the festivities. You can go all traditional, with turkey and trimmings and chestnuts roasting on an open fire, or you can make it as non-conventional and geeky as you and your friends desire. Because gorram it, if you and yours want to celebrate the season of giving by watching a Lord of the Rings marathon, running a D&D game and smacking the heck out of each other in Super Smash Bros., who are we to question?

Attend a singles shindig

If you’re looking for someone to spend your next Christmas with, or if you just want to get out and meet other people, consider taking a page from Firefly and attending a shindig of some sort. Do a bit of poking around your area. You may find that there are plenty of social events for young (and old!) people to come, mingle, and have a good time. Ski holidays are an excellent example. For a fee, you can head up the mountain, hit the slopes, and spend your evenings sipping hot chocolate (or stronger fare) and meeting other intrepid souls intent on snow and socializing.

If you have a bit of money and really want to splurge, see if there are any singles cruises you can hook up with. If you want to keep things on the low-key side, see if your town is hosting any dances or parties, or check the community center for events. And if you yourself are a gregarious and active sort, why not start up your own geek-themed singles party? See if your local net cafes would be willing to host a LAN party, or book off part of a restaurant and make some geeky centerpieces to decorate the tables.

Take a vacation

Christmas is not a bad time to consider taking to the skies and checking out warmer climates, particularly if you play your cards right and check out the sales. For example, there are plenty of last minute flight deals, and you can always try getting a cheap standby flight. A lot of resorts realize that most people prefer to go home for Christmas and thus are likely to host special rates to try and entice people to take a vacation with them instead. If decorating palm trees for Christmas and switching turkey for a luau sounds appealing, go for it!

If money is not as much of an object, you might also want to consider heading further afield and checking out the wonderful holiday traditions in other countries. See the colorful umbrella processions in Ethiopia, attend midnight mass at the Vatican on December 25, or greet Christmas day on a Polynesian beach. And of course, there are plenty of cheap domestic options for North Americans to consider… Christmas in Vegas, anyone?

Volunteer

If this is the season of giving, then what better way to spend it giving to others who may not have a lot this Christmas? No matter where you are, there are almost certain to be plenty of volunteering opportunities during Christmas time. Whether it’s serving soup to the homeless, helping organize the food bank, singing carols at the local hospital, or even just adopting a lonely old grandmother at the seniors’ home, you can give a little of your time and make someone else’s Christmas truly special. After all, there’s no greater gift to others or yourself like the warm fuzzies.

For a much less altruistic but potentially beneficial form of volunteering, why not ask if your workplace needs help to run during Christmas day? Admittedly, many businesses are shut during this time, but if you’re in medical, transport or other service related industries, you may be doing a real good deed by stepping forward and offering to take a shift, particularly in place of workers with families. Your coworkers will love you, your boss will be impressed, and your bank account will take on a slightly rosier glow. And you can still bring peace and joy to your customers, clients and patients with a smile and a warm Christmas greeting.

Be good to yourself

Really, all of the above suggestions come down to this: do what you want to do, and what will make you happy this Christmas. If none of the above appeal to you, then do what does appeal. Indulge and treat yourself. Do something you’ve always wanted to do but never had the time, even if it’s just finishing that Dragon Quest game that’s been on your shelf for ages. Bake lots of gingerbread, curl up with a hot chocolate, and watch A Christmas Carol (bonus geek points for Muppet or Disney versions). Post Christmas wishes on your Facebook, Twitter, favorite forums, whatever. Go level a brand new goblin alt in World of Warcraft. Knit. Have a marathon of Doctor Who episodes. Buy yourself something nice and open it on Christmas Day. Go for a walk. Try snowshoeing. Eat garlic-heavy foods without kissing-related guilt.

Above all, don’t feel guilty or ashamed, and don’t let anyone else make you feel that way either. Christmas is about happiness, both in others and in ourselves. If sitting on the couch with a tub of cookie dough watching It’s a Wonderful Life makes you happy, or playing MMORPGs, or baking up Darth Vader shaped pancakes, then gorram it, that’s perfectly fine with me. And above all, don’t let yourself start feeling stupid or deficient just because you aren’t part of a couple during Christmas. You are awesome whether single or paired, and what better time to celebrate your awesomeness than now?

And if you start to feel sad that you’re not spending your Christmas with a special someone, remember that you actually ARE spending it with someone special… you!

How do/did you spend your holidays single?

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