Christmas is fast approaching! The more organised have crossed off lists, the semi-organised have started writing lists and everyone else is definitely considering thinking about lists …soon …maybe.
For many, Christmas plans are predictable. Traditions have been well established and you know where you’ll be for each part of the day (or 3 days), who will be part of each gathering and what the general format of each occasion will be.
For others, Christmas represents looming fear. Plans are unconfirmed. Perhaps circumstances have changed since last year – a divorce, death, you (or others) have moved, work situations have changed, family life has shifted – and so you’re not really sure what it will look like.
If you know someone who is alone NOW is the time to check they have a place to go and people to be with. Now is the time when the pending loneliness might be starting to niggle at their hearts and their peace. Now is the time they might be wondering if they ought to prepare for a quiet day alone.
So NOW is the time to extend the invitation. A simple “what are your plans for Christmas Day?” will reveal those without any. And a follow up to be included in a specific aspect of your plans will, at the very least, have them know that if they spend the day alone it will be by choice and not by force.
Celebration days can be difficult for Singles or those living far from or without extended family. “Everyone” talks of busy, tired, full and fun times that can contrast sharply with some people’s experience and that is part of the feeling of loneliness.
My friend posted this on FaceBook today and I love it.
Who are you spending Christmas with? Who could you check in with? To whom might you extend an invitation to ensure they’re not lonely this Christmas?
One of the more difficult parts of Single life for me is arriving somewhere alone.
I hate it.
There’s something quite terrifying about those first few moments when I don’t yet know where I am going to connect or fit in. Arriving alone is a vulnerable, breath-holding experience.
There was one time when I arrived at an event that was already underway. I walked around the room and there were multiple conversations happening and none of them broke from their interactions to connect with me. So I just walked back out again! It was an intensely dramatic and reactive thing to do. But I just didn’t feel emotionally strong enough to take any further ‘rejection’, so I bravely ran away.
Arriving alone makes me feel very exposed. Even as a socially competent person, I feel a little adrift without the ‘fallback’ of a partner to talk to when other options aren’t available – or even to stand awkwardly beside while they are in a conversation.
I don’t remember feeling this way when I had a partner and attended events on my own. I suspect that was because it wasn’t an always thing and I was less self-protective or sensitive. Or perhaps now the contrast of the two experiences (arriving together or alone) makes the alone feelings more pronounced, I’m not sure.
Arriving with others sets up a different posture of expectation and confidence that changes events markedly. The prospect of a party, a church service, a family gathering and all manner of events or get-togethers, is dramatically altered by the knowledge that those awkward arrival moments will be somewhat alleviated by the company.
An invitation to drive together, meet out the front or save a seat for someone arriving alone can go a long way.
It may seem like a trivial thing, but I often think that if I – in my extroverted, outgoing-ness – can feel this so acutely that I’ve elected to stay home or arrive extra late … I can’t imagine how others might deal with these feelings.
What about you? Or what about the Singles in your world? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.