John Mayer has this song called “St. Patrick’s Day.” The chorus goes like this:
No way November will see our goodbye.
When it comes to December, it’s obvious why.
No one wants to be alone at Christmas time.
And come January we’re frozen inside,
Making new resolutions a hundred times.
February, won’t you be my valentine?
And we’ll both be safe ’til St. Patrick’s Day.
And like, shoot. These are really good lyrics.
Of course, I don’t really like or trust John Mayer. So I thought November would be a great time to break up with my boyfriend. After moving across the country to be with him. Making me as the beautiful triad of single, unemployed, and friendless, 3,000 miles from anything I know.
But guess what? I’m doing good! It’s turning out to be a pretty funny story, that gets funnier as time marches on.
In case you’re in the same awkwardly bobbing-through-life ship that I am, here are some tips for surviving the holidays newly single or chronically single, and away from home:
Decide if you’re going to ignore or embrace the holiday. My first instinct was to ignore – I didn’t want a tree, I didn’t talk to my family, and loudly proclaimed that I wasn’t going to buy anyone any presents, because we are healthy and live in America, and that’s a present enough. But then I got a little grumpy about not having a tree, and hauled in a branch from the backyard to dress up as one. I made Pinterest-fail ornaments, and attempted to decorate the house with my roommate. Its all very Charlie Brown, but at the very least, makes for a very good story.
- Do not call your ex.
- Do something to relieve the stress of the holidays. For me, this was deciding to not buy a single present this year. I will send no cards, I will not brave any holiday crowds, I will not spend hours of my life wondering what the hell I did with the tape that was just in my hand.
- Do work, son. The only day I’m not working for three weeks straight is Christmas Day, because we’re closed. I like to stay busy, and I like to make money.
- Do not call your ex.
If you’re gonna do any presents, do something silly for yourself. I’m cocktail waitressing right now, and have been saving all my tip money in a mason jar without counting it. After I get off my shift on Christmas Eve, I’m going to wrap them up and then open a box of hard-earned cash on Christmas Day, and feel the satisfaction of getting that rent paid early!
- Adopt the other holiday orphans. There will always be people around you who can’t get home for the holidays. I invited them to my house for some spaghetti and card games. Now I have things to do and people to be with!
- Clean things. Work out. Organize your socks. Productivity feels great and keeps you busy and keeps you from calling your ex.
- Get an accountability partner to make sure that you do not call your ex.
- Accept the love of strangers and friends and family. People will be worried about you. I have several tables of customers each night that discover I’m a California transplant, ask what brought me here, find out, ask what I’m doing for Christmas, and then are horrified. All older women ask how my momma is handling it. I’ve been invited to different churches, to people’s homes, to the traditional Jewish Christmas of Chinese food and movies. I’ve had my hand held by old gay men who wanted to take me drinking, and offered recipes for “a really good roast. You need good food, dear.” I’ve been surprised with packages from family, friends, and even a relative stranger from church! Love is good. Allow yourself to be loved.
Get to church. Sing the songs, pray the prayers, feel the feels. I always leave church happier than when I came.
- All the twinkly lights and sappy songs and boxed wine will make you feel warm and tingly and remind you of your singleness. Your memories of your relationship and why you broke up will grow fuzzy under the light of the fireplace and the eggnog brandy. But you may NOT, under ANY CIRCUMSTANCE call your ex. No “hey, thinking of you” “how are you” “hope you’re okay” sentimental BS. There is a reason (or perhaps many reasons, and it might do you good to write them out to remind yourself) why you are not together on this holiday, and in life in general. Hide your phone, if you must. Be. Strong.
- Do good. That’s what the holidays should be about. Volunteer somewhere. Bake goodies to drive around to your favorite homeless people. Write random Facebook messages to friends you haven’t talked to in a while. Sprinkle love via text messages. Let your mom know you’re okay. Take silly pictures of yourself to send to your siblings.
Enjoy being alone. A few months ago, I would have been swimming in my own tears just thinking about being alone on Christmas, but now I’m like, “hey, my roomie is gone, i can take a bubble bath for hours, the mimosas all to myself, set my laptop up next to the bath and watching chick flicks until my toes turn to raisins.” I won’t have to wear a bra for three days, my dishes will go unwashed, and I will get to sleep-in uninterrupted. I can control the heating system, play music at all hours, cry when I need to and dance when I want to.
- Remember, this is just another day, and you’re no less of a person if you’re single today than you were when you were single yesterday, or when you’re still single tomorrow. Maybe it looks like everyone in your Facebook feed is winning at life with the rate of proposals, marriages, babies, promotions, marathons, traveling, etc. that everyone but you seems to be doing. But you’re on your own path. March on, soldier. March on.
With as much wine as is necessary.