The holidays can produce mixed feelings among single Christians. We want to fully embrace the festivities with joy — and sometimes we do — but arriving at parties and family gatherings without a “plus one” yet again can be discouraging. We get lonely. Nostalgia settles in strong at this time of year as we recall fond Christmas memories from childhood, and wonder when — or harder yet, if — we’ll ever have a family of our own with whom to build traditions and celebrate.
How can we acknowledge that life is a wonderful blessing when it isn’t always merry and bright? Is it OK to at times just be OK?
While shopping at Barnes & Noble this past weekend, I came across “The OK Book” by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. In this children’s story, a stick figure named OK undertakes a bunch of everyday activities such as flipping pancakes, doing a headstand and sledding down a hill. OK does everything adequately — not perfectly — but the point is to get out into the world, try new things and have fun in the process.
From this simple book, I found new inspiration to face another holiday season solo. I don’t need to put on an insincere attitude of “I’ve got this” when my heart hurts, or expect to be on a holiday high from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. It’s completely acceptable to carry on, doing the best I can to make the most of each day, one day at a time.
It’s OK to be OK. We can extend to ourselves the same grace we freely give to others. Here are a few suggestions to help the process.
It’s OK to reply “yes” or “no.”
If you want to go out with friends, great. If you’d rather stay home and watch holiday movies with your dog, awesome. One of the best parts about being an adult is determining how you want to use your time. The important part is to respond to invitations in a timely manner and follow through accordingly. Yes, even those Facebook events. Let your yes be yes, and your no be no.
It’s OK to decorate…or not.
Most years I’ve trimmed a tree, put a wreath on my front door and displayed handmade gifts from my grandmas. But there have been a couple of years when I’ve been busy with work and it’s too overwhelming. While you’re single, you get to call the shots. If you’re on the fence about decorating, I encourage you to go for it. There’s nothing like tree lights on cozy winter nights.
It’s OK to share your unfulfilled desires and longings.
This is a new one for me. I finally feel comfortable expressing my deepest longings with confidence. After years of trying to downplay my desire for marriage because it hurt too much to admit weakness, needs and/or a lack of progress, I’ve switched gears. I want my heart’s desires to be known by my family and friends…and I’ll bet you do, too. So when a relative or church lady asks if we’ve met a “special someone,” we can be vulnerable and admit to our hopes and dreams succinctly and without shame. It’s honest.
It’s OK to try new things.
Step outside of your comfort zone this holiday season. I recently tried the sport of curling for the first time. It was harder than I expected, amusing, and I’d definitely do it again. Whether it’s trying a new recipe, taking a photography class, painting your bedroom walls, exploring a new city or attempting online dating for the first time, there’s no better time than now. You never know what you’ll enjoy or dislike, gain or lose until you give it a try.
It’s OK to buy yourself a Christmas gift.
If your budget allows, treat yourself! You’ve already bought gifts for your family and donated to your favorite charities, right? Maybe you’ve been eyeing those cool boots, a new gadget or a grown-up watch. One year I bought myself a plane ticket. It was a gift that kept on giving as I looked forward with anticipation to a vacation week marked off on my calendar. Whatever floats your boat, pull out the cash, wrap that package up and open it with glee on Christmas Day.
It’s OK to love your single girl (or guy) life.
Some facets of the single life are awesome. Although I’d gladly exchange it for marriage in a hot minute, the flexibility and freedom are worth enjoying while it lasts. We can go to Starbucks for coffee and conversation with our friends on a whim. We can hit up the gym after work. We can decide on a Saturday morning to head to the mountains for a day on the ski slopes. Someday there may be a spouse and children to consider first, but whatever hobbies we want to pursue outside of work today are doable. The world is our oyster.
Just like the character in the above book, not everything will turn out perfectly. Perhaps most of our holiday endeavors will turn out average. But let’s consider it a success if we get outside of our comfort zones, try something new, and have some fun in the process this Christmas.
“Figure it out as you go,” Rosenthal said in a 2010 speech. “If it were imperative to have all the answers before beginning, no one would start anything.” Drop a pancake, fall out of a handstand, slip off the sled. “It’s OK to not have it all worked out.”
What “OK” statement would you add to the list? Which do you want to adopt this holiday season?