Hey Singles, Check Your Heart

Last year I wrote about how you can lean into the life of a single individual through the holidays, and I believe that still holds true today. The year prior I wrote about having a solo thanksgiving as I had done for several years.

But what if you’re navigating Thanksgiving with family and friends as a single, and you can feel the anxiety or the loneliness mounting?

I have been there, and it’ll surely sneak up on me at some point over the holidays too. The whisper of loneliness, of desiring someone special to share in the joy of the holiday season with, the nudge of anxiety of facing a holiday party solo or the questions of far-reaching relatives on the why of your single status.

Deep breaths…prayers….and forced smiles. That’s how you may have navigated it before, but let’s be honest, you didn’t really face it or the feeling that welled within you. You merely dodged it or pushed it aside. But eventually the feelings of anxiety and loneliness will come flooding forth, maybe while you binge Hallmark movies or are out shopping for one more gift on your single budget.

Even as you begin to journey to your Thanksgiving destination today, or are looking ahead to the next month of holiday festivities start to look at where these feelings are originating. Are they from a place within you? Are you feeling the pressure from outside sources? Is it anxiety? Is it hope for the season you are in? Find the thread of your emotions and dig deep, seek out where they lead you. Do the hard work of figuring out yourself in this season and these holidays.

Why does anxiety well up when you are faced with your marital status? Where and when are you feeling loneliness? What do you use or abuse in coping with those feelings? How could you better address them over the next month with intentionality and focus instead of packing them away for January?

Don’t let another holiday season pass where you overeat, undereat, hold a thin smile and secretly get crushed inside when Aunt Marjorie asked for the thousandth time just exactly why you are still single. In the words of comedian John Crist, “Check Your Heart.”

A Single Thanksgiving

Over the last few years I have celebrated Thanksgiving without the family. There’s been one or two thrown in over the last decade where I spent it with my sister and her family, but for the most part it’s been solo…and that’s been okay for me. For several years I used that as an opportunity to serve in the local rescue mission-preparing the dining room and then serving the meals to the homeless. It is something I really enjoy doing, and hope many of you choose to spend your day doing as well (but go serve there in January, April and July too).

This year is different. The parental units have foregone their annual beach sojourn to be at home…and the kids are coming home. Yep, no solo Thanksgiving prep this year. I’ll get to assist the master chef herself (my mother) in prepping everything with her fancy new stove Santa just dropped off.

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So I thought about those years I spent solo at Thanksgiving and thought I’d share some tips for my fellow singletons (and their family and friends too) for this upcoming holiday.

  1. It’s okay if you want to do Thanksgiving solo. It’s okay if you have no plans and no family or friends around that you want to spend the day with. If you’d rather have T-Day your way…let me be the first one to tell you, that it’s okay.
  2. It’s okay to NOT want to spend Thanksgiving solo. If you are yearning for company, swing open those doors my friends and invite people to your place. Or share with others that you are spending it alone, and you might get an invite. For several years I got invited to friends and friends’ families’ homes for Thanksgiving. I had let them know I was going it solo and I do believe there was pity on their part. But that’s okay. You are fine if you want to go over (take a side or dessert, do NOT go empty-handed) and spend time engulfed in someone else’s world.
  3. Families and friends: please do not ask about the dating world to the singleton. This is the last thing we want brought up because breaking news, WE KNOW WE ARE SINGLE. The dinner table, or the couch in front of the tv with football on, is not the place we want to discuss why we are single at holiday time.
  4. Have an attitude of gratitude this Thanksgiving, even in your singleton state. I have friends who are trying to balance multiple stops with kiddos and tense family situations on short notice…that’s their reality. Yours (and mine) is a single life that permits us to choose to check-in and check-out of the holiday spirit if we so choose…but we must be thankful for the current situation whether we are choosing it for ourselves or not.
  5. Families and friends: if you know of a singleton this holiday who might be spending it solo, offer up a seat at your table (or couch). They may not be able to get home on this short holiday weekend, or they may be without family, and really don’t want to impose by inviting themselves. Extend the gratitude, and fill them in on the fun you put in the dysfunction that is every single family in the world.
  6. Lastly, use this as an opportunity to revel in the delight that is this season of gratitude and thankfulness. No matter what your choice is or where you find yourself celebrating. You get to choose as a singleton and the choice is always thanksgiving.

 

My funny Valentines…

I went on a first date once on Valentine’s Day. Yes, that actually happens. It was in college and the guy had no clue that this particular Tuesday night was in fact Valentine’s Day. Every woman knows when Valentine’s Day is, so you can see why there may have been some curious excitement when he asked me to go out on that particular evening.

He didn’t make reservations anywhere, not thinking that it would be the busiest night out of the year for couples in restaurants. We waited for two and a half hours for a table. It was our first and last date for many reasons.


Sixth grade was the last year we did the shoeboxes on the desks for Valentine’s Day. I distinctly remember this fact because that was the year my mom told me that I didn’t have to give one to every single person in my homeroom or class. I also remember it because this was the year that they made the little attached boxes to the Valentine’s cards if you bought LifeSavers. That year, they had gummy LifeSavers available and I was overjoyed to share those with my friends and classmates. (I still have an affinity for gummy LifeSavers)

The reason I recall all of this is because even though my mom gave me the “everyone doesn’t have to get one” speech, which I appreciate in my childhood development now, I still felt I needed to give everyone some love that year. Everyone should know they matter and are appreciated, even the guy in homeroom who did nothing but aggravate me daily with his snarky comments on me reading books.


When I was in grad school I was seeing a guy for quite a while when Valentine’s Day rolled around. He thought dinner in and a movie was the ticket after a very long week of work and grad school. (We were both working full-time and in grad school, his was electrical engineering so he won on the harder courses) He made an amazing dinner complete with Cheddar Bay Biscuits (yes the Red Lobster recipe) which was a big deal because he was allergic to cheese, sad right? I made a chocolate cake that looked like a flower (#wifematerial even then). We settled in after dinner to watch a movie he rented. He kept going on about how it was a romantic one and thought it’d be perfect since we’d not seen it. It ended up being The Notebook.

Don’t get me wrong ladies, I do enjoy the movie however my grandmother had just been diagnosed with dementia so that whole story line was a bit too raw for me. I ended up sobbing for half of the movie.


My dad has the trifecta in February. With three women in his life, my momma,  myself and my sister, he was our Valentine for the better part of my life. (Still kinda is because I’m a daddy’s girl) Not only that but my lovely mom was born within a week of Hearts Day and their anniversary falls not far behind it. So he had the arduous task of going big each February. (Or one and done, as some would say)

But in the mix, he never forgot about my sister or me. If mom got a piece of jewelry, my sister and I got a little smaller piece that looked like it. If mom got the big honkin’ box of chocolates, we got the smaller version. Mom gets a big vase of roses? We got a flower each. My dad was pretty spot on, and still is, on modeling that bit of thoughtfulness in life for me and my sister. To know that men are capable, regardless of other problems or issues, of being thoughtful in ways we don’t give them credit for.


I share all these stories with you today because I have a bit of nostalgia when Valentine’s Day rolls around. I think back on the ways in which I have been shown love, kindness and appreciation. I also like to give it out. I know it shouldn’t take a specific date on the calendar to show it, but it does for us. While I attempt to show throughout the year how much I love and appreciate those around me, it’s always nice to see the world breathe love out at least on one day a year.

It reminds me that love surrounds us, encompasses us and we don’t much appreciate that in the every day. We take it for granted, we distort it, we manipulate it and we often abuse it. But today we can pause and live in it. It’s cheesiness, it’s ridiculousness, it’s amazingness, and it’s awe and wonder.

In the middle of dark times, when ugliness and evil abound we can pause and be reminded by red hearts, chocolates, flowers in bloom that love matters. Love is real. Love is present. Love is giving. Most of all, that we carry the capacity to love, to give it out and to receive it. I believe we should carry February 14 in us every day of the year, much like December 25.

But what do I know? I am filled with hope at the joy of love. I see it’s impact when we give it out and fully live into it.

Merry Christmas to All, and to All a Good Night!

Photo property of Sara Stacy. Do not copy or use.
Photo property of Sara Stacy. Do not copy or use.

Merry Christmas readers! I wanted to take time out to specifically wish you the happiest of days in celebrating our Savior’s birth.

Step away from the computer, the phone, and the iPad today and enjoy those around you. Whether it be family or friends, old or new…relish time with others in person today.

Embrace. Love. Engage (but don’t get engaged, pretty please). Most of all, delight in the joy that is the knowledge our Lord came forth at this time to bring us hope, to bring us joy, to bring us peace.

It truly is the most wonderful time of the year!

Let Tomorrow Be.

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. -Hebrews 3:13

I am really bad about focusing on today. I am a list maker, an organizer, and a planner. I am quite honestly the world’s worst procrastinator in that I will attempt to put something off, only to worry over it so much that I wind up doing it anyways. Too often, especially during this time of the year, I catch myself working into a tizzy over all the things I have to get done for the next party, the next gift to buy, tomorrow’s plans.

So today, concentrate on the day. Be fully in today. It’s a gift, given to you with new mercies, new hope, and so much joy. Tomorrow will worry about itself.

Top Five Addictions-The Holiday Edition

Top Five Friday is back…thanks to Annie for the inspiration for these posts. She’s the originator of the idea, so hop on over and check hers out.

I was joking the other day with a friend about my secret addictions. While not truly harmful in the way we often think when the word “addiction” is thrown out, they are probably not the best for me. So here we go, my top five addictions for the this time of year. It’s those things that are a must to make it the holidays, to put one in the mood to enjoy this season of the year.

treecakes_van1. Christmas Tree Cakes from Little Debbie. You know it’s bad when your family texts you about them. I hoard these things because they are amazing and lovely and full of deliciousness. I’ve already gone through one box (thanks to my boss) and another is halfway done (thanks to my Mom). There are two kinds, the one pictured to the left there is the one I like-white frosting and white creme. They also have chocolate covered and filled (bleck!). You can have those, just back off these.

2. Peppermint Mocha Creamer from International Delight. imagesIt is like a mug of magical goodness every morning. While I do enjoy the Starbucks loveliness, this is much cheaper. As soon as they start selling it in November, I buy it. Sadly, I do hoard this as well. My mom has given me the tip of freezing it so that I can continue to have it after they stop producing at Christmas. I think that I like the novelty though of having it only around this time. The same goes for anything peppermint-flavored such as M&Ms (oh my heavens are those good).

 

images3. Meltaway Mints from Hickory Farms. These suckers are out in the mall-which is trouble when you’re trying to Christmas shop. I pass on the summer sausage and cheeses, but these call out to me like a beacon of hope and joy. I have, in all honesty, sat down with the smaller bag and eaten them all at once. Then I have subsequently gotten ill from it. Lesson learned mints, lesson learned. I’m not sure why I love them as much as I do, but again, I only have them during the holidays (and Santa usually drops a bag in my stocking for good measure). If you haven’t tried them, they are horrible and you should stay away from them. Believe me I am saving you all from utter disgustingness.

4. The Christmas Card on Hallmark Channel. Now that I have proven what aimages fat kid I am with all the food-related addictions, I can now live fully into my single girl status and say I watch the Hallmark Channel. This tv movie premiered several years ago. And it’s not the holidays until I have seen it at least twice. My mom calls to tell me when it’s on, so I have even gotten her in on my addiction. Last year, we piled into her room to watch on Christmas night. It’s campy and cheesy but so nice to enjoy and be in the holiday spirit.

images5. Holiday Movies. So there are essentially two movies that must be watched at least once for it to be the holidays. The first is Love Actually. My sister and I have a tradition of watching it together while I am in town over the holiday break. It’s a must. The other is Elf. It’s on about nine hundred times, and I got to see it last night at the gym for the first time this year. Believe me I had great difficulty not “Singing loud for all to hear!!” while I was running on the treadmill. Can we make Buddy the real Elf on the Shelf instead of that creepo one that makes messes the parents have to clean up?

 

So what are some of your holiday addictions? Share them below!