The holiday season is kind of a hard time to be single. For a lot of us single folks, the holidays are filled with the pain of lost families and traditions because of divorce. For some of us, it’s filled with the pain of unfulfilled longing, of wanting and waiting to establish our own families and traditions.
If I’m not careful, I find myself falling into a well of apathy this time of year. Sure, I have friends and family who invite me to spend Christmas with them, but I always feel like a fifth-wheel. Not because of anything they say or do, but because of this persistent feeling of being “less-than” because of my singleness that seems to rear its head at the most inopportune times.
And being a hospital based nurse, I spend a lot of Christmas holidays at work, as I will this year. Having to work on Christmas intensifies this urge to be apathetic about the holiday. I mean, why get excited about a day that will be just like any other day of the year, right?
But that’s the error in my thinking, right there. Christmas is not about a day; it’s about a person. It’s about the birth of Jesus, about God incarnate, about the ultimate gift of sacrifice, about our salvation. And whether I’m at work or gathered around a Christmas tree with family, that fact doesn’t change.
So over the years, fighting this singleness induced temptation to apathy, I’ve discovered a unique gift in being single at Christmas. I see people scurrying about, stressing out about getting presents for everyone on their list, going into debt to get just the right gift, spending hours cooking and baking, working frantically to make Christmas day perfect. Me? Because there’s no one I’m “obligated” to buy gifts for and there are no expectations on me to prepare a traditional Christmas celebration, I get to sit back and just enjoy the holiday, taking in all the good things this time of year offers. I just get to soak in the Christmas music, revel in the Christmas lights, stare at my nativity scene and think about what Mary and Joseph must have gone through.
Being single has taught me to truly celebrate Christmas. I’ve learned that celebrating is not about the food, the decorations, the gifts. It’s a heart thing. It’s giving glory to God for his selfless act of giving. It’s being thankful that Jesus was born to be our savior. Sure, I love the parties and gift giving and all the traditions, but whether I’m alone or with people, true celebration is in my heart.
So I’m thankful for the gift singleness this year. I’m thankful that I get to take care of people on Christmas day instead of being the one needing to be taken care of. I’m thankful that I have ears to hear the Christmas music, eyes to see the sparkling lights, and a heart to love Jesus with. I’m thankful that celebration can happen whether I’m in the midst of a 12 hour shift, alone in my house, or surrounded with friends or family.
From my heart to yours, have a very happy, blessed holiday season!