Ah, those holidays…

With the holidays upon us once again, I am faced with the annual question: what do I offer my coupled, family-committed friends? Should I offer them a replacement spouse/partner so that they can take the long weekend off to contemplate in solitude? So that they can join the scores of us singles who use these times to renew and refresh because we do not have the obligation to rush from one partner’s family’s house to the other? I feel so sorry for my poor coupled friends! As if the holidays aren’t stressful enough – now they have to do everything in duplicate. It is so draining to have to go to the dinner with family instead of kicking back with a pizza and watching old movies. A house filled with noisy kids and adults getting drunk can really depress that holiday spirit. My heartfelt condolences to all those who cannot just stroll through the woods enjoying the wonders of solitude.

So, around this time of year, I approach my coupled friends and tell them: “You poor soul, it must be so hard to be coupled around this time of year. You not only have to put up with your own family’s holiday frenzy but, no, that’s not enough, your partner’s family piles on the demands and stresses. I am sorry that you can’t just do what you want to and sleep all day!” How often I glean a shimmer of a tear in their eyes when they recover from the shock that I – the single person – am so lucky. They quickly swallow down the jealousy and pretend that I am really the poor slop. But I know better than that: All the attempts to make me feel lonely are just weak cover-ups of their need for solitude. They could not possibly admit that what they want more than anything else is hide from the masses and have a carefree holiday. And, yes, they won’t admit that they are jealous of my freedom!

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Ah, those holidays… — 2 Comments

  1. Love it! Turn the tables on those smug marrieds! 🙂 You know, it’s true that the married couples I know usually have a problem with at least one side of the family. At least one partner doesn’t enjoy seeing the in-laws, and that makes the holidays stressful. I, on the other hand, have no such obligations. I visit my own extended family (for the most part, I like them), and then I go home. I don’t envy my married friends one bit. I used to dream that when I got married, I’d have this new, big, warm family to hang out with. But the reality is that that’s just a fantasy, the familial equivalent of Prince Charming. In many cases, relations with the in-laws are awkward, strained, or downright hostile.

    @Paula: You are so right! Studies show that men in particular are more likely to leave their wives when they become seriously ill. Although I’ve never been married, my experience with partners has been that they don’t generally respond well when I’m not in good health. They become impatient for me to get well and frustrated with my limitations. I’m actually chronically ill now, and I’m so relieved I’m not in a relationship. I know it would lead to arguments, and it’s the worst thing to be emotionally stressed when you’re physically stressed, too.

  2. What a wonderful post. I dread the holidays because of forced time spent with people I don’t really like. I only see my family three times a year and we all live within 2 hours of each other. Actions speak louder than words. So I guess if I really wanted to see them, I would do so more often.

    Your post reminds me of a comment my mother-in-law made about my friend who was going through breast cancer and the subsequent chemo treatments. She said “Oh, poor Susan, she is all alone.” My friend is NOT alone, she is just not married or coupled with anybody. I angrily told my mother-in-law that I could not imagine going through chemo while having family obligations to children and a husband. My friend had myself and other friends who drove her to chemo and took her home. We went grocery shopping for her and ran other errands. She was very grateful and we happily helped her.

    My friend was very sick and very fatigued during chemo. Some days, she could not make it to work. She even said that she was glad she was not married while going through this. She said that she didn’t feel very attractive and couldn’t imagine having to be intimate during this time or having to come home from chemo to do laundry and cook. I brought up John Edwards and how he coped with his wife’s illness by having an affair. Just because someone is married or coupled does not ensure that that person will stand by you when you need them most.

    I love your comments about being alone. That is what I want for Christmas from my family….a day to spend by myself.

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