It’s hard to believe there is only a week left until Christmas. As is usually the case, the month of December has flown by and I have packed it in with tons of cool Holiday experiences. I decided a long time ago I was never going to miss out on a full life because I am single- this includes Christmas. As a result, I have established a number of my own Christmas traditions that are unique to me (meaning I did not necessarily do them in my family while growing up).
1. The first ‘single tradition’ I have developed is what I call my “memory tree”. I’ve mentioned my tree before on this blog, but it’s a way to decorate with ornaments that symbolize or were purchased concurrent with special moments/vacations in my life. I have an ornament for the colleges I attended, the states I’ve lived in, the places I’ve visited and the things I love to do. This year I bought a couple of new ones including an artichoke heart to symbolize my new healthy ‘heart’ (clever, right?), a cute swimming ornament, and one for my book club. Here is a photo:
2. The second ‘single tradition’ is that I participate in as much as I can during the holidays. I usually don’t go crazy but this year has been especially busy. In just the last few weeks, I have been to the Messiah Sing-In, Christmas Carol at Hale Theater Orem, Christmas Around the World and a Celebration of Christmas at BYU, and tonight I am going to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s Annual Christmas Concert (I scored tickets this year- hurray!). In addition, I have purchased my holiday gifts, sang in my voice lesson recital and had two get-together’s at my apartment (first was my book club, second was my healthy holiday dinner party).
I’m not saying every year has to be this full or other people should feel badly if their Christmas was simple. I’ve had many years where I didn’t do much. The important thing is to feel apart of the holidays and as a single person sometimes that takes more effort and planning. In fact, I may have planned such a full schedule this year because in 2009 I was sick, and the year before that I was super busy getting one of our rentals ready (plus I went to Vegas). The two traditions I make sure I do every year even if I have to drag myself sick (which I did last year!) is the Messiah Sing-in and the Christmas Carol at Hale Theater. There is something about those traditions that make my Christmas.
3. Finally, I try to do something to serve others at Christmas time. Some years this is as simple as putting extra time into selecting (or making) gifts for loved ones. Last year I was on the committee for Festival of Trees (a charity event in Salt Lake for Primary Children’s Hospital where decorated trees are showcased and auctioned off); however, I did not feel I could do such a large project this year. I was worried it would encroach on my exercise time and that has to be the priority right now (I’ve met with my trainer every week in December!). So I asked around and found a person in need of cheer and did a little secret Santa gift for them. It was a simple act of service but I’ve been uplifted by my involvement.
Some of the greatest acts of service we can do are within our families. I remember some Christmas’ in college where my family struggled to remain upbeat. It’s a long story but my parents had a small baby and were very stressed out. While I did not always have the best attitude back then, I know the service Ben, Megan and I did during those tough holiday’s meant a lot to my family- particularly my mother.
Many ideas also come from observing the needs in our community. After seeing a cold homeless man, my niece Isabel started a coat drive in her neighborhood to benefit a local shelter, and has collected over 50 coats (how cute is that!). If a 6 year old can find a way to serve then we all can!
If singles are not careful Christmas can seem like an exclusively couple/family time full of candy canes and mistletoe. However, with a little effort we can be as involved and full of the spirit of the season as anybody else. We each must decide if we are going to mope around feeling sorry for ourselves or go out and plan an activity, gather friends, buy presents, bake some holiday treats (although be careful with that one!), and watch a Christmas classic (or a cheesy Hallmark Christmas movie- whatever floats your boat!). Just as with anything else, the holidays are only as good as the effort we put into them! May yours be blessed and full of happy memories.