What It’s Like Being Single During the Holidays

4 min read

Slice of Sweet Potato Pie | The Girl Next Door is Black

Photo cr: Katie, flickr.com Text & design: The Girl Next Door is Black

“C’mon ladies, you can do this! 15 more seconds! Think about all the delicious Thanksgiving food you’ll get to have next week. I just made a butternut squash casserole last night to test out and it was so tasty. There’re sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, turkey – which I don’t even really like…Why do I have Thanksgiving food on my mind?”

My bubbly Pilates instructor gabbed on about Thanksgiving as we held our planks for what felt like the longest 15 seconds in history. A classmate chimed in: “You have one week and a day!”

What did she say? I cocked my head to the side as we moved on to triceps exercises on the tower.

“It’s next week?!” I asked, more with surprise than an actual need for confirmation.

She nodded and gave me a curious look, probably thinking “How do you not know it’s next week?” I bet she started prepping for it weeks ago. My class is often half-full of these super-stay-at-home moms and sometimes it’s like we speak different languages and live in two different universes. When they get to talking about mom stuff, like leaky post-pregnancy bladders that prevent them from joining in certain jumping exercises, I certainly understand the concept, but I can’t really add much, unless it’s to say, “Oh yeah, I have a few girlfriends that have that problem. My bladder is in tact though; no babies. So..there’s that. Yay, Pilates!”

Well crap, I don’t have plans yet. Where did the time go?

It’s again that time of year where I have to figure out where I’m spending the holidays, so I don’t spend them alone and marathon family- and romance-oriented holiday movies on Hallmark Channel that leave me a blithering mess buried in used tissues. Or log into Facebook, scroll through friends’ festive family photos and magnificent foodscapes of mouth-drooling Instagram-worthy meals, growing bitter and more self-pitying with each “like” of a photo. To top it off, a cheerful type will post,

“Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!!! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ I’m so thankful for my blessings and to be here with my loving family on this special day. Enjoy your time with your loved ones everyone!!!!!!! πŸ™‚ !”

Sometimes Facebook is evil.

Most days I’m generally content with singlehood. A notable exception is when the holiday trio of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve roll around. Instead of being filled with glee and anticipation, I feel anxiety: “What am I going to do with myself this year?” These three holidays are when I’m most vulnerable to loneliness and melancholy. It ain’t easy being alone on holidays that revolve around love and togetherness. When these holidays are good, they’re fantastic. If you’re single and your family (of origin) lives states away and other single friends fly off to reunite with their families, these holidays become a source of stress.

Thanksgiving is particularly more difficult to plan for because traditionally, I, like many others, don’t get much time off from work. Flying somewhere for a four-day weekend at Thanksgiving prices doesn’t seem smart. So, you’re alone. What to do?

Christmas Dinner Table Set, Photo cr: Celeste Lindell, flickr.com | The Girl Next Door is Black

Photo cr: Celeste Lindell, flickr.com

The single folks aren’t the first thing that come to mind when most people are planning Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts. It’s nothing personal, I’m sure. They’re just focused on their families. I’ve done a few Friendsgivings with other single friends in the past. I could never find a consistent group though; people kept moving. I’ve spent a few Thanksgivings with other friends’ families. Though, I can’t help but feeling like “one of these people doesn’t belong.”

I’ve volunteered a couple of times. I don’t much like volunteering for holidays. It’s a lot like being a regular gym-goer on January 2nd. Suddenly the gym is packed with people who’ve vowed to get fit this year! By February 2nd, the gym is back to normal.

I’ve spent at least one Thanksgiving and one Christmas alone and I didn’t really care for it. Though, you can’t spend the holidays with just anybody.

Sometimes you get the pity invites. Where, for instance, a random coworker asks what your plans are for Thanksgiving and you panic because you don’t have plans yet, but you don’t want to say that and seem like a friendless loser. You also don’t want to lie, so you casually answer, “I don’t know yet…” Trailing off to allude to the million wonderful invitations you are sifting through. They reply, with an undercurrent of hesitance, “Well…you’re welcome to spend the holiday with my family. My grandma’s kind of racist, haha, but she’s harmless. I’m sure she’ll like you. I’ll have to check with my husband/sister/cousin/brother/mother/uncle’s wife’s dog first. I’m sure it’ll be fine though! The more the merrier, right?”

You know they’re just being polite and given you don’t even hang out outside of work, spending an intimate holiday together might be a little awkward.

Or you accept a friend’s invitation to dinner with her family who isn’t American, so Thanksgiving means something entirely different to them. Ordinarily you love to eat myriad cuisine, but on Thanksgiving you just want Thanksgiving food, there are 364 other days in the year to eat other stuff. You can’t complain though. Your friend invited you and that was very sweet of her, so shut up and eat the rice.

Also, why does everyone in California eat pumpkin pie? Has no one never heard of the far superior sweet potato pie?

Yes, I like marshmallows on my sweet potatoes; no I don’t think it’s too sweet. My family originated in the South – well, after Africa – I want my Thanksgiving food to taste like someone put their foot in it.

Why are their raisins in this dish?

Jokes aside, it’s a beautiful thing when other people invite you to be part of their family for the day and include you in their holiday memories. There are no rules for what makes up a family and I’m grateful to those who’ve included me.

I’ve got to figure out what I’m going to do this year. It’s a week away!

Thank goodness I’ve got a trip planned for Christmas and New Year’s Eve.


Can anyone else relate?

(Visited 118 times, 3 visits today)

  • mommyinsports
    December 1, 2014

    I remember those days….but at least you have such wonderful friends! Hope you had an awesome holiday…now back to Monday. Ick!

  • momssmallvictories
    November 29, 2014

    Thanks for sharing with #SmallVictoriesSundayLinkup. I bet its hard to be around supermoms but I bet if you accept one of the invites you might see all the chaos of trying to have a meal with young kids around and appreciate being single. πŸ™‚ its like being the favorite aunt, you can sugar up the kids, get them all hyped up and leave them for the parents to discipline and return to your quiet peaceful house.

  • mojoshawn
    November 29, 2014

    Bahahaha! “Why are there raisins in this dish?” Yeah, I don’t like my mashed potatoes that way, either.

  • jarretr
    November 23, 2014

    Gosh, those “I’m so blessed with my amazing life” Facebook posts are the worst. It’s a very solipsistic way of looking at the world. Think about it, if you’re so blessed, what about other people, through no fault of their own, who aren’t blessed? What did they do wrong? And what did YOU do to be so darn “blessed?” Likely you were just born under some very fortunate circumstances that others missed out on. It’s better just to appreciate your fortunate circumstances in private. Moreover, most “happy” and “prefect” families on social media are, in real life, mountains of petty dysfunction and arguing — because they’re human. Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving, Keisha!

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      November 24, 2014

      Reminds me of when people thank God for winning an award they prayed to win. What about the people who lost? What does that mean for them?

      Thanks, Jarret. Happy (belated?) Thanksgiving to you!

  • Alyssa
    November 22, 2014

    I’m not planning to do anything for the holidays. My family is only a few hours drive away from me, but I always end up wishing I had stayed home instead whenever I visit for the holidays. This year, sitting in front of the tv and watching “White Christmas” with some hot cocoa actually seems fine to me.

    I’m not sure why people always ask about our plans for the weekend or holidays. I’ve always been the kind of person that minds my own business and never asks other people. I think people usually like to ask so that they could be asked in turn and discuss their own exciting plans. Otherwise, why would they ask if they would feel awkward bringing you over for Thanksgiving?

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      November 23, 2014

      Ah yes, then there’s another angle of spending the holidays solo: choosing to do so voluntarily. I know for some people the festivities aren’t worth the trouble.

      I think for some people, the idea of someone spending a holiday alone is so troublesome, they extend invitations that they might not ordinarily. People are emotionally extra-charitable this time of year.

      Happy Thanksgiving whatever you do!

  • Amy Jo Pendergrass (@WhereMagicLives)
    November 22, 2014

    Such a great post…and oh so true! While this is such a wonderful time of year, as a single person there are definitely days that bring me down. I take heart in knowing there are other lovely ladies going through the same thing.

    Stopping by via the #SITSsharefest!

  • Katie
    November 22, 2014

    I love this post! Just remember when you’re reading those Facebook posts how unrealistic they actually are! That always makes me feel better lol.

    Thanks for using my photo! πŸ™‚

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      November 23, 2014

      Thanks, Katie! I am glad I found your photo because it led me to your blog, which I liked!

      You’re totally right about Facebook. Normally I am impervious to it’s dangerous pitfalls, but holidays weaken me. :p

  • Myss Smith
    November 22, 2014

    Awesome post! Yep, been there, done that, and refuse to write about it lol. I’ve been single for every Thanksgiving, and celebrated the holiday by giving thanks for the friends near me when I wasn’t near family. Hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving and be sure to stay away from those who like to brag via social media lol.

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      November 24, 2014

      Thank goodness for friends is right!

      Happy Thanksgiving to you too; whatever you decided to do, I hope you enjoy it. πŸ™‚

  • BritishMumUSA
    November 22, 2014

    Oh, I can relate in as much as I am from London living here in the USA. No family from my side for the holidays. The family from the Hubs side as we have grown has gotten smaller. His brothers and their wives have moved and the kids have grown so now it is just his Mum that comes for the holidays. This year my daughters girlfriend and her mum will join us for Thanksgiving, and I think it will be great, along with his mom. The Hubs and I traveled for a year and a half, and did holidays with each other. Thank was fun as it was different, but missed having family. We also back in college did the whole friends giving, that was BRILLIANT, who the heck as a student barely surviving can afford to fly home??? Hope you find a home to drop into this year!!!!!!

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      November 22, 2014

      My university was only a few hours drive or bus ride away, so I would go home for Thanksgiving. I couldn’t wait to have homecooked food that wasn’t ramen or spaghetti. πŸ™‚

      Wow, travelling for a year and a half sounds like a dream! That’s amazing.

      I did end up findng a family to “take me in” for Thanksgiving. :p

      • BritishMumUSA
        November 22, 2014

        Yeah glad you are going to a home for the hols….. I love opening up my home. We have had it all here. Our oldest daughter always brings stragglers with her, so I alway make more…. Have a brilliant holiday!!!!

  • TheFitEmpress (@TheFitEmpress)
    November 22, 2014

    I love this post! It’s a unique position to be in and not enough of us talk about the holiday scramble singlehood causes this time of year.

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      November 23, 2014

      I agree, it’s not something people talk about very often. So, I decided to write about it. I know I am not the only one who deals with this.

      Thanks for your comment!

  • Samantha Angell
    November 22, 2014

    I can somewhat relate in a way. My husband and I live in Sweden for his job, so we don’t get to spend the holidays with our families- it is hard to scroll through social media and see everyone else with theirs! I usually avoid social media around the holidays as much as possible. Visiting from SITS, hope you have a great weekend!

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      November 22, 2014

      Yeah, social media, especially FB and Instagram, is not the place to be if you’re feeling discontent with your life. Hehe.

      Living in Sweden sounds cool!

  • Yvonne Chase
    November 22, 2014

    My girlfriend wants me to come to her and her hubbys gathering of 35. I’d definitely be there if an airplane wasn’t necessary.

    May join a friend and his wife in their new home. I have no idea what I’m doing. I love the big 3 holidays. Will figure something out shortly.

    Stopping by from SITS

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      November 22, 2014

      35 people! Holy cow. I don’t think I’ve been to a family gathering that large. Sounds amazing! Happy Thanksgiving whatever you end up doing!

      Thanks for coming by. πŸ™‚

  • Mamapotamus
    November 22, 2014

    We usually invite at least one person to our family Thanksgiving. This year, it’s my brother’s new college roommate who is from states away and is new to town. We are a family of Southern origin as well so we have that Southern Hospitality thing going. Anyone who comes to Thanksgiving dinner is automatically family and is subject to love and ridicule of their favorite football team.

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      November 22, 2014

      Aw, I miss that Southern hospitality. I know if I were back in Texas, I’d probably have had many unsolicited invites before the end of October (well and my family, haha). I love that you guys invite someone new each time. That’s so generous and kind. I’d like to do that some day when I do have my own feasts. πŸ™‚

  • Kennedy DeSousa Photography
    November 20, 2014

    I can relate! There was a time when I didn’t meet my other half’s family for many years. I spent Thanksgivings with various friends and extended family. Maybe you can throw a small dinner with friends that are in the same situation. I did that one year… We ended up baking chicken and had a few drinks. Whatever you do I hope you have a memorable holiday!

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      November 21, 2014

      Yep, exactly! You become a Thanksgiving rover. Haha. Thanks for the suggestion. You guys have a great Thanksgiving!

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