Guys: Christmas is coming. Like, pretty soon (as I made the mistake of telling one of my grade 5 classes this week and then expecting them to do work after…oops). Christmas can mean a million and one things to you (for better or worse) depending on who you are and where you’re coming from… FAMILY! TRADITIONS! PARTIES! STRESS! OBLIGATIONS! PRESENTS! …you get the drift.
Coming at holiday traditions when you’re a single thirty-something can be a little weird. After all, most of your Christmas memories growing up involve your family, right? All those time-honoured Christmas standbys: carolling, baking, decorating a tree…they’re usually done together with the ones you love (maybe it’s just me, but I’m blanking when I try to think on the movie scene with the single girl putting up her tree alone before going out on a solo carolling sash).
Fear not! This is not a post about how sad it is to be single at Christmas. Kind of the opposite really. Because Christmas these days is summing up a feeling I’ve had for a while…which is DON’T WAIT. Allow me to elaborate…
The longer I live this old life of mine, the more I realize there is no “right,” “perfect” or “good” time for anything. There is no age or stage that deserves to do anything more or less. There is no one who should or shouldn’t decorate or celebrate more or less than anyone else. I’m not waiting around for anyone. I don’t need permission to do (or not do) anything I choose to. Yes, that may seem unconventional at times….but when has that stopped me?
I’ll get back to Christmas in a minute. But over the last few years, I’m finding I have less and less sympathy for people who use their current life situation as a reason for not doing something. A couple months back I went out with a guy (spoiler alert: only one date) and he was saying he didn’t go out to dinner much because he worked shifts and most of his friends were busy.
While I can relate (not to the shift work, but to being single and having other friends busy), I’ve also stopped caring a whole lot if I want to do something and no one else is around. This past summer, there was a new sandwich shop near my house I wanted to try. Instead of waiting until someone was available, I checked it out, brought a book, and had a tasty solo picnic in the park.
I had seen a recipe for Greek yogurt pizza crust I really wanted to try. I would’ve loved to do a dinner party with a friend (which I ended up doing the second go-round). Instead of waiting for that to work itself out, I took the plunge and treated myself on a solo Friday night (it’s amazing btw here’s the recipe). Since it was still summer, I took advantage of the warm weather and had an al fresco pizza night in my backyard.
One more solo summer adventure? I really wanted to see Crazy Rich Asians, but had no one around. You think that stopped me? Nope. Popped my popcorn, packed my snacks and headed to my local neighbourhood cinema with super-comfy reclining chairs all by myself (after all, it’s not like you talk to anyone during the movie anyway).
Point being? All the cool, fun things that people do in groups or on a date are totally available to you by yourself. You are totally deserving of whatever the heck you want to do, no matter where you are. You just have to have the confidence to own it and enjoy. And there are actually a lot of perks to doing stuff on your own.
Back to Christmas. I’ve always loved it. Always. And all the trappings and traditions that come with it. I’ve also never had a traditional family of my own, or a big house to fill with decorations. Even still, ever since I’ve lived on my own, I’ve always decorated and had a tree. My house might not be filled with people day in and day out (although for the third year running, I am hosting a pretty kick-ass holiday party), but I am there, and i will see the decorations every day, and that is enough.
Speaking of decorations, as you can see below, this year, for the first time, I added something new: an Advent calendar. I have many happy memories of our Advent calendar growing up. My mom bought a Christmas tree shaped one at Laura Secord one year and then proceeded to refill the boxes each subsequent year of our childhood. My sister and I got to have chocolates on alternate days, and it was always VERY important that mom put certain ones on odd or even days, depending on who was picking when (tragedy would strike if I ever got one of the chocolate-covered cherries that my sister loved so much. Although there was one particularly memorable year when the especially fat cherry got smushed and dripped down the back of the calendar, contaminating other chocolates…but I digress).
I had been seeing Advent calendars in store and was on the fence for the first couple weeks of November. After all, do I really need more chocolate (I mean no…but it depends on how you define “need”)…? But when one of my favourite local home stores advertised 25% all of their adorable Advent calendars in their insta stories (I really need to unfollow them) that put me over the edge. So I took the plunge and bought one.
But here’s the catch (you probably figured something was up from the post title): while it needs to be filled, I’m not going to fill it with chocolate. In fact, it’ll start December 1 empty and be filled as the month goes on. It’s my very own, brand new tradition I’m calling Reverse Advent.
Every day of Advent, I will endeavour to do something good for someone. Big or small, seen or unseen, I’m trying not to make a lot of rules or strings attached. Just to show the love of Jesus (who is the most special and amazing part of the Christmas season in my opinion) to someone else. Then I’ll write it down and date it, and into the calendar it will go. Then in future years, I can look back and remember all the things I’ve done (and since I am publicly stating this goal out in cyberspace, now I have to follow through).
So whoever you are, wherever you are. Whether the holiday season is one of joy, pain, stress, happiness or all of the above; you deserve to celebrate. To make merry. To decorate. To create re-live your favourite traditions. Or create new ones.
Speaking of mixed feelings around the holidays, if you’re struggling with feelings of “holiday survival”, I wrote a post on that last year if you want to check it out.
Whatever and however you are celebrating, I wish you joy this season. And if you have any cool traditions (old or new), I’d love to hear about them – please share!