my single christmas, part four

There is no loneliness like the loneliness of suspecting not only are you alone, but you are probably the only person who is so entirely alone in the world that you have nowhere to actually go on Christmas day.
In 2002 I packed up my dreams and moved from glamorous Santa Barbara to…the Wirral. For a wedding. My own.
When Nick and I were just married we spent Christmases with his family at their Victorian manor. Picture an Aga, open fire, children learning the violin (in French), Observer cryptic crosswords completed before breakfast, and you have the idea. It was lovely. I even found the uncomfortable middle class silence charming and recognised it as a new (for me) tradition.
My husband is a dear person, but I moved out in 2007 when I realised he could sit in a car next to me for five hours without speaking a word, possibly without even breathing.
At the time I didn’t realise that the worst part of living on my own would not be the financial crunch or the lack of a companion at the supermarket on a saturday. No, the worst part of living on my own would be facing Christmas all by myself.
I, like Goldilocks, have tried several different ways around this pit of despair, and found none so far to my liking.

I went to see a man I had ‘met’ online who had been romancing me for months. We spent 3 days together. In bed. He got up at about 11PM Christmas eve to make lasagne for me, but otherwise I saw little of anything else but his room. This, you say, sounds like a reasonable Christmas tradition, and I wouldn’t argue with you. The only problem was he, after a great four hour conversation one night, dumped me. I asked him why he dumped me after four hours of chatting and he said because he wanted to have a nice conversation first.

Romance did not treat me so well this year. There was an incident with a woman, brief and on her part somewhat intense, that’s best left un-talked about. With Christmas looming I faced several well-meaning and concerned invitations from friends to their family celebrations.
Now, I don’t even like to be with my own family on Christmas, why on earth would I wish to inflict my unwelcome and pitiable presence upon the too intimate moments of a years-of-resentment-and-failed-connections family fete, so I could sit on a small folding chair and smile uncomfortably as someone opened up a gift, that made them smile uncomfortably.
I decided the only way to thwart these well-meaning friends was to go on a fast. No, not just a little fast or a partial fast.
A six day fast.
When they asked me to join them and I told them I was fasting their look of horror at the thought of not actually eating on Christmas day provided much satisfaction, and wiped the look of pity right off. Satisfaction.
The fast itself was another matter. Day three, I was bored, starving, and tired. Day four, listless. Day five, dizzy. Day six and either the hallucinations began or I went to a masked party at a friend’s house. I still don’t know which.
Fine, I did it. I never have to do it again, and like having done a marathon, or once been married, there is a certain smug satisfaction when the topic of detoxing and fasts comes up and I can say, ‘I did one. For six days (top that, gym girl).’

What’s the opposite of a fast, I ask myself?
I no longer felt guilty at saying no to my friends. They were giving up hope of me finding anyone, as was I, so I unrepentantly told them I was doing exactly what I liked with Christmas. And I did. I got a beautiful tree and decorated it with handmade ornaments (okay, so they were made out of leftover electrical wire and some beads from a necklace I broke. Still.). I lit candles, stayed in my pajamas, made all my favourite Christmas foods (a strange mix of vegetarian Californian food and some British touches which included nut loaf, mushroom gravy, homemade cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and salad as I was trying to be healthy), then I watched Sex in the City the Movie, The Da Vinci Code, and Scrooged whilst I ate myself into a kind of calorific stupor and assiduously avoided any texts, emails, and phone calls. This was followed by an entire bottle of prosecco, apple pie, ice cream, chocolates, and eventually a complete food coma.
Never mind that this set off a pattern of eating that carried on until, well, now-ish.

This leaves me with the inevitable question of what to do about Single Christmas Number Four. I could work in a soup kitchen but as I’ve been told that the likelihood is I would feel like an idiot with ten other idiots serving dry turkey and stuffing to two homeless guys who are trying to look pleased, for our sakes. I’ve decided to pass. I could visit a hospital or a nursing home and bring joy to some lonely person’s heart, but I have tried this once, when I was sixteen. I visited a lonely man who was in a nursing home where I used to work.
He made a pass at me.
Finally, I could go away. Holidays are okay as a singleton but at Christmas, with families on the loose, I suspect it would just be similar to visiting with a friend’s family. Minus the friend.
Christmas looms and I still have not decided yet this year how to live it. I could, of course, go back home, but somehow the thought of my family 5000 miles away still cheers me, even on Christmas day.

my single christmas, part four


Joined September 2010

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Artist's Description

A short non-fiction piece about the dilemma of spending Christmas as a singleton and how I’ve attempted to resolve it since 2007.

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  • charliethetramp
  • NightWitch
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