Tag: singles

My Imaginary Husband

imaginary husband

So today was an interesting day at church.  It started with an early meeting with my bishop and  a surprise release from my calling as Relief Society secretary.  It was a bit of a bittersweet moment for me because on one hand I felt relief because it frees up a lot of time (at least until the next responsibility comes along).  The reason they released me is they dissolved the whole presidency.  They did not give me a new calling so your guess is as good as mine.  I’d love if they called me to be a teacher.  (As stressed out as I’d get teaching I still learned a lot).

Then we went to sacrament meeting and had one of those ‘when I was a boy’ talks where old people berate the incarnate modern times while waxing nostalgic about their television, movies, music etc.  (Remind me to never do that when I’m 80).  The truth is every generation has its good sides and bad sides.   After all, blacks and whites couldn’t get married or go to the same pools when he was a teenager, so it hasn’t all gone down hill.  Sigh…

Then we had Sunday School which was academic but fine and relief society.  I was busy as we got things started and then had the lesson which was on marriage.  Now, I have no problem with a lesson on marriage.  Everything is not about me after all.  However, this focused on ‘keeping the romance alive’.  How exactly do I keep the romance alive with a relationship I don’t have?  She even went so far as to give tips on writing love notes to your husband and talking about her vow renewals in Africa and Tahiti (I thought vow renewals were discouraged by the church.  Who knew?).

Anyway, I normally wouldn’t care but for some reason it rubbed me the wrong way.  I let a tear out during closing prayer and tried to sneak out but my visiting teaching companion saw me and was inspired to offer words of encouragement.  She’s normally not a super cuddly person so I knew her thoughts were sincere, and I was very grateful that she followed the spirit.

As I was thinking about the women talking about their husbands and how one brought them breakfast in bed every weekend and another always did the dishes, I started to wonder what I would want in a husband.  I guess thinking about what you’d like to have seems less melancholy than what you don’t.

One of my pet peeves is when I say something like ‘I’d like to marry a Republican’ and my friends say ‘Oh, I bet that means you’ll marry a Democrat’.  This is very annoying.  Yes, I get that he probably won’t be anything like I think but am I supposed to have no idea what I’m looking for because if I do I will get the opposite?  This doesn’t seem logical to me.

How do you find it if you haven’t given it some thought?

I look at it like searching for a house (although even more frustrating).  When househunting I had a list of must-haves.  Over time, about 3/10 of those must-haves didn’t come to fruition, but I don’t think creating the list was a bad idea.  It helped me get the 7/10 and some things I didn’t know I wanted.

So, it begs the question- what would my imaginary husband be like? Here goes nothing:

I think he would be kind if a little obstinate, have opinions on things and be open to discussion (I used to know a guy who had no opinions on anything, such a turnoff), he gives good hugs and has a nice smile, he probably likes the outdoors more than me but we can go to a lake and he can set up camp while I swim.

He loves God and tries his best to be a good man and worthy priesthood holder.  He leans conservative and is interested in learning/talking about the world and new things.  He is ok with the fact we might not be able to have our own kids.

He is willing to do laundry and doesn’t care that I hate to iron.

I imagine he comes from a big, loud family like my own, or at the least can relate when I love them and when they are driving me nuts.  He lets me have time with my girls and he can do his own thing.  He comes to my recitals or my swim meets even if he hates them.  I will come to his events even if they are deadly dull.  We both watch movies, TV and sports together.

Most importantly he loves me and when we fight (which I imagine will be somewhat explosive!) we still know that our marriage is eternal and our commitment is above any such squabbles.

Overly-simplistic? Yes.  Unrealistic? Yes. The only way to stay sane? Yes.

President Eyring has a talk called The Law of Increasing Returns where he talks about how some harvests are immediate and some late, requiring great faith.  It can defy human nature to keep ‘working and waiting with nothing seeming to come of it’.  He speaks eloquently about the moment of frustrations some of us have when we decide ‘what’s the use?’.  ‘I seem to be giving too much and getting too little’.

One of his words of wisdom for dealing with late harvest is to create a picture of what you are working for.  I just love this (seriously everyone should read this talk):

“You rarely can have a photograph of that future for which you now sacrifice, but you can get pictures. Years ago, near the time of that sacrament meeting, it occurred to me that I would sometime perhaps have a family. I even joked about them, calling them “the red heads.” My mother’s hair had been red when she was young. I certainly didn’t think the idea of red heads was inspiration, just an idea. But more than once that picture was enough to make me work, and wait.

If all my four sons were here tonight, you would see two blond heads and two red ones. In a kitchen chat one evening, one of them said to me he’d not mind exchanging red hair for beach-boy blond. I just smiled. All dads may think their sons are handsome, but I would not exchange his red hair, nor my early vision of it, for spun gold.

It’s not wise to daydream, and I’m not recommending it. If you girls dream too much about a house or a car, some poor man will someday have to get it for you. But I recommend a little thought, not about things or places but about people.”

So, yes my imaginary husband is ridiculous but I agree with President Eyring that it is wise to have a picture of what you are working hard to achieve.  Perhaps it makes disappointment more acute but I don’t know? If I have no idea what I am looking for does that not leave me more open to being disappointed?   Regardless, it is the only way to do things.  Not to be living in the stars but to have a goal, an image, a picture of who someday I might get a love note from and who I can give lessons about our great love in church…. (Remind me not to do that either!)

Advertisements

Benefits of Living Alone

As all my facebook fans know I’ve been deeply absorbed in a new non-fiction read:  Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone by Eric Klinenberg.  Through both anecdotal and statistical evidence Klinenberg examines the new reality of 31 million US residents—roughly one out of every seven adults—live alone.

By the way, I love a good non-fiction.  Reading this book reminded me of the excitement I felt when I read The Great Good Place by Ray Oldenberg, Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam- which discusses social and political loneliness not living arrangements,  Urban Tribes by Ethan Waters, and The Big Sort by Bill Bishop.  Books like this make you feel validated because someone is taking your life choices seriously and examining them for both good and bad side effects.

The book description sums it up best “Though conventional wisdom tells us that living by oneself leads to loneliness and isolation, Klinenberg shows that most solo dwellers are deeply engaged in social and civic life. In fact, compared with their married counterparts, they are more likely to eat out and exercise, go to art and music classes, attend public events and lectures, and volunteer. There’s even evidence that people who live alone enjoy better mental health than unmarried people who live with others and have more environmentally sustainable lifestyles than families, since they favor urban apartments over large suburban homes.”

Recently this has been on my mind because in moving to the family ward I have found an untold number of people who are surprised even shocked that I live alone. This happened so frequently that I began to feel hesitant in bringing it up and perhaps a bit of defensiveness.  Who, after all, does not feel a little bit defensive when their lifestyle is questioned.

This reaction is particularly weighted in my community where marriage is not only a goal for a happy life but a requirement for exaltation and eternal life.  By choosing to live alone during this portion of my life some may fear I have abandoned hope of meeting Mr.  Sunshine, or that I have something against marriage.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  I strongly support traditional marriage and believe it is a holy institution.

From my view living alone is proof of that support.  I value the institution enough to not settle for anything less than the right person.

That said- I value my life enough to keep moving forward and progressing with or without a man. Perhaps this feels more natural to me because I’ve never really had a romantic partner.  Not sure why but it is the truth.  I have always been a social butterfly, with lots of friends and activities but never met someone I wanted to date more than a couple times or certainly marry.  The way I see it finding the right person is not in my control.  I can do what I can but even when doing those things he may not come into my life.  God has His reasons for this and I trust Him.

What can I control?  I can control where and how I live my life.  I can control how hard I work, what friends are worth nurturing and what activities are worth my time.  For me, living alone is my opportunity to control my life in a definite and concrete way.  I love that!

For example, by attending church each week I am deciding what I believe and want to dedicate my life to.  There is no one else to get me out the door or push me into getting ready.  I am not doing it to set an example for children or to keep a relationship happy.  I am doing it because I believe it is true and the best way to live MY LIFE.

People often seem worried about my social life living alone and that a sense of isolationism will overtake me. I’m not going to lie and say that never happens but as Klinenberg points out loneliness can happen in any situation. In an interview of a woman named Helen he says:

“In Helen’s view for most of us loneliness is inevitable.  It’s part of the human conditions, and she rejects the belief that living alone is its source.  ‘People are in an incredible panic to avoid being alone in the room with themselves’, she explains, but their desperation can lead to disaster because ‘there’s nothing more lonely than being with the wrong person…When a relationship doesn’t go well, its a very lonely situations.  You can’t go to the person that you’re with for help because, in your eyes, they are the problem.  So you become a little island all to yourself within that relationship, and it’s very lonely'”

I would wager to say that even in the healthiest of relationships there are periods of isolation and loneliness that top anything I have felt through living alone . There are a few moments where I wish I could call on someone to help with the groceries or fold the laundry (laundry I detest). The times I wish I didn’t live alone the most is when I am sick because there is no one there to take care of me and nurse me.  Luckily such moments are few and far between and I make do.  In general I believe I am not a lonely person despite living and working alone.

Many singles, particularly single women, who live alone are remarkably active and social in their community.  “The General Social Survey, which is the largest study of American social behavior, shows that single women above age 35 (divorced as well as married) are more likely than their married contemporaries to do the following activities: see or visit a best friend at least weekly, have a ‘non-visit’ contact with a best friend at least weekly, spend a social evening with neighbors, regularly participate in informal group activities and be a member of a secular social group. ”

The great thing about living alone is all of those interactions are done by my choosing.  I am not forced to be friends with my husbands peers or make nice with my kids friends parents.  Is that not a blessing?

Klinenberg goes on to say that not only can it be a blessing to live alone but it is in many ways the fulfillment of the American spirit.  The idea of self reliance and rugged individualism is woven into the fabric of the American dream.  Ralph Waldo Emerson said in his essay ‘Self Reliance’ that “society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members” and “Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world”.

Henry David Thorough made the case for self reliance by moving out to Walden pond and living alone “I have, as it were, my own sun and moon and stars, and a little world all to myself” .   That’s how I feel about my apartment.  It is a little world all to myself.  I have a form of freedom that is not possible in a relationship, and while I would love to meet someone, I don’t think there is anything wrong for appreciating the life I have, while I have it.

As a silly example, I have pink bed sheets and pink curtains with 2 Audrey Hepburn posters on my wall as a headboard of sorts.  Could I have this room when I marry?  Probably not and I’m OK with that but its exciting to do things uniquely my way while I have the chance.

I also have the freedom to live my life the way I want.  For example, a friend of mine recently told me about the efforts his wife makes at keeping him on a diet.  Portioning out food, making only healthy recipes and scolding him when he diverges off the plan.  I laughed when he told me saying  ‘and people think in  Mormon marriages the man rules the roost!’.  In some ways this is very touching and loving but it made me feel proud of my own weight loss journey.  I did it on my own with no micromanaging from anyone.  While everyone’s support has been key the day-to-day decisions are mine.

Almost half of the people in DC and New York live alone. Amazing.

There are also more silly benefits of living alone including full usage of the fridge (and particularly freezer space), full control of the television and the DVR space, freedom to keep the home as clean or messy as you wish, and entertain as little or as much as you prefer without asking permission from roommates or spouses.

I can also put up whatever Christmas tree or other holiday decor I want without consulting any other opinion.   My apartment is something that is mine and mine alone.  Is there not something appealing about creating your own space that is just for you?  I am sure if I do get married I will still need my own space whether it be in the form of a garden, park, room or even a jetted tub!

I also have complete discretion on how I spend my money, which to me is very empowering.  I can take a long shower or turn my heat up to whatever I want.  I can take a trip if I decide I have the money for it.  I can go out to eat or get frozen yogurt before dinner.  I can lead the life I want to lead.  I love that!

I enjoyed living with roommates for years, had 31 of them from 17 to 28.  I had good relationships with all of my roommates and 3 of my current best friends were former roommates.  I loved creating a mini-family with my friends but there just became a time where I needed to move on from an adolescent roommate experience to a fully functional grown up living on my own experience.

The cravings to have my own space really started after my mission- the ultimate shared experience, 24/7 no breaks with a total stranger.  I was a little scared at first that it might be socially difficult but I’m so active with church, gym, voice lessons, friends etc that I honestly have not felt lonely much.  In fact, I revel in the sanctuary I’ve created for just ME! Aside from getting married, I don’t think I would like having a roommate again, even with someone I love like a family member or dear friend.

I’ve always been fiercely independent, so in many ways living alone is the ultimate example of my nature.  I have achieved independence in every way possible and yet I’m still a remarkably social and giving person.  I have found a lifestyle that I like, even if it stumps and confuses others.  Hopefully by knowing me people’s views will be expanded and stereotypes erased (speaking of stereotypes… I do not own a cat. I’m allergic!).

I work alone.  I live alone.  I’ve traveled alone.  I go to the movies alone (something that befuddles most people) but in truth I am never really alone.  Jesus Christ and His spirit are always with me.  I have spent probably a cumulative month of my life feeling truly alone and those were some of the hardest days, but learning to reach for my Savior during those tough times made me a believer to the end.  He has never abandoned me in the lonely times.  If anything I feel His presence more and more with each tear I might cry.

I promise I want to get married, so please don’t read this thinking ‘Rachel is getting too set in her ways’.  Send Mr.  Sunshine my way and I’m all over it. 🙂

Random Thoughts IV

This is one of my random jumbled posts.

1. Got home yesterday.  Long day at the airport (funny that when I’m volunteering my seat up the wait isn’t so bad because I get a free ticket but if I’m delayed its torture!).  Fun trip visiting the fam and my parents.  I particularly enjoyed spending 2 nights with my sister and her family.  I find I get more out of one-on-one interactions rather than chaotic groups.  Its hard to go from being the sole ruler of my roost to being surrounded by people.  Does it seem selfish to say that?  Oh well, its true.

2.  Thanks to my Dad who gave up his bed and slept on the floor so I would have a place to sleep for 2 of the nights home.  Thanks Dad!  I had a great time at the Turkey Trot and totally want to do it next year but it was very exacting on my body.  I had serious pain for 3 days.  It hurt to sit up, move, walk, do anything.  Having sleep on a comfortable bed was essential to my muscle recovery.

3. I am not good at hiding my emotions.  Never have been.  If I’m hungry, tired, upset, frustrated, or in pain most people know.  I try to keep it inside and ‘be a trooper’ but I can never seem to pull it off.  Thank goodness I have understanding family and friends.  I suppose this is one benefit of living alone.  I can moan and groan all I want to myself!

4. I must express my doubts about the sugar fast.  It doesn’t seem to be changing my cravings.  I still crave sweets bad and when I eat them they taste just as great as they did before…I don’t know how much longer I can keep this up!  If I’m honest I really kind of hate it.  I hate dieting in general because I feel it excludes me from a full life experience.  Still, I suppose it is a necessary evil.

5. Good news on the Poler front!  We had a very successful Black Friday sales weekend and are looking forward to a great Christmas season.  There are still bugs to work out but congrats to my the Poler team for a great start!  Particular shout out to my brother who has worked so hard on this new company.

6. I am setting up my tree tomorrow!  Can’t wait.  Its a tight squeeze with my new sofa but I will make it work.

7. Speaking of new furniture I made one black friday purchase- a new ottoman for my main room.  Now I have one for each sofa.  Isn’t it pretty and only $73!  Thank you Walmart! (Yes, I am a Walmart shopper. In fact, I think they get a bum rap.  They have reasonable insurance for their employees, livable wages and their products are in general good quality.  I’ve actually been more impressed with their furniture/decor items than Ikea or Target and really are either of those 2 companies any less of a corporate giant?).

8. It has actually happened, my friends, I don’t have to convince myself to exercise anymore!  For literally years it was a chore to get my but out the door.  This week I realized I actually want to go and feel remorse when I can’t go.  This is particularly true for swimming (which I haven’t done for over a week 😦 ).  I really miss it when I can’t do it.  I was going to swim on Thursday with my friends but then there ended up being work commitments and I can’t go. The person asked “Do you have to go swim?”.  Its honestly like asking if I need to eat lunch.  Well, technically I could survive without it but I will miss it!

9.  I decided during this trip that I am going to start walking/running once a week from now on.  With how difficult my recovery was from the 5k I need to work out those walking muscles more often.  Walking is such an easy thing to do while traveling and swimming is very difficult (at least in the winter). Anyone want to be my weekly walking buddy?

10. My friends are going to swim the Great Salt Lake through the Winter. They have a group called the Wasatch Front Polar Bear Club.  They have already swam in 46 degree water!  I think it would be a fun adventure to join with them but my fibromyalgia would be super painful.  Its just not worth it for the rush.

11.  Don’t get me wrong I’m grateful but having 4 mini-jobs can be stressful.  I feel a little stretched each and every way. Especially coming home from a trip is always rough.  I worked a lot this trip but it never seems to be quite enough.  At least I don’t have to push myself like some of the other people in my company.

I used to think I wanted to be an ambitious business leader but I really am glad to be free from the stress and pressure.  I am happy with my little roles and the difference I make.  I will be grateful when the routine of Poler is set in stone and when other pending issues are finalized. (I have my employee review next Monday.  Here’s to hoping I do well and maybe even get a raise! Haven’t had one in 2 years).

Do you think because I’m not the dynamic business woman or politician I dreamed of as a child I’m a bit of a sell-out?  Are we not all sell-outs in one way or another as adults…?

12. Lately I’ve been fascinated with the Revolutionary generation.  Last year I read a book called Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts and loved it.  Now we are rereading that for my book club.  I have also been reading Founding Brothers by Joseph Elis and am enjoying that.  It goes into great depth into many things I didn’t know much about such as Washington’s Farewell Address, Benjamin Franklin’s support of abolition, the controversy of Jay’s Treaty.

It also elaborates on topics I did know about such as the friendship/feud between Adams and Jefferson, Jefferson’s strategy as the first party politician, James Madison’s skillful quiet power, Abigail Adams role in her husbands presidential cabinet and more.  It is so interesting.  As I’ve read I keep coming up with parallels to the issues facing politicians and the similar strategies used to win elections that still exist today.  Its amazing how with all that’s changed some things never change.

13. Don’t mean to end on a somber note but I can’t begin to describe how disgusted I am with what’s gone on at Penn State.  I was horrified to see people cheering for anyone even remotely involved in this terrible tragedy.  Our thoughts should be on the victims, not on football.  I love sports but let’s have a bit of perspective people!

14. Finally I am a little sad because I now have 2 months left in my current ward.  In January I turn the big 31 and that means I am out of the single adult ward.  I can either go to the midsingles or the family ward.  Haven’t decided what I will do.  Any experiences either way? I’d love to hear them.  Our midsingles ward has over 600 people so honestly I’m afraid of getting lost with either choice.

I guess I will just have to be extra vigilant in making friends and being outgoing. (Maybe my new ottoman will help with that!).  I’m sincerely sorry to be leaving my ward and particularly my calling.  It has been a wonderful sanctuary from a year that has been one of the toughest of my life.  I will always be grateful for home and visiting teachers, RS President and bishop who took care of me when I really needed it. Thanks!

15.  I wish I could be in Hawaii right now…but that’s pretty much true of every day of my life!

16.  Saw 2 movies over the break, Hugo and Muppets Movie.  Enjoyed both.  Hugo was a work of art in movie form; however,  a little slow and I don’t know if I ever bonded to any of the characters.  Movies are played as an unmitigated good in the plot and while I enjoy a good movie I don’t know if they are as important as Hugo would have you believe. Still, well worth a viewing. See it in 3D if you can.  One of the best uses of 3D I’ve ever seen.  It didn’t have the murkiness of most 3D.

The Muppets movie was GREAT!!  I loved it.  I thought it was funny, I loved the music, and the whole thing made me smile throughout.  While I think children will enjoy it I think it is designed for young adults my age.  There were tons of references to the Muppets I knew growing up and I found them all charming.  I just really loved it.

17.  No I did not see Breaking Dawn.

18. Best movies I’ve seen this year- The Help, Midnight in Paris and Harry  Potter.  Favorite performances so far Viola Davis and Jessica Chastain in The Help, Alan Rickman in Harry Potter, Corey Stoll as Ernest Hemmingway in Midnight in Paris. Best animated movie by far Winnie the Pooh (best soundtrack also)

19.  Finally, I went speed dating a couple of weeks ago and actually had a good time.  However, I definitely realized that my fear of animals is totally not normal! Btw, if that thing in Ohio with the exotic animals had happened by me I think I’d have a heart attack.  There are 911 calls of people saying ‘I’m on the freeway and just saw a lion’.  Can you imagine?

20.  Do you like the cool new theme for the blog?  Got to switch things up every now and then.  I am trying to figure out why I got double the hits this same time last year?  Tell me blog readers what have I done differently? 🙂

21. One last thing- a couple of weeks ago I gave my phone number out to a boy for the first time in my life.  It felt totally cliched but I was proud of myself.  He never called but hey its a step in the right direction! Probably sad that it took me to age 30 to do that.  Oh well!

Selfish Singles?

I have a friend that I love who recently put up a blog post about her feelings on selfishness and her new relationship.  She said as a single person she has lived a selfish life and now with a boyfriend she has to take into account the feelings of another person.

While these feelings are completely valid and authentic I had to scratch my head a bit.  From my perspective single’s are forced into being less selfish than their married counterparts.

Here’s what I mean…when you are single you are self-sufficient only to a point.  You rely on the outside community for emotional, spiritual and other support.   In my experience my friends and family become my backbone because I have no other partner to lean on- they are my partner.

Again in my experience almost all married people  I know (at least for a while) become more insular and isolated after marriage than they were as singles.  With a few exceptions, most of my friends fall off the face of the earth as soon as they get engaged or married. Is this not also a form of selfishness?

I’ve even had a friend who I was a bridesmaid at her wedding and you know how many times we have gotten together in the two years since?  Twice. (and she lives in my apartment complex!).  I tried calling at first but eventually gave up. I still love her and chat with her when we happen to meet; however,  I have been disappointed in her lack of friendship.  I wish I could say such experiences were unique or rare.

I rely on my friends.  They are my support system, so when one of them drops me it breaks my heart.

Selfishness is defined as “stinginess resulting from a concern for your own welfare and a disregard of others”.   In my experience, married people are much stingier with their time and resources than the singles I know.  (this is with or without kids). Shouldn’t finding love make you more open to relationships not more isolated?  I’ve always been confused by this?

Perhaps as Mormon’s we focus so much on family that people forget the value of friendship. If there is any doubt on the church’s stand check out President Henry B. Eyring’s talk on friendship. He says:

“All of us will be tested. And all of us need true friends to love us, to listen to us, to show us the way, and to testify of truth to us so that we may retain the companionship of the Holy Ghost. You must be such a true friend.”

I understand that the single lifestyle has some selfish aspects.  For example, I don’t have to ask anyone’s opinion when I order a pizza.  I can get whatever toppings I want. I can watch whatever movie I want to watch at night, spend any money I have to spend,  and I have complete control of the remote control!  However, I think where it really counts we can be remarkably unselfish and sometimes we aren’t given enough credit for that.  We can be the most loyal, loving, service-oriented people in our churches, communities and families.

I suppose both groups have the potential to be selfish. We all do!  Isn’t it interesting how selfishness is the only sin which could apply to each of the seven deadly sins?  There are some economists who will try to persuade you that selfishness is a good thing (Ayn Rand anyone?). Maybe in economic theory this is true (I believe strongly in the free market) but in regular every-day life and interactions with others it leads to misery- married or single.

I will be very curious for thoughts on this topic.  Please add your comments!

I thought this was funny.

Single Christmas Traditions

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.