In Praise of the Solo Christmas
Much like how Halloween is mostly for children and hot people, Christmas is mostly for children and people in love. Some of us are part of families that like get along and like each other or something (which LOLOLOL Karen that is a myth like the moon landing, I see you), but the rest of us are just muddling through, and for a lot of us — because of a break-up, unaccepting family, financial hardship, any number of reasons — that means flying solo. If you’re one of them, this essay is for you.
In my adult life, I’ve spent more Christmases alone than not — and there have been some real knees to the nuts among them, like Christmas 2009, when not only were relations with family beginning to fray, but I was unemployed, uninsured, mentally unstable and sick with bronchitis. It was a day I mostly spent coughing and crying and coughcrying. I’d thought the nadir had arrived when a friend-with-benefits texted to see if I wanted some Christmas dee-yock — nothing makes you feel the warmth of the season like booty calls and dick pics! — but then I burst into tears and word-vomited a text three screens long to this person I barely knew about how I couldn’t bang because I couldn’t breathe and had been sick for a month and was afraid I was going to die and he was like, “Yoooooo srsly r u ok I kno we just fk n shit but if u need cough syrup or something lmk it’s cool.” And then he signed it “mary xmas” and I briefly considered putting my head in the oven. Things couldn’t possibly get worse. But then I locked myself out of my apartment when I went to retrieve my Christmas dinner pizza, so I spent the rest of that bleak Christmas coughing and shivering in the stairwell like a Dickensian street urchin dying of consumption, waiting for the only locksmith in New York I could get on the phone to come pry my door open for the last $500 I had to my name. And the fucking pizza was from fucking Domino’s.
I know shitty Christmases.
Luckily since then, I’ve gradually learned to actually enjoy my Solo Christmases. Or at least not hate them! So if you’re sitting on your couch wondering what to do with yourself, perhaps I can offer some guidance so you, too, can possibly enjoy the Solo Christmas. Cuz seriously? It kind of rules.
Now I hear what you’re sobbing: NOOOO I AM MISERABLE I WANT TO BE DEAD UNTIL JANUARY 2. No you don’t. You’re just missing the idea of a perfect Christmas.
Because here’s what: again, children and lovers excepted, and unless you’re one of these people who comes from an actually functional family that likes each other — in which case seriously get to stepping I don’t trust functional families, y’all are running some kind of scam or something I see you — the fact is that “Hell is other people” as Camus put it, and they have the power to ruin even Christmas.
Anecdotal example: One perfectly fine Christmas I spent with my family, we went to see “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” and my brother and I got in a screamfight in the parking lot of the AMC Desert Ridge 18 because I correctly pointed out that C.S. Lewis was making symbolic commentary about World War II, and he was offended by my attempt to push my liberal agenda by insinuating World War II into a movie WHOSE STORY STARTS WITH AN EVACUATION FROM WORLD WAR II.
The facts are these: Christmas with family is an exercise in navigating other people’s unreasonable and nonsensical bugaboos until you get a moment to sneak off to the bathroom and bite down on a balled-up towel so you don’t scream until your throat bleeds.
Then there’s the occasional years when friends stay in town for Christmas. Which can definitely be fun! But is also a minefield!
Here’s the thing: maybe it’s the ipso facto only-childism I was imbued with by dint of not having grown up in the same house as my siblings, but since I stopped spending a week on eggshells with my family each Christmas, I want MY Christmas MY way:
— I don’t want to eat the deconstructed Welsh rarebit your idiot boyfriend found in the Ina Garten cookbook and thought sounded like a fun challenge because somehow our entire generation reached adulthood without ever being taught how to cook (who are your mothers?!?!). Food is the only thing holding me together from Thanksgiving to New Year’s and I need it to be on lock.
— The Eurythmics’ bonkers version of “Winter Wonderland” aside, I don’t want to even hear the opening notes of a Christmas song recorded after the 1970s because they are all trash. I will see you in hell before I listen to whatever a Pentatonic is. Turn it off.
— I’d rather navigate the awkward heartbreak of you pitching your latest “multi-level business opportunity” than sink into the soot-black depths of deflation and rage inspired by someone trilling, “Let’s watch Love Actually!” I say this as someone who has entire scenes of Notting Hill memorized and is the target demo of this movie: Love Actually is a CW primetime soap opera except more incompetently made and inexplicably containing international A-list talent, so sign me up for 40 essential oil kits and a packet of weight-loss vitamins to go cuz I’m done. Fa la la leave me alone.
Why would I do any of that when I can just stay home and eat cookies for breakfast while watching Bridget Jones’s Diary in my pajamas and then sneak into three back-to-back Oscar-bait “prestige pictures” nobody wants to see except me and then go home to smoke drugs and trip balls to Madonna’s “Ray of Light” album in the dark? In excelsis deo amirite!
Now of course, it would be lovely to spend Christmas with a lover, waking up late for morning sex and then making pancakes in the nude before opening a series of presents that are all expertly chosen and perfectly suited and then giggling “You know what I’ve always wanted to do on Christmas is do sex things actually under the Christmas tree LOLJK I COULDN’T POSSIBLY IT’S SUCH A DUMB IDEA FORGET I SAID IT LOLOLOL” but since my lover is the kind of guy who’s not only dead-sexy and named something like Logan but also witty and game he immediately doffs his pj’s and affixes a discarded stick-on bow to his bush and rolls under the tree and points to his erection and is like “Ho ho ho, hoe” and I purr “O tannenbaum!” like Samantha Jones and then after the sex is done I post something truly disgusting on Insta like a picture of him afterglow-sleeping in the tree skirt with the caption “I got everything I wanted #thankssanta” and smile to myself knowing how much my single friends hate my guts.
But first of all LOLOLOL I will die alone mourned by no one but the dust mites residing in my ear hair and secondly I can only assume sexy romantic Christmases are a lie and here’s why: I boned down with a lot of dudes of all shapes, colors and sizes in my slutty years and I can count the ones who were any good at it on one hand because a fun fact nobody tells you is that gay men aren’t any better in bed or more concerned with orgasms that aren’t their own than their notoriously inept straight counterparts are. So the best I can hope for, romantic Christmaswise, is some queen who will let me pick the movies and won’t get offended if I want to return everything he bought me for cash I can spend on something I really want, like gluten-free pizzas.
So if family, potentially friends, and certainly romance are out, what am I supposed to do, sit here and lament? Nah boo. Which leads us back to solo Christmases and why they are better FOR INSTANCE LIKE SUCH AS
1. NO GIFTS.
Now I know what you’re thinking: gifts are fun and I want them please! But let’s be real, unless you’re one of the aforementioned scam artists whose family gets along and actually knows you as you really are (I FUCKING SEE YOU) how many gifts can you say you’ve gotten that you didn’t have to awkwardly pretend to love while silently praying you burst into flames? Or stand in line to exchange while silently praying everyone else bursts into flames? If you tell me it’s more than a half-dozen gifts tops over the course of your entire life you need to stop reading this because you are a lie-teller and honesty is extremely important to me. Get out.
But also! YOU DON’T HAVE TO BUY ANY GIFTS EITHER. The only thing worse than having to receive gifts you don’t want is running (or clicking) around like a headless chicken spending money you don’t have that could be better spent on Grubhubbed falafels and the $2.99 version of your favorite Pornhub clip that doesn’t cut out right before the big finish. Did you know the average person spends $5,164 on Christmas gifts every year? That is an insane number, and I think you’ll agree in the harsh light of day that it just makes no sense, and not only because it is a completely fake number I made up to prove my point, which I think I’ve done handily.
Anyway fuck gifts.
2. NO PANTS.
I don’t think I need to elaborate on this. You do not have to squeeze your midsection into actual pants at Solo Christmas. If you don’t understand why that is a profound benefit over regular Christmas, take your skinny ass the hell up out of here and go, I don’t know, feel good about your body or whatever the hell it is you people do. The adults who’ve never seen their abdominal musculature are talking.
Speaking of obesity:
3. YOU CAN EAT (OR DRINK [OR BOTH]) AS MUCH AS YOU WANT
Christmas With Other People means that you have to share everything, so when your mother makes a withering remark all you can do is dig your fingernails into your flesh and gnaw on the insides of your cheeks until you taste blood because there isn’t enough spinach-dip-in-a-bread-bowl to feed 10 people and stop you from screaming “WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST ABORT ME YOU FRIGID BITCH.” But at Solo Christmas, any feelings that do arise can just be Hot Pocketed to the margins while Hulu’ing The O.C. with your nuts in your hand (or boobs in your hand if you’re a lady, which is how ladies relax I’m pretty sure). Welcome to Solo Christmas, bitch.
And if you have a particularly hard time with the episode where Mischa Barton dies:
4. YOU CAN OPENLY WEEP AT THINGS IF THE NEED ARISES
Today I watched Miracle on 34th Street and when they got to the part where Natalie Wood, may she rest, finally gets her house with a swing in the backyard and her momz finally falls in love with the presumptuous homosexual across the hall, I started sobbing because like Natalie Wood, may she rest, I am also the product of a broken home and was raised by a disillusioned single mother whose wounds made her forget how to dream and this summer I went to see my childhood home and the new owners had ripped up all the gardens she tended so meticulously and replaced them with mulch and if she knew that she would be so hurt and isn’t that just how it goes ultimately nothing but a hair’s breadth separates all the beauty and death in the world and we are all tight-roping our way along that line hoping the moment we finally fall doesn’t come until we’re old and gray and our life hopefully had enough time to mean something to someone and then the presumptuous homosexual kisses the mom and you know that he and she and Natalie Wood, may she rest, will finally be a family and then it turns out Santa Claus is real and the movie ends.
And if I’d not been alone — well first of all, I wouldn’t have been watching Miracle on 34th Street in the first place because everyone is trash and thinks it’s boring but more importantly I’d have had to hide my emotions because unfettered sobbing isn’t anyone’s idea of Yuletide cheer because nobody has any taste.
I think I’ve made my point.
And come to that:
5. YOU CAN BE SAD IF YOU WANT!
Real talk: the holidays are hard and being alone during them can be doubly so. And that’s okay! Feel your feelings because here’s the thing: trying NOT to feel your feelings is what derails Solo Christmas — and everything else, really. Because, that’s kind of how life works, right? The more you hold onto expectations and avoid things, the more you’re disappointed and the more they assert themselves, respectively.
So if you’re sad because your dude dumped you or your family’s a dick or there’s a Hefty bag full of decaying liposuction fat running the country or just because you watched a particularly manipulative episode of “This Is Us” (is there any other kind DON’T @ ME), that’s okay. Be sad bitch!
But in your sadness, just know these two things: no sadness lasts forever, and there’s no such thing as a perfect Christmas anyway.
EXCEPT FOR THE KIND WHERE YOU DO WHATEVER THE HELL YOU WANT AND DON’T HAVE TO ANSWER TO ANYONE AND ALSO DO NOT EVEN NEED TO WEAR PANTS IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO WEAR PANTS.
So here’s to you, Solo Christmasers. Eat, drink and maybe — MAYBE — even be merry!
(And look seriously though, this shit’s hard sometimes so if you’re really struggling go here and stay strong!)