It is not quite Living Single, but my crew of friends is pretty amazing.
I think about them most and cherish them most during the holiday season, in part because I am a recovering Scrooge.
We all know Christmas is really for kids. When I was a kid, I was very adult. I learned there was no Santa when I received some no name rag doll instead of the glossy Rainbow Brite doll I coveted.
In Mass, I would find myself moved by the story of Jesus in a manger, enchanted by the beautiful ceremony and celebration. His family was a nomad like mine. I share a birthday season with Jesus. The smell of frankincense and myrrh made me feel like I was in the presence of something divine.
That joy and sweetness of the holidays people generally express when they are with their significant others or family was never really a feeling I had around the holidays until this year. I was clasping pretty hard for many years to the idea that since I had been self-parented and a nomad for a long time, that any rituals or traditions I created would suffice to fill a void. I was wrong about that.
Even single folks need connection. Maybe we need it more than most.
I went to three holiday parties over the weekend (on the same day!) with a high school friend. This is her least favorite time of year, in part because she’s single and she likes having a sweetheart to buy a gift for. I almost recommended that she buy one for me instead — just kidding, babe — or get a really great one for herself. But I’m in listening mode more often these days than talking mode, so I let her say what she needed to and accepted where she was coming from.
It is more fun to give gifts to the ones we love. Of course, thinking about the past or the future is its own sedative and drug. It takes us out of the moment we’re in so that we can get to the next moment, which we hope will be better. Not sure that works, but I am guilty of it.
Of course, at every party, there were couples who brought their dates/wives/husbands. And then there were the crew of us single women. At one party, where there was 1990s karaoke (nope, I didn’t) there was at least one loud chorus of Call Tyrone. I’ve decided that holidays are more fun with loud singing.
What I loved was that there wasn’t any bitterness. Just joy. Acceptance. It was so sweet. Then I slept like a log.
I don’t hate the holidays like I used to and I think it has to do with my friends, who have always been my surrogate and extended family. I’ve been reading Melissa Harris-Perry’s book, Sister Citizen, in which she explains how black folks are connected through fictive kinship – the notion that we are all related as kin even if we’re not technically blood relatives. This can be a really lonely, alienating time of year, and I used to ache and work instead of feeling that. Instead of wallowing in pain this year, though, I’ve been traveling and making intentional connections with my friends and family, trying to sort it out. Christmas this year marks the anniversary of seeing my mom for the last time before she died, so the season has a little trembling undercurrent of sadness.
I hope all my single friends are hanging in there. Just a few more days. Hang on. Get some spiked egg nog if you need it. That’s what I want most for Christmas aside from an Escalade.