The holidays are a time to connect with loved ones. The season can also be hard for some people. When celebrations are centered around families, those who are single may feel their isolation more acutely. Loneliness is not the only reason celebrating as a single person can be difficult, though. Here are three challenges that many single people face during the holidays and how you may be able to help ease some of the burden.
Being single is expensive, especially if you have children or live alone. Think about your family's budget. Now imagine that it has to be covered by one income. That's the single person's experience. Even in families where one adult is the sole earner, the other typically contributes by taking charge of the household and childcare. When you must handle all the financial and labor resources alone, it can be overwhelming. Then you add extra financial expectations of gift exchanges and special outings, and the holidays strain a tight budget even more.
The tradition of gifts can offer a golden opportunity to relieve some of your single friends' financial stressors during the holiday season. Instead of trying to find something that's out of the ordinary, focus on more practical choices:
- Gift cards for stores they frequent
- A day at the salon or spa
- One year of their favorite streaming service
- AAA membership for those who often travel alone
Many single people visit their families during the holidays. Along with the love and camaraderie in these gatherings, though, the inappropriate questions regarding their love lives often come up, dampening the festive spirit. For this reason, family get-togethers may not be a lot of fun for them, especially if they are already feeling particularly lonely.
This is a chance for coupled allies to shine. If you see single family members or friends being interrogated about whom they're dating or when they're going to settle down, jump in and change the conversation. A good topic that almost everyone can enjoy is the best book they've read or movie they've seen recently. Talking about something other than their relationship status can help single people feel valued just as they are.
A common practice that exacerbates loneliness during the holidays is the focus on home and family. Of course, there's nothing wrong with keeping certain holiday traditions just for your household. In fact, if you make a big deal of inviting one single person to join you for your immediate family festivities, he or she may still feel like an outsider, despite your best efforts. This challenge doesn't have an easy answer. What is helpful to one person may not be to someone else. Sometimes, circumstances are just difficult, and there's not much others can do to make things better.
One gentle way to help is to let your single friends know that you are available to listen if they need to talk. Sharing a hardship with someone else can give them some much-needed temporary relief. When there are larger gatherings, do what you can to ensure that they are not necessarily family-centered but have activities and agendas that include everyone who may want to attend. For example, you can put the industrial kitchen in your church's facilities to good use by hosting a church-wide baking party. Having just a few things on the calendar where they can relax and have fun with people they love can do a world of good for those who feel isolated during the holidays.
No one likes to see friends struggle, and the holidays can be an especially difficult time for those who feel alone. Understanding some of the challenges single people may face can help you be more sensitive to their needs and make the season brighter for them.