Being single at Christmas—if single is not what you want to be—is a little like going to the circus. You know you’re supposed to be excited about the trained elephant and the clown on the tricycle, but everything seems a little sad instead.
I remember it well.
I got divorced at the age of 29 and remarried when I was 44. The 15 years in between were a time of great freedom—to travel, develop friendships, dive into my work and get to know myself better.
But every year around the holidays, I felt a deep loneliness that those freedoms in my life didn’t fill.
I tried to shake off that loneliness and pray it away. After all, I had wonderful friends, parents, siblings and nephews and nieces. But I still felt the sore lack of a partner at the holidays. My house was filled with Christmas decorations, with packages under the tree. But after every holiday gathering, I’d head home, let my dog out, brush my teeth and go to bed alone.
The lack of intimate companionship year after year took a toll. As I moved into my 30s, the idea of spending Christmas Eve at my parents’ house and then staying overnight with them rubbed me raw. Why didn’t I have someone to create my own Christmas Eve memories with? Someone to put his arm around me at a candlelight service? Someone to wake up with on Christmas morning?
I had no children, and I felt like I was still 12 years old, sleeping under my parents’ roof and eating Christmas breakfast at the same table I’d helped set two decades before.
The only thing that helped during all those years was trusting that it would someday change.
Now, if you or someone you know is feeling the same way, I could tell you all the things that I fully believe. Things like: Focus on the friends and family you do have. Give of yourself so you’ll experience the true meaning of Christmas. Count your blessings and be grateful for all the joys in your life. Your happiness does not depend on sharing your life with a spouse or a partner.
But if these things don’t help you, as they didn’t help me, remember this: It will get better.
In the meantime, you may tell yourself a lot of lies: I’m unlovable. I’ll always be alone. All the good ones are already taken. I loved once, and I’ll never be so lucky again.
You can tell yourself those lies—just don’t believe them. Remember that being single in a world of couples and families is just what it is—a stage of life that, with hindsight, may go down as one of your most growthful and empowering times ever.
This life stage is not an indictment of you. It’s not a punishment or a cross to be borne. It simply means that the connection you’re looking for has not yet taken root in your own soul, no matter how deeply you desire it. The time isn’t right. You and the person you’re meant to be with are still taking care of business that needs to be completed before the two of you can be brought together.
Plus, the good ones are not all taken. After all, you’re a good one—the one that your future partner will be overjoyed to meet.
Take heart. You will meet in time.
It will happen, as you’ve probably heard over and over, when you least expect it.
It will happen when you’re able to give yourself a gift on Christmas morning and open it with the same delight as if it came from your lifetime love.
It will happen when, one day, you give up looking and let yourself be found.
So be still. Listen to the wisdom of my friend Dorothy, who often told me, “Patience is the ability to witness divine timing, and to do something creative in the meantime.”
Do something creative for yourself and others. Soak in the love around you. Bask in the pleasures of opening your heart. Find comfort in the arms of Spirit.
And have a blessed holiday season, knowing that divine timing, like love itself, never fails.