Living Single

The truth about singles in our society.

Of Holiday Bullies and Double Standards

People can be very judgmental about how they think other people should spend the holidays. Even those advice columns that are supposedly even-handed often have different standards for people who are single vs. coupled. Read More

Holidays

This Thanksgiving, I hosted a holiday dinner that included people who didn't have another invitation, including one of my married couple friends. I feel quite lucky to have people who also invite me for the holidays. Quite frankly, when I see what some of my friends and family members goes through with their own families, I'm even more grateful for my life. Christmas and Thanksgiving are just two days out of the year, and very few people I know have a Hallmark card holiday. In fact, the stress level and expectations are so high, that people come away from the table battle-exhausted. So here' what's true for me: I'm at a point in my life that I can give myself the holiday that I want and don't have to explain myself to others. I don't want anyone's else's life,because mine is perfectly fine for me, thank you very much, and I wish everyone well. I've also come to believe that it takes much more than a relationship to make me happy.

Im married and my husband and

Im married and my husband and I spend many holidays by ourselves. We actually like it lol.

What exactly is volunteering?

Volunteering means different things to different people. When a married parent suggests that single people volunteer to serve the homeless at Thanksgiving they mean the single people should rise at dawn to prepare Thanksgiving dinner at the homeless shelter, set the tables, serve the food and then clean the kitchen, and this should bring satisfaction to the unmarried.

But when married parents "volunteer" they often mean they brought the snacks for their own kid's soccer team practice.

It's all about perspective. If one does a legitimate study one would find this chasm of interpretation on the volunteering concept. In my life I've learned that married people don't go for ice water. I'm not saying they're selfish, the just don't go out of their way for anybody other than their own family. But that won't keep them from telling other people what to do.

Volunteering

Anonymous, were you at my parents’ house last Thursday? The married folk did not go for ice water. Several guests arrived and my mom asked my sister to fix them a plate of food. My sister said, “UpperWorks can do it because she is closer.” One second later, my sister got up and asked her husband what he wanted to eat and proceeded to fix him a plate of food. ???????

I volunteer for a youth mentoring program every 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month. Even though the 4th Saturday was Thanksgiving Weekend, we did not cancel. Not one of the 20 youths showed up. The only children present were the mentors’ children. We used the extra time to decide what we were going to get the mentees for Christmas as well as the one big gift give-a-way. I immediately suggested an iPad as the big gift (99.9% of the mentees wanted an iPad for Christmas) and the only other single and child free mentor agreed with my suggestion. The others commented that an iPad would considerably deplete program funds. So I suggested we split the cost among the mentors and not use program funds. While his kids were texting on their smart phones, one of the mentors stated that they have to buy gifts for their kids and can’t afford to help pay for an iPad. ???????

Bella I believe that your

Bella

I believe that your blogging about a topic like this is actually akin to "volunteering" ...... you are almost "lecturing" to people who are in the audience reading what you are saying. You run a few blogs too.

And it's the same with others that either blog about an advocacy issue (like someone I knew who blogged about the legalisatio of voluntary euthanasia before she died), who moderate forums online .... know what I mean?

Volunteering isn't necessarily something physical and isn't recognised as what it really is.

Here's the definition that i'm referring to

"Freely offer to do something"
"Say or suggest something without being asked"

So if there's an email community and someone asks a question, I might post a lengthy reply and that meets the definition of volunteering above.

Maybe that's the problem - a narrow definition of volunteering, especially as we are in the digital age.

What do you think? I think this would be a good topic for another blog post from you :-)

1olan

I was alone onThanksgiving

and happily so. I am working out of town, and my family is not here. I did get two invites but politely turned them down. My job is very people-intensive, so I was quite happy to have the day off. I cooked a meal for myself and read.

As far as volunteering and giving, they should not be exclusive to the holiday season. I volunteer and donate year round. That's my problem with the whole Christmas season. Way too many expectations for so many people. I got turned off by the whole consumeristic aspect as a teenager working in a department store. I also note that there is more of an onus on women to do all the Christmas-y things. I rarely hear anyone ask a man if "all of your shopping is done." I don't really do Christmas gifts. I do birthdays or random times. On my terms. Not when society tells me to.

The implied condescension in the suggestion

I, too, volunteer and donate year-round. Like Margaret, I was ruined by mall culture, by working there as a teen and into my 30s. My parents drive out to the mall a couple times a week; I can't imagine why! I live a mile from a major regional mall and have been there maybe 3 times in 6 years.
I volunteer at an animal shelter and I go on the major holidays, because so few people do and the animals are desperately lonely. Since I started doing this, other volunteers have picked up the torch, and there were 6 of us last Thursday. One married couple brought sandwiches for the skeleton crew of staff. Volunteering is my thing and I recommend it to everyone, regardless of family status. To suggest that volunteering is easier and more convenient for a single person is condescending; I work to pay all my own bills and don't have anyone at home to cook and clean for me while I'm gone.
The volunteers at my shelter are a cross-section of humanity. What we have in common is that we don't accept the demands of modern life as an excuse not to contribute. I chose this bunch of people to surround myself with because I learned the hard way that "if you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas." I wanted to meet people who hold themselves to high standards and to deserve their friendship. Volunteering is a challenge and a vocation, not a time killer for the bored and lonely.
And to imply to a single person that their alone time isn't worth having, they should be social no matter what, is also insulting. Some people are just more introverted and we don't value that in our society. The holidays are about togetherness, and that's just not for everyone. Participation should be voluntary or it doesn't mean anything.

and another note about selfishness

In order for the selfish label to apply, you have to be taking from someone. If you have two kids that you ignore to pursue a string of extramarital affairs until the girl becomes a "cutter" and the boy has a police record 9 feet long, as my best friend from middle school actually did, that's selfish. I did not have children because I knew my life would be full of other things and I knew kids would be a full-time commitment all by themselves. I thought about what kids would need and knew that wasn't the road for me. My pursuit of my own goals doesn't take from anyone and actually benefits a lot of people because of the nature of those goals. Nothing selfish about it. People who think I am somehow obligated to devote my life to propagation of a species that is multiplying just fine without my gametes in the mix are projecting their own dissatisfaction with their choices or failure to plan.

I was alone for Thanksgiving

Before moving to my current city, I lived in a couple of cities where I was new to town and only knew a few people. The few people I knew were married and knew I'd be alone for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Not one of them invited me to their homes for any holiday, even after living in each city for almost 4 years each. This didn't surprise me. What did surprise me were the comments they made like, "Why didn't you go volunteer at a homeless shelter?" or "There are probably meetups in the city for people like you who are alone on Thanksgiving." Those comments hurt because I took it to mean that they didn't think enough of me to invite me over for dinner, but that I was somehow a bad person for not volunteering somewhere or joining a group of strangers for a turkey dinner.

Interestingly, one of these friends was in town over the weekend and called me, asking what I had planned for Thanksgiving. I told her I was spending it with my family and then told her I needed to run as I was getting ready to head over to my sister's place. I heard the disappointment in her voice and I can only assume she was looking for a place to have Thanksgiving dinner. Well, she had four chances to invite me, but failed each time, so I wasn't going to invite her to my sister's place. If married people can play the "family" card, then so can I. My family is just larger and more inclusive of others (except for her).

Interesting..

Good for you Jenny. It seems your friend made the decision some time back to classify you as being a B lister, of secondary importance or on the margins (for whatever reasons, single or otherwise), and so chose not to include you in anything. Interesting then, that she expected you to inlcude you. Perhaps she genuinely (erroneously) believes that you have no friends or company or are a figure of pity?

One thing I found interesting about visiting friends and family over Christmas was how little effort the married couples seemed to make to visit their extended family and friends. I don't want to generalise and my comments here relate specifically to the 15-20 married people I recently spent time with (of course I was the one who got into the car to drive and see them, as I clearly have nothing better to do. I wouldn't see them at all otherwise). They mostly fulfilled their duties and obligations by spending time with immediate family, but I didn't see any effort to catch up with their old co-workers, childhood friends, college room-mates, neighbours or more extended families - cousins, aunts, uncles. Here in the UK, most people had about 10 days off work - plenty of time to visit just about everyone you know - yet they seemed to pretty much stay at home most days with their immediate families, often just watching TV or surfing, or relaxing, not necessarily engaging with one another. Some even found time to hit the sales (yes, they prefer shopping to people). I realise with young children and ailing parents it's not always easy to make long journeys, but I still felt that they should and could have made more of an effort to catch up with the people that matter to them. Did they not have a natural curiousity about how these people are doing, or think that it might be enjoyable to sit with them, have a coffee and a mince pie and reminisce or talk about old times? I feel kinda sorry for them actually as they're missing out. I spent time with many and varied people over the past few weeks and it enriched my knowledge, wisdom and outlook.

Good for you, Jenny B!

I had an alcoholic boss who was alone on Thanksgiving and I invited her to my house. I waited for her to show, and gave up at 7 PM. At 11 she called to tell me, in a barely-comprehensible slur, that she had volunteered at a homeless shelter and it was the most life-changing thing she'd ever done. I suggested that calling me to let me know she wasn't coming might have been a polite thing to do. I didn't believe her about the shelter; she is a blueblood from CT who I saw literally kick homeless people out of the doorway to our office building. Sure enough, I heard later that she'd been sitting in a bar trying to hook up. Anonymous sex was preferable to spending the holiday with a friend who genuinely loved her. That's about the time I gave up on her.

Invitation this year to a holocaust survivor's home for Thanksgiving

Book: Women without Children, page 21
AT 51, she wrote her now famous book, River of Grass, about the Everglades. She has never stopped writing since. At her advanced age, she had no living relatives she could think of. But if family didn’t seem very important to her; and she makes that clear in her autobiography:

“We make such a fetish of the family. I think we’ve created a tremendous mythology about it. We believe the family must be maintained, it’s the basis of society, etc. Yet for a great many of us, the family has been difficult. Many of the troubles of mankind are family troubles, more devastating and more lasting than other kinds of troubles. Almost any well-run orphanage would be better than some families I’ve known. There are countless unjust and narrow-minded families, and parents who bring up children in hatred for reasons that are invalid. Just being a family is not enough.”
The Everglades: River of Grass by Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

This year I spent Thanksgiving with a local holocaust survivor and author's home, and I was given a copy of his book.
Single by choice & childfree

Just one more note

Of the 6 volunteers that showed up at the animal shelter on Thanksgiving, only 2 of us were single. The rest just thought visiting animals on a day when few people did was a great idea. All of us had people waiting for us to show up for dinner, people who graciously supported our work by doing our holiday chores for us. None of us were alone without any family (biological or of choice) to spend the holiday with. I beat the bushes to find those people and invite them to my house, but I couldn't find anyone without those basic connections. My stereotype-hunting mission yielded no one. >: )

Deputies are called to the home to settle a family dispute

2 Deputies shot in Alabama, 1 killed
From AnneClaire Stapleton, CNNupdated 11:50 PM EST, Fri November 23, 2012
ne deputy is pronounced dead at a hospital
Deputies are called to the home to settle a family dispute
(CNN) -- One sheriff's deputy was fatally shot and another one was in critical condition Friday after they were confronted by a man at an Alabama home, authorities said.
The incident started about 4 p.m. after authorities were called to a home in Baldwin County to settle a family dispute, the Baldwin County Sheriff's Office said. They were confronted by a man at the home.
"During the engagement, two deputies were shot and later transported," the sheriff's office said.
One deputy was pronounced dead at the hospital. The man at the home was also shot and killed, the sheriff's office said.

The guest list included many singles in Arkansas

The guest list included the following singles, (including myself, three white, never married, professional males. One successful male, was their son, a twin. Both twins are single in their late 30’s and, have decided not to marry. One twin lives and works in NYC, who did not attend the dinner, and the other lives in Arkansas. Two widows, one other (lonely)couple, plus the hosts, the author and his wife were present for the dinner.)
An Organic Thanksgiving Dinner was Served -- All foods were prepared homemade with all the side dishes and desserts one could eat. I was meatfree as usual.
Single by choice & childfree in Arkansas

From single country girl to suburban stepmom

Also, Leah Fender – Cookie-cutter Christian family is so overrated – From single country girl to suburban stepmom, Fall/winter 2012 (Arkansas Christian Parent), she wrote:

“ Though, I considered myself independently happy, I still longed for a husband and family. Well, be careful what you pray for. I met and fell in love with a man that had 3 children, we quickly fell in love, and 9 months later, we were married.
I left it all – my farm, my single life, my solitude and my home. I even parted with my dogs. Nobody who walks through our front door can possibly think we have it all figured out. Despite the difficulties and adjustments of living together, I know our goal is the same under one roof as a new stepmom. To live under one roof, everyone must compromise. After living alone for so long, this was probably the hardest on me. When it was just me, I could watch TV anytime and I could eat peanut butter out of a jar for dinner. “

Having time .....practicing solitude in one's life

(pgs. 178 – 180) The author writes, “Busywork is neither action nor contemplation, but for some reason it is very important to look busy’ whoever does not may be accused of laziness or accuse herself of the same. This is particularly clear in the teaching profession, where fingers point at the teacher who leaves the school at the end of the school day and takes full weekends to herself. According to some, the great teacher is the one who does ‘whatever it takes’—who gives her phone number to students for homework assistance, works at the school six days a week, performs cafeteria and hallway duties, attends meetings after school and over the summer, and visits homes if necessary. Taken together, such activities leave little time for planning lessons, working out ideas, immersing oneself in the subject, and leading reasonably full live. Without this quiet work, teachers have little to bring to their students. To uphold the teaching profession, one must allow for its unseen work and stillness; one must also allow for true action. This brings up another choice we have to make through solitude: the choice between speech and silence, or between public and private action. Silence comes in many forms and is part of sound. Good conversation requires a degree of silence, on order to make room for thoughts.”

Republic of Noise: The Loss of Solitude in Schools and Culture [Diana Senechal (Author)

The late Terri Shields “said her weakness obsession with her daughter. It’s abnormal, she said. Sometimes I think I should have put more time on myself.” (2012 - NYT – ‘The Lives They Lived’)

The Christian Science Monitor - CSMonitor.com
Who's filling America's church pews (2012)
In Puritan New England, Protestant and Catholic churches are declining while evangelical and Pentecostal groups are rising. Why the nation's most secular region may hint at the future of religion.
For Phil and Pat Webber of Lisbon, freedom has involved leaving a Jehovah's Witness community that they say restricted them from talking with family members or socializing with certain friends. Ben Dugas of Auburn, who has a condition diagnosed as cerebral palsy, finds he sleeps better and enjoys more time with his wife, Wendy, since adopting the church's guidance on vegan eating and Sabbath-keeping.

Finally, Builder Files Lawsuit Over $3 Million Rockefeller Log House

Andrea Rockefeller bought this $3.06 million home that sits on 75.5 acres in 2011.
At the center of a dispute involving a nearly $500,000 renovation project is the most expensive home bought in Pulaski County in 2011.Richard Farris Construction Co. of Little Rock said in a lawsuit filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court that it renovated the $3.06 million home Andrea Rockefeller bought in November 2011.But it said that it wasn’t paid for about $150,000 worth of material and labor done at the log manor that features seven bathrooms and sits on 75.5 acres in west Pulaski County.Farris said in the lawsuit that he wanted Rockefeller to pay the money it owed his company. Rockefeller turned around and sued Farris. She said that it performed “sub-standard and defective work,” including botching how it installed the light poles and how it handled the foundation repairs and the decking material. She said the cost to repair the work that Farris did will exceed the amount that she owes the company. Rockefeller asked that she be given a judgment for the amount she had to spend to fix the alleged “defective workmanship” from Farris, and for court costs and attorney’s fees.

You know, if someone spoke to

You know, if someone spoke to me the way Bella implies is so common, I'd just tell them to go eff themselves. Who are these arrogant jackasses?

You know, if someone spoke to

You know, if someone spoke to me the way Bella implies is so common, I'd just tell them to go eff themselves. Who are these arrogant jackasses?

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Bella DePaulo, Ph.D., is author of Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After. She is a visiting professor at UCSB.

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