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We all know the holidays can be a difficult time for singles. Love is in the air, though it doesn’t seem to be the same air we’re breathing. According to HuffPost, 43 percent of marriage proposals happen between November and January. Ugh.

Today’s Day 9 of my “12 Days of Single” blog challenge. In a conversation with a fellow single friend tonight, we got to talking about our New Year’s Eve plans. Neither of us have anything too exciting planned, and definitely aren’t expecting anything romantic to pop up before then. To that, my friend replied,

You know, New Year’s is worse than Christmas.

She wasn’t referring to the holidays themselves, but rather how difficult they are for singles. After her comment, we both just sort of sighed the deep sigh of camaraderie and then continued with our conversation.

But her words have stuck with me, long after we hung up our phones.

Christmas is a family holiday. It’s about getting everyone together — parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews, grandkids. It involves lots of food and laughter and — for the more festive families — singing carols around the upright piano while drinking eggnog. The table is loaded with good food and too much of it, and our hearts are filled with lots of love.

home alone

For those not currently in a relationship, Christmas can be sad. Some singles spend it completely alone — no family, no friends. This breaks my heart. Other singles dread spending Christmas with their families because they know they’ll be singled out for their singleness. They’ll be asked over and over again who they’re dating, why they’re not dating, and basically what’s wrong with them. Especially for the long-time single, this can be grueling.

Despite the difficulties, Christmas is a happy holiday, and that joy is reflected at family gatherings. For me, I generally don’t think about my singleness once my whole family is together. We’re loud and busy and crazy. We’re usually turning simple family games into ultra competitive, winner-takes-all tournaments. It’s super weird, but at least it makes it easy to lose myself in the good stuff and not focus on the not-so-great stuff.

New Year’s, however, is different. You might think it’s about celebrating the close of one year and the start of another. But, let’s be honest — New Year’s is all about couples. It’s all about that midnight kiss. You know, that kiss that we singles are not getting this year.

bridget jones

And if you aren’t part of a couple, if you don’t have someone to share that coveted smooch, you’re suddenly standing in a spotlight in the center of a crowded room. As the other partygoers count down — 10! . . . 9! . . . 8! — they might as well be staring right at you.

I’m usually over by the punch bowl at this point, fiddling with my drink and smiling in the general direction of the crowd, as if to say, “Whoooo! Happy New Year!!!” (While all I really want to say is, “Get me outta here. Stat.”)

So in a vain attempt to avoid this inevitable spotlight moment, we attend New Year’s parties in groups. Large groups of friend — some single, some coupled. We dress up and make the best of it. But between champagne and handfuls of pretzel mix, we’re nonchalantly checking the time on our iPhones because we know it’s coming. We can feel it. Just like we know when bridal bouquet tosses are approaching at weddings. We have a sixth sense for events meant to embarrass us simply for being alone.

Now that I’ve sorted out the Christmas vs. New Year’s debate in writing, I’m starting to agree with my friend: New Year’s is indeed the more difficult holiday for singles.

It doesn’t mean we have to wallow or stay home alone. It doesn’t mean other people have to feel sorry for us. (That actually makes it worse.) It doesn’t even mean we can’t look on the bright side and have an absolutely fabulous New Year’s celebration.

It’s just worth acknowledging. That’s all.

~Ruth

{Stay tuned for the remaining installments of the “12 Days of Single” blog challenge. I’ll be posting a new blog every day from now until Christmas!}