My part of the forest has finally grown colder. It means I can no longer deny that autumn has fluttered right past with not so much as a second glance. How rude.
Here we are right smack in the middle of December, and I can feel the constant pull of contradicting emotions rise in my chest.
On the one hand, I’m excited to get time off from work to rest and to celebrate Christmas. I’m looking forward to being reunited with family and friends I haven’t seen in so long, to revel in good food and warm company, to bathe in the glow of the fireplace while reading and listening to Christmas music.
But on the opposite end, I’m dreading the unavoidable questions from well-meaning family and friends regarding my lack of a relationship status, the loneliness of going to social gatherings solo, realizing I let another year slip by without accomplishing what I wanted.
Sometimes I just want to be anti-social around this time of year. It’s hard when everyone seems to have found their matching shoe, when others are talking about decorating their new home, when first-time parents (also friends) are posting pictures of their babies left and right or talking about their expanding family.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for them. But amidst the hustle and bustle of their lives, I feel like I’m the only one standing completely still. Like the traffic’s moving around me, but my car has decided to just stall on the freeway.
I realized this weekend that there are many things I believed as a teenager that I no longer believe. I thought I would meet a boy, become friends with him for years, and at about year ten, we would realize we loved each other, get married, and live happily ever after, and that was all that mattered.
I no longer believe any of that crap.
First, if I ever do meet someone, I don’t think we’ll be friends for ten years before getting married. Maybe one year, maybe a little more, maybe less. But I no longer care so much about the time because I would think we’re both old enough to know ourselves by now and know what we want. So if I ever do fall in love, I think it would be fast.
Second, I don’t believe in happy ever afters. Life is filled with grief, before AND after marriage. There’s life beyond the wedding day, and there’s bound to be trials. So what counts is how you work together to handle those trials—a miscarriage, a death in the family, the birth of an autistic child, the irks and quirks of your partner.
Third, falling in love isn’t the most important thing in life. There are a ton of other things that matter, and yes, they can matter even more. There are other relationships in life—being a good daughter, a good sister, a good friend. Loving strangers, the less fortunate, grief-stricken victims on the news.
Finally, there’s one more thing I’d like to stop believing. And that is if my car is stalling on the freeway, I don’t need to wait for Prince Charming to come fix it. I can learn to fix it myself and start moving again.
So dear sir, I am not going to sit around waiting for you. You can come if you’d like, but if not, then whatever. I don’t need you for my life to proceed. Yes, it will still be hard to watch my friends get engaged and married and have kids. It’ll be hard not to want what they have. But at the same time, I can’t just be sad about it all the time. Because there are other things I want to do with my life. Things that don’t involve you.
But for the time being, it’ll just have to be another Christmas of going alone to my work party, of putting off questions from loved ones, of politely telling relentless matchmakers that no, I wasn’t interested in that guy the first time you set us up, and that hasn’t changed, but I’m fine, thank you very much.
Besides, who am I to complain, a girl who has already been blessed with so much?
This Christmas, I’ll be able to enjoy being with my immediate family, to treasure the moments of being with the people I have now. There are people in this world who are grieving, having lost loved ones and not being able to spend Christmas with them. People who have nothing but ghosts to hold. Children who will never grow up and fall in love, who will never again anticipate unwrapping presents on Christmas morning. Parents who never had the opportunity to hold their babies, being forced to let them go without even a name. Children who watch their parents forget things bit by bit, even their own names, until all that’s left is a hollow shell of what used to be.
I won’t go on. I can’t.
It’s too humbling.