James Rigdon is single for the holidays, but he has a novel plan for getting through them.
The holidays are a time that I both love and hate.
I love them for the general feel, the spiritual aspect, the songs (before they get so overplayed), the emotions, reunions… and I hate them for the mercantilist side that shoves itself down our throats, with Hallmark blasting Christmas movies 24/7 from Halloween on, Black Friday sales that begin on Thursday afternoon, all the made-up conflicts about “keep Christ in Christmas” and every other way that the holiday gets exploited.
But most of all, I hate being single during the holidays.
Let’s face it- Halloween is the LAST singles holiday until St. Patrick’s Day. From Thanksgiving through Christmas, New Year’s, and Valentine’s Day, you’re surrounded by couples and families. You see everyone in their “together” element, and, even if you’re like I’ve been the past three years, all Grinch Scrooge McCynical, it can’t help but pull at you.
You feel alone.
The really tough part, given my political career, is always arriving back in my home area just as the season’s getting started, right after the November elections, and, it always seems, that’s right when EVERYone decides to get into a relationship. Right before I get back home.
Social media doesn’t help this, by the way. Before, during the holidays, I would just go to work and do my best to stay under the holiday radar until it passed. Now, with Facebook, and all its likenesses, displaying what, to me, seems like a competition to post the sweetest and cutest family photos and statuses about who took what holiday vacation and what everyone got for and from everyone else and aren’t we all just the luckiest people in the world? And yes, everyone likes to talk in first person, plural, because it’s a “we” world when it comes to the holidays.
It’s enough to make you want to sit on the roof with a shotgun and wait to blow Santa’s stupid brains out.
So, as we approach the holiday season this year, I have a two-pronged strategy for trying to deal with the usual holiday drag:
First, I have publicly declared that I am seeking a short-term holiday relationship.
I’ve made it clear that there are single people out there how all have got to feel like I do at this time of year, so why shouldn’t we get together and see if we can stand one another long enough to stave off the usual holiday blues? We decide to be together to get at least to New Year’s, with a possible extension to St. Patrick’s Day, understanding that, while temporary, we agree to certain rules and go with it.
And this plan has been applauded, so far, by many of my friends, but the problem?
All my friends who say, “Wow, what a great idea”-
They’re all IN RELATIONSHIPS.
Nevertheless, I will continue my attempts and will perhaps find some person or persons who are willing to give this first path a try; however, my second strategy is a bit more sensible, and one upon which I crave my readers’ opinions.
My second strategy: Stoicism.
There are a number of different views on what stoicism is and isn’t, so allow me to clarify.
The common view of stoicism is one of rejection of pain and pleasure, strength through denial- “This doesn’t bother me” is the commonly used phrase in such descriptions. That is close and yet misses the real meaning entirely.
Stoicism is about not letting things trouble you too much by accepting what comes, viewing the world not through external influences but rather seeing its reflection in yourself. One of the great stoic philosophers, Epictetus, wrote, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters” and “There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.”
Stoicism does not reject one’s ability to feel emotions, but instead urges people to take control of their own reactions to external happenings. No one can make you feel anything in any particular way. And that’s a teaching I plan to attempt throughout these upcoming holidays.
I have friends getting married this holiday season. I am happy for them.
I have friends with families and loved ones surrounding them. I am happy for them.
I will likely be working Thanksgiving and Christmas, being a DJ at a bar, and being surrounded by people drinking off the family stress. I will be happy for them, too.
Does this seem realistic? My goal for the rest of the year, all 45 days of it, is to remain as positive as possible. Epictetus also said, “If you would cure anger, do not feed it. Say to yourself: ‘I used to be angry every day; then every other day; now only every third or fourth day.’ When you reach thirty days offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the gods.”
But I’m not giving up on my search for the temporary relationship relief.
So what are your ways of coping with holiday stress or blues? Do you have any suggestions? I am open.
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