A Facebook group I follow had an article about the stresses and troubles single women face during the holidays. It was a good article, but after reading it, I was thinking, "OK, but what about single men?"
So I wrote an article and submitted it to the group's editor. No idea when it'll appear on their website, but I'll put it on mine...
In 2015 there was a protest against Christmas. Nothing unusual, right? Only this protest was spearheaded by a group of single men in Japan who believed the Christmas holiday was some political ploy which focused holiday cheer on couples to the exclusion of others – namely single men.
A Washington Post article about the event stated that the group’s leader felt their 30-minute march helped to “pulverize” Christmas in the name of lonely, single men everywhere. I’m not sure if anything was pulverized, but the story does raise the question – what’s a single Christian man to do at Christmas?1
If nothing else, the Japanese story is a reminder that the seasonal focus on families does put singles in an awkward spot. One author who interviewed 120 single men found that the group was almost evenly split between those who enjoyed being alone at Christmas and those who would prefer to spend Christmas with someone special.2
Single men are a small and easily forgotten niche of society. They run the spectrum of those who find themselves dealing with a broken relationship at Christmas, to those who have never married, to those who are facing the holidays without their spouse. All of them face a wide range of emotional and spiritual struggles during a season which is constantly focused on family. So what can they do?
First, focus on the meaning of the season. It’s a birthday and Christians around the world celebrate the arrival of their Savior. The setting, the events, the miracle – they all remind us that one night changed the world, and changes us every time we remember it. Spend quality time in God’s word and focus on the scriptures which tell us about the prediction, arrival, and return of our Savior. Join an advent Bible study at a local church. Involve yourself in your own daily Advent remembrance with a calendar or devotional.
Second, be involved. The tendency of single men to avoid people and events is foolish during this time of year. There are many organizations that gear up to do special things for people for the holidays. Find a local group and spend time helping others. Volunteer time to lend a hand and discover how wonderful it is to give in practical ways to others who are also struggling during these days. Not only does involvement replace self-pity with self-sacrifice, but it also moves you into spheres which ultimately can expand your world.
Third, be proactive. Singles are notorious sulkers, and they spend way too much time hoping other people will notice their emptiness and fill it. The reality is, everyone is so involved doing their own thing that remembering the lonely single guy is just something that doesn’t make it to their to-do list. On the other hand, you know the season comes every year, and you know there will be that tendency to sit at home and sulk or whine to others how much you hate this time of year. But this year, be different. Create your own Christmas tradition. Yes, get that Christmas tree and decorate it with stuff YOU want on it. Make a list of things to do, people to see, and places to go that will fill the days with so many good things that there won’t be time for doldrums. For me, I look forward to Christmas Eve when I can pop some popcorn, turn on the Christmas lights, and watch my favorite Christmas movie.
When I was attending Bible college, and everyone was getting so excited about finishing exams and heading home for the Christmas break, my heart would go out to the international students whose families were many miles away. I remember wondering what I would do if I had no place to go and nothing to do at Christmas. It is so easy to walk around with a “woe is me” attitude, but I determined that the answer to my problem is within me. With creativity and determination, I realized there was much I could do to fill my single life with richness. Some may turn their frustration and loneliness into a march to “pulverize” Christmas, but as a single Christian, I can make the most of my time and turn into a fun and memorable time, too.
1 Wang, Yanan (2015, December 21) In Tokyo, the ‘war on Christmas’ is led by lonely single men. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/12/21/in-tokyo-the-war-on-christmas-is-led-by-lonely-single-men/?utm_term=.17d0419ef3e2 .
2 Bello, Munir (2014, December 24) Do single men get lonely during Christmas? Retrieved from https://www.wearethecity.com/single-men-get-lonely-christmas/