The careening caravan of “ThanksChrsmasNewYerKwanzHanuk” holidaytime is supposed to be a fun, party-filled, family hugging, laughter and singing train ride (whoowhoo!) , but it can feel more like a bruising train wreck for those of us bumping along without a spouse, significant other, or who have just gone through the loss of a loved one. My office Christmas party invitation indicated that spouses (or eh-hum, guests) are cordially invited, and you wonder whether or not to show up solo or just grab someone who’s free or won’t embarrass you in public. At family gatherings you find your relatives either asking too many personal questions or deliberately avoiding asking you about your love life for fear of an awkward moment.
Ahhhh…the holidays. I used to daydream of a big, glitzy gathering in my future dream house, gorgeously decorated with warm yet tasteful colors and a little bling and fluff on the pillows, a roaring fireplace and large windows to set off the tall evergreens outside. I would be standing next to my handsome and successful husband in a well-tailored outfit, the envy of all who came. And then…I would wake up.
So, how do we take the bull by the horns during the holidays and ride that thing?
A week ago I was delighted to experience an amazing celebration. I had heard about Friendsgiving before. Singles come together to celebrate this family-centric holiday, enjoying Thanksgiving in less traditional ways. I decided to host one, focusing on the group of single women I meet with monthly for inspiration and spiritual encouragement, a group called WOW (Women of Wisdom).
Last month we gathered in the sweet, white house across from my church, and sat at one long table to dine on Fazoli’s pasta and salad. Then we retreated to the lounge area where we talked and shared our struggles, our challenges, and our unique reasons to thank God for this past year. We posed for silly pictures and took some time to dance and laugh. Several women serenaded us with worshipful songs. Another recited poignant poetry. And another reminded us that God had created us for a purpose, that we could and should speak into that purpose as well. We closed with communion together and raised our hands to receive a Hebraic blessing.
My heart was about to explode with the beauty, the vulnerability, and the strength and fragility of that evening. I am grateful for fierce and gentle friends, overcoming disappointments, set backs, and degradation, yet speaking life, fighting forward, and encouraging my heart. I am in awe of God’s Presence with us when we feel so alone. I needed to be reminded of this mystery. Such a sweet Friendsgiving! It was just what my soul needed…