So far, the Advent season for me has consisted of watching way too many cheesy festive films, consuming copious amount of mince pies and having a 6-week (and counting) cold.
I’ve decorated my Christmas tree, made a wreath for the door and bought all my presents.
I’ve been to a carol service, I’ve taught Sunday school children about the birth of Jesus and written a play for a Christmas Eve nativity.
Some might say I am winning at life this Christmas.
And yet, for me, my heart doesn’t feel full.
According to the movies, Christmas is about spending time with all your family and friends, but most particularly that special “one”.
They suggest that if you happen to travel to a little town and get yourself stranded by the snow, you’ll end up being in love by New Year. You might make some Christmas cookies or hot chocolate along the way, you may even have a misunderstanding that splits you apart for all of an hour, but you’ll still find yourselves underneath that mistletoe.
This year, I have far beaten my record for the number of movies watched before Christmas Day. And whilst it fills me with festive cheer, it also makes me believe I’m missing something.
Just like M&S tells you an indulgent pudding will make your Christmas, everywhere I’m being told I can’t have the perfect Christmas as a single woman.
But why not?
I’m beginning to see that all of these films, TV programmes and adverts forget the one thing… the real meaning of Christmas.
Instead of the baby Jesus in a manger, they provide the latest IPhone or most succulent turkey.
Instead of sacrificial, eternal love we are told Christmas is nothing without diamonds.
So, after spending 25 Christmases as a singleton (yes, even those first few years count!), here are my three top tips to let yourself thrive this year.
1) Remember the real meaning of Christmas. Attend a carol service, go worship at church, read the Christmas story from the actual Bible. Jesus has already given us a gift that no person can even attempt to rival, he loves us more than any human could….Try spending Christmas with Jesus.
2) Fill your Christmas season with people. Any holiday season can leave people feeling incredibly lonely. Just by attending a church service, or taking time out to have a coffee with a friend, you can soon be surrounded by loved ones. For some people, spending time with family can be complicated, but there’s no rulebook on who you have to spend Christmas with…
3) Don’t hold yourself to anyone else’s standard. The movies are fiction and the adverts are for businesses; all trying to sell the “perfect” Christmas. But the perfect Christmas was 2018 years ago (give or take). Eat what makes you happy, give only the amount you can afford and know that you are loved.
This year I’m facing another Christmas with a bottle of prosecco in one hand and a mince pie in the other… Very Bridget Jones.
Meanwhile, I’ve also had the pleasure of babysitting for two families (one included hanging out with the children during the Strictly final), watching friends start their married life together and seeing people hear the real story of Christmas for the first time.
There’s so much joy to experience this Christmas, sometimes you just have to find it.
So from me (and my very festive cold), I wish you a very merry Christmas. May you know God’s love and joy this season.