"For those with family, the holiday period can be a manic time offering few opportunities to sit down and take stock.
For Christian singles, however, it can be a distressing time that intensifies their feelings of loneliness, a season of reflection often ending in nostalgia.
Some reminisce about past relationships and feel guilty about mistakes they made. Many are uncomfortable being the only single person in their family. Others feel depressed because they have no one to celebrate with. Everyone has their own story.
For Tanya*, a 39-year-old nurse from London, this holiday has been particularly challenging. Her parents live in Cyprus and their relationship is complicated.
“I have depression anyway. It has hit me. It has accentuated everything, especially as I do not have family to spend Christmas this year. It has caused me to feel a lot more down,” she says.
“It is difficult being on my own, especially in my age. It is a lot harder for me.”
In a way, being together with other people over the holidays makes her feel pressured because “this is a time of family, love and togetherness”.
While others are desperate to get as many days off as they can over Christmas and New Year, Tanya actually requests to work.
“... [T]o put it out of my mind and work instead of sitting on my own at home,” she admits.
Occupational therapist Bethany, 33, believes that this time of “togetherness” is challenging for people who are alone.
“It is more in your face. And it makes me feel sorry for those who do not have anyone. It almost makes me cringe.”
Kimmy, a travelling occupational therapist and single mother from New York says the festive period does not affect her, especially because back home in her native US there are so many singles.
At the same time, the 35-year-old also recognises that one by one, many of her friends are getting married.
These days most of Bethany’s friends are in relationships too and she cannot help but feel a bit “isolated”.
In terms of this New Year’s Eve, Kimmy plans to watch the fireworks in central London. Picturing the midnight countdown, she admits to wishing she could share this experience with a partner.
Bethany and Tanya will celebrate New Year’s Eve together. For Tanya, the last thing she wants is to impose herself on friends who might feel they need to invite her.
“I do not want them to feel sorry for me. I do not like that feeling,” she emphasises.
Her Christian faith though has helped her to maintain a positive outlook on the future.
“God is going to sort it out”, she affirms. “I know He is going to provide me with someone.”
Bethany adds: “It is one area you cannot control. You cannot control when you meet someone.”
She admits that she would love to meet someone but refuses to lower her standards and settle for just anyone.
“The bottom line is if you are really strong in who you are in Christ, you will not worry about it. You will trust that God will provide you with the right partner when it is the appointed time.”*last names have been omitted by request"
I spotted this article in Twitter - and I have two basic reactions to it - I feel sorry for these women in the first instance, that they are alone and that they find Christmas really hard, and secondly, what are they doing and what is the church doing to help these women out?
Note that this article is only about women who are single and alone, not about men. I know my fair share of men who are single, and although I can't speak for any of them, I bet some of them feel like this. God calls us to be in community, to be with someone, for life and it does become a struggle to be on your own in the end.
So what are the Church doing to deal with the singles and what are the singles doing to sort it out themselves. Are they spending time out and about with other singles, or with good friends who have good friends who are single? Does the church recognise that community is as important for single people as it is for families?
In my experience, a lot of the older single people in the church are teaching me how to be single, they are independent and they do love spending time with their friends and their church. They are not sad and alone. They don't resent people for feeling sorry for them, they understand that God has put them in a place where they can help each other to feel like a family.
Yes, God has the prefect partner for each one of us who believe and we have to get the fine balance between trusting Him and actually going out. I read a quote somewhere about Disney teaching girls that some day their prince will come - i.e. Cinderella's prince searched the kingdom high and low for her and they lived happily ever after. Looking at the rest of the story though Cinderella actually went to the ball, rather than sitting at home in front of the tv, blogging about being single... oh wait.
Ok, so I am not the perfect example of a Christian single, but I do try to spend time with my friends, with my church and with my Bible, but also making new friends and going on dates (shock horror) to see what works and what doesn't. I guess my profession allows me to meet a lot of new people on a regular basis, for which I am hugely grateful.
For those of you who are really struggling with this time of 'togetherness', it is hard, but at the time when the church celebrates, what are you doing to celebrate being single?