End of Year: Amplifying the One
Throughout the year, you can run your maze of responsibilities, your jobs, your woes, your ironic little side-turns to absorb time we used to call hobbies. And you do it, you accomplish these daily To-Dos with as much dispatch as everyone else. More or less.
But come the holidays, those dreaded end-of-year false-cheer times, when people rush about buying unavoidable ‘gifts’ they can’t get away with not buying. When doormen and concierges and mailmen and all the run of the necessary people we deal with have their smiles pasted on their warm and inviting palms. Tip or die, we might call that. They might make more in absolute terms than we, but Heaven succor you, sucker, if you fail to lard that particular bundt-cake pan.
For the average, which one believes is still the two-fer, the married duality of citizens, holidays is a grit and grin it and bear it. If in the rear-view mirror anyone accidentally admits they had a grand time with distant family and micro-universal friends from here and far, it seems, by the weight of post-holiday scrivenings to be an anomaly.
Most people prefer the company of their nuclear selves, if they are well-married and well-childed. Even the Grinches in feathers and elongated nails have their preferred broods, and sit out the mandatory meals and avaricious present-openings with as much grace as can be mustered.
But the Single.
Now, we won’t pretend that what was once the case, with a tiny sliver of the population being in the garb of the star Wars creatures who could throw over their carefully coiffed heads a cloak of invincibility. No, the Single is now a huge demographic, like it or not. Particularly in the metropolis that get the most filmic exposure and the rivers of ink flowing into our still-breathing magazines and papers.
Singles can make plans, as they ought to, months in advance of the Chanukah/Christmas logjam of false merriment and hysteria, the flurry of swarming Happy! Jolly! Merry! That threatens to bury us before our time. Because though the days in January seem long and far before the horizon of the “the holidays,” in fact they steal up pretty darned fast, and there you are, solo at the friend’s table, alone at the vet’s party with your shi-tzu, hustling onto the Metro north to your aunts or cousins or nephew’s aromatic, festivity-strewn homes.
Singles dread them. If they are not hooked up with a Significant Other, or a reliably haul-‘em-to intimate partner, they are always the one at the tail end of invitations, at the nether end of the living room, at the “oops” side of the gift ledger. Not getting gifts is no calamity, of course. Most Singles can buy their own, we know.
But the prospect of yet another hilarity-imbued family or friend get-together where the preponderants are able to point to a spouse or cherubic Sunday-best-dressed kidlet is a quick killer. The data for self-send-offs are pretty clear—more people, probably solo, do away with themselves around the holiday period than at any other time. In nobody’s book does the festival tranche engage Singles in an amplitude of joy and resolve: They are, whoa, again at the sideboard buffet, alone. Buying a ticket to the multiplex for the hot actioner, for one, then hiding companionably in the cozy breast of the dark theater, where no one can distinguish Matched from Oy yey, still single?
The single, in a sculpture, could be—not all, of course, but enough—anthropologized as a forward-leaning, vaguely huddled figure pressing his, and increasingly her, nose against a cold pane. The sculpture could be of bronze, as that is a suitable, enduring material, and well headlines the circumstance of the outsider who wouldn’t like it to be so.
Of the great new possible holiday ideas, has anyone yet proposed a Singles week, or month, for those who give wedding presents to everyone, and never get anything back until or unless he/she ever manages to find a mate? For the millions who are perfectly unsubstance-abusing, relatively washed and shod and perfumed, yet have no one in their lives who can open that vault of loving feelings just waiting timorously to be opened and distributed in intensity borne of long sequestration (not, mind, the 2012 fiscal kind). Nah, because the namers of holidays, National Mushroom Day, National Chewing Gum Day, are married, and it never falls to their active creativity to cast a lasso to the ones pressing their noses to the wrought-iron gate of Everyone else.
Are these maudlin thoughts at a time when bells ring and smiles wreath the faces as leis bedeck the doors in MostTown, USA? Recent clerics in the received religions have doubted the existence, really, of Hell. Quite. No proof attends, and no one comes back with a cheeky Tweet to assure us it exists. But for Singles, Hell is a resident transparent reality existing side by side with the gratifyingly abundant life we lead in the 21st century modern West. Hell is coping-through. Hell is Nobody-with. Hell is smiling-fast.
Singles have their own outreach programs by religious entities all too aware of the dichotomies of wedded, paired and unpaired, solitaries. But not everyone is within the compass of the religious outreaches striving to incorporate the not-hungry, not-destitute, but the flailing and annually sad.
Holidays evolved from holy days, of course. But for the Single, such periods of usually frigid temps and hurrying from transit to warm convivials and grog always making up for the parched absent embrace of someone else, holidays could as easily be spelled Wholly Daze. Wandering around in mandated visits, or alone, waiting for normalcy to re-descend. The tendrils of chugging into January’s revived work or reconnoitered tasks, unremarked upon and anodyne.