Come all ye singles:
Flying solo, giftless, and
enjoying the holidays
December 24, 2004
It's Christmas Eve, and I'm on a Southwest
plane flying home to Nashville for the holiday.
As I write this, I haven't yet boarded, but experience tells me that, as
a single traveler, I'll be getting a seat in the front of the plane --
an ideal place if you don't mind being wedged in with an older couple
wearing matching sweat suits.
And I don't.
If I were married and traveling with my wife, I'd probably have to dole
out the extra cash and fly some other airline in order to sit next to
her. Either that or I'd have to arrive at the airport six hours early to
secure a coveted spot at the beginning of Southwest's A line. For those
who haven't traveled Southwest, seats are not assigned, and boarding is
on a first-come, first-served basis. This system is beneficial to
retirees with scads of time on their hands but not great for young
couples juggling work, family and travel.
As the world makes its annual trip into holiday-fueled "couple
craziness," it's important for single folks to carve out their own place
so they don't feel left behind in the season of togetherness.
Ease of travel is only one example of how partnerless people have an
advantage over the holidays.
The mechanics of travel are easier when you're going solo. A single guy
can generally stuff everything he needs for a trip into one bag, cram it
into the overhead and miss out entirely on the joys of baggage claim.
Not only that, but while couples are haggling over destinations, singles
can hop a plane and head to the family gathering of their choice.
Single people can be on the beach getting back rubs from the natives
while married couples are still debating whose in-laws get the pleasure
of their company.
Singles also can smile about the low-grade shopping expectations put
upon them. They can buy something for Mom and Dad and pretty much call
it a season. Couples, on the other hand, are buying gifts for two sides
of a family and probably other couples. Couples who hang out as friends
are much more likely to exchange gifts than single people who hang out
Food preparation is another aspect of the holidays that warrants
attention.For couples who don't enjoying getting down and dirty in the
kitchen culinarily, this can be a troubling time of the year. What with
holiday parties, holiday dinners and holiday potlucks, there's an
enormous expectation to bake a cake and pitch in.
Not so for the single.
Single people -- unmarried men in particular -- tend to get off cheap
when it comes to taking a dish to a friend's house or a work function.
It is assumed, sometimes correctly, that single men can barely find
clean clothes to put on in the morning before work. It would be
preposterous to rely upon them to take something edible to a social
And no discussion of the benefits of holiday singledom would be complete
without the mention of Christmas cards. Anyone who has toiled for the
hours it takes to establish and edit a list, collect the appropriate
addresses, personalize the cards, stamp and mail the darn things can
tell you it takes less time to get a master's degree.
But couples are expected to perform this ritual each year while single
guys are expected only to lounge around and watch football, and single
women are expected to be too busy with fancy, dress-up cocktail parties
to bother with Christmas-card lists.
So while we're all bombarded with images of happily married couples and
their smiling families, remember that single people have reasons to be