When your heart needs a holiday from the holidays

The holiday season is filled with plenty of busyness, gifting, joyful music, and emotions.

And those emotions can often feel like more than our hearts can handle.

When you’re single and ask strangers at a park to take a picture of you for your Christmas card

I’ve been single for exactly every holiday that has ever existed, so I know a thing or two about getting through the month of December without a Clark to my Ellen. There’s just something about the Christmas season that helps to remind a single gal that she’s single—maybe it’s the endless songs mentioning mistletoe or the carriage rides with couples and families cuddled up under blankets together or the matching family pajamas on GIANT display at Target or the endless commercials with people in love giving each other Lexuses with big bows on them or the Hallmark movies with perfect endings or the chill in the air that feels colder when you’re alone or the—I could keep going, but I don’t want to.

I know that I’m not the only person who breathes who is single right now, so this isn’t a pity party, but I’ve come up with a short list of ways to get past the holiday blues that might creep up on you when you’re trying to be all holly and jolly and whatnot.

Take that carriage ride on your own, and enjoy every second of it — I actually had full intentions of doing this one year, but when I found out the price of how much it costs, that plan was shot. So, if you’re a cheapo like I am, you can do what I did and, instead, just drive super slowly in your own car with the windows down so that you can get a similar feel. Plus, you can blast your heat at the same time so that you’re really not that cold. And cruising in your car by yourself is super unromantic, so you won’t feel like you’re missing out like you would if you were in a carriage ride alone. (But the solo carriage ride thing is still cool, too.)

Watch Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York Unlike the Hallmark movies, there’s exactly zero romance involved in these classics. Plus, not only are they hilarious, but they are also about a young boy who kicks a$* on his own, so maybe they’ll provide you a little inspiration and encouragement at the same time.

Buy a Bath & Body Works Wallflower to make your home smell like Christmas cookies You can also buy a candle, but I find that the Wallflowers are easier and last longer. Plus, they’re cheaper. Either way, the intoxicating scent is pretty much guaranteed to bring you a little extra peace.

Watch a Dallas Cowboys game — You’ll be so upset with how they play that you’ll forget all about being single during the holidays.

Remind yourself that being single means that you have one less gift to purchase — Hey, you might as well focus on a financial advantage of this situation.

Take a few minutes to watch this video in its entirety — You’re welcome.

Do all of the things you love to do, and spend time with your people — This is the most important one. You don’t have to be part of a pair to be part of a family. It might be tougher than you prefer, but you don’t have to let your lack of something take away from your joy of what you already have.

My sister always reminds me that I’m welcome. Always and forever. Forever and always.

The holiday season can be a heart-wrenching time for some people for a variety of reasons, regardless of their relationship statuses. Hug your people a little extra—you don’t always know what’s going on in their hearts, and they may need those hugs more than you’ll ever know.

If you’re feeling more single than ever this year, know that YOU CAN DO HARD THINGS. You may not feel loved and adored by anyone trying to meet you under the mistletoe, but you are loved and adored by the One who is the reason we celebrate the Christmas holiday in the first place.

And that’s sure as heck a reason to be joyous in a potentially tough time of the year.

Forever and always

On this day 29 years ago, I gained a best friend I should have treated better during our younger days.

Because she is the greatest thing that ever happened to the 90s.

My sister’s first car was one of the coolest rides I wasn’t able to drive (because I will likely never be able to master the art of driving a standard). It was a black Jeep Wrangler that we affectionately called the BK (Big Killa). I loved when we went places together in that car. Riding in the BK made a person feel like a Hollywood star (or maybe it just made us feel that way—whatever).

I will never forget one afternoon, my sister and I were cruising around our town with the top down and the sun beating down on us. We were belting our hearts out—most likely to the stellar Michelle Branch—when out of nowhere, it started pouring. I’m not talking an exaggeration of a little downfall. I’m talking POURING. The sun was still out, and the top was still down. Needless to say, we were soaked. As a girl who is pretty shallow about her hair, this would normally not be an ideal situation for me. But, to be honest, in this instance I really didn’t care much—because of my sister. She was laughing, and I started laughing. It only rained for a couple of minutes, and then we were just two girls who were sopping wet and driving around town singing. And so sopping.

My sister is one of those people who makes the rain more enjoyable.

forever and always collage
Sistas4lyfe

The Runt is 29 today. If you had asked me 29 years ago just how much that little girl would have impacted my life, my 2-year-old self would simply have no idea. I never would have admitted this when we were little kids, but she has always been my best friend. Even when we fought like crazy at times, I never could stay mad at her. She just makes you feel better simply by being around her.

Back in February, I had been thinking about something for a while, so I texted my sister to see if she had ever thought about getting a tattoo. The next thing I knew, the following Sunday we were on our way to a tattoo place and getting inked. I got the word “forever,” and she got “always,” both in Greek. I don’t care how cheesy it sounds, but we’re sisters forever and always, always and forever. Plus, it was one more special thing we did together, and it’s kind of permanent, so it was a pretty solid sisterly bonding activity.

There have been tattoos; there have been arguments; there has been laughter; there has been crying; there has been silliness; there have been deep discussions; there has been sitting on the front porch with golf clubs when we were home alone and thought we heard something in the closet; there have been pep talks; and there’s still so much more to come.

I think back to that Jeep story a lot and smile every single time. There have been quite a few rain storms in my life, and my sister has been there for every single one. She was the one who left work in the middle of the day (it’s harder to do than you might think when you’re a teacher) and rushed to the hospital to be with me when I had kidney stones earlier this year. She’s always the one to tell me guys are stupid (or other mean adjectives) when they don’t like me. She was the one to run in with me and cross the finish line with me at my second marathon when I was in an obvious amount of pain. She is the one I call when I am on the verge of tears and need my sister to tell me it’s OK to cry.

I know you might not have a sister. You might not have a brother. You might not be close with your siblings. But I hope that you have someone in your life who makes the rain storms better. I don’t believe we were meant to be hermits and go through life alone. We have people around us for a reason. Hold on to the gems—the ones who know you and truly care about you.

They are the ones who are forever and always.

When you need to be pulled around the rink

You can learn things in life at the strangest places.

Including old school roller rinks.

I went to a birthday party for Maddie (I’ve mentioned her many times before), who is what I refer to as one of my “forever friends.” We’ve been friends since we were 3 years old, and she is one of those people I know will always be in my life. Seeing as how she’s known me so long, she really gets me, and she never fails to be there for me when I really need her. Simply put, she’s a forever friend.

sk8erade
Sk8erade

Maddie joined me in the Dirty 30 Club (or 30 Flirty and Thriving–or whatever you want to call it) on Saturday, and there was obviously only one logical way to celebrate this milestone in her life: living it up at a roller skating rink. When she first told me this is what we were doing for her party, I will admit that I was pretty excited. Call me a kid of the ’90s (because I am), but I love going to roller skating rinks. You get to jam out to music while going round and round a gym floor surface, and at some point you completely forget your age and remember the reason you’re there: to have fun. I thought it was pure genius to celebrate entering the grown-up decade by taking it back to the rink.

Maddie is one of those individuals who knows everyone. Seriously. I don’t think there’s a person she doesn’t know. (She probably knows you.) So, I knew there would be people at her party I don’t know and some I do. When we started skating, the married and dating couples were paired off, while those who had come together were making their laps with one another. I had come by myself, so I was skating on my own then stopping and chatting with various people but trying not to third wheel it too much.

I try not to let my mind go here too often, but because I’m one of the only people in my life I know who isn’t dating, in a relationship or married, I couldn’t help but let the thought cross my mind: Will I ever have someone to skate with me? While I don’t mind being single–even if it is for the rest of my life–some moments are more difficult than others.

And skating all by yourself is one of those moments.

But then, out of nowhere, Maddie came speed skating beside me, grabbed me by the hand and pulled me with her around the rink. This happened more than once throughout the night, and when Maddie knew how excited I was when “Shake It Off” started playing (never mind that I requested it specifically), she skated/sang/danced with me all around the rink for the entire song. (I told you–she gets me.) Plus, earlier in the night when I had told Maddie how awesome it was that she had been issued skates that lit up, she left and came back with a glow bracelet for me to wear. She’s always looking out for people. She also participated in the rink races with me. Usually only the little kids take part in the races, but I like to, as well. They’re fun, and there’s no real pressure. So, when no one would step out on the floor with me, Maddie did, and we lined up next to three young girls who kicked our tails. I got fifth place. (If you just did the math there, you can judge me all you want. I have no shame.)

I was reminded that night why it’s so important to have forever friends–they pick you up and pull you along when you need it most. They dance with you. They step on the starting line with you. They are simply there with you and for you.

Life isn’t meant to be spent alone. Even Jesus had men He surrounded Himself with to do life together. My pastor at church on Sunday was talking about serving others and the way we can live in order to serve in the way Jesus served. We focused on the passage in which Jesus somehow used five loaves of bread and two fish to feed thousands. As I sat there, I thought back to the night before and how much Maddie is like Jesus in the way she serves people, especially those she cares about most. I was reminded of how often God shows Himself through other people. In a moment when I needed to get away from my thoughts of lonely skating, one of my best friends swept in and brought the fun.

We all need people in our lives. Even if you end up single forever, you won’t ever be completely alone. You’ll have those forever friends who will come alongside you and give you the encouragement you need to keep your head up and your hips swaying to the beat.

And you can always count on someone to step away from the sidelines and boldly step on the starting line, only to be dominated by kids more than half your age as they leave you in the dust from their skates’ wheels.

And that is true friendship.