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Single Living

I've
never been a fan of the three day weekend.

Well,
I suppose I liked them when I was in school, and a three day weekend meant
three days without school.  And back in
another lifetime, when I was an employee, a day off work meant a day's less
work to do.  But now I work for myself,
so there's really no such thing as a "day off" (or a weekend, or a "quitting
time.")  The work is the work, and it all
has to get done.

So,
about a week before Labor Day, or Memorial Day, or Martin Luther King Jr. Day,
I say to myself "Oh, I guess other people won't be working next Monday."  Do I take the day off?  After all, a typical three day weekend
holiday is not a real holiday like
Christmas or Easter or Thanksgiving where my whole family gets together and we
make big meals and go to church together and all of that.  It's just sort of a quasi-holiday – just
enough of a holiday to tempt single people to feel pathetic for not having any
plans.

Do
any of you do this?  "I wasn't invited
anywhere for Blah-Blah Day."  So I stay
at home.  I run errands.  I clean my house.  I work. 
And, just once or twice during the day, I think about all of those other
people out there – all of those families and their wonderful barbeques and
softball games and spontaneous singing in four-part harmony or whatever it is
they do in their fabulous community-filled lives.

I've
decided that this is a rather stupid way to live.

So,
this year, I sent out an email to a handful of my friends.  Basically I said "Anyone who is plan-less on
Labor Day, please come to my house and let's BBQ."

It's
8 p.m. on Labor Day, and I just finished cleaning up.  My house was full all day.  Eight kids under six years old.  Eleven adults, including my parents, my
brother, my sister and several of my best friends.  It was a little bit chaotic, and it was
awesome.

Guess
what?  All of those families that I just
assumed were busy with their exciting lives? They had no plans either (for all
I know, they may have been secretly feeling just a little bit pathetic about
it, too), and had assumed that I was busy with my exciting, glamorous single
life. They were grateful for the invitation.

I
didn't do a lot of work.  I bought a
bunch of burgers, a couple bags of Ore-Ida frozen fries, some beer and a box of
sangria.  (Oddly, the boxed stuff is
pretty darned good!)  I asked the others
to bring side dishes and desserts, and we had a feast. 

I
need to do a lot more of this.  And I
suspect many of you do, too.

Often,
single people tend to be guests more often that we're hosts.  We don't think we're "equipped" to entertain
at home.  We think "Why would a family
want to come to my house?  I don't have a
big house or playroom or a bunch of toys."  
Well, eight kids just spent an entire afternoon in my unfinished
basement.  And based on the laughter we
heard, I think they were having a pretty good time.  I'm not entirely sure what they were doing,
but I'm told that at least part of it involved killing spiders and making forts
with my old sofa cushions.

No
unfinished basement?  Cramped walk-up
apartment?  Invite people to the
park.  Most cities have parks with
rentable picnic shelters, and the rates are cheap.  (Next weekend I'm renting one that seats 80
people, and it's costing me 40 bucks.)

 The
point is, we all need community.  We're
made for it.  John Paul II wrote about
the "communion of persons" that God created between Adam and Eve.  We were created not to live lives of
isolation, but of interconnectedness. 
The family is the "prototype" of the communion of persons – a group of
people who live not just for themselves, but for each other. 

When we live
as singles, we don't have that built-in community.  We have to create it.  Just sitting at home and waiting for
invitations isn't enough.  We have to
open our homes, and our lives, to those around us.  We have to get into the mix.  Once we do that, amazing things start to
happen.

I may even
start looking forward to three day weekends.

(This post has been read 63 times)

7 Comments

  1. Maria-336468 September 2, 2008

    HI! Thanks for the post. Indeed gives us singles a new outlook on life as a community and how we can initiate gatherings as a way to maintain a good connection with friends and loved ones. Being single does not mean being bored & alone! :veryhappy: :wave: :wink:

  2. Tom-59334 September 2, 2008

    Hey MB, sounds like a good time was had by all. I wish I would have thought about doing the same thing. I found out last night that some of my neighbors didn't have any Labor Day plans either. We could have all gotten together for a BBQ. Maybe next year.

  3. Paul-248362 September 17, 2008

    Thanks MaryBeth for the artical. I haven't been single for a long time but am becoming to comfortable with the lack of social interaction I use to have with friends and family. Hearing your story helped me realize an important fact of life I had been missing. Thanks again

  4. Joseph-301761 September 20, 2008

    Sure enjoyed the story. Great witness and inspiration for those who just need a little encouragement. I've had picnics on the lawn and get togethers in the garage for years. I've had several evenings when I was cleaning up till it was time for bed. It's a good feeling. Remember, We need to love ourselves as well as God and His children. God bless.

  5. Derek-481415 October 16, 2009

    The most exciting event of the summer for me this year was when I just decided to have a big cookout at a local park near tennis courts and a frisbee golf course. I told my close friends to spread the word about it and the next thing I knew was that 25 college-aged people showed up, and this was in a college town in the summer mind you! And then the party moved back to my basement apartment later that night and we still could entertain close to 20 people there. I think the trick is if you invite the masses, and let them bring whatever they want, they end up bringing the party and then some!

  6. MaryLee-377072 October 31, 2009

    Wonderful article! I'm a widow of six years with two nearly finished adult sons who are now on their own. I still have one young teenager, who's friends are now more important than mom. Consequently, I'm living the single life for the most part. It can be, as you said, very isolating. I can remember feeling much of the same feelings you described even when I had my husband, and my family was still at home. I never was a big "blah blah" holiday person, only because they seemed to creep up on me and came to my attentlion when others were with their big families celebrating their BBQ feasts. I usually only celebrated when other neighbors reminded me, and/or invited us to their back yard parties. Now here I am, fairly alone and isolated, which after reading your article, really brings me to the awareness that I can change things for myself. Married or single, people still need to be "in community." We don't have enough of it. You're right… all it takes is some emails or maybe a few phone calls, a box of frozen burgers, buns, fries, chips, dip, a box of wine and me. People are always grateful to be invited, especially when no gift is necessary…just their presence and good conversation. Even a not so perfect house can be the perfect place. Most people don't notice how lovely it is, but they do remember how loving it was to be warmly invited. Thanks for taking the time to invite me to be more inviting. Mary Lee

  7. Mary-436094 November 3, 2009

    I was widowed in 2000, after 47 years of marriage. That morning I knew I had to figure out who I was going to be. My daughter told me,"Life isn't played in the stands, it's played on the court. If you want a life that's great, get into the game, get onto the court. The ball is yours, play it".
    It's not who you were, it's who you want to be. Create the possibility of a life you love. I'm 80 and I know it's never too late to get into the game. I'm still breathing and I'm still playing.

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