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Single Living

When I was growing up in the ’80s, there was a very popular New Wave song by the Waitresses called “Christmas Wrapping.” I’ll be the first to admit that it’s an awful song, all the worst things about ’80s music. But the story itself is very charming. It’s about a young, single girl who is preparing to spend Christmas by herself. But like all good songs, there’s a happy ending when she runs into a guy she tried all year long to date.

What strikes me now, as opposed to when I was 11, is exactly who this character is. The girl in the song represents the first generation of women who remained single longer in order to pursue a career or higher education. The song was released in1981, so it was an accurate picture of what was going on with young women. The song never mentions what this girl’s career is, but still we get the image of who she is. She works relentlessly in pursuit of her goals, which don’t include marriage. She is an educated, intelligent young lady who is very popular and has many friends, but still has prioritized work over relationships. I found that very interesting when I listened to it this time around … and I’m thankful, because as I said, it’s a pretty bad song!

In any case, she deliberately turns down every invitation to holiday events because she wants to spend this Christmas relaxing at home alone. She isn’t a total workaholic, however, because she did buy all the ingredients for a holiday meal—albeit a meal for one. 

During her private holiday preparations, she recalls a certain young man that she had several encounters with over the past year, although nothing materialized.

First there was a meeting in a ski shop last winter. He gave her his phone number, but she, being caught up in work, never had the time to call. In the spring, they ran into each other again and tried to go to lunch. Neither one of them could arrange it due to conflicting schedules. Another season passed, both of them still single. One day during the summer, they ended up on the beach coincidentally. He asked her to come for a ride on his boat, but she ended up with sunburn and couldn’t go. He then invited her to a Halloween party, but he stood her up. She waited all night for him, and then found out it was car trouble. So it was a full year of missed connections, fits and starts, and false hopes dashed.

But by Christmas Eve, it seems she’s forgotten all about him and is fully dedicated to her holiday meal. As luck would have it, she forgot cranberries and had to run out to the store. Guess who was there on the checkout line? He declares he is spending Christmas alone too. Cue the fade out as we imagine the happy couple toasting to “Christmas magic.”

While it’s a very cute story, I think there’s a lesson in it. All too often, we get so caught up in preparing for the holiday that we don’t take a look around us. Most of us have tunnel vision when we have a particular event to concentrate on; all else disappears. “All else” could include an opportunity to meet someone, right? You never know.

I used to throw myself headlong into holiday preparations because I was single. It was a great distraction and kept me from the desperate attempt at dating with the “New Year’s Fix.” But what if I opened my eyes a bit more and pulled back the lens? There could have been countless opportunities I missed because of my absorption in mindless tasks. Ironic, isn’t it, that all the ways I filled time to forget that I wasn’t dating anyone could have been the same amount of time looking—and perhaps finding—someone to date!

But I’m not just talking about finding people to date. The holidays are a great time to reach out and meet new people. There are always office parties—your own or a friend’s—where potential new friends abound. Any charity work is a great venue to meet like-minded people. And this time of year is also great to forgive and forget those family members you shut out or simply lost touch with.

So why not give it a try? Pull back the lens and see who’s out there. You might find some “Christmas Magic” of your own!

And just to round out this picture, here is the Christmas song I mentioned: 

“Cristmas Wrapping” by The Waitresses

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6 Comments

  1. Brendan-824174 December 21, 2012

    This is a great posting. It gave me a lot to think about. I have head this song many times, and never really listened to the music until now. Thank you and Merry Christmas.

  2. Meesch-691047 December 22, 2012

    I love that song, but hate cranberries :) However, you are absolutely right as usual, relationships are what make life worthwhile and community, fellowship, and belonging are ours to fashion in our lives. Christmas is the perfect time to exercise choice- the choice to cultivate community.

  3. Chris-427945 December 22, 2012

    Catherine, there is nothing wrong with 80s music, come on! The Waitresses weren’t the best group, but they were far from the worst of their fellow short-lived contemporaries. Sadly, lead singer Patty Donohue died at the age of 40 from lung cancer.

  4. John-132457 December 23, 2012

    Aw, c’mon Catherine. “all the worst things about ’80s music”, really? You, of all people, know there was far worse. I kinda like it. Maybe it’s because I missed much of that stuff the first time around. Come to think of it, I missed out on lots of things the first time around. Maybe that’s how I ended up single at this age!! :lol: Merry Christmas!!

    • Cate Perry
      Catherine Perry December 24, 2012

      John, you know me too well. I was comparing them to The Cure, not Men Without Hats ;)

  5. Steve-111719 December 27, 2012

    I have to agree with John on this one — I always kind of liked “Christmas Wrapping.” Maybe it was the fact that we can all identify in some way with the characters in the song, or maybe it’s that I can be a hopeless romantic at times, but it is one of my favorite modern-day Christmas songs to this day. Anyway, you have a point about slowing down a little and taking a look around. Maybe we can all notice something (or someone) we hadn’t noticed before if we do…God Bless!

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