single parents at christmas

Right now I’m struggling with life for single parents at Christmas.

This weekend, 10pm came around and I found myself on the BA website looking at flights. My feet are itchy and I’m feeling the need to take a trip before Christmas. Maybe a European Christmas market. Perhaps Dublin. Oslo?

Just somewhere. Else.

This time last year, we booked flights to New York. Flea and I had an amazing time, wandering through Central Park, Christmas shopping, marvelling at the views from the Top of the Rock.

The year before it was Chicago. That was a great trip. Snow, ice skating, hot chestnuts at the Four Seasons, The Nutcracker at the Joffrey Ballet.

chicago at christmas

When I think about it, we almost always take a trip at this time of year. What I’ve realised is that Christmas often gives me an incredible urge to escape. London, Cologne, Paris… we’re usually away from home between finishing school and the Big Day.

This year might not be so grand – for starters, I spent all our money on some ridiculous candlesticks. And I’m laid low with a bout of labyrinthitis which means I feel mildly drunk every time I stand up, or try to turn my head. But we’ll definitely go somewhere.

Maybe it’s because Christmas? Isn’t for people like me. For families like ours. Single parents at Christmas? We’re sort of invisible.

Christmas is for big families, around huge tables, laden with food. It’s gangs of kids helping to decorate the tree. A husband out hunting for last-minute presents, or helping decorate the outside of the house.

Is it just me who feels like we don’t measure up?

I’m a single parent. As of right now, I’m not in in a serious relationship, so there’s no significant other to buy for. I have one child, and I come from a small family. Quite a lot smaller than it used to be, sadly.

When compared to the Christmases of TV-land, I’m plagued by the feeling that our Christmas is just a little sad, in comparison.

I do love Christmas, really, I do. I love Christmas markets, and movies and Christmas Eve church services and trips to the theatre. My family might be small, but I’m genuinely blessed to have my girl in my life.

I just don’t love having someone else’s Christmas held up as being the one true version of it all. The pinnacle of what Christmas is REALLY all about.

And I don’t think it can be just me.

When I look at Christmas in the media, or the Instagram version of Christmas, I’m painfully aware it’s not my Christmas. Where are the single parents at Christmas?

We’re not there. There aren’t any gay parents either. Or childless couples. Or families where people have stopped talking to each other. No families coping with chronic illnesses, poverty, or just plain loneliness.

I don’t begrudge your happiness if you do have a Proper Christmas (with capital letters), really I don’t.

It would just be nice to know I’m not the only one who sheds a tear at the John Lewis ads in part because I know I’m never going to be able to give my child that version of the holidays. Because of the choice I made for us (that’s what’s known as the Single Parent Double Whammy of Guilt).

Anyone else suffer from Christmas guilt?