I will be alone on Dec. 25.
Technically, I'll be alone starting Dec. 22, when my girlfriend leaves to be with her family, but for our purposes here, the 25th is the key. I'll be flying solo amongst the carolers and sappy TV movies and the empty space for presents in my living room, underneath the empty space for a tree, which I would've bought if anyone else were going to be with me. Which they aren't.
I am not, as you may assume, asking for pity. This is also not an open call for invitations, though I should mention that I have yet to receive any. Nope, this column is for a select few souls out there: the Unloved.
This is my inaugural year as an Unloved. For the first two decades of my life, my parents did a fine job, brought me along to wherever they were going — my mom even took me to church once. And for the last few (I'm 25 now), my girlfriend has picked up the slack. But no more. I'm on my own. Human connection be damned.
Friends used to tell me about trips into the wilderness they'd taken, high-priced summer excursions of self-knowledge. Their parents would pay some organization to guide them into the woods, teach them how to find edible bark and iodize water and roast squirrel legs or something, then leave them alone for a day or two of self-discovery. It was a for-hire coming-of-age experience.
Well, I never went on any of those trips. But this Christmas I get my chance to see what I'm made of — my chance to survive — albeit with fewer skinned rodents. If you're one of those happy-go-lucky, emotionally stable types, you probably stopped reading a while back. But if you're an Unloved, if you too will be spending the 25th alone, here are a few tips to help get you through the day:
Turn Off The Phone
Or, if you've got one of those old-fashioned landlines, unplug the thing. The only people who will call you today are people who are with other people, and all parties of two or more are the enemy. They will be calling exclusively out of guilt or spite, and you need neither.
I can't stress this enough. Before breakfast. After breakfast. On the can. In the shower (though there's no reason to bathe). At all times, a bottle of some sort should be attached to your hand.
BUY A CRAPPY TV AND A BASEBALL BAT
Actually, if you can afford it — and you should after not giving any presents — I suggest you purchase several old sets. Take a Saturday morning, hit the yard sales and pick up five or six. That way, when those bastard commentators (who, for the record, are also Unloved, otherwise they would've begged off the air) start talking about "loved ones" and "Yuletide" and "Jesus," you can comfortably and without remorse bash in the screen. Breaking TVs is therapeutic.
Crying Is OK
Shedding tears is not required, but highly advised. Count the tears in your courage journal.
Play a Free Round of Mini-Golf
Several recreational facilities — bowling alleys, putt-putts, movie theaters — will be open, hoping to cash in on families that can't stand each other enough to be locked in a house together for more than an hour. Now this takes some tact, but if you play up your pitifulness, and play down your inebriation, the poor sap working the desk (another Unloved) will feel bad enough that he'll let you in for free. Remember: more pitiful, less drunk.
Order a Pizza, Make a Friend
This is a last resort, to be used only in times of profound desperation. If you're running the risk of becoming Nicholson in The Shining — and we need to acknowledge that this is a possibility — order a pizza. Whoever delivers it will be in a sour mood. Wrap up that Cosby sweater you got for your dad, and give it to the pizza guy as a present. All you're looking for in this situation is five minutes of human contact, just to get you through to ...
Go Door to Door Telling Kids Santa's Not Real
When you're sauced beyond repair, it's time for the final act. Best to get well out of your neighborhood — you don't want to see these people again. And move quickly. Ring the bell, deliver your news and step away. There should be — from both the parents and the kids — at least 30 seconds of complete disbelief before the unspeakable rage sets in. By that time, you'll be long gone, content in the knowledge that you've helped foster a new generation of your kind: the Unloved.
The Handmade Holiday Guide