Couples dashing through the snow hand in hand, all lovey-dovey … but what about the singles? Don’t feel sorry for them.
People say that "The Holidays" are all about family and food. There's the occasional household that puts some solid effort into an insanely lavish depiction of the Nativity, but generally speaking, Santa trumps the baby Jesus and presents are next in line on the priority list.
However, I must stick my enormous foot in here and place the "significant other" -- whether present, absent, or somewhere in between -- as an unfortunate top holiday priority.
Unless, of course, you are under the age of 15 and presents genuinely are your primary concern. Plus, this is a dating column, so I have to prioritize love and whatnot.
I would like to attribute this to the mistletoe, the homely sentiments, the sultry scents of star anise and orange spices, and the laughter of children gently tugging at your biological clock as you gaze into your lover’s eyes -- but no. It is none of these things. The blame for this sudden urge to elope, marry and reproduce lies entirely with Hollywood.
Let's take a look at some of most watched Christmas movies for the average twenty-something lass -- Love Actually, The Holiday, Bridget Jones (it has Christmas moments), The Family Stone (personal fave) -- the list goes on.
Throw in Stepmom because of all the crying that must be done while eating turkey and Sex and the City's (the movie) best moment -- Carrie rushing to Miranda in the snow because they are both so unbearably sad and alone -- and you've got yourself a lot of snow, high drama and high expectations.
As much as I detest Keira Knightley, I refuse to believe anyone who says they don't weep during that scene with the placards. "To me you are perfect" is in fact the only thing that anyone wants to hear, ever.
People also want to fall in love with Jude Law and his perfect children while looking like Cameron Diaz. We want to kiss Dermot Mulroney in the snow and watch Colin Firth fight someone for us in a white shirt because he loves our chubby little cheeks.
And sure, most of our Christmases won't result in joyous laughter as an entire primary school applauds us smooching the (hypothetically very handsome) prime minister, but a gal can dream.
The results of these scintillating cinematic scenes is a sinister being that curls up inside your brain like a fluffy marmalade cat warming itself by a fire, softly purring and waiting to scratch your eyeballs out from the inside. Especially in New York.
Especially when you are away from home. And even more especially when you love someone but can't be with them, for whatever reason.
Every couple I see has suddenly begun to match. Matching hats and scarves, matching winter boots, matching Macy's bags and matching silly smiles as they gallivant around the city like little goats.
They warm each other's hands and wrap their arms around each other to shelter from the bitter winds and icy frost, sharing gross little Eskimo kisses and generally making everyone else on the subway platform want to just throw themselves on to the tracks and hope for the best.
The problem with these holiday movies is that they create an enormous split. This divide that exists between couples and singles is no more than a petty joke during the other 11 months of the year -- even Valentine's Day is just a stupid Hallmark day that singles triumph by ignoring or subverting to a better, drunker celebration of life.
But Christmas sets apart those who are happy and those who are sad. Who is having a happy Christmas and who is having a lonely one.
As though being single is somehow this piteous, pathetic state of being that couldn't possibly provide the bounteous joy of romance. Which it's not, right?
What I've found in this year's run up to Christmas is the difference between people who actually get to say that Christmas will be hard, and the people who say it to jump on the bandwagon but don't really mean it.
"I don't have a boyfriend so Christmas will be MISERABLE" says one, who will go home to her gigantic family, five million friends and have the best time vs. the one who is going through a heavy, messy breakup and would rather curl up in a ball and hide than see a single snowflake.
The problem with being a sad single -- apart from the obvious pain, fear and general misery -- is that things like happiness, sharing and love tend to trigger an onslaught of tears.
By a sad single I ONLY mean one who has recently lost someone, by whatever means. A close friend of mine lost her boyfriend in a tragic accident earlier this year, and for her, yes, Christmas will be incredibly hard.
Another is going through a breakup that has reduced her to a sniveling mess of a human being and for her, yes, Christmas will be pretty tedious. Not because of all the joy and ham -- ham helps -- but because suddenly everyone you know and love is surrounding you and making the biggest mistake of all. Feeling sorry for you.
So, I send an appeal to all those happy couples out there frolicking in the snow and snuggling over mulled wine. Please do not extend your commiserations to your sad single friends. They are fine, and do not want to be reminded of their situation.
They want to treat Christmas like an eight-year-old, and get really excited about the basics -- food, family, food, friends, food and food. They do not want to wake up to find a big box of pity under the tree, and they absolutely do not want to find any suggested blind dates in their stockings.
As me and my home girls (I mean that in the literal sense as opposed to us thinking we are really cool and calling each other "home girl") are all scattered across the globe, we will come together at Christmas in various romantic situations. Some on the verge of engagements, some grieving, some genuinely just there for the ham.
And we will get together and watch Love Actually together, and cry together. But, for the love of God, let's all just remember that the movies are the movies, and real life is far more important and exceedingly less glamorous.
This year, I'm taking a stand against the Holiday Syndrome and for me, Christmas will be about friends and family and an unholy amount of food. I advise you all to do the same. Unless you just feel sorry for me, in which case -- you're not invited.