Quite often, I’ve noticed that in August or September, my mind drifts to November and December’s holidays. I think to myself “Maybe we can spend this Christmas with our distant cousins… Maybe we will dedicate our Thanksgiving morning walking the annual Turkey Trot 5k.” Items like this cross my mind as I anticipate joyous gatherings later in the year.
But as we are making these mirthful arrangements, we never truly think our lives will drastically change within two or three months. The truth is this: the people who abide in our lives right now may not be present for our future Christmases.
The unexpected occurs. A family member passes away. A long-term relationship ends. All of a sudden, the holiday season that we designed in our minds is no longer sustainable. Our relationship status can change at any point. Whether we break up with a significant other, finalize a divorce, or become widowed, we notice a large void in our lives once inhabited by someone for whom we deeply cared.
As congregations, we often overlook these somber life transitions. Instead, we feature nuclear families lighting the Advent wreath, as the appearance of the “ideal” family life looks better front and center of the church’s life.
But the widows sit silently alone in the pews behind them. All the while, our congregants’ hearts are breaking and brokenness surrounds us. Whether it is us who have the broken hearts or our siblings in Christ sitting in the pews around us who are grieving, what are ways to connect throughout the reflective season of Advent?
If you are seeking ways to connect with some of the non-married friends in your congregation or life, here are events in which you can participate. I’ve designed this in an Advent Calendar form as the countdown to Jesus the Christ’s birth is begging to be filled by activities in which we grow with God and neighbor. Some of these events call for you to invite a newly-single friend or host a special event at your church for your full community to participate.
Enjoy this upcoming season with familiar faces and new neighbors!
Sunday, December 3 Christmas Caroling: Visit congregants in nursing homes and sing familiar Christmas Carols with them.
Monday, December 4 Craft Night: Design a church event for all people to bring over their supplies for a community crafting session.
Tuesday, December 5 Community Meal: Have a community meal at your church and make sure to invite your friends who may be dining alone.
Wednesday, December 6 Christmas Cards: Join together to write Christmas Cards to friends near and far.
Thursday, December 7 Story Sharing: Hold an evening of story sharing in your congregation.
Friday, December 8 Movie Night #1: Have a movie night and watch the film Elf.
Saturday, December 9 Send a Note: If you know someone who is struggling with this season, take some time today to write a note.
Sunday, December 10 Holiday Decorating: Offer your newly-single friend your company as they decorate their home for the holidays. If they do not want to decorate their own home, invite them over to decorate your home.
Monday, December 11 Tasty Treats to Share: Make some cookies and candies and deliver to your newly-single friends.
Tuesday, December 12 Shopping Trip: Escape to the slightly-less-busy mall in this mid-week adventure to the mall and other shops.
Wednesday, December 13 Movie Night #2: Host a movie night and watch It’s a Wonderful Life.
Thursday, December 14 Coffee: Even though this isn’t a Christmas adventure, ask your friend if they would like to grab a cup of coffee midday.
Friday, December 15 Open Mic Night: Hold a Christmas Open Mic night at the Church and encourage people to write poems, play music or share stories related to the holiday season.
Saturday, December 16 Christmas Lights: Drive around to see the light displays.
Sunday, December 17 Christmas Concert: Whether a pop star is in town or your local church is sponsoring an evening with an instrumental trio, see if your friend would like to attend a Christmas Concert together.
Monday, December 18 Volunteer: Ask your newly single-friend what organizations mean much to them and find a way for you both to volunteer for one of these agencies.
Tuesday, December 19 Gift Wrapping Party: Hold a gift wrapping party complete with festive foods and beverages.
Wednesday, December 20 Movie Night #3: Host a movie night and watch A Christmas Story.
Thursday, December 21 Blue Christmas Service: Set aside a sacred space and time for our friends who may be grieving their loss this year by attending a Blue Christmas or Longest Night service at a local church.
Friday, December 22 Skype/Video Chat: Skype with a long-distant friend who may have had some losses this year.
Saturday, December 23 Game Night: Host a game night at your home with Christmas-themed contests.
Sunday, December 24 Dining Together: Sometime between Sunday morning worship and Christmas Eve services, ask a single friend over for a meal.
Monday, December 25 Christmas Day: Invite someone who may be celebrating Christmas alone to your family’s festivities. If you happen to be out-of-town, give them a call to wish them a Merry Christmas!
Rev. Michelle L. Torigian
The Rev. Michelle L. Torigian is the Pastor of St. Paul United Church of Christ, Old Blue Rock Road in Cincinnati. Her essay “Always a Pastor, Never the Bride” was in the RevGalBlogPals book There’s a Woman in the Pulpit. She also has chapters in the books Sacred Habits: The Rise of the Creative Clergy and A Child Laughs: Prayers for Justice and Hope. Torigian blogs at http://www.michelletorigian.com