By Kathleen Guthrie Woods
“Come One, Come All!” trumpets the headline.
I’m skimming the special calendar section of our local paper and find myself drawn into a description of a holiday spectacular and crafts fair, featuring actors as classic Dickens characters and carolers strolling in Victorian dress as they sing in the season. I am so there!
But then I read the small print: “Revelers (that’s me!), particularly families (uh, wait), are invited to enjoy the festivities.” It’s possible I’m being over-sensitive, but I am so sick and tired of slights like this, and it seems to strike an especially painful chord with me as we approach the holiday season. The “Family Sing-Along” at church. The “Family Pot-Luck” intended to bring coworkers closer together. The “Family Movie Night,” where multiple generations come together to enjoy a touching holiday-themed film. I love love love all of these fun activities, and will participate even though I’m not a 5-year-old, even though I am not part of a “family.” It’s sad to me, though, that my revelry is diminished by the sting of not feeling legitimately part of the event, all because of a marketing choice.
While I don’t want to get PC (politically correct) to the point of ridiculousness, I’d like to suggest to the world that there are other ways to welcome everyone without making single and/or childfree people feel…well…unwelcome. “Fun for all ages!” “Something for everyone!” The marketers for the fair had me at “Come One, Come All!” I wish they’d left it at that.
Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. “Mele Kalikimaka” might be her favorite Christmas carol.
I hear you. Then when you do decide to go to one of these events you feel like a big jerk, like your in the way of all those families and their children getting a view of the carolers or the big Christmas tree lighting or enjoying the free cup of coco intended for everyone but you get those eyes like your steeling from the kids. OK well, maybe i’m imagining that part but it certainly feels like your out of place and shouldn’t be trying to invade on the kids fun.
Marko Zupanic says
Great post. It’s Christmas time, just enjoy in your natural flow. Don’t worry about marketing, family, kids, and so on. Just be with close friends and be happy!
i AM a family, dammit, even if “only” a family of 2!
but maybe look at it this way, too: those “especially families” or “extra fun for the little ones” are warnings! there is a possibility of crying, snot-faced, poorly-mannered, overly-praised, trip-hazzardly tiny humans being there! ;o) (yeah, I’m painting that image with my Scrooge-brush, but why not? the hope of the pessimist: I might be pleasantly surprised, but, if proven right, i get to be smug. win-win, eh.)
my sweetie and i every rare once & a while go to kid-centic events: because we like the movie, or what ever else is going on that brings us there. (heck, I stage-managed puppet shows for kids for 2 years!) My trick: i treat the kids like any other human, and fully expect them (and their parents) to do the same for me. i deserve a place in line, a seat in the theatre, a box of the popcorn same as any human! I raise my hand & volunteer for things same as anyone! I think kids just think i am a large one of them, and parents are envious; I know how to have fun!
(puppeteer note: GO to puppet shows! a) they’re wonderful (well, most of the time…) b) you could be surprized how many adults – without children – go! Where I stage managed, all but two performances* a year where aimed at kids, and a whole lot of friends-of-the-performers, fans of puppets, and my fav, couples on dates! came to the shows! Some of the friends & fans might have been doing a bit of single-mingling, and the couples were adorable, and all the adults-without-children were usually the best audiences! (*we also had some no-kids-allowed shows; now those were fun! ;o) ) I am trying to remember what our marketing was now… I think we just had “family” and “adult” marked next to the ticket info… I don’t think we ever promoted it as “fun for the kids” and I felt it was always VERY inclusive of all (maybe because we got all?) but I wasn’t in charge of marketing, so I don’t recall. anyway, just thought I’d put in a plug for puppetry; there’s some amazing stuff out there, and don’t think it’s just for kids, and don’t be scared off if the story sounds interesting, if the art looks intreging, if you think it might be fun; it might very well be!)
I envy your strength to attend anyway! I love those events, but the family environment reminds me of the vacancy in my heart. I have isolated myself and those holiday celebrations are something the old me would have been joyful for and had fun with.