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.
Earlier this week, Kathleen spoke to the wonderful Cathy Broadwell about the pressures faced by women without children. You can hear the interview on Cathy’s brand new Slow Swimmers and Fried Eggs podcast.
It does grate on you though at this time of year seeing supposed perfect families out enjoying themselves at every turn and there’s an angry feeling in you and a feeling of missing out and part of you angrily feels why should I miss out!
I plan to stay away from places if all going there does is upset me and make me feel I am missing out and its fine to miss things if all going there achieves is that it makes you miserable!
I just don’t bother going to the “family” stuff. I find it kind of boring myself. My husband thinks so too. Happy Holidays!
Different Shores says
I don’t think this is over-sensitive. It feels like a slight to me as well. I’m sick of everything being prefixed with family and if I’m not in top form I will eschew something if I feel it excludes me. I will NOT go to any event that is entitled up front as a Family -something, e.g. Family Craft Fair – they can shove that up their Family-ass.
HA! Different Shores, I just laughed out loud. Thank you for that. 😉
Linda Koester says
It is so hard this time of year being childless. I have always enjoyed holiday events. My husband and I still attend them, but even at 59, the pain of infertility doesn’t go away. Now, it’s almost a double whammy. I watched all of my friends have babies, and now I watch all of my friends have grandchildren. I feel like I am always on the outside looking in. I teach elementary school, and love working with my students, but it can never replace the ache in my heart. My husband always says, “Even though we are just two, we are family.” I don’t think society plans to be inconsiderate to the childless, but I do think more sensitivity to all would be nice.
I hear you. You just know when people say “family,” a family of two is NOT the picture they have in mind. 🙁 We have a “Family Day” holiday here in mid-February & I remember reading an article that bent over backwards in its attempt to convey all the different kinds of families there were. However, every single one of them included children; there wasn’t one family that contained just two adults. It would have been comical if it wasn’t so maddening.
Lisa Manterfield says
Kathleen wrote a post about that exact topic last year, about looking for a representative of herself in the “new American family” and finding nothing. Makes you want to leap up and down and yell, “hi! Over here. Family of two. Can you see us? here wen re.” Sigh. Yes, comical if it wasn’t.