Oh, the holidays. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, at least if Andy Williams is to be believed. It’s also a time when folks without kids get put through the wringer, having our lifestyle and life choices questioned as we gather in groups we don’t see much of throughout the year.
If you’re childfree, chances are you’ve faced the wrath of relatives at the family Christmas party or Kwanzaa feast. You know the type. The ones who seem unhealthily set on getting you to admit you’d be much more fulfilled with a couple of kids in tow.
What these (often but not always) well-intended champions of parenthood don’t understand is that, as individuals, we each know better than anyone else what we happen to find fulfilling. For the childfree, the joy we take in trimming the tree in peace and binging on leftover pie for breakfast are just two of the very reasons that a childfree holiday is exactly what we want, thank you very much.
In my 10 years of research on the childfree choice, I’ve heard nary a peep from folks who never want to become parents that they experience any special kind of wavering about their choice when the holidays come ’round (or ever, for that matter).
If anything, for many of us the holidays are a time when we take special joy in our status as non-parents. When I asked the 70 childfree women and men with whom I conducted in-depth interviews if they see any drawbacks to being childfree, most said they saw none, though some did note that relatives sometimes express concern about the potential for them to be lonely during the holidays.
Friends and relatives of childfree people, let me put your worries to rest: Empirically, people who have made the choice not to have children have made that choice with a full understanding of what their lives will look like as a result. And they know how to create a full and festive holiday season for themselves, be it surrounded by people they love or relishing in their silent nights.
As childfree Becky explained when I asked what the holidays look like for her, “Just this past Thanksgiving we had a friends’ dinner with wine and delicious food. It was one of the best evenings ever!”
Janet recounted a similar experience. “I just spent Thanksgiving with some friends in Seattle. It was just a bunch of people and me and my boyfriend; fifteen people without kids just sitting around a big make-shift table in the living room. We drank wine and had a blast!”
In my own household, my husband and I enjoy having the freedom to relax on the holidays without the pressure to fight frenzied crowds at the mall or having to worry about hiding that dang Elf on another shelf for the 20th night in a row (or however that works — I don’t know, honestly. Because I don’t have kids!).
Childfree people know what they’re getting into when they make their choice. For many of us, the holidays provide just one more opportunity to reflect on why we’ve opted out of parenthood and how thankful we are that we have a choice. So don’t cry for us, Argentina. We’re just fine.