Norman Rockwell, Charles Dickens, movies and mass market advertising all picture Christmas as a family holiday, brimming over with jolly relatives, a golden turkey or goose gushing stuffing, giggling kids and ribbon-besotted pups.
But what's in store for Juneau's single residents?
Ham or prime rib will headline the menu when Sterling Prohaski, 52, a Census Bureau worker, plays chef Monday while his friends play video games.
"My two roommates and I are going to cook up a big Christmas dinner and invite singles that don't have a place to go," Prohaski said. "Last Christmas we had 10 or 12 people. It's casual; 'come on by.' We do it on most holidays," he added.
Meghan Lindquist, 26, a sales associate with Rainy Day Books, will make a pilgrimage to where the family is. Lindquist is flying to Seattle where an aunt and uncle reside. There she'll celebrate with her parents, who will journey to Washington state from Pasa Robles, Calif. "My boyfriend is going with me," she said.
For those who have just split the sheets down the middle, Christmas can be hard, said one woman who did not wish to give her name.
"Technically, I am still married," she said. "A lot of us who have recently separated from our spouses will spend Christmas Day with our families, but then have to go home to empty apartments."
Alternatives to paying off a sleep debt or glum hibernating include jogging, applying temporary tattoos, going to see Mel Gibson in "What Women Want," volunteering to serve Christmas dinner at The Glory Hole, putting on a happy face and heading for a local watering hole, curling up with a good encyclopedia, making long phone calls or browsing the Internet.
Theo Cushing, 19, is on break from studying criminal psychology at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla. Cushing will spend Monday with his father, Michael, mother, Gail, and sister Evelyn, 17. But during some of his break, he'll indulge a favorite hobby of the past three years, cruising Juneau looking for looters.
"I think I do it because I've watched too many cop shows," Cushing said. "And it's just relaxing, driving; I get to see the Christmas lights, too."
In days of yore, Lyle's Home Furnishings had a regular Singles Night, when singles could mingle among the furniture and art and test couches together. But that fell by the wayside.
Suzanne Haight, 59 and retired, started the Juneau Singles club Aug. 15 to organize social events. "We have had singles groups through the years here, and they folded for lack of leadership. So I put forth the effort," said Haight, a 36-year resident of Juneau.
Most of the club's members are divorced or widowed; only one member has never been married, she said. "The group serves a purpose. We are getting to know each other and don't feel so lonely," she said.
"We have over 50 people on the roster, and we draw eight to 11 at our get-togethers," Haight said. An outing might be dinner followed by the opera or a symphony concert.
Saturday night, for example, the group went Christmas caroling, starting at the St. Ann's Care Center downtown, and proceeding to AWARE, the Pioneers' Home, and various shut-ins and hospice patients. The event concluded with lively conversation, cocoa and cookies.
Haight herself will spend Christmas with two sons and five grandchildren who live in Juneau. "I am one of those people who don't have enough time, so I don't feel sad at all" at the holidays, she said. "It's not in my nature to be sad; I just get active."
For more information about the Juneau Singles club, call 790-4751.
Ann Chandonnet can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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