Flames crackle from the fireplace, burning under the stockings that are filled to the brim. Frost encircles the windowpane outside, glowing from the lights above. The aroma of freshly baked cookies lingers overhead, carrying noses under the threshold of the kitchen. Peering up, you find yourself under the bundle of green leaves, tied together by red ribbon. Eyes closed, lips pursed: The mistletoe invites you and your one and only to share that moment many yearn for this time of year. Sweet and tender, that holiday kiss is shared with the most reliable thing in your life: that fresh-baked cookie.

It’s that time of season again: circling the mall parking lot for hours, battling neighbors for the best-dressed house on the block — and thanking Auntie Mary for reminding you of your nonexistent love life. The holidays are as stressed as it is, but it can be pretty tough going in single. Whether it is spent third-wheeling at ice skating in downtown with the Hallmark couple or chucking that box of See’s Candy at the TV every jewelry commercial, the spotlight doesn’t get any brighter than when you’re single during the holidays (except Valentine’s Day, but one day at a time). But why do we feel more compelled to have a relationship for this time of year? Is having a snuggle partner under the covers really that important? If so, what happens to them when it gets too warm and you have to throw off the blanket … Do they go too?

I’m just as tainted as anyone else, thinking it would be nice to have a significant other to introduce to all the jealous cousins. Many feel the same, as spending the holidays with someone you barely know or can’t stand is better than alone: 13 percent of singles would rather stay in a bad relationship than enter the holidays alone and 51 percent stay to avoid any hurt feelings during this time. But don’t assume these statistics are from women who dream of the New Year’s kiss. Surveys prove that men are most likely to stay in bad relationships during this time than women. It is as though when the weather drops, so do standards: Most will couple up with anyone just for the sake of having one and many may conclude it’s the weather, the need for warmth and idea of it coming from someone else.

When we were children, that warmth was from your parents and family. As we get older, we seek out a different kind of loved one. Or maybe you spend finals week finding someone who avoids their family’s pressing “relationship” questions just as much as you do and you tag-team to take on families as the new loving couple. But that sound you hear in the distance may not be jingle bells — it’s just another Christmas relationship shattering under pressure. Relationships are truly tested during the holidays, and one that is founded on false pretenses is set straight for doomsday.

So before you take up those Black Friday deals for Match.com to find that other person, think about treating out the best person there is: yourself. You already spent two paychecks and some of your financial aid on holiday gifts, why not spend that little bit on yourself? If that Hallmark couple asks you to join them in on that ice skating excursion, say yes! No one should hold out on a night on the town just because some lights twinkle over the ice. Catch up with friends over eggnog (or coffee if you’re not looking for a heart attack).

The holidays are something to fear, single or not. Just remember, that New Year’s kiss won’t make or break your incoming year. So raise the champagne glass in one hand and hold the hand nearest you in the other, whether it be your holiday fling, your roommate’s best friend or even your mom. Begin 2015 with the ones that matter: It’s okay if that one is you.