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Winter Holidays Open Thread…for people who LOVE the holidays.

Cranberry sauce from a canWhat are you most looking forward to about celebrating the Halfway Out of the Dark festivals this year? What are some holiday traditions you have created? Are there any gifts you’ve picked out that you are dying to tell someone about without spoiling the surprise? Tell us!

If this is a really hard time for you, there is a thread here for you to tell us about it. You are not alone!

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192 comments
  1. We always visit my brother-in-law in the city for Thanksgiving, where there is good food and even better alcohol. Also, the gay adults outnumber the straight adults. I get a giggle out of telling people that my Thanksgiving was “literally gay” and watching them figure out how to react.

  2. Ooo, fun!

    I am attending two Friendsgivings this year. My roommate and I are hosting one the Sunday before Thanksgiving, and then I am going to another friend’s house on actual-Thanksgiving.

    Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and I enjoy spending it with family, but getting home for the holidays can be expensive and time-consuming. This was my first Thanksgiving in a while without family plans, and I’m just…feeling really thankful that I have such a wonderful community of friends to share it with. It hasn’t always been that way.

    • jdrives said:

      Friend-family FTW. I wish we could have thrown a Friendsgiving this year but we just did the whole wedding thing and we’re kinda pooped out on party planning. But next year it is so on.

  3. Cthandhs said:

    I love the holiday food, and for some reason, the rest of the year I am pretty “meh” about it. Next week, this time, I’ll be gorging tho.

    I’m going to Alaska over Xmas this year for some aurora viewing, which I’m pretty excited about, wish me sun spots everyone πŸ™‚

    • So cool! I hope you get a great show!

    • Grant said:

      Good luck! I’m from Alaska. My partner has come back there with me in the winter FOUR times now and has yet to see the northern lights. He is now convinced that people have made them up and all those photos are staged.

    • Sascha said:

      That sounds like an awesome trip! I have always wanted to see the lights!

  4. Jenn said:

    I love spending the holidays around family and friends. This year is my first not living at home, but thankfully I’m not too far away. I’ll be helping Mom cook all the food for Thanksgiving and I keep having random, out-of-the-blue cravings for her amazing stuffing every day leading up to actual turkey day.

    Christmas we’re having a sleepover! I’m bringing my cat (who moved away from home with me, so there will be zero pet re-integration issues) and my brother is coming and we’re spending the night with the parents. As soon as that clock hits midnight, presents will fly and then we’ll all tool around until way too late. And then wake up for a traditional family Babylon Breakfast (tons of bacon, probably pancakes or French toast, and a marathon of Babylon 5 episodes).

    I really can’t wait. ❀

    • mehting said:

      Ohhhh, fun! How do you pick what season to start on each year?

    • My brother is 34 years old and still wakes me up stupid early on Christmas morning. lol

  5. So I’m, like, A Christmas Person right up until December at which point I’m like ‘I hate the holidays! It’s too cold! I don’t want to spend any more money! I don’t like any of you people!’ so right now is, like, Peak Christmas for me.

    This year, Husband and I sat down in September (no judging) to start the Christmas Craftganza so that we would have time to make everything before the ‘Bah, Humbug!’ sets in. We’ve done pretty well so far, and are well on our way to being finished in time to smugly say to people on the second of December, “oh, haven’t you started your Christmas shopping yet? We’ve finished all ours.”

    Last year, I made my husband and our house guests small gifts from Santa Paws, then tied them to his collar and let everyone go ‘hey, what’ve you got there, Doggle? What’s this? Why does it have my name on?’

    This year, I’m scaling up the scheme. Santa Paws, when not delivering gifts from small dogs, has a bad habit of stealing socks, so I’ve bought everyone a pair of cute socks and when the time is right, they’ll be hidden in a basket with some treats so that someone be like ‘hey, what’ve you got there Doggle? Where did all these little presents come from? This one’s got my name on! It says it’s from Santa Paws!’ WHICH WILL BE SO CUTE

    • That advanced prep allows me to keep my holiday spirit through the actual holidays! One year I spent the entire day in the mall on Black Friday and it turned me into the biggest scrooge, so I prep early and cloister myself from all the stores and it’s fabulous!

      Santa Paws sounds awesome! My parents give their dalmatian red and green spots for Christmas

    • Miranda said:

      Auggghhh cute. I think I have a toothache, in the nicest way.

    • Virginia said:

      Your holiday-fu is strong. I am filled with admiration. Note to self: start getting the cat used to wearing a collar.

    • Elder Dog said:

      Old long-haired white dog gets a couple felt covered wine bottle collars with bells twisted together to wear. He wears it to the local reindeer exhibit, and children all go oooh, is that Santa’s Dog? I just put my finger up to my lips and smile at them, and they ask if they can pet him, which they certainly can. I normally am not fond of interacting with children, but my dog adores them, so this works for both of us.

  6. I FUCKING LOVE THE HOLIDAYS. I mean, ok, I give the reasons why I’m not super stoked THIS YEAR in the other thread but my Christmas shopping is always finished by Halloween and now I am free to bake ALL THE COOKIES and wrap ALL THE PRESENTS (this year with my little Bro, returning to a fun holiday tradition), and eat ALL THE SEASONAL PEANUT BUTTER ITEMS (though I’m bitter Hershey hasn’t responded to my request for peanut butter turkeys), and watch ALL THE SUPERNATURAL CHRISTMAS SPECIAL, and finally to eat a very small amount of homemade pierogies in the presence of polite company but then take home the leftovers and EAT ALL OF THEM WITH SOUR CREAM.

    We also don’t decorate a tree (well, Manbeast and I don’t, our families do), we bought an indoor/outdoor light-up penguin and stick the presents under him and hang ornaments off his hat. This year I want to add a pig to our menagerie.

    • Team Prepared in Advance! High five!

    • SpinachInquisition said:

      I retained only three words from your post: PEANUT BUTTER TURKEYS.

      That is all.

    • Cypress said:

      “and watch ALL THE SUPERNATURAL CHRISTMAS SPECIAL, and finally to eat a very small amount of homemade pierogies in the presence of polite company but then take home the leftovers and EAT ALL OF THEM WITH SOUR CREAM.”

      +1 on both of these! (SPN Christmas special SQUEEEEEEE!) What kind of pierogi? We’re a potato-and-farmers’-cheese and cabbage-and-sauerkraut people in this neck of the woods.

      • Potatoes and cheese and sauerkraut!! And I got lucky with my dudes family, because while they do not make their own they respect the Holiday Pierogi and buy cheese and potato ones from a local Polish grocery store!

    • ALSO I love fancy parties and getting dressed up, and the holidays are like the only time I can get people to go along with my desire to have thrilling cocktail parties and since this year has been… well, it’s been a fucking year. Since this year has been such a year I bought myself this fancy new party dress: http://www.eshakti.com/product/CL0033233 which screams just the right amount of “holiday” and “ravenstag” to me and the PRO to being so close to my thoroughly mediocre family is that I’ll get a big, fully stocked kitchen to make goodies in (instead of tiny apartment kitchen).

      I dunno, I just get really excited about Christmas even though I’m a raging atheist (and you know, stuff mentioned in the OTHER post.

      • Ace said:

        Omg, that dress is so pretty. I bet you’re gonna look great!

    • Miranda said:

      As someone who recently moved to a part of the world where pierogies are almost impossible to find (basically a land without joy), this returned an echo to my bosom. Eat all the pierogies. Eat them for me.

      • I definitely spent a Christmas in Korea crying into the mandu I was pretending were pierogies. I will raise my pierogie to you this holiday.

    • delveg said:

      I love to bake cookies; when I get a weekend day I can devote to it, I like to keep a stream going, outputting 3 to 5 tasty kinds. That leaves us well setup for cookie exchanges, which I’ve only been doing for the last few years but have come to love.

    • Virginia said:

      Team Peanut Butter A++

    • jdrives said:

      I am FREAKISHLY EXCITED for your holidays, Internet Stranger!!

  7. Terrified Gardener said:

    I’ve posted in the other thread about Christmas stress, but I want to say here that I love Christmas decorations, especially Christmas trees covered in beautiful baubles (and even more if they’re real trees, love that smell). We didn’t have a tree last year because we’d moved house recently but I am hoping to have one this year. πŸ™‚ And I love seeing the lights in the town centre. I just wish they could stay up until the end of January.

  8. Chrystall said:

    Thanksgiving isn’t a holiday here, but we have an epic friendsgiving potluck feast the Sunday following. When a new non-USian wants to know what the big deal is with Thanksgiving, I gleefully respond: FOOD! After the feast we play one of those dancey video games. I prefer it BY FAR to the family turkey dinners I had back home.

    • Tivoli said:

      I got myself an early Christmas present this year… I adopted a kitty! She is the most wonderful cat ever, and the first pet of my adult life. I’m so grateful to be in the position to finally have a pet– I have been missing that for the past several years. She is still getting used to the apartment but last night woke me up at 3am purring and wanting to snuggle, and then fell asleep in the small warm space between me and my partner. Made me so happy. A house is so much more a home with a pet in it, for me. As I write, she is curled up sleeping under the covers in our bed.

      In terms of actual holidays, I’m usually not overly enthusiastic, but this year I will get to spend Thanksgiving with my best friend who is living half a continent away from me right now (don’t worry, I have a very responsible person watching my new cat!)– we don’t get to see each other often these days, so it is a rare and special treat that I will treasure dearly. Christmas itself won’t be a big event, but my partner’s family is visiting from very far away over New Year, which Partner and I are both really excited about. It is his family’s first time in our area and I’ve got a great list of places to visit with them. It’s a good year!

      • Tivoli said:

        Shoot, didn’t mean for this to be a reply, sorry! But I did do something like your original post in college and it was great πŸ™‚ I had more fun that year in the Friendsgiving on the following weekend than the actual Thanksgiving I spent with my family.

      • sounds like you have one of those super sweet kitties! warning: it will steal your heart!

  9. Even though I don’t live far from my parents, I don’t get to see them often enough because of work commitments, so I can’t wait for the holidays. My family is pretty low key when it comes to celebrating (we just hang around the house), which is nice because that means it’s low stress too. My mom and I invariably play Trivial Pursuit. I’ve never met anyone who loves this game as much as we do. I can’t wait!

  10. Lizzie said:

    I’ve decided to give my Mom and my Stepdad a password manager for Christmas. Last year my Mom lost all her passwords in a phone-update disaster, and even though she has most of them back now, I worry about her online security – I bet she reuses passwords all over the place. And since I have started using 1Password, I’ve found it makes my life SO much easier.

    So one part of the gift is the program itself. But the second and more important part is the ongoing tech support. I use the same program myself, so I’ll be able to tell her about issues with new updates, and she can ask me about things that are confusing or difficult.

    I hope it works out! I did spoil the surprise, because Mom *hates* being surprised with computer things, and I wanted to check that she would be ok with this. She seems cautiously optimistic. πŸ™‚

    • Ooh, that’s a great idea for a gift! Stealing it and running away.

  11. I love wrapping gifts. This year I’m doing a white gold theme. Everything will match. Everything.

    And I stumbled upon a great gift for my kind of SiL, and she’s on the other side of the world, but I mailed it in time. Yay!

    • Anothermous said:

      I love wrapping gifts too! I’ve got a little more money this year than previously, and want to buy some nice paper to wrap with. Also, my brother is a wonderful young man but HOPELESS at anything that involves artistic precision (like handwriting or gift wrapping) so when he’s around he often asks me to wrap gifts for him because his always look a mess, haha. This year I don’t think I’ll have the opportunity but I’m always happy to do it.

      • Cricket said:

        Wrapping gifts is especially fun in my family because one of my uncles makes gorgeous, impressively durable watercolor-patterned wrapping paper by hand and actually gives rolls of it to the rest of the family as gifts. We then wrap other gifts with it to give to each other, and carefully peel tape off so we can save the paper and have fun mix and matching the different watercolor patterns from different batches.

  12. WeeBoy said:

    Well it’s not winter but I am SO SO SO looking forward to driving home and spending Christmas with my family. There will be a barbecue, and trifle, and fruit salad and my mum and my brother and his fiancee and our friends and and and… SUMMER! HOLIDAYS! CAMPING! All the food, all the beer, all the merrymaking.

    • JenniferP said:

      Sounds great! And sorry to be Hemisphereist. πŸ™‚

      • WeeBoy said:

        It’s okay, I think the whole idea of having Christmas/New Year in winter is WEIRD.

    • therufs said:

      We’re having a proper fall (read: cold and wet) for the first time since I moved here in 2007, and let me tell you, beer and camping sounds heavenly right now.

    • Lizzie said:

      I’m in the US right now but going home to Australia for Christmas, and I can’t wait! Especially for the trifle! My god, I would marry trifle if I could.

      Also this will be the first time that I and my brother and sister will all be in the same country since … 2007 I think? Wow, damn. It’s gonna be the best!

      • WeeBoy said:

        Trifle, right?!?! Mum and I have to make enough that our family can live off it for most of the week between Christmas and New Years.

    • Anothermous said:

      My husband is Australian (we live in the US) and we spent a month Down Under last year for Christmas/New Year and IT IS THE BEST. His mum’s trifle is fantastic, we BBQ chicken and fish instead of roasting things, and fireworks over Sydney Harbour are pretty much the best thing ever. I don’t mind holidays in the cold but holidays in the warm are a LOT more fun, hehe.

  13. Elsajeni said:

    I have bought my mother a completely ridiculous Texas A&M Santa hat with a collie face and earflaps — roughly similar to this amazing product, but with a festive Santa hat atop the collie head — and I cannot wait to see her gamely try it on on Christmas morning.

  14. SpinachInquisition said:

    Let me just say “Thank You” for having a _completely segregated board_ for the jolly vs. not-so-jolly comments! πŸ™‚ That being said, I couldn’t decide where I should post because it’s a really sad, f’d-up situation, but I’m so happy how things worked out. Therefore:dilemma. And, posting on the “Happy” board:

    1. Having a completely “A$$hole-Father-In-Law-free” Thanksgiving and the Husba9000(TM) made that decision all on his own for us!
    2. Not seeing MY parents this year for Christmas because I’m on month THREE of a GLORIOUS NO CONTACT situation with my narcissistic, abusive mother. Yay!
    3. Inviting my really nice *other* set of in-laws to celebrate Thanksgiving at our house with our family [Husba9000’s(TM) parents are divorced, therefore: Idiot Father and Nice Mom].
    4. Having a second Thanksgiving on Saturday with the Husba9000’s(TM) sister and her family at their house. No cleanup required. Awesome.

    So, this will be the first time ever that I will be in a good place with nice people for the holidays. πŸ™‚ Really. First time ever.

    • Pixie said:

      Grats on a holiday with nice people who are good to you!

      • SpinachInquisition said:

        (Thank you). I’m adding one more thing to my list: we’re not exchanging anything except gag gifts w/the adults this year (real stuff for the kids only), so my holiday gifts will be funny, snarky needlepoint in frames. That, and I’m going to see if I can cross stitch a Tardis.

  15. gravau said:

    When my family is strewn across the globe – me in Europe, parents in Arabia, sister in the US – we’ve made a tradition out of meeting somewhere (not necessarily one of those three places) every Christmas and Pentecost. Now that everybody’s in Europe (how boring), we keep it up. We’re not religious, but having fixed dates to see each other known well in advance makes everything a lot easier.

  16. SO I am mostly a person who lives at the other thread. I stopped giving & getting presents once I moved out on my own because I would work myself up into such a stress about it that I’d panic and freeze up and end up getting no presents at all, and then feeling REALLY guilty and terrible about it. So I don’t participate, and everyone knows so no one expects anything from me and I like it that way.

    BUT.

    My dad’s new(ish) wife isn’t quite on board with this, she doesn’t complain but I think she’s kinda hurt that I don’t want to participate, so this year I’ve decided that I am older & wiser & and generally in a better place, and I can do a hard thing because it makes people I like happy, so I HAVE A PLAN that is reasonable and do-able to get presents just for her & Dad, and I made everyone else pretty calligraphy cards and I am SO RIDICULOUSLY PROUD OF THIS YOU GUYS.

    • SpinachInquisition said:

      That’s fantastic! I’m so happy for you (go Plan!). Even bigger plus: HANDMADE = BETTER.

    • Virginia said:

      GO YOU!!

  17. Polychrome said:

    jellied cranberry sauce in the can! THE BEST! I buy it sometimes randomly during the rest of the year to eat it straight out of the can with a spoon. So good. I like other things about the holidays, too, but can-shaped cranberry sauce is right up there πŸ™‚

    • SpinachInquisition said:

      Do you stand it up on-end so it’s jiggly… or lay it down on its side, lolling about?

      • Candice said:

        I eat it out of the can, with a spoon, because that stuff is delicious.

        • Remy said:

          I agree on the deliciousness, but the asymmetry of the spoonfuls disturbs me. Mine must be sliced. (Excellent for sandwiches!)

          • Polychrome said:

            Yes, sliced if you are feeling fancy (& laying down, lolling about SINCE YOU ASKED Spinach Inquisitor :). But straight out of the can, Candice style, when nobody is lookin’ πŸ™‚

          • Ace said:

            Of course you have to slice it! The can lines show you where to slice!

    • Jake said:

      Can I tell a funny cranberry sauce story? It might belong in the other thread, because it’s about unreasonable family, but I mostly find it hilarious and the cranberry conversation reminded me of it. I’m a both-threads kind of person overall. So, here’s my funny cranberry sauce story:

      My whole life growing up we had cranberry sauce out of a can. Not because anyone is super attached to it, just because there’s a lot of cooking to be done at Christmas, and this is just one less thing to cook.

      For several years my aunt hosted Christmas at her house, and she did _all_ the work. All the cooking. All the picking up after 14 people. All the grocery shopping. All the planning. Everything. Except dishes. The younger generation does the dishes.

      So one year, I think to myself, “I should contribute something.” I didn’t want to step on any toes, or infringe on anyone’s favourite recipes or whatever, so I decide to make cranberry sauce from scratch. We always get it out of a can anyway, so I figured it was a good way to contribute without interfering. So I let my aunt know I’m planning on bringing it.

      Come Christmas dinner, it turns out there are TWO cranberry sauces. Because once my aunt found out I was making some, she decided to make her own. And you guys, it was _way_ fancier than mine. All citrus peel and cloves and shit. Mine was just water and sugar and cranberries. And then, at the table, she turns it into a total competition, asking everyone which sauce they like better, you know, just kidding but serious?

      And I was like, ‘ah ha! This is why no one tries to help.’ And I stopped helping.

      • Laughing Giraffe said:

        That is, to be honest, a thing I would probably do. You could say it’s because I’m a gigantic control freak in the kitchen, or you could say it’s because that sort of massive project is totally my jam. (I’m Canadian and our Thanksgiving was last month; I cooked every bite of it except the bread from scratch, for the first time ever, and loved every second that didn’t involve telling my mother to drink some wine and talk to my MIL or my roommate or my partner or whomever and stay out of my way, which I had to do an awful lot.)

        • Jake said:

          Surely you wouldn’t turn it into a contest though, right? That was the point where I was like “and we’re done here.”

          • Laughing Giraffe said:

            Ah, yes. No, I would not try to one-up someone who had brought something. I like to show off, but I prefer to do it by getting everybody to enjoy themselves, not put people down.

      • Miranda said:

        Ha! Serves you right for trying to be a good guest.

        It’s interesting how many people identify as both-threads people. Not surprising, I guess, but interesting.

        • Jake said:

          inorite?!? I have other stories to tell about her, but I think they belong in the other thread. Suffice it to say my partner and I have some lovely Christmas plans for this year, and they don’t involve that side of my family at all. My father-in-law is flying us down to the house he has in Florida! I’ve never had a warm christmas before!

    • I get SO MAD when people do not carefully remove the cranberry sauce in its whole can-shaped form but instead scoop it out in hunks (onto a serving platter. If you’re scooping the hunks directly into your mouth you are obviously making the right choices).

    • Elkam said:

      Glad you’ve mentioned this, I had no idea what that picture was. No cranberry sauce in my house, Branston Pickle all the way.

    • Virginia said:

      My husband’s family, The Pack of Picky Eaters(TM), all hate cranberry sauce.

      I don’t have to share! *angel choirs*

      • You win!

        My partner and I are hosting T-giving this year and are making a riff on my partner’s mom’s cranberry relish recipe (cranberry, orange, apple, Grand Marnier). Basically, we’re pureeing the heck out of it and making a sorbet out of it, to be eaten with pie, gingerbread, or cookies. Or, you know, in pretty glasses with sparkly wine if people prefer.

      • Cricket said:

        That reminds me of the time I did thanksgiving with my partner’s family and they had a big bottle of sparkling apple cider but no one seemed to be drinking it, as its presence was incidental rather than traditional. I’m from a family where a half dozen bottles is the bare minimum amount of acceptable cider because everyone loves it. I drank about 2/3 of the bottle on my own with no objections and felt like I was getting away with something.

        • Virginia said:

          Ooo, I love sparkling apple cider.

    • Flippity said:

      I’ve got a homemade cranberry sauce that I adore and am super proud of but nothing I mean NOTHING beats a post-thanksgiving turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce sandwich with jellied sauce from a can. I love it to bits and I’ll eat it with a spoon or smeared on anything carby or proteiny.

  18. Swistle said:

    I love choosing which holiday cards to send. I also love choosing wrapping paper.

  19. I posted on the other thread because grief, but it’s also my first Christmas as a married couple (so, new family!) and I’ve bought my husband a new game and am going to look into getting a model kit and an audible subscription for him. This is exciting to me.

    • Hey I don’t want to intrude or upsell or anything, but in the UK at the moment, you can get Audible subscriptions at around Β£2.50 a month (try googling ‘audible voucher’). I don’t know if you can give those as gift subscriptions, but you definitely can buy a subscription for yourself, pick out a book and send it as a gift. (Sorry if this is off-topic or unwanted, but I’m a big fan of Audible and an even bigger fan of discounts.)

      • Thanks! I’m in the US, but I’ll look into it. It… would be a joint gift, really, but he’s got a long commute and I don’t, so he’d get a lot more use out of it than I will, save for car trips.

    • jdrives said:

      YAY us too!! We *just* got married so we were gifted a lovely “First Married Christmas” ornament that is the most special of the wedding gifts to me, because I love Christmas and now get to spend it with the most marvelous man as my husband. It is SO AWESOME and I am so excited for you/us/our new families!!

      • From now on, I really want to just give holiday stuff to people when they get married (whether christmas or thanksgiving, based on what I know about their celebratory habits) because so many people already have their kitchens set up and you wouldn’t necessarily buy holiday decor yourself. Someone gave us a statute with the year on it and I’m super excited about it. I had to buy my own “Our first Christmas” ornament from the hallmark store.

  20. I have both happy and sad things, so here will be the happy things!

    Halloween and Thanksgiving are my two favorite holidays, so I always look forward to this time of year. The thing I’ve come to cherish most about Thanksgiving is my friend who started doing a family-reprieve/orphans’ Thanksgiving a long long time ago, and how welcoming and wonderful it is, and how loved he makes all of us feel, and the way he takes emotional care with all his guests. It’s a wonderful and generous thing, and it’s an honor to know him.

    • During grad school I discovered that bringing an orphan to the Boy’s family holidays improved EVERYONE. His family pulled out their best stories, and made the strangers feel welcome, and the orphan got all the best tidbits and nicest (least scrambled) piece of pie, and ALL the crap was sidelined for a while because one doesn’t air that stuff in public, and it was EXCELLENT.

      Also I love orphans at thanksgiving. I like being one, and seeing other people’s traditions, I like hosting one and showing them my traditions, I like taking one to see someone else’s traditions. All good.

      • I was an orphan/darling of her grandfather, at my friend’s house for Thanksgiving throughout college. So much fun. New food and also familiar food. I taught them how to make sweet potato pie. They took me sledding for the first time in my life. (terrifying)

  21. Candice said:

    I like the cooking. New Year’s is a major holiday in my husband’s family, and I arrange my schedule to spend as much time as possible in the kitchen, helping. (I’ve learned how to make sushi, dumplings, teriyaki chicken and Christmas cookies this way.)

  22. paddlepickle said:

    Thanksgiving is my favoritest of all holidays. We go to my uncle’s big awesome house for the weekend and eat tons of delicious things and drink all the delicious wine (which is particularly exciting because I’m doing a Sober Month and am very excited to end it on Thanksgiving Day). There will be puppies and babies too! (though I’m sad that my brother, SIL and baby nephew are going to her family’s this year, I don’t think that merits a separate Sad post as well). Then I go back to my hometown for a giant Friendsgiving that my best friend’s mom hosts (even though he won’t be there, I love hanging out with his family).

    I’m also pretty pro-Christmas/Hanukah/Kwanzaa etc and I’m looking forward to all the parties and snow (though not to the long cold winter to follow). I also have like eight billion winter squashes accumulated from my CSA this summer, so I think I may make a ton of Pumpkin Butter and give it out as presents in cute little mason jars. If I actually do this rather than just saying I’m gonna do it, it will be the most organized and craft-ish thing I have ever done for Christmas. Getting stuff on Amazon two days before the holiday is my usually routine.

  23. Mercutia said:

    My mom serves cranberry butter with homemade dinner rolls. It’s divine. I’m not sure of the origins, but if you’re of a mind to try it, throw 2 teaspoons of lemon zest, 3/4 cup of fresh (not dried) cranberries and 6 tablespoons of powdered sugar in the food processor and pulse until it’s all pretty well chopped, then toss in two sticks of room-temperature butter (and if you’re way in a hurry, I don’t know that that’s a total requirement if you pulse it long enough). Pulse until it looks like pink fluff with dark maroon flecks in it. You can line pretty butter molds with saran wrap and pack this in, refrigerate it until you need it, and turn it out onto a dainty little plate, or just refrigerate as is and plop it into a cut-glass dish free-form.

    Or, you know, eat the whole batch on fresh hot bread and guiltily make up another recipe of it. Just saying. *cough*

    • SpinachInquisition said:

      I just copied that recipe and threw it in my dropbox! Done.

    • DFTBAwkward said:

      Totally saving this recipe to try at Christmas. Do you know if it matters if you use salter or unsalted butter?

    • Candice said:

      I, too, am cheerfully copying down this recipe. It looks nommable.

  24. Rattakin said:

    I used to hate the holidays, but I have worked and worked to make them something I now enjoy. I do not stress out trying to get anywhere on the holidays, we just stay home by the fireplace. I don’t deal with any of my very traditional, very misogynist family members. We don’t have cable, so I never see Christmas commercials or Christmas specials, and am blissfully free of all Christmas music. I love to make cookies and confections to share with out neighbors and my husband’s coworkers. The main gifts we buy are for my husband’s mother and daughters. This year we are sending him mom a yummy gift basket from iGourmet. We bought one daughter tickets to Cirque du Soleil (front row center!) and one daughter a weekend getaway at a bed & breakfast in Yosemite. All purchased online. Easy peasy. Over the years I have made, purchased, or inherited some really beautiful Christmas decorations and I love how the house looks during the holidays. We won’t be home for Thanksgiving because some neighbors of ours just upgraded to a larger farm and they want to break it in by slaughtering a turkey so my husband can smoke it, so we be up in the hills celebrating with them and their family. We’ll have our dinner on Saturday, and I so look forward to this meal. My husband smokes a turkey breast outside, and that frees up the entire kitchen so I can make rolls, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and green beans. This will actually work out very well for some of our other neighbors – they are spending Thanksgiving with the husband’s family, and the dinner is invariably really bad. So I’m sure they’ll be happy to share our dinner! I love all my wonderful neighbors.

  25. DFTBAwkward said:

    I got my boyfriend a really nice homebrew kit this year! I’m super excited about it. This is my first year out of school in the working world so it’s nice to be able to afford nice presents for folks this year. πŸ™‚

    Boyfriend is definitely not as into Christmas as I am (he works in retail, so the grumpiness is understandable). To fight the tide of holiday blasΓ©, we decided to start a new tradition for ourselves and adopt an Angel Tree kid this year (if you’re not familiar, Angel Tree is a program where you “adopt” a kid from a low income family for Christmas and you buy the presents for the child). We are really enjoying picking out her gifts and I’m so glad we are doing this. It’s definitely a tradition I want to continue.

    Also, it’s fall, so time to break out my favorite fall recipe: sweet potato pecan muffins. Just made these for a work potluck tomorrow, and they’re delicious every time. They’re vegan, but do contain nuts (pecans) and gluten (whole wheat flour) if you have allergies. If you don’t have dietary restrictions that would stop you from eating them, they’d make a GREAT Thanksgiving breakfast. πŸ™‚

    2 cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes
    1-1/2 cups sugar
    1/2 cup vegetable oil
    1/2 cup water
    3 cups whole wheat flour
    1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
    1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    2 cups pecan halves

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin cups.

    In a large bowl, combine sweet potatoes, sugar, oil, and water; mix well. In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt; mix well. Gradually stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until well blended. Stir in pecans. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the muffins comes out dry.

    • Antigone_ks said:

      I love doing Angel Tree! It’s definitely one of my favorite parts of the season. One of the departments where I work runs the local Angel Tree, so I try to get there early to get a little kid’s angel (all the stuff for tiny children is so cute!) before they’re gone and also get angels for older kids/teenagers, who aren’t as entertaining to buy for and often get left on the tree. Last year I had extra time, so I spent a couple of days helping them get everything sorted and bagged for pickup and it was just amazing to see the ocean of donated toys. One little girl asked for a Tiana doll, and her donor got her a doll, AND a Tiana outfit, AND a stuffed frog. I maybe cried a little.

    • Dana said:

      These sound awesome! Is the whole wheat flour necessary, or can AP flour be subbed in?

      • DFTBAwkward said:

        I’ve only done them with whole wheat flour because I like the extra texture, but it should work with all purpose flour! It will just be a bit less dense, I think.

    • Something Clever said:

      Hi there! I made your recipe and it was a big hit, especially with my 6-year olds. Both kids said “Eeew!” when I first offered them sweet potato muffins but then they scarfed down two each. My daughter kept sneaking them throughout the day and didn’t eat anything else until dinner.

      Happy T-day to all! I’m thankful for CA and the Awkward Army. I’ve laughed and learned a lot here.

  26. Remy said:

    We have a house this year! Which means we will have room for our own XMAS TREE!!!!! If the floors get refinished in time. (We still aren’t moved in, but I am SO hoping the work will be done soon.) I am planning on renting a live potted tree this year. Anyone done this before? Is the smell better than a cut tree?

  27. Kim said:

    Summer holidays you men. When I was a kid we would always go to the beach on Christmas Day. Haven’t done that in a while because my sister-in-law’s family seems obsessed by having a huge meal instead. But this year I am going to insist on a trip to the beach to do this instead.

    http://www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/andres-amador-earthscape-sand-painting

  28. therufs said:

    Last year I went to NYC for a rationalist Solstice ritual and party and I’m going again this year and I’m SUPER JAZZED!!

    Things that are awesome about NYC in general and this undertaking in particular, especially in winter:

    * Taking a taxi through Brooklyn on Friday night. It is snowing and the streets are full of people in fur hats and long black coats going to Synagogue.
    * The giant, aging house in Brooklyn where you’ll be sleeping on the floor is freezing! You and another stalwart individual open all the windows one by one so you can shut the storm windows outside.
    * Nerds are there playing nerd party games! It is GREAT and while you are a bit awkward you also LOVE IT
    * There is a giant bookcase with like 20 copies of HPMoR on it. You are like, MY PEOPLE!
    * You can order any kind of takeout you want on the Internet, and !someone on a bike!!! will bring it to you (even if it is snowing — you will tip them well and hope it is good enough for riding a delivery bike in the snow.) Everyone will order together, so you’ll need to pay someone back, which you can do VIA EMAIL, because google wallet + nerds who are not suspicious of such things.
    * Eventually you will bundle up and go to sleep in a camping sleeping bag, and when you wake up you’re the most gloriously warm you’ve ever been, due to having gone to sleep wearing lots of pyjamas, smartwool socks, and having a boyfriend on either side of you on a giant foam beanbag thing.
    * Someone is cooking breakfast! I’LL HELP! She is making popovers!!! OMG.
    * You have managed to run out of milk (and many other things)! No worries, there is a grocery store within walking distance. You and a couple of other people walk to it! Groceries, including tea (VERY IMPORTANT), are obtained.
    * Later, you go out on an excursion for blankets, for all the people who came to sleep on the floor of the freezing house but weren’t prepared. You will take public transit (!!!) to a West Elm somewhere not terribly far away. When you emerge from the subway station, the first thing you will see is the Brooklyn Bridge, faded out through the falling snow. Β―oΒ―
    * At West Elm there are many blankets AND someone who is giving out samples of cake! Next year, you think, you will not be a mere intern, and will have enough money to help purchase blankets for cold rationalists! **
    * When you return, you notice that the multitude of people in fur hats and long black coats have … turned into a multitude people dressed as Santa? There is a long line of them at a bar, in any case! They seem to be having a great time πŸ™‚
    * That night you will have plans to eat dinner before the ritual with some other people, but will be thwarted by the failure to take into account that you might need a reservation. Instead you will grab some food from a cute (deli? I don’t quite know how to describe it) and continue to SOLDIER THROUGH THE SNOW IN MANHATTAN, thinking about how glad you are that your new shoes are (a) surprisingly comfy and (b) surprisingly waterproof.
    * Later that night, there will be a big party with drinks and some particularly interesting chocolate chip cookies. >_^ You will eat 1.5 of them and fall asleep sideways on the foambag in a haze of happy warmth.

    HOMG I’M SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS AND I MIGHT NOT HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT IT IN SUCH DETAIL UNLESS YOU ASKED, THANK YOU FOR ASKING I’M SUPER JAZZED :O ❀

    ** this happened!!!!1!!!eleven!!!#thanksgiving

    I'm also going to go home for Christmas (probably) which will also be awesome, and I will get to see my mom and dad and sister and her girlfriend, and we will eat many a food and exchange many a gift, and it will be great! and I will get to be in Kansas City for Christmas, and go to the Most Excellent Midnight Mass of Smells and Bells, and mill about on the Plaza with all the lights on, and IT WILL BE GREAT ❀ but not quite as good of a story because it mostly features lazing about and eating and drinking tea ;p WHICH IS ALSO GREAT

    • Hey, cool!

      I am going to a non-NYC one of those; am not secular myself, but someone I love is. I hope you have so much fun!

  29. MSJ said:

    I’m so excited to see my family, since I only see them 1-2x a year since I moved to the opposite coast over a year ago.
    Last year’s holidays: Working retail, so I worked through T-giving, Black Friday, Christmas Eve…Flew home for literally 48 hours (was so happy to have that privilege, but red-eyeing on xmas eve is no joke) to see family then BACK TO WORK.
    This year, I have a new job, will be home for 11 days, will not have to work retail during the holidays πŸ˜€
    And new job makes it possible to gift a close friend a plane ticket to my coast. She’s had a rough year and is on the ups, and I just want to make it even better :)))

  30. Rowan Parker said:

    My partner and I just moved across the country, to Massachusetts from Seattle. So this will be my first thanksgiving away from my family, but we are spending it in New Jersey with my partner’s large extended family, which should be fun. And my parents stepped up to buy is plane tickets to Seattle for Christmas, which we could never afford on our own. My family is big on Christmas, and I was feeling really sad about missing it, so I am sorry stoked about that. Or lives have firm really good since we moved, and I’m excited to share that with both of or families this season. I also get to go to *her* (Jewish) family’s Christmas Eve party for the first, which she has been talking up for years. It’s just been a really exciting year and it looks like the holidays will match.

  31. sarahcircusnachos said:

    My sister and I are Christmas Jews. Our heritage is mixed, and celebrating Hanukkah just kind of fell off when we moved away from home. But we’ve always celebrated Christmas, since it doesn’t require any open flame!

    This year will be third year in a row I’ll be bringing kosher pizzas to a group of homeless men sleeping at my old synagogue on Christmas Eve. The Husband and I will be staying overnight to watch Die Hard and play card games with them too. On Christmas Morning, we’ll drive some of the guys to their next destination and then go up to my mother’s for gift opening and Epic Christmas Brunch. I’m really excited.

  32. Ivansmom said:

    Long-time lurker – and many thanks to Captain Awkward and the Awkward Army for your advice – I learn from everything I read here. My extended family is that rare beast. We all get along, we often get together just for fun, we like each other. Thanksgiving is a great time for us. My cousin is the best and most adventurous family cook. He does something exotic but tasty every year, and the rest of us bring accompaniments. I bring wine and desserts, because I love to bake and this is the perfect opportunity. We always ask lots of friends to join us, for the meal or company afterwards. After our meal, for the last few years, we’ve gone outside (rural area, gravel) and set a pumpkin on fire (think gasoline). The last couple of years, a friend-being-absorbed-into-the-Borg has brought his katana to slice the flaming pumpkin. Good times. None of this is quite as dangerous as it might sound, or so we prefer to believe. It is, however, really fun.

    I always had a number of immediate-family Christmas traditions I’d become locked into. Several years ago my mother died at Christmas (Alzheimers, a sad relief) and I found out what was important to me and what wasn’t. Now, I just do the important things, and add in as time and energy permit. Baking, wine, singing carols, decorating a tree, husband-and-son presents, and the extended-family small-present afternoon- all things I enjoy, and my family likes the results. Also, we can all be more relaxed and charitable, and that, I think, is really the point. Yay holidays!

  33. Slow Media Watcher Person said:

    I’m Jewish, but I’m a shamefully big fan of Christmas anyway. I’ve already queued up my playlist of Christmas specials and have been rabidly leafing through every toy catalog that lands on our doorstep. I’m very content.

  34. jess said:

    I had a positive pregnancy test this morning! This is project progeny 2.0 (last one lost super early just a few weeks in). I’m hoping this one sticks because HOW EASY will it make Christmas presents?!? “Merry Christmas, I’m pregnant, you get your present in 7 months.” Boom, done, no shopping required.

    • apricity said:

      Good luck with your pregnancy!

    • Miranda said:

      Whoa, best of luck! My cousin and her husband did the “We’re pregnant, BOOM” thing last Christmas, and it was a crowd-pleaser.

    • MJH said:

      Sticky vibes to you! I lost my first one super quickly (like four days in, so quick the doctor doesn’t even count it as a pregnancy), but the second one stuck good and now I’m 25+ weeks with a little girl. Unfortunately it was more of a Labor Day announcement for us! Congrats on your built-in-gift!

    • Ace said:

      Congrats! Babies are a great present. πŸ˜€ I’ll give you the well wish I always give pregnant people. Besides all the miracle of life stuff, I hope your pregnancy and delivery are very boring and safe for you and baby. πŸ˜€

    • LadyK said:

      Congrats and good luck!

  35. Eureka said:

    My family is actually pretty great, and since my sister got married a and moved three hours away, the holidays are the best time to see her and her husband (who is honestly pretty awesome) and my new niece (who hates to travel. Screamed the whole trip last time.)

    Plus we’ve started playing around with the “traditional” menu. We’ve had prime rib, chicken curry, Swedish meatballs, and roast duck. This year, we’re planning on throwing steaks on the grill for Thanksgiving.

  36. L said:

    I’m a person who hates to have more physical things in my life. (I’m a natural packrat, so I have to fight those tendencies pretty hard to have room to breathe, and also I’m far from being in a life stage where I don’t move houses fairly frequently. And mass-produced objects make me panic about consumerism.) But I have a very small family and a partner who feels similarly about physical things. So: my partner and I gift each other entertainment experiences, like theatre/concert tickets or nice dinner; I trade edible things with most of my family; and my mother and I have an agreement in which I can, no guilt, return to her any physical/non-edible presents I don’t want to keep. She doesn’t buy me anything she wouldn’t be happy to keep for herself unless I’ve explicitly asked for it, and she knows that if I keep a present, I am genuinely happy to have it. And she’s easy to gift for, because she’ll ask months in advance for various creative-work presents she’d appreciate. The whole situation is blissfully free of second-guessing.

    This year, I actually have access to some cool tools that I’m excited to use to make special presents for quite a few of my family and friends. But it’s all the more special because it will be a surprise.

  37. Laughing Giraffe said:

    Traditions I enjoy:
    1. Stockings. Possibly even more than the tree presents. I’ve had the same stocking since I was tiny and I hope one day to give it to some small child.
    2. Completing the huge crossword puzzle in the newspaper with my dad, my brother and my partner. Playing Scrabble on the sixties-era board with same.
    3. Having the same argument I have with my mother every year, which is that I do not at all get how she can be a razor-sharp bridge player while refusing to play Scrabble because she can never remember the rules.
    4. Giving in and playing bridge with her, my aunt and my father anyway. (Okay, not fun exactly, but as much a tradition as the tree – which, in another tradition, will fall over at least once.)
    5. The Grinch. The animated one.
    6. Shortbread, stollen, mince tarts, chocolate, marzipan, and buche de Noel.
    7. On Christmas Eve, when my parents and my aunt go to church, having loud athletic sex with my partner because it’s the only opportunity we’ll get that week.

    • Miranda said:

      STOLLEN. ❀

      Also, athletic Christmas Eve sex has got to be one of my favourite traditions mentioned in this thread so far.

    • Re: athletic Christmas Eve sex, I have happy memories of waiting for my partner’s parents to go pick people up from the airport, while we stay behind to “wrap presents.” Naked.

  38. I love Christmas music. God help me, I do. Not *all* Christmas music — I can do without most of the Santa Claus stuff, and a lot of the religious songs, too — but the ones about family and kindness and peace and joy and all those good things? I love those.

    I really love the lights and decorations. I especially love the ones that go the blue-and-silver route, turning all the world into a wintery fairyland. Actually, it’s hard to pick between that and the multicolored lights, because who doesn’t love a rainbow?

    I love that feeling of lightness and happiness when I look up and see wreathes on the lampposts, and remember Christmases past: driving down Main Street in my old hometown and looking up in awe at all the lights; marching down Main Street with my band, playing the same old Christmas medley every single year until I knew it better than I’d ever known any piece of music, swinging our saxophones side-to-side as we went and adding in traditional frills, neither of which our instructors had approved beforehand… being shoulder-to-shoulder with my friends and sectionmates and feeling, for once, like I belonged.

    Counting down the days until my mom and all my siblings came into town, and I could have a real family again for a little while. A grumpy family sometimes, and not a traditional one, but a real one, with no one missing.

    Waking up when the first snow fell, knowing it would melt because the ground wasn’t frozen yet, but loudly wishing for a snow day anyway.

    A week and a half of not having to go to school.

    And yeah, I’ll admit… I liked getting new toys. πŸ™‚

  39. Hatchette said:

    I’m making Thanksgiving Dinner this year, including a turkey, which makes me really nervous. I’m a great cook, but I have cooked exactly three turkeys ever . Thank goodness for Joy of Cooking!

    But! This is not my first time at the Thanksgiving rodeo, and so I am doing as much food prep as possible ahead of time. A flow sheet has been built. Veggies will be cut and prepped the night before. There will be labeled bags of seasoning. The sweet potatoes will be pre- cleaned, cooked, sliced and ready to go. The mashing potatoes will spend most of the day peeled, cubed and in a pot of water, not turning brown and waiting to be boiled. Drinks will be chilled. And this time, I am making cookies and dip and sliced veggies, because something always, ALWAYS delays dinner. I am thinking ahead and reducing as much day-of work and stress as I can. I am even sautΓ©ing a whole whack of onions the night before, because sautΓ©ed onions can make up for all sorts of culinary shortcomings.

    I am premptively proud. And if anyone had a suggestion for a make ahead dip that doesn’t involve powdered onion soup, mayo as a main ingredient, or ranch, I would love a recipe.

    • Ivansmom said:

      Dip: bottle of chutney, 8 oz. softened cream cheese, splash of bourbon. Good with crackers or sturdy veggies.

      Other simple appetizer: drain a can of garbanzo beans, toss with olive oil and curry powder, bake until dry-ish but not hard. Fast, no moving parts to chase, but tasty.

    • delveg said:

      Hot Jezebel sounds strange, but is very tasty. It relies on cream cheese, which wasn’t mentioned as a deal breaker… but I figured I should mention it. http://allrecipes.com/recipe/hot-jezebel/

    • DFTBAwkward said:

      These are also cream cheese reliant, but I have two ideas:

      The easiest – block of cream cheese topped with pepper jelly. You can get pepper jelly at the grocery store next to all the other jams and jellies. This requires no work beyond getting things at the store, slicing off your desired size of cream cheese, and spooning the jelly on top. Goes great with wheat thins, tastes good and easy. πŸ™‚

      The still super easy but requiring slightly more effort – pineapple dip. You need a 16oz can of crushed pineapple (with half the juice drained off), 1 cup of sugar, and 16 oz full fat cream cheese. You can also add 1 cup of chopped pecans if no one has a nut allergy. Heat the pineapple and sugar in a nonstick pan until golden (about 10 minutes). Let it cool completely and then stir the pineapple with the cream cheese and pecans using a spoon (not a mixer). Serve with Ritz crackers, captains wafers, wheat thins, etc–a cracker with a sweeter taste.

      • Remy said:

        For something more savory, my mom used to mix cream cheese with a small amount of bleu cheese — especially good on bell peppers, imo.

    • Flippity said:

      hummus (I also like Sabra brand) and baba ganouj are excellent dips that are coincidentally vegan! If it’s too cold to grill your eggplant, you can add a drop of liquid smoke and nobody will be able to tell the difference.

      (serve with pita, triscuits, and raw veggies)

    • LadyK said:

      For dip, I usually go with Penzey’s chip and dip seasoning recipe, but I think there is mayo and sour cream involved there.

      I second the hummus suggestion – its easy to make and make ahead if you want, but there are several brands that are perfectly decent and tasty.

  40. apricity said:

    So last year I bought a Santa hat themed to my favourite sports team, and it arrived after Christmas. But THIS YEAR I can wear it! Ahh it’s going to be great.

  41. Miranda said:

    I’m in the UK for grad school, so Christmas will be the only time I get to see everyone in Canada this year and I’m SUPER excited about it. I have a solid month at home, so I’m hoping I can have relaxed hangouts with everyone instead of trying to cram in a bunch of stressful big-group activities. I’m really close to my extended family and everyone’s been producing spawn lately, so I’m going to snuggle ALL THE BABIES while I have the chance. Plus, there’s a good chance my mean nana will decide to spend Christmas with her sisters again like she did last year, so I have very high hopes for a fun, low-drama holiday.

    Also, I’m really enjoying the recipes and gift ideas people have been sharing in this thread. I’m pretty broke this year (see above: overseas grad school), so I appreciate the inspiration from thrifty, crafty folks!

  42. SparklySparky said:

    Does anyone have any ideas for vegetarian equivalents to turkey? My friends and I always have a Christmas party at the beginning of December with the full dinner, and in the last year nearly all of us have become vegetarian. Allergies mean that nut roast isn’t an option for me, and most of the ideas I’ve found online don’t look like things that would go with roast vegetables and gravy (which are clearly crucial components to Christmas dinner!)

    Any ideas would be much, much appreciated πŸ˜€

    • Silken tofu meat-loaf-style things work, though I’ve also had like, savoury pumpkin bread and/or fake bacon with brussels sprouts as the Meat Bit of roast dinners. To be honest though, the roast potatoes are the real star of the show.

    • misspiggy said:

      Baked field mushrooms with Christmassy stuffing including cranberries?

      • Anothermous said:

        Was gonna suggest something like this! There is a local vegetarian restaurant that has a mushroom wellington on the menu and it is AMAZING.

    • We used to stuff a pumpkin as well as a turkey. One year it went really really well, and people left turkey to finished the stuffed pumpkin. Which works well enough if it isn’t the protein so much as the vehicle for stuffing you are missing.

      • Flippity said:

        Seconding the stuffed pumpkin!

        You could also do vegetarian cabbage rolls which are hearty, warming, and go with roast vegetables and gravy. I’d pick a stuffing with mushrooms and toasted sunflower seeds for nut-free nut-flavor.

    • Oooh! Any variation on stuffed squash is a good choice, particularly this one (http://ohmyveggies.com/recipe-quinoa-stuffed-acorn-squash-rings/), which is a bit more manageable than serving up ginormous squash halves to everyone. One year I did smittenkitchen’s stuffed onions. One year I did this deep mushroom pie (http://outoftheordinaryfood.com/2011/11/02/deep-mushroom-pie/) which includes nuts but you could probably substitute an equal amount of veggie “meat crumbles.” Stuffed portabella mushrooms would also be nice — maybe something with cheese and corn? Or a more traditional bread stuffing, like this one I haven’t tested: http://www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com/2010/11/big-girls-test-kitchen-turkey-day.html. Finally, here (http://www.thekitchn.com/showstopping-vegetarian-main-dishes-for-thanksgiving-212785) and here (http://www.thekitchn.com/planning-the-vegetarian-holiday-meal-5-show-stopping-main-courses-179767) are some further recipe roundups.

      • Bee said:

        Seconding this! I made apple-stuffed acorn squash one year. It was very easy and very good.

  43. Tabitha said:

    It’s going to be my first Christmas in four years with my family! I am so super super excited.

    I love Christmas. I love decorating, I love making cookies, I love getting and giving presents, I love the row of tiny mittens my mum made for me as an advent calender and the stuff she sends for me to put in them, I love the fact that our cats get presents from both my mum and my partner’s mum. I love everything about Christmas and it’s been nice to find out that I still love all that stuff when it’s just me and my partner, but I’ve really missed being surrounded by my family.

    I’m a little nervous that it will be weird going back to doing the family Christmas. Three years ago my grandma died on Christmas Eve and mostly that’s become sort of a family joke, “Of course she died on Christmas Eve, she was always an attention hog and this way she’s made sure that no one will forget her death ever.” But, partly because of that and, I think, partly because I am way more into Christmas than anyone else in my family, Christmas has been sort of a lower key holiday for them since. On the other hand, both my mum and my brother have separately told me that they think my enthusiasm makes the holiday more special for the other one and I am just too excited about getting to see them to worry about it for long.

    Normally gifts are a massive source of stress for me because I feel a lot of pressure to get the perfect thing, particularly for my partner since he consistently knocks it out of the park. This year he told me that the perfect gift would be more time, which isn’t going to happen and also means that gifts of books/games/anything that takes up time would probably be appreciated but never actually used. This year I managed to find something which ticks all of the boxes for things I look for when getting him gifts, it’s personal, it’s something that he wouldn’t get himself, and it’s not going to be a burden on his already limited time. I’m so pleased with myself I don’t even mind that it might not be here until January. I’ve also sorted out presents for the rest of my family so apart from friends that’s most of my shopping sorted.

  44. Emily said:

    I’m pretty excited for Thanksgiving this year! Since I recently started graduate school in a new place, I’m spending it with a side of the family that I haven’t seen in while. On a side note, of my younger cousins is interested in some “geeky” things (cosplay, anime, etc.) and I think that her family is supportive but doesn’t really get it. I hope that I can connect with her a little bit, or at least let her know that there are people my age and older who have similar interests.

    Christmas also promises to be exciting – right after the holiday, itself, I’m flying out to Colorado to go on a short trip to the mountains with my boyfriend’s family. This will be both my first time trying cross-country skiing and the longest amount of time I’ve spent with any of them (with the possible exception of his aunt, who is absolutely wonderful and has welcomed me into her house twice now for a documentary film festival that happens in her town).

  45. senalishia said:

    I am very excited because for the past two holiday seasons I, husband and kids were living with parents, but now we can celebrate in our own place! Put up our own tree! And lights! On our own house! Also, my extended family divided up Thanksgiving food assignments this year, so all I have to do is make like 8 pies πŸ˜€

  46. Grant said:

    I absolutely love Christmas! I already have all of my Christmas music loaded on my phone. It’s nearly 800 songs at 44 hours of music. Just four more hours of music, and I’ve hit the two day mark. The car is also loaded up with Christmas CDs! (Best part about moving out of the US is that I don’t have to feel guilty about listening to Christmas music in November!)

    We usually go back to the States to visit my family at Christmas in Alaska (where it’s always white, cold and snowy at Christmas), but this year, we went back over the summer (as it was my 20-year high school reunion) so we’re doing Christmas in the UK this year. We’re avoiding my in-laws until Boxing Day (because Christmas with them is just not a good experience). So I’ve already purchased a lot of fun and exciting things for my partner and to stuff our stockings with.

    This weekend we’re putting up the tree! I’ve also decided to have a go at making Goose this year instead of turkey. So that should be a fun and new experience! I’ll probably make both of my family’s traditional Christmas cookies sometime in December as well.

    And since we’ll be in Europe, we’re flying to Berlin for a weekend to visit a friend and check out the traditional Christmas markets! It’s going to be a fantastic Christmas!

  47. jessalae said:

    Despite having limited funds, I loooove buying presents for people. It’s so much fun to me to figure out what each person would like, then scour the internet/my local used bookstores and thrift shops for the perfect thing. So far I have presents for my mom and brother picked out: my mom is a math teacher, so I’m getting her a clock where all the numbers are math problems that work out to the right numbers (splitting the cost with siblings); my brother is a first-year college student, so he’s getting a kit for making Jessalae’s Foolproof Microwave Mug Brownies: a silly mug that he’ll like, a tablespoon measure, and a fancy recipe card with the recipe. I have a bunch of MTurk credit saved up for present-buying purposes, too, so my budget is bigger than it would normally be. YAY!

    Also, I know it’s not actually important in the religious sense, but I freaking love Hannukah. I love the songs, I love the food, I love throwing a huge latke party for my friends, I love gelt, I love the menorah my parents got me. I need to buy candles for this year…

    • excited said:

      I’ve lived in Japan for the last two and a half years, and this year is the first time I’ve decided to take a trip back to the US falling during the holidays, so I’m also super excited for Hanukkah! I did make latkes during my first winter here, but this will be my first time celebrating Hanukkah and lighting the menorah and everything in three years. Latke party! Gelt! Songs! So many candles! I’m not even religious, but I’m happy for the chance to relive some good childhood memories.

      And I love the mug brownie gift idea! I’m working on figuring out the right presents to bring back for my family… I’ve got moisturizer from my favorite cosmetics store here for my mom, and I’ll probably look for a calendar for my dad, but what to get for my brother (a senior in college) is stumping me. I got him an udon noodle soup kit last year (udon is a specialty of the city I live in!) but I don’t know what to get this year…

      Also, this isn’t really related to this thread, but I’m excited by the fact that I’m actually excited for my visit home. The fact that I live across the world and don’t visit home that often (even though my parents have the money to fly me back whenever, and have offered as much) can be a contentious issue, but I’m choosing to make this trip now and I’m really happy about the decision.

  48. thatsnotmyname said:

    My daughter is two and sort of gets the whole holidays thing now, and has been running around saying things like:

    – “I do not want punkin pie. I will give it to the squirrels.”
    – “I want an airplane and a sister and eight doggies for Christmas.”
    – “Hey Mommy…..GOBBLE GOBBLE!”

    It just makes the whole thing a lot more enjoyable.

  49. Lisa said:

    Love Christmas…I have two little kids and I’m so looking forward to going to their school concerts. For the first time in four years both the hubs and I have the week of Christmas off with the kids and I can’t wait!! Winter walks, Egg Nog, bad tv, books, cookies and cocoa. Ahhhh

  50. Sascha said:

    I’m looking forward to my holiday break, because my work place gives us a full two weeks of paid vacation!!! It’s a nice treat at the end of the year. I’m going to be finishing up two major house projects – redoing the master bedroom, and redoing the spare bedroom into a nursery. This is our first kid and I’m looking forward to all the fun things we’re going to do…watching anime, learning about science, going to museums, playing all the awesome old video games because my husband still has his consoles. Also freaking out a little bit because FIRST KID OMG. But my husband assures me it will be alright. πŸ™‚

    Also holidays = copious amounts of delicious homemade food, and I love food anyway, but being pregnant has turned me into a ravenous beast, but this time I have accommodating pants, so I am going to PIG OUT.

  51. nerdnik said:

    This will be my first Christmas married, and I’m really excited to just sort of slow down for a little bit. Normally we are rushing around between two or three different family events, but everyone is cutting us a break this year because ~*first Christmas*~ and it’s awesome. My best friend will also have a boozy, nerdy-game holiday party at some point and we shall play 7 Wonders and Cards Against Humanity and it will be wonderful.

  52. Serin said:

    Anybody but me tend to look at the Thanksgiving menu and go, “… but there are no vegetables”?

    Turns out the spouse and the kidlet want to go all out — full-size turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes and stuffing, etc. — which I’m happy to do as long as someone else does dishes. But our Thanksgiving tradition seems to very between no vegetables and vegetables nobody eats.

    • Sascha said:

      That’s usually how it is at our family gatherings. The vegetable offering will be some form of potatoes. As much I adore potatoes, and will eat all of it, that’s more of a starch…sometimes my mom makes squash casserole and that’s pretty tasty.

      My sister tried to bring in some more veggies one year and made this brussells sprouts dish. It was not good.

      • delveg said:

        One of our favorites is a green bean casserole. There are lots of variations; they almost all feature cream of mushroom soup. Water chestnuts and onion rings on top make it festive–well, that and it’s a holiday time treat, which flavors everything with nostalgia.

    • olivia0330 said:

      I make a spinach bake that serves as our veg. I mean, it’s butter and cheese and milk and flour and eggs, too. But it’s green, and it’s delish. It’s the Taste of Home 2 cheese spinach bake, and it’s almost like a spinach bread. The best is to have it for breakfast the day after Thanksgiving. πŸ™‚

    • Flippity said:

      I love a roasted root vegetable medley with carrots, parsnips, turnips, and sweet potatoes or golden beets.

      My family also does a green bean casserole (fresh beans and a bechamel and sauteed mushroom sauce, topped with French’s onions), and fruit salad with real fresh fruit and real whipped cream. Also, roasted brussels sprouts with bacon is one of my very favorite things in the world — tender and sweet on the inside and golden brown on the cut face, tossed with enough bacon fat to coat (maybe 2 tbsp for a pound of halved sprouts?) and topped with crispy crumbled bacon.

      And there’s always some kind of salad-salad with salad dressing and lettuce/tomato for Dad-who-skips-right-to-the-sandwich-portion-of-the-holiday.

      Fruit salad ingredients include whatever’s on sale, but at least crisp/firm apple and slightly under-ripe Bartlett pear, seedless grapes, orange (I like canned mandarins in juice), sliced banana, and maybe berries and/or honeydew if you can still get them. You whip the cream with a hand mixer, powdered sugar to taste, and a glug of vanilla, and once it’s at soft peaks fold the fruit in til it’s coated. Fresh pineapple is optional but very good, again with the whatever’s on sale. (I like including a whole small jar of maraschino cherries because I have no soul.)

      It evolved over the years from the previous incarnation of “2-3 cans of fruit cocktail in light syrup or juice, drained and coated with cool whip.”)

    • Bee said:

      Yes! I cook Thanksgiving dinner and include a lot of vegetables, trying to prevent food-coma, but it’s so easy for the menu to turn into turkey, potatoes, more carbs, pie, and ice cream.

  53. quinalla said:

    Looking forward to Thanksgiving a lot! We’ll have my side of the family’s gathering at my sisters’ house on Thursday, can’t wait for all the food especially stuffing & pumpkin pie! Then my family, my parents & my one brother and his family will go hang out at my parents’ place for the rest of the weekend, stopping on the way to get a Christmas tree for my parents which we’ll decorate too. My family will go to my ILs on Saturday at some point for more Thanksgiving food, yum!

    Christmas my husband and I have the whole week that Christmas is in off work, so we plan to do our immediate family Christmas stuff then head to my parents & ILs way again and hang out with my siblings and all our children for a good bit of time, going to the ILs for a visit or two while we are there again as well. I always have enjoyed the holidays, but it’s even more fun to watch my children enjoying it too πŸ™‚

  54. Bonelady said:

    I’m doing roasted mushrooms & cranberry-pear-ginger sauce. My sister is doing a 7-layer salad, and there will be celery, onions & water chestnuts in the stuffing. You’ve got to sneak those veggies in!

  55. quinalla said:

    Oh and I totally forgot, we are having a Holiday Board Game party at our house this year with some delicious catered food, with enough people coming to run two games all night, hooray!

  56. Jenny Islander said:

    After a childhood of every holiday being Dysfunctional Families Day, I lucked into a currently pretty healthy extended family. Every year, I count my blessings for the Holidays:

    1. In-laws who purpose-built their new house with family parties in mind; I never have to host!
    2. Potluck meals, always. Nobody gets stressed out trying to produce the whole thing.
    3. No fat shaming or body policing and no judgment about not eating a bit of everything, either.
    4. No gift contests. We’re raising kids on one income and everybody knows that.
    5. No drunks.
    6. No drama over games. We play a game I happen to really enjoy and both winner and losers are gracious.
    7. No preachers, bloviators, or political tribespeople.

    I am so very lucky to have all this. When the blues bite, I can look forward to spending time with people who don’t pick at me.

  57. I’m a college student who doesn’t go home for Thanksgiving (originally because we couldn’t afford it, but now that’s its my fourth year, simply because it’s a lot of hassle and I’ll see my family for Christmas pretty soon anyway) so I’m using my Thanksgiving break to prep for Finals and make Christmas/Hanukkah/WinterColdTime mugs for all my friends! It’s nice to have this little bit of time to relax and get ready for the Holidays/exams.

    And I’m part of a group that makes Thanksgiving for our Honors College on Sunday, so Thanksgiving will still happen and will be awesome, even if I’m not home.

    • Flippity said:

      YAY staying home for thanksgiving at college! I did that as well, initially on the logic that it was foolish to spend money we didn’t have to go home for basically 2 days when I’d be home for winter break anyway, and later because I got used to having the apartment to myself to cook/study/monopolize the good tv in the living room for documentaries and cartoons.

      Good luck on your finals! May the library and coffee shops nearby be open late, the curve be gentle, and the questions all be things you studied for and remember well!

      • Thanks so much! Everyone feels so bad for me but it’s really not that big of a deal, especially because I see my family so soon for Winter Break. And yeah, I get to watch all the TV I want and do whatever I want, which is nice. I’ll probably steal your finals well-wishes, because yes, that’s exactly what you hope for πŸ™‚

  58. aebhel said:

    My daughter is very very brand new (Okay, 7.5 months BUT THAT IS STILL PRETTY NEW) and is getting so good at crawling, and loves shiny things and paper and anything that crinkles. I am so looking forward to seeing her be all gleeful with the wrapping paper (and me chasing her around trying to pry it out of her mouth, oh gods).

    I hate hate hate Christmas shopping, but I adore everything else about the holidays. Snow! Christmas trees! Cheesy holiday music, my love for which has somehow survived years of retail jobs! FOOD! Sitting around the table at 1AM on Christmas day drinking fancy whiskey and telling lies with my dad, and eating candy canes straight off the tree, and telling embarrassing baby stories about my brother to his new girlfriend.

    The only thing that makes me sad this year is that my other brother is serving overseas and this will he the third Christmas in a row that I haven’t seen him. But he’s safe and enjoying himself, so even that doesn’t make me too sad.

    • jdrives said:

      Cheers to your first Christmas with bebe!

  59. Epiphyta said:

    I moved early this year and so did a lot of people I like, so there are many happy local options that do not involve Dysfunctional Families Day. “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is required viewing, as is “Blackadder’s Christmas Carol”. The Acorn and the Brom have requested both orange AND gingerbread muffins for Christmas morning (and Nigella Lawson’s alcoholic hot chocolate without the slug of rum); no tree, as we have geriatric cats who would think “Ooooh, a new smelly climbing structure!” and promptly fall out of it, but there will be wreaths and a spiced EO blend in the diffuser. I downsized by two-thirds for this apartment and there’s really no place to put new things, so presents are going to be food or tea or e-book gift cards, apart from the traditional T-shirts from Thinkgeek.

    If we want a taste of “overexcited children and animals/too many people in the kitchen”, standing invitations have been made by people who love us and want to see us, so all we’ll have to do is drive over the bridge/down the road a bit. If we want to — no guilt was issued with the invitations.

    I think this is what “looking forward to year’s end” feels like. It’s weird, but I can go with it.

  60. Ko la Tia said:

    Luminarias! Wooden toy trains! Sweet potatoes (and maybe tamales now?)! Transsiberian Orchestra! A healthy family that I love! Poinsettias! Rachmaninoff (my dog, not the composer – though he’ll probably be there, too)!

  61. Anyanka said:

    I’m gonna love Thanksgiving break (apart from the ultrasound I’m having two days after, which requires me to drink 30 oz of water an hour beforehand and not pee until afterwards).

    Turkey, cranberry sauce, thanksgiving club sandwiches, playing video games with my siblings, watching Nicolas Cage movies (the remake of The Wicker Man starring him), lots and lots of warm cuddles and blankets.

    • Anyanka said:

      (I’m just so excited about the thansgiving clubs tho so here is the recipe)

      First, start with fancy roll baguette type bread. Cut it in half.

      Put gravy on the bottom half, then turkey, then tomatoes. Then honey mustard, then lettuce, then thick-sliced crispy bacon, then cranberry sauce, then the other bread. You can also add in stuffing, kolkanon, green bean casserole…pretty much anything else. It’s huge and filling and delicious.

      • oh my god fed ex me one πŸ™‚

  62. jdrives said:

    So excited for my siblings to come into town – we have a tradition of getting peppermint hot cocoa, blasting Harry Connick Jr. and driving around a very posh neighborhood in our city that gets DECKED the EFF OUT for Christmas. We’re all in our 20s and just have a blast together – total regression to goofy slapstick humor and complete avoidance of grown-up pretention. Footie pajamas! “Elf” on repeat! Drinking all of mom’s alcohol!

    I generally just love this time of year. Even though Christmas seems to get more exhausting every year (new in-laws on top of divorced parents with nearby family so like, 5-6 Christmases each winter), it makes me feel all warm and cozy inside to see Christmas lights and people spending time with their families (blood or otherwise) and creating new traditions and everyone getting together and making merry and bright and all that. I just married my Person so it is our first holiday season as a married couple/baby family and it freakin’ rocks.

  63. I am most looking forward to cooking (we are hosting friends for Thanksgiving this year, and I love cooking for people). In December, I am looking forward to singing with my mom’s choir a couple of times– I can match my voice with hers probably better than with anyone else’s, which I find strangely satisfying. Also, hanging out with my partner’s sister, who is one of my favorite people, and going sledding / building Lego castles with my niblings.

  64. For Thanksgiving, I think that I and the Magical Flying Gentleman are likely to just sleep and watch Leverage–for Christmas, though, we’re driving 14 hours straight to Baton Rouge, to be with his mother and father and brothers and sis-in-law and niece and horde of cousins, uncles, and aunts. Many of them speak very little English (but more English than my Mandarin) so for me a lot of it is going to be a gesture game, but they’re all great people.

  65. Anothermous said:

    There are elements I could put in either thread, but I’m posting here because it’s mostly positive stuff. πŸ™‚ I’m pretty indifferent to the holidays overall in that I feel no particular attachment to my cultural holidays (Christmas and Thanksgiving, as a culturally-Christian USian). I do like Thanksgiving but if I don’t have a “traditional” Thanksgiving I’m fine with it. I like holidays in general and will happily celebrate any holidays that are open to group-celebration with whoever I’m with. (ex: my former workplace skewed heavily Indian, and we had a big Diwali party every year and it was great!)

    I do loathe travelling in the winter, though, and am lucky enough to have a really laid-back family who have never guilted me about my travel decisions. One of the best Christmases I ever had was the one I spent on my own in Oklahoma because I just didn’t want to Fucking Fly in Winter, and then there was a huge ice storm that hit on Dec 23rd and made everything horrible on the roads and airports forever, and I just sighed happily and slept in and played video games and baked a pie, 100% stress-free. Glorious. I went to see my family in the spring, when the weather was nice.

  66. Remy said:

    I’ll share this spreadsheet template that I’ve found particularly useful; it’s based on the Lifehacker template originally linked here but now inaccessible: http://lifehacker.com/5401610/make-holiday-shopping-simple-with-our-gift-planning-checklist

    My favorite part is that you can add a tab for each new year or holiday, and keep the old list for reference. Just update the sheet name in the Info formulas; for example, anywhere a formula says “2014 List”, change it to “2015 List” or “Halloween 2015” or whatever you’ve named your new tab.

    Shared link: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1SEq70X96X9wp4jyxJCDXRHG5zo1bJuo0OLdltzaonXo

  67. MuddieMae said:

    I am super excited to get my first Christmas tree as an adult this year (I’m 30). For many years I lived with someone with allergies and I reject fake trees out of principle, so it was never an option before. Yay! And my mom, who generally sucks, apparently has some of our childhood ornaments and is handing them off to me. I’m pretty impressed she didn’t give them to Goodwill randomly 5 years ago and forget to mention it.

  68. hummingbear said:

    Here’s my used-to-be-sad-but-now-it’s-happy Christmas ritual:

    For the past three Christmas Days I have taken the streetcar to San Francisco’s Ocean Beach. It’s always been a beautiful, sunny day in the high 50s, and the beach is always full of people smiling at each other like crazy. Some are with their families, some are walking their dogs. But many, like me, are solo, and as we exchange smiles I like to imagine they’re thinking the same thing: Today, I’m not getting strip searched by TSA or crammed into a doll-size seat, I’m not sitting through another awkward dinner with my dysfunctional family, I’m not being lashed by brutal Midwestern winds and falling into deep, unacknowledged seasonal depression, and I’m definitely not getting yelled at, guilt-tripped or criticized by anybody. No, today I am an adult, I can take *transit* to the *ocean* – how cool is that?! – and I’m celebrating introvert-style in total silence & nature, not going “home” for the holidays because I’ve made myself a home here. (And that is why I keep paying these ridiculous rents!)

    • Epiphyta said:

      *offers you a fistbump* Rent here is also outrageous, but OCEAN! Is right over there!

  69. Flippity said:

    I’ve got no small amount of apprehension about going home in the other thread, but I also have joy:

    I’m going home and seeing my family for the first time in THREE YEARS; I have a rental car with complete freedom to stay or go; I have three full days home and I’m homesick and I miss my family and I get to see them again, after three years of not doing that.

    And I’m bringing presents and making food and probably staying up entirely too late and I GET TO HUG MY MOM.

    (And I have two full glorious weeks of not being at work around Christmastime, which I will spend largely inside my house surounded by no one and interacting exclusively with the highly-tipped delivery person who brings me a pizza on christmas day, reading fanfiction and recharging my introvert batteries. I did something highly socially taxing every weekend throughout september and I’m still not fully recovered from it and I get to spend time alone in my nice warm house with no other humans it’s gonna be fantastic.)

    (I’ve also nearly worn my bff down into going halvesies on three turkeys since they’re fifty cents a pound at our target. you can seriously get three turkeys for $20. the plan is: one for her freezer, one for mine, and one to cook in mid-december and freeze/make soup with. I LOVE roasted turkey, and there’s nothing better in april when you’ve just paid taxes and you’re three weeks from your next check than cooking the giant bird you’ve had stashed away for months because the thought of more turkey horrifies you. until 4 months after the last tetrazinni is a fond, tryptophan-coma-inducing memory.)

  70. Ace said:

    I’m an American living in London with my (British) husband and daughter so if I want Thanksgiving I do it myself. (i know, there’s restaurants. they all cook it wrong though) Thankfully, my in-laws are more than happy to join in and have any meal that someone else cooks for them, even if they’re gonna have roast turkey in a month again anyway and I can always count on them to bring some bubbly and some wine to go with everything. I’m double lucky that my parents are here on a visit right now too so I get help from my mom on all the peeling and slicing and well, anything I don’t want to do.
    Plus they promised to help us decorate the house for Christmas, watch Christmas movies, and do Christmas things with our little girl, including a special Christmas Santa steam train ride. πŸ˜€ I’m looking forward to this.

  71. Kacienna said:

    Thanksgiving: Just me and my husband this year, but I am cooking turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, broccoli, gf and regular frozen rolls, gf and regular pumpkin pie. It’s too bad we won’t get to see family, but I get a whole pumpkin pie to myself! And I make a mean turkey. I start it upside-down and flip it halfway through the cooking. This takes a bit of finesse, but the result is a gorgeous turkey that’s browned all over and not dried out. I also use the formula of 1 hour of cooking for the first pound of turkey, then 15 minutes for each additional pound (20 if stuffed). Works like a charm!

    Christmas: My parents are coming down and will be able to stay with us since the housemate is finally moved out. I’ve arranged with a vendor at my local farmer’s market to purchase a tenderloin roast from one of their happy grass-fed cows. I bake Christmas cookies for my best friend, my poly other, and whatever family I’m spending the holiday with. This year it’s coconut-apricot bars, chocolate peppermint sandwiches, and almond icebox cookies, all from the Betty Crocker Cookie Book that my mom had when I was a kid. (Not the original – it was re-released right around the time I moved out on my own – I think there are a lot of nostalgic folks like me). I also enjoy getting the December issue of Redbook from the bookstore and using it as inspiration for Christmas presents, and then for birthday presents through the coming year. And I love Christmas carols! I belong to a fairly liturgical church that observes Advent, so no Christmas carols until Christmas Eve, but then I get to have them until Epiphany on January 6 – for several days that’s all I play in the car.

  72. ThtreLady said:

    This is the first year in almost 10 years that I’ve gotten to go to the further away Aunt’s house for Thanksgiving and I CAN NOT WAIT!! First the food is so damned good, and second we all get along reasonably well and I will be enveloped in LOVE and People Who Love Me Just The Way I Am. Even if I am the weird single cousin who hasn’t bred yet – no one is going to rub that in my face. There will be hugs and laughter and FOOD and alcohol with family.

    I’m so lucky in both my immediate and my extended family. We’re weird, but we get along well. And there is so much love.

    And then Christmas – Mom and Dad didn’t sell the house and while I’m sad and disappointed for them, I’m outrageously happy for me because it means that ALL the holiday traditions are still in place. And there will be more FOOD and more LOVE.

    And the holiday season is usually when I can see the kindness of people more easily. And sure, I’m totally broke this year so the present buying is a bit fraught with guilt because it’s probably just going to have to increase the debt a bit, but I don’t care because I love buying people good presents. And I’ll be careful about it and not make it more than I can handle guilt-wise. And Christmas lights! I have my own apartment this year and can decorate all I want and can afford and don’t have to worry about what anyone else thinks and who cares that I’m not Christian anymore – I still love Christmas.

    Yeah. I love the holidays.

    • Carly said:

      I’m with you there! I initially promised myself that everyone outside my immediate family was just going to get baked goods this year, but then I go to a craft fair and see That Perfect Thing for That One Friend and there goes that promise. πŸ˜›

  73. SarahTheEntwife said:

    My cousin and cousin-in-law (is she my cousin too? aunts and uncles get the same status regardless of whether they’re blood or marriage-related, but I don’t know about cousins…) just had a baby, and so it’ll be mini-cousin’s first Christmas. M, my cousin-in-law, is a person who does just about everything turned up to 11 and *loves* holidays, and in anyone else it might seem fake or overwhelming except that she’s so obviously, adorably sincere about it that you can’t help but be happy too. And now she has a tiny baby to show Christmas to and I’m looking forward to just sitting back and watching the M Being Very Excited show πŸ™‚ And knitting all the tiny hats.

  74. SarahTheEntwife said:

    Also, I used up nearly all my rainy-day fund buying train tickets home for Thanksgiving since I waited too long and they were down to first-class and express trains (at least we’re riding in style?) and so was dreading having to get tickets for Christmas, too, already. And I was doing that unhelpful thing where I was avoiding it and putting off looking up train times, as if that would make the tickets get magically cheaper. But I knuckled down and looked them up today, and happy-thread-post! I get many many days off since I work at a university and so long as I don’t want to leave on the 24th, which I don’t, there are still plenty of cheap options!

  75. Ookling said:

    This year The present I gave my self is to give my friends and family homemade food hampers. I love puttering in the kitchen, so I made piccalilli, cucumber pickle and pickled some onions, for the pickles part of the hamper. For booze, I have home made cherry brandy and plum gin happily absorbing away. Also I made some small jars of lavender sugar. I’m going to dip the cherries that were in the brandy in dark chocolate when I bottle it off. All I have left to do is bake Christmas cookies of some type, for everyone. Anyone got some good, uk friendly recipes? I want to ice them as well, maybe….

  76. Lady Commenter said:

    I love wrapping presents. As in: I wrapped an empty box yesterday to check what theme I’m going with this year. (I need some green paper for contrast and a different ribbon, it turns out. Also more tape.)

    We don’t have a lot of room for storage, so I normally wrap presents for my family super early and then use them as decoration. That way there’s nothing to store for the rest of the year. I’m really looking forward to it πŸ™‚

  77. the_apricot said:

    I love Chanukah at my mom’s house. We don’t have a lot of relatives who are still local and our family is interfaith, so the group that shows up is a mix of relatives and friends, Jewish and not. It’s a comfy, laid-back group. We always decorate more cookies than twice as many people could eat – Chanukah cookies aren’t traditional but we’ve been doing it since I was little and it stuck. Mom puts on the same obnoxious children’s Chanukah album every year (when the tape broke, I bought her the CD) and sits at the kitchen table making latkes on an electric griddle. Every year, Mom lets me do a little more of the work and Grandma’s stories make a little less sense, and I’m just so happy to be there with them.

    • soukup said:

      Your family sounds adorable. Yay! Have a wonderful time.

    • Mercy said:

      WHY have I never thought of cooking latkes on our electric griddle at e table? Although, ours is one meant for meat, not thing fried in oil, so I don’t know if it would work or not, but we’ll be trying it!

      We are saving the last big potatoes from our garden this year to make latkes from, and I am so excited about that. Also, very glad this year that Hannukkah and Xmas aren’t coinciding this year, so I get my whole holiday, even if it’s Xmassy everywhere outside our door. (This is the happy thread so I won’t go into Hannukkah/Xmas at my Catholic inlaws’ house)

  78. soukup said:

    I used to hate the holidays because those were the days on which I had to hang out with my mother. I would start dreading a major holiday (Christmas, Thanksgiving) months in advance. We lived in the same town, so there was really no way I could avoid it, and it was hell every time.

    And then I moved three thousand miles away from her, and now I do not have to see her but once every few years when she buys herself a plane ticket to come to where I am. And now? I am shocked to discover that I actually enjoy having an excuse to take the day off and laze around all morning, and then maybe make some tasty food and go to a party and feed it to my friends. I love lazing around! I love friends (and Friendsgivings rock)! I love feeding the people I love! I am starting to realize that I don’t hate the holidays at all; I just hated the ordeal they used to represent. Family is sooooooo much better now that I get to pick who it is. Booyeah!

  79. Medesha said:

    HOLIDAYYYYYYYS! I’m so excited. Have my decorations up. Done most of my shopping. I’m just so happy and excited!

    My husband and I go to my parents’ every year and this year I’m finally done all my work ahead of time. Total relaxation. No pressure or commitments. I usually overdo everything and I’m so, so looking forward to a nice long break with loved ones and time for ME!

  80. Suzers said:

    I am late to this thread, but my office is DEAD silent and I can’t focus on work because I’m too excited for this weekend so maybe if I post I’ll get some of the energy out right?

    My parents and siblings are coming to my place/city on Wednesday. My boyfriend’s parents will join us for a big traditional dinner on Thursday, and I am hostess! I bought all the groceries and various other household supplies needed yesterday (except for plates… I discovered we somehow only have 4 dinner plates fit to serve a holiday dinner?! So I’m going to have to work on that…) I have things all planned out so that everything gets clean and fresh and tidy in time. I have a ton of things to cook but none of them are very complicated and lots can be done on Wednesday night while I hang out with my sister.

    It’s just going to be so nice, feeling all Adult and having everyone praise my cooking and hosting abilities. πŸ˜€

  81. Virginia said:

    This thread makes me smile and smile (and panic a little about not having any Christmas playlists made yet on Spotify).

    I’m going to put up a tree in my office! Tomorrow! It is white tinsel with blue lights and is the tackiest thing ever. I love it!

  82. Carly said:

    I’m excited about this whole Thanksgiving week because it means I get to spend several uninterrupted days (and nights) with my partner. (It’s a poly relationship, and I am not his primary partner, so this is an opportunity that doesn’t come up very often.) I can’t afford to join my family on their usual trip to Indiana, but I’m not entirely sad about this; aside from the aforementioned opportunity, my mom’s folks can be as overwhelming as they are lovely, and as one of the few introverts in the family, it’s kind of nice to have a financial excuse to opt out of the madness every now and then.

    As for Christmas – Christmas & Halloween are the two times of year when I kind of feel like a little kid. I love all of our goofy family traditions, movie marathons and cookie parties with my sister, trimming the tree, playing Christmas music as soon as Halloween says its farewell. Although as much as I love playing Christmas music, I’m very picky about the KIND of music I listen to. I have a really low tolerance for pop-artist remakes of holiday tunes.

  83. kitharding said:

    I get to spend Thanksgiving with the other members of my polycule and it’s going to be awesome! It’s still a very new polycule and I’m delighted by it, and also by the chance to see other people for Thanksgiving– the guest list includes some people who I haven’t seen in ages, including one friend who is very cuddly. (I’m a high-contact person; I love any opportunity to cuddle.)

    There are no definitive plans for Christmas or Yule yet– Christmas is odd because my mother hates holidays and this is the first year that the entire oldest generation has passed on. They were the ones who were really pushing us to all get together for Christmas, so it remains to be seen if my mother does it on her own or if I’m left here by myself. But there will be lots of holiday parties because my friends all throw them, so I’ll be attending a lot of those, and I’ll probably have my polycule over to trim my Yule tree. Plus I’m making ALL THE CRAFTS, since I’ve had an idea for a gift for my new love that’s going to stretch my artistry and crafting to the limit but it’s going to be so awesome if I can pull it off.

  84. Sneaky said:

    This is my first Thanksgiving with family in four years (last three, I hosted for friends). We’ll just be four, and all women: mom, stepmom, grandmother and myself. Low noise, no stress, and then after the meal we always share a couple bottles of wine and play music together in the living room, and sing. Nothing more beautiful than singing with family. And playing my stepmom’s antique grand piano!

    The only thing that could top it off is if my sister was in town, but she and her husband are with his family this year.

  85. Anya said:

    Being done with Thanksgiving means I can move on to the holiday tradition I actually enjoy; every year I fill a bunch of flat rate shipping boxes with baked goods and send them to my friends. Having a project helps me deal with the winter blahs and it makes me feel like a part of my friends’ celebrations even if they’re far away!

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