Open Thread: Celebration Station

It comes late this year (had SO MUCH GRADING TO DO, Y’ALL), but this is the traditional open thread for people to share stuff they enjoy about this time of year. There is also a thread for the messy, painful stuff and for folks who are grieving or otherwise down about this time of year – don’t cross the streams, please.


66 thoughts on “Open Thread: Celebration Station

  1. Merry Christmas, everyone! This time last year, my dad was in hospital being treated for leukeamia. Now, he’s home, cancer free and with a brand new immune system. I’m so happy to have him here, well and safe, because that wasn’t a given a year ago. We’re going to eat and drink ridiculous amounts (have already started on that, actually, but it’s evening so totally fine!)

  2. Merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, happy post-solstice lengthening of the days!

    I have a lot of Feels around the holidays due to pressure to perform Happy, Non-Dysfunctional Family…but this year my parents and I worked it out so I could spend Christmas Eve with them, they will go spend Christmas Day with my estranged brother, and I will spend Christmas Day with a friend. I’m really glad about how well things have turned out this year.

    I also got a tree for my apartment for the first time in my life! It smells lovely and is covered in twinkly lights and candy canes.

    1. Yum! My best tree decorations ever were the year of candy canes and foil-wrapped chocolates. It was festive looking but didn’t last long.

    2. My first Christmas tree as an adult was so meaningful. I grew up with real trees but spent a few years living with a partner who was allergic. When that relationship ended I bought the saddest, cheapest tree which dried up immediately and stabbed me with a thousand tiny needles. But I loved having it regardless! I’ll hopefully never have to go without one again.

  3. I’m a freelancer, and I may be able to finish all my paid work by the end of the year. Which means I might actually give myself a vacation day or two.

    1. Freelancer fist bump of solidarity: I sent off my last project of the year on the 23rd, ten minutes to midnight. I’m free! I’m free! (and there’ll be admin, but…)

      And on a personal happy happy note: I’m continuing what is now a tradition: I’m programming at Christmas and building something cool.

  4. My nephew and I are growing out our new relationship. He’s in his 20’s and I didn’t know him until four years ago. I am excited to open my actual present from him that right now is sitting next to me! And I got to give him a gift two arty black and white photos that I shot on 35mm years ago. They have been to a pro lab that prints them on brushed metal and then I had them shipped direct so I -hope- they are as lovely as they have the potential to be. I’m so proud to give my new friend some of my art. How fun to have a family member who is so stylish and gracious, and likes my art.

  5. I am always happy to not have the pressure of Christmas that my non-Jewish friends have. Hope you all have lovely holidays.

    1. After a major trauma and a long-distance mood my parents managed to remove most of the ‘BUT FAAAAAAAAMILY’ from our Christmas observances and now only do things we legitimately enjoy and want to do, and spend time with people we actually want to see. If anyone figures out how to make that happen without a traumatic death and an interstate move let me know because it’s kind of great.

      I also managed to talk my parents into only giving me one or two presents that are things I actually want and then if they feel the need to spend more money making a donation in my name to a charity I support, so I kind of feel like I won Christmas this year.

  6. In 2014, I moved two states away from Very Difficult Family. This year I’m so happy to have the freedom to observe the holidays the way I want to. Last Christmas seemed challenging and unfamiliar. But this year, it’s just part of my awesome new life here.

  7. Opted out of traditional Christmas for the first time ever to study over the holidays on my own and it turned out to be the most relaxing, calm and enjoyable Christmas ever. Took a day off, didn’t put up a single decoration or errand, only made food and snacks I really wanted and spent the day napping, munching and watching Netflix with roomie’s fluffy kitty. After a long and stressful term it was lovely to give myself permission to only do what I really wanted to.

  8. I’m flying to Paris tomorrow, because AWWWW YISSSSSSSSS.

    Who needs overcooked turkey when you can have duck rillettes?

  9. I get to see my sister in a couple of days! I am so thrilled. There will be dim sum and digital security discussions and blanketforts.

    1. MMMmmmm, dim sum. And digital security discussions! And blanketforts! All sound necessary and important.

  10. I am spending this Christmas in a new city with the partner I am also newly engaged to. No traveling, no family, just us and our pets. We have a tree and honey baked ham and minimal stress. Friends will be stopping by for board games in the evening. I am very grateful for all of it.

    I like to think I’m also giving back a little. The biggest gift I’m giving to my fiance this year is a certificate saying that we’re sponsoring a new native bee colony. It feels very good to do that, since environmental concerns is one of my big anxiety triggers.

    1. This sounds infinitely wonderful – and YES for saving the bees! Love it when we can thwart our triggers + give back at the same time. The merriest of Christmases to you, my friend. ❤

  11. My abusive/manipulative father, who’s traditionally been the worst during the holiday season & has therefore made me dread Christmas every year, is travelling alone during the entirety of December and January! He’s off in India while I’m here at home actually realising for the first time what a beautiful, festive, warm season this can be. My mother & sister & dog & I are opening gifts, watching Star Wars, ordering pizza… and NOT worrying about tiptoeing around him so as not to set off his temper. Merry Christmas, friends! I’m happier this year than I think I’ve ever been during the holidays.

  12. After six months unemployed following a year of working in an incredibly toxic environment run by one of the most difficult people I’ve ever met (as in I probably would not have survived the experience if not for techniques I learned here), I have a new job in my preferred field all lined up to start in January! Bonus: I pushed through sobbing, nauseating anxiety and negotiated a 10% higher salary than their initial offer, securing both extra $$$ and the knowledge that they value both the position and my skills enough to invest actual money in them (as opposed to just talk not backed up by management). I’m really excited for work to be even slightly fulfilling again, rather than giving me intrusive, violently suicidal fantasies… a low bar, but hopefully 2017 will meet it.

  13. Its the first Festivus i have spent at home with my partner. We are eating cheese and drinking wine and watching my favourite internet comedians on the tv. Its 35 degrees out so we are in front of the fan and quite sticky.

    This is the kind of tradition I can get behind.

  14. Christmas dinner this year will involve honey-roasted root vegetables instead of plain mashed yams, leeks in bacon instead of limp green beans, and key lime pie, because “festive” is whatever you want it to be when it comes to dessert.

  15. I’m celebrating because after many years in our family of Xmas dinner (and Xmas in general) being “Women’s Work”, I sat and drank tea while my husband and BIL sweated in the kitchen (we’re in New Zealand and it’s hot). It’s a new tradition that the men do the cooking biennially now.

  16. We traveled to my in-laws this year, and they are admittedly not always my favorite people. But this year we have our dog with us, which is awesome and helps ease tensions with them. My sister in law and I have been having a good time. And MIL has been pretty good so far. So yay! Merry Christmas.

  17. In my southern location, it’s the middle of summer, the parts of Christmas that I find hard work (also pleasant but work) are done with, and a lazy warm holiday week stretches out in front of me and my family.

  18. Staying up way too late waiting for the pies to be done. Been ages since I’ve really done any baking. Used up the last of my lard to make the apple pies, one of them in the pie dish from my brother and sister-in-law for my birthday a year or two ago (first time using it because not much baking anymore). Used coconut oil for the crusts of the pumpkin pies. Just winged it for quantities of flour and fats and so on, but everything looks fine so far.

    Trying out 2 different recipes for each kind to see how I like them. The apples are a traditional 2-crust and a crumb topping. The pumpkin are a traditional pumpkin and a pumpkin-pecan. The pecans sunk rapidly into the pumpkin instead of floating on top, so obviously I need to work on my technique there. If it tastes good enough to try again. The apple pies have been cooling on the porch for the last hour, and only another 20 minutes or so before I pull out the pumpkins and go to bed.

    I’m actually impressed my sister-in-law has loosened up enough to let me contribute home baked goodies. Usually, she likes to provide pretty much all the food and buy pies. Especially after that one year that my mom insisted I use the premixed pie dough that she’d frozen–the lard had turned rancid, and I thought it was pretty nasty, but my mom insisted it was all fine. It was not. Should have trusted my own judgment there. My mom and I were the only ones willing to brave the pies that year, and I just scooped the pumpkin custard out with a spoon and tried to avoid contact with the crust.

    Tomorrow, my ex has to get up and make the green bean casserole that SIL also delegated, which I promptly passed along to him. I get that it’s some sort of essential traditional holiday dish around these parts, but even though I grew up in the area, I didn’t grow up with that and don’t really get it. They’ll probably be disappointed because it’s not going to involve condensed soup and those fried onion things. Nope, fresh beans, chicken stock, and so on from scratch.

    I don’t have all the necessary presents either. Gonna wing that too. We’ll see how it goes. The pies will be done. I have a sewing project to keep my hands busy. I don’t have to do the driving. And I get to hang out with nieces and nephews.

  19. My 16 year old cat is better after a health wobble so he and the girl cat get the good food. Then they will tag team beg from me.

    Then there’s the Doctor Who Christmas special 😊

    Mele Kalikimaka y’all

  20. My daughter is old enough to understand Santa (3yo) and so this is our first Christmas with that. “I LOVE Santa!” She said last night. “Let’s be Santa’s wife! Let’s be Mrs. Santa Claus!” Fingers crossed for a good day.

  21. It’s absolutely still and quiet out there. Hardly a car on the road. We’ll cook all day. For breakfast: French toast with apple cider syrup. For dinner: Turkey thighs with dressing, baked acorn squash, stir-fry snow peas, fancy cheese, I don’t even know what dessert is yet, but it could be either cookies or pumpkin pie. No trees, no decorations, no presents, no sing-songy tunes that get stuck in my head because we don’t enjoy those.

    There have been more sunny days in the northeast U.S. this autumn so while I have my supplemental light to help with S.A.D. symptoms, they haven’t been as necessary. It doesn’t seem like there’s been as much cold and flu going around so no one I know has been sick. Those 2 things in themselves are cause for celebration.

    1. I’m still putting this in the celebration thread. I make french toast, and the pan gets a little too hot for a moment, but it’s fine. In addition to cider syrup, pomegranate molasses is on the table, and it all tastes good. After Boyfriend has cleaned up the kitchen, I’m in the other room with him playing solitaire when I smell something burning a little, but I tell myself it’s my imagination from the hot pan earlier. I play another quick game, still think I smell burning, but know that I turned everything off when I was done cooking, and Boyfriend was just in the kitchen doing the few breakfast dishes. Besides, I don’t feel like getting up. A few seconds later, I’m running to the kitchen where the smoky air is getting thicker as I go. Boyfriend is behind me saying that he should have told me what he was doing: Toasting bread in order to dry it out for stuffing. One slice of bread in cinders, and the whole house smells of smoke. No damage to anything, pretty funny, really, thus: Celebration.

  22. First time commenter:
    My husband and I just moved cross-country into our first house this month, and we adopted an adorable 8 month old mutt.
    I’m trans, just a few months on testosterone, and had top surgery Thanksgiving week. At the one month checkup the doc confirmed I’m healing up very well.
    We’re several states away from my family who didn’t take my coming out well AT ALL. They’ll get a phone call later and otherwise I won’t have to deal with those particular tensions.
    Also we’re spending the first weekend of the new year with my utterly delightful in-laws, my first time seeing the extended family on that side since my coming out.
    I just got to go to the wedding of a good friend I hadn’t seen in years. Not only was it wonderful to see her, but her family were all hilarious and fun to hang out with, and it was the first time I was treated as male uniformly by SO MANY PEOPLE and IT WAS GREAT.
    This week we booked an all-inclusive venue to host our vow renewal next year (we stayed in budget!), since we eloped the first time due to necessity (military shenanigans).
    I found out my husband’s favorite musician is in town the week of his birthday, and I managed to get tickets.
    And finally, instead of celebrating Christmas with decorations and presents and all that, we found a board game group that’s just happening to have a potluck game night on Christmas day, just a couple miles away from our house. Yay for new friends!
    My jerkbrain and anxiety have been going off the rails recently for no good reason, so I actually do feel better after listing all this out.
    Happy holidays, and I hope everyone has a good weekend!

  23. This is my Christmas tradition: On Christmas Eve (which is the day that Swedish people celebrate, instead of Christmas Day), I and Mr Theorem will go to the stable where my horse is boarded. We’ll give the horses their evening meal and make sure that everything’s tidy and that what should be shut properly shut, and what should be open is properly open. Then I’ll text a four-line poem to the owner of the stable to tell her that it’s all done, and she can stay at home with her family and won’t have to leave her children to go take care of the horses for that one night of the year.

    This year I also managed for the first time to go on the Christmas Eve morning group ride. I’ve never managed before; my horse is young and this year was the first time that he was trained enough to be safe in a large group. He was a bit skittish, but he was always attentive and on the whole behaved rather well. So this was the best Christmas in a long time!

    1. I think that is a lovely thing you are doing for the owner of the stable!

      Plus, yay for being able to ride with the group! I am taking carrots out to our semi-retired beasties tomorrow.

      1. Feeding the horses started out as a kind thing, but it’s continued as a tradition that we both really enjoy it! It’s a special feeling, getting there when it’s empty and the horses are all eagerly waiting for their dinner. Even Mr Theorem who isn’t really interested in horses and doesn’t like riding enjoys the Christmas evening feeding. (His tradition includes posting on Facebook that we didn’t find any pregnant women needing shelter to give birth.)

        There are about 20 horses at our stable, and this year there were ten people on the Christmas ride, which is a good showing – some people have more than one horse, some horses can’t be ridden due to injuries or to being too young (we have one that was born in May this year). And two people were walking with us, to help their young children. It’s a good way for everyone to get their horses some exercise during a stressful day – by making the Christmas ride a tradition, it’s easier for people to actually get around to it.

        Today I’m on my way out again, to take advantage of the brief sunshine and go out for a ride with just one or two friends. The main advantage of the holidays is I get a chance to go riding in daylight…

  24. I am enjoying a stress free morning making bacon and sausage and coffee cake and watching beetlejuice with my daughter before everyone else wakes up for stockings…

  25. Okay, since I think we can all collectively agree that 2016 has overall sucked harder than the tornado that carted Dorothy off to Oz, I’m going to use this thread as a post-2000s Livejournal of sorts to do a Personal Year in Review of Things That Did Not Suck:

    – I turned 30 this year. Okay, so this would be something of a “mixed bag” in terms of suck/celebration ratio in that, nine months after the fact, I am still going, “WTF happened to my 20s?” and “Whenever I spend time around The Youths, I feel reeeeeally old”…but as I was telling my stepbrother yesterday, one of the joys of turning 30 is that I have close to 0 fucks to give about anything that anybody else has to say, and I’m hopeful I’ll lose the last nagging “people are going to judge me”s in the next ten years.

    – I bought a home in San Diego County. This felt like a horrible decision at the time. I bought due to its affordability and proximity to the beach, but I loathed the place itself as well as the community I was in–the neighbors were far too, well, neighborly for my introverted tastes. There are folks who love it when people simply drop by, I have heard. To me, a doorbell ringing when I did not have concrete, self-approved foreknowledge of it ringing is a klaxon sounding, “WARNING: PRIVACY INVASION! SHIELDS UP!”
    At any rate, the place was most decidedly not for me, and the fact that it was the most (a.k.a. the only) affordable option that met my parameters in SDCounty meant that I started having fantasies about moving back to Denver, where I’m from and where there are world-class hikes and ski slopes a mere day’s, or half-day’s, drive away. So I put my regretted purchase on the market and, much to everyone’s surprise (especially my own!), I got the full price I asked for it. Which meant a near 50% profit on a place I’d owned for eight months and had put the bare minimum of necessary upgrades into.

    – I spent two months after I got back to Denver (which I have now termed the Off-Coast San Francisco) frantically scheduling real estate showings. There *is* still a Venn Diagram overlap of places which are both affordable and livable, but you’d need an electron microscope to see the overlap. The way the market works (and why I am labeling my home city the Off-Coast San Fran), a seller puts such a property on the market. The resulting scuffle of buyers resembles a fumble in the last two minutes of the Super Bowl…for those who are not football fans, this results in a brutal brawl of a dogpile as players fling themselves on top of the ball.
    Well, to stretch the metaphor into near-transparency, the ref (a.k.a. the seller) declared that I had clear possession of the ball. Apparently my strong financial position (I was paying cash) and the fact that my stats apparently reminded the seller of the her position in life when she’d bought the condo several years ago (she is now married and lives out of state with her husband and children; she wanted someone “young and fun” who could enjoy the space as much as she had :p ) made me a prime candidate. I closed just over a week ago and have welcomed my property-owning uncle’s help getting it renovated to my standards. I should be able to move in next month!

    – I pushed myself to new heights, figuratively as well as literally–I spent most of the summer training to climb 14,500-foot Mt. Whitney in one day, a 21-mile round trip hike to the summit of the highest point in the contiguous U.S. (and Hawai’i!). The climb itself was the second most brutal fourteen hours and forty minutes of my life, but I did it! And in training to do it, I learned that I can do 26 miles up a 14,000-foot mountain in one day when I climbed Pikes Peak’s Barr Trail…and got chased off the summit by lightning and thundersnow. I felt pretty damn invincible after that.
    I also tackled Half Dome in Yosemite (the Cables section was the only time I have ever felt compelled to turn around before hitting the summit due purely to my own fear, but I got over the hump, so to speak, just the same), Wheeler Peak in New Mexico, Humphreys Peak in AZ, a couple more fourteeners in Colorado, and got to do several other cool hikes in several other cool National Parks besides. An excellent year for hiking, in short.

    – I am celebrating Christmas–not National Jewish Ski Day, Christmas!–for the first time since I dumped my louse of an ex. This time, though, it’s actually fun. My dad and stepmom now live out in the boondocks of Montana, my stepmom especially feels a bit uprooted (can’t blame her–they are WAYYYY out in the Great White North, meteorologically and politically speaking -_- ), and my dad happened to be off work this week, so they are hosting a family get-together this weekend. And unlike the “festivities” I endured with my ex (other people’s families are always…uhhh…a good source of writing material, shall we say, but I would have preferred to read someone else’s writing about this one, shall we say!), this get-together is relaxed and, well, fun.
    It definitely helps that the next-door neighbors are out of town and generously offered to let my parents’, uh, “overflow” guests stay in their house while they are away. I was offered first dibs on having a whole freakin’ house to myself when the nightly activities wind down, and since I have been living with my grandma ever since I moved (whom I love dearly and to whom I am eternally grateful for sharing her home with me, but we’re all introverts, let’s just say), I am soooo happy! No sharing of bathrooms and no nocturnal noises as other people shift in their sleep!

    TL;DR: Good family, good hikes, good real estate deals, good personal gains. Happy holidays, everyone!

  26. We dug a grave for a foster kitty going through acute liver failure two months ago.

    That grave is still empty on Christmas morning, and that special guy (now adopted by us) is happily making biscuits on my lap.

  27. I switched to different antidepressants recently, and after fourish years of being either miserable or a zombie, I’ve finally started being able to write productively again. I also recently joined an online comm that shares my interests, and I’m enjoying watching the cat go nuts over the boxes on the floor.

  28. We made it through Christmas dinner without any political arguments and I got invited to an awesome NYE party! It was dicier early this morning so I’m glad it turned out okay in the end. Also, my family really feels somewhat together this year after some rather lonelier holidays of the past.

    1. Also, I’ve accepted that while this year had a lot of terrible things happening, I had many bright moments and accomplishments in the darkness. And, in a way, I pulled myself out of the darkness with my own hands and the outreached hands of others. Just thinking about that makes me feel powerful and not invisible in this world.

  29. My cousin, an aspiring novelist (in addition to being a lovely, talented, fun-loving young man whom it’s been a pleasure to watch grow up; I’m thirteen years older than he), got the most awesome t-shirt for Christmas (from his lovely not-quite-official-fiancee) that I saw on Facebook. “Careful or you’ll end up in my novel!” I love it!

  30. I don’t have to be around my family and I get to sleep in a big comfy bed. I still have to be around someone else’s family and I’d rather be alone or with some friends, but this is okay.

  31. A very low key holiday this year, which really took a lot of pressure off. A few, nice gifts, not a lot of money spent. Home made pizza. Watched a dumb comedy dvd and worked a jig saw puzzle. Not too different from a regular day off. Dishes done and put away, some leftovers. Going to bed early.

  32. This year, since neither Spouse nor I have relationships with our parents, we decided to deliberately build the Baby Family Holiday Tradition. We sat down a few weeks back and talked out the Good Parts Versions of his childhood Christmases and my Chanukahs, and ended up, last night, with a chanukiah made of spare mason jars (I couldn’t find an actual one I liked in time) on the windowsill, Gregorian chant on the speakers, candles on the table, a really really nice smoked ham for dinner, and a latke brunch planned for today that we pushed to tomorrow because we were just feeling quiet and lazy this morning.

    I’m still exploring how I want to engage with religion as an adult. For various reasons, I’ve spent a lot of time away, and being in an interfaith marriage really makes you walk right up to that question and work it with deliberation.

    But I like this. It’s quiet. It feels like ours. It feels like the beginning of something.

    1. I’m so happy you’re building your own traditions, and this was just such a lovely scene to read and envision in my head! It really made me think about what I want myself out of the holiday season, thank you!

  33. My family is rescheduling Christmas this year, since my mother had to work today – someone has to keep the ER operating and this year it was her turn. So today my dad, my brother, and I put the finishing touches on the traditional scavenger-hunt-for-the-final-present (which is for my mother this year), then went out and ate Chinese food and saw Rogue One, and tomorrow when Mom’s home we’re going to open presents and cook and eat our feast and watch the new Doctor Who episode. So basically we’re giving ourselves an extra day of Christmas.

    And last night we all went to church together and it was lovely. I’m not at all religious anymore, but Christmas Eve is the one day of the year where I still feel some connection to the religion I was raised in – and while I have no idea what my relationship to religion is going to be in the future, I know Christmas is always going to be special to me. It’s the most wonderful time of the year 😀

  34. Hi friends!

    I’m the LW from a few months back (can’t find the number but I called myself Fleeing The Toxic Trashfire), and I’m not in contact with my parents for the first Christmas ever. I spent it with my partner and I was TERRIFIED it would somehow go wrong, Christmas Eve night I had those over-and-over anxiety dreams where you dream the same day over and over and it goes wrong a different way each time.


    I had a nice normal Christmas where nobody yelled at each other and where I didn’t have to be afraid someone would start yelling for the first time in my entire… life….??????

    TLDR readers I’m chuffed.

  35. I’ve been having a very nice Chanukah so far. My partner and I are both on academic schedules, so we’re both on break, and we’ve been doing a lot of watching movies, hanging out with friends, and of course lighting Chanukah candles every night. It’s quite cozy and relaxing.

    Also, I’m finding that I’m much less cranky than usual during December on those rare occasions when Chanukah and Christmas actually coincide. No one is telling me “Happy Chanukah” after Chanukah is over this year! Huzzah!

  36. I bought my cousins “The Resistance” and we played it tonight and everyone loved it and those people who bothered listening even complimented me on my concise, clear explanation of the game. (Those who did not listen and yelled “what do I do now?” between each round are to be ignored and shunned so they listen next time, please.)
    Also my cousins bought me a 4 ft, wooden version of a Lord of the Rings poster I actually had hanging on my wall already and I am so, so pleased about it and am hanging it under my replica of Theoden’s sword as soon as I get home.

  37. Until a couple of days ago I didn’t know which thread I would be commenting in this year. 2016 has been a terrible trial not just for the world generally but for me personally, and over the last few months in particular it feels like everything’s been spiralling out of control, for a litany of reasons I’ll not go into.

    BUT. The last week of work before Christmas, I was finally given the promotion they’d been dangling over me, ending months of anxiety, disillusionment, and uncertainty. My Dad’s out of hospital after an infection scare, just in time for Christmas with his new family. And in a couple of weeks, I’ll be moving out of this flat– which is literally crumbling around us– into a beautiful new house.

    I spent all of Christmas morning prepping dinner for the in-laws whilst singing along to power ballads. This was followed by getting to consume the heaps of food I’d successfully made, along with generous measures of good whisky.

    There’s still plenty of problems in my life right now, and 2017 will definitely have its challenges. But I feel more in control of things than I have for months. I’ll get through.

  38. We host the holidays. All of them. Dear Husband’s family is fine to just go to a restaurant for any/all holidays (including Thanksgiving!) What??? I know it works for lots of folks, and that’s cool. I can’t imagine the “no leftovers” thing, though. So we host. I promise my lovely husband every year that I’ll scale back the over-the-top food, and I’ve been doing well with that! Christmas dinner this year was meatloaf. It was tasty!

    I also had a very hard day Christmas Eve – freaking out generally, feeling like canceling the holiday, etc. And it finally occurred to me to ask him, “Do I do this at every holiday?” He said yes. While hugging me and telling me everything will be fine. So now I know to check in with myself every holiday to see how I’m doing. And I know to take time to just appreciate all the marvelous things in my life – especially him. 🙂

  39. my partner came to my family for Christmas and I came out as poly to mum. I was worried that my family would be shitty (partner is trans and not on hormones yet, so I was expecting lots of misgendering and some other shit – they made a few pronoun fuckups, but either responded well to correction or corrected themselves). partner had a good time, family like partner, and I didn’t have the COMPLICATED FEEELINGS! when parents & brother went to the weird relatives house.

    also, my polycule plus a friend had a solstice celebration (saw rogue one & had a bbq with mulled cider).

  40. I managed to make it through the entire trip home, a full forty-eight hours, without getting into an argument with my parents, which is especially surprising due to my mom’s liberal-trolling. (Up to and including, “Yeah, it’s hot today, but in a few days it’ll be cold again. So much for global warming!” And no, it didn’t make sense to me either.)

    I’m also hosting a NYE get-together for members of my D&D group, which I’m rather excited for.

  41. I’m LW#904 and have been tremendously grateful for the Captain’s and others’ responses ever since. My Christmas ended up lovely for the first time in a couple of decades. Realized I’d been hiding away from good people and good things for years because of my marriage sadness. Ended up celebrating beautifully with the friend who I was most afraid would be judgmental. My friends have been sterling. The kids and I are doing very well. Thank you and best wishes for the New Year, all!

    1. Dear god, that is magnificent 😀 also, I find it surprisingly comforting to know I’m not the only one who likes to imagine fictional characters writing to the Captain.

  42. Half of my Christmas belonged in the Blues thread, perhaps, but I’m putting it here instead because It Was Okay.

    That’s all I need at the moment. It Was Okay, after all. Maybe not magnificent, but also not abysmal. It Was Okay. Okay is good. I can deal with Okay.

    I’m LW #440, not quite four years on. I lived in a tiny flat for two years, and then bought a slightly less tiny flat, where I lived for around eighteen months, nine of which were with my partner, who came into my life two years ago yesterday. We are now living together in a rented flat, not much larger but with its own garden. My rescue cat is sitting on my arm, purring at me and drooling gently onto my desk (ew). The door locks, and the only other person with a key is Partner, who I trust with every part of me. Even the parts that frighten me, that frighten us both – the sudden, hideous panic attacks or dissociative episodes, where I find myself shaking and staring at nothing, hands clenched so tight my nails slice into my skin, with most of me off to one side, wondering why it’s happening.

    The week has been hectic. First my parents’ annual Christmas Eve party, with food for a hundred and space for more. I helped set up. I came and went, and if people didn’t see me for ten or twenty minutes at a time it was assumed I was off somewhere, being Helpful. In reality I spent a lot of time hiding in the study with Partner. But I got to catch up with some people I hadn’t seen in a while, and I really quite like getting to be Helpful, so it was okay.
    (They’re not bad people, my parents, although of course it’s complicated. They weren’t great at being parents. Understatement, given they were genuinely abusive sometimes, but – there were always good parts too. We get along well now I don’t live under their roof. It’s a strange feeling.)

    Partner and I drove an hour to her parents’ house late that night for Christmas breakfast. She’s not out as trans to them (or to my family), and I had to make a real effort to use he/his and her old name in front of them, instead of using her name and pronouns. But not much attention was on Partner, or on me – her toddler niece is adorable and one of her sisters is newly pregnant, so we were ignored except when Partner’s family wanted her to do something, at which point they would order her to do it, usually sans please or thank you. I find Partner’s family upsetting at the best of times, actively triggering at the worst. Her mother is nicey-nice to my face and says horrible things about me behind my back, and believes her emotions are the only ones worth considering. Her father gets angry about nothing at the drop of a hat, and apparently believes that others’ emotions are possibly nonexistent and definitely illogical and ignorable. Her sisters are in constant competition and are too eager to agree with their mother about anything. But they were all on good behaviour, as were Partner and I. We got given lots of chocolate. Partner also got a ticket to a concert, and I got a pair of beautiful earrings. Our own gifts were well-received. The food was delicious. Baby niece was adorable. After all the pre-Christmas drama about how we weren’t staying the whole day (obviously my fault, the evil devil-woman corrupting their precious only son* by daring to want to have Christmas with her own family as well), they didn’t make any fuss to us about it on the day. So we left on time, with no drama. We figure they were probably talking shit about us after we left, but at least it wasn’t to our faces. At any rate, it was okay.
    *not exactly son, but they don’t know that

    An hour and a half back to town for my family’s Christmas. It was too bloody hot, and there was too much food. We only knew about a third of the people there. As I found out, it was hosted by one of my cousins, and so she’d invited all of her aunts/uncles/cousins from the other side of the family, and a bunch of other people as well. Like, perfectly natural, it makes sense, but it would have been nice to know beforehand, y’know? But there were two lovely dogs, and there was air-conditioning inside, and lots and lots of different cheeses and wines. So Partner and I managed alright. We joked with my parents about the formal lounge being the “introvert hiding spot” because that was where the four of us gravitated for a few minutes every hour or so when we had had enough socialising. (Again, weird. “Parents as People”, you know?) Neither Partner or myself can really cope with spending too long with my extended family. They are good people, but so different to us that we have very little to talk to them about. But hey, yummy cheese and happy dogs. So that was okay too.

    And then on Boxing Day morning we flew to [Other City] to spend a few days with my family there. Partner had never met my [Other City] family, so it was a bit nervewracking for both of us, but I think it went alright. My goddaughter (who I hadn’t seen in a year – she is also my cousin’s daughter, by-the-by) and her younger sister spent about an hour being shy of us, before deciding that we made good pointless-story listeners/catchers of thrown balls/snot-wipers/climbing frames, and figuring that we were alright. We slept on a lumpy futon that smelt very strongly of wet dog, in the children’s playroom, with no working air-conditioning and a skylight that shone directly into our eyes from six a.m. onwards. My cousin fed us an incredibly delicious shakshuka. We watched my aunt light her Chanukah candles and nobody forced Partner to wear a kippah. I did not get to light a Chanukah candle, although in retrospect I would have liked to. Partner and I went shopping and bought her some tops that read as a bit more queer than her usual t-shirts but which she can still wear no matter which gender she is presenting as. We went on an amazing cliff walk with my aunt, and I got sunburnt in the daggiest possible way (high V-neck t-shirt with medium length sleeves, ponytail down the back of my neck, a watch on one wrist). We took dorky, semi-ironic touristy selfies at an [Other City] landmark. [Other City] was hot and humid and my aunt’s and cousins’ house smells weird and is, in a word, grotty. Not-sure-about-bare-feet grotty. But we had fun and my multiple baby cousins-once-removed were generally very cute. So it was okay.

    And we’re home now. Partner is at a friend’s house right now, but hopefully she will be home soonish. Our massive, unbelievably comfortable bed is just in the next room, and my cat has freed my arm and is off crunching her dinnertime kibble. I have a delightful “T. Kingfisher” (Ursula Vernon) book half-read, and a whole pile of library books yet to read, and I’ll be back at work on Monday and I’m honestly really looking forward to it, because I only got this job a month ago and I already love my boss to bits. She treats me simultaneously like I’m very knowledgeable and good at what I do, and like it’s totally fine and understandable that there are things I don’t know or find hard to understand. She is also excellent at explaining what she wants me to do and how she wants me to do it. It’s only a part-time job (I’m working three part-time jobs at the moment and it only adds up to one full-time job, both time-wise and pay-wise) but my boss genuinely seems to think I’ll be offered a full-time position soon. Sooner than soon, if she can convince her bosses.

    But before that, Partner and I have a few friends coming round on New Years Eve. Partner is out to all of them and will be able to dress however she feels most comfortable. They all have some kind of mental illness or a history thereof, and will all intrinsically Get It if I have to duck out and take a breather. There will be a barbecue. There will definitely be wine. I seldom look forward to parties, but I’m looking forward to this one.

    I didn’t have a panic attack all through the Christmas break. For me, that alone is worth putting in the Celebration thread.

    So my Christmas? It Was Okay. I like Okay. I can deal with it. Maybe next year, once the dust of 2016 has settled, I can consider how to make Christmas 2017 better than Okay.

    Happy New Year, y’all.

  43. Oh, crumbs, I meant to post my comment with this account, not my other one. Apologies for any confusion. I would still like to be known as Ms Kittenwhiskers here!

    1. (said comment is probably still in the hungry hungry spam trap, but it is an excessively long one that refers to letter #440, which I wrote.)

  44. This was me on the Dec 2 #awkwardchat: “You know someone likes you/may want to date you; you’re not sure if you feel the same. How do you figure out if you like them?”

    CA’s response was awesome: “One way is to go on a date if they ask you to and see if you enjoy it and want to do it again sometime. Remember: Going on a date doesn’t mean you are agreeing to “feelings” or “a relationship” or “returning their interest at the exact same level.” It’s okay to be undecided and give it time to develop or not.”

    Well, we (I’m 30s F) ended up naked in his bed on Dec 25. (I did family stuff on Dec 24; he doesn’t celebrate Xmas.) We’ve known each other since September (his kid is friends with my kid at school); when the kids want to play together we get to talking. He and I have hung out 1:1 two earlier times; we’ve only hugged. Earlier on Dec 25, we went to lunch, he wanted me to come back to his place to watch a movie (which we all know means “come over and have sex”) so I did. We cuddle and talk on the couch, we go to his bedroom, I stay the night. He doesn’t snore!!! It’s a Christmas miracle!!! I wasn’t sure how I felt about him (or dating in general) but so far he’s pretty awesome in ways I wouldn’t have expected based on my first impressions of him. Earlier this year, my ex and I decided to split (fortunately things are amicable and we have a 4-year old), I moved out of his place this summer and have enjoyed being on my own. Didn’t want to even think about having another partner for at least 1-2 years. Wasn’t sure about dating/seeing people in the meantime. Who knew that this is where I would be after deciding to spilt 11 months ago?!

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