OPEN THREAD: Another Year, Another Christmakwanzakah

HOLIGAYS 2017 / Autostraddle

Hi Brownie Bites, we made it! The holigay season is just rolling on by, full steam ahead, and here we are, participating in it! Hanukkah came and went, Christmas Eve is upon us with Christmas Day waiting in the wings, and Kwanzaa is coming right up. Winter Solstice also joined the party, and if you’re letting me be Very Self Indulgent for a moment, I’ll point out that My Birthday is kind of a winter holigay also, and it was really pleasant this year, thank you so much for asking! And now we’re all here, together, hanging out in our traditional annual holigays open thread. Believe it or not, this is the NINTH year in a row we have hosted this auspicious open thread, and damn, I feel like we have gone through some shit together. We keep making it. That’s important to remember – write it down.

My Hanukkah was pretty gay tbh

So what are the holigays all about? Welp, that depends who you ask. For some of us, it’s a quiet time to reflect on the past year and gather strength and energy for the upcoming season. Some of us have a million familial obligations this time of year and totally love it, and some of us have those same obligations but actually dread seeing the humans we call family and are probably hiding in our bedrooms right now, huddled under the covers with our laptops, softly weeping into a very soft sleeve or perhaps a cute stuffed animal. We attend sexy variety shows where our friends and chosen family dress up as elves and perform Christmas carols, we make traditional holiday dishes and deliver them to our neighbors who we don’t know very well, we excuse ourselves from the dinner table and take some space in the bathroom so we don’t explode. We buy gifts. We watch Carol. To be real, we also watch Riverdale. We nap. We cuddle our pets. We hang out in this thread. At the end of the day, the winter holigays are about whatever the fuck you want them to be about. The important thing is, we’re here for you, in this thread, no matter how you’re feeling! The holigays can feel festive and fun or terrifying and terrible or somewhere in between all those feelings. And all of that is perfectly okay.

Yes, my girlfriend and I did make a DIY wooden tree a few years ago that we decorate every Christmas with Pendleton garlands and felt ornaments in the shapes of ugly sweaters and the state of Oregon, WHY DO YOU ASK? #pnwstereotype (Also — show me your Christmas tree, if you wanna!)

So listen, can we just put on holiday themed pajamas, sit by the fire place, and open gifts together? The gift can be a conversation or a hug or a puppy, I’m not picky. The gift is you! I personally am so grateful to be back at Autostraddle after a very long hiatus and the reason I’m glad to be back, the reason any of us do any of this at all, is because we fucking love you. The Autostraddle community is the goddamn heartbeat of this whole endeavor, and I personally thank you for existing. You are bright and funny and fiery and kind and smart and way cute. You are special and important and I hope you know that, okay?

Happy Christmakwanzakah, my loves. Merry holigays. Blessed everything. I love you all forever and ever, amen.

NOW GET IN THE COMMENTS AND CHAT WITH ME, OKAY?!?!


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Vanessa is a queer feminist writer and photographer currently based in New York. She really misses Portland. Find her on twitter and instagram.

Vanessa has written 262 articles for us.

70 Comments

  1. We Fucking Love You, Too! And happy birthday! Today’s holigay (for me) is sit quietly in my room and mentally prepare to be with family for the next two weeks–I accept it, and I’m going to do my very best not to lose my entire mind. I’m ordering some Kindle books and just generally planning out my self-care plan of attack today, which is kind of relaxing and reassuring, if not exactly festive. 🙂 Yesterday’s holigay involved eating about six pounds of Christmas cookies, so today is both a recovery from festivities as well as a day to prepare for future ones!

  2. It’s been a long year here in my life. Even now, it’s hard to recount the numerous changes in my personal life outside the ones happening in the world at large. I’ve probably visited Autostraddle less than I should’ve but I know too that I’ve made really close friends with some of the folks that are here. They’re true companions. You know who you are! My heart goes out to them.

    The holidays mean to me spending time with loved ones, whether that’s family or friends or anyone else. Like my sister, her husband, and their eight month old son, and Mom, and close friends. I don’t really focus too much on the traditions around Christmas, although I do love to give gifts. I’m more in it for seeing people I love.

    I hope everyone here gets the opportunity to make peace with the year and focus on the important things. It was hard year for most, I think. I hope you can all regain your strength and love unequivocally. Also, I hope I’ll get to see most of you at A-Camp in 2018!

  3. Hello am relatively new and quite happy staying in the silent background – until now. That is a truly beautiful tree! I can’t stop looking at it. Are the branches fixed in place or can the entire configuration be disassembled? Did you follow instructables? If the answer is yes I would be super grateful if you could point me in the right direction <3

    Also I hope you (and that includes anyone and everyone else here) had a lovely birthday celebration and festive season surrounded by people who matter!

  4. Happy Birthday!!!
    I’ve been baking a lot this week, peppermint brownies and gingersnaps! I can’t wait to send them off next week (more like NYE cookies than Christmas, woops). I’m having a peaceful morning to myself before I go over to my parents for christmas/eve.
    There is a possibility that this will be the last year that I’ll be able to participate in Christmas with my family like I know it for a while (my awful brother I have no contact with is having a kid, so I see a lot of making new holiday plans and traditions for myself in my future). But part of me feels like last year was really the last christmas as I know it, cause my dear cat Zaboo who passed in July, was such a holiday cat! We called him a Christmas Weasel cause he would get so excited and even though he was 18 he still acted like a kitten especially around Christmas. So this is my first one without him since I was 4. It’s really hard.

    • Jay. Homemade gingersnaps. How swoon-making!
      I’m sorry for the loss of your dear feline friend. I hope his spirit comes to mess with the tinsel during the holidays.
      And here’s to your new traditions! May you claim this holiest of times as your own.

      It’s all about the solstice, ain’t it, making our way back to the light, life stirring within.

  5. HELLO ALL OF YOU BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE! If anyone wants to pop over for a visit, I just put the kettle on for coffee and popped corn muffins in the oven. My pup is chewing on the doggie Santa hat he always hated wearing that I finally gave him permission to pull apart. I might wear these new flannel pajamas all day, since most of my plan is wrapping presents in front of that Fireplace for Your Home video on Netflix.

    Whatever you’re up to today, I’m so glad you’re here! If you’re in a shit mood, it’s ok to be in a shit mood! Things will get better, and for today, wrap yourselves in your coziest blanket and watch Riverdale or Carol or the only thing that ever gets me through my worst menstrual cramps: the Fail Army compilations on Facebook. If you’re happy, and celebrating, i’m so glad!

    Yesterday my family went up to the mountains for my birthday, missed the last tram up the mountain by exactly one minute, and made the best of it by borrowing a gear sled from the ski worker people and doing some impromptu sledding (just below the sign that said NO SLEDDING PRIVATE PROPERTY. Don’t worry, we asked!) Whether or not you have the energy to make your own fun this winter, I love you, and I’m here!

    Cheers to you and yours — especially every single one of your dogs, cats, gerbils and birbs.

  6. Happy holigays everyone!!!! And a happy happy birthday to you Vanessa :).

    I’m more in a not really subscribing to any religion funk at the moment, so I’m not celebrating any of the holidays. What I’m doing instead is a lot of reflection. If I was to look at the long list of things I wanted to do this year, I would mark this year a failure because I didn’t even hit half of what I set out to accomplish. But if I was to look at the quality of the things I did focus on, I’m feeling very proud. I have successfully sent in my applications for grad school (4 instead of the 10 I initially wanted to submit. But they are 4 I gel well with, and hope I get into). I discovered more of who I am, returned to forgotten roots and a sense of identity I had no idea I had lost until I pulled it back on, like familiar skin. Although they’re just two major things, they’re two things that have set in motion how I want to live my life going forward, which makes 2017 an incredible year, even with all the fuckery it brought with it.

    I’m rounding off the year by listening to the audiobook for Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe. I have Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider, which is a collection of her essays and speeches, cued to play after I’m done. All the whilst listening to a combo of Tegan and Sara, Prince, Kelela, Frank Ocean, St. Vincent, Queen, Solange, and Lalah Hathaway. Just the way I want to rock this holiday.

  7. This holiday season really went down the toilet.

    It all started when I almost got struck by lightning. And no, I did not go outside in a thunderstorm. There was a single lightning bolt.

    Instead the house I was standing next to got struck. My house. It fried our phone line, and thus our ability to make money. It also fried my charging bicycle battery, our back-up lifeline to be able to buy groceries while we can’t use the car for reasons of beurocratic slowness (four months and counting with no car in a super rural area and no friends or family to help us). So, that was fun. This kind of thing has been happening for too long, and someone said something that made me think in new ways, get some divination done that was super explicit, and now I’m getting an exorcism sometime early in the new year. Yay?

    I’m also getting a scooter, because, you know, rural and 16 km (10 miles) to the nearest village with a convenience store.

    And my 15 days of Christmas holiday were cancelled, because the fried phone lines means making up for lost work like crazy all holiday.

    But we celebrated 14 years together! But our plans got cancelled and then my partner got the stomach flu on the day …

    And a bunch of smaller issues.

    But, er, at least I didn’t have family stress, racism and sexism. So, that part has been pretty sweet.

    • That is a lot! I wish I could send you some baked goods from my mom or loving looks from our dogs. I hope the bureaucrats get their tuckases in gear so you can use your car again! Sending you mega strength.

    • When life gives you a whack it doesn’t hold back does it? Still, 14years!!! That’s special. Well done!!!

      Best Wishes! Lots of Long distance hugs and purrs, from a very special little blue eyed cat should make things better soon.

      • It sure doesn’t! We’ve been haunted by these weird events for years, but this right now is a very special kind of shitstorm. But, still, good things, like lots and lots of love. It’s crazy to me that it has been 14 years already. When my parents had been together for 14 years that seemed like forever to me. Now it’s like… what do I know about long term relationships? I’m barely out of the “honeymoon period”.

        • Just a thought…have you tried a visualisation with some salt sprinkled through the house, especially in the corners and briefly opening the windows to push the unhelpfull “energies” out where they can be disbursed. I don’t know? It might help. I do it whenever we move to a new place or when we feel stuck and stale or as though we’re just not living our best life… seems to work for us.

          I know what you mean about time together too, 14 years seems both like forever and no time at all. We’ve been together now for 40 years and neither of us can believe it.

          • Thank you for the tip! The house has been cleansed numerous times, both through fumigation and holy water, though never with salt. I will add it to my routine, though I will have to skip the visualisation on account of being born without the necessary prerequisites. 🙂

            40 years is amazing. I bet it sometimes feels like no time at all, and then you look at each other and realise that a baby born the day you met could technically be a grandparent today. We were 14 when we met (though not when we started dating), and it’s crazy to me that in the time we’ve been together we could’ve been born, “grown up” (sort of) and entered each others’ lives all over again. Counting time in how many percent of one’s life one has been in a relationship, or how long it is in a human’s life time or development can be jarring. But, maybe that’s just how parents feel when they look at their teenage/grown children, and I’m substituting child for relationship.

    • You’re so right about looking at each other and thinking that we could be grandparents. Very scary thought that. Sometimes when I’m reading things here that people in their teens and twenties have posted, I feel a combination of both ancient and “Oh, I so get that ”! It’s as though I’m simultaneously twenty something and heading for my seventies. Oh well! Maybe I’ll grow up one day.

      It’s amazing how time passes and things change but they don’t really and the deep and constant things like love just keep enduring. Thank all the Godesses.

  8. Happy Holigays! I’m a Chanukah celebrator who doesn’t really celebrate any other holigay, so I’m just happy to have the time off from work, so I can relax with my dog and babysit. I’ve learned that holiday babysitters are a hot commodity, so I have 3 babysitting jobs for 3 different families this week. I’m not the type of person who can veg at home doing nothing for too long, so I’m glad to have some structure to my first full week off work in years.

    I’m going on a maybe-date tonight with a fellow Jew, so we may end up eating Chinese food and watching movies. What is a maybe-date, you ask? It’s when you have no idea whether you’re on a date or hanging out platonically. I’m really bad at this kind of thing (dating).

    My dog is sitting right next to me, watching me type. I think she wants to say hi/woof to Autostraddle. I totally take for granted the emotional support and companionship I get from my dog. I’ve had her for 6.5 years, and I don’t know what I’d do without her snuggling up to me and going on adventures. I <3 Bernie.

    I just ate broccoli, and now I'm tired. Does broccoli make you tired? I don't think so. It's probably actually from the Klonopin I took when I felt like I couldn't breathe about an hour ago. (I'm fine, just anxiety, I guess.)

    If anyone needs to talk during these holigay days, please feel free to reach out. I'm around this week, and I would hope to help anyone who might need a friend. <3

    Happy belated Birthday, Vanessa! Aren't birthdays great? I'm super into birthdays (not just mine) – I love wishing people a happy birthday and feel that everyone should have their special day. Vanessa, I'm glad to have you back on AS! I remember when we met up for Starbucks in Times Square many moons ago. I'm happy that you're doing well on the left coast. I'm still NYC-ing it up. I still need to go ice skating in Bryant Park! I realized I missed going to the shops, too. I think they close tomorrow? I may be wrong. But I remember the Union Square shops closing on Christmas. As much as I'd prefer to not deal with midtown during the peak tourist week (I don't like crowds), I may head down. I'm seeing a Broadway show tomorrow night, so maybe after I get off babysitting, I'll head to Bryant Park first. 🙂

  9. All of the good wishes to y’all, especially people finding the holiday season a challenge.

    I have uncomplicated positive feelings about Christmas, but my wife had a trip to the hospital this morning with a horrible mystery foot injury and now has very little mobility. Luckily my parents are staying in our city so can help with cooking and minding our son when needed, but it’s put a dampener on our plans and comfort.

  10. help! my gf is currently in the middle of a travelling snafu with her family and will be in san fran for the night. where is somewhere queer that she can go with probably her very enthusiastic mom and less enthusiastic 25 yr old brother??

  11. It looked like this year was going to be horrible because on my way down to my grandparents my granny fell and broke her neck and we didn’t know what was going to happen. Well she’s going to be fine and is feeling well enough to want to do the things she’s not allowed to until she’s healed up and my parents are cooking half the dinner for them for the first year ever because grandad’s finally willing to let other people do some of the work. We went on our traditional Star Wars family outing today and my Dad spent the whole way back making fun of the whiny fan boys who don’t like women and poc heroes in their space fantasy. So this Christmas I’m thankful for the NHS, my grandparents and the fact that my Dad and my uncle mock toxic masculinity instead of embracing it.

  12. I am on a plane across the country to spend the week with my brother and mom. It’s the first Christmas since my dad died this summer… And my girlfriend broke up with me a month and a half ago 4 days after we bought the plane tickets for this trip i am starting right now.
    I have been feeling like inwas getting a little better in my grief journey, but I don’t feel that way today. I feel bitterly angry towards the person i am still struggling to call my ex. And i feel like i miss her like i would a missing limb. Like a constant, throbbing phantom.
    And i am feeling the loss of my father like someone burned a hole in the middle of my family picture.
    I’ve decided that i am sad, and i am bitter, and I am okay with it.
    Hopefully I can get out of my head enough to appreciate the company of my family.

  13. Happy birthday! And happy unbirthday to everyone else, it’s a party for everyone around the solstice.

    I just got out of my first Christmas Eve service and am on my way to number two (I attend one church and work at another, so I visit my employers every so often). When I got out of church this morning I knew I was going to be exhausted by Triple Church Day but honestly it hasn’t been so bad. Thank goodness I deal with relatively liberal mainline Christianity oe else nothing in my life would ever be a respite from anything else.

    This is the first year I successfully cut back on Book Hoarding, and I’m pleased. I have a ton to read and I’d love to trim down my collection, so step one has been not telling people to buy me books for Christmas when they ask. I would much prefer if people just felt such occasions were opportunities to treat themselves. Buy yourself something nice!

  14. Happy Birthday! thanks for the open thread!

    my holidays are sucking, it’s always very hard to have anything even remotely resembling a good time when i’m with my family, except when i can laugh with my younger sister, but we’re both really stressed out right now. i feel very isolated, i’m pulled away from my life and my support systems and my routine, and every time i go here i need weeks to recharge afterwards. my sister will also be moving to the states soon and i will miss her so much, it’s just the cherry on top of the horribleness pie. i’m glad for this place to find a little bit of solace and community in the void that is Oh, All My Friends Are Doing Non-Awful Christmas, I Guess.

    some positivity: i will be getting a tattoo i’m looking forward to a lot on the 8th and i’m hoping it will return some life into my exhausted, depressed veins. gd bless.

  15. happy holigays!! i love this season, when i come together with friends and family to celebrate what really matters: a new star wars movie.
    seriously. i’m not kidding when i say at least 15 percent of my brainpower is occupied at all times thinking about star wars. no spoilers, but even with its many narrative/characterization/length problems, i liked it. laura dern with purple hair is reason enough to see it, in my lesbian opinion.
    i have generally positive feelings about family and christmas but being back at my parents’ house i’m feeling the winter break boredom and understimulation set in, which is making me restless and stir-crazy and adrenaline-deprived. i keep thinking about the mincing mockingbird: “looking for trouble and if i cannot find it i will create it.” so far i haven’t done anything really wild or idiotic but stay tuned for new year’s eve! anything could happen!
    i hope y’all have delightful holigays 🙂 🙂 🙂

  16. Hi Vanessa happy birthdayyyyy!

    And very Happy Holigays, Straddlers. I’m grateful to all of you for making this year so much better in so many important ways. <3

    I'm doing my usual solo Christmas, lit up the rainbow candles and the Christmas "tree" made from bike rim lights lol.

    Fun activity! Watch Trollhunters on Netflix. Written and directed by Guillermo del Toro, the same person who brought us Pan's Labyrinth and Pacific Rim. It's really good! And great for the whole family.

    Optional: take a drink every time there’s a parallel to Harry Potter, hehe.

  17. “The holigays can feel festive and fun or terrifying and terrible or somewhere in between all those feelings. And all of that is perfectly okay.” Thank you for saying that. I am sitting at my parents’ house feeling kind of shitty. This is the obligatory 48 hours that I spend with them over Christmas, and I am wishing that I were home with my friends who get me and support me in ways that my family never could. My family is dysfunctional as it is, so spending time with them is always stressful – but this is the first Christmas since I came out, and going to the church where I grew up with them this morning was an added layer of the “holigay” stress. I just want to be with the people who know me completely, love me unconditionally and support me practically – who I am really fortunate to have and to surround myself with most of the time. Being with my family is just a rude awakening to how much I need and rely on that. But I am here until tomorrow, and am going to try to make the best of it until I can go home, see my people and do my own “holigay” traditions. Love to you all <3

    • Damn, do I feel this comment. The dysfunctional family that can’t support you the way your friends can… I’m sorry you have to deal with this, and I hope you can go back to the warm bath of friendship and understanding and meaningful connections soon. <3

  18. I’ve always loved Christmas, but the connection to seeing my bio family always made it very complicated. This year I’m not visiting them which so far has been awesome but also complicated in it’s own way because I feel lonely and guilty and all those type of emotions.

    However, tonight I cuddled with my cat and watched the Muppets Christmas Carol because it is the best Christmas movie ever (fight me) and tomorrow I’m hosting an Orphan Queermas. I’m slowly finding ways to make the holiday traditions I loved growing up my own. I swore I wasn’t going to make a big deal out of this shindig tomorrow but then today I ended up at the grocery store buying ingredients for like 4 munchie/cookie things because I am my mother’s daughter and I can’t not have an abundance of food for those who show up. Unlike my Mormon bio fam, there will be lots of booze and that alone will make the day better I think. So I spent today cooking but in a fun way, and spent like 2 hours talking about Star Wars with my roommate while we drank champagne because YOLO.

    So I’m looking forward to having some friends and some friends of friends over to be queer and fabulous and not alone together, and I think maybe this will be my new tradition. To host all the orphans and laugh away our complicated feelings, at least for the day.

    Happy Holidays to everyone!!!

  19. I have this belief that I like Christmas and I do, but I am being increasingly less able to tolerate my father’s right wing views (which my mother probably also holds but rarely expresses so I just don’t think about that, because my mum in general is a nice person and I get on with her).

    I love my dad and compared to a lot of people’s parents he is not that bad, but he holds views that are harmful to people I care about (and to people I don’t know but care about in a generalised sense because they are people).

    Yesterday he was reading the paper (the least awful right wing paper) and he laughed and I made the mistake of asking what he was laughing at. He said something along the lines of an article saying some people think all men are rapists and some people think all white people are racist, so therefore they think white men are racist rapists.

    Then later that evening my mum laughed and repeated that comment.

    • In the plus side I saw my bestie on 22-23rd for a pre-Christmas with her and that was lovely.

      Also my siblings’ political views are more in line with my own, they somehow manage to not get into arguments with my dad. It’s just that it feels like I should challenge him, but given it never ever achieves anything it would be easier not to waste my energy. I know there is the argument that by not challenging racism we are complicit, but when you keep challenging it with the same person and get nowhere is it that terrible to sometimes ignore it?

      • Parents insensitivity is always challenging. I used to get into arguments with mine about the same sort of things when I was in my twenties. My parents beliefs came from a very different time and were also shaped by a lot of hardship. That doesn’t excuse intolerance, I know, but the balance between their not seeming to care enough and the intensity of my caring too much gradually evened out over time and we came to a far better understanding of each other’s view points and they swung round to a much less right wing and more tolerant position in the end. Perhaps, if you give them good time and further information things will shift for all of you too.

  20. Well Happy Holigays Everyone!!!

    It’s just turned 10pm here in Sydney so it’s safe to say that that’s another Christmas successfully negotiated. Truthfully, we had a good day. I’ve been dreading it since the kitchen company told me that they wouldn’t be able to finish the kitchen in time for today. Fortunately, I’ve got a small microwave with a convection function so with that and an old electric frypan I’ve managed to cook two roast chickens a glazed ham and roast veg with sides for eight. I’m so relieved. Now everything is cleared away and everyone’s gone home and the lovely girl and I are sitting with our feet up basking in a job well done and the joy of a good day with good people.

    Even the weather cooperated. It was over 100 degrees here yesterday but we had a strong blast of air from the Antarctic last night and today was almost too cool. Just right though for a traditional lunch and nice wine.

    I’m off to really have a look at my Christmas booty, I know I’ve got some fantastic history books and some historical cookery books to read too.

    I hope you all have a good day too and that you get to enjoy and share some love and kindness with people whose company you can enjoy.

  21. Happy belated birthday Vanessa and happy holigays to you all!

    This year’s fun is strange for me. I’m currently on an air mattress at my dad & stepmom’s place. My partner is working overtime so she’s not with me (booo). Last night, my dad and stepmom went to go see her side of the family, and I didn’t go with them. Instead I spent a few hours hate-watching Hallmark movies, and it was bliss. I usually see my bio mom during the holidays, but she’s recovering from real bad migraines…so we’re both trying to remind each other that doing your own thing is okay. Go independence!

    I see my siblings and my nephews today, so that should be fun. I hope you all take some time for yourselves over the next few days. I’m happy you all made it.

  22. Happy Christmakwanzakah to all of you awesome people on autostraddle! I hope you are spending your time with good company and no drama! Love the rainbow chanukia Vanessa, it’s soo queer and awesome!

    I spend my Sunday with my mother, and aunt, but also walked around town. Today I spent my morning hiking a little over 4 miles in Malibu. Weather was really nice. Even saw a family of deer. Oh, dear!

    Thank you for viewing and reading my post!

  23. Just popped to offer this puppy hug gif

    2 years ago we buried my grandfather on Christmas Eve and I felt very alienated a by my family. No one offered me a hug or anything. The only person who shook my hand and said peace be with during mass was the priest.

    As much as an outsider I’m use to being that hurt because I’m still human but this thread and the people here were there for me.

    So if you’re feeling down this time of year, or feeling the loss of someone special to you puppy hug gif is for you.

    • This is beautiful Lex. I’m so sorry to hear about how you were treated following your Grandad’s death. I never knew my grandparents, they had all died before I was born, but I’ve seen the bond that others have with their grandparents and it’s so lovely. If it’s any help, please accept some belated hugs through the inter webs.

  24. So I’m rewatching some of my favorite Christmas movies that I haven’t seen in years. And I’m realizing that Elizabeth Mitchell in The Santa Clause 2 might be my Mommi inception. From her first moment onscreen, when she climbs that ladder and says “Hello, Charlie” in that ice queen voice, she left me crushing on her so hard. And now I understand why I would be so excited to watch this movie when I was younger that I got butterflies in my stomach when it started playing. So thank you Erin and Kayla for creating Mommi, the gift that keeps on giving and revealing itself to us, especially during the holigays.

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