OPEN THREAD: Listen I Just Like The Word Christmakwanzakah Okay?


Every year since the day Autostraddle got born, we make space on this very queer website to hang out and celebrate and commiserate the ~seasonal holidays~ together in December! This year is no different! We have retired Friday Open Threads (although y’all are still very chatty on Fridays in our weekly Pizza Party and in the comment section of the Comment Awards and I fucking love it) for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that a lot of conversation that used to take place in The Comment Section Of Many Websites Including Our Very Own Website now take place on Twitter, not to mention that Many Of Those Other Websites Are Now Dead, And Digital Media As We Know It Is Changing All The Time And It Is Hard To Keep Up And Not Panic! I know I keep saying it but the world in 2019 media is very confusing and destabilizing! The world in 2019 in general is very confusing and destabilizing! But one thing I do know for sure, my pals:

You will have a better time hanging out in this Autostraddle open thread than you will hanging out on Twitter today, I promise. It’s science!

Whether you’ve gone back to your hometown and your family of origin for a week of vacation, whether you’re spending tonight and tomorrow with chosen family, whether you ignore the calendar and treat the entirety of December like a regular ol’ month, whether you’re on a beach vacation with your sweetheart escaping the cold and societal pressure, whether you’ve made latkes the past three days, whether you’re already planning the menu for your Kwanzaa celebration, whether you did your Solstice ritual last week and are enjoying this week off work with no religious obligations whatsoever…you should come chat in this open thread. We don’t have to talk about the holidays although we sure can! We can talk about whatever you want. To be totally honest with you I am A. Jewish and B. currently on vacation with my parents and my little brother, so I am not doing Christmas-Eve-Celebrations tonight and I will also probably not be very vocal in the comments because the WiFi here is not great! But I did make you a beautiful (?) extremely DIY feature image collage of Michelle Pfeiffer’s character Stephanie Zinone dressed up as a Christmas tree in Grease 2 for this joyous occasion, because I care about you and also because Michelle Pfeiffer in Grease 2 is my root, which we discussed on this very website in 2013. Time! It just keeps marching on, huh? The more things change the more they stay the same etc etc okay!

Okay I objectively know this is a ridiculous feature image for this post, but it’s Christmas Eve and no one is in the office to tell me no, and I feel like it does capture something really special, like we’re going back to our DIY zine roots and also my literal root? Humor me, my birthday was 3 days ago!!!

So! Wanna talk about Michelle Pfeiffer? Wanna talk about your roots? Wanna talk about a holiday that isn’t happening this month? Wanna talk about your perfect / horrifying / supportive / insufferable family? Wanna gush about your pals or your crush or your partner or your pet? Wanna tell me what cute items you purchased off one of our holigay gift guides for your loved ones and/or yourself?? You’re in charge, friends. Grab a beverage, put on your coziest pajamas, and let’s hang out in the comments.

Whatever you’re celebrating this month – even if it’s “nothing” or simply “the end of this horrifying year” – please remember that everyone here at Autostraddle is rooting for you. That will remain true for forever, I promise.

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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 333 articles for us.


  1. I just discovered something satisfying and pleasant, and I want to share it with you.

    ‘Christmas day’ as they call it, and as usual on lazy days I scan what Transmisogyny City (Berlin, Germany) is doing this week. And what do I find? Saturday next I could spend many hours, from early afternoon to late at night or even until dawn at wonderful, welcoming, empowering and splendid events!

    First there is a play party where the organizers – some trans men, a genderqueer person and a cis woman – implemented a special policy for pre and non op trans women: we had to keep certain parts of our bodies covered because, as their official statement said, our bodies are ‘triggering’ and symbols of male oppression. And hundreds of people were apparently very happy with this, i.e. the whole BDSM and play party scene. This policy stood for two years and was revoked this spring, why I do not know and, frankly, I do not care, they did make their point very clearly.

    From there I could go to a well- established Lesbian party, maybe the biggest in Berlin. Some months ago I wrote an email to the chief organizer asking whether it would be safe for me to go there, and whether they would recognize me as a woman or not. From the reply I learned the following: women and lesbians on one side and ‘the trans’ on the other are two distinctive groups! ‘The trans’ are also ‘the transgressive trans’! And TERF is a terrible slur! So far, so good. But Saturday next they also have the temerity to call this event a celebration of ‘Lesbian witchcraft’. No comment on this from Yours Truly.

    Do they really believe I would go there – play party, Lesbian party, or both, thus throwing my womanhood, my dignity and my self-esteem into the dirt, and to be treated there like dirt, which I of course would be?

    Well if they do they are wrong.

    But! The satisfying and pleasant discovery is this: not long ago I would have flown into a black rage, but apparently I do no longer. I think that means I have weathered everything they can throw in my direction. This morning (half past seven here) I grin like a big cat, I think tender thoughts and send them to Autostraddle Island. No holiday food, no get- togethers with Chosen Family, no gifts, nothing …but I bask in my Witch-y Inner Strength. This is nice!

    Playlist: one title. Anvil of Crom.

    • That’s the best gift you could have ~ the gift of your own self. Happy Witch-y Self day ~ stretch out and purrrrrr, and know that Autostraddle Island is your home whenever you drop by. Sending warm wishes this winter day!

    • Seconding the warm wishes! A day late for you now, so instead they’re Boxing Day wishes. Here is my witchy kitty:

      Btw I can’t remember, have you tried the Lex app? I’ve seen quite a few people from Berlin posting there, and it’s meant to be a space that’s safe for all marginalized genders. Not sure if apps are your thing but just thought I’d mention it!

        • Oooooh I love the kitten pic! Thank you so very much, Chandra and Snaelle, for your warm wishes!

          (Regarding this app, I never heard of it, and apart from not being able to use social media apps for tech/poverty reasons I have become far too paranoid for that …but I’ll not go into this now, I look at the gorgeous kitten instead!)

          And, Rachel, yes exactly – one of the cheesiest movies ever but I do love the music. And – well because of where I live I cannot post any pics here, so I hope you take my word for it that it is possible to be barbaric and sexy at the same time – ask Snow, I am sure she will convince you.

          • Well, Rachel, I should have guessed that Snow had clarified the matter long before I arrived here. I deeply regret that I missed that though – I mean, the convincing.

            Regarding Red Sonja – yes indeed, but in her case the movie was so cheesy that I opted out early on. Whereas, in my humble opinion, Poledouris’ music is timeless.

            And pertaining to barbaric women – what could anyone possibly expect from cis men’s fantasies in the 80s? Well well – here we are, for real this time, and lo and behold, we need men for absolutely nothing, as there is nothing we cannot do significantly better than them. Being barbaric included. We are indeed coming full circle, to the sexy war furies of the Celts, the Valkyries riding dire wolves singing their chants and the female powers of Eastern Europe. Did you perchance look at the video Lex linked for me this morning? If not, I highly recommend it.

        • Well I am not sure regarding the translation of the lyrics, it is a language I do not speak – but bringing pastries along is certainly appreciated by witches! I personally do not think that pastries are really essential but that may be just me though. And, a woman who can make, say, good pastries, is halfways where we witches are anyway.

        • Also rather unsure of the translation because it is a language with few resources and ways to double check if your primary is English BUT in Slavic folklore wheat and grains are regarded magical.
          There’s one folktale from country I can’t remember where you get a fierce monster to fuck off by placing bread in the window sill and said bread tells the monster something like “I was cut down by blades, ground to dust by stones, and seared by fire yet still I live. You cannot kill me in away that matters, hit the road jack.”

          And as long as we’ve had holidays we humans have been making and eventually associating a food with a holiday.Pastry crusts are always made of fats.

          So TL;DR I’m suggesting there could be a “ritually” important pastry for winter solstice :P
          But if not I cannot guess what it was meant to be because they sing to fast for me to keep up with to even phonetically make guesses.

          • This makes perfect sense I believe. After all, important annual ceremonies were about having a meal together with the Dieties, and, at least on one occasion, with the dead, who were certainly not ‘gone’. And this Eating-Together maintained these very vital relationships: between humans and their Dieties; between the living and the dead; betweeen humans and humans.

            In other words, Chandra had it exactly right, for, what are witches, seen from a certain angle? Priestesses and shamans, particularly in societies in which priestesses and shamans do not exist any more. Officially, that is.

            So, Lex, if you shove some food into the maw of Giant Gator next year and eat the other half of whatever it is, who knows what might happen? Maybe something very interesting.

  2. Happy everything to everyone! This is the first year I’m living alone for Christmas. I’ve been super into the season all month, putting up my own fandom-themed Christmas tree and enjoying people’s decorations, parties, and every other secular aspect of the season. I didn’t expect it to suddenly become hard on Christmas Eve!! For one, it was very cold and windy and I got serious cabin fever since I couldn’t seem to get outside for any length of time. That always does a number on me. Also, over the past two years, I’ve been decidedly moving away from Christianity and exploring various Pagan paths. I feel blessed that I got to celebrate Winter Solstice twice this year, but it’s just hard to be faithless at Christmas. I cried a lot while listening to the service from King’s College, buth in frustrated anger, and also in mourning and grief. Also, I used to play the pipe organ and could literally feel the music in my hands and feet as I used to play it, and I was sad that I never was able to be a professional organist. But today is Christmas Day, and the sun is out! YAY! I know that the rest of my week off from work will bring very good things!

    • Happy everything to you too! Living alone gives you space to breathe, but also, that space can suddenly sometimes feel like a hollowing out where all the feelings rush in.
      It sounds like you’re breathing in again, so enjoy the rest of your week off and the sunshine!

    • I do treat December like a “regular ‘ol month.” (THANK YOU VANESSA! Your posts are my favorite!) But I clicked bc I too love the word Christmakwanzakah! However, once I realized I had a choice in the matter (just like with church, religion, marriage, babies, and toxic family members), I gave even that up. Now I happily enjoy relaxing and rejuvenating alone time while my partner spends time with their drama-inducing family! Huzzah!

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