Tale As Old As Time: Here Is Your Christmakwanzakah Open Thread!

Wow, okay, it’s here! It’s Christmas Eve! Sure, time lost all meaning in April-ish of this year, but the fact remains: today is Christmas Eve and tomorrow is Christmas! Hanukkah is over, Winter Solstice is over, the Great Conjunction occurred, and Kwanzaa starts on Saturday! I’m a Jew and my birthday is December 21 so my personal holiday season is over, but I know this time of year — “the winter holidays” — can be fraught at the best of times, and hey, 2020 was not really the best of times, huh?! So maybe today feels fraught for you, or maybe you’re actually feeling happy and joyful (which is okay! In fact if you can find those emotions it’s encouraged!), or maybe you’re just tired, or maybe it’s a combination of everything. Whatever you’re feeling, whatever you’re doing, however you’re managing or celebrating or coping or falling apart, we want to make space at Autostraddle for you to connect with other queer humans who may be feeling the same and who definitely care about you and your well being. So we make this open thread every Christmas Eve, and we gather to chat about whatever the heck you wanna chat about. Tale as old as time!

a sweet cat sleeping curled up in a sparkly red santa hat

Even for those of us who don’t celebrate Christmas, this holiday season probably looks and feels a little different than usual. As queers, many of us are well practiced at not going home for the holigays, but we usually have the option of gathering with chosen family or strangers at a bar if we want to. Some of us do enjoy going home and it hurts that we can’t spend this time of year with our families of origin. I know from the comment sections on many Autostraddle articles this year that all our readers are doing their bests when it comes to managing the pandemic and also that this year has been really, really difficult for all of us. I hope that however you decide to spend today you can grant yourself some grace and kindness — and I hope this open thread can deliver some of that to you, too.

If you haven’t already, check out Home Alone for the Holigays, the fun series Shelli Nicole created for us about, well, staying home alone for the holigays (this year and also any year). If you’re an A+ member I hope you’ve been enjoying our 13 days of A+ content that Nicole has worked so hard to put together — if you’re not an A+ member, I gotta say, now is the time to jump on that! Consider it a holigay gift to your future self; you deserve it.

Before I sign off and let y’all get to chatting, I just want to say sincerely that I am sending each and every one of you my very best wishes today and every day. This year has been so hard, and everyone is trying their best, even when our bests do not feel very good at all. I am wishing you some warmth and some ease today, tomorrow, and every day forward.

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Vanessa is a writer, a teacher, and the community editor at Autostraddle. Very hot, very fun, very weird. Find her on twitter and instagram.

Vanessa has written 404 articles for us.


  1. Sooo looking forward to a day off tomorrow and playing piano, drinking tea, reading and not having to smile and be cheerful at anyone.

    Sending especial love to anyone who’s lost loved ones, who’s heartbroken, exhausted, lonely, struggling with health – mentally, physically.

    Sending love and thinking of those I see here who’ve been dealing with so so much more, and those I haven’t seen that I’m worried about – @rootypoot, @gunnaseethelight, @amidola
    I hope there can be joy for you in this next year too, I hope you have support, I wish that despite it all, you will go through into 2021 with something that holds you, that gives to you too 💜

  2. Merry midwinter (or summer!) holigay of your choosing to all!

    I celebrated Yule by myself, and with a zoom group too, and I enjoyed doing that despite feeling a bit blue. My mental health has been better then usual (so not serverely depressed) but still a little bit shakey the last weeks. The loneliness is getting to me, I live alone.

    For christmas (the secular variant) and newyears I was planning on going to my parents place, after quarantine and a negative test. Well, yesterday I was almost ready to leave and I suddenly developped a fever. Of course I stayed home and got another test. Still negative. So it’s just another bug, and I’ll leave once it’s gone. Our numbers are going crazy right now, our confirmed cases/1000 people is higher than the US. (Our deaths are lower. So it might be an artefact, I don’t know how available testing is for you.)

    @Vanessa: belated congratulations on your birthday!

    @all who are feeling lonely too: sending you some virtual hugs.

  3. If anybody’s ever wondered why Carol of Bells is goes so hard it’s because it was originally Shchedryk aka “The Little Swallow” by Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych.

    I feel like a champ because I finished putting together presents in a timely manner this year.
    Couldn’t find the pastry crust I had prepared in the freezer so just made another batch with the butter I did find in the freezer.
    Ooh and I finished off a project with a ladder stitch. Finally got that lil sucker.
    Chain stitch I got in a day but a most basic of stitches eluded me for years.

  4. God damn if my formerly-wonderful mom who hopped on the Trump Train without looking back doesn’t keep sending me old pictures of us together with no context every holiday so far. We haven’t spoken for more than three months since I implored her to vote for Biden and she responded by accusing me of getting my news from disreputable sources (read: not the right-wing talk radio my dad listens to) and then literally saying that she thinks the left are acting like Nazis.

    I don’t even know what to do anymore…I don’t wanna keep up not talking to her, but she wants to keep sweeping our differences under the rug and I don’t see how I can keep doing that with everything that’s been happening these past four years. She thinks she can somehow be a queer ally while supporting people and policies that are literally destroying people like me and won’t listen to a word I say about it because I’m too young and “will understand when I’m her age.”

    Sorry to go on a rant, I just need to get it off my chest to someone other than my girlfriend or my therapist I guess.

  5. Merry Merry and Happy Happy to all.

    A friend just dropped off a bag of candied pecans that she made and they are seriously the best thing I’ve eaten in a long time. I can taste the love.

  6. Happy whatever, everyone! I am off work until the 4th and will barely see a soul the whole time thanks to the wonder of being in a UK tier 4 area.

    I plan to fill the void by painting my bathroom and doing a bunch of other DIY around the boat. Or possibly ny getting (more) depressed and spending the entire time reading self-indulgent twaddle courtesy of AO3.

    • I’m so sorry you’re in tier 4 and that our government told us all to make plans to see the people we miss the very most before pulling the rug out from under us all.
      Painting in the cold is never fun. In my old house we had shelves I painted while it was snowing outside that never fully set hard (the surface set but underneath was still gloopy when we left, and we lived there for 3 years). I hope your painting goes better than mine and that you get a do-over Christmas as soon as is safe.

      • Yeah, it sucks doesn’t it? They just keep handling things … not great, and we went from tier 2 to tier 4 in like 36 hours. I hope you’re in a better situation than that, and get to see real people at some point during the holiday.

        I have no room to talk about painting in the cold as I spontaneously decided to paint the foredeck this afternoon, used the wrong thinner on the undercoat, and it went on like a mixture of oil and treacle that will definitely dry in a gloopy mess. The bathroom at least has heating.

        • Tier 4 solidarity high five! Or, err, wait…no…elbow bump.

          While my partner and I have what turns out to be a fairly Covid proof Christmas tradition of staying just us in London, we had our hopes up to have my brother in law from the other side of London (his partner is a doctor who is working through Christmas). It would have been a risk but we felt okay about it and we thought we’d be allowed…not so much. Then the number of things that have happened since then: our butcher didn’t receive their delivery and I walked about eight miles yesterday trying to find something to cook and came home to a notice of a forthcoming repair bill from our freeholder and I was recently made redundant and I just can’t even anymore. Every time I turn around this year it’s like I get punched in the face. It feels more like six weeks than six days since Tier 4 was announced.

          Woohoo, happy Brexsh*tmas everyone! Onwards and… well, onwards anyways.

          • Solidarity elbow bump, BFP!

            Sorry to hear about all your hassles over the last few days — it sounds horribly sucky, particularly with the bills and the redundancy, and the *waves hands at uncaring sky* everything.

            With the state of British politics this year, I think I can say with 100% certainty that Boris was the kind of kid who always half-arsed his homework the night before it was due. And his damn party are now letting him do the same but with a whole-ass country. Not cool.

            ANYWAY, I hope you have a lovely day in spite of everything, and some better luck next year.

  7. I finally got on the soft pants train and bought 3 pairs plus the softest onesie at the thrift store. Thanks for the recommendation Vanessa! I went on a nice solitary hike yesterday and a few days ago my mom organized a viewing of the planets which my family enjoyed! We’re making it through. Also I made personalized snow globes for my kids which they love, which makes my heart happy.

    Sending wishes for love and kindness to everyone!

  8. Merry & happy to y’all!

    I was feeling pretty good about this holiday season, in spite of this hellscape of a year, and this evening I just hit a wall?

    I’m an frontline essential worker at a covid testing site, and I (usually) love my job, but/and it’s also a lot. And I worked today, and everyone who came in was either in crisis, which I’m prepared for and totally understand, or super entitled (talking on the phone while looking directly at me and ignoring me as I tried to check them in with a line of 30 cars waiting behind them).

    And then I got home, and talked to my partner about plans for tomorrow. And my brain broke.

    We’re in a bubble with my folks, everyone has been tested, and we’re having lunch and watching something festive, and I was actually excited. Both my partner and my mom show their love by gifting super intensely & by cooking for people, and (ironically) they both HATE receiving gifts, so I have spent years carefully negotiating a compromise that they both (I thought) felt good about: flowers and homemade food treats are acceptable, nothing else.

    And it turns out, I’ve been told tonight, that the compromise still stresses my partner out? And I don’t know what to do because my mom has spent a bunch of time researching vegan baking and making treats, which are literally already in her fridge.

    And like, I just don’t have any spoons for *waves hand vaguely* this after today/this year? I just don’t know how to navigate people’s conflicting wants and needs right now. Cue crying on my floor. And then feeling guilty/silly for crying over what is in fact a manageable situation when the world is on fire.

    Sorry for the intensely long vent/ramble! I hope y’all have lots of coziness and calm tomorrow, whatever you do! ✨

    • Pretty sure all meltdowns about gifts, cats not stopping meowing, not being able to find a container for leftovers etc are ALL meltdowns about everything else that we’ve suppressed to try to make it through the world being on fire.

      Crying a whole bunch and then listening to very loud very intense music with headphones I found helpful, as well as rage eating something that you can tear chunks out of.

      It’s ok, you’re human, you’re dealing with a lot, meltdowns can help let some of it out sometimes!

  9. (Have calmed down, & realized that my partner didn’t actually ask me to do anything different or change the plan. Also remembering that I’m not responsible for managing everyone’s feelings! My own personal 2020 lesson strikes again!

    Thank you, Autostraddle, for holding this space for holiday related meltdowns! 🥶)

  10. Happy Holigays, everyone! I had a bit of a rotten 24th, but now I’m presiding over a (mostly) silent hotel lobby with nothing expected tonight. So I’ll just be here playing some melacholy and/or spooky music to calm myself down (thankfully, as night auditor, I get to turn down the insufferably cheery holiday music).

  11. Christmas Eve involved working from home, crying, calling my dad, getting angry, calling my divorce lawyer, and crying some more. But then my partner invited me over and made me charcuterie and mulled wine. So it’s looking up! Now to plan a cleansing bonfire for New Year.

  12. Happy holidays y’all! I am spending Christmas with my gf and our pup and taking a much-needed four day weekend. It’s my first Christmas without my parents and brother cause my dad is currently getting over covid. I’m very thankful that he’s doing pretty well, but it’s been a stressful end to a stressful year for him to have covid right around the holidays. Stay healthy friends!

  13. most iconic christmas song? wondering what folks think considering xmas as an inclusive cultural event to celebrate goodwill, fellowship, generosity. but not looking for our personal favorite songs. also no carols in this queery :)
    -skipping the carols/religious aspects seems fair here, so many people are exposed to xmas as a season, despite not subscribing to the faith-

    some options:
    Jingle Bells – parts are well known, but no mention of Christmas, and the rest of the lyrics are not very goodwill-y.

    The Christmas Song – it’s in the name. But also excludes ages 0-11mo/93 yo and up, so…

    Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer – every body can sing it, it roots for the underdog/reindeer – eventually.

    I’ll Be Home for Christmas – it’s got snow & mistletoe and the sentiment is earnest, but it’s a fake out. asking for present and snow (!) but aren’t really coming home. no fakers in this economy.

    Christmas Time is Here – Charlie Brown representation (stan: the unrequited Little Red-Haired Girl crush). Second, there’s something for everyone.

    Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – specifically mentions Yule! Specifically wants to be gay!

    any thoughts?

  14. Heyo. I hate spending holidays on my own. And, I live with people, but not people I had plans with. My ‘girlfriend’ of over a year hasn’t wanted to see me since Thanksgiving because of covid but also wont express affection except physically so that’s a bummer. but I cant break up with her because we basically only text and its Christmas 🤣
    I was doing really well today and dont have too much to be upset about. My family, if not present, is all alive and healthy. As are my friends. I made waffles this morning and listened to some big band jazz. I went for a walk despite the rain. Played with the dog. I spoke with friends and family. I drew. I still ended up curled up in a ball in my bed feeling pretty blue. Oh well. It all feels very liminal. We’re headed somewhere, I wonder where we will end up.

  15. I haven’t done Christmas in a long time. Nobody in my immediate family was ever really big on celebrating it. After my grandparents died we just did it for a bit longer because it felt like an obligation which usually ended up being rushed and half-assed anyway. Instead, some of us now do a low-key evening get-together on winter solstice (or on the closest weekend, when that doesn’t work out). This year it was handled via texting.

    Instead my major holiday of the season is New Year’s Eve. I’m probably not going to be doing anything this year, because covid. Which sucks, but what can you do?

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