Christmas open thread – December 25, 2017

It’s the Christmas open thread!

The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything that you want to talk about — work-related, not work-related, doesn’t matter.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue :)

{ 587 comments… read them below }

  1. KR*

    Christmas away from my family for the first time and I am sad. It just feels like another day out here. No presents to look forward to either. How depressing.

    1. Enough*

      This is the second Christmas in a row that my daughter couldn’t make it home. The day is coming closer when none of the kids will make it home.

    2. Temperance*

      Not sure where you are, but Comedy Central is having a marathon of South Park holiday episodes. Booth and I are enjoying those while doing laundry.

      1. Anion*

        Oh, those are the best. We have a DVD of South Park’s Xmas episodes; it’s not Christmas until we’ve watched them.

    3. Otter box*

      I had to do that for several years and it absolutely sucked. I’m sorry you’re in that boat this year. My advice would be to take good care of yourself – do something fun, whether it’s renting a movie you’ve always meant to see, baking an indulgent treat for yourself, etc. When I was sad and weepy I’d read sad books that made me cry, so I could get all my “sad” out a bit more productively.

      It’s not going to make the holiday completely better, but things like that always helped make it a little more bearable. It always feels like the people who are stuck without anyone to celebrate Christmas with are forgotten each year, so please know you’re not alone!

    4. JS*

      I’m also away for xmas this year, 2nd time for me but first time alone since last year friends came out to visit for xmas and NYE. Sending you warm wishes!

    5. Dan*

      There’s no young ins in my family, so we just do one winter holiday a year, and keep the other low key. These days, my bro and SIL tend to host Thanksgiving, and Xmas is just low key. Me, I’m just chilling in my apartment, doing a whole lot of nothing.

      I gotta be honest, I really truly enjoy not having the stress of trying to keep all kinds of people happy during the holidays.

      1. JaneB*

        Also home alone (except for the cat who is kind of the reason I’m hom alone) – second year here, and whilst last year was great this year is only OK – last year I was getting over a cold and I kept off social media, this year, I’m not in the mood – but probably wouldn’t be in the mood around people either!

        Internet solidarity though!

      2. Optimistic Prime*

        My husband and I spent Christmas together this year, without traveling anywhere, and went over some friends’ house for dinner. It felt so wonderful not having to keep all kinds of people happy. We just did what we wanted to do.

  2. Menacia*

    Wow, how sweet, a Christmas Open Thread! Wish my post was the same… So hubby called his mom to invite her over for Christmas dinner a few weeks ago, SIL happened to be at her house, overheard the conversation and invited herself and her loser husband as well. My hubby said yes, because he would like to see his family but his sister is a spoiled brat who thinks of no one but herself. She always shows up empty-handed to any place she’s invited, and her husband is about as intelligent as a rock, though I think rocks have the upper hand. So we went shopping, bought a beautiful rib roast and all the trimmings, and found out today that NO ONE is coming. We understand that MIL has been ill and kind of expected she might not be up for it (and we saw her last night), but SIL and BIL have nothing to do, and while it snowed, the roads are fine, they just did not want to come (for which I rejoiced inside but hubby was mad). So now we don’t need to do any more clean up, can stay in our pjs, and cook dinner when we want and have a lovely Christmas day just the two of us. We also gave each other scratch offs and won $50 between us. Hope everyone else can also find a silver lining even if your Christmas does not go exactly as planned.

      1. Menacia*

        Oh, it gets better! SIL called back an hour later and hubby did not pick up the phone, she called about 5 times and left no message. I told my husband that she is probably going to call his mother…and not too much later who calls to say she can come for a little while…and that SIL can now come too? His mom. Hubby stood his ground, his sister always pulls this sh* t and their mother tries to smooth things over instead of doing something about it. SIL called one more time and left a message saying they could come. Oh well, hope they have more than cat food to eat in their house…we’ll be having a rib roast, mashed potatoes, French green beans, rolls and lovely cookies…just the two of us. * smirk*

          1. Menacia*

            He finally called his sister back after she left a message that she did not mean to hurt him and she loved him. He said he forgave her but we were still not up for them coming over. My husband is a really good guy and wants to be close to his family but they make it very difficult due to issues with addiction and narcissism that runs in his family. We are going to have a lovely day regardless.

            1. Overeducated*

              Wow, good for the two of you for kindly setting limits. I’m pretty sure my instinct (based on how I was raised) would be to say “oh ok,” scramble to prep, have a horrible time, and be mad. Good mature adult behavior you’re modeling!

              1. Menacia*

                Yes, my husband felt guilty but he’s okay. This is not the first time his sister has flaked. We had an amazing dinner, I don’t think we would have enjoyed ourselves if they had come over.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Left over prime rib and potatoes make really good hash. If you’ve only known the version in a can, it’s a revelation.

          If you like beets and have them left over, they make a good addition.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Honestly, I actually this it’s kind of awesome when you go nuts doing a bunch of cleaning and prep and then plans change. You end up with food in the freezer and a clean house to enjoy without the stress of seeing people. LOL

      1. RML*

        Literally my greatest dream. Super clean house, lots of great food prepped, no where to be, and no one coming over.

      2. Nita*

        Very true! Most of our extended family could not come when we hosted Thanksgiving. Two weeks of no cooking and delicious leftovers. It was amazing.

        It’s another story that they could not come because they were sick and we were all very sad, so I’d rather have more guests and no leftovers next year. But it’s nice that something good came from a bad situation.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Win/win! Also, rocks are at least useful as paperweights, and some are interesting to look at. ;D

  3. Detective Amy Santiago*

    I missed the Friday open thread because we were doing all of our holiday things on Friday and Saturday.

    I had my video interview (final round, I believe) on the 13th and was told that I’d find out their decision by the middle of the following week. Except on Monday, the 18th, I got an email saying that they decided to wait until after the holidays to make a decision. So now I’m in limbo!

    1. Shira*

      Hope you hear good news soon! Also, great username – I’ve just started watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine and love it.

  4. Temperance*

    Booth and I had our family Christmases on Saturday, so we’re probably going to spend most of today at the casino. We’re the youngest regulars at our local casino, lol. It’s a 10 minute drive.

    My favorite moments from the entire weekend were when my 3-year-old nephew started screaming I LOVE YOU and blowing me kisses or when my 3-year-old niece ran over to me after dinner, screaming PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE like she was on fire, and then when I asked what she wanted, she said JUST PLAY WITH ME. It was incredibly cute to see how happy she was when I asked what she wanted to play. lol

  5. Shira*

    Christmas is not a national holiday where I live (Israel), and man did I have a kickass day. Met two deadlines (one on a project that was taking forever, the other in a new role that I am just getting the hang of). Then my mother in law picked up my son from preschool so that I could finish up at work, go grocery shopping ALONE, make headway on the laundry while watching TV, and get ready for a professional networking event with some very interesting people.
    This life of mine is mundane and I cherish it so so much.

    Alison (may I call you Alison?), this blog is exceptional. There is just so much consistently good content here. Best wishes to you and all your readers!

    1. Enya*

      Hey, another Israeli here! Yeah, Christmas isn’t a big deal here, I wouldn’t have even remembered if not for social media. Went to work, then a parent-teacher meeting, then grocery shopping- and now chilling out!

  6. Stacy*

    It’s a snowed-in kind of Christmas this year, so most of the celebrating will be happening on Boxing Day instead. We did have a blended families celebration for dinner with my SIL’s family last night, which was lovely, and and snowy. This morning brought Harry Potter and watching my roommate’s 3 year-old open presents, which was quite fun. Now for a snack of tea and cookies and then back to bed for a long nap before finishing wrapping gifts later today. I’m giving myself the gift of time, rest, and a very minimal To-Do list. Happy Everything, everyone!

    1. Dan*

      Your mention of a snowy Xmas made me think of all of those diddys they taught us as kids. I live in the mid Atlantic, where it snows pretty much every winter, and sometimes we get serveral feet. However, most years, including this one, for Xmas we have green grass without a flake of snow in site.

      I grew up in Northern Minnesota, where the roads were covered with snow by Thanksgiving. That song “I’m dreaming of a white Xmas”? I didn’t get it growing up, because THERE WAS GOING TO BE SNOW FOR XMAS. THERE WILL BE SNOW FOR THANKSGIVING. WTF? And then I moved here — and fully understand why people might actually need to dream. (Except then you have to shovel, and who wants to do that?)

      The other one I didn’t get was “March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb” and that rhyme “April showers bring may flowers.” Up there, it would snow well into April, and things usually started to thaw in May. We usually wouldn’t see flowers until June.

      And then I moved here — where the end of March is typically pleasant, it rains in April, and we get flowers in May.

      1. blackcat*

        I grew up in California, and one of my strongest reactions to reading Anna Karenina in high school was “OMG they are talking about the ground thawing in JUNE. JUNE!!!!!”

        I was slow to get up this morning and my neighbors had already cleared my driveway :)

      2. nonegiven*

        My son took a picture of his car after a trip to Home Depot the other day because it had snow on it. The last time it snowed there was the week before he moved to south TX from MA, early in 2011.

      3. Nita*

        I’ve moved around some, but I always end up in places where Christmas weather is all suspenseful (is that a word?) It’s a tossup until the last minute whether it’ll start snowing in time, or the rest of the state will get a snowstorm and we’ll get “wintry mix,” or if the skies will be clear till February. This winter is a nice exception, I’ll take all the snow over the uncertain mush or the snowless Arctic blasts anyday.

  7. CatCat*

    We had a good time having dinner and exchanging gifted with family last night. The egg nog I made turned out great! So smooth and creamy. I cooked it (have always done it raw) so I could leave the booze out and then peoples who wanted booze could put it in. I’ll put the link to the recipe in a reply to this comment.

    Today is just me, my spouse, and the step kiddo. Looking forward to opening our presents to each other, doing some cooking, and mostly loafing about all day.

    We’re going on a short trip to the coast tomorrow and it looks like the weather will be cold, but partly sunny, which should be great. We discovered last year that the middle of the week during the winter is an awesome time to go because coastal weather tends to still be nice, and waaaaaaaay less people go so we get a great deal on a hotel, see attractions and go to restaurants that aren’t totally crowded, and the drive home is not awful. It’s going to be a blast!

  8. The Foreign Octopus*


    The worst has, officially, happened. Two guests just turned up uninvited for Christmas dinner. I had absolutely no idea who they were and was informed that they are the ex-boyfriend and his friend of my friend (keeping up?). She invited them and assumed I wouldn’t mind.

    It was a very, very close call to me completely losing my shit because I didn’t want to host Christmas in the first place and, only then, for parents and brothers (5 in total. Inc. me).

    I’m currently cooling off in my bedroom. I politely asked the two uninvited to leave (I surprised myself by just how polite and friendly I was) and then I also asked my friend to leave because I was so angry. I know I’m going to have to deal with friend later but right now I just need to vent here and take a deep breath so I can go back and enjoy Christmas.

    Ho, ho, ho, everyone.

    1. C*

      2 extra people when you are only having 5 really throws off the amount of food too! It would be one thing us she had at least asked first or even told you in advance that she had invited them.

      Good for you for asking them to leave!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Agreed. When you’re cooking for 20, another two won’t make a difference. But yeah, cooking for a very small group and then having two extra unexpectedly throws everything off. And the whole uninvited thing is just wrong in my book. At the very least, ask the host first!

        1. doreen*

          Another two may not matter in terms of food – but it still may matter in terms of space. I got annoyed last year when my niece unexpectedly showed up for Thanksgiving with her boyfriend’s mother. Niece texted first, but we didn’t hear it and therefore didn’t answer so we found out when they got here. We had plenty of food, but it was already crowded and we had to squeeze an office chair into a corner of the table. We assumed that BF’s mother would have spent the day alone if she didn’t come to our house- so we were kind of surprised when they left right after about 90 minutes to get to one of BF’s relatives who was having a later dinner.

      2. blackcat*

        Yeah, my family can easily accommodate 2 extras at a big gathering… because a big gathering for us is 30. +/- even 5 wouldn’t be a big deal.

        But 2 extra when you planned for 5?!

      3. The Foreign Octopus*

        Thanks, guys. You’re right. More food can always be found if you’re cooking for larger numbers but I’m on a budget and everything was very carefully allocated. Even if I wanted to let them stay, I’d have had nothing to feed them.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          This part–She invited them and assumed I wouldn’t mind–has me shaking my head. Very few hosts fit that description, and they tend to be experienced partying extroverts entertaining a few dozen people.

          Inviting is bad; inviting and not warning is especially egregious.

      4. Artemesia*

        You bring extras and you 1. have to ask ahead and 2. you have to make a major contribution to the dinner e.g. all the wine, or whatever would be useful to the hostess.

    2. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      What on earth could that friend have thought? That’s a special kind of liberty to take if you’re not 1000% positive the hosting party will be happy to accommodate unexpected mouths at the table. I’m flabbergasted by them but impressed that you were able to ask them to leave politely.

      1. The Foreign Octopus*

        The thing that really confuses me is that she’s the friend I’ve been venting too about how stressed I’ve been finding preparing for a Christmas of five and then she does this.

    3. CeeCee*

      Dang. Your poor friend is now gone home alone because your gf invited unexpected guests? That kind of sucks. Christmas, if anything, should be a time to let the more be merrier and just figured it out. Take a deep breath and try to get through the day with what pleasure you can. It’s one day. Christmas is just a day. And have a big think about whether you and your girl are really on the same page. Maybe this is the sign that this is a closing chapter.

      1. CeeCee*

        Wait… I’m not keeping up.

        But I was raised Southern. You feed the surprise guests and then you have it out with that friends later. Repress, repress. Smile. Very healthy.

        1. Temperance*

          FWIW, I wouldn’t be able to accommodate extra guests, and I wouldn’t want strangers in my house, either.

        2. Observer*

          TLDR; It’s easy to say that when you have what you need. When you are short, it’s legitimate to not be ready to feed 40% more people than you planned, even when you are in a culture of hosting.

          Not when there is not enough food to go around.

          When we were kids, my mother was in charge of the kitchen and my father brought home an unexpected guest ONCE that I can remember. And this is a community where hosting guests, including unexpected ones, is a BIG thing. But he knew that as long as he wasn’t the one doing the planning and cooking he didn’t know what was available.

          Oddly enough, the ONE time my father did bring home someone unexpected, we were short. My sister and I were with him when he made the invite (and he REALLY couldn’t avoid it) and we ran home to give my mother a heads up.

          My mother wasn’t mad because she knew that he must have really been in a difficult situation. But also, she knew that she could serve him less than a normal portion (or even skip his portion) and he wouldn’t say boo. So we figured it out, but it did mean people having less to eat.

        3. nonegiven*

          Southern here. My husband asks permission to invite his friend for Thanksgiving. He asks every year.

        4. Shop Girl*

          I wan’t raised in the south but I agree telling even uninvited quests to leave on a holiday is not done. You make do even if you have to eat peanut butter on crackers. Because, well, unexpected guests are kind of a big part of the holiday.

          1. Optimistic Prime*

            Holidays mean different things to different people, and to me Christmas isn’t about unexpected guests at all. It’s about having a warm time with the friends and family I love the most. Strangers would ruin the vibe. And I *was* raised in the South.

      2. The Foreign Octopus*

        Not my gf. My friend invited her ex and his friend to my place where I was only going to have family.

      1. The Foreign Octopus*

        That was pretty much everything I just told her. I thought it was a fairly hard and fast rule, don’t invite people to another person’s house. Simple as.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          It is! Not even family should be invited by proxy! Sometimes it’s just too much, sometimes it throws off your plans, sometimes it’s a toxic family member, but the reasons don’t matter, the host is in charge of the party and the only one EVER entitled to invite anyone. The most I would do is ask the host, and then with the full expectation that they could say no.

        2. Red Reader*

          Hell no. Someone who invites strangers to my house is permanently off my “ever being invited to my house again” list. I don’t want people inviting people I KNOW to my house without my permission, let alone people I don’t. Totally validated. (Not that you need my validation, but still!)

          1. Artemesia*

            I used to host costume parties for friends and neighbors at halloween. One memorable year, someone brought a couple of strangers, who went through all of our vinyl, took them all out of their covers and left a stack of about 50 or 60 records and their random covers in the corner of the room near the turntable.

    4. Anonynony*

      Good for you! My husband and I stood our ground after his sister (who invited herself and her husband) cancelled on us today and then turned around to call back to say they would come (after manipulating my MIL into saying she would come over as well after saying she would not be up for it which we understood because she’s been ill). MIL even tried to make my husband feel bad about standing his ground that he did not want her to come over because he knew it was only for his sister. I did not want his sister and her husband here in the first place but I know my husband is hurt and angry.

      1. The Foreign Octopus*

        Thanks. Good for you for standing your ground as well. I hope your husband sorts it out soon.

        Christmas can bring out the worst in people sometimes.

    5. Temperance*

      Oh my gosh that’s so rude. So your friend brought her ex and some guy who she didn’t even know? WTF?

    6. neverjaunty*

      “I assumed you wouldn’t mind” = “I totally knew you would say no but figured I could talk you into sucking it up”.

      1. The Foreign Octopus*

        You know, I reckon that’s what it was. I can be so heartbreakingly British at times that I’ll just plaster on a smile and make the most of it but not today. I don’t think she’ll try anything like this again anytime soon but, in the New Year, I’m going to have a conversation with her about my boundaries and if that doesn’t work then that’s that.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        More people reasoning “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission” need this metaphorical slapping-with-a-20-lb-cod.

        1. Caro in the UK*

          I hate this phrase (and the sentiment behind it) so much! Especially in situations like this.

          Good on you Foreign Octopus for politely standing your ground! Depending on how frazzled I was, I would either have exploded in rage or panicked and let them stay, while seething the entire time. You handled it far, far better. I hope you had a lovely day!

    7. MissDissplaced*

      I don’t know, I guess I get the “if they show up we’ll feed ’em” type gene from my mom, who always made a little extra to go around. But I suppose it depends on what you’ve made. With a turkey or ham you can make it stretch easier than a roast or something. I understand being annoyed and mad, but maybe those people truly didn’t have anywhere or anyone to spend Xmas with?

      1. Red Reader*

        At which point, you call the host and go “Hey, I’ve got these two people who really don’t have anywhere else to be on Christmas. Is there any way we can accommodate them, and how can I make that easier on you since I know you weren’t planning for it?” You don’t just show up with two complete strangers at someone else’s house.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Even then… Like, I get it for “My mom will be in town, can we bring her?” for a person who is physically in your house. “My ex! And their friend! I heard they didn’t have anything going on!”is just weird.

      2. The Foreign Octopus*

        I agree with Red Reader. Had she asked in advance then I would have said yes because I would have felt guilty for saying no. However, I’m not available or willing to feed everyone just because they haven’t made plans for Christmas. In my mind, Christmas isn’t a special day except for the fact I get more of a chance to see my family. I would prefer to eat dinner alone than intrude on someone’s family dinner.

        1. WellRed*

          I feel like we all know those “more the merrier” people where this would be ok (but still rude), but…we know who they are and who they aren’t. And still, call first! And not on a family only thing!

      3. Temperance*

        I kind of hate the idea that being alone on Christmas is the worst thing ever, and we must do what we can to make sure people have somewhere to be at all costs.

        I’m an introvert in that I feel like it takes more energy to deal with people who are not my friends, so I would not only have the stress of rearranging my table and finding chairs for these people, but also finding food for them, plates for them, and making conversation with people I don’t know in my own house. It’s a special kind of hell, imo.

        1. Dan*

          I’m with you on all of this. I mentioned up thread that I typically do one winter holiday a year with family… which means the other I spend doing whatever. Some years I’ll travel overseas for Xmas, and other years I stay put and do whatever. This year is just me and the dog, and I’m A-OK with that. The “OMG they will have to spend Xmas alone” argument just rings hollow with me. Guess what? You can spend Xmas alone and actually enjoy it.

          Add in the introversion, and spending holidays with people I’ve never met before just doesn’t sound like fun.

          1. Temperance*

            I’m with Booth today, but if I was alone, I would just be eating eggplant parm and watching holiday specials on TV and having a nice, peaceful, quiet day. People who must Never. Ever. Be. Alone. freak me out a little, to be honest.

            1. Merci Dee*

              Those people. Also, the ones who are Afraid of Silence. Those who have to be constantly talking at (even if not with) someone when they’re sharing the same space

              I love my daughter fiercely, and she is a brilliant conversationalist for a 13-year-old (even if I’m her mother and am required by law to be blown away by her intelligence). Talking with her after school/work is the highlight of my day. But I’ve worked very hard to give her the gift of silence, so that she knows it’s okay to be in the same space as another person and to do your own thing without feeling the need to chatter about nothing in order to keep things from being too quiet. She needs to be comfortable with herself, confident in her ability to entertain herself, and okay with the idea that others should be able to do the same. She shouldn’t have to entertain someone else, and someone else shouldn’t have to entertain her.

              I feel, sadly, that this is becoming a lost art these days.

              1. Optimistic Prime*

                My husband is one of those people (funnily enough, despite being an introvert). He hates silence and so he just talks and talks and talks and when he doesn’t have anything to say, he makes random noise. He also turns on the TV even if he’s not watching it just so he can have noise going in the background, because he is Afraid of Silence.

                It drives me BANANAS. I’m an early riser, and so on weekends and days off – like today – I wake up several hours earlier than him just to bask in the early morning quiet before he starts chirping every morning, lol.

        2. Optimistic Prime*

          Ah, you said what I wanted to say! On holidays I just want to be with a small group of my closest friends and family, because holidays to ME mean not having to stress myself out by dealing with a bunch of people, especially people I don’t know. Especially in my own damn house! Being alone on a holiday sounds divine. I’ve done it before and it’s lovely. Quiet, peaceful.

      4. Falling Diphthong*

        It’s returning the awkward to sender. If you make it easier for them to just never ask in future–that way, you don’t inconveniently say no, and you always rally to their surprise demand of the day–then that’s what they will learn to do.

      5. Observer*

        I come from that type of background, and as an adult, I’ve always been fortunate enough to be able to operate this way. But it’s not always reasonable.

        I’ll point out that just as these people may really not have had where to go, maybe we should take TFO at her word that she REALLY couldn’t accommodate them.

        1. The Foreign Octopus*

          I really couldn’t. Financial and food reasons to one side, I also had no space. I live in a one bed apartment and they would have had to eat off their laps due to lack of space.

      6. neverjaunty*

        I also am of the “the more the merrier/bring your strays” mindset, but I damn well want people to check in with me before showing up with unexpected people on my doorstep (absent something like a true emergency).

      7. Kate in Scotland*

        I guess I’m being overly literal here but… the stray people are not alone on Christmas, there are two of them? Or three if the friend had gone with them instead?

    8. Loopy*

      This whole situation would make me uncomfortable on EITHER end. I’ve been away from home on Christmas and had to be a tag-a-long guest… but I was always expected. I would never have felt I could show up as a surprise add on. I always made sure the person bringing me asked the host and expected me.

      I would have hated being those guests. How did THEY feel comfortable imposing?!?!

      I’m a transplant in the south ( from MA) and while everyone seems *way* more flexible than I would be, we still call ahead and get the come on over okay!!!

      1. The Foreign Octopus*

        The guests didn’t realise I hadn’t passed along an open invitation. They were very apologetic and the three of us actually had a good laugh about the awkwardness of the situation and we chatted for a few minutes as I suggested a few places they could get some food. They totally understood and were as gracious as possible under the circumstances.

        My friend, however, less so.

        1. Gilmore67*

          The extra guests where OK about it and the friend wasn’t? Wow. I am sure they were told it was cool by your friend and it made her look bad. Hopefully she learned her lesson.

          We had a birthday party for my husband just this month. His brother invited some people from his old work to come. No problem I knew that was going to happen and I accounted for that, food wise. One brought his fiancé, again no problem. But they also brought whom what I think was either was her daughter and her boyfriend or her son and his girlfriend. Or maybe it was just her 2 kids. (Or some people they just met in the parking lot? lol…) No clue who they were. They ate the food, cake and all. So whatever, it was not earth shattering but really?

          I can just hear it….“What did you do this weekend”? I went to a birthday party for someone that I don’t know because my mom said there was free food. “

        2. Anon-MD*

          I detest uninvited guests of any kind , but I
          would have made this work somehow. Most sane people don’t show up at a stranger’s door on a holiday unless there’s some type of need, e.g., food, companionship, friendly interaction, human contact around the holidays, etc. I’m sure the guests were mortified that you were not expecting them and sent them away. It was your gauche friend’s faux pas, not theirs. Hopefully they found somewhere else to go.

          1. neverjaunty*

            In this case, the sane people showed up because they had been misled by Friend McJerkface into thinking there was an open invitation.

            I admit I am also a bit boggled at the idea that it was TFO’s job to “make this work somehow” – as if someone being bored and wanting company, or not feeling like eating what was in their fridge, creates a moral obligation to host them if they turn up.

            1. Anon-MD*

              I, Anon-MD, would have made it work. I didn’t communicate that it was TFO’s job or moral obligation to do anything.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          Oh, I want to be a fly on the wall for the conversation that happened after they left.
          “Jane, you told us it was okay. Now we look like jerks to TFO. What did you do that for? Didn’t you make sure it was okay for us to come first, before we left the house?”

          Too bad you didn’t have extra food, you could have bumped Jane out and kept the friends. At least they were gracious from what you say here.

          1. Loopy*

            This! If I was one of the two guests I would have wanted to crawl under a rock. Or shove original friend under a rock.

    9. Julianne*

      Oh my gosh, it sounds like you handled this really well, but UGHHH how awful. I remember a time when I had uninvited guests show up for a dinner, I tried to turn them away citing insufficient food (there were 4, I’d cooked for 7), they said “Oh no, it’s fine, we’re not hungry and just want to hang out,” I caved under pressure from two invited guests, and then 90 minutes later they started nagging me about feeding them. The 4 uninviteds and the 2 invitees who pressured me to let them stay went on my enemies list after that.

    10. Basia, also a Fed*

      This is my biggest nightmare, and I admire you so much for standing your ground. Just curious – it sounds like the friend wasn’t invited, either, if 5 people would be your parents, your brothers, and you. So it was 3 people you weren’t expecting. What would your friend had showed up alone?

      1. The Foreign Octopus*

        I was expecting her to pop in and say hi because she lives close by but she was going to spend the day with her by and his family. She wasn’t going to stay for dinner but maybe an hour of convo.

        If she’d shown up alone and said her plans had fallen through, I’d have made it work but she seems to have wanted me to entertain her friends while she had dinner with her bf. Her excuse being that be and family are Spanish who don’t speak English and her friends would have been uncomfortable.

        I don’t get it either.

        1. only acting normal*

          Wait. WHAT?!
          She turned up to drop off two uninvited strangers to your family gathering rather than host them herself at her own family gathering? That’s just… wow.
          You handled it better than I would have!

          1. Karen K*

            Well, this just keeps getting worse and worse.
            I truly admire the fact that you turned them away. It must have been a very difficult thing to do.

        2. Jen in Oregon*

          I *really* hope there’s an update in the next open thread about the conversation that is sure to follow!!

  9. limenotapple*

    Does anyone else kinda hate Christmas? I wish I could love it, but it’s just a lot of stress trying to make everyone happy with zero chance of success. Sorry to be a bummer.

    1. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      Many years I do: stressful family, travel, unnecessary gifting, still feeling lonely no matter how many people I’m around (or because of the people I’m around). I managed to find peace with it this year though. Don’t know if it’ll hold but I’m appreciating it while I can. I hope you can find a way to have peace with it, someday, too.

    2. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

      Nah, you’re not alone. I wouldn’t say I hate it, but I do resent the stress and pressure that go along with it. They tend to cancel out the fun and joy.

    3. Temperance*

      After the year where my mother ripped me a new one for missing Christmas Eve dinner (promptly at 5! won’t move back 15 minutes to make it possible for me to get there on time after work!) because of an ice storm that SHE knew about but didn’t mention because she wanted everyone “home” for Christmas, I opted out. I mean, at some point all the people expecting you to come to their house also stopped visiting … right?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        We called that “The Command Performance” as in “You WILL appear at this EXACT time. You will be dress in this EXACT manner and you WILL bring X, Y and Z..”

        Oh my how festive.

        1. Temperance*

          YES! My sister called it the same thing! I had a great holiday this year. I saw my sister and in-laws (and most importantly, little nieces and nephew) on Saturday, and slept in today and watched South Park’s holiday specials.

      2. limenotapple*

        Wow, Temperance, I’m so sorry. Opting out can be the best move. Hope you have a peaceful day.

        1. Temperance*

          Oh it’s totally fine now, honestly! I had a great, relaxing day, and had family Christmases on Saturday. Booth and I are about to lean in to some beers and board games.

    4. Menacia*

      Yes to this! I think since I tend to keep my expectations of others low (possibly an introvert trait?) I am also not disappointed too often. I also don’t bend over backwards to please people because it’s usually a losin proposition. I’m actually not a pessimist, just very realistic and logical.

    5. Laura in NJ*


      I completely understand. I’ve personally hated the holidays ever since I lost my job and my friends stopped speaking to me. So now I just don’t bother with them.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      I like Xmas–still have kids either at home or young enough to always come home.

      Thanksgiving, though–the two best celebrations ever we were on vacation and did athletic things, then ate out. But I think my ecstatic joy in that doesn’t register with the rest of the family.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I hate the hype. I hate how commercial it is, it’s become a big money grab. It’s not lost on me that we have all these things and yet very few people are that happy. To me it looks like a set to fail type of situation, we have somehow lost our way.
      Christmas was a lot more special when we had to wait until December 1st to see the stores decorated and hear the music. Now I hear carols in June. It’s not the same.

      1. Dan*

        Same. As I mentioned in a post below, when I was married, I started to resent the holidays because they became a huge budget buster. They stopped being something I enjoyed, and became something I tolerated. Never mind that my ex bought into all of the hype, and if I didn’t play along, she’d lay into me.

      2. Circus peanuts*

        I am not fond of it either. It’s just all too much everywhere all the time. My fiance s family is an over the top bury you in gifts kind of family and it is difficult to cope with. My family puts up one wreath, fills stockings with two or three candy canes and five dollars worth of lottery tickets, and we spend five minutes giving each other one or two unwrapped presents. That’s my preferred norm.

      3. Optimistic Prime*

        That’s the worst part. Everything from late October through the end of December becomes a huge cash grab. You have to win Christmas! You have to buy buy buy for this person and the third and these other people you don’t talk to! Let’s pump manufactured music into the stores so people get in the mood to purchase stuff! (Music that, nowadays, is also made for albums that are nearly guaranteed to sell – everybody has a Christmas album or 4.) All of the episodes on TV are holiday specials, all of the music on the radio is Christmas…it’s like you can’t escape for two straight months.

        I wish people would just be less crazy about it…a month of holiday stuff, and some holiday stuff sprinkled in throughout just normal life.

    8. Dan*

      I actually really hated the holidays when I was married. My ex always had to make a big to-do about everything (I don’t mean host large gatherings, but she liked to play up everything for all it was worth) and I really came to resent having to satisfy her expectations. Her b-day was is in early November, so between that, Turkey Day, Xmas, and NYE, I remember most years being married, thinking, “god, can we please just get this over with? And preferably without breaking the bank, thanks.”

      We never had kids, so when we split, I got my holidays back… I really prefer things low key, and hate the stress associated with holidays, so unless I’m traveling to see my family (or traveling outside the country) I do a whole lot of nothing and enjoy every minute of it.

      Never mind that she’d be the type to invite half the neighborhood we’ve never met over for Xmas dinner, and I’d be the type to stare at everybody wondering who these people are and when they’d leave. She never actually did that, but…

      1. limenotapple*

        A whole lot of nothing sounds awesome! It’s all just so much with outsized expectations. Like if the stuffing isn’t right or tbe schedule is a little different, it really is all fine. Seems like it would be more fun to treat it like any other day.

    9. Sylvan*

      I don’t hate Christmas but I am tired of the music, ads, inflatable yard decorations, etc. I am not Christian (about half my family is, half follows other religions or is agnostic or atheist) but I just don’t get what that stuff has to do with the holiday or why we need to all buy tons of things to compete with our neighbors.

      tl;dr I hate fun?

    10. Anon this time*

      I still love some parts of it, but I’m really starting to dread it in general.

      It’s mostly just my parents and I in the area, and we tend to be pretty casual. But for the last several years, we’ve been having Christmas dinner with their best friends, and said friends’ family. The best friends are very formal, and I don’t know them well.

      It’s just exhausting for an introvert.

    11. nep*

      I’m always glad when it’s over. I really don’t like any of it. Not in a negative state of mind — just not feeling it. Haven’t for years.

    12. Stephanie*

      I worked at the Brown Shipping Company for a couple of years. I used to loathe Christmas because it meant 12-hour days and supervising and training lots of seasonal hires.

      I’m ok with it now, but sometimes all the hectic gift buying and big holiday dinners are just too much. This year there was kind of a family meltdown and I’m just thinking “Ugh, I think half of this would be solved if we just did like Christmas pizza and called it a night.”

    13. Sara without an H*

      Much of the stress can be eliminated if you get rid of the gift-giving part. My mother had an epiphany in the mall — why were we celebrating the birthday of a religious figure known for poverty and self-sacrifice by running up big credit card bills?????

      Mom is gone now, but we celebrate by attending church on Christmas Eve, then gathering on Christmas Day to eat ourselves into a stupor. It’s kind of relaxing.

      I realize that this can be hard, depending on your family dynamics, but if you can deep six the gift exchange, Christmas is much, much easier, and more enjoyable.

    14. Optimistic Prime*

      I do! I kinda hate the entire holiday season. The last couple years have been better, as I’ve moved across the country from most of my family and can beg off traveling because of expense and time.

      The thing is, normally it has all the components I would like. I love giving people gifts, and I love coziness and warmth and food. But the social expectation and pressure and rampant commercialism just ruin everything. I am so relieved it is over.

    15. Lehigh*

      A bit. I actually love a lot of parts of Christmas but I get gift-giving anxiety and then my depression almost always acts up for the actual holiday, regardless of how low-key it is. The shorter days certainly do not help.

  10. qwertyuiop*

    We’re all sick with colds, coughs, etc. to the point where we were going to postpone the festivities until next weekend. Luckily we pulled together, drove through the snow and made it work. Today is more family fun and tomorrow it’s back to work. Happy holidays to everyone!

    1. Justme*

      My kiddo woke up sick this morning. Opening presents was kinda hilarious because she could muster a little excitement. She napped and is watching awful Christmas stuff on Netflix. I was also very extra this year and ordered us matching holiday pajamas. It’s quiet here except for my fighting cats and I’m actually quite happy.

      1. Artemesia*

        After all these years, I am still always surprised at how awful a cold is. I have allergies so often have nose and cough things, but a real cold is just a misery — ‘just a cold’ — but it is a misery. Feel better.

  11. I'm A Little TeaPot*

    Merry Christmas to anyone who celebrates it :) We got about 3 inches of snow yesterday, so we do indeed have a White Christmas here. And I only got 3 presents from family (this is a good thing).

    The cat was sick with a respiratory thing and I got her into the vet just barely before it started getting bad. She spent Friday night working to breathe, but the antibiotics kicked in and she was doing much better Saturday.

  12. CeeCee*

    I live with my retired father and I was at my boyfriend’s house for the night when our home was broken into about 2am. Someone came in while he was sleeping and took his laptop and Kindle, gift envelopes and Christmas gifts, our Xbox and controllers…. They opened my father’s door and he called out my name in the dark. We guess this scared them away. I’m thankful they didn’t hurt him or frighten him. I’m thankful my small dog was with me and wasn’t hurt or stolen. I’m thankful for all the things they didn’t take.

    Christmas is a little lighter this year and that’s okay. It’s just stuff. My mom died almost two years ago and we are a small family. I divorced this year after 10 years together. I had been feeling sad and now I feel such content. We’re okay. We’re all really okay.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Wow, look at you GO! Good attitude. Yep, you are all okay and it is just stuff. You guys all have each other and that is the important thing. You found that peace, congrats.

    2. WellRed*

      My dad died nearly two years ago and while mom and I had dun opening stocking gifts today we both have been if the mind it’s all just stuff. It really is.

  13. Bibliovore*

    Still sick but enjoying the Christmas stories. Up and down all night. Sound like the plague house. Mr. Bibliovore and I are enjoying Celtic Christmas on the stereo and wrapping the last of the presents for “Christmas plus” that will be on Wednesday if we are up for it. To everyone peace and joy.

  14. Valancy Snaith*

    Since this is a free-for-all….who else is heading in to work today or at work? Since I work at Starbucks, we’re open (unfortunately), and I’ll be there this afternoon for the time-and-a-half and hopefully excellent tip money. My husband and I visited my parents last week and exchanged presents this morning, and we’ll be having a nice roast dinner when I get home this evening. And if it stops snowing, maybe a drive to see the lights and decorations. Not a bad day despite the work! (Although we’ll see how I feel after I get home, depending on how the public is acting today.)

    1. Tammy*

      I work in tech support and I volunteered to provide coverage. I’m working from home and monitoring our ticket queue.

      1. ForkAndKnife*

        Same here. I’ve done less than 1h actual work, but that’s already more than usual for our weekends.

        1. Nancie*

          Same here! Well, an hour on a weekend day isn’t too unusual, but for Christmas Day, and especially in the morning, it was a bit unexpected.

    2. Loopy*

      I’m surprised anyone is open (I shouldn’t be!!). Yesterday I was wishing I could tip retail workers on Christmas Eve so I do hope you get rewarded with most excellent tips!!!! And lots of kind customers.

    3. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

      I’m have some freelancing going on right now, so I’ll be working today.

      If I were working retail/food and they were open, though, I would have volunteered to work because I don’t celebrate Christmas and would be hoping for holiday pay.

      1. Windchime*

        My son works at a grocery store that is open for 8 hours today. He volunteered to work because it’s double time and a half for him.

      2. Optimistic Prime*

        We didn’t celebrate any holidays growing up, so my mom always used to volunteer for Christmas and New Year’s Eve because she got double pay.

    4. The Foreign Octopus*

      I’m trying to imagine who would go to a Starbucks on Christmas Day? I know not everyone celebrates but if you’re in a country that does then it feels like a strange thing to do.

      1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

        Eh. In both the US and where I live now in the UK, I’ve lived in areas where, while the majority still might be Christian, there are such substantial numbers of non-Christians that it would be unreasonable to expect everything to close. Given that I have no Internet access in the UK, if I’d stayed there rather than coming back to the US I probably would have gone to Starbucks to check FB, email, etc.

        1. Justme*

          I live in a fairly Christian area and Starbucks and the Chinese food restaurants are open. McD’s is closed though. I’m thankful that Walgreens is also open because I’ll run out of cold medicine for my kid soon.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, and I forgot the obvious–everybody else who has to work today, including first responders, snowplows, and emergency crews.

      2. Temperance*

        I also feel it incredibly strange that it’s “wrong” for retail shops or places like Starbucks to be open, but everyone is used to going to a movie on Christmas.

      3. Lissa*

        I do it every year. :) I don’t celebrate Christmas though, so for me it’s part of what I do on a day that can feel weird and isolating with everything closed and everyone busy. I go for a walk in the morning and enjoy the absolute quiet with almost nobody on the roads, and wander my way around the city to one of the two Starbucks that’s open that day. (There are like, 25 in my city altogether.)

        I’d also happily work Christmas Day but have never worked a job where we’ve been open!

      4. HannahS*

        Uh, if you don’t celebrate Christmas, today is just a Monday. Why wouldn’t we want to go about our usual lives?

      5. Stephanie*

        I could imagine if you’re working today (first responders, airport employees, etc), you still may want to go to Starbucks.

      6. Shop Girl*

        People travel, essential workers work, for people with no where to go it might be an excuse to get conversation. People who don’t celebrate often volunteer to work.
        I personally like to work Christmas Eve. Customers in our neighborhood Co op are pleasant, truly happy that we have the missing ingredient and concerned that we have to work.

    5. Red Reader*

      I WFH 100%, and one of my two roles is 10 hours a week as supplemental staff for another team. So I’m taking my 8 hours of holiday pay from my regular role, but going on hour four of working my supp role for this week. It helps keep them up over the holiday (my regular team has overseas vendors who will help pick up our slack, but this team doesn’t), and my family did all our holiday stuff Saturday and Sunday, so I don’t have any thing else doing today and I’m social’ed out anyway, so holed up in my office with Netflix and reviewing claims :)

    6. LCL*

      I’m not this year, because I specifically requested vacation. We spent some time preparing for the fill in person, and we are fully staffed. Time and a half for the people scheduled , the ones called in early for the snow storm are making double time. I will have to go in tomorrow for a couple hours to finish payroll. Of course we did it ahead of time, but with a 24/7 group there are always changes over the weekend, and the extra hours for the storm is more changes.

    7. Dan*

      I used to work at a place that was open 24/7. My family is tiny, and we didn’t do anything particularly noteworthy for Xmas, so back then, I’d work the holiday, get paid the extra cash, and visit my family the week before when plane tickets were half the price. Worked for me.

    8. Annie Mouse*

      I should have been at work today (EMS) but was not strictly needed and so, as my shifts were completely changed with 3 weeks to go, I put my foot down, refused, and got leave granted. If I hadn’t got things planned I wouldn’t have minded working but I’d planned to be away and there was no way that was changing! I think I should feel a little guilty for getting the leave, but tbh I don’t. I’ve not had a break from work since September (even weekends were spent on revision and assignments) and I desperately needed the few days I had planned. It has been great, and things will be just as manic when I’m back tomorrow. But I feel much more recharged and ready to get back to it.

    9. Jaelle*

      I’m working 11-7 today at work and it was a disaster when I walked in – messes everywhere, clients in need and not assisted, and at least 1 major reportable incident. It took me about 3 hours to straighten everything out but man! I’m ready to go home already and sleep – I’ve been sick (like “required 2+ weeks medical leave” sick) and am just starting to get my strength back.

    10. TL -*

      I worked (but I’m a freelancer so it was a choice.) I’m abroad, though, so I was binging Netflix with some friends – my attention span is not good enough to actually watch anything for 8 hours, though, so I brought papers to read and some freelance work to do on my computer.

      I couldn’t be with my family and loved ones, so I wasn’t too fussy any which way, though.

    11. Jo*

      I’ve spent the last few years working in non-Christian majority countries where 25th December is just another day, although this year I did take the day off so I didn’t actually have to go in to work.

      Thailand, where I live now, is funny because Christmas isn’t really celebrated here but has large numbers of expats living here and even more tourists visiting over the holidays, so little Christmas displays pop up here and there. It’s actually perfect, because it’s just enough without being overwhelming.

    12. ..Kat..*

      Pediatric ICU nurse. I like to work Christmas Eve and Christmas. I can’t think of a better way to spend my Christmas Day. People need extra TLC when their child is hospitalized this time of year. Plus, I like to be very low key about Christmas. When family and friends know I am working these two days, they don’t hassle me about not putting up lights, not putting up and decorating a tree, not going to get-togethers, etc.

      And, I am paid time and a half. And, people think I am an “angel “ for working today :)

  15. Quaggaquagga*

    Wondering how to handle the “And how was your Christmas?” question when I go back to work on Wednesday. Didn’t have the best Christmas ever — a parent has been in the hospital and I’ve been back and forth from the hospital every day since they were admitted. They will be ok, but it’s been the first Christmas where they haven’t been present, so it’s been sad. I’m appreciative that their illness wasn’t more critical and that they are on the mend. Coworkers know I scurried out of work suddenly last week to attend to a family emergency. On the one hand, I haven’t even told some of my close friends. On the other hand, I don’t feel like I have the energy to make up a story, even if it’s an incredibly vague “It was fine,” and I’m quite close with my colleagues. Also not really feeling like answering the gauntlet of questions tonight at dinner with the extended family.

    Anyone else ever fret about how much to share with others?

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Re your last line: I have been there, yep.

      I find “it was okay” followed by a change of subject works well.

      Wishing the best to you and your parent.

    2. The Escape Artist*

      I’d respond with deflections like “Can’t believe it’s over!” or “Wish I had another day off to clean up the mess!”

      I do feel awkward about sharing certain personal things with my coworkers. Like when my ex and I broke up because I found out he cheated; literally, we were happy one day and over the next. They knew something had happened but I didn’t feel comfortable sharing the details so I just said something vague like “It wasn’t a perfect relationship.” I also have a much more distant relationship with my parents than a lot of my coworkers (we rarely talk or visit), but I would never want to explain that, so I just don’t contribute to conversations about seeing family for the holidays, parents visiting, etc.

    3. Mm Hmm*

      Could you just say that your parent is on the mend, which is the best gift? They know you had an emergency, this speaks to that while answering the gist of the question.

    4. Stephanie*

      My Thanksgiving wasn’t great–I ended up having to go to a family funeral and then spent the rest of the trip working on an assignment that was due the Monday after Thanksgiving. I just gave noncommittal, short answers and changed the topic.

  16. The Other Dawn*

    I hate that I didn’t do my usual prep the day ahead, such as making up the cookie/brownie plate, making the stuffing, etc. Normally I’m left with only minor things to do on the day of, because I do so much prep ahead of time. Basically, anything at all that can be done ahead, is. But I slacked yesterday since I came down with a cold, and now I have a bunch of stuff to do. Plus my husband is working, and his family is coming for dinner, so I’ll need to get out there and shovel at some point so no one falls on their way into the house.

    On the bright side, I discovered one of the Hallmark channels has a yule log program that features kittens and puppies playing among the Christmas tree and gifts. It’s so cute! I put it on for the music, but find myself wanting to sit and watch cute kittens horsing around.

    1. Artemesia*

      I am making a beef wellington for the first time from a whole tenderloin I bought though my food co-op. I did all the complicated stuff yesterday and it is just waiting to be wrapped in puff pastry and baked; I just took it out of the refrigerator to warm up to closer to room temperature before it goes in the oven. Making a green peppercorn sauce to go with it. Waiting for family — got all the presents wrapped and stockings stuffed last night too.

    1. Windchime*

      Very cute. I don’t have a Christmas cat picture to share, but apparently my cat had a wild party last night while I was asleep because I found one of his cat toys in the powder room toilet this morning.

    2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Our girl kitty, who every other day off work gets us (read: me) up at 7.05 am promptly for her breakfast to be served, kindly waited until 8.05am this morning after we all went to bed late last night after card games and drinking.

      1. Mitchell Hundred*

        Mine does get cranky if I’m late feeding her, but she reserves her most ardent protests for after she sharpens her claws on the scratching post and doesn’t get a treat as a reward.

  17. Todd Chrisley Knows Best*

    Took a total wild card on one of my younger relatives gifts this year. An Addidas jacket I picked up at a store closing sale for a mere $20, retailed at least $70, and maybe more (couldn’t find the exact one). I’m told that despite every other family member shedding layers in the intense heat in the house, he wouldn’t take it off and kept it Zip up. I really can’t put into words how happy such a little thing makes me.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yeah, I really want to know, too! I’ve yet to master homemade mac and cheese. My brother and SIL always brought it to gatherings and we all dreaded it because it was dry. We’re used to a more saucey mac and cheese, I guess.

        1. Red Reader*

          not the original poster, but also got raves about my mac and cheese this weekend — recipe with bonus algebra!

          if x=1, your end pan size is roughly a loaf pan or an 8×8. if x=2, 9×13 baking dish. I’ve fed 30 teenagers out of a big disposable cafeteria pan with x=4.

          x tablespoons of butter
          x tablespoons of flour
          x.5 cups of milk
          8x ounces of shredded cheese (minimum :P add more if you like!)
          x/2 1-lb boxes of elbow macaroni (or shells or cavatappi or whatever)
          seasoning to taste (I add salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder always, sometimes also Italian seasoning, but I know people who add hot sauce or whatnot here too)
          add-ins as desired

          Cook the pasta as directed and set it aside. melt the butter in a saute pan or saucepan over low-medium heat and whisk the flour into it until all the butter is absorbed and you have a paste. (add more butter or flour as needed, the algebra is approximate.) cook the paste for a couple minutes. add the milk slowly at first — pour in a few tablespoons, whisk it in until it’s thoroughly incorporated into the paste (which will become less paste-like), but don’t add any more milk til the first splash is thoroughly incorporated. Then add another small splash, and repeat. Once you have a thick liquid instead of a paste, you can add the milk in larger quantities. When all the milk is in, add your seasoning and heat just until the milk starts to simmer. Throw in the cheese by handfuls and whisk until it’s melted and mixed in. tweak the cheese quantity, depending on how thick/thin you want your cheese sauce. I usually end up adding extra because I like it cheesy :)

          For a more stove-top creamy Mac and cheese, dump the Mac into the sauce pan and stir it up.
          For a baked mac which is still pretty saucy, mix it together and put it in an oven-safe dish, put more cheese on top, and stick it in a 350 oven for ~10 minutes.

          add-in options:
          use Italian cheese blend, add a jar of pizza sauce to your cheese sauce when you mix it all together, and stir in your favorite pizza toppings for pizza mac.
          use the “taco/nacho blend” cheese, replace some of the milk with a jar of enchilada sauce, stir in some salsa and cooked taco meat, do the baked version and serve with a dollop of sour cream on top for taco mac.
          it’s super tasty with ham or smoked sausage mixed in, and a veg – peas or broccoli are my usual choices – make it a one-dish casserole meal.
          I did a white-cheese version with caesar dressing stirred into the sauce and chicken added to do a chicken Mac-and-caesar that was pretty tasty, would also work with ranch I’m sure.

        2. Loopy*

          So I don’t have an exact recipe as I didn’t make it, but for 3/4 a box of elbow macaroni to 16 slices of American cheese, an entire block of sharp white cheddar and an entire bag if shredded mild cheddar cheese, Plus heavy cream, whole milk and Dijon mustard. He actually melted the cheese and milk and cream together into a liquid sauce and then put everything together in a baking pan in the over for about 20 minutes.

          It was very very rich.

          1. Loopy*

            Also it was on the saucy side, not dry. And delicious.*

            * My evaluation may be colored by the fact he not only made me delicious mac and cheese but also proposed me about 30 minutes before I ate it :D

            1. Mm Hmm*

              Clearly he has excellent taste in partners & in mac ‘n cheese. May you have a life of love & deliciousness.

        3. Optimistic Prime*

          To break up the dryness of the mac and cheese, you can mix some butter and milk into the cooked macaroni before putting it into a pan, maybe even an egg. This year I made mine a little different – I actually made a cheese sauce with milk, butter, and seasonings and mixed it in with the mac, then added a little more cheese in the pan. It’s creamier this way! (I made crab mac and cheese, and omg it was delicious.)

    1. Kuododi*

      Oh….my word. That’s really close to heaven… particularly Mac and Cheese with oodles of bacon. YUM

    2. Merci Dee*

      Congrats on the engagement! How wonderful for you!!!

      As for mac and cheese, I prefer Paula Deen’s crockpot concoction. The recipe calls for 2 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar – make sure you grate this yourself. The bags of pre-grated cheese are coated in a powder that keeps it from clumping in the bag; unfortunately, this also keeps it from melting smoothly. Also, I add about 50% more sour cream than the recipe states, because I like the sharp flavor the sour cream imparts.

      Link to the recipe included in the reply below.

      1. Merci Dee*

        One more thing – 3 hours at low is probably going to be too long of a cook time. Start checking at about 2 hours. May only need an additional 15 to 30 minutes after that.

        Also … If you bought more than a 10-ounce hunk of cheddar, don’t be afraid to stir in the rest at the end of cooking time, or to sprinkle it on individual servings. The more cheese, the merrier!

  18. AvonLady Barksdale*

    My bf’s father, stepmother, and her mother got here yesterday and immediately started unloading tons of food that she brought. I don’t know why. We’re in a rental house at the beach that bf and I arranged, we invited them for Christmas, I planned dinner and bought food not only for Christmas dinner but also for the week for the two of us. She seemed shocked by this. She then went into the kitchen and started serving some of the things she brought. Now I realize this isn’t our house, but it’s our hosting, so I was a bit peeved. Like, what, you think I don’t know how to serve guests?

    Then I found out that she didn’t bring the dish she insisted on bringing, she brought the ingredients. Including junk I never use, like fat free half-and-half. So she essentially arrived at her host’s home and expected to cook in her host’s kitchen. Ask me if she brought a pan. I think you know the answer.

    Well, today she’s too tired to cook, so I’m making my potato dish anyway and we will skip her fat-free cheese nightmare. She also brought about 5 desserts, again without asking. We are 5 people. I made a cake and a pie. This is turning out better than I thought (I like her mother, who is keeping her in check) but more annoying than I expected. Sigh.

    1. Music*

      I think you’re possibly being over sensitive here. A lot of families have beach house traditions that involve making food together, or trading off cooking duties from one night to the next. Or if you arranged the house, it’s entirely possible she thought to arrange the food as her thank you. Point being, if this wasn’t all discussed in excessive detail — and I do mean every meal of every minute you were going to spend there — I can totally see someone doing this and not expecting you to find it offensive at all.

      It sounds like you may just be at BEC level with her already, but change a couple of details and attitudes and what she did is extremely normal behavior. Throw in the fact that maybe you and your BF are trying to establish some new traditions (seems so anyway), it’s to be expected that there will be some bumps in that road.

      1. Music*

        (Also, like, so fat free half and half isn’t your jam. I’d still refrain from calling it junk, even when she’s out of earshot. People take food personally, and it sounds like you and they have different attitudes toward it from many angles.)

        1. Call me St. Vincent*

          If there’s one thing in this world we should all be able to agree on, it’s that fat free half and half truly is junk

          1. Call me St. Vincent*

            I had an emoji at the end of that sentence that did not post! I will recreate it here. ;)

            1. Music*

              I mean, sure. Go around telling people you have to get along with that they eat junk and then see how charitably they act toward you

              1. Temperance*

                In all fairness, showing up with a bunch of Frankenfood and trying to strongarm the host into not making the planned dishes/bumping the host out of her kitchen is super uncharitable.

          2. Mockingjay*

            Unfortunately fat-free half and half has become part of my middle-aged life. Along with low cholesterol butter substitute and other evils.

            (I rebelled today and used bacon or bacon drippings on three Christmas dinner recipes. Tasted glorious! Tomorrow: oatmeal, salad, and fish…Sigh.)

        2. nonegiven*

          I, myself, do not allow margarine to enter my house. This would include any vacation rental I’m paying for. I’d probably pour the fat free shit down the sink when no one was looking and say ‘someone’ must have put it in their coffee.

      2. Courageous cat*

        Yeah I think most of this would be pretty normal in my family. It’s hard to remember that every family has very different “things” during the holidays and it seems virtually impossible for everyone’s expectations to match up easily.

      3. Pat Benetardis*

        Yeah, but if cooking was to be shared, it should have been pre-discussed. I’m sure it was done with good intentions, but I’d be pretty annoyed if I had meals planned (because I had invited someone to a place I rented (vs, a place we had rented together) and someone showed up with that unplanned food. Unless it was snacks, booze and dessert, which I think is polite to bring.

        1. Music*

          What I’m saying is that if the default on your family beach trips was everyone pitches in on food, which it is in many families, it wouldn’t even occur to you that this is something to be discussed.

      4. AvonLady Barksdale*

        This is not a shared beach house. We rented it, we invited them for one night. But yes, I am definitely tired of her and her crap, which we have dealt with for 7 years.

        1. Call me St. Vincent*

          It’s totally okay to vent about this. Despite the charitable interpretation other commenters may be giving this, I officially pronounce her behavior totally overbearing and potentially competitive!

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            Competitive! That’s exactly it. That’s her MO most of the time, so I definitely feel like this is just part of that.

            1. Mm Hmm*

              Oh, dear, I’m sorry – for you, & for her. Needing to win is a tough way to live, & it’s miserable to be on the receiving end all the time. Can you look for ways to stay out of the competition? That has helped with my competitive relative.
              Eg, she brought all this food; its all about her and not a comment on you, your menu, or cooking.
              She wants to make X, fine, she may use the kitchen at time Z. You have the menu for *meal* set, of course, but she’s welcome to cook for *other meal/snack.” (Which is not a promise that you’ll eat it.) My relative takes “no” better when it’s not comprehensive but leaves room for whatever at another time. Your mileage may vary.

    2. WellRed*

      I feel your pain. I hate it when people overdo the food thing. Too much, too much! Make sure she packs it back out, rather than sticking you with it.

    3. Artemesia*

      One of life’s great mysteries: fat free half and half (like half what?)

      Beach houses and holiday dinners are often shared cooking food providing — obviously she should have asked first what is needed but it is pretty normal to expect to do your share.

      1. Overeducated*

        It sounds like an oxymoron! It’s basically milk with lots of high fructose corn syrup and thickeners. I think it’s disgusting and would much rather put actual skim milk in my coffee.

      2. Her Grace*

        Yeah, that’s what I’m stuck on–fat free half-and-half.

        We Aussies don’t even have such a thing as half-and-half in the first place. I believe the whole purpose of half-and-half is like a richer kind of milk due to the inclusion of more cream. If you remove the fat, isn’t that completely defeating the purpose?

      3. Optimistic Prime*

        I had to look it up because I was curious. Fat free “half and half” is apparently nonfat milk mixed with corn syrup and thickeners to approximate the taste of half and half. Ummmm…no thank you.

    4. Temperance*

      It sounds like a control issue on her part. I might be projecting, because I have a difficult mom, but there are some women who feel the need to be the “matriarch” type and food is control for them.

      There is nothing grosser than a low-fat “cheese” food thing.

    5. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      I sympathize. I invited a friend and her family to join me at my timeshare condo one year. I knew it was going to be crowded even though there were beds enough for everyone. I wasn’t prepared for her to act like it was her condo and I was a guest. There were other minor things, but when she ordered me out of the kitchen, I reminded her it was my kitchen and she was my guest. The shock on her face.

    6. Clever Name*

      I feel you. I love my mother, I really do, but she just isn’t a very good guest. Cooking holiday meals with her around is annoying at best. One year, we were done prepping at like 3 (we normally eat around 6) because she kept asking insistently “so what’s next? What can I do?” She dearly wants to be helpful, but she just ends up adding stress because she’ll ask me where some serving dish is right at the exact moment I’m taking the turkey out of the oven with the two cats running underfoot while my 11 year old is simultaneously asking if he can have some pop. So I get it.

    7. Sue No-Name*

      food talk in the comments of this site never fails to be completely absurd. get a grip–you don’t have to like what everyone else likes, and many of us don’t want to hear your judgemental opinions about our food.

  19. neverjaunty*

    Every year Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition (a fantastic charity in St. Louis) has a Little Wishes drive to get Christmas gifts for the foster kids they oversee. They put up a web page listing the kids’ gift requests so you can ‘shop’ for them and the child will get the gift. Well, I got an email a few days ago saying that ALL the Little Wishes were granted! Every foster child on their list will get at least one gift they asked for.

  20. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

    I have serious doubts about whether I’ll be able to find a library/library-type job or internship while in library school. I know this is super important, but between my weekly schedule, the fact that I’ll need to do some traveling for my dissertation (which I know is my choice), my visa restrictions, my lack of references, and the fact that my program is only a year long (normal in the UK, I know, but wow does it feel short to me), I just don’t think it’s going to happen.

    So I’m trying to think of other things I could do to make myself a better candidate once it’s time to apply for jobs. I’ll be primarily looking at NGOs and international companies (first choice would be a job in Asia, but I’m open to jobs elsewhere), am only slightly interested in academic libraries, am not at all interested in working in public or school libraries, and would be open to working non-librarian jobs that still require a lot of librarian-type skills and job duties.

    What I have so far:
    -volunteer at a library (in theory this seems like a good option, but other than possibly getting another reference, is shelving books a few hours a week really going to help me get a job?)
    -make a website using the tech skills I’m planning to acquire next semester
    -blogging/tweeting, which my program says is massively important but which I loathe, and I’ve always found I could tell when someone was doing that stuff because they wanted to versus because it’s a good idea for their field

    1. fposte*

      As long as you’re talking about library positions, I would recommend doing some work in a library either paid or unpaid. You will be competing with people who have done that work. If you’re talking about more IM kinds of things that’s a little different, in that library volunteering doesn’t translate as well.

      1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

        Does what I’m doing as a volunteer matter, though? I mean, I was a library page when I was 14, so I guess it doesn’t feel like I’d really be gaining any skills from shelving books now. Or would the fact that I’m associating with a library at all, no matter what I’m doing, help?

        1. Temperance*

          It’s not really about “gaining skills”, though. You need to show an active involvement with a library. It’s great that you did the work as a kid, but if I was hiring, someone with active experience, and current experience, would be so much more important than making sure it’s a strict fit with your goals.

          1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

            Oh, I don’t list the page work on my resume. I just don’t want to spend my time volunteering (and pay for transportation, and use up what little energy I have) for something where people are going to look at my resume and go “Ugh, all she’s done with libraries is shelve books and now she wants to be a librarian? Pass.” Obviously some people still might do that, but I just wanted to confirm that volunteering and doing this relatively simple (for me, at least) work at least has the possibility to improve my resume.

        2. fposte*

          I will freely admit I’m not that familiar with corporate librarianship hiring in Europe, but it would be true in the U.S., and I suspect the general principle holds. Obviously you’d be best volunteering in a workplace most like the ones you want to work in, but I would think London would offer plenty of those.

          More broadly, is there anybody in the program who you can get input from in this? Can they connect you with alums with the kind of job you want to get some advice?

          1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

            Okay, good to know re general principle.

            I’ve tried the career center and didn’t find them that helpful. I’m not sure who actually in my program would help because, well, they chose academia and that’s not really where I want to go. The program is very library-job-oriented in a way that, while I’d be happy to get a library job, I am not. (I’m actually not getting a library degree, just a similar degree with a lot of curriculum overlap with the library degree this school offers.)

            I did ask one of the professors about his career path once, but it turns out what he did required an undergrad degree that’s nowhere near what I have. I don’t know about alumni, although I guess it’s worth a shot to ask if I can figure out who to ask.

            1. fposte*

              I meant staff or faculty—they’ve taught and advised the people in the jobs you want. Networking is one of the great values of grad school. Also, come at it the other way—who has the kind of jobs you want, and can you see what they did to get there and find any mutual connections?

    2. Aisling*

      If you don’t have any type of library experience on your resume and you want to be a librarian, it will look strange when you’re applying for jobs. Volunteering will be better than nothing, and not just for the skills, but so that you demonstrate you know what you are getting in to. I’m a public reference librarian and we have so many people who apply because they “just love books and love to read” when this job is very heavy on customer service. We have so many people who are shocked that our job is so tech heavy and you do need to enjoy working with people. Without library experience, you run the risk of looking like you might be someone who thinks this is a job that will let you read all day.

      As far as internships, you might try asking the libraries if they would like some help developing a web page for a special project, or if they need help with a big weeding project, or developing a program, or if they have a large special project they’d like help with, etc., etc. When I did mine, I worked in a library with staff who weren’t very tech savvy, and they nearly gave me a key to the city because I filled out their technology grant application. Libraries always seem to have a few big projects they’d love to work on if they had the time, staff, etc., and an intern can be a really big help with that. Good luck!

    3. Cristina in England*

      Can you get into more specifics of what you want to do? Like, what is your degree is in and what sort of job do you want when you go back to the US?
      I have a library degree from a U.K. University but I am American and I am familiar (to a point) with how the library worlds differ here and there.

      We had a work study thing that was part of the programme but if your Uni doesn’t offer that, it would be pretty unusual to arrange an ad-hoc internship.

      I’m sorry to say that since you’re doing a foreign graduate degree then moving back to the US, you will be missing out on all the networking of grad school. Best to be really super clear on what your goals are when you get back.

        1. Cristina in England*

          Whoops, I forgot that part in my excitement to have some sort of relevant experience for once! :-) Sorry.

    4. fposte*

      Another, even broader thought: I was figuring that you picked this program because it was a good springboard to the kind of jobs you want. If it is, follow those established trajectories–connect with the faculty and staff and alums, find local partners that have been good resources, etc. If it isn’t, that may mean you have to work extra to compete with people in programs that set them up better for those jobs, so you may need to take the initiative to make those connections and to research with prospective employers about what preparation is most advantageous.

    5. librarian*

      In the US there is an organization called the Special Libraries Association (SLA) and its focus is on corporate librarianship. Here they’re very active and are great for networking. If there is anything similar, I’d start attending their events and networking.

      Like someone else mentioned, I was working full time when doing my MLS and most of my internship was developing an extensive online research guide and I did most of the work at home, on my time; maybe some institution would be ok with your doing that?

      One way around the experience aspect is if you have a degree or experience in whatever the corporate institution deals with (like an MBA if looking to work at bank); otherwise I think it would be really good if you found a way to have some experience; maybe you can find something that is once a week for example at any type of library. Public and academic libraries are very different from corporate but having some experience in dealing with the range of questions and patrons is experience that is transferable so don’t close your mind in the volunteer experience area, especially for an entry-level position (but yes, forget about shelving books). Good luck!

  21. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

    Any suggestions for keeping teenagers entertained at large family gatherings when there’s nobody else their age in attendance? My family’s big holiday celebration is Christmas Eve. My siblings and most of my cousins and I are in our late twenties/early thirties, and my teenage cousins were there, and the fifteen-year-old was visibly bored. I see them so rarely and I’d love for them to have the fond Christmas Eve memories I have, I just have no idea how to help with that. Maybe the answer is just “keep in closer touch year-round so you know how to talk to them at Christmas,” idk.

      1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

        Love that idea, thanks! Christmas Eve is at my parents’ house and the games they keep at their place are like, Trivial Pursuit editions from the early ’90s, so that didn’t occur to me as an option for this year, but I could definitely bring a couple games with me next year.

        1. Temperance*

          Fluxx is my favorite. It’s super fun, there’s a ton of editions, and since it’s a card game, it’s highly portable. I’m partial to Cthulu, but the regular version is super fun.

        2. AnonAndOn*

          Anomia (the original – I saw that there’s a newer one called Anomia X but I never played that one) is a fun one. It’s about the idea of words being on the tip of one’s tongue and struggling to get them out.

          1. Optimistic Prime*

            I love Anomia – one of my favorites! Anomia X is simply an adult/NSFW version of Anomia, which is a current wave in board games. I’d get the Party Edition – it’s the one I have, comes with 6 full decks and can be played with a bigger group/replayed more times without coming across the same cards over and over.

        3. neverjaunty*

          For next year, I highly recommend Superfight. The rules are very basic and everyone gets the concept behind the game very quickly.

          Great username, btw. :)

        4. ECHM*

          Telestrations (a cross between Pictionary and the telephone game) is hilarious and my favorite game ever.

        1. Supermanscape*

          Snarky games that may be slightly inappropriate . You can download and print out cards against humanity if you don’t own. There are customized expansion packs.

          1. Red Reader*

            Know your audience before you veer into slightly inappropriate. My 16-yo niece and her parents would both be massively not okay with CAH. Apples to Apples is perhaps a safer option, for family you’re not super close to.

            1. AnonAndOn*

              I played Apples to Apples when I went to a friend’s family’s house for Christmas a few years ago. I enjoyed it.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I was the one who always loved hanging with the adults, so i don’t have many recommendations, but I always loved Mad Libs. I know they still sell them in book stores and places like that. Of course, it was the most fun when we used swears and dirty words…

    2. WellRed*

      I thought “visibly bored” was their normal state? Maybe give them permission to go off into another room for TV or computer or their phone as needed.

      1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

        Nah, she’s a very bright, vivacious kid. She doesn’t need permission from us to play on her phone, which is what she spent most of the evening doing, but I think she’d appreciate something to do that isn’t trying to refresh her Instagram feed while her older cousins talk about things she can’t relate to.

        1. WellRed*

          Ahh. I know how she feels when my mom, aunts, their friends start discussing endoscopies or whatever. And I’m 47.

    3. Pat Benetardis*

      I have a 15 yr old. I recommend downloading Iphone app games: heads up and 7 second challenge. Both are free and my 15 yr old loves them. Or we will play “kiss, marry, kill.” Even pass and play words with friends.

    4. Artemesia*

      Can they be enlisted (touching base ahead) to do some serious cooking with the chefs?

      There are lots of board and card games that they are plenty old enough to play with adults, but then you have to have adults interested in playing games.

      When I was a kid I holed up on the back porch or a back room and read.

    5. Elkay*

      I’m the youngest of my cousins by 8-16 years. 15 was a tough time because my cousins and I had nothing in common. If they’re not at their own home and allowed to disappear to their rooms then the best you can do is try to keep to topics they can engage with, current TV or movies, books, somewhere they’ve been on vacation. If you can break the habit now of us/them it will be a gift in later years (my cousins still speak to me like I’m a 15 year old kid, it sucks).

    6. nacho*

      When I was a kid, I’d just go off and play my game-boy when I was bored at family gatherings. Can he do that?

    7. Optimistic Prime*

      Board games as suggested are a ton of fun, but would this kid also be interested in stories about you and your older cousins when you were his age or younger? I have some teenaged cousins who used to love laughing at me and my first cousins’ stories from our childhoods growing up together and how different things were then. Then they tell us stories about their own teenagerhood and the crazy stuff they do. Or we’ll turn on music and dance. We’re also a video gaming family, so inevitably someone turns on a dance/rhythm game or some other multiplayer game and we spend time playing that.

  22. Kitts*

    My cat just got diagnosed with diabetes, so I ended up cancelling all my holiday plans (I was going to California to stay with friends) and instead I’m stuck at home introducing the cat to insulin. And all my housemates are gone, so our big house is empty. Fortunately my friends are all being very sweet and dropping by to check on us. Also I grew up in a multi-faith family and got to celebrate Chanukah this year, so missing Christmas doesn’t hurt too much.

    1. MissDissplaced*

      Your kitty can live a long time with diabetes. My big Pudder made it to the ripe old age of 18, six of those with diabetes and daily insulin injections.
      You’ll get into a stable routine, don’t worry. It seems bad at first, but it will be manageable. Hugs!

      1. Kitts*

        Thanks! These first few days have been tough, but I’m determined to see this through with her. She’s my emotional support cat and has been through a lot with me, it’s only fair I return the favor.

    2. All Hail Queen Sally*

      So sorry to hear about your cat. I hope the insulin thing works out. I have never had to deal with insulin, but years ago I did have to give one cat subcutaneous fluids for almost two years.

      1. Artemesia*

        We had to do that for a couple of years as well. It was tough on everyone but particularly the cat. Most of the time I could do it without hurting her too much, but sometimes I obviously hit a nerve and did hurt her. It was a two person job; my husband would wrap her in a towel and hold her while I managed the injection and drip.

    3. ScarlettNZ*

      My friend’s cat lived to a ripe old age (around 19 I think) and he had diabetes and twice daily insulin injections for the last six or seven years of his life. He was such a good boy, he didn’t even react when you gave him his shot. I’m sure your cat (and you) will adjust. All the best.

      1. Kuododi*

        I’m aware kitties can usually do fine with a diabetes diagnosis. Prompt diagnosis and care management is crucial. Unfortunately my dear Siamese did not survive his diabetes diagnosis. He had a bunch of wonky symptoms and I took him back and forth to various veterinarians. By the time we got a correct diagnosis, his poor kidney’s were just shredded and the only thing to do was put him to sleep. I’m not blaming anyone….the poor sweetheart had such wierd things going on with his health noone could nail down the diagnosis until one weekend when he got so weak he couldn’t lift his head. The after hours clinic finally got the answers we needed. Best regards with y’all’s sweet kitties.

        1. Chris V*

          I’m sorry about your cat’s diagnosis, but don’t despair: feline diabetes can be very manageable. I had a diabetic cat that lived for 10 years with the disease (until age 16; his death was unrelated). During this time, he had one really bad episode where he developed neuropathy (sp?) and temporarily lost strength in his back legs (this required adjusting his insulin levels and took a couple of weeks of trial-and-error to get him re-regulated and back to his normal, full-functioning self — all under our vet’s care), and he also had several periods during which his diabetes went into remission and was off insulin (yes, according to my vet, feline diabetes can go into remission — unlike the human version).

          The key things for my family / my cat was establishing a routine and being attuned to his health, mood, etc. I feel his diabetes was generally under good control (even despite the one bad episode of neuropathy); there were occasional variations over time — adjustments to the amount of insulin / # of shots per day and the cat going into remission — so you need to be attentive to changes. I don’t mean to be gross, but monitoring litter usage was a good indicator of how balanced he was — whenever he peed excessively, it usually meant something was off. Generally, it was all pretty manageable as the changes occurred slowly and were pretty easy to spot. My cat *loved* his shots (he would purr when he got them) because he always got a little treat afterwards!

          A couple of practical things that helped me: having a good cat-sitter who does home visits and is comfortable giving shots (I even trained a few friends / non-professionals to give shots — it’s that easy). Also, a timed feeder with “locking” covers that allows you to fill bowls with food and set a timer to open the cover at an appointed time (we needed this because my cat was on a strict eating schedule). And, of course, having a good vet!

          The primary challenges were the expense (not outrageous, but definitely more than routine vet care … generally 3-4 visits per year with blood tests rather than the routine 1-2 visits) and maintaining a schedule (traveling / spending time away was logistically complicated). It could be stressful, but ultimately it was all worth it: our cat was a wonderful, wonderful friend and had a good quality of life. He was a trooper and the diabetes did not change his personality or his lifestyle in any significant ways (he still went outdoors, traveled with us, etc.).

          Be sure to find the humor where you can … litter-box jokes, our cat having his own account at the local pharmacy where we got his insulin, and our cat waging regular war against his locking food bowl trying to get it open (food bowl 100+, cat 0).

          Please note: I have no veterinary expertise — this information is all based on my own experience (and crazy love of cats!). Best of luck with your beastie!

  23. Fake old Converse shoes*

    Dad did a accurate impression of her mother and told me “I want to see you with a boyfriend before I die”, before knocking off a glass full of apple juice. Well done, Dad, thanks for the guilt trip.
    On the bright side, the food was good, and we got low calory ice cream as dessert.
    Merry Christmas!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Wow. That bf line sucks. I would be tempted to hand my father a picture of me with someone else’s boyfriend. “There you go dad, you did not say it had to be MY bf.” I guess it would be better if I said, “Well, then guess you will be here a while longer.”
      It sounds like you are doing a good job of not letting it eat at you. Glad other things were okay.

    2. Fake old Converse shoes*

      My answer is always the same – “get a nice sofa ’cause you’ll have to wait for a long time”.

  24. Red Reader*

    My husband and I just got married in September, so while we’ve been cohabitating even longer than we were actually dating, we kinda hammed up the “first married Christmas” thing. And I go overboard on Christmas gifting anyway. So one of his Christmas presents was a book — the prequel novel to the newest Assassin’s Creed game — with a clue in it that tricked off a scavenger hunt, ending in a combo pack of a new x-box one to put in his man-cave (which I’ve been telling him for months was silly and unnecessary, bwaa) and the game. Super cool, right?

    Only, he’d poured himself a stiff whiskey and ginger ale before we started our household present exchange last night, and I was unaware, so he was trying to do this Assassin’s Creed themed riddle-y scavenger hunt post-whiskey. And he ran into a post on the play structure in the backyard (which was serving double duty as the Eagle’s Nest from whence one of the clue-givers was surveying the backyard) and, this morning, he thinks he broke his nose. (He already had his annual checkup scheduled for tomorrow, and he says it only hurts when he pokes it.)

    So for my husband’s first married Christmas, he got an X-Box and a broken nose.

    (Me: “I’m telling the Ask A Manager open thread how I gave you an X-Box and a broken nose for Christmas.”
    Him: “This is going to become one of Those Stories we tell, isn’t it.”
    Me: “Oh yeah.”)

    1. neverjaunty*

      I’m sorry about the broken nose, but I’d think whiskey is almost a mandatory part of an Assassin’s Creed scavenger hunt?

      1. Red Reader*

        I’m not sure, haha, I don’t play the games myself! But he told me that the reason he needed help on some of the clues was the whiskey :)

        1. Anion*

          Oooh, I hope he’s ready to have some fun! It’s a really good game; not the best AC game (IMO) and I hate the new fighting system, but it’s beautiful, Bayek is a cool character, and some of the sidequests are really fun (especially in Letopolis and Memphis).

          The poison darts are my favorite tool of any AC game (though Ubi made them less powerful on their last update, grr). I can spend ages watching the poison spread; it reminds me of the ending of Masque of the Red Death.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        Other Half is downstairs playing this on Nightmare setting right now (with the cat for support – she loves to “play video games” with him). I don’t play video games but I love to check out when he has a new AC – i get a kick out of the player photos, the kitties, the pyramids, the camels etc. The boats with the rowers and having to shoot arrows was neat too.

        1. Red Reader*

          Yep, I generally don’t play video games myself but I enjoy watching him play as background noise while I work on yarn.

      2. Optimistic Prime*

        Origins is beautiful – I bought it when it came out, played for a few hours, then put it down for Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds. I need to pick it back up and finish it! I love AC games.

  25. KatieKate*

    Anyone thinking of New Years resolutions? I’m trying to make mine small and manageable, but also make sure that I can check in and make adjustments—aka “work out 2x a week for a month”. Has anyone successfully kept up a resolution?

    1. caledonia*

      This year I am going to get fit both physically and mentally. I have signed up to a mindfulness/yoga/meditation thing called “living with intention” and am planning on spending quite a large amount of money on several personal trainer sessions (because I’ve never exercised properly in my life and need the nutrition/diet part looked at too).

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Personal training sessions are so worth it for me! It’s the only thing that got me to workout consistently. I started going twice a week and now it’s once a week. I workout four days on my own and one with him. It’s enough to keep me accountable, learn something new, and make sure I’m keeping correct form. Good luck!

    2. Bespectacled elephant*

      My 2018 resolution is to, “Be kind to myself.” I am trying to change my mindset from “I have to change because I’m not good enough” to “I want to feel good so make the choices where I will actually be happier.” I haven’t broken it down completely to trackable actions but plan to over the next week.

    3. WellRed*

      I am a voracious reader of fiction, but will add nonfiction this year, as possible. Also, eat more fruit.

      1. The Foreign Octopus*

        May I then suggest Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berednt (?). It’s non-fiction but flows so well, and the writing style just draws you in.

        1. WellRed*

          I’ve tried that one and couldn’t get into it, but mom here has a copy so may be time to revisit. God knows, my tastes have changed in 10 yrs.

    4. HannahS*

      Have I ever successfully kept a resolution? Literally never. And I make mine twice: once at Rosh Hashanah and then whoops I failed at that so let’s try again January 1. And still never. I’ve realized I, personally, can only make changes by setting big-picture goals for myself without deadlines (eventually, I want to be someone who cleans her apartment every week, eventually I’d like to be someone who works out three times a week) and then break them down into smaller ones without deadlines (soon, I’d like to be someone whose kitchen is entirely clean before bed, soon I’d like to be someone who goes for a walk six days a week) and then it’s just day by day. Today, I want to finish the dishes and go for a walk….whoops. OK, try again tomorrow. And so on. And then change happens over the course of years.

    5. Artemesia*

      I am giving up sugar and white carbs — rice, potatoes, bread. My glucose numbers are creeping up into the danger zone and so I am trying to avoid developing diabetes. I love sugar. I eat a LOT of sugar — candy, cookies, juice. It is so hard but I am two weeks in and have cut about 90% of what I normally eat and virtually all candy. Naturally our house is full of wonderful candy coming in as Christmas gifts. Taking one chocolate a day and no desserts, ice cream etc except for Christmas dinner and my husband’s flourless chocolate cake is not as high in sugar as most sweet desserts — and no flour. It sucks. Hope I am not too late.

      1. WellRed*

        Often, when you reduce something in your diet, you crave it less. The more sugar you eat, the…more sugar you want to eat. It takes time, but it can happen.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Agreed. I got myself off of sugar years ago. Be sure to keep something appealing in the house in terms of fresh fruit. When those cravings hit, you will be ready for them with your cantaloupe, applesauce, whatever.

          If you are concerned about diabetes setting in, watch your water intake. Make sure you take in good amounts of water everyday. I use this formula, I take my body weight, divide by 2 and that is the number of ounces I need each day. If you are no where near that, many people aren’t, you can gradually work your way up. In my narrow world, I have never met a diabetic yet who would willingly drink water. Family members who were diabetic, solidly refused to drink water. Water is one of the easiest ways to flush sugar and other crap out of our systems.

          You may be interested in looking into a product called stevia. It’s a sugar replacement. You use tiny amounts of it. We even went as far as ordering seeds, growing our own and processing it. It’s not that hard, just time consuming. Supposedly it can even help lower blood sugar levels. If it does, I never saw any substantial improvement with my husband’s numbers. However, it did not drive his numbers up so that was good.

      2. Mm Hmm*

        I don’t know if it would be helpful, but a friend got me started on homemade kefir (fermented milk, unsweetened) this year, & drinking it daily has made a big dent in my sugar cravings. Didn’t think that was possible. The friend who got me started on it reports the same, as well as other benefits. I’d say it took a few weeks to a month to notice the difference.

        One explanation I’ve heard for benefits of kefir is that the bacteria on it shoulder in on the sugar hungry & reset your intestinal biome.

        Giving up sugar & white carbs is a big undertaking. Best to you in making it work, in whatever way works.

    6. Elkay*

      In January 2017 I started going to the gym to run twice a week before work. I kept that up partly because I enjoy it and set myself an achievable goal (run for 30 mins or 5k whichever is longest) and I also found some podcasts I enjoy (Like Minded Friends and Griefcast).

      In 2018 I hope to start playing badminton again.

    7. Taylor Swift*

      I want to do a shopping ban on clothes and household goods. I’m committing at least to the month of January. I would really like to make progress on my personal finances in 2018.

      1. WellRed*

        Ooh, me too. Michelle Singletary of tge Washington Post has a financial fast that really gets you paying attention to where money goes and rethinking how you view debt.

      2. Ramona Flowers*

        I cut my personal spending by about 90% last year and it’s been so so liberating. I’m so much happier, which I never saw coming.

    8. Ramona Flowers*

      I think I have three.

      1. To be kinder to myself.
      2. To cook more and DIY my lunch more often.
      3. To remember what I have even when I’m painfully aware of what I don’t have.

      To explain about no 3… I don’t like the idea of practising gratitude or keeping a gratitude journal because of semantics. The idea of being grateful or ungrateful is a huge reminder of some childhood trauma. And for me it’s less about gratitude and more about allowing myself joy in what I have and to not diminish the things that make me happy.

      Yes, there are people on my social media who have parents who seem to love them. Yes, this person has children who are excited about Santa, and that person had a baby just before Christmas and the pictures are killing me.

      Grief is real but so is joy. It’s not about gratitude, just allowing both to be true. I don’t have loving parents or a baby or any money (just lots of debt). But I have a husband who loves me, good friends I can count on, a job I love and the best cat in the world. And just as there is more than one way to be rich, there is also more than one way to be happy.

    9. Language Student*

      I have a few. Maintain the progress I’ve made and do stuff that nourishes me and my life regularly (whether it’s nourishing my body, mind, general feeling of satisfaction and happiness, my social life, academic/volunteering goals and so on).

      Actionable goals kind of depend on the thing I’m trying to nourish – so my body goals are to go to the gym 3x a week and eat food that makes me feel satiated and energetic, get enough sleep (offshoot goals – read/journal before bed instead of using tech and switch to decaf tea in the evenings), my mind goals are things like do something to make myself feel better instead of wallowing, my happiness goals are to go camping, go on holiday, read more, overcome my fear of heights (and get to the top of the climbing wall), social goals would be things like getting better at having tough conversations and being firm in my boundaries (and, um, getting better at *having* boundaries), and so on.

      I haven’t done any resolutions since I was a kid, which I definitely didn’t keep then, but even if I only make a bit of progress, I’ll be happy with achieving any of these goals.

  26. Little Question*

    Hi all,

    Do you mind if I post a work question in this thread that was not answered in the Friday thread?

  27. Desi Jane*

    Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate! I had my first set of law school finals about 1.5 weeks ago, and grades are trickling in. I did lackluster in what I thought was my best subject, so I’m very anxious, but nonetheless trying to focus on family and enjoy the holiday. We have desserts out the wazoo, since my aunt brought over two cakes and my moms cousin made two of his famous cheesecakes, among other sweets! Ugh, my stomach hurts thinking about it lol!

    If you’re alone today, or if you don’t celebrate Christmas, I really hope you’re doing something nice for yourself :)

    1. Call me St. Vincent*

      I would just like to say that first semester law school grades aren’t worth a d@mn! I got a C in torts (in a sea of Bs, no As) and still made law review, graduated at the top of my class, and got a clerkship. I went on to work at a big firm and now have an amazing job in government. It’s awesome if you do well first semester but don’t get hung up on it! I was so full of dread after those grades came out (first C I had ever gotten) and I wish I just took a deep breath and let it go! Law school exams and papers are. Learning process–as in you can learn how to do well on them over time. You will do great! Good luck!

      1. Desi Jane*

        Thank you so much for the words of encouragement! I was a B- student in undergrad, but after taking a few years off to work and discovering what my true passion really is, I’m now back in school and working harder than ever. Call me crazy but I LOVE Law school! It’s such a grind but I’m learning so much and its fascinating! Just in the last three months I feel like I’ve grown so much as a person. My school took away academic probation this year, so let’s just say if, worst case scenario, my nerves got the best of me and I bombed finals, I hope they show mercy on a 1L just getting the hang of things and I get my shot at redemption. :)

  28. miyeritari*

    Being with my family is incredibly stressful, so I’m actually feeling lucky that today I’m just laying in my bed all day until I get stir crazy, and then I’m going to my friend’s to have Pizza Christmas.

    (I spent six days with them for Thanksgiving, and live a minimum plane-ride away from them, so I guess the debt was still paid – my mom only gave me a *slightly* hard time about it.)

    1. Dan*

      Minus pizza Xmas with friends, this is exactly how my holidays are. I’m actually surprised my mom doesn’t give me crap about not seeing them on Xmas.

      1. miyeritari*

        I get some crap, but it’s definitely not the type of crap other people have reported getting — especially because I just saw them on Thanksgiving, and I’m seeing them in March. Small mercies.

  29. Anom*

    So I’m Canadian, thinking of emigrating to Europe. Probably the UK since I only speak one language fluently. Is there like a resource that covers how to go about doing something like this? I know I can get a working holiday visa to live and work in the U.K. for 2 years (which I assume I can then convert to a regular work visa?), but I don’t know how international job searches work. I’m assuming I’d get my visa and then show up and start looking for work? What’s the job market like in different cities? I’m in the midst of working through a career change with a career counsellor so I want to factor the international job market into my career decision.

    1. caledonia*

      We have a Canadian at work at the moment (and an American and an Australian) and she applied for the job still in Canada because our workplace – a uni – had to sponsor her for the 2 year work visa. After the two years it’s quite hard, you have to earning over £30,000 or something like that. She skyped her interview and then moved over once she had a job offer.

      I’m in Scotland where in the main area, central Scotland the job market is good. North Scotland not so much. I can’t speak for anywhere else.

    2. Anion*

      This is one of the few areas of UK visas that I don’t know much about, unfortunately (spousal and fiancee visas, I know a lot more about, although laws have changed recently. I am back in the US now but have permanent right of abode in the UK). I do know it’s easier to get a job there once you’re there, and recruiters are a much bigger thing there than in the US. I can also offer you plenty of advice on making the move and settling in etc.

    3. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I’m not Canadian but have heard of plenty of Commonwealth WHV folks using those to get to the UK, find a job and get work experience and then convert to a work visa if the employer is willing and able to sponsor them. Previously they would have to prove that no one in the EU could do the job but who knows how that is going to be written in the near future.

      If you have experience and are in high demand for fields like accounting, medicine, tech, etc you may not have as much difficulty finding a job in an international search – just look online at recruiters and online job boards and note on your resume that you have such and such visa and when you are arriving. I never had much luck with recruiters, got my first job here on LinkedIn and my second from a personal referral. Having in country experience has a lot of weight but again if you are in a high-demand field then that may be more likely to be waved.

      Only thing I would caution is to take a look at salaries, exchange rates, and current economic forecasts for the UK. The salaries here are leagues below what they are in the US, and with sterling taking a big hit from Brexit, cost of living has gone up. Housing is in pretty bad shape for what you are paying for. Most jobs are concentrated in London, although depending on what you do there could be opportunity in Bristol, Manchester (growing quick), Birmingham/West Midlands (for pharma etc), or Edinburgh all of which may have even lower pay than London but could have better quality of life (as such).

      You may want to look around and see if there is an online community for Canadian expats on this scheme moving to the UK- probably the best way to get a boots on the ground viewpoint!

    4. Polly Glot*

      Plenty of people move to continental Europe without first learning the local language; if there’s a country you’re interested in, consider it!

    5. Thlayli*

      You can get by in most countries with English and learn the language as you go, but it’s definitely easier if you know it in advance. Is Canada still in the commonwealth? There’s absolutely tons of info online about visas. There’s also a really good UK website called citizens advice which sets out in plain English all the rights / laws on pretty much everything, so I highly recommend that.
      Most U.K. Jobs are advertised online these days so job seeking shouldn’t be too hard I imagine

  30. All turned around*

    My GPS died! I’m actually vacationing in a new area, and on day 1 the car GPS gave up the ghost. I don’t have data on my phone, so I’m working off paper maps and written directions. It’s shockingly unnerving. I feel like disaster will strike, as if I didn’t drive around for years and years before GPS.

    I’m about to venture out, with written directions, to pick up my friend at the train station. Wish me luck!

  31. All Hail Queen Sally*

    Woke up this morning to the sound of a cat throwing up on the foot of my bed. When I reached for him to rush him out to the hallway to a wooden floor instead of carpet, he panicked and ran under the bed to finish.
    In a few hours I will drive to my elderly friend’s house (a pretty drive to a town about a half hour drive south of my city) and we will go out to Christmas dinner at a local restaurant. (I called to make sure they would be open.) Afterwards we will go back to her house where she will offer me more food every five minutes for the rest of the day and act hurt when I tell her I am not hungry yet. I am an overweight and dieting diabetic who has lab work and a weigh-in later this week who is dealing with food issues. She grew up during the depression and still has her own issues with food. We are a pair! We met at work 26 years ago when we were coworkers (she was the same age as my father) and became friends. Then she got a promotion and became my boss then I got a bigger promotion and became her boss. Then I retired and moved away and later she retired, then I moved back. These years I drive down to visit her about once a month. For a Christmas gift I crocheted her a doily from pink thread, her favorite color. She has reached the age where she no longer wants stuff that sits around, but she likes things I make for her.

    Merry Christmas, everyone.

  32. AnonAndOn*

    Happy holidays, everyone.

    I mentioned in the weekend thread that I may have to surrender my keys and move out of my apartment if I don’t pay my past due rent in full by the end of this month. I really don’t want to give up my privacy, quiet, and freedom of movement so I started a fundraiser. It’s short notice but I refuse to give up hope.

    Alison, if I were to e-mail you the fundraiser could you forward it to anyone on here who may be interested? I’d link it here but I’d like to keep my anonymous user name separate from my actual name so I’d rather share it privately. Thank you for your help!

    1. WellRed*

      I assume you ruled out local, one time assistance? For example, there’s a fund here that exists specifically for this sort of helping people, which I prefer to all the toy drives.

      1. AnonAndOn*

        The system where I live is set up where I can’t receive emergency help unless I have a court order or eviction notice. The property manager said they weren’t going to give me one this time around and just wanted me to pay up or move.

        1. WellRed*

          Not gvt, but private funded. A charitable foundation or church. On Cape Cod, for example, there’s something called the needy fund. The newspaper started it, people donate year round to help.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m so sorry — because I get a lot of requests to do this, I’ve set a rule that I don’t promote any since otherwise we would be flooded with them (and I don’t want to be in the position of saying yes to some and no to others). I hope that makes sense.

    3. futurelibrariannomore*

      Don’t give up hope!

      1.) If you haven’t already, contact 211 (this is US only). It is a network of services, and may very well help you!

      2.) Contact local churches. Often times they have a needy fund for people in the community! If you are willing to share your general location, people may be able to share more specific resources.

      3.) Google “eviction prevention programs”.

      4.) Last but not least, while it is terrible, consider selling jewelry, electronics, excess furniture, etc. :( I hate to suggest it, and would consider it a last resort, it sounds as though keeping your place is likely more important than keeping the stuff.

  33. Windchime*

    Because my family celebrated Christmas last weekend, today is a quiet “day off” kind of day. So I’m sitting here in my PJ’s with the fireplace on, looking at the Christmas tree and the snow outside (unusual for Seattle–a Christmas miracle!). One of my kids will come over this afternoon to make homemade pizza and maybe watch a movie. Oh, and last night I went to a super fun and noisy party where we all ate Christmas goodies and tons of freshly-caught crab. MMMMmmmmmmm.

  34. Rudolph, the reindeer.*

    This question might be a little all over the place, but here it goes:

    I’ve been at my company for a bit over two years now (my first position in my field). I started out in an entry-level clerk position for my field. When I started, it was me, another woman just above my level, my boss, and my grandboss in my department (small company so grandboss was c-level). One after another, each of my co-workers quit, leaving just me in my department due to financial problems within the company and a lack of money to replace people.

    Since then, I’ve earned an important certification for my field and have been promoted to a job title it would normally take someone ten years to attain. However, the money hasn’t followed (due to financial position of my company of course). The fact hasn’t escaped me that the reason I’m in my position is almost entirely, because we couldn’t afford someone with more experience. My plan now is to ask my boss for a raise (whatever it is we can afford), because even without my fancy title, I’d be underpaid considering my new certification. If an adequate raise is not offered, then I will start looking.

    Sorry, that background was long, but that brings me to my question. How do I explain my higher than expected job title to other companies? I don’t think it’s acceptable to mention the financial problems of my current company even though I wouldn’t be looking in the same industry. I think I will need to explain, because I’m realistic enough to know that I need to look for lower-level positions (I’m aiming for senior teapots analyzer roles in my future position) and my resume will look very odd when my titles go from teapot analysis clerk to manager of teapot department in one move. Any advice is appreciated.

    1. Rudolph, the reindeer.*

      Kind of a follow up: the title of my new position is a very well-known job title for my field and people will definitely have expectations for what I know, what I can do, and how much experience I’ve had.

      1. The Escape Artist*

        I think you can just be very clear on your resume what your responsibilities are in your current position; they may see that it doesn’t align with what is expected for your new title and understand why you are aiming for a “lower” position.

    2. Observer*

      You don’t have to spell out the financial situation. Just say that as people left the company, your employer decided to consolidate that department and promoted you rather than hiring new people.

    3. miyeritari*

      I don’t know if this is actually the answer, but I wonder if you could explain the situation at some point in the interview process. If you applied for Teapots Analytics, you could say something like “My formal posistion name at Teapots Inc was Teapots Manager, but I feel my posistion in another company more accurately would match a Teapots Analytics posistion,” and then talk about how you’re an amazing teapot analyst.

  35. Ramona Flowers*

    I am pleased that this year I started asking people to do things with me instead of feeling unable to do them alone. Which is how I ended up taking a wonderfully random collection of friends and acquaintances (including a lapsed Catholic and a French billionaire) to midnight communion in my tiny village church.

    In our house the cat buys a present for each human on Christmas Eve and he got me The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa which seems lovely so far. Apparently he fancied it because his likeness is on the cover.

    I am so grateful for this community. And now I am off to play board games!

  36. Girasol*

    What Christmas cookies are your favorite? I looking for ideas for what to make and share next year. So far my own favorites are spritz sandwich cookies and scottish shortbread.

        1. Pat Benetardis*

          So apparently it’s real name is cookie press, and it’s what is used to make spritz cookies. It’s a tube you load dough into, and you place a metal disc on the end to get the desired cookie shape. Pull the trigger and after several blobs of dud cookies, you got beautifully shaped spritz cookies.

      1. Girasol*

        Just make spritz with a cookie gun (or an old fashioned cookie press like I have, a screw-top tube with cams at the bottom to shape cookies that are pressed out of it, often available at second hand stores and garage sales for pennies). When the cookies come out of the oven, sandwich them with flavored buttercream icing. I make green mint tree shapes with chocolate icing between, orange wreaths, lemon sunbursts, and pink cherry roses. It’s great fun. Just (if you’ve never done it) be sure to use a refrigerated cookie sheet to press cookies onto. Much less frustrating that way.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Anything not baked by me. I just don’t have the knack for keeping cookies in the intended state, meaning chewy cookies don’t stay chewy and moist cookies don’t stay very moist.

      (Mostly) kidding aside, probably shortbread. They’re lower in sugar, which means I can eat more without feeling queasy, and so buttery when made right!

    2. Sled dog mama*

      I am a huge fan of Moravian Spice cookies. And now I must go make more because I’m craving them again.

    3. Sylvan*

      Italian wedding cookies. One of my best friends growing up was a pastor’s daughter and I used to help her family make dozens and dozens of cookies for everyone before Christmas. And also eat a ton of Italian wedding cookies.

    4. Tau*

      My absolute favourite are a family kind involving breadcrumbs and grated lemon peel, but in close second place is Spekulatius (probably more commonly known as speculaas to English-speaking folk). I actually splurged and bought a special roll for making these in the traditional shapes this year, instead of using cookie cutters, and they turned out fantastic. :) I’m also very fond of Vanillekipferl and Zimtsterne, but haven’t made the first recently and have never made the second. (Plans for next year…)

    5. Anion*

      I make an array of cookies every year. My family’s favorites are the cherry-almond kisses (cherry-almond cookies with a Hershey’s Kiss on top); oatmeal Nutella sandwich cookies (little oatmeal cookies sandwiches with Nutella); and sugar cookies. I usually make shortbread, too, and Buried Cherry cookies (which I love but they’re a fiddly pain in the butt, so I generally only make one batch). And I make plain vanilla refrigerator cookies; sometimes I roll the roll of dough in sprinkles so they have decorated edges.

      I haven’t made red velvet Whoopie pies yet this year, but I usually do. They’re really festive-looking, and yummy.

    6. Merci Dee*

      When I was a kid, we used to make hermit cookies, and the recipe called for cold coffee. I haven’t made those in years. Looks like I’m recipe hunting tonight.

  37. Mallory Janis Ian*

    My child (recently 21) just told me and her little brother that she wants to transition female to male. I only just got kind of used to “they” pronouns. I’m going to have a little bit of a tough time with this on my own account, but my husband is going to freak the f out and I am not looking forward to a year of marital strife between supporting my child and dealing with his reaction as well. FML (maritally).

    1. neverjaunty*

      Internet hugs if you want them. No advice, but if you’re not already aware of them, PFLAG is a great and supportive resource.

    2. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Thanks, neverjaunty.

      My child’s therapist is the PFLAG president of our local chapter whose son transitioned FTM a few years ago. I chose her bc I wanted a therapist who would respect and understand my child’s gender questioning. I’m torn in several directions. If this is what my child really wants, I want to be supportive. I don’t want to have the stereotypical parental reaction of dismissing this as “just a phase” and refusing to hear anything further (which is what I fear my husband may do).

      I’m worried what will happen if my child starts testosterone and wants to continue it but isn’t able to continue with it for financial reasons. She is on my insurance until 26, but I can’t afford the monthly cost of her meds if she can’t. I could slip her money every now and then, but I couldn’t take on another regular monthly payment (my husband’s plant is in imminent danger of layoffs and/or closing).

      My other worry is if they change their mind about transitioning but they’ve been on testosterone for awhile. Some of the changes return to pre-T status, but some changes (vocal cord thickening, etc.) are permanent.

      I hope the therapist has some wisdom for my child, either way, about whether they should pursue this. Do therapists typically have some battery of questions to determine who’s a good candidate or not?

      1. Observer*

        It’s highly unlikely that this is a “phase”. Having said that, please encourage her to talk to people have experience with people who want to stop or to transition back. No matter what your child ultimately decides, if the decision is made with a clear understanding of both the upsides AND the downsides in the short and long term, it will be a far more solid decision.

      2. ftm*

        Are you in the US? The standard of care is typically informed consent these days — i.e. your child could request HRT from a clinic and receive it without having to be approved by a gatekeeper (therapist). Planned Parenthood is a common option. The therapist may not plan on or even be able to greenlight/redlight your child’s access to hormones. Not trying to scare you, but just know the therapist typically doesn’t “approve” the transition, just try to help the client find what is best for them and explore any doubts/fears that they have in a safe, non-judgmental space.

        Injectable testosterone is fairly affordable. Roughly $40/month at my local pharmacy, but mail order may be significantly cheaper. If your child is unable to do injections, then gels/creams are an alternative, but I don’t know pricing for those. The generic name for the common injectable is testosterone cypionate. You can punch it in GoodRx to see what prices are like in your area. For me, I get 4 doses (4 weeks) out of one 1ml vial, but dosage varies a lot by person. Some people need more to maintain normal male levels of testosterone; I think my dose is fairly low.

        Detransitioning does happen, but it is fairly rare. Most women aren’t thrilled with the prospect of growing a beard and certainly wouldn’t want to inject themselves on a weekly basis for it… That said sometimes the changes caused by testosterone can happen faster than someone was prepared for, and they may start/stop/start a few times or adjust dosage. You’re right in that some changes (voice, hair growth) are basically permanent. Electrolysis could remove unwanted hair and unless they end up with a very deep voice it probably won’t be a huge barrier. Plenty of male-to-female people pass with voices deepened by testosterone and have no trouble passing as cis women with or without HRT. I recommend sitting down with your child and finding out what exactly transitioning means for them right now (socially, physically and legally).

      3. Another FTM*

        Not sure if this is helpful but a vial of testosterone (the most common form of testosterone prescribed), lasts a few months, and you can work with your doctor to space the injections if needed. In the beginning it makes more of a difference what your dosage and frequency are but eventually it is less important. So the cost is not monthly.

        Similarly, some changes take a while, like it took at least a year for my voice to be consistently heard as male. Baldness may be more concerning because there are females with low voice but fewer that bald spots. But that also took a while (and I started transitioning about 15 years older than your child). You may check what happened to your father, that seems to be the determining factor in potential hair loss.

        Therapists talk to the child, it’s not a battery of tests, and offer space for people to explore their options. In my experience, especially since the kid is already 21, it’s best to be with them, then against them (this is more for your husband), because frankly that will just encourage them to dig in. They’re an adult already in many ways. If they are in college, some things are easier in college, like transitioning, rather than at a job.

        I don’t know where you are but there is a great conference in Philadelphia, the Philly trans conference, now I think it’s held in August, but there are a lot of workshops with/for parents both to interact with each other and also to interact with people who have transitioned. But more locally, support groups for you (and your child, separately) can be a great place to meet others who are struggling with the same thing.

        Sorry this is long!

      4. fort hiss*

        If I was your child and I knew you were using “she” to refer to me online while discussing this, I would be devastated. If you really can’t use the previously requested “they” or the presumably now wanted “he”, please consider not using pronouns instead.

        1. Well*

          Conversely, as someone who is also FtM, I cut my parents and my closest lifelong friends a lot of slack on the pronoun/name thing, as long as they generally supported me and tried. It’s harder to change than people like to think – if you’ve known someone for years or decades, how you refer to them is a deeply ingrained habit and very few people can change those kinds of habits overnight.

          I had no patience for people outside my close circle or new friends/acquaintances screwing up my pronouns, though.

    3. Troutwaxer*

      I’ve been going through something similar for the past year, so definitely Internet Hugs if you want them.

      The next two paragraphs are aimed at your husband, and hopefully might be helpful (apologies if not.)

      I found the child’s change difficult for two reasons. First, because there is so much in their life that also needs fixing and I wish for entirely practical reasons that they would fix that other stuff first, and second because there is a dynamic between myself as the (male or female) parent with the (male or female) child that has always been part of the relationship. So I found myself having to mourn a little for the old version of the kid, and it was difficult, because there are stages of grief and I’ve been coping with all of them bit by bit.

      My prescription to myself has been to keep quiet about my emotions, call the child by their nickname, which is gender neutral, and let myself slowly acclimate to the new reality. So far it seems to be working. The KEEPING MOUTH SHUT is the most important part of the recipe by far. I wish I could talk more about “fixing other stuff.” I hope that helps.

      1. K. Latour*

        I would add that it’s okay for it to be hard for you, too. My sibling came out to me as transgender three years ago, and I was really surprised at how much grieving and general processing I had to do, even though I’m bisexual myself and have been thinking critically about gender for a long time. I think it’s really normal to have doubts about transitioning, especially if and when surgery gets into the mix — in fact, my sibling had “top” surgery a few months ago and I was super worried about it; I didn’t tell him this, but part of me wished he wouldn’t go through with it. What finally made me feel better about it is that he is so. much. more. comfortable. walking around in the world in a body that feels like his and that “reads” the way he wants it to. And ultimately, I think that’s what it’s all about: being in the world in the way that seems most true to you.

        As for “keeping your mouth shut”…it’s good advice! I found the “comfort in, dump out” concentric ring theory super helpful (ie, you are supportive of the person going through the crisis/transition/etc., and you bring your fears and worries and venting to another party who is outside that relationship). Take care of yourself, and remember that even though watching someone transition is hard and often very weird, it’s a huge privilege to be able to meet the “real” person in question. (My brother and I are closer now than we ever were before — I hope that’s what happens with you and your child, too.)

        1. Troutwaxer*

          Thank you for the kind reply, and the discussion of ring theory was very good; I knew about it and should have mentioned it.

          On the subject of shutting up, I should note for Mallory(‘s husband) that the shutting up is to preserve the relationship until he calm’s down, which will hopefully happen.

    4. Overeducated*

      This sounds like it will be tough for all of you in different ways. I have no advice but just want to say thank you for supporting your child even at the cost of conflict in your marriage. A young person in my own extended family is going through something on this spectrum and their parents won’t even call them by their preferred name and pronouns, which is really sad and hard on them.

  38. Pat Benetardis*

    Having a very nice Christmas so far. The 2 teenagers acted very appreciative about each gift, even things like gloves, socks and books (they noticed that things were carefully picked to their tastes). We played a new board game before breakfast, and they’re now squirrelled away in a bedroom, playing a computer game together harmoniously (this is very unusual). DH and I are watching basketball. Please cross your fingers for me that politics doesn’t come up at my in-laws’ dinner later, so this great day continues :)

  39. Junior Dev*

    So I mentioned this briefly in the Friday open thread but I’m starting a full time job in early January and honestly…it doesn’t feel real yet? I think I have some mental trauma from a series of jobs where I was harassed or socially excluded, not given clear expectations or feedback, and let go (either fired or laid off) after less than a year.

    I already have a plan to get some of the logistics down–I plan to spend the week before the job starts getting up and “getting ready” for work to make sure I’m able to be on time–but I still have this weird anxiety, impostor syndrome even, that I’m not meant to hold down a job, that I’m not a real adult or a real professional, etc.

    I also worry that I’m going into another work environment where I’ll feel excluded or miserable.

    It doesn’t help that the definition for my new job is kind of open ended and I haven’t done this sort of work before so I am having a hard time visualizing it.

    Does anyone have advice for coping with these feelings?

    1. The Escape Artist*

      I personally like to think through a list of “what if” worst case scenarios, rationalize them, and come up with ways to deal with them if they actually come to be. Like: “What if no one eats lunch with me/I have to eat alone in front of others?” Well, I’m new, so it doesn’t mean anything if people don’t sit with me for lunch. They likely just have their own friend groups and routines. So what do I do? I can bring a book or read on my phone. I could go for a walk and eat outside. Or I could eat alone and just make sure to smile and say hi to anyone who looks my way.

      With regards to work itself, do you have a specific workflow you’re accustomed to? For me, I live by my to-do list; it would make me feel less anxious if I set up my to-do list ahead of time.

      Also, make sure to talk to your boss sometime during the first week to ask about setting up weekly check-in meetings. During the first meeting, I’d ask about measurements of success for my position—what should I have accomplished in a month? In 3 months? Knowing what your boss will expect from you will help make the job seem more manageable.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      I really feel for you as I’ve been there (and am so happy now but kind of still don’t trust it’s real). The first thing is to remember that nobody is really meant or not meant to do anything and the past does not define the future.

      I would search AAM for any posts about imposter syndrome and workplace ptsd.

      For me it helped to find ways to really make the new job feel new, like a new notebook and a new morning routine.

      Also, watch out for what you could call emotional flashbacks – being triggered into feelings from the past. Its worth being aware that you could have emotional reactions based on what things used to be like and not what they’re like now.

      Internet hugs to you, if welcome.

    3. Fake old Converse shoes*

      I really try to focus in my work. Set daily or weekly tasks and try to meet them. It’s not 100% effective, but it helps.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Breaking this down a little bit:
      Weird anxiety: Tell yourself the first day is the worst. Eh, we don’t even know where the bathrooms are. Get through the first day as best you can. The second day will be a tad easier. Promise yourself that if something is unclear to you then you will ask rather than stew about it. Promise yourself to just take it one day at a time.

      Impostor syndrome. Some of this keeps us sharp. We do need something inside us that makes us push ourselves along. So decide to keep about 10% of this. In terms of actions, decide to bring a notebook and write things down. Decide to try not to ask the same question twice. People can notice if you work to not ask the same thing twice.

      Not meant to hold down a job. This is Negative Nancy running her mouth. Tell her to stuff it. Use affirmations, look in the mirror and say, “I can and I will hold down a respectable job.”

      Not a real adult, not a professional. First thing to know here, is that most of us feel this way from time to time. The feeling tends to get worse when we are in the presence of people who are treating us like crap. Decide that you will watch to see who makes those feelings spike and what they are doing at the time those feelings spike. You may find that you are dealing with a jerk. Know your boundaries. Don’t let people cuss at you and do other things that make you feel “less than.”

      Exclusion and misery. The very first action here is to promise you that you will not make yourself stay in a truly toxic environment. Part of this promise may involve building up some savings or Plan B so if you need to leave you can. There is nothing worse than being trapped in a toxic job. The next action step I have found is to spread myself out a little bit, get to know people in other departments. Learn their first names and what they do. Bully boss would try to push me around. So I would say, “how about if I go ask Jane over in Y department about this?” And the bully boss backed down. It takes time to cultivate this but once you know a few people around the place you can feel settled in for one thing, but for another thing you have a higher profile in some ways. People can be less apt to push us around if they see that we seem to be friendly with other people in different areas.

      Open ended job. Try to set up regular check-ins with your boss so that you can gradually absorb more and more work. It’s fine to say you are concerned about the open endedness here and you want to touch base regularly so that you are covering everything she wants you to cover.

    5. Stephanie*

      Yeah, I’ve had Bad Job PTSD. This summer, I was meeting with my internship boss and I think I apologized for something and he’s like “Stephanie! You’re doing fine! Don’t worry.” I don’t have much advice, just commiserating. It sucks.

  40. The Escape Artist*

    Merry Christmas, everyone! I got super sick, so I’ve quarantined myself at home and had a wonderfully relaxing holiday :)

    Work-related question: my company recently went through a restructuring. My entire role (I was the manager of a marketing channel) got turned over to a Director in the operations department.

    They gave my job to someone who knows NOTHING about it and expected me to continue doing everything for this channel, but reporting to this awful new boss who would get to call all the shots. I responded with what my coworkers are calling an “escape trick” and used this opportunity to move myself into a more important role to stay in the marketing department, where I have fantastic coworkers and a supportive boss.

    The problem now is that this operations Director is and always has been a terrible human being. I’ve never met someone so incompetent in such a high-placed role. Honestly, she’s really taught me how far you can go when you spend most of your energy schmoozing executives and bragging about (non-existent) accomplishments, even in the face of terrible performance metrics! How I would describe her in one sentence: if she doesn’t know how to do something, she will make sure someone else will do it for her, even if they don’t know how to do it and it’s supposed to be her responsibility; if she “thinks” she knows how to do something (and she never does), she will take any kind of feedback/lukewarm support/suggested improvements as a personal attack against her abilities. I have witnessed her throw a tantrum because the marketing director told her she couldn’t just willy nilly make up new social media accounts to represent our company; I’ve also seen her try to play victim (“I feel like everyone hates me!” with tears in her eyes) to deflect from having to admit she’s made bad decisions.

    Our two departments are supposed to collaborate because we have all the knowledge and experience with the transferred channel and she has none. She is even so threatened by the idea of managing people more intelligent than she is, that she deliberately hired someone with ZERO relevant work experience to replace me. As a team, we’ve decided that while we will continue to offer to collaborate, we’re not going to go out of our way to save her (because she’d interpret it as interference); we expect the whole channel is going to become a dumpster fire.

    The main thing I’d like your feedback on—she’s starting to panic because her resistance to learning anything about her new channel, her unwillingness to ask me any questions about it, and her new green hire means she’s been making poor, uninformed decisions for her channel that are starting to become visible to everyone. She’s taken to spending lots of time with our executives playing the blame game (on us) and trying to unilaterally push through hasty, stupid, corrective decisions without consulting us.

    Is there anything you recommend we do? We’re not about to go to the executives and point the finger at her, but we’re also not going to let ourselves be made the scapegoat here. I’ve recommended that we make sure there’s a paper trail for everything (follow-ups after meetings with her, emails where we offer support/help and she doesn’t respond, etc.), defend ourselves when we get “called out”, and generally ignore her behind-the-scenes antics.

    Side note: Please remember to brag about your work! This experience has taught me the importance of letting higher ups know what you’re doing, why you made the decisions you did, and communicating any KPIs you can report. My department has been heads down working on the biggest project in our company’s history, so while we certainly share updates with the executives, we don’t make time to brag about our work—we’re too busy working! But now I see how that’s come back to bite us on the butt. She’s seen as someone who lets others “into” her (falsely portrayed) world, while we’re seen as mysterious/secretive. Starting with the launch of our big project, I’m going to make it a priority to send out monthly reports, detailing our hard work.

    1. The Escape Artist*

      Oh man, didn’t realize it was so long!

      tl;dr Incompetent, entitled, awful human being Director (I could write books about her) takes over my sales channel but hasn’t a clue how to run it. She refuses to learn and is instead making impulsive, uninformed decisions to try and keep things afloat. As damage control, she’s been pointing the finger at my department and the executives believe her because 1. they don’t know how my sales channel works, and 2. she’s put in tons more face time with them so she seems “credible”. How do we defend ourselves?

    2. Observer*

      Keep on doing what you are doing. But, you’re marketing, no? So market yourselves. Send a (short) weekly email outlining accomplishments to all the relevant people. Make sure to give key players outside of your department liberal praise when you can. That makes it more likely for people to read it (people like reading nice things about themselves and their work) and will give you more credibility (you CANNOT be too far off the mark if you realize how awesome I am, no?)

      As well, consider the judicious use of the cc line. You don’t want to do this all the time. But when she’s about to do something really bad, and you want to make sure that the right people know who did what, CC or BCC can be useful.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I would start looking for a new job yesterday. Your leadership is allowing and even endorsing this horrible Director’s actions, and that’s not likely to change. While you are stuck with her, I would get your own director’s OK to ignore her completely. She is not your boss, and it sounds like she’s not your grandboss or GGboss either, so get your boss’s OK to ignore her and let her crash and burn on her own. Not even so much to get her fired, but so that you can do your own jobs effectively!

      1. The Escape Artist*

        I totally understand what you’re recommending and am on the same page. The things that keep me at my current job for now are 1. launching the big project, which is going to be HUGE on my resume, 2. getting at least a year’s experience in my new role, to set myself up for more opportunities when I job hunt, 3. rarely do you ever get the kind of creative freedom and responsibility that I currently have for such a prominent brand, so I’m going to be really picky when I decide to move on, and 4. my boss/team is fucking awesome and I love working with them. It’s sad that everyone who was transferred from our department to Director’s is now looking for a new job—only the executives can stand her! I truly think she’s in over her head and will be job hunting herself soon enough…fingers crossed.

        And you’re right, I should just keep running everything through my boss. They’re on the same tier (Director made sure to let everyone know she’s on the same level as my boss; in fact, I watched her get visibly upset during a restructuring discussion that she may not be “at the same level or higher” than my marketing director…). And my boss is on the promotion track to VP, so if/when that happens, we would have more clout to keep Director accountable to her performance.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Well, I can see why you’d want to stay, especially if your boss can insulate you. It just concerns me that this horrible Director has been able to keep this charade up for this long, it does not bode well for the way the company is managed at the top. I really do hope they wise up and decide to not only stop putting up with her….shenanigans, but that they change their corporate culture to deal with it more directly and more immediately from now on. Either way, I wish you the very best of luck!

  41. still single, still childless*

    I’m trying to enjoy Christmas but I’m having a slightly difficult time with it.

    The background story: Back in 2013, my then boyfriend’s cousin proposed to his girlfriend on Christmas Eve. At that point they had known each other and been together for exactly 19 months. They planned to get married 5 months later on May 24, which was the 2 year anniversary of they day they met and had their first date.

    At that point my then boyfriend and I had been together for 5 times longer than them. We had known each other and been together for 95 months and our 8th anniversary was in a month on January 24. That same day would be the 4th anniversary of us moving in together. His cousin and girlfriend were younger than us. They were 25 and we were 30.

    I know each relationship is different and has its own pace but it did sting seeing them engaged when they were younger than us and had not been together as longer. As I saw my other friends and family get engaged it did sting a little each time but this one was the worst.

    I held out hope for a month after that. My boyfriend always said he wanted marriage, he talked about us being married in the future but he never proposed or took any steps to make it happen. He gushed about his cousin’s proposal and the romance and and the upcoming wedding, and I figured it was the kick in the pants he needed. Our 9th anniversary the following year was on a Saturday and it would have been a perfect day to get married.

    Once I realized he wasn’t going to propose I ended things. He said he didn’t understand because he wanted to be married “one day” but that he wasn’t ready and didn’t think there was a need to hurry because we were in love and had all the time in the world. I mean we lived together and he acted as though I was his wife but he wouldn’t make it official or combine our finances (our incomes we equal and we shared our expenses equally), because combining finances was something that married people did.

    So I ended it. Our lease was about to be up, so I informed our landlord that I would not be renewing. I paid the rent for the rest of the lease so he couldn’t accuse me of leaving him high and dry, our landlord did a walk-though to ensure there was no damage or anything, and I packed up my clothes and things in my car and left. It was our 8th anniversary (January 24, 2014) the day I left and he still did not see the need for us to rush into marriage.

    I went back to my hometown. When I went to college, it was in a city 2.5 hours away from my hometown. I stayed there after I graduated because I had a job offer and that’s where I met my boyfriend. It was his home city and all of his family from both sides lived there. I packed up my car and went back to my home city 2.5 hours away where I grew up and where my whole family lives. I had been at my job for over 8 years but layoffs were coming so I took a small severance because I was planning on moving anyways.

    My cousin had just finished grad school and was moving in with her boyfriend and needed someone to take over her lease so she didn’t have to pay a penalty, so I moved in to her apartment. I found a new job and am still working there. I have gone on dates and tried to meet guys but nothing has gotten anywhere serious. I was doing fine and kept thinking I had lots of time, until yesterday.

    When I moved I got rid of all social media except a Facebook page for family and close friends (people I actually talk to) only, so it only has a few dozen people. I also got a new phone number because the area code changed and a new email, I wanted to make a fresh start. Yesterday, I saw that an old friend of mine had commented on a post.

    The post was from my ex-boyfriend. He was wishing his wife a happy 6 month anniversary and going on about how happy he was to be married to her. In the same post he also announced to everyone she was 12 weeks pregnant with the first children for either them and it was twins and they couldn’t keep the secret just the two of them any longer. So 5 months to the day after I left him, because he wasn’t “ready for marriage”, he met a woman. Two years later he proposed and they got married on their 3rd anniversary.

    I had not heard anything from or about him since I left him. It was so jarring to see the Facebook post. I mean, 8 years together and 4 years living together and he was not ready for marriage, but he proposed to her after 2 years? I was the love of his life but 5 months after I left him he had moved on? We were 30, had stable careers and no debt, had been together for 8 years and living together for 4, and he still was not ready. I won’t lie, it hurt when I saw that post and I cried a little

    Now I have unfriended the friend who commented and allowed me to see the post (because I only want Facebook for people I talk to and I haven’t actually seen or talked to her in a couple of years) and my ex-boyfriend’s Facebook is private for friends only and I only know his wife’s first name and am not mutual with anyone else on his list, so I can’t internet stalk him and have no desire to. I only check Facebook once a week anyways and only to keep up with family and friends I actually see in real life, so I can’t keep checking up on my boyfriend.

    I am trying hard to enjoy the holidays with my family but I won’t lie, seeing that post did hurt. I am turning 35 on January 15 and I am still single and childless with no one in the picture. I know I am being foolish and I should be happy because I have my health, no debt, a great job, a nice apartment and good family and friends, and I wasn’t thinking about being single and childless that much until I saw his post. I can’t believe he moved on so quick and was ready to marry another woman after only 2 years. I know you can’t tell everything from a couple of pictures online but on the photo montage he posted they were both glowing and had light in their eyes.

    Sorry this was so long. Thanks for reading. Sorry about any typos, I am not used to touch typing without a physical keyboard and I am not on my usual device. Merry Christmas to anyone who celebrates!

    1. The Escape Artist*

      I’m so sorry. That sounds incredibly rough. Honestly, it was pretty callous of him to drag out your relationship for so long if he had no intention of marrying you.

      You sound like you’re taking all the right steps for getting past it; I think reminding yourself often of all the things you are lucky to have in your life is a good way to go. Happy Christmas!

    2. Aisling*

      I’m so sorry. That’s got to be a jarring post. The only thing I have to offer is that his meeting someone else that quickly meant that you and he were not meant to be. I don’t say that lightly and I don’t want to be hurtful, but if he was dragging his feet it may not have been that he wasn’t ready; he may have thought that and didn’t have the emotional maturity to bring it up himself. That’s a hard thing to realize but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It means that there is also someone lovely out there for you, because he wasn’t your perfect match.

      1. WellRed*

        Yes, I totally agree. I have seen the same scenario play out before among friends, but oh, how painful.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Going the opposite way, he met someone and decided not to be stupid TWICE. He figured out “If I don’t marry them and get a house or kids or dog (whatever) then they LEAVE.” He decided not to let that happen again.

        1. LCL*

          This is what I was going to say, but you said it way better. I’ve seen this scenario time after time, and your interpretation is exactly what I believe is going on with these people.

    3. Anon612*

      So sorry you’re going through this. Hang in there, it will be okay! Next year will be our 15th anniversary and we are still not married! We’ve talked about marriage, SO knows I want to be married, refers to me as his wife to everyone, but has flat refused to make it official or plan for any future that provides security for me. Probably for the best that we aren’t married. It will make leaving SO much easier when I do.

      1. Clever Name*

        Depending on your state, you may be common-law married, especially if he publically calls you his wife.

    4. NicoleK*

      I’m sorry. Been there, done that. It’s painful. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself to grieve.

    5. Dan*

      You did the right thing by ending a relationship that wasn’t working for you. Doing the right thing isn’t always easy.

      TBH, though, it sounds like you’re still in love with him, and that breaking up was some sort of way to force an ultimatum. For one reason or another, a legal marriage to you was not in the cards for him. He may not know why, he may not be able to express it, but he knew it subconsciously. With your particular relationship, I’m going to guess that had your ultimatum worked, you’d have to use the same strategy for any major life changing event — e.g., having kids. Is that someonething you really want? You really want to be married to someone who will communicate with you openly and honestly… at the very least, you know he can’t do that with you for whatever reason.

      My ex and I were your bf’s cousin and gf, although slightly older. We married a little over a year after we met… and were separated in under four years of marriage. We had barely formed a life together — no assets, no kids — yet getting divorced was still a pain. I’ve come to appreciate folks who haven’t legally married, and when they decide it’s not working for them anymore, they can just peace out without a bunch of legal headaches. All that’s to say is just because people get married fast, doesn’t mean it lasts.

    6. Drama Llama*

      I’m sorry. That’s tough.

      It sounds like there were issues in your relationship that would have dragged through your marriage, had it happened, which would have been a cause of greater unhappiness than being single/childless.

      You guys could not communicate about the specifics of marriage. “One day” is a vague non promise. It could have been due to a lot of reasons- fear of commitment, some relationship issue lurking in his subconscious, different communication styles, etc. Whatever it was if you can’t discuss something as major as this, it’s a huge red flag.

      Between marrying you and breaking up, he chose to break up. That says a lot about how he felt about the relationship. I can’t see how you would have been happy being married to someone who likes their relationship enough to date you for 8 years but not love it enough to commit fully.

      I know women who have been dragged through this same situation for many, many years and are still not married. Because the man keeps deferring marriage to “next year” it becomes harder to leave after all the time and emotional investment. You made the right choice to break up with him. If he were unsure after nearly a decade, there was obviously something about your relationship that made him hesitant. Had you stayed with him he would either still be hesitant or have married you ignoring whatever discomfort he had. Both would have resulted in resentment.

      Ultimately we are in relationships to be happy. You left because you were not. He let you go because at some level, he was not happy either. So you made the right (and courageous) call in ending a bad situation that would have only got worse.

      It can be tough being single. It’s a lot tougher to be married to the wrong person.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I remember in the 1960s my mother talking about some couples who “forget” to get married. Some of those situations could be like yours where one person stalls and stalls and stalls.

      Just from observation, we should never marry a “staller”. These are folks who stall out and don’t make necessary decisions for living life. You would have ended up in a marriage where you dragged this person through one decision after another. Purchasing a house, getting a dog etc would have been work not joy because of dragging him along. (Women can be stallers, too, so this is not about just men.)

      Others have picked up that you may still be in love with this guy. I did not see that as I read along. But I could be putting my own bias in there so who knows. What I did see is grief over the huge amount of time and energy you put into something that went no where. I hope I can encourage you that no relationship is wasted and no experience is wasted. As the decades roll by you will take what you saw/learned with this fellow and apply it in different ways to new settings. It takes a good amount of time for this to unfold so be patient and gentle with you and with the flow of life.

      For immediate time, sit down and have a good cry. This sucks. Crying causes chemical reactions in the brain that keep the brain healthy. While today is not great, you may notice in a few days you feel like you have “bounced back” some or you may feel that you have a new determination about something. This is that healthy brain thing going on.

      The “friend” who told you about this is not that much of a friend. I am glad you disconnected some what there, that was a smart move. And it sounds like you have made a bunch of other smart choices. Continue on with your good self-care. We can’t help what happens to us but we CAN control how we respond to it. You will have a full and wonderful life. It’s waiting for you.

      1. Sarah M*

        That friend did not tell OP anything. The friend commented on the ex-boyfriend’s post on Facebook and OP saw it (since she was friends with the friend). No one ran to OP to tell her. It is clear from her post that she stumbled upon it. We have no idea about the character of the friend at all. It is not on the friend that OP saw the comment, and to call the person a bad friend or claim that they purposely ran to OP is disingenuous and not what actually happened at all.

      2. Wow*

        Since she saw his post because a mutual facebook friend commented on it, I’m not sure how this translates to that person “telling” her. I think you are confused here.

    8. Anion*

      I am so sorry you’re going through this.

      If it helps, you obviously did the right thing, and you’re both smart and strong for recognizing that “one day” isn’t a proposal and refusing to stay in a relationship that wasn’t going where you wanted it to.

      And…at least your ex is proof that it can happen thatfast. That means it could happen thatfast to you, too. I’m sure there is some man out there right now who doesn’t know how lucky he’s about to get, because he’s about to meet you. I hope very much that he meets you soon.

    9. Artemesia*

      But aren’t you glad you wised up and moved on? I have seen this precise scenario half a dozen times with friends of mine over the years. When a mature person in a long term relationship ‘isn’t ready for marriage’ what they mean is ‘I don’t want to marry you.’ It is one thing when people are in their early 20s but once in late 20 or certainly 30ish, it isn’t ‘timing’ it is wanting to marry the person they are with. Your scenario is alas common but you have the knowledge that you figured it out and took action and didn’t allow it to drift on any longer. You have started over in a different town which also seems like a great way to shake up your life a little. Given your ability to take charge of your life and change when you need to, I’m betting things will come together for you. It is a hard thing to go through.

  42. Pennalynn Lott*

    I got to play the twice-a-year game known around here as “What Kind of Cr@p Did My Dad Get Me This Time?” He sent me two remote-controlled, battery-powered, scented “flameless candles,” but only one of them responds to the remote and there’s no scent. (I suspect, based on the yellowed tape on the boxes they came in, that he has had them sitting around for many years). I also got a pack of blue pens and a pack of black pens, likely from his new favorite store, The Dollar Tree. Oh, and a koozie that says something about never using all the algebra I learned in school.

    He has given me a selfie stick (I don’t take selfies), a bag of popcorn (I don’t eat popcorn), an electric fly swatter (I don’t have flies), and other random junk he sees at Costco or The Dollar Tree.

    And my mom spent every penny of her disposable income and savings on keeping my drug-addicted brother in his apartment for as long as she could this year (but — tada! — he’s now living in his truck anyway), so nothing from her. Like, not even homemade cookies made from flour and sugar and eggs that I purchased. (She lives with me).

    Boyfriend gave me two rings from my wishlist at an online store, but he’s active in his porn addiction again and acting like an entitled, abusive glassbowl, so a good present from him would be sobriety or to drop dead (I’m his life insurance beneficiary).

    But I got all A’s this past semester and will graduate with my Bachelor’s in May, and with a 5-class head start on my Master’s (which I’ll continue with immediately), so hopefully I can finally kick Boyfriend to the curb in a little over a year and a half, which will solve my biggest life problem. And I gave up on either of my parents treating me the same as their favored children (my half-sister in my dad’s case, and my half-brother in my mom’s), and have grieved enough over that that I now mostly find it amusing (so long as I’m not stressed out in other ways).

    I sincerely hope everyone else is having an awesome holiday season.

    1. Julianne*

      There’s probably some background information I’m missing that you certainly don’t need to rehash here and now, but boy I hope you can kick your boyfriend out sooner than that.

      1. Aisling*

        Absolutely. Get rid of the negative energy that you can, right now. You have enough to deal with! Congrats on your grades.

      2. Pennalynn Lott*

        I can sum it up real quick: We co-own a business. Because I’m back in school, I’m financially dependent on him [my contribution to the business “doesn’t count” in his insane view of the world.] Once I get a degree and a well-paying job, I will finally be able to afford to kick him out of my house. We’ve pretty much been just roommates for years, but it still sucks to live under the same roof with someone who will start screaming at me for literally nothing with no warning. (Me: “The weather is so weird; tomorrow it will be cold but tonight we need to turn the A/C on.” Him: “Why the f*ck would we need to do that?! Don’t just stand there and stare at me with your mouth open! I DESERVE AN ANSWER TO MY QUESTION! DON’T YOU WALK AWAY FROM ME! ANSWER MY F*CKING QUESTION!”) <–Seriously happened a month or so ago.

          1. Pennalynn Lott*

            Yeah, he’s verbally and emotionally abusive (or tries to be, if I’d let him). 97% of the time my internal boundaries are in place and I only stop myself from laughing because it would piss him off [and I seriously need him to continue paying the bills for now, not move out in a rage-filled tantrum].

            But the other 3% . . . ? Oof.

            End-of-semester was brutal because I was stressed about school. I had done poorly in the middle of the semester — oh, I forgot to mention that our business had been given a demand letter by a contractor who was injured and we may be sued, and I was rear-ended while at a dead stop by a woman who was going 45mph and didn’t even tap her brakes, and I’m still in pain but didn’t have time to see a doctor (making the appointment tomorrow) and a couple of private things that left me stressed and gave me shingles, twice — so I was looking at getting my first-ever B’s and thus ruining my chance of graduating summa cum laude. Which meant that I had trouble laughing off Boyfriend’s verbal abuse and addictive behaviors. (For anyone who isn’t close to an addict, it’s not just the use of the substance / behavior that causes the problems. It’s how they act when they’re using / obsessed with their next “hit” that causes many of the problems. They get extra narcissistic and abusive. Whoopee).

            But now, during the three-week winter break, I’m recharging my batteries. And I’m crossing my fingers that the excessive amount of bad things that happened to me last semester won’t happen again. So I can go back to effectively employing my boundaries and practicing self-care, and letting his Crazy roll off me like water on a duck’s back.

            1. TheLiz*

              You should tell your institution about (at the very least) the demand letter and the rear-ending. Mitigating circumstances exist and this is why! Sure, you got a ‘B’, but only because things were being exceptionally challenging right then, and a good institution will recognise that.

              I was allowed to graduate with a 2:1 instead of a 2:2 because I got those grades whilst fighting the nervous breakdown triggered by one of my parents’ gender transition (very sudden for me although not for them) and the subsequent implosion of my family. The info was kept to a small number of faculty but there were accommodations made – as there should be for you.

              Also, you’re doing just great so far – you can do it!

    2. Anon-MD*

      “so a good present from him would be sobriety or to drop dead (I’m his life insurance beneficiary).”

      This so made me chuckle :)

      On a serious note: may you rid yourself of him before the year and a half is up! Hopefully, without having to deal with a corpse.

    3. Artemesia*

      I hope your boyfriend is gone by New Years. Why wait? And if there is a good reason to wait, focus on changing things so he can be gone sooner.

    1. Middle School Teacher*

      I held it together for most of it but I started crying when they dropped the Captain off and then was bawling by the end. I’m waiting for Call the Midwife to start and hoping it kind of puts me back together!

    2. Liane*

      College Son had me watching them with him the other night but not the latest. The last one we watched was the superhero one with Peter Capaldi. Fun time, but I think our favorite had the shark.

    3. Enough*

      Not on here for a few more hours. But why must there also be two other Christmas show specials at the same time?

    4. Ramona Flowers*

      I didn’t like it. Nice idea for a story but the telling didn’t do it for me. It would have been better to skip a lot of that destiny stuff and spend more time on the battlefield.

      I am hard to please though.

  43. Lianes*

    Cookie help, please. I am making oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, baked at 350 degrees F for 13-15 minutes, I did 14 for first pan. Way too done, hardcore and dark on bottom. Should I try shortening the baking time or lowering temperature for a test cookie?

    1. anon24*

      I would lower your bake time to 10 min and swap racks halfway through. Are you using darker or non stick trays? They burn easier. I have found that the trick to a good cookie is to make sure they still look slightly under done when they come out of the oven – let them sit for 2-3 minutes before removing from trays.

      1. Liane*

        Darker pans. I will try 1 or 2 cookies at a shorter time. I think it may be a recipe typo. I have never had a problem with other recipes, not even with our old range, which had a flakey oven thermostat.

    2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Stick with the same temperature (350 is quite moderate) and check them after like ten minutes. If they aren’t done then (they probably won’t be), check them every minute or two, depending if they look almost done or not. With cookies you always have to adjust the baking time anyway, because you scoop them a different size or use a different kind of baking sheet than the recipe tester. You can do fewer cookies for the first pans till you figure it out.

      Oh, and if they are very much over done on the bottom but fine on top, try moving your oven rack up a bit.

    3. Stephanie*

      Have you tried chilling the dough before baking? That can help them from overcooking. I’d move the rack up (or away from the heating element, really).

      I usually put the timer on for a bit less than the recipe calls for, just in case overcooking is a possibility. If you’re going to be baking a lot, I’d get an oven thermometer. I have a not-great oven (woo grad student rental housing) and had to get the oven thermometer because the display temperature was wildly inaccurate (usually lower than what the display said). They’re pretty cheap, luckily (under $10).

  44. Lianesd*

    Tale from the Christmas Eve retail front.
    College Daughter’s store closed at 6pm, when her brother got off; CD was scheduled to 6:30 as she is a cashier. I go to pick her up and see her through the store windows cleaning up Front End, no one else.
    She finally gets out at 7 & I ask her about it. She tells me there were coworkers doing other things, although *of course* some people called out. CD adds she is really, ah, mad at, Co-Irker. Co-Irker was scheduled to 7–but clocked out as “soon as we got every customer out, about 6:20. Because her time is SO much more valuable than anyone else’s…Yes, there will be a write up when she comes back.”
    I haven’t asked how Co-Irker got out the door, as a salaried manager had to have unlocked it. Am guessing manager assumed she got off at 6:30 or knew better but decided “F it! More trouble to argue now & override timeclock than write her A– up Tuesday.”

  45. Lau (UK)*

    My Christmas is going much better than expected. Everyone is ignoring the massive elephant in the room that is my missing husband and very recent outing of self to my family and its been rather lovely.

    Very strange

    1. Troutwaxer*

      I think its wonderful that everyone is low-keying the drama and just concentrating on the season. How nice for you!

  46. MsChanandlerBong*

    Happiest of holidays to everyone at AAM! We are having a low-key Christmas this year. I am making a bunch of food that doesn’t really “go” together: chile con queso, stuffing (with cornbread and sausage), best-ever breakfast potatoes (seriously, that’s what the recipe is called!), deviled eggs, and chicken coated with a blend of Ritz cracker crumbs, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. I found out last night that if you accidentally buy 16 oz. of Velveeta instead of the 32 oz. you need, you can make your own by making a bechamel sauce and stirring in shredded cheddar cheese. Crisis averted!

    Husband got me a really thoughtful gift–a clarinet! I played all through high school and college, but I gave it up a few years ago when the local civic band broke up and I didn’t have anywhere to play. Our new city has a couple of civic groups, so he thought I might like to take it up again. He’s right!

    1. Stephanie*

      Have fun relearning! I picked my cello up again after 8 years. Start slowly so you don’t get frustrated.

      1. Stephanie*

        Also, I hated scales and technique drills when I was younger, but now I appreciate them as I relearn. If you can swing it, I’d maybe find a teacher who specializes in teaching adults.

  47. Teapot Translator*

    Long-time reader, first time commenter.

    So, in the fall, I was made redundant at my job. I found a new job, but not in the field I wanted. I took the job thinking that I would make the most of it and work freelance in my chosen field.

    But today, out of blue, I’ve been offered a job in my chosen field? And I know I would have to meet the person and ask more questions before making a decision. So this is all just a possibilty and nothing is set in stone. But I accepted my new job in good faith and I feel bad just at the idea of maybe choosing to leave.

    Thank you for reading.

    1. Observer*

      OK, you took the job in good faith and you’ve acted in good faith – you were not looking. But if the position is really good, then it’s not wrong to take it. Just give notice – maybe a bit longer than normal and do the best you can to make the handover as smooth as possible.

      And, if this new place gives you a hard time about giving notice, take that as a red flag.

      1. miyeritari*

        Observer is spot on. You didn’t take the job thinking to yourself “i’m leaving ASAP and I don’t give a hoot about these people.” That being said, sometimes things happen, and you should do your best to both do what’s best for you (ie: “I didn’t anticipate this but a really exciting opportunity has just come up for me” ..”) and what’s best for them (“…..what can I do to make my transition to this new job easy and smooth for my current employment?”).

    2. AnonAndOn*

      I agree with Observer. The job you were offered is the one you want. Would you rather continue to work in a field you don’t want to work in or one that you are more passionate about? If where you are now is reasonable then they should be able to take your resignation in stride.

  48. Augusta Sugarbean*

    Thanks to everyone who helped with my X-Box question a week or so ago. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense to get the physical game instead of a digital copy. After a little more searching, I ended up finding locally – fully recommend Best Buy’s order online and pickup in store service. So convenient. Thank you and happy Christmas/alternate holiday/work day/miscellaneous day of the week (circle whichever is appropriate)! Stay warm and safe!

  49. neverjaunty*

    The cats are enjoying the holiday, at least. One of them is lurking around the kitchen hoping I drop scraps (currently I have a pot of chicken soup going, a pot of grivenes, a pot of stock for gravy, and prepping a roast goose). The other cat is sitting atop the pile of wrapping paper. I can’t tell if he just thinks it’s comfortable or he’s guarding it somehow, but he seems pretty insistent that nobody uses it.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Did you make goose grivenes??? No matter, I love that stuff. Salt it well and save some for me, please!

    2. OlympiasEpiriot*

      I swear I read “pot of grievances”. Didn’t seem off as lots of people have those over the holidays.

    3. All Hail Queen Sally*

      One of my cats comes out to watch me every single time I am working in the kitchen. I had to get her a little platform to sit on so I didn’t trip over her. I think she is hoping that I will drop some food.

  50. Alana Maxwell*

    I’ve been wanting to toss this out for a while but I was never sure if I should post it in the Friday or Weekend threads. Some fun idle discussion …
    What do we all think of fictional workplaces on TV? Would we accept job offers from workplaces in The West Wing, or NCIS, or Criminal Minds, or Grey’s Anatomy, or Star Trek, or Parks and Rec?
    What kind of letters would those characters write, and how would we answer them? Discuss!

    1. caledonia*

      Alison “answered” some questions from fictional people earlier this year. Link in the next comment.

    2. Annie Mouse*

      Offers wise… West Wing, maybe but I’m not interested in politics so it would have to be a really interesting job.
      NCIS, Criminal Minds, Star Trek, Torchwood, Spooks, Code Black – almost certainly would take a job. Although for the US based ones maybe just a placement type thing as it’s a long way from home!

    3. Ramona Flowers*

      I was watching Designated Survivor yesterday and thinking that their onboarding sucks. Though I guess Kal Penn advised? (Cannot get my head round him working in the real AND fictional White House.)

      In general I think most on-screen workplaces are pretty toxic and poorly managed, even the ones where people get along well, and I’m sure this contributed to my accepting poor treatment or poor management as normal in real life.

    4. Augusta Sugarbean*

      I’d never work in any of the CSI labs. Those agencies clearly don’t have enough funding to pay the electric bills!

    5. Kuododi*

      Having worked in mental health counseling for ages and with that having rotated through my share of hospital ER as a part of training and on call responsibilities as well as working closely with local DCS agencies, I find it difficult to watch shows like Greys Anatomy, all the CSIs, NCIS,the Law and Orders…etc. There portrayal of mental illness in general, treatment of mental illness in court, DCS and the issue of child in foster care and a plethora of other things leave me yelling at the tv saying : ” It doesn’t work like that….!!!”

  51. SAHM*

    Very thankful that there was one grocery store open this morning. Hubs and I came down with a holiday crud/NASTY cold, and we were not expecting to be home for Christmas so we had no “Christmas food” for the kiddos. Managed to get a pie, a turkey breast, and fixings for stuffing. Missing my sibs and mom and nephews/niece, but I also am not exposing them to this nastiness. Plus, not certain I can physically drive for an hour plus without collapsing. It’s kinda nice to just have a relaxing Christmas at home though.

  52. Ruffingit*

    For Christmas, I got the flu. It’s been miserable. And this is on top of dental surgery I had a couple of days before the flu hit. I’ve been laying in bed for most of the weekend and today. I can only hope the aching and general blah goes away soon. :(

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I hope you feel better soon, too. And I hope your mouth heals quickly. I am doing a series of dental surgeries so am really feeling the empathy for you.

    2. Kuododi*

      Oh my…. I’m having sympathy pains. No dental issues here but woke up this am with some kind of gnarly gastric distress… It’s pretty much coming out one way or another. I’m also diabetic on insulin so my sugar has been crazy since I can’t keep much down. Hope you feel better soon…Best wishes!!!

  53. Irish Em*

    So proud of myself for not saying unforgivable things to the elderly gent who made veiled homophobic comments to me on Xmas Eve. I am not out bi (either sexual or romantic, demi or ace, but anyway) and he was talking in a mock scandalised tone about the Mister and Mister that bought a property in Ranelagh, and worst of all the both drive Porsches. *gasp* The Showoffs. (*cut to me trying very hard not to roll my eyes*)
    Now, I was in his home, in his community, as a guest of my Uncle, with whom he lives and works, and I have it drilled into me that someone else being awful is no excuse for me to be awful, so I wasn’t awful, (oh, how I wanted to really call him out, though), but I did pointedly turn his words on him by asking where was my Porsche as I don’t have kids, and isn’t it wonderful for the two gents to have bought a lovely Ranelagh home for themselves. *siiiiiiiigh*

    I shouldn’t have to fend people off like this, it’s 2017. Nobody should, damn it. And even that’s gentle compared to some stuff people have thrown at them. And I have a really bad case of l’espirit de l’escalier of what I *should* have said. Most of it involving me outing myself which I am not ready to do except online in a safe space like this (which, thank you, Alison, for making this such a cool spot to hang out and figure stuff out in, BTW! Even if it is off-topic for the theme of the blog LOL!)), but wouldn’t it be sooo satisfying to have the ultimate come-back for snide little asides like that? If only real life was scripted like on telly *sigh*

    Anyway, I wish everyone here a peaceful end of December, whatever you may celebrate, and an awesome 2018!

  54. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    Xmas eve mass last night. Spending time with fiancé and future MIL. Lovely, low-key, watching British shows. No nmom in sight. So relaxing and sometimes I rush around trying to help and SO tells me to relax lol. I brought fruit, nuts, stuff and we’re making a lovely pork/green bean veg dish, stuffing, roast potatoes…..prob one of the most chill Xmases I’ve had in ages. (3 yrs ago, my nmom screamed at me over Xmas restaurant dinner and made me cry for failing the bar. I did pass later, once I was far the eff away from her).

  55. Nervous Accountant*

    I just want to know…..why are you emailing your accountant on Thanksgiving, Christmas (and probably New Years)??? There is nothing that cannot wait until after the holidays.

    On another note I’m st the airport waiting to board and omg so many dogs!!!! Makes me so happy to see them. Would love to play w them but I don’t touch

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        I have a vacation response up along with contact info for my team who will step in. Last month someone literally wrote me saying “I know you’re on vacation but I need this right now”. Shaking my head… lol

        Just thinking of puppies and kittens

      2. Nervous Accountant*

        I have a vacation response up along with contact info for my team who will step in. Last month someone literally wrote me saying “I know you’re on vacation but I need this right now”. Shaking my head… lol

        Just thinking of puppies and kittens

    1. Ruffingit*

      I sometimes email my accountant on holidays or the weekend just so I can get the info out there and I won’t forget about it. I do not expect an immediate answer or even an answer within the next several days. My accountant answers quickly anyway and I’m always telling her to stop doing that. ;)

    2. Middle School Teacher*

      I got an email from a parent on Christmas Day! Luckily something that will keep, not something along the lines of “we were just checking marks online and we saw he got X% on a test and why…” but I was still a little annoyed. I have a holiday message on and she’ll just have to be content with that!

  56. Nicole*

    I go back and forth regarding my love for Christmas, but this year I have thoroughly enjoyed it. That being said, I could do without having a Christmas tree, or at least the rather large one we have. We wait until a week or so into December to put it up because it requires either shifting around the living room furniture (and it still partially blocks the fireplace), or we put it in the dining room (which is what we’ve been doing the past several years) which requires having to push the table against the wall so we lose access to half the table. Needless to say, hubby and I grow tired of its presence pretty quickly, which is why we took it down this morning, haha! Sorry, not sorry. There are plenty of other festive decor throughout our home so I don’t feel like the tree is even necessary but I do it for my husband. I just wish I could convince him that getting one of those small super skinny trees (which should be discounted come tomorrow) is a good idea until we move.

    Also, I’ve never been a fan of grits, but my husband likes them, so I made a three cheese grits casserole for breakfast this morning (which I prepared ahead of time yesterday), and it came out so amazing that it will definitely be part of Christmas moving forward. I plan to eat more now and with dinner. Yum!

    Merry Christmas to those of you whom celebrate!

      1. Nicole*

        Grits is finely ground corn that puffs up when boiled, similar to oatmeal or rice. There’s not much flavor to them but with all the cheese in the casserole they taste amazing!

        1. Kuododi*

          If you grew up or spent any significant time in SE USA you would have been properly exposed to the epicurean delight of grits!!! It’s important to use the 20 minute grits not the evil insta-grits. Any proper Southerner will tell you insta-grits are a shame and abomination to society!!! It you ever saw the scene in”My Cousin Vinny” there was a great speech about the value of 20 minute grits. They are fantastic with salt, pepper, and lots of butter for breakfast with scrambled eggs, lots of bacon and piles of homemade biscuits. Divine!!! I do love cheese grits casserole. We usually serve that as a side dish at our Kentucky Derby Party.

        2. Soon to be former fed*

          Grits are actually more similar to polenta, but are white. I’ve been eating grits all my life, my mom is from the southern USA where they are a staple. I only like them with butter, salt, and pepper.

      2. Anon-MD*

        “Grits are a food made from corn that is ground into a coarse meal and then boiled. Hominy grits are a type of grits made from hominy with the germ removed, which is corn that has been treated with an alkali in a process called nixtamalization.” Wikipedia

        I love regular grits ( not hominy); I grew up eating them. They are definitely not for everyone though!

      3. Artemesia*

        I grew up in the PNW where they were not a thing in my childhood at least and then did my career in the south where grits were a staple. Many northerners who experience grits for the first time, put cream and sugar on them because they resemble cream of wheat or other breakfast porridges. They are however made of hominy (a type of corn) and are served in the south as a more savory breakfast side, simply with butter, or with shrimp or other savory topings. They pretty much define bland.

        1. LCL*

          Born and raised in PNW. I had never had grits as a child, because both parents who came from poor circumstances described them as revolting and never served them. Imagine my surprise when I finally ordered them at a breakfast restaurant, and was served something virtually identical to the farina (Cream of Wheat is a brand name, my mom always called it farina or mush) I’d had for breakfast with milk and sugar at least once a week my whole childhood.

          Likewise, the only thing in college that ever intimidated me was the first time I tried yogurt because that was all that was left in the cafeteria after hours. After being told repeatedly that even the concept of yogurt was disgusting, I was surprised at the pleasant lemon flavor.

      1. Kuododi*

        Also…if anyone has ever been to coastal SE USA…there is this amazing dish shrimp and grits….. sounds like the most bizarre taste combination one could imagine…done properly with big fat fresh shrimp it is divine!!!! DH and I discovered it years ago on a long weekend in Charleston,SC. Enjoy!!!!

    1. Karen K*

      We had my MIL up to our house on Sunday, so come Monday AM, not only does the tree come down, but every scrap of Christmas stuff as well. This is the earliest ever!

  57. nacho*

    Anyone else working Christmas? I get time and a half for working holidays, so I volunteered for every one of them this year. Here’s hoping nobody calls my call center today.

  58. Stephanie*

    Hi everyone! Merry Christmas to those who observe.

    I’m alive. I still read, just haven’t been commenting as much. Just finished up third semester at grad school–graduating in May. Plan for now is to go back full-time to where I interned last summer (one of the Big 3 automakers). This semester was a little rough…I took at C/C++ class that kind of kicked my ass. Everything else was ok class wise. Out at my parents’ for the winter break.

  59. Welcome to Me*

    MoviePass users: still liking it? Maybe I’m cynical, but I’m having a hard time believing it can live up to the hype for that price with no blackout dates. Just saw there’s a deal at Costco for a year subscription and I’m thinking about getting it.

    1. KatieKate*

      I took myself to the movies today for free! I’m doing the monthly pass, and even if I only go once a month it still saves me money.

  60. Mama Sarah*

    Just got back from a short run by the ocean and am soft and strong with grattitude. Gotta love that salt air! Happy day of rest, AAM readers!

  61. Going anon*

    My partner just showed me the third or fourth Facebook pregnancy announcement I’ve seen this long weekend and I made a snarky comment and went to another room to cry quietly. This is only an hour after we arrived at my parents’ for Christmas dinner. I just can’t right now.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      It can be so hard and painful seeing those. A virtual hand hold for you, from someone who gets that this can hurt.

    2. Kuododi*

      Oh honey….my warmest regards. Some days are just rough. I haven’t been to a baby shower or a Mother’s Day service since my infertility became official. Many hugs and kind thoughts….

  62. NicNacks*

    I found out on the 1st of December i was being laid off at the end of the year. I have been seriously job hunting since then. I have an interview for a job I was interested in based on the job description in the posting but the way the job was described in the phone interview it is very different and would be a step down.
    Here’s my question: if offered, should I take a job I am overqualified where I’d make 70% of my former pay and be bored senseless within 3 months so i don’t have a gap in employment or do some freelance work i found where I’d make about 50% of my current pay and just make my severance stretch while I continue to job hunt?

    1. fposte*

      I think the second is fine if you have a decent financial cushion and have a reasonable chance of finding a job that’s more at your level in time.

    2. StudentA*

      Personally, I would rather be bored than have a gap in my job history. At least you know you have the skills to perform well. Unless there were other red flags, I think it’s safer to take the job. It could take you a year or more to secure a job, depending on your field. If the company is a good one and the coworkers seem nice enough, I don’t see an issue.

    3. miyeritari*

      I would personally take the boring job becuase i’m highly risk averse, but i acknowledge the benefits of the freelance option.

  63. Chylleh*

    Thank you to all of the commenters who were speaking about the Great British Baking Show (Bake Off) about a month or two ago. It’s just a joy seeing a competitive show where the contestants want to win, but are so supportive of each other at the same time.

    My boyfriend and I just finished the first season and are making our way through the second. Seeing how the contestants’ professions, such as graphic design and preschool teaching, influence their baking is so fascinating. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next several seasons!

    1. Artemesia*

      We are hooked too. We are at the end of the second season on Netflix right now (I think it is actually the 5th season of the British show. ) My husband gave me one of those double oven mitt things for Christmas.

    2. Menacia*

      Love, love, love that show! And especially because of what you mentioned, the bakers are all so supportive of each other, it’s not like the usual reality fare where people are snarky and fake. I wish it would have continued into more seasons but then the best hosts would not have been involved. It’s too bad about the Great American Baking Show being pulled because of the sexual harassment allegations against one of the judges, Johnny Iuzzini. While the two people who instruct the contestants were not as funny as the British ones, it was shaping up to be a nice show. Gotta love Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood! :)

      1. Chylleh*

        Yeah I love that the show is so positive. Even if the criticism can be rough, it always seems fair and never cruel. I’m so sorry to see that Mary Berry, Mel, & Sue left the show, but they did what they felt was right.

        I actually didn’t know there was an American version! I thought it was strange that the US hadn’t made one yet, turns out I was just behind the times. I’m sorry to hear that it didn’t work out, but glad the show is doing what they dtermined is the right thing to do under the circumstances.

  64. Kali*

    First Christmas at bf’s house. It’s 1:20 and his mum, stepdad, auntie, and uncle are drinking and arguing over trivial pursuit. It’s actually rather nice, but I’m glad I brought earplugs!

  65. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

    Christmas was a success, which was good because I’d had a hard time getting into the spirit of things for various reasons. Dinner turned out well (new york strip loin roast with garlic herb crust, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, Vichy carrots, and parmesan-rosemary drop biscuits, with a sorbet trio with raspberry coulis). Also made mulled wine and holiday spiced pecans. A migraine yesterday and today marred things but I’m over the worst of it. Got some nice presents (including Twin Peaks Season 3) and am now eating chocolate while listening to cheesy 1960s-vintage Italian lounge/funk/soundtrack music.

  66. KatieKate*

    Movie rec! I just got back from Call Me By Your Name and it was GORGEOUS. With minimal spoilers, it’s the story of letting yourself fall in love and to feel and grieve the loss when it ends. I cried a bunch, and it was just so well done.

    1. nep*

      The other day I read a piece about it in the Guardian and watched a talk with the director and the two main actors. Sounds just amazing.

    1. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      Best: peaceful quiet Xmas dinner with future MIL and fiancé

      Worst: unopened likely guilttrippy letter from nmom trying to ply us with gifts in the wrong size and unneeded to buy our affection.

      No, nmom. You don’t one up future MIL by buying bigger presents. You don’t buy affection—you earn your way in with kindness, and after you stole from me, made me cry 3 Xmases ago saying you hated my career, told me I was dating beneath me, and praying for us to break up, there’s no chance. Not for awhile.

      1. Kuododi*

        Worst gift ever…mother gave me one of those plastic hand held dish scrubbers that can be purchased at any dollar store. Just her latest passive aggressive statement that I am the disappointing daughter who didn’t inherit the “domestic goddess” gene. Now in all fairness, my house is not a biohazard, however we’ve got two needy little dogs and neither DH or myself are organizing whiz kids. My parents house on the other hand….. freakishly clean and organized always looks like something from the cover of Southern Living. A long running source of family drama….

    2. nacho*

      I’m sure it’s mild compared to everyone else’s, but I got a gift card to Etsy this year. What the hell am I going to do with a gift card to Etsy?

      1. Kuododi*

        Ooh!!!! Now that’s something I could have fun with. I adore Etsy handcrafted jewelry category and have additionally found some really nifty doggy themed nick-nacks for the house as well as gifts for friends owned by canines!!! After mom had brain surgery my sister was able to find a really pretty hand crafted cap made by a lady in NZ to help hide the surgery site. Lots of options!!!

    3. Ramona Flowers*

      Best: had a lovely drama-free Christmas Day with friends. Received lots of thoughtful gifts including some I asked for (Harry Potter trivial pursuit, complete Moomin comic strip) and some I didn’t (Marauders Map moleskine notebook is a particular highlight).

      Despite the amount of Jack Daniels, gin and toffee vodka I consumed, I appear to have woken up without a hangover.

      And I’m halfway through the book my cat gave me on Christmas Eve, The Travelling Cat Chronicles, and would definitely recommend. What a clever cat, noticing I like Japanese literature.

      Worst: friend had a baby a few days before Christmas and the photos she posted made my heart hurt.

    4. EnobyPro*

      Apparently I gave one of the best gifts this year, which was a Not-a-Cat Cat, to my brother’s SO. It’s this furry thing that sort of looks like a cat with one ear and no other recognizable features. It’s even supposed to meow, but the noise it makes doesn’t really sound like a meow. It had everyone in stitches when she put the batteries in.

  67. Mimmy*

    Today turned out to be a really nice Christmas day! My mom is feeling better–not 100%, but better. I got a new iPad and Amazon Echo Dot. The highlight, though, was after Mass today, I saw a friend I haven’t seen since high school (so over 25 years). We were close growing up, especially in grade school, and she was always really nice.

    Christmas isn’t over yet – it’s off to Pennsylvania tomorrow to visit with my brother and his family. Really looking forward to it!

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Hope you have a nice time with your family. We are off to my sister-in-law’s tomorrow to hang out with them and my dogs-in-law as I like to call them!

  68. Mischa*

    Narcissistic family members! They’re great. To put it kindly, my father’s family is difficult–especially his parents. They are vain, narcissistic, hypocritical religious folk. Add in a dash of racism and homophobia and you’ve come up with an insufferable lot. My grandfather has decided that it is my turn to be shunned (he previously shunned my older sibling and their spouse). I’ll admit, I’ve been chillier around him recently because a) I don’t want to hear his monologues about how amazing of a religious person he is (you guessed it, he’s not), b) I don’t want to hear his thinly veiled racist rants and c) he has no interest in anyone beyond himself. He refused to speak a word to me yesterday (we do dad’s family on Christmas Eve) and shunned me when we were doing the long midwestern goodbye. I honestly don’t know what I’ve done to offend this man except for being a woman and having opinions. I know, how could I.

    Today was absolutely lovely, however, and I had a great time with the other side of the family. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday!

  69. Delta Delta*

    I hadn’t spent Christmas with my family in about 10 years, but this year we were all together! I have a 1000 mile drive and was worried about the snow so my dad cooked Christmas dinner early and we had it for brunch. Then I started the journey back to my house and all was great until I hit a snow belt that the weather service called “impassible to impossible” for travel. They weren’t kidding. Luckily I was able to get behind a plow truck and even though it took a very long time, we made it safely to about the halfway point. We’ll do the rest tomorrow and hopefully all will go smoothly.

  70. MellieRox*

    I had an interview last Tuesday for NEWJOB. When I had the interview it was the most informal interview process I have ever been a part of. The interviewer arrived in gym shorts and a tank top, saying he just came from the gym. The job is in an office and has nothing to do with a gym. I was standing in my interview best feeling very overdressed.

    The interview questions themselves were very informal. He had me rank music choices and asked me who influenced my life the most. It was very different from anything I’ve ever experienced. At the end, he said if I needed anything to email him. So I emailed him a thank you note and a follow-up question. He responded in a few hours.

    He said he would get back to me on the following Tuesday, (Dece 26th) to let me know if I was getting a second interview or if they had other candidates. So I am FREAKING OUT thinking that they might not even be in the office that day. I am going to the weird place where I overthink everything.

    I am in need of luck/waiting advice/smiles. I will take anything y’all have to offer. Also, Happy Merry Whatever and all that!

    1. Emily*

      Good luck!

      Also, that interview sounds very strange (and possibly not very good? Maybe there were more normal interview questions in addition to the ones you shared.). If you make it further in the process, hopefully you can use subsequent interviews to evaluate whether it will actually be a good job/work environment.

  71. Ramona Flowers*

    So some friends who moved away are back in the village on Friday and we all started joking about how we should throw a second Christmas dinner so we could spend it with them – and somewhere along the line it turned serious! I’m delighted!

  72. The Expendable Redshirt*

    Horror story: At Christmas dinner Uncle-Bob-In-Law outed himself as a racist, homophobic, sexist, narrow minded donkey. The statements that he made were genuinely ghastly. Hosts of the Christmas party tried to shut him down a few times, but Uncle Bob has been a donkey for years. They’ve mostly accepted that Uncle Bob will say terrible things at every public gathering. Inspired by the AMA community, I called Uncle Bob out five (sigh) times that his words were inappropriate. Now I’m exhausted. Anyone got some snappy scripts for me to use next year?

    1. Irish Em*

      Uncle-Racist-Homophobe: *racist, homophobic rant*
      You: Get out.

      Note, this only applies if you are the host or if you know the host will back you up on this.
      See also: Your taxi is waiting outside Uncle Racist.
      I’m a fan of the generic You need to leave dialogue in Skyrim when you go into a house after 8pm when you’re not friendly with the npc ;)

      1. The Expendable Redshirt*

        Tempting! But the hosts wouldn’t back me up on that. Plus Uncle always stays at Host House, so I couldn’t call a taxi for this utter donkey.

        Please tell me of this Skyrim dialog. :)

        Favorite exchange of the Night:
        Uncle: “Terrible racist homophobic conspiracy theory statement! Am I expected to tollerate…..”
        Me: “You are expected to be polite. So be polite.”

  73. Feeling Grinchy*

    I hate gift giving occasions, ok well I hate occasions when my daughter’s aunts and uncles want to give her gifts.
    They ask for ideas and seem to get her anything else. This year we got her a bike and suggested to the aunt who asked that a helmet or knee and elbow pads (like we got their two kids when they suggested it) would be an awesome gift but please nothing with characters since her school has a strict no characters on shirts or backpacks rule. What did she get? A play cash register and a “Frozen” backpack. When daughter opened the backpack I tried very hard to keep smiling but all I could think was ‘all we really asked was no characters and now I have to be the bad guy to tell her she can’t take the backpack to school because you couldn’t do this one thing we asked.’
    I’m tired of sticking strictly to the list of items they give us and having them totally ignore what we say. I think next year hubby can shop for the nephews on his own and leave me out of this.

  74. Cruciatus*

    Aaannnnnnd my city just got 54″ of snow in 2 days. We are in the snowbelt and used to snow, but this was a walloping and made national and international news. We are under “snow emergency” which I didn’t even know was a thing since, as I mentioned, we already get a lot of snow. The mall was closed today and will be tomorrow as well. The mall! The mall never closes! And the days after Christmas? Whaaa? So very thankful I have nowhere to be until next week…

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