Fancy-Schmancy-One-Time-Only FTSF Co-Host

OHMIGOSH! I cannot begin to tell you how exciting this is – I’m a Special Guest Co-Host for the first ever blog hop I ever fell completely head over heels for, and have stuck with for pretty much every week it’s been going.

Absolutely THRILLED TO PIECES to announce that here – RightNow – is the beginning of FTSF (except it might not be *quite* yet, because let’s face it – they go live at 4am my time, so I’m ahead of the game and the linkie will go live at whatever magical hour the usual, wonderful hosts have set. And they’ll probably be a little pissed at me for butting in, but they didn’t tell me not to, so NeenerNeener – I got to TimeZone someone else for a change…)

Your co-hosts (the real ones who’re here every week and make it SOMUCH fun) are SantyKid, JingleBella, ProcrastiKate and MaybeAngel


So, for those of you who might not know – there’s a choice this week: “This holiday season I will…” OR “My favorite Christmas tradition is…”

I told you last week about my favourite Christmas tradition of years gone by – decorating the tree. So this week, the completion of the deal with my plans for the holiday season. Which, to be fair, reads more like a ‘to do’ list…because so far I’ve been in ‘to don’t’ mood, and have done pretty much precisely not one single thing – which is where the dichotomy of Christmas chaos starts.

Okay. One single thing. I got Niece and Neff to stick four bauble-shaped window stickers on the french windows to our chic balcony. That. Is. It.
Because Christmas is hard for me this year. In fact, I’m totally on the run from it. Completely as much as possible. But I know that for many good reasons, it needs to happen; I need to try to engage with it.


Cards
These WILL happen. We have the card blanks. We have the idea. We have the time(ish) on Saturday. We’re going to make them because a) it’s sweet to have a personalised card that someone’s put time and effort and energy into, and b) it’s cheaper. Then they need posting. This WILL happen. At least by NEXT weekend. I hope. But many of them will be ‘last minute cards’. But they’ll arrive.
Every time I look at that accusing pile of card blanks and think of the address list of all the kind and lovely friends-and-relations we have to send cards to (because it’s polite, it’s the done thing, and it’s Christmas, yo!) I cringe inwardly. I don’t want to be Grinchy, and sending cards with “F*** OFF CHRISTMAS!” written in black ink and signed with anger, is NOT the done thing. And at Christmas, we must all do the done thing. Or at least try to. Because Christmas (yo!).

Presents
Thank GOODNESS I’m vaguely organised in the year. I’ve been stock-piling (some) presents as the year’s gone on. Only because I’m usually (though particularly this year) so hideously disorganised that if I don’t have a plan, and a book with everyone’s name in it, and a space to write the present next to their name, and to know that it’s done and dusted and all I need to do is wrap it and deliver it…it just wouldn’t happen. 
Buuuut there are still a few people with blank spaces next to their names! Which means I need to go shopping. Which means I need to enter the hell of ‘Christmas Threw Up At The Mall’ and go get them. I’m not looking forward to that ONE BIT. Maybe they’d all like Happy New Year presents instead…

The Work ‘Do’
A time for fun and bonding with new colleagues and wearing out my fancy dress and VERY fancy shoes and having a nice meal in company with awesome people. Right? RIGHT? Oh, and it’s TONIGHT, by the way. So I’ll be coming home, showering, changing and hoping that all will be well and that I’ll get to stuff my face on yummy food and enjoy the live music and company. Probably.
As long as we don’t talk too much about Christmas. Or plans for Christmas. Or have to listen to music about Christmas. Because I think it will be very, very easy to start the night with a protective, armouring drink. And possibly another one. And there comes a point when everything’s light and bright and hilarious, and it’s the best idea to DRINK ALL THE DRINK. And I really must remember that I have to face these people again on Monday. That they are instrumental in me keeping my job. And whatever else happens…I…must…not…cry…in…front…of…them. 

Decorating the house
There’s those bauble stickers. That counts, right?
Forever for me a time of family and of making the house beautiful and revelling in Christmas Festive Cheer. And I’m desperately short of that this year. We’ve had two Christmas cards so far, and it’s taken Capital-E Effort to take them out of the envelopes and stand them up so I can see them. We have an advent calendar which we haven’t been opening the doors of. I don’t want the house to look Christmassy. I don’t want to be trying to enjoy and appreciate festiveness when it’s the furthest thing from what I feel. But I’ll see how bothered Husby is. And if he wants it, I’ll do it. Because he’s doing SO much for me…(read on).

The Tree
No tree yet. Traditionally in my world, it doesn’t come in and get put up til Christmas Eve. So we got time…we got time. I just need to organise us into getting the dang thing. Which I’m not sure how is going to happen. At all. Because next weekend we’ve got Niece and Neff to stay, and no WAY will it fit in the car with us all in there. Nor do I have a roof rack. Or the inclination to go this weekend.
I just don’t think that with all I’m already asking Husby to give up this Christmas (and bless his heart, he’s doing it so cheerfully, so willingly and so supportively – I’m truly blessed) that I can ask him to give up the tree as well. Not for our First Christmas in our New Flat. So I truly hope that when the time comes, I can engage in the ‘tree-ness’ of it all, and try not to think about what should’ve been or might or might not be, but that I can just somehow live in the moment and enjoy it for what it is.    
  
The Traditions
This year we’re creating some new ones. The chickies have both flown the nest, and now Sis has her two littlies, it seemed time to begin creating ‘Our Generation’ traditions. So on Christmas Eve, once Husby and I finish work (half day – YAY!) we’ll be going over to hers for a buffet lunch, to watch The Snowman, and all snuggle up on the sofa to read The Special Rudolph Book. This book was read to my Dad, when he was a little boy, and he’s read it faithfully, every Christmas, to Sis and I. A little over a year ago, there was a ceremonious Handing Over of the book, when we inherited it between us, so that we can pass the tradition down. It’s going to be gorgeous.
A bit of the old and wonderful, and a bit of the new and lovely. I think I’ll manage this bit. This part doesn’t strike any kind of terror into me. Mostly because I won’t be at home for it.

Midnight Mass
Well okay, not Mass, because it’s prot as they come, but it’s still something I’ve gone to every year since I was old enough to be allowed to stay up late. And it’s always full of wonder and joy and a strange, still, expectant splendour which is unmatched in the rest of the year. Quite simply, it’s a deeply spiritual, magical, amazingly profound event. I really want to be okay with going to this.
So much want to be okay. But perhaps I’ll sit at the back, upstairs, where no-one can see me, so that if I suddenly find that the usual thing has happened and the thoughts have flooded in and spilled down my cheeks in raw tears, no-one will see…

Christmas Morning
In years gone by, this has been a time (variously) of church or stockings and presents or having a lie-in before cracking on with lunch. This year I think it will be a year of having Special Christmas Breakfast (not sure what, yet) and spending some time quietly together before getting on with our day.
No, this is okay. Because no precedents have been set. It’s been more than ten years since there was a properly set pattern to Christmas Morning, and I can quite happily manage the flux and whatever it brings. 

Christmas Dinner
Again, no real traditions here, and thank goodness, because I’ve come up with a Plan, which Husby (again, with HUGE greatness of spirit and supportiveness and sweetness) is happy to go along with. We’re going to go to a local church where they organise and serve Christmas Dinner to the homeless of our city. I have training to attend this Sunday, so that I know what to do and how it all works. And that’s where we’ll be. Hiding from my fears and anguish and anxiety by trying to make other peoples’ day better. It’s not noble. It’s not laudable. But it is necessary.
This (along with the Tree and the Decorating and The Whole Shebang) was the Panic Point I’ve been dreading most. Because slaving away to create a delicious Christmas meal, I can do. Eating and enjoying said meal I can do. But it will be at a table with just two of us, where there should have been three. It will be at a table where there might forever more be two of us (and that hurts so, so, so much). And even if I’m pregnant again by then (small hopes, but you never know) I’m too scared to make any ‘Happy Christmas Pregnant’ memories only to face the bitter, mocking reminder next year if once again I don’t manage to carry my baby beyond a precious few weeks. And then there’s the afternoon…stretching out interminably…when I’d either be on Facebook, desperate to connect to anyone else who’s hating Christmas, upset that I was ruining the Christmas Spirit for Husby, and quite likely drinking myself into not-caring. Which would end badly. Because it always does. So no. I’m not up for this. Not this year. And that’s why my seemingly amazingly giving gesture is tainted with selfishness. But it’s still necessary. 

Christmas Evening
Not sure how long the Christmas Dinner will last, but I should imagine the evening will be free. Perhaps by this point I’ll feel enough in the festive spirit, and feel ‘escaped’ enough to go round to Mum’s (still not home) and indulge in a glass of wine and a watch of whatever’s on the box. And escape more. 
And if I’m careful, I can drag it out til past midnight, when I can tell my brain it’s officially Boxing Day, and I will have escaped Christmas…and I’ll be safe. And ready to start preparing for next year. When I really, really hope I’m in a better place and can start over – begin building Nice Christmas Memories At Home – and do it properly. Joy and Festivity and Loveliness in all abundance…please…            

63 thoughts on “Fancy-Schmancy-One-Time-Only FTSF Co-Host

  1. Truly not. Thank you for your post, and for coming over here to leave me your thoughts. I really appreciate it. Sharing via writing often proves cathartic. And talking with friends is *definitely* a useful exercise.

    But no. No holly. No jolly. And preferably no Christmas. But I'll do it.

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  2. Christmas isn't always so merry for everyone, is it? Thank you for your honesty. Sometimes, sharing your pain like this makes it easier to bear . . . Especially when you can admit to youself and the world that you just aren't up for a Holly Jolly Christmas this time around.

    You can do this.

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  3. Hi Christina, Cyn – it's hard. But if you read back – feel free to take ANY of the advice that people have given me, because a lot of it is HUGELY helpful and useful.

    Perhaps the most important thing is to accept that it sucks and that you're struggling, and that because of your situation (whatever it is), it's explainable. It's valid. And write it anyway – you don't have to hit publish, but even getting the words out of you and onto paper will help.

    Christina, I really loved your sheep story, and THANKS – I'm having so much fun being the guest co-host.

    (It's cool that you love English people. And I seem to collect overzealous, hyper Americans, so that's cool too 🙂 )

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  4. You know, your writing is so dynamic that you manage to draw people in with a simple To Do list. I really loved how you've managed to convey the dichotomy that surrounds Christmas for you through the writing and the use of different colours and make it your reader's experience instead of just your own. This is sounding very much like a lame homework attempt at literary analysis, but what I'm trying to say is that your writing is so very engaging and dynamic it makes me think you'd be really good at fiction.

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  5. Hugs to you, my dear friend! I had a similar holiday, the difference being that I had not lost a baby but yearning for it with all my heart with everyone shoving in my face non-stop that it was not me who was expecting a baby. I just wanted to die. I didn't want to get out of the room in the morning. I drank too much, and more. I had an emotional breakdown in front of the last person who should have seen me like that. I am hoping and wishing so much for you to have that baby you yearn for so much.

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  6. damn! I was pretty sure I score Number 18th for my Comment, but it's no where to be seen. That what I get for getting with the YuleTide spirit!
    oh well, kinda late now but I will say it will be a different in a better, (if not sometimes difficult to discern sort of way) Christmas simply because of who and where you are December 13th 2013 as opposed to December 13th 2013.
    Thing change, not all at once, sometimes at such a slow pace that you never actually see it…but it happens.
    see ya on the weekend!

    and tonight!

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  7. The stickers totally count!

    Do get to work on those cards though, Miss! They ain't going to send themselves! I'm sure I'll cross your path before then, but if not, have a great Christmas, even if you are in England.

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  8. I love all of this. I love your honesty. I too am battling with Christmas this year. I kind of hate its guts. Thats no way to be thought with three little ones and their visions of sugar plums. Now I want to dig into your blog and see why you are feeling this way… That is how you write, in a way that I want to read everything you say. AND THANKS for the kind comment on my Sheep story, and congrats on the feature, you DESERVE IT! (PS I love British People) (Another overzelous, hyper American for you)

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  9. No, well I do like the idea as well. Because I always feel very much for/about/around homeless people. It hurts that it feels as though they're viewed as detritus. That *I* act in a way which doesn't challenge that view… so no, it's not ENTIRELY for self-preservation – otherwise I could've just gone out to the beach and wandered for hours. However. I love the win/win of it.

    I'll keep hanging. If the Christmas posts get too much, I'm employing the ol' Red X Button, and being kind to myself in NOT worrying about not-reading things my friends have written – howzat! Progress, right?

    Thanks for this, Kristi 🙂

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  10. Kelly I'm so sorry to hear that. Thanks for the hugs. I'm tempted by all the indulgence – keep a cigar and some brandy for me – I may yet turn up forlorn at your door, wanting to vice it all away…

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  11. I think that your idea to serve Christmas dinner to the homeless is absolutely wonderful–and I don't believe you for one bit that you are doing it only as a means of self-preservation. No matter what the motivation, though, it truly sounds like a win-win proposition.

    Hang in there. I hope that all the Christmas posts you read do not add salt to your wounds; I know it is never my intent to make you (or anyone else) feel badly. Holidays are emotional times, and not always in a positive sense.

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  12. I'm so, so tempted. But then People Will Be Offended. Not the ones close to me – the ones who matter really won't mind. But the peripherals will likely take offense. And I can more easily make the cards than explain over and over why I didn't feel like making them…

    It will pass. Fast, slow, or otherwise, I have 16 days til it's over and I can re-focus. That's a good thought. That's manageable.

    New Year I'm looking forward to 🙂 Thank you for your lovely comment. I hope you have a truly wonderful Christmas and New Year yourself 🙂

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  13. Sending you the very best wishes Lizzie. My heart melted as I read this post. I experienced just a modicum of what you're going through as my first pregnancy didn't go full term. Sending jumbo hugs.
    You are more than welcome to come on over – I've got cigars, and others are bringing cookies, cake and brandy..

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  14. Lizzi, this sounds very honorable and organized! I say ditch the cards ( you know how I feel about that!;) and kudos to you for serving in the kitchen on a day when people need it most. I wish I could be there with you to toast the day away. Of course there is anxiety around these big holidays and all of the expectations, but there is obviously no right or wrong way to celebrate. It will pass quickly and then you can ring in the New Year, hopefully in company that doesn't care if you cry your eyes out all night. I send you the warmest wishes for the holiday and non-holiday season;).

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  15. well, I for one am getting a rather…. disturbing* visual for that little nickname… (the limitations inherent in the written form prevents me from convey the correct inflection on the traditional 'ho ho ho'

    *but not entirely bad

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  16. I'm going to try very hard not to drink all the drink. It's too good and too bad and too damaging to keep doing. I shall try to stick to the plans. Perhaps if I plan on visiting the WD Vid Chat tonight, then I'll make sure I only have one or two, so that I'm ish-coherent when I get there.

    I think there'll be *some* magic. Somewhere. I hope.

    We'll see.

    Your Christmas morning sounds lovely – straightforward, sensible and purposeful. Good for you, and I'm glad that this formula has helped it to get better for you. And thank you SO MUCH for letting me know I'm not the only treeless one…*phew*

    P.S. I HAVE NO INSIDER KNOWLEDGE WHATSOEVER. I DO NOT PROPHESY. I just thought it was cute.

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  17. Ohhhh it's so exciting to read that 🙂 This was such an awesome idea of whichever of you's it was – to offer out guest spots at this. Totally amazing 🙂 Thank you.

    Thanks for the wishes for the beautiful memories. That Christmas you had sounds awful. And a cold to add insult to injury! AND YET. I shall take from it that you're still here, still standing, still smiling and finding Good Things, and you got through it 🙂 And next year, so will I be. Thanks Stephanie.

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  18. Green. It's in red and green….isn't it? Colours are weird online, but thanks. I was aiming to slightly Christmassify my text, even if the content is…dubious.

    There are a lot of good things to look forward to. I just really need to get my brain to an appreciative place in readiness for them. Somehow. Which is definitely easier some days than others.

    Husby is amazing. Unbelievably so. Such a dear, generous soul to do this for me and to be understanding.

    Perhaps everyone should give up a Christmas once to do this serving thing. I know that the homeless shelters etc would be hugely grateful. Now there's an idea! I hope you get to do it one year and show them the flipside once they're old enough to get it.

    Thanks for the support. I can and WILL do this.

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  19. Thanks for not being mad at me Janine! Sorry. If I'd've thought really hard about it, I could've scheduled to go live later, but by the time I thunk, it was too late and I wanted my co-host experience to last as long as possible 😉

    I hope the party goes well. I shall have to be careful…

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  20. So it sounds like you have some most excellent plans, but I don't like the drink all the drink (I mean I do but know that's badbad), and also have not done our tree. I hope this holiday is magical for you, so much. Christmas morning – we had a hard time with this as well and now do our own thing – cinnamon rolls, a walk outside, no matter how brief or cold, then saying our favorite part about the year and last Christmas, and then trying to make this one better. In past, it was hard, but has gotten better…

    PS-I LOVED that my name is Maybe Angel. Unless that means you have insider knowledge that I'm almost dead, of course…

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  21. Welcome, co-hostess! So happy to have you with us this week! I think it can be really hard to gear up for Christmas when you aren't feeling festive. Three Christmases ago I'd recently had an ectopic pregnancy and wanted desperately to get pregnant again. It was a hard year. I was sick with a cold that whole day, the people around me drank too much, and I just wanted it to be over. It's hard to force yourself to be cheery. Carry on, warrior. 🙂 Wishing you some beautiful memories this year.

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  22. So many lovely things, but you know I worry about the lonely, I'm-in-a-sad-bad-place parts. We go over to my in-laws in the afternoon on Christmas Day, but I'm more than happy to chat with you and keep you away from that place. Seriously. I'll be here.

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  23. CONGRATS ON BEING COHOST!!!! Good deal there, sistah. 🙂

    You have a lot of good things to look forward to, and lots of good drink in between, which always helps. All will be well. I'm proud of you. You have excellent, positive goals. Husby is awesomesauce. This is good. I love that you're serving dinner at the church for the needy. How beautiful. I'd like to do that with my boys sometime. They need that perspective, and that feeling of doing something together to help others.

    I love how you wrote this. In black, and then the red caveat/explanation.

    You can do this. xoxoxo

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  24. I am seriously so happy you are co-hosting with us and you could have totally posted whoever was good for you on your time frame. I should have told you this when we chatted earlier (blaming my mommy/holiday scattered brain on this). But seriously, I totally know the time difference so just glad you posted when it was good for you. And sounds totally busy and I know this year may be difficult for you but giving you total props for doing what you can and cutting you slack on what you can't. Thinking of you and have a great time tonight at your holiday party. You totally deserve it!! 🙂

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  25. That is quite a list! I love that you are going to serve the homeless on Christmas Day. I know you said yo hare doing it to keep your mind of the sadness, but I still think it's noble. You could just sit and wallow in self-pity, but instead you are choosing to go make the day a little brighter for others (and hopefully for you, too!). That is noble indeed!

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  26. Yes, it did. Thank you 🙂 That way around it comes up as win/win 😀

    And WAY cool that your husband's such a good sport about Christmas, and that he enjoys joining in with your traditions so much. That's awesome of him 🙂

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  27. OK, #1: maybe there's some selfishness, but it will still be a purely giving act for the people who receive from you. Did that sentence make sense?
    In other news, my husband is Jewish, and he is an amazingly good sport and participating fully in all the very Christian celebrating my family does every year. The one highlight in all of it for him: Christmas Eve service. It's most certainly not at midnight, and it's most definitely Presbyterian, but he LOVES it. The candles, the singing in the dark. It warms my heart that he gets into it as much as he does.

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