All I want for Christmas…

Ryan ChristmasLast week on Thanksgiving, I don’t know which was worse: the absolute tedium I felt hanging out with my family without any red wine OR the ten pounds of food I stuffed into my gullet in order to compensate.

I came away realizing I need a different strategy for Christmas, which is going to be here before we know it.


I decided to propose the idea of bringing a puzzle that we could all work on. Yeah, I just want to distract myself in a way that isn’t completely anti-social. My parents only have one table, though, and whenever I show up for these family things, Mom has already arranged the place settings, enough for everyone.

I decided screw it, and I suggested the puzzle anyway. Maybe we could eat with plates on our laps this year? (It did not even occur to me to suggest TV trays like any self-respecting child of the 60s would. Wait, does anybody even own TV trays anymore?)

My mom, always in support of me no matter what, said “OK! Let’s try it!”

Then I got the text from my step-dad, which included my mom.

“Your mom tells me you want to do a 500-piece puzzle during Christmas Eve dinner. I think that with everything going on including dinner, the gift exchange, the ornament exchange, and just visiting, a puzzle is not a good idea.”

My heart sank. Clearly he didn’t realize that I was looking for a lifeline. I’m already dreading the evening, which is sad, because I normally enjoy spending time with my family. Although I will admit, the last few years I always planned to stay over on those holiday evenings because the ‘rents live over an hour away and I knew I would drink about a bottle of wine and crash in the guest room. In fact, I counted on it.

I felt my trigger reaction want to respond something passive-aggressive to the effect of Well then I’ll just come late and leave early. I wanted to avoid it altogether. I can’t imagine suffering through another night like Thanksgiving and why should I? I really do love them and I hope I don’t sound too ungrateful, but I’m trying to honor the fact that in my “baby giraffe” days, as my life coach described them, I’m walking on very wobbly legs and I need to do whatever I need to do to stay upright.

Especially when there’s the potential lion around every gum tree.

“You’re just going to be high maintenance for a little while,” she said. “And that’s OK.” What a gift to have permission to be high maintenance for a little while — and that’s OK.

So, instead of getting pissed or reacting or retreating, I took a breath and was honest:

“I’m trying to find a healthy way to keep myself (and others who want to participate) busy so I’m not just sitting there while others are drinking. Thanksgiving was difficult that way. I’m happy to go for a walk with Bub or something instead.”

And I waited.

That’s when my mom jumped in. She would rather throw herself in front of a moving train than alienate me in any way.

“We will hold off on the drinking! (Step-dad) and I are the only ones who imbibe and it’s no big deal for us. What time is good to come over? I’m easy! Bring a puzzle if you want! A smaller one for the end of the table. We can have all sorts of stuff going on. Or watch a DVD for Xmas. A Xmas comedy.”

I couldn’t have loved her more in that moment. I told them it sounded fun and I didn’t want to impose on their fun, I’m just learning new ways to keep myself occupied. Then my step-dad said:

“You know we love and support you in this. I promise we will not let you down. You, your sister and uncle are our fun so there is no way you could impose.”

And then I loved them even more.

So, I’m going to find a smaller puzzle to do myself. And maybe I’ll bring a fun game I played with friends a couple of months ago, Bannanagrams (I’m not a games person, but it was fun). And the Christmas movie idea could be fun too…and I’m going to bring my own snacks so I don’t have to worry about what I’m putting in my mouth. Aaaaaand I’ll probably show up a little later than usual and leave a little earlier, aaaaaand I’ll probably go on a walk with Bub at some point too.

I’m going to have about 27 arrows in my proverbial quiver and none of them is going to be a bottle of red wine. Urp.

Gotsta have TOOLS, my brothers and sisters! TOOLS!!

So here I am on Day 4 of my 100-Day Challenge and I will not drink TODAY. Whoop! (although I’ve really had hardly anything to drink since October and I want credit, dammit. 🙂 )


{{Rachel, this is GOD. On behalf of your liver, I grant you…CREDIT!}}

Thanks, God.

Now, random completely unrelated fun fact: Did you know that scallops have about 60 blue eyes? Now you do.



9 thoughts on “All I want for Christmas…

  1. I am really really impressed by how you stood up for your needs.
    And your family responded!

    Encourage the no drinking. Offer to bring a special Christmas drink to share.

    And maybe getting everyone out for a walk might be smart.

    You could start a whole new tradition.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Ahaha disgusting scallop fact!

    Your family sound so lovely! It’s awesome that you’ve got that support. We do puzzles at Christmas too, but we put them on a sheet of plywood so we can move the whole thing off the table for meals. If there’s enough family there we’ll have two puzzles on the go and two teams racing to finish over a couple of days.

    Liked by 2 people

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