Okay, but when you say it like THAT

I call it self care.

I call it self care.

I have been going back and forth on whether to attend the one holiday party I get invited to. The family who hosts it is tight-knit and emotionally healthy and fun. The first year I was invited I went with my friend P. and we stayed elbow-to-elbow the whole time because we didn’t know anyone but the hosts, but we drank champagne and had a good time.

The second year, P. brought two of her college-age daughters along and they were a goddamn delight. Because I’d switched jobs the previous summer, I suddenly knew almost everyone at the party because the hosts are members of the organization I now worked for. The problem was that I felt I had to put on my work face for everyone, and as an introvert muddled by alcohol and with no graceful exit strategies, I felt trapped in my own cheer.

The third year, P. brought her husband and all three of her daughters, so she was well insulated. I could have spent five minutes figuring out how to avoid getting overwhelmed again. Instead, I smiled a little too intensely at everyone, creating the effect of a raccoon rearing up to scare you away from a pile of spaghetti (in this metaphor I’m both the raccoon and the spaghetti), and then lumbered off to sit with P.’s family. P.’s family turned out to be funny, intelligent, and functional (spoiler: I am none of these things) and my few attempts to join their conversation fell flat. Also, I was six months sober, and I had to leave before I started crying. I probably should have gone and found a therapist the next day, but I didn’t! Bootstraps!

The fourth year, the party was cancelled because Southern California was on fire and the air was so smoky that everyone had to stay indoors. I had no other choice but to stay home and get a shitload of writing done. I had the best time. I badly needed the break; my wheels were starting to come off. The Universe gave me what I wanted most that Christmas: to have my family happily engaged in other rooms while I sat alone and wrote. The news was terrible and I came through it all refreshed and ready for the new year.

And now: Year Five! A beautiful evite sits in my inbox. Will I talk myself into having a wonderful time? Will I wear a bandit mask, climb the Christmas tree, and then stuff all the leftovers into a trash bag and drag them home?

LINK ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED

  • Goddamnit I want to see this — the roller rink was such a big deal in my life as a kid, and it thrills me to know this community has risen up: United Skates

  • A coworker gave me half of a reindeer cookie the other day and it filled me with such a buoyant longing for what Christmas could be, if only my piping skills were better: How to Decorate a Sugar Cookie Like a Pro

  • If you love being both organized and adorable, everything at Mochi Things is 30% off right now

  • US and UK covers for the same books: Who Wore it Best?

  • This bothers me a little, I’ll be honest (I never trademarked the phrase, so I have nothing to complain about), but I wish I at least liked their design: Writing Well is the Best Revenge