Teeter

After a wonderful mini-break at my parent’s in CT for the holiday, complete with post-Christmas hike and obligatory “look at me doing yoga outside” Instagramming, I made it up my stairs on Saturday afternoon to find that little miss had somehow gotten hold of one of the roses I’d left on my windowsill and that I had a package from my partner-in-crime R. After vacuuming up the aggressively shredded rose petals and scolding the cat gently, I grabbed a knife and tore into the box. I had an inkling it was the formal request to join her as a bridesmaid when she and her Scot H are married next year, but it was so much more than the goofy card I’d imagined. Inside was a beautiful card and a delicate silver necklace with a needle charm. Immediately donning the necklace and fighting back tears at the personal words she’d included, I took a look at the card, which started with the following phrase: A happy life is not built upon the goal of perfection, but balance.

Those words have been rattling around in my head this week, while I’ve been enjoying a few days off from the office to paint two rooms in my apartment and prep for new furniture arriving next month. Unsurprisingly, none of this redecorating process has been in any realm of perfection, let alone any semblance of balanced: the grand idea of painting stripes along my bedroom wall was nearly ruined when I accidentally lost track of stripes and started painting the wrong one, I bought the wrong type of paint for the kitchen, and I didn’t buy nearly enough. Also, I still haven’t unpacked from my days in CT, living out of my suitcase for no reason other than sheer laziness. And outside of redecorating, even though I’ll be enjoying a great night planned by H to ring in the New Year tomorrow, I’m semi-wallowing in the fact that despite all the new tattoos, the new job, the redecorated apartment and all the lessons learned, I feel like I’m in the exact same place I was this time last year. It seems reading those words about balance on the card from R has put a lot of tiny things into a very large perspective.

Balance is not something that comes naturally to me. I mean that in a few different ways, like how I fall down pretty much all the time or how this morning I though chocolate was a healthy start to the day. But outside of those little things, I’ve quickly learned in this year plus of being single, that it’s really difficult to balance all the important parts of my life: work, yoga, blog, personal whatever. As I’ve recently learned, it’s even worse when those parts of me collide, leaving me somewhere on a spectrum of terrified, to elated, to sitting on my couch on a weeknight after eating half a salad, three drinks in, asking myself how the fuck I managed to tip the scale in the wrong direction yet again. It’s like sitting on the bottom of a see-saw alone, wishing it would bounce up and down despite no one counterbalancing you on the other side. It hurts in a very resolute yet resigned place, stuck teetering to one side, never experiencing the upswing or the joy of a well-balanced anything.

When I finally finished painting the bedroom, I started to pull the tape off the wall, hoping that if nothing else, the stripes weren’t a complete disaster, mostly because I didn’t have a plan B if they were, I’m so freaking sick of paint fumes and I can’t keep telling little miss that no, none of this is food so please stop sticking your face in the paint cans. And honestly, the walls are FAR from perfect, despite obsessive measuring with a level and a lot of hard work. But after I managed to rearrange the furniture back to it’s new normal, and got my shit together enough to put away clothes I’d packed a week ago, I took a step back and realized it actually looks pretty good. Maybe even close to the image I’d had in my head. I twirled the beautiful necklace that hasn’t left my neck since Saturday and smiled down at little miss, who was happily crunching on a stray piece of tape. None of this is perfect, and none of the problems I keep playing over and over in my head are going away any time soon. But maybe it’s okay that I haven’t found that balance yet, or maybe I never will. Either way, I’ll have these beautifully wonky walls, a tiny silver needle and the hope that balance is out there somewhere to keep me going for now.

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Holi-daze

Hay hayy holidays!! For those of us that celebrate Christmas, Merry baby Jesus’s birthday! For those who celebrate Hanukkah, may your lights burn evermore. And for all of the above, plus those who don’t care, here is a picture of little miss in her holiday collar, looking happier than she basically ever does:

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I wish everyone love and wonderful memories to come during this well-decorated time of year. Sending love from my life, to your families, and may all of you stay more sober than I’ll likely be by 4pm Christmas afternoon. That spiked cider really hits you, doesn’t it…

Secrets, secrets

Secrets, secrets are no fun unless you share with everyone.

When you’re young, secrets are the ultimate currency. Adults keep secrets from you because you’re “too young,” friend trade secrets back and forth as a show of trust, and taunting other friends with the fact that you’re keeping a secret makes you feel powerful and popular. Secrets can be as harmless as “I totally copied [friend’s] homework because I didn’t do it last night,” or as seemingly major as “OMG I have such a crush on [popular boy/girl],” but in any language, way, shape, or form, secrets are valuable, precious commodities that make you feel trusted and powerful all in one. There was always that one person who responded to your “I know something you don’t know” taunts with the rhyme above, humming it at the sing-song intonation we all know so well, trying to get you to spill the words that let you one-up them for the time. In those early years, it’s a fun game, singing those two sentences back and forth, but as we grow up, we start to realize that having or keeping secrets can be a dangerous game. Even if you don’t know the content, just knowing that a secret is out there can spread rumors like wildfire, igniting a flame of destruction until someone is forced to spill the beans to clear their name, or someone else is devastated to find out they’d misplaced that knowledge, and its subsequent power and information, in the wrong hands.

So I guess it’s a little strange to be sharing on such a public forum that I have a secret.

Well, let’s clarify for a minute. Clearly I have a lot of secrets on this blog: my real name and those of the Nickname Posse, where I work/what I do, my favorite color (purple) (wait DAMMIT), and how I look, for a few things. This blog is like an intersection of secrecy and TMI, telling the world my personal experiences with booty calls and bad dates balanced by cryptic hints as to who flipped my mood upside down one day and made me smile the next. I don’t keep these things private because I like keeping secrets (which I don’t), or because I’m good at it (which I’m DEFINITELY not), but more that I like the semi-freedom of telling my tales without a filter, not held back from saying “and then I flashed some sideboob” because it might be the first result when you google my name. Plus, there will always be people in my stories that don’t get a say in the final draft, and their privacy will always be more important than my storytelling. In the grand scheme of things here, though, I haven’t kept any secrets. I’ve laid out everything about my past two relationships, been upfront when I’m depressed or angry, and shared quite frequently how often I’m pretending to be busy on weekends so I can drink wine alone with my cat. I’m an open book usually, the heart-on-her-sleeve kind of oversharer, who is happy to share the good stories and the bad, so long as there are people excited enough to listen.

That being my personality, for the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to figure out a good way to share said secret here. Should I hint at it with cryptic metaphors until someone asks me to cut the bullshit and just come out with it? Should I just say “fuck it” and tell the world what’s going on? Honestly though, I really don’t want to say anything, not yet at least. The secret is wonderful, it puts a smile on my face every single time I think about it, and I can’t wait to share it when the time is right. But having this secret has brought me back to that girl in elementary school, middle school, high school, and just sharing it here makes me feel like I’m a purveyor of precious knowledge once again. It’s not just on the blog, either – this is a secret that no one, outside the Nickname Posse, knows. Every day there’s this delicious aftertaste of holding the secret in my mouth the second before I blurt it out to everyone, dying to share what’s making me so happy yet still holding on to that little bit of power and intrigue. It distracts me at the worst possible times: I’ll be walking across the office and I’ll start smiling, wide, completely distracted by a memory of this perfect surprise; and to everyone else, I’m just smiling like an idiot at absolutely nothing.

So maybe there is a bit of truth to that sing-song rhyme, even now. I don’t know when I’ll be ready to share the secret itself: weeks, months, or maybe tomorrow. But it’s definitely been fun sharing that it exists

(I will at least clarify: I am not pregnant. I’m not moving. I’m still a redhead and aside from finally finishing the rib piece, I don’t have any new tattoos. Oh also no new cats, but only because mama B told me no. Yes, I’m 26 years old and I still listen to my mother when she yells. That’s not the secret either, but I’m glad it’s out there now.)

Friendly Conversations: Cinq

On Fridays
Coworker: So what are you up to tonight?
Me: Drinking alone in sweatpants.
Coworker: Weren’t you supposed to have a date?
Me: Eh, my sweatpants need me and the wine won’t drink itself.

On NYC Halloween
N: Guys, I have an idea. Let’s get off at 14th, get on the L train and play “Hipster or Halloween”

On post-Black Friday needs
Me: I’m freezing. I’m making hot apple cider when we get home.
Mama B: With honey bourbon?
Me: I hadn’t even thought of that!
Mama B: I raised you better than to forget the bourbon.

On Ikea Adventures (Pt. 1)
N: GUYS. There is no cell service in Ikea. That means every man in here right now is going nuts.

On paying attention
M’s sister: Isn’t that the new Moses movie? What’s that called?
Me: Exodus.
M’s sister: What’s that about again?
Me: Moses.
M: …. are you listening to each other?

On pain
Other tattoo artist: (Looks at tattoo 3 hours in). Looks good! Wait. Is this all from today?
Me: (grimace) Yup.
OTA: DAMN, seriously?
Me: I’M AWARE THANKS.

On Ikea Adventures (Pt. II):
N: Do you think we should pretend to work here?

On Taylor Swift and standard parental requests:
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On Ikea Adventures (Pt. III)
M: How have we still not found the car. This is absurd.
N: I bet it’s all part of their marketing strategy. First they make you pay attention in the store, then they never let you leave.

Quick Thoughts: A Beyonce Christmas (ish)

About a month ago, I got an email from my brother’s girlfriend D that was simply titled “Beyonce Birthday Celebration.” Now, if there are any perfect words when put together in the English language (besides “free wine”), it’s those particular ones. The email was an invitation to her pre-birthday celebration, a private class for 15 of us at a Chelsea studio that promised us drinks and dancing to celebrate her big day. D’s actual birthday is on Christmas day, and my family has been lucky enough to have her with us for the past few holidays, so I knew I’d get to celebrate her birthday regardless, but her including me in the pre-birthday celebration was a surprise, and a very welcome one. The party last night was amazing: champagne breaks every 30 minutes or so, toasts to the birthday girl each time, and a kick-ass workout with some amazingly hilarious people, complete with dance moves that I will for SURE be using the next time I’m out. After all, what’s the point of practicing body rolls for 20 minutes if you can’t show it off?

Since D’s come into our lives, she’s integrated seamlessly into my family. This Thanksgiving was the first time in four years she hasn’t been with us, and we felt her absence, her bubbly smile and perpetual cheer. My family is incredibly close, quick to trust and love, but we can be a lot to handle, so I always think how fortunate we are that it’s expanded with people that can handle our crazy, between D and my Twinster’s fiance. Last year around the holidays, I was newly single and very confused, trying to reconcile that instead of it being the first Christmas we spent together, it was the first of an unknown amount of Christmases I would be spending alone. For a long time, I thought this season would be even harder to handle, still single, the only one left. And yet, despite all the insanity of the past year, despite the ups and downs, the highs and lowest of lows, I’m going into this holiday season so much happier than I ever thought I’d be. I’ve moved away from thinking of myself as “The Lone Remaining Single Sibling,” and instead started appreciating that I get to spend holidays with two brothers and two sisters now, knowing there will be a day that I’ll have someone there with me too.

I don’t really know how well our pop ‘n lock skills will translate from “Lose My Breath” to “Jingle Bells” next week, but I have a feeling D and I will be putting on a show this holiday. Maybe in our matching Christmas pajamas, maybe just in sweatpants. And I’m sure at some point we’ll be teaching T the sweet moves, sipping on the ever-present Christmas cocktails, while my brother and brother-in-law-almost will most certainly be laughing and egging us along. Maybe it’s the confidence Queen Bey preaches in everything that’s somehow infiltrated my being, but last night felt like a perfect kick-off to Christmas week and for D’s birthday week, where I don’t feel like I’m alone, or that I’m the lone single girl. Instead, I’m a girl with an amazing extended family and some sweet-ass dance moves, someone with something worth sharing should the right person ever come along.

Circles

Sometimes the best adventures in New York are away from the city, a quick respite from the madness to enjoy the surrounding beauty that’s only a Zipcar away. In an effort to stay as far away from the hell known as Santacon as possible, my lovely friend M, her N and I made plans for Saturday to borrow N’s mom’s car for the day and take an adventure, starting the afternoon at the Ikea in Paramus and ending the day in Nyack for a meal at my cousin’s restaurant, 8 North Broadway. I thought that I’d be recapping the weekend by talking about how incredible the meal was (which it was), or how nice it was to spend some time with two of my people (which it was). And while I’ll absolutely remember those moments for a long time, there was another memory made that will probably trump them all: That time we spent nearly an hour lost around Ikea.

Now, when you park a car in any parking garage, and especially one as large as those around Ikeas, one would think between the three of us, someone would have taken a look at the garage markers to remember where we’d parked, thus avoiding any confusion later. But after we’d paid and walked out the door, we realized none of the surrounding scenery looked familiar. “Maybe we parked on a different floor?” said M, even though none of us remembered walking up or down any stairs. We made our way up to the top (no car), the middle (no car) and the ground floor (still no car), walked up and down the rows, walked around the edge of each lot – still no car. This continued for around ten minutes before M and I just looked at each other and started laughing. I mean come on. Here are three college-educated twenty-somethings and we’ve somehow managed to get ourselves stuck in an Ikea in New Jersey. It could have been a panic-inducing situation, imagining the car was stolen or that we’d be stuck in New Jersey forever, but I think we knew that everything was going to be just fine, so we just laughed and kept going.

I’m a person that loves to panic when situations start getting out of hand, letting my thoughts run in circles, overthinking, overanalyzing, overeverything. Especially with everything in the past year, and specifically in the past seven months, I’ve made myself dizzy with thoughts, trying to sort out the idealistic dreamer with the crushing blows of reality, circle up to optimism and loop down to disappointment. Somewhere in the past month or two I finally fell down, exhausted from spinning for so long, and started trying my best to walk in a straight line, saying I needed my life to stay exactly as it was, no distractions, no fireworks, for a long time. It worked for a little while, but life has a tendency to get in the way when you’re that determined, and recently a tiny spark caught my attention and slowly started turning my head. I suppose you can’t avoid spinning like that forever – now it’s just a waiting game to see if I can figure out this dizzy dance, or if I’ll fall down again, alone and confused and dizzier than ever.

After nearly 20 minutes of determined wandering around the Ikea garage, M, N and I finally decided to head to the Ikea entrance and retrace our steps, still in fits of giggles at such a situation. We made it back to the big blue building, and before we could even walk inside to begin retracing, we all looked up at the same time, stopped in our tracks, and started laughing hysterically: turns out, there were two sides to the parking lot, and we’d just spent the whole time looking for the car in the wrong one. Two minutes later we were bundled in the Saab with the heat on and the music blasting, on our way to Nyack for a well-deserved drink. Naturally, the GPS in M’s iPhone had a little hiccup, and I kid you not, we spent a further 20 minutes driving in circles in the unfamiliar routes around Ikea, laughing hard enough for tears to run down our faces, the bare trees surrounding the roads waving to us once we finally got back on track. Maybe in the end the circles aren’t the worst thing that can happen. At this point, I probably know better than anyone that if you get nothing else from being so dizzy all the time, you’ll get a good story at the end of the day.

PLD Montage: Vol. 6 (Holiday Party Edition)

It’s been too long since I’ve done a round up a bad decisions, mostly because I’ve been super boring over the last few months. Like, stays in all weekend to rewatch Once Upon a Time on Netflix and eat takeout for three straight meals kind of boring. Luckily for all of us, last night was the company holiday party, and oh boy did I get into some fun.

Now I’m not saying I was *that* girl at the party at all. I actually managed to keep it together enough to get to the office on time. I am saying, however, that perhaps the office saw a side of me I’d been able to keep under wraps for the 11 months I’ve worked here. So without further ado – let’s get started!

PLD Montage: Holiday Party Edition

  • For the first time in my professional life, the holiday party had a dress code, in this case, “cocktail attire.” I brought my favorite LBD to the office, a Club Monaco number with cut-outs on the side that now show off my b-e-a-yootiful tattoo. I’d originally planned on wearing a pair of black wedges with manageable height to the fiesta, knowing I’d be up and dancing most of the night, but when I tried them on with the dress the night before, it just didn’t look right. So obviously the next option was 6-inch black stilettos. 9 hours and a walk along the Meatpacking cobblestone later…
    Lesson learned: BRING FLATS. Girl. Bring flats. Always bring flats. It’s cool though, no one needs to feel their toes 12 hours after removing the offending shoes.
  • As is fairly common with official gatherings these days, there were two massive screens on display that were showing photos tweeted/Instagrammed with the party hashtag. We even took it a step further and had a “Selfie Station” (COMPLETE WITH SELFIE STICK) that had all sorts of fun props to make the photos that much more fun. So naturally, I took at least 60 pictures and posted all of them throughout the night with the appropriate hashtag.
    Lesson learned: Always check you don’t have a red pepper flake stuck between your front teeth before uploading a photo. Some selfies really don’t translate from iPhone size to a projector screen.
  • The official work party wrapped up around 10, and as we gathered our things, no one had really mentioned an after party. Part of me was disappointed, since that’s the real fun about work holiday gatherings, but I did somewhat relish the idea of getting home at a reasonable hour and feeling okay the next morning at the office. In the coat-check madness, I heard someone yell “GASLIGHT” and just knew I had to go – the last time I went there was Superbowl Sunday 2014, the infamous day that started this whole chronicle. In my head, I was going to stop in for a beer and head out before midnight. Turns out, 2 a.m. comes around pretty quickly.
    Lesson learned: As evidenced by my pounding head and the fervent desire to crawl in bed with a bacon cheeseburger and all of the Advil, I can no longer function on four hours of sleep.
  • Leaving the party, I was not about to take the subway all the way uptown at 2 a.m. with my aforementioned sore feet, so I decided to take a cab to get me home. Upon checking my email this morning, it appears drunk LB called not one, but TWO Ubers, and missed both of them to get in a yellow cab.
    Lesson learned: Apparently Uber charges you $10 for every cancelled ride that waits more than 5 minutes. Do you think I can expense two car rides I didn’t take?
  • I made a promise to sober LB that I would get into the office on time, despite an excess of red wine and a lack of sleep, because I flat-out refuse to be That Person in the holiday party aftermath. Despite wanting to punch something upon hearing my alarm, I reluctantly made it out of bed, made coffee and breakfast, and even made it out the door on time. So of course, the subways were massively delayed. I had to get on THREE different trains at three different stations, only to make it back to the A train – very likely the train I would have caught if I’d just waited at my original station. Frustrated, cold and to be honest still drunk, I angrily got on the train and started cursing MTA in my head. And then I heard the most amazing thing: my subway conductor, my favorite conductor that has been missing for months, telling all of us to have “a beautiful morning, and a warm and cozy weekend.”
    Lesson learned: There’s always a silver lining if you give it a minute to shine.

I’m now going to retreat under my desk with the aforementioned bacon cheeseburger and hide until I learn that 2 a.m. is not an acceptable bedtime on a work night as a 26 year old. Happy weekend kids!

Soaking.

“This. Is. Disgusting.”

As my coworkers and I made it into the office this morning, we all stared at each other in some level of shock and unhappiness, having been forced to come into the office on a miserable, dreary, grey, rainy New York day. I shook half a cloud off of my umbrella and squeezed my hair behind my cube, trying my best to wring out what water had managed to infiltrate my umbrella, hat and rain jacket before getting started on my day. I’d actually remembered to check the weather in the morning, and seeing the entire day promised to be a total mess, I didn’t bother putting on makeup, wore my glasses and even did the unthinkable: I wore sneakers on my commute. I got a great look at myself in the mirror of the elevator as I made it up the many floors to my office, and had to laugh at the sight of such a person – I could pass for a tourist or a newcomer, the opposite of the put-together New Yorker I try to emulate in my usual daily routine.

I’ve always loved the rain. There’s something beautiful about a city in the rain, the way the drops bounce off the buildings like a dance, a complete juxtaposition to the gloomy people underneath broken umbrellas below. I love a good pair of rainboots, dancing in a storm, shaking the weather out of my hair, inviting the lion’s mane of curls to wrap around my neck, my face, sticky with raindrops and dripping red dye. Any of the cities I’ve visited or lived in have such a distinct personality in the rain, the torrential downpours in Buenos Aires that come and go as quickly as you can take out your umbrella, the misty showers in Amsterdam, like walking in a cloud, or the languid steps in Paris in the rain, enamored with the romanticism of such weather in such a city. New Yorkers hate the rain; we hate walking behind the idiots with the big beach umbrellas, hate how quickly the street umbrellas break, just as a bus drives by, close enough to splash the city puddles all over your legs. But there’s a part of me that loves it too, loves the chance to see the city without the crowds of people distracted by the skyscrapers, the only person looking up amid a sea of downtrodden commuters.

There’s something going around this week, a misfire in the stars or maybe just a random series of coincidences in which I’ve gotten so many texts and calls from people who had something go wrong, a lost earring, a scolding from a boss, a piece of news that’s been feared for months. I’ve felt it too, sleeping in despite this being the first week I can do yoga again after the tattoo, reaching for potato chips and candy instead of sticking to the healthy fruits I’ve lugged from home. I think it’s just a reaction to the weather and the time of year, like the forthcoming forced merriment of the rapidly-approaching holidays needs the precursor of a rainy week and self-disappointment. I’m very much looking forward to the rest of the week, less rain and more holiday fun, with my company party on Thursday and a trip to Nyack for some shopping and dinner with my lovely friend M and her N on Saturday. And in the meantime, I’m fine soaking in some of the bad parts of the week for a few hours. After all, it won’t be like this forever – a good lesson to remember in all parts of life, whether soaking in the enormity of a life moving on, or just soaking in a New York City rainstorm on the way home from work.

Quick thoughts: Ink-quisition

Things people like to ask when they find out you’ve recently acquired a rib tattoo:

Did it hurt?
Nah, walk in the park. Provided your walks in the park include tiny needles piercing your skin in a highly sensitive area over and over.

Can I touch it?
Can you touch my still-healing skin that is currently very prone to infections, which could ruin the piece? Sure, go nuts. You can pay for my touch ups.

What is it going to look like when you’re old?
Pretty sure it will continue to look like a tattoo. And I’ll look like a cool-ass old lady.

Don’t you already have like, a bunch of tattoos? 
If by “a bunch,” you mean five, then sure, I have a bunch. Maybe someday I’ll add a few more to make it a bundle.

So what are you supposed to do with them for your wedding photos??
You mean for my nonexistent wedding? I think I’m fine. If I’m ever so lucky in the future? Can’t wait to have them photographed professionally.

But what about everyone else’s wedding photos??
Cover with clothes or makeup, do nothing, show them off: I will do whatever the bride/groom want, like anyone does. Plus if people are more concerned with a guest’s tattoos than the bride and groom, that says more about your wedding than my ink.

What does the new one mean?
That I’m not afraid of needles.

But seriously, what does it mean?
That I’m seriously not afraid of needles.

How much did it cost?
Four hours of my life and a reevaluation of my pain threshold.

I didn’t even know people could do that in a tattoo!!
Me either. My artist is basically a genius. It’s why I waited 4 months for the piece from him.

So you’re basically going to live in crop tops now?
Let’s be real, I’ve been doing that for months.

Holiday Spirit(s)

It's beginning to look a lot like (a meager) Christmas!

It’s beginning to look a lot like (a meager) Christmas!

Last night, wrapped tightly in a woven Christmas blanket I stole from Mama B over Thanksgiving, I looked around the living room and smiled. I’d spent all of Sunday furiously cleaning my entire apartment so I could put up my meager decorations: a string of lights and garland over the back windows, DIY paper triangle strings along the blue wall above the TV, and a tiny fake tree I bought at Duane Reade in 2011 for $20. It’s not much by way of decorating, but I’ve had them since my days in the Upper East Side, and despite being old and cheap looking, they bring a little bit of holiday into my apartment, even if the only ones who get to enjoy them are little miss and me. I wrapped my hands around the warm mug of cider and whiskey I’d poured earlier and pressed “Play” on my Rudolph claymation DVD, the classic Christmas movie with all my favorite songs, the same one my family watched together every single year growing up, and prepared to recite and sing along to all the words. “Don’t you just love Christmas?” I said aloud to little miss, and she just nudged my hand for another pet before promptly biting one of my fingers. I think that means yes.

My family adores Christmas, and Mama B loves it the most. I mean, she L-O-V-E-S it. She would happily start listening to Christmas music on November 1 if we hadn’t imposed a rule around 15 years ago that she’s not allowed to play it in the house until after Thanksgiving. Even now, it’s practically tradition that the house is blasting her favorite Vanessa Williams album by 7:30 a.m. on Black Friday. Since children aren’t allowed to like things parents like until you grow up and realize how cool your parents are, I tried turning my nose up at all things holiday, scoffing at Mama B’s Christmas-themed wreath pin and Papa B’s ridiculous snowman tie, but even in my most sullen teenage years I couldn’t ever resist the soft glow of the white lights around the trees. I have such wonderful memories our little family traditions, like how my siblings and I would wait at the top of the stairs as children so my parents could “check that Santa came” (/make coffee because it was probably at or before 5 a.m.), or how we wouldn’t open stockings until after church, a tradition that carries into today. Many traditions have stayed the same, like Mama B getting everyone new pajamas on Christmas Eve, but we’ve made some fantastic new ones too, like making sure by 11 a.m., everyone is in possession of holiday spirits.

Not a typo. Spirits, plural. As in, my new favorite thing to do on baby Jesus’s birthday is mix drinks with my family.

It’s hard being home as an adult sometimes. Outside of that house, you’ve got an independent life, where you’re paying bills and working in the real world, and yet somehow the second you’re back sleeping in the no-longer-comfortable twin bed of your childhood, you’re still being scolded for leaving towels on the bathroom floor or sleeping in too late. The holidays can exacerbate this already semi-stressful situation, and we’ve certainly had our share of familial blow-ups over the years. And yet here we are, however many years into adult holidays, and I can’t remember a single one. But I do remember sitting near decanted wine six years ago, a special bottle for the holidays I’d brought back from my time in Argentina, and feeling the tannins coat my tongue, bringing sweet memories of those six months. And I remember my brother and Mama B accidentally spilling Harpoon Christmas Ale everywhere three years ago, after our dog jumped on the big armchair they were sharing and demanded a cuddle. And I remember waking up last year to mugs of D&D’s special slow cooker spiked cider, sipped slowly throughout the morning, aromatic and warming, while we laughed at the familiar jokes in A Christmas Story over and over.

This Christmas season is going to be a little different for my family, as Mama and papa B prepare to spend most of the month in Europe, galavanting across multiple countries, and arriving back home with just enough time to obtain and decorate a tree, and welcome us all for a long holiday break. It’s probably why I’m clinging to cups of warm cider and whiskey in my almost-decorated apartment, and forcing little miss into a Christmas collar that she absolutely hates (pics to follow). So much of my holidays have changed over the years, from feelings on carols to the people I thought I’d be spending it with at this point in my life. But with my family’s track record, we can at least hold on to a few steady pieces of the holiday season: we know Mama will start playing music the moment she can. We know we’ll all be together in matching pajamas on Christmas Eve. And we know we’ll all be toasting our wacky Christmases that are full of surprises with a drink in our hands and lots of love in our hearts.