Ana’s Advent Calendar, Day 1: Christmas Expectations

bluecard

Welcome, everyone, to the fourth annual Ana’s Advent Calendar! This year, we’re starting things off a little differently. Amy Leibowitz has a lovely welcoming post to give newbies a sense of the event’s tone.
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Typically, the first day is simply introductions. This year, please enjoy Amy’s post and then use your comment to respond to Amy as well as answer some basic questions.
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Questions to answer in your comment:1. What brings you to the Advent Calendar this year?

2. What is your favorite/least favorite part of the December holiday season?
3. What questions do you have about this year’s event?
4. If you have participated before, what is your favorite memory of Advent Calendar? If this is your first year, what are you looking forward to most?
5. Please respond to at least two other people’s comments and introductions. Let’s help make everyone feel welcome this year.

There are so many things I love about Christmas: The lights, the decorations, the crisp air, the egg nog…the list could go on. I’m fortunate enough to enjoy a good relationship with most of my family these days, and it’s easy to slip into the pew on Christmas Eve, forgetting the one walled-off reminder it hasn’t always been that way.

Like many people, I have a family member with whom I have no relationship. Whatever was once between us is dead, burned like a yule log and reduced to smoke and ash. This is the result of choices made and the painful realization this person will never—can never—be who I wish he were.

Growing up, the holidays were a mixed bag. We mostly celebrated Christmas; my Jewish father didn’t care to bring his traditions to our family, so we stuck to Santa, stockings, and a tree. My memories of Hanukkah with my grandparents are fuzzy, but they are largely pleasant. I can’t say the same for Christmas until after I met my spouse and his delightfully oddball family.

Mostly I recall a lot of tension. My mother always tried to recreate the perfect Christmas, probably because she felt she’d experienced it herself as a child. Every time, she felt as though she had failed. The result was a lot of rage, a lot of yelling, and all of us in tears and holed up in different parts of the house. If not for my siblings—especially my brother, who was my constant protector—I don’t know how I would have survived emotionally intact.

Once my parents split up, it took time, but Christmas began to take on the lighter and more loving spirit we’d been missing all those years. All of us began to heal from the anger of my childhood home. Even so, there was still a wound left from the ghosts of Christmases past, and we were all well aware of the empty seat at the table.

No matter how many years go by, echoes of the past still resound. The person missing from my life, and the fact that we will not share a phone call or an “I love you” this year, are constant reminders. They are compounded by lingering grief over the deaths of my mother and my brother-in-law. It’s less now, smoother around the edges, but I will always carry it with me.

I’m sure I’m not alone in managing the pain of loss while surrounded by holiday cheer. Whether it’s the sting of death or the absence of a loved one or a strained relationship, this is not an easy time of year for many of us. Often, there is nothing to be done but engage in self-care, however that looks for each individual.

Insofar as it is possible, let’s take care of each other. We can create safe spaces, online and in person, where people feel comfortable expressing darker feelings about the holiday season. Where there is a lack, we have the opportunity to fill the gaps and love one another through the tough times. Here is where a lot of listening comes into play as well as a willingness to be real, be honest, about how we’re feeling and what we need.

I am now surrounded by a lot of love. It doesn’t change the past or eliminate the pain of loss, but it makes them easier to bear. May you find people who love you as you are and who will share the burden with you during this season.

faith

Blurb:

Following his father’s death, Micah Forbes believes he can finally put the family who rejected him and their religious bigotry behind him. In a cruel twist, his older brother calls to tell him he’s inherited their father’s abandoned vacation home.

Micah discovers the house comes complete with a long list of repairs, boxes full of family secrets, and a handful of quirky neighbors. Despite not wanting to get in too deep, he can’t help the spark of interest stirred when the sexy redhead next door offers his help. Everything about the enigmatic Cat Rowland throws Micah off-balance, from his gender-bending sense of fashion to his handy repair skills to his deep spirituality. Before long, Micah is swept up by Cat and his friends, but Cat himself keeps his heart carefully protected.

When Micah’s past and his present collide in a painful way, his self-destructive coping habits threaten to overwhelm him. To save himself, he needs to open his soul and let someone in. Cat has the key to unlock him, if he can let down his guard and trust his faith enough to catch Micah as he falls.

Author Bio: A. M. Leibowitz is a queer spouse, parent, feminist, and book-lover falling somewhere on the Geek-Nerd Spectrum. Ze keeps warm through the long, cold western New York winters by writing about life, relationships, hope, and happy-for-now endings. In between noveling and editing, ze blogs coffee-fueled, quirky commentary on faith, culture, writing, books, and hir family.

Social Media:

Web site: http://amleibowitz.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amymitchell29

Twitter: https://twitter.com/amyunchained

 

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194 thoughts on “Ana’s Advent Calendar, Day 1: Christmas Expectations

  1. awesomesub says:

    Hi Amy, thank you for this thoughtful post. I am sorry that the holidays were such a mixed bag for you during your childhood. However, it is lovely to see how much you cherish the season now. You have those memories and the pain that comes with it, but in a way you turned this into something positive, where you treasure this time of the year because of who is with you. I am happy for you being in such a good place now, surrounded by a loving family and friends.
    There are so many who have such a mixed bag to carry around who will understand because they have been in the same place, and I enjoyed reading how you came out of it. But what I love most is how you use it as an opportunity to remind us of what should matter most, namely caring for each other.
    Congratulations on your new book. Loved the sound of the blurb and have it on my TBR list. 🙂

    Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas

    Nina

    Liked by 1 person

    • AM Leibowitz says:

      Thank you for your kind words. I’ve discovered (through my in-laws) that family is whoever we want it to be. So I now have a big family by choice, which happens to include many people from my family by birth. It does make the season easier and more loving.

      Liked by 1 person

    • JoanneBest says:

      Dearest Nina,
      You are an Angel you know… you have this special gift where you can see right through to the heart of the matter and understand it completely. You always know what to say and always and without fail make a person (read: me lol) feel understood and loved, and yes, even special ❤
      Love and caring for each other really do matter most in life, and you, my dear, are walking talking proof that love lives in our hearts, we just need to be a little more like you and then the whole world would be a much better place. The people you love, your family I mean, are so very blessed to have you in their lives.
      I know I am ❤
      Love, Joanne

      Liked by 3 people

      • awesomesub says:

        Hi Joanne, wow, thank you for your kind words. Just wow. I do not understand half as much as I wish I would, but I agree with you that love and caring for each other are so important. Amy’s post spoke to me because I could identify with what was said there, and the dreariest moments I know are those when not feeling loved. It makes the world too cold, and that is so not awesome.
        Hm, more people like me? Dunno really. But I am happy that you are there, and feel blessed by having you as a friend. ❤

        hugs ❤

        Nina

        Liked by 1 person

          • JoanneBest says:

            Hi PCyn! Welcome to the coolest most awesome place on the Internet ❤ There is no place on earth I'd rather be than here amongst the Angels of the World, all of us belonging to Ana (shhh, I can pretend we belong to Ana if I want! 😛 )
            Nina is a 365 Christmas Angel, I wanna be just like her when I grow up {whistles innocently as I intentionally pretend to forget I'm way older than Nina lol)
            I take it you're a newbie so I have one piece of advice for you: buckle up baby, you're in for the ride of your life, all of it fun ❤

            Like

  2. Anastasia Vitsky says:

    While I don’t typically include excerpts from the book, Amy’s scene is so lovely that I’ll post it as a comment.

    Excerpt:
    Cat returned to the couch and sat back down. He put a hand on Micah’s arm. “It gets me through this, believing in a God who is bigger. I don’t know what else to tell you.”

    Micah stared into his face, searching. “I wish I had what you have.” He shook his head to clear it. “I just don’t. Not anymore.”

    Taking his hand, Cat said, “You don’t have to.” He let go and curled into Micah’s side.

    Lying back against the couch cushions, Micah took Cat with him and folded his slender body against his chest. He couldn’t resist reaching up and brushing his fingers through Cat’s soft hair. “Do you think…” He broke off and breathed slowly against a wave of grief before trying again. “Do you think God hates us?” he whispered.

    The hand that had been drawing circles on Micah’s shoulder stilled. “No. Not at all.” Cat pressed his fingertips against Micah’s chest. “Not ever.”

    “I want to believe that,” Micah said, unable to hide the tremor in his voice.

    Cat laid his head just above Micah’s heart. “I’ll believe it enough for both of us.”

    Liked by 4 people

    • awesomesub says:

      Hi Ana, wow, lovely excerpt. I don’t know yet why Micah is bothered, but I love that Cat has this sort of inner strength to help Micah. At the same time, Cat appears vulnerable too, but he has found something that gives him strength. Awesome.

      Like

    • Joelle Casteel says:

      Interesting and lovely excerpt, Ana. I’m glad you shared it. I find myself somewhere between Micah and Cat in feelings on the subject. I think I like this place better than being where Micah is.

      On the side, I was amused to find that now that my blog is on a self-hosted WordPress, I could log in and like things 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • AM Leibowitz says:

        Lol! I love self-hosted WordPress.

        Interesting that you say you’re somewhere between Cat and Micah. They each represent an aspect of my own struggle to reconcile two aspects of my identity. I wrote this while on process of both coming out and trying to find faith again.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Joelle Casteel says:

          To me, that in between place is part of being a better Unitarian Universalist. We’re supposed to be interfaith and accepting; too often though theists and atheists are at each others’ necks though. I see part of that battle in Micah’s hurt and I remember being there, feeling like God hated me. As a more balanced UU atheist, I feel that I don’t need to judge someone with Cat’s belief, but my disbelief doesn’t need to continue to come from hurt, if that makes sense

          Like

          • AM Leibowitz says:

            I was raised UU (because of my parents’ mixed marriage), so I know how sometimes the atheist/theist thing can go down. It’s disappointing because many of my cherished atheist friends were the ones who encouraged me to find my own way and ask hard questions within my faith. And they didn’t put me down for still wanting to explore a theist view. So when I see that tension, it makes me sad. It’s entirely possible to believe/not believe and peacefully coexist. In my mind, the point of both is whatever makes us (internally) better people.

            When I wrote that novel, I was so full of anger and hurt. I needed to unlearn all the hateful things I’d been taught and start over. Atheism wasn’t a good fit for me, but it is for many, and I definitely want to recognize that. I also want to be sure I acknowledge the pain without judgment.

            Like

            • Joelle Casteel says:

              Well all gotta figure out how to unlearn that pain I think. Alongside UU-ism, it’s been FlyLady for me 😀 Phrases of hers that have become often repeated FlyBaby phrases often enough have Christian overtones; my daughter, who is an angry atheist at the moment, dislikes my kitchen decoration of “Housework done incorrectly still blesses my family.”

              I do wish that people would work to be truly more accepting in interfaith situations. I mean, heck, we do it here at Ana’s Advent Calendar. I seldom go to atheists’ pages online because too often they feel very mean-spirited.

              Like

              • Amy says:

                (It’s actually me, AM, using my real account on my laptop, LOL) Well, that would be the reason I dislike hanging out in certain religious spaces, too. So may of them are just plain hateful. And even those that aren’t outright nasty are often subtly so. Sigh. We do need more spaces like this one. 🙂

                Like

              • Anastasia Vitsky says:

                I agree! Christians and other religious people aren’t the only ones who can become dogmatic and judgmental. Proselytizing happens across faith lines, and atheism is a kind of faith. From day one, I’ve wanted to create a space where we truly respect and accept different faiths–including atheism and agnosticism.

                Liked by 1 person

      • larachristine2112 says:

        Jeoelle, I agree with you that being in Micah’Place is not that good. It some place I wish I was not.
        Christmas and I have always been at odds, my birthday being 4 days before Christmas. You can guess happy birthday, oh your presents are part of your Christmas lresents, guess you see why. Then after I came out and the split up.cyeah Christmas didn’t have much meanning. Course after joining Ana’s Advent calender last year things are getting a little easier.

        Liked by 1 person

        • JoanneBest says:

          I know the feeling Lara, not for myself, I’m a July baby, but my 1 sis-in-law was born on Christmas Day (she doesn’t count anymore, she ruined my brother’s life and is divorcing him 😛 ) and my sis-in-law, hubbys sister who lives with us, has a 12/29 Birthday so we go out of our way to try and make it special and separate from Christmas, so basically it means that we eat a lot of chocolate between Christmas and New Years Eve 😀
          And IMO, Ana’s Advent Calendar cures ALL ills, and for the rest of the year, well we come here to her blog and of course it goes without saying, read every book she’s ever written because, as Carly Simon sang, ‘nobody does it better’ 😀

          Like

    • pioneercynthia says:

      What a lovely bit. I love it.

      This really resonates with me because for years and years I didn’t understand my bi-polar and thought of it as a punishment because I was so sinful. Now, I don’t believe that at all, and I would never tell another person that, but that kind of feeling comes creeping back when things are going poorly.

      Believing things for more than one person just seems like a great idea. I think I already do that.

      Liked by 1 person

        • JoanneBest says:

          THAT’S IT!!! You said it so succinctly Ana, “the core fear so many of us have”
          I never thought of it that way but what a perfect way to describe that feeling we all feel at one time or another during our lifetime; am I good enough? Will God throw me into the pit of Hell because I may have feelings for someone not deemed “normal” by ignorant people, or something along those lines?
          I know now in my heart that God (insert higher power of your choice) is love, there is no such thing as wrong love, love is what matters, and sharing that love with whoever we want is a beautiful thing. I’ve learned a lot from you Ana, and one of the most important things I’ve learned, something you’ve unknowingly taught me, is that I am lovable. I am worthy of love and I deserve to be loved for who I am, not for who someone thinks I should be.
          About a year or two before my Mom died, when we were on one of our Mother/Daughter Cape May getaways, she told me that I need to do whatever it is that makes me happy, that I should love whoever I love and not worry about anyone else, in retrospect I think she was trying to prepare me to live on without her and to accept nothing less than real, honest love, even if I wasn’t able to physically be with whoever it is I might love, I needed to remember that love is important, and living a lonely loveless life is not the way to live. And I’m babbling again 😛

          Like

      • Amy says:

        Aw, thanks! When I was really low, I had people who did this for me—they believed enough for both of us. I have so many people who didn’t judge when I was teetering on the edge of losing my faith.

        It’s terrible that so many of us learn there is something “wrong” with us that we have “caused” somehow. I simply cannot believe in a God who punishes people that way. It’s horrible just by itself (angry, punitive God), but it also makes it seem like it’s the worst thing ever to be “cursed” with any kind of disability—rather than that simply being a natural variation in human experience and condition.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Lynn says:

    I’m glad your current family are helping you bear the losses of the old one.
    I’m incredibly lucky that my only bad memory is having measles on Christmas Day.
    I do have a few people in my life for whom Christmas is not a good time so I hope I am always sensitive to that and available to listen.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Sheila Gallagher says:

    We had good Christmases and bad ones. The bad were usually Dad drunk and Mom yelling and remembering every slight from the past however many years they’d been together. After moving out of the house, I celebrated with my own traditions. Now I get together with the family on Christmas Eve (if someone’s having something) and Christmas Day. I don’t decorate although I have tons of decorations. I may decorate again if I can get my home in order again. I’ve been working on it for the past three months but it’s slow going because of all the stuff I have and need to go through. It is getting better and maybe next year I’ll restart my Christmas traditions.

    Thanks for your thoughtful post. I also appreciate the excerpt above and the blurb. It’s good to know the past can be put in the past and new memories made.

    Liked by 1 person

    • AM Leibowitz says:

      Yeah, the yelling in my house was the worst part. My brother remembers a few times I tried to go in and soothe our mom, though it was hardly my job and it was no easy task.

      The first year my spouse and I were together, his family invited me to their vacation in Florida. And my brother-in-law, 16 at the time, bought me jewelry which he couldn’t even wait until Christmas to give me. Lol! I had neve experienced being welcomed like that before.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Lynn says:

      Aw, Sheila, I’m sorry. Some people really should stay away from alcohol. I hope this Christmas is good for you despite the lack of decorations.

      I’m lucky that alcohol makes my family cheerful. In fact my dad is nicer when he’s had a few drinks. Sober he’s a typical unemotional, stiff upper lip, English bloke, but a few drinks and he loses his inhibitions a bit. He, and his dad before him, only ever tells us he loves us when he’s had a few drinks. Not that I’ve ever doubted it, but I find it quite sad that he can’t express his feelings sober.

      One of the things I’ve changed as a parent myself: Hugging my kids and telling them I love them

      Like

    • JoanneBest says:

      Sometimes, I hate alcohol. I’m sorry you had to deal with that at a young age, I would sometimes dread getting together with the whole family for Holidays only because of the alcohol. Some people would get so out of control and being a middle child and designated driver, I would be the only sober one trying to keep the peace. A few years ago we unfortunately got into the worst discussion any family can have, politics, and it turned into hurled insults and so close to fists flying I quickly hustled my husband and I out of my Parent’s house because it was bad. In retrospect, I realize that a lot of the tension was because my brother and his wife were about to divorce, although none of us knew it at the time. I guess sometimes things get crazy over something that has nothing to do with whatever the argument seems to be.

      Like

      • Sheila Gallagher says:

        I’m sorry to hear that. I’m glad you had the presence of mind to get out of the house with your husband before fists started flying. It never got that bad but the yelling was bad. Dad was mostly a happy drunk but add the extended families and the drinking and too many people were drunk. My generation seems not to be big drinkers. I can honestly say I have never seen siblings or cousins drunk. I get it all made an impression on us growing up.

        Liked by 1 person

    • renee200 says:

      Hi Sheila, I completely understand and remember the whole drunk/screaming scenes during the holidays. Sorry you had to go through that. Making new traditions that include the people in your life that make me smile was one way I created new traditions for my family. Hope you can begin creating new tradition this holiday season. Blessings. Renee

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Lynn says:

    In answer to the questions:
    1. I read most of the posts last year and promised myself I would make more of an effort to be social this year, so here I am.
    2. My eldest child was born on Chrismas Day, so that’s the most special part to me 😊
    3. No questions as yet.
    4. I must admit that I’m looking forward to seeing how my post is received.

    Liked by 2 people

        • Joelle Casteel says:

          LOL corner time. I do empathize on being introverted. While I can fake a good extrovert during a manic episode- I’m bipolar- I do tend toward introversion and some days, even social media is painful for me. This morning, coming to the advent calendar was much more about forcing myself to be social before I try to write because failing at NaNoWriMo is just one more thing depressing me.

          Like

          • JoanneBest says:

            Awww Joelle, don’t feel bad about NaNo, I wrote zero words and I’m still beating myself up over it. It doesn’t matter to me that there were real life valid reasons, I still feel so disappointed with myself for failing completely.
            I also tend to be introverted for the most part, but oddly enough, coming here and making sure to do it every day helps me in so many ways, at the very least, it brings me joy to be among wonderful people who don’t judge and allow me to be myself ❤

            Liked by 1 person

            • Monica Wiant says:

              Joanne, I failed at NaNo too. This was my first time trying, and I am trying to analyze why I broke down to take some learning from it. Trying is always worth something, even if it’s just to gain knowledge about ourselves.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Anastasia Vitsky says:

                No, there are no failures!

                If you finished the month with more words than when you began, you won. And I have a lovely post from you that counts as words. 🙂

                Do you mean broke down as in couldn’t keep up the writing pace, or broke down as things became emotional? Both are normal when you’re writing something that you’ve thought about for a long time.

                Please don’t (Monica or anyone else) look at Nano as a failure. It’s trying day after day that wins in the end. ❤

                Liked by 1 person

            • awesomesub says:

              Hi Joanne, I don’t think that you failed with NaNo at all. You have had so many things to deal with and you went through such a rough time right then. And nevertheless you tried to write. Oh, and you did write when you finally found more balance again. So, I do not agree at all with you this time (I am sorry for disagreeing ❤ ), and think that you have been doing an awesome job at handling everything and still trying to get back to writing. All I know is that I adore you for not giving up. 🙂

              hugs ❤

              Nina

              Like

              • JoanneBest says:

                Aww Nina, you always know what to say. You have such a lovely gift, you are full of love and you spread it around like the mumps (kidding lol) but seriously, you have no idea how many times I’ve read your words and was rewarded with a feeling of peace and love. Your mini-coopers are so blessed to have you as a Mother, and your hubby? Well he is the luckiest man in the world, and I have a feeling he knows this to be true ❤

                Like

                • awesomesub says:

                  If he doesn’t, I’ll show him what you write about me! 😀 Well, but maybe he does know, it could explain his interest in using bondage on me. TMI, I know. 😀

                  Joanne, thank you for saying so many nice things. Hm, there is so much good in so many people, and just like them … and you! … I like focusing on the positive side of things. But this is what so many women and men do, ehm, like everybody who is doing Ana’s Advent Calendar?! 🙂

                  hugs ❤

                  Nina

                  Like

  6. awesomesub says:

    Hi Ana, I had not answered the questions before, so, here we go …

    1. What brings you to the Advent Calendar this year?
    You had mentioned the Advent Calendar on FB, with pretty pictures and text. And I read the entries last year, so I knew it would be great. 🙂

    2. What is your favorite/least favorite part of the December holiday season?
    Most favourite: all of it? I like creating surprises, making presents, actually I am collecting ideas for Christmas all year long. But the best is just being together with those I love, our family and close friends; the rest (atmosphere, tree, decoration, presents, food, music) is just the icing on the cake.
    Least favourite: Hm, some sad memories of loved ones who have passed away very close to Christmas, and that we usually have to decide whether we are with the German or the English part of the family. I’d love to have both parts of the family together for Christmas, and we managed a few times. It was so marvelous and special. 🙂

    3. What questions do you have about this year’s event?
    No? 🙂 I think it is the first time I am officially in this (?) and want to see all of it. So, there are no questions from my side, but I am excited about the event. 🙂

    4. If you have participated before, what is your favorite memory of Advent Calendar? If this is your first year, what are you looking forward to most?
    I think I’d like to see the fireside chat most. Kat and Natalie are awesome characters, and I have no real clue what a chat with/between them might be like. I do not even know whether this is a real chat on FB or whether it is something completely different.

    5. Please respond to at least two other people’s comments and introductions. Let’s help make everyone feel welcome this year.
    I like that. Making someone feel welcome is wonderful, not only in this season.

    Liked by 2 people

    • pieclown says:

      Hello AWESOMESUB, I want to say welcome the fun. I like you are Christmas shopping all year. I have done this too. I too have sad memories at this time. It is my mom’s favorite holiday and she has been gone almost 8 years. But it still painful. I also had friend commit suicide in high school, a few days before Christmas. But we have fun here, I hope you like the Chats. I would say check out some info on the characters. It gives you a better understanding of the goings on in those chats.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Joelle Casteel says:

    Hello Amy 🙂 I appreciated and empathized with your introductory message. My teenager came out as transgender this summer and so I’ve been met with a lot of lost relationships on my biological family’s end. I’m wondering where the balance of needing to excise the darker parts of my feelings about the holiday while reclaiming some good is.

    1. What brings you to the Advent Calendar this year? A deep depression and serious amounts of stress mean that not only am I not completing NaNoWriMo with 50K words, I constantly am struggling with feelings of emotional exhaustion.

    2. What is your favorite/least favorite part of the December holiday season? Focusing first on the favorite- I have a brand new favorite of “It’s a Pony Type of Christmas”- a My Little Pony-themed Christmas album that I just found last night. That new favorite is balanced with my love of Ana’s Advent Calendar- I love the community that Ana and the helper elves all bring together.

    My least favorite has to be my negative feelings when I see people talking about family togetherness and happy memories that simply don’t exist for me. To protect my child and honor her pain, I had to tell my parents that I no longer want them in my life in any form.

    3. What questions do you have about this year’s event? Well maybe not exactly a question, but I’m wondering if indeed the only sign up is the page I filled out, that there isn’t a “sign up” post as there has been in years past. I believe Ana already answered this that the page is the sign up however.

    4. If you have participated before, what is your favorite memory of Advent Calendar? If this is your first year, what are you looking forward to most? I’m especially fond of the hilarity of the White Elephant gift exchange and the recipe sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • AM Leibowitz says:

      Much love to you and your teenager. I know how hard that can be. My brother came out officially as trans this year, and I came out as gender fluid. Hugs to you all.

      Those lost relationships hurt a lot, and I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with that. I hope you are able to find love and support in other places. If there’s anything I can do, feel free to ask. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • Joelle Casteel says:

        Thanks, AM. Sadly, my daughter had delayed coming out so long because she watched how badly my parents treated me- I’m “out” as many things myself- and so I felt their lack of acceptance both from decades of them not accepting me and then their behavior keeping my daughter in the closet.

        Like

        • AM Leibowitz says:

          Oh, gosh. Yeah, I’m not technically out to everyone, though I guess if they follow me on social media they know and some of them are too polite to comment. I also know some of them think that since I “pass” as cis-straight and I’m married with kids, anything I say is an overshare. The person no longer in my life believes that.

          Like

          • Joelle Casteel says:

            Ugh at the “overshare” judgment 😦 You know, AM, it makes me think of a conversation with a friend who always says that “too often a person of privilege decides what’s oversharing based on their station in life.” It’s like the education I endeavored in at my church just to be able to say “my dominant”- nope, I’m not talking about anything adult and it’s not my fault if using something other than boyfriend/husband sets someone’s mind to adult topics 😀

            Liked by 1 person

            • AM Leibowitz says:

              Back in my super evangelical/fundamentalist days, I would have felt uncomfortable. But now, I take that as a sign of someone who is open and interesting and probably someone I want to know better even if our individual lives and experiences are different. I know now that someone who says that is very unlikely to judge me and is probably a safe person to be out to.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Joelle Casteel says:

                I like the way you think of it now, AM. I definitely sympathize with the idea of being from an evangelical/fundamentalist background; while I was raised RLDS (a LDS splinter group), being a home educator, I’m well acquainted with those religious strands.

                Like

                • Amy says:

                  We homeschooled Younger Child until last year. She has some learning disabilities, so we decided as a family (with her giving the final say) to try public school this year. Fortunately, she loves it. Older Child was only homeschooled until second grade, when he decided he wanted to go to school. Both have always had the choice each year of where to be educated. So yeah, I’m very familiar with the religious home educators. We avoided those groups. It can be so difficult to find secular homeschooling families!

                  ~AM

                  Like

    • Lynn says:

      Oh Joelle, you have my understanding and sympathy. My teen came out as non-binary trans earlier this year and we are still struggling with it. We haven’t lost any family yet, only because we haven’t told some of them. Christmas and birthday cards with the wrong name/gender are going to be a struggle 😢
      I hope you manage to have some good moments together this Christmas ❤️

      Like

      • Joelle Casteel says:

        ((Lynn)). After one month’s worth of slowly telling some people- at first I wasn’t even supposed to tell my minister- we got through telling most “important” or commonly seen people. However my parents took is badly- my father said some truly hurtful, nasty things in a texting conversation that thankfully was lost when the software on the phone died. Then there was the huge writing of my daughter’s dead name on her birthday card (she just turned 17 on 11/4). Right now the biggest things I’m hoping for a child support (my ex hasn’t paid anything in many months) and for my dominant to get the day off work so we can go see my mother-in-law; her response was wonderful :D- “You gotta do what makes you happy.” and “I love your new boots.”

        Feel free to reach out to me on Facebook- I’ve used my actual name here as well on FB. While I’m cisgender myself, I do a lot of educational work with gender issues.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Lynn says:

          My parents have been fantastic as has my brother and the few close friends we’ve told but the paternal grandmother – ugh! I’m not sure the teen will ever be ready to come out to her

          Like

          • Joelle Casteel says:

            Sometimes with older folks, I think getting a minimum of comfort is the thing. Like my parent grandmother doesn’t specifically know I’m bisexual. She may have overheard it at some point, but she has forgotten or denies the information. I behaved with her as if she simply just didn’t know much of me. Although I can’t imagine doing that with gender- that “just accepting denial” so I sympathize with your teen and family on whether or not to tell that grandmother

            Liked by 1 person

            • JoanneBest says:

              Joelle, I remember when I was 18 years old and a full fledged Punk Rocker back in 1977 when that scene first started. My Mom was concerned about me because I had an abusive boyfriend who not only caused me to be arrested because he was a drug dealer and I was at his apartment when the cops raided his apartment, but he also stabbed me with a switchblade after he drove my beloved 1968 Chevelle into a telephone pole because he didn’t want me hanging out with anyone else but him (he also followed me to NYC twice and slapped me across the face for going out without him), anyway my point, my Aunt told me then that she was bisexual, she was a beautiful vibrant woman who lived like a Queen and surrounded herself with the coolest gay men I ever met. She travelled around the world, sometimes by herself, and was the meaning of the word “diva” and she did all of this while in a wheelchair (she had MS and passed away when she was 40 years old), I followed in her tracks and surrounded myself with gay friends who finally taught me who I was.
              My Aunt’s openness at a time where most gay people stayed silent was the best thing that ever happened to me and my family, she gave my cousins the courage to come out knowing they would all be embraced and loved by everyone, and she made me realize that I myself am bisexual, that who I love doesn’t have anything to do with the packaging, but the spirit and heart they hold inside themselves. We as humans are meant to love one another, period. Anyone who doesn’t realize that love is love is on the losing end and will never be happy. In my opinion, of course 🙂

              Like

        • awesomesub says:

          Hi Joelle, I am sorry that your parents are not able to cope with the change their grandchild goes through. For me it sounds pretty awesome that your daughter knows about her identity, because it is a step towards happiness. I am glad that you are there to support your child.

          hugs

          Nina

          Liked by 2 people

      • AM Leibowitz says:

        Oh, the misgendering and pronouns. I definitely get it. I think it can be really difficult for a lot of people to adjust, especially when it comes to us non-binary folks. “What do you mean, ‘they’? You’re not plural!” Sigh.

        I just read a great story that expressed my own struggle. The non-binary character talked about not correcting pronouns because by not doing so, we are protecting ourselves from being hurt when we aren’t respected. For me, I have the added issue of being mostly feminine-spectrum, so “she/her” are not entirely inappropriate. I’ve resisted and hedged for a long time on using non-gendered pronouns, and I still sometimes feel uncertain that switching full-time is the right thing to do. It’s exhausting.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Lynn says:

          My teen uses ze/zir and is getting braver about correcting people but it’s hard.

          The struggle we had with the bank to use the gender neutral title Mx. on zir statements and bank card was a nightmare and no one was able to answer my question as to why they need to use a title at all.

          The hospital has zir listed as gender:unknown because that’s the best their stupid system can do, sigh!

          Liked by 1 person

        • Joelle Casteel says:

          Getting people to use correct pronouns can be such a hard struggle 😦 Sometimes I just wish I could shake people and say “Hey! Do you wanna cause the most joy you can? Using the pronouns someone asks for is a great way!” It’s like an agender person in my local writing group; I need to ask them what pronouns they find correct, but I use “they/them” because it’s hopefully more comfortable. Well when other people talk about them, they’re always called “she” and it irks me.

          Like

    • Loralynne Summers says:

      I am finding this post to be quite educational…I have friends who are bi, and swingers, and gay/lesbian, but the gender-neutral is completely new to me. You are all so wonderful for putting yourselves out there to educate and to comfort others. Change comes about slowly, if at all, and it will unfortunately be a long time before the world as a whole is accepting of everyone no matter how they identify themselves.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Amy says:

        The gender variance was new to me as well. I understood transgender, but not that there was such a thing as genders in between or outside male/female. I tend to gravitate toward women’s spaces in part because I was assigned female at birth but also because I’m feminine-leaning and women’s spaces are safer in general. But all my life I had struggled to feel like “a real woman.” A friend who is genderqueer (another fancy in-between-gender word) was the one who suggested I might be. It’s taken me longer to come to terms with that identity than it did after acknowledging I was bi!

        Like

    • nerdgirl1115 says:

      We here so many heartwrenching stories all year about people in the trans community not having any support. It truly makes me smile that you are sticking by your teenager. I’m sorry that some of those around you are not offering you support as well. I would say it is their loss, although I know it must hurt a heck of alot anyways.

      Like

  8. AM Leibowitz says:

    *waves* Bear with me. I’ll try my best to reply to comments, but m having trouble replying from my phone. I’m on the road with my family, traveling home from vacation.

    Many thanks to Ana for inviting me to write this post and share with you all. I’m looking forward to hanging out together for the next few weeks! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Sarah Bennett says:

    Hi everyone! So excited for AAC again this year! 🙂
    The hardest part for me in recent years is that my family of origin and I font get along very well. I’m very happy here with my wife but my heart aches a bit due to family conflict back in the states.

    My favorite part last year was the recipe exchange and also I think there was a hymn /favorite song sharing day. Loved it!!!

    I don’t have any questions about AAC.
    A few weeks ago, we experienced a sudden death in my family which has been so hard in addition to the coming holidays. Grief is challenging anytime but especially now. I will be on as often as I can to participate.

    I look forward to the uplifting and humorous comments & interaction.

    Wishing all a blessed season.
    Sarah 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Irishey says:

      Hi, Sarah. Please accept my condolences on your recent loss of a family member. Grief seems particularly difficult to handle during special occasions that have established traditions. It makes a person’s absence even more glaringly obvious, which doesn’t seem possible.

      I hope you find your participation in this year’s Advent Calendar takes your mind from your grief for a little while, and that you are uplifted by the humor and interaction we have here. Hugs to you!

      Like

        • Irishey says:

          I had a few minutes and thought I would use them to read back on the post comments. I thought I replied here to you, Ana!

          I can’t believe you remember that. Okay, yes, I can believe it. Lol! Well, I still choose sex, but I keep that quarter handy! 😉

          Like

    • Amy says:

      Oh, gosh. I’m so sorry about your loss. So hard on top of the holidays carrying their own baggage. This is a very welcoming place, and people here really do care for each other. Plus, it’s nice to have some fun together. 🙂

      Like

    • JoanneBest says:

      ((Sarah)) hugs to you. I know the feeling of grief during the holidays and it’s so difficult, but we have no choice but to go on and live for them. I try to tell myself that my Parents would not be happy to know I am still grieving, so I’m trying to do my best to carry on and remember the good times. Hopefully, I will see them again some day in that Great Beyond ❤

      Like

  10. JoanneBest says:

    Thank you Amy, for such a beautiful thoughtful post. It seems to me, at least in my case, the older I get the more difficult the Holidays become and honestly, I really wish I could kick that feeling far, far away from me.
    Before I forget, I wanted to say the excerpt Ana posted from your book gave me shivers as I read it, making me wish I could reach through the screen and hug both Cat and Micah hard and tell Micah that of course God does not hate you, God doesn’t hate anyone who loves and in the end, it doesn’t matter what *anyone* might say or think contrary to that, because God is love, and love is all that matters. There are no disclaimers when it comes to love, we love who we love for what is inside that special person, it doesn’t matter what the gift of love is wrapped in, it’s the gift of love itself that counts, and the love we feel for another person is the greatest gift of all, especially when that love is returned.
    I’ve been learning a lot over the past year about love and family, it’s been a difficult lesson to learn but I’ve finally realized that blood isn’t what makes a family, love is what makes a family, and I’m also learning that the family we choose, those we love consciously, the friends we meet along our journey can fill our hearts fully and help us feel less alone, especially at this time of year.
    Everything changes always, I believe with all my heart that one of the most important things in life is to love without judgment, but even more importantly, we need to let those we love *know* that we love them, now. We should never wait to tell anyone we love them because nothing is certain in this life we are given, and there is nothing worse than regret for the things we wish we had said before it’s too late for those things to be said, if that makes sense.
    Christmas will never be the same to me now, but I realize I have no choice but to carry on and be the woman I was raised to be, full of love for others but also, I must love myself. We can’t go back in time but we can hold our memories in our hearts and honor those who have left this world by living life joyfully, grateful for what and who we have in our lives. It does us no good to hold on to bad memories for we only hurt ourselves by doing that. We need to embrace what we have, we need to share our love with others and open our hearts to those less fortunate, in my opinion, ‘fortunate’ has a different meaning to each and every one of us, for example, while I may want to wallow in self-pity and feel sorry for myself, I need to let that feeling go and think of all the good in my life. I have a roof over my head, I have food to fill my belly and I have love in my life, whether that love comes from blood family or my chosen family matters not, it’s love itself that matters, wherever it comes from. I remind myself that even with all my health issues, even without my Mom, who I love with all my heart and miss every second of every day, I myself am fortunate to have what I have.
    I just realized I’ve reverted to my usual babble and have yet to answer any of the questions 😀 so I shall introduce myself, my name is Joanne and while I’ve had the worst few years of my life these last 2-3 years through way too much loss, I’ve allowed my grief to rule my life which translates into I am a writer who has been slacking much too much which brings me to my next answer: my favorite part of the December Holiday Season is right here in front of my eyes, Ana’s Advent Calendar. I’ve participated 2 or 3 times, I’m not exactly sure which, but as each year goes by, I’ve realized that this very place that Ana has built has brought me more comfort than anything I can imagine. Another thing I just now realized is that if your eyes are reading these words, you are part of my family. As I said, family isn’t always blood but the people we willingly choose to love and cyberly embrace are as valid a family to me as those who share my bloodline.
    Every single person I have met here through Ana’s Amazing Advent Calendar has, without exception, filled my heart with love and a feeling of peace and yes, even happiness. If I had to make a choice between a huge pile of wrapped gifts under my tree or a month here with all of you, it would be a no-brainer, there is nowhere else on earth I would rather be than here , and I thank God for the day I stumbled across Ana’s Place. Sometimes, especially over the last year, I’ve been less of myself than I usually am, I’ve avoided living, I’ve felt aimless and without worth, and I need to stop those things and get back to the land of the living, I need to allow myself to let go of guilt and depression and embrace life wholeheartedly, to allow myself to stop keeping everything inside and to let myself shine. But most of all, I need to say thank you, to each and every one of you who have accepted me as I am, with an extra-special gigantic Thank You to Ana, you see, you, dearest Ana, have taught me so much about life and love through the sheer power of your words and your generous and kind nature. If I can be even a quarter of the amazing person you are, I would be blessed beyond belief, for you are what I strive to be, a warm loving generous woman full of love, embracing life and always paying it forward. Oh, and also, you gave me the gift of loving wooden spoons 😛 and cookies ❤

    Now I need to either figure out a way to download the attendance sheet (which I spent an hour trying, to no avail) or just give in and buy Word since I was able to open it with Google but when I file it I can't find it on my computer…. but I look at it this way, I'm going to need Word eventually so I may as well yank out the credit card and say Merry Christmas to me lol
    Now if I could only figure out which one to buy and if I upgrade to Windows 10, will it still work? The good news? If that's my biggest problem, I've no right to complain lol
    Love, Joanne
    PS: I'm making a Christmas/Holiday Resolution as of now: I owe emails to some people and the whole truth is, I haven't even opened any of my email/messages in several weeks. I resolve to change that as of today and I apologize to everyone I've not replied to/read your email yet. My depression and health issues will not be allowed to rule me this month, I am taking my life back, you can't have it anymore depression and fibromyalgia 😛 You stole NaNo from me and you're not taking Ana's Advent Calendar away from me or I'll fist-fight you. I have long arms and legs so I'll win 😛 {slinks away to write a chapter for the Fiction Relay I'm working on, due by tonight- shakes fist at depression and fibro while sticking out my tongue- don't make me put my hands on my hips!!!}
    Yeah, I guess I kinda need a spanking…. Mrs. Claus, can you squeeze me in before Christmas? I'll give you homemade cookies! (drats! Bribery is probably enough to get me on the naughty list! I take it back Mrs. Claus! You can have the cookies anyway 😀 )
    PSS: Sorry, I babbled way too long 😀

    Like

    • AM Leibowitz says:

      I’m glad you liked the excerpt! It’s my favorite scene in the whole novel. I think I wrote it because I needed to hear it myself. I had just come out as bi (but wasn’t ready yet to be out as gender fluid). I was struggling a lot with what it meant to hold that alongside being a person of faith. Both characters represent the two sides of me that were warring for my attention. That was my reminder to myself that I am loved just as I am.

      I’m sorry holidays are not easy for so many of us. Grief and loss are huge, and it doesn’t help that we’re often pressured to “get over it” or “be of good cheer” for the season. I don’t know why we can’t be sad and also enjoy the parts of the holiday we love. Grief and joy are not mutually exclusive options.

      Liked by 1 person

    • pieclown says:

      Hello Babbling JOANNEBEST. I must admit I was in a sour mood, then I read you post. True fight with depression and fibro is not humors, but sticking your tongue out at them IS!!! Good luck in getting Mistress Claus giving you a spanking, none come my way. Oh if she does not want the cookies, I steal them, no take no have them. HAHA. Sounds like a good resolution. Go for it.

      Liked by 2 people

    • awesomesub says:

      Hi Joanne, woohoo, I love that you are here! 🙂 And I love that you wrote we have to let others know that we love them. Yes! I can only agree with you, I like saying it (and mean it) and I love hearing it (when it is honest).
      I am sorry that you had so much to endure this year, and depression and fibro suck (big style). I think what made me happiest about your post is that you have found a better place again. It makes me happy to see that you are looking forward, that you do embrace life. I love that, … therefore … woohoo! 😀 Wishing you a wonderful advent calendar. ❤

      hugs and ❤

      Nina

      Like

    • renee200 says:

      Hi Joanne, so glad you are here for Advent Calendar. I’m so sorry you have had such a tough year. Pain and depression are difficult things to battle. Stay strong and stay with Ana’s advent calendar it will help with everything. Hope you have a wonderful, peaceful, happy holiday season.

      Like

  11. pieclown says:

    Hi Pieclown aka (Jennifer duh Pieclown) here. I been looking for this since Halloween. I am hoping all of you newbies have fun with this as for the veterans. Remember that this is a lot of work on Ana.

    1. What brings you to the Advent Calendar this year?

    This is my 3rd year here. It is a safe place to be moody or angry or joyous or kinky. I can truly be me and not worry about who sees it

    2. What is your favorite/least favorite part of the December holiday season?

    Favorite is cookies and music. Least would be bills and trying to clean up. Then there is walking on egg shells when I want to say Merry Christmas. Or family members that are not on the nice list. And those that we have lost at this time of year or birthdays were this time of year.

    3. What questions do you have about this year’s event?

    I would like to know more about the elf exchange. I have wished I could share some of me with authors and readers here, but making balloon animals does not mail well. I would like to know are we going to do a $ limit. Some here may be well off and some barely surviving the cost of living.

    4. If you have participated before, what is your favorite memory of Advent Calendar? If this is your first year, what are you looking forward to most?

    I think it is the 2 role playing sessions I made. Both times I felt like the fly on the wall, but I did talk to the other flies.

    5. Please respond to at least two other people’s comments and introductions. Let’s help make everyone feel welcome this year.
    DONE

    Liked by 2 people

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Thanks for letting me clarify. The Elf Exchange is NOT about spending a lot of money (or, necessarily, any money at all). Many participants are authors, and they are encouraged to share a newly published book. If you’re not an author, you have other special talents. We absolutely could do a dollar limit, but I worry that people will then think they have to spend that much. For example, if we set a $5 limit then authors might wonder if they have to have $5 worth of books or if a $3.99 book is okay.

      If you have the funds, probably a $5 gift would be about right. If you are rolling in money and want to spend more, have fun. If money is tight, please don’t feel obligated to spend any. We have artists, writers, craftspeople, and many other types. Surely you can find something special to share without have to spend a lot of money.

      As cliched as it sounds, it’s the thought that counts. Really. ❤

      And you made a very good fly!

      Liked by 2 people

  12. SH says:

    Thank you for your honest story, Amy. I’m sorry Christmases were hard when you were young. I know some of that feeling as I experienced something similar. I had a stepfather who used to flip attitudes like flipping a switch, you would never know what would set him off. He and my mother divorced and I have no relationship with him by choice. And my wonderful husband, who is nothing like my stepfather, and I made sure Christmas was something my children could always look back on with joy. It’s been my favorite holiday for over 30 years now.

    This is not my first time here for this event, I strive for perfect attendance every year 😉 I absolutely adore the sense of community and acceptance that is abundant and easily given by all who participate. 😊

    Cheers and hugs to you all!

    Liked by 2 people

    • AM Leibowitz says:

      I can definitely relate to the flipping a switch thing. Interestingly, once my parents divorced, my mother drastically improved. The already tense atmosphere had simply been amplified during the holidays. I have no relationship anymore with my father. I tried for years, but when I saw his patterns with my mother, siblings, and me reemerge with my daughter, that was the last straw.

      I feel pretty fortunate to have found this community. Last year, a lot of my stress came to a head, and I had trouble enjoying the holiday spirit. I’m looking forward to what’s in store this year!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. pioneercynthia says:

    I love answering questions, so aside from my comments above, these are they:
    1. What brings you to the Advent Calendar this year?
    I just met Ana this year and she brings a lot of joy and humor to my life, as well as some soul-searching questions about who I am and what am I all about. Plus, I love Advent, and this sounded really fun.
    2. What is your favorite/least favorite part of the December holiday season?
    Everything.
    3. What questions do you have about this year’s event?
    None that I’m aware of.
    4. If you have participated before, what is your favorite memory of Advent Calendar? If this is your first year, what are you looking forward to most?
    Getting to read a lot of interesting things, and meeting more people who are super cool. Plus, being online every day is a way that helps me feel more cheery and connected.
    5. Please respond to at least two other people’s comments and introductions. Let’s help make everyone feel welcome this year.
    OKAY!

    Like

    • afodom says:

      So glad you’re jumping in with both feet! Last year was my first time, too, and I found it both awesome and overwhelming. And by overwhelming, I mean both great (because so much love in this place) and emotional (because soul-searching). Sometimes I had to step away for a day or two to deal with the things that bubbled up in me. If that happens to you, just remember – ALWAYS COME BACK. Ana’s Advent Calendar can be a real anchor in this season.

      Like

  14. renee200 says:

    Amy thank you for a lovely post. It is amazing how much our memories play into our holiday expectations. Growing up Christmas was an amazing time of family and love. My parents divorced when I was 10. After that Christmas became a battleground between my parents. I came to really dislike the whole holiday season. After I married I put my foot down and insisted if anyone wanted to see me they would come to me. For the next few years I had Christmas dinner with both parents and their new spouses. If that wasn’t interesting. Hehe. We’ve now moved far away and don’t have any extended family nearby. However those memories of chaos and anger have definitely influenced how we celebrate now. We’ve worked hard to make it a fun time for the kids and a time to enjoy the people we now call family.

    As for Mistress Ana’s questions:
    1 I’m usually underfoot somewhere in Ana’s miscreant world and mistress Ana told me to be here. 🙄

    2. Music, cookies, holiday drinks, and decorations

    3. No questions

    4. I really like the community here. It’s an amazing place of acceptance, smiles and peace. And I like the holiday recipe exchange, the Christmas Carol sing along, the sex story, and the fireside chat, and… Oh was I only supposed to pick one. I can’t. too many favorite memories in the wonderful event.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. catrouble says:

    Hi Amy…I also have that one toxic family member I have had to cut from my life for my own sanity…it’s not easy. Even though I love Christmas, it is a tough time of year for me as I miss so many of my family members who have passed on. Loved the excerpt of your book…such heart!

    I have participated in previous Advent Calendars and the last 2 I had perfect attendance…will try again this year but life is a bit more crazy so not sure I’m gonna make it.

    I am looking forward to all the interaction between participants…gonna be interesting to see who spends the most time in the corner this year. 😉

    Hey JoanneBest…I know this is going to be a difficult Christmas for you…has been a difficult year hasn’t it. Just remember…you have a lot of people here in blogland that love and support you…reach out if you need us.

    Hey Pieclown…happy to see you here. I have decided I am tired and disgusted with all the PC BS so am going to say Merry Christmas to anyone I want…if they don’t like it…tough cookies! Of course they are free to wish me a Happy Hanukkah or any other holiday and I will smile and wish it back to them.

    Hugs and blessings to all!
    Cat

    Liked by 4 people

    • Amy says:

      Yeah, I’m now at the point where it’s the ones who have passed on who make me more sad than the one toxic person I needed to be done with. That person made a choice regarding my children which meant he will never have access to them again. It’s a very different feeling from missing the ones I wish were still here. Hugs to you.

      ~AM

      Liked by 1 person

    • larachristine2112 says:

      I can really relate to missing family at this time of year. Even though things didn’t always go as planned. It is hard.
      As far as getting in to the corner let’s get together and set a plan, I’m sure we can get a few more to join us. Oh and don’t forget about the cookies.

      Liked by 1 person

    • pieclown says:

      Hi Cat, Great to here. I have a Jewish friend and he and I clown at the hospital about once a month and He will wish me Merry Christmas and I will wish him a Happy Hanukkah. As for tough cookies;;; Use lots of milk to soften them up. hehe haha HOHO

      pie pie 4 now

      Liked by 2 people

  16. minellesbreathMinelle says:

    Amy, thank you for your introduction this first day of Advent. Your story of Micah and Cat sounds wonderful. I love the premise of him inheriting and all the mystery and love following the heartache of difficult family dynamics!
    I am glad your spouses family made the Holidays different for you!
    As always I feel like I am behind the eight ball here in commenting! I hope I follow all the guidelines!
    I love the Christmas Holidays. I am very lucky since my memories are full of love and Joy. This year will be difficult since losing my mother this past May. We have had many difficulties since that time, but I am so very grateful for all I have. I look forward to all the family traditions already established and creating more for the future.
    Hi Renee, I love your idea for taking charge of creating a Christmas that was on your terms. It seems to have worked beautifully!
    Hi Cat!
    Now the answers to questions above!
    1. What brings you to the Advent Calendar this year? I always enjoy participating in the Advent calendar. It is a time of joyful energy!

    2. What is your favorite/least favorite part of the December holiday season? I feel like I am rushed into preparing and cannot find time to celebrate leisurely!
    3. What questions do you have about this year’s event? None, I am ready for the ride!
    4. If you have participated before, what is your favorite memory of Advent Calendar? I enjoy the recipe exchange!

    Like

    • Amy says:

      Heh, no worries on being late to the party. I’m just catching up and replying to some of the lovely comments after a day on the road.

      I’m glad you liked the sound of the story. I won’t say it was fun to write, since it was actually very challenging and touched on some personal things. But I will say I’m glad I did it! 🙂

      My in-laws are a fun bunch. Very different from my family of origin. I feel fortunate to have been welcomed in as one of them right away. My spouse jokes that I always got along best with his most “difficult” family members. Well, I have practice! LOL.

      ~AM

      Like

  17. Loralynne Summers says:

    Oh Amy, I just want to give you a hug. Thank you for sharing that. 😦

    I came here tonight after my house fell silent, as my husband put the baby to bed after his bath. Today my house was filled with happiness as we celebrated his first birthday with family and some close friends. He is the light of my life, and I know we are blessed.

    This is my first year participating in the event, so I have no idea what to expect! I hope I don’t make too many mistakes. 🙂 I have a post coming later in the month, and you all will get to read about how much I love Christmas and how excited I am for it this year.

    Like

    • Amy says:

      Aw, thanks for the kind words! ❤

      Baby!!!!! It's been years for me since those early days, the delicious quiet right after baby is in bed. It's really different for us now, with two kids on the edge of their teen years. Part of me wants to say, "Cherish it," and part of me wants to say, "But there is so much wonderful stuff in store." I've always loved my kids, of course, but I truly like them as people now that they're older.

      Like

  18. Sassytwatter says:

    Hi Amy,

    Thank you for the thoughtful post! I also have the family member who is toxic and we chave cut out but then I feel guilty especially this time of year so I make another go.

    And yes after several attempts I was able to read the comments Ana and respond!!!

    I am back for the fourth year in a row I played the first year when I was very naughty and then when I was pregnant and not as naughty and then again with an infant and now with an active toddler. I feel so fortunate to have found Ana and being able to participate every year!!

    Hi everyone loved reading everyone’s comments! Hi pieclown! Fell the same way! Hi Renee! Sorry in am trying to finish my comment before my little one grabs my phone back she seems to think it’s hers.

    I love he holidays but they come to fast I feel like I’m already running late. We travel a lot for my husbands work and have lots of obligations and have a friend and her 16 year old daughter moving in with us in a week so should be an interesting holiday season. Most excited because my little one will be into the holiday the year with the decorating and cookies!

    Questions for the event just hope to answer correctly and get the nails and access to the post sometimes Ana’s blog is mad at me 😉

    Thanks so
    Much for allowing me to play!! Happy holidays!! Oh was I suppose to say a favorite memory…..cookies making them w my grandmother. Sorry I’m a total scatterbrained

    Like

    • Amy says:

      I’m always sorry to hear that others are dealing with the same things. Having that One Special Person who makes life extra difficult is no picnic. And it is such a painful decision to end the relationship. I’m sure it’s why so many of us try over and over. It’s not just the pressure to “love them because they’re family”; there’s also the hope of second…and third…and millionth chances.

      ~AM

      Like

      • Loralynne Summers says:

        I kind of feel that way about my mother-in-law with the million chances. I know that she has health issues (fibro, asthma, copd, carpal tunnel that surgery didn’t fix and left her unable to work, the list goes on…) but when she’s missed my husband’s birthday two years in a row, and now my son’s first birthday, yet expects us to “think of her” and call/see her on holidays or special days, I just have a hard time with it. How much attention does she need, when she’s already getting SO much of it because of her problems? My in-laws watch the baby two days a week while I’m at work. But it’s really just my father-in-law, and the baby is so much more connected with him than her because she sleeps all day and is up all night. A point that was driven home earlier this week when they watched him at night while we went to a concert, and my f-i-l was unable to go to bed because the baby woke up and then wouldn’t go to my m-i-l for comfort and only wanted his Poppy instead of Nonna.

        But we’ll just keep taking all the disappointments with a grin (and a bottle of wine) because we really don’t have any other choice, and it makes me sad for my son.

        Like

  19. Amy says:

    Whew! It’s me again (Amy—or AM—or however you wish to address me). LOL! We got home safely from our travels, and now I’m posting as the Real Me and not Mobile Device Me because WordPress is a butthead sometimes. 🙂 I realized I never answered Ana’s questions in my own frigging post! So here goes:

    1. What brings you to the Advent Calendar this year?
    I loved it last year, and I’m excited to see some of the awesome people I met. I earned several new friends last time around!

    2. What is your favorite/least favorite part of the December holiday season?
    Favorite: Christmas cookies. Least Favorite: Shopping.

    3. What questions do you have about this year’s event?
    So far, none come to mind.

    4. If you have participated before, what is your favorite memory of Advent Calendar? If this is your first year, what are you looking forward to most?
    I can’t think of anything specific, but I remember that I had several people welcome me warmly from my first comment last year.

    5. Please respond to at least two other people’s comments and introductions. Let’s help make everyone feel welcome this year.
    I hope I replied to everyone who addressed me (since I authored this post!). If I missed anyone, feel free to chase me down with a wooden spoon. Leaving people out is a punishable offense!

    ~AM

    Like

  20. larachristine2112 says:

    I can relate not only to Micah but somewhat to your story as Well Amy. For me growing up I hated Christmas. I loved the baking and decorating, but the gift concept! I just couldn’t get past that. Its not what you may think, you see my birthday is on December 21st. Ever year that I can remember it was the same, nothing special. Although I did enjoy the 3 layer cake my mom would make every year. A plain everyday dinner, aguick happy birthday, blow out thecanblrs and”remember now your birthday gift is combined with your Christmas gift. And the icing on the cake, we got to open our presents from oldest to young. Yep you have it, I was the youngest. I had often thought of protesting and telling them they can’t open their birthday presents until Christmas either. But I knew that would have ended with my dad, a 1×2 across the back of my legs. My dad didn’t hold back on the punishments.
    Things got better for me in my about years and after my children where born. Suddenly Christmas was magical. That lasted all of 12 years. I came out, marriage was done and all but one of my sister’s turned there backs on me. So Christmas and I had returned to being Does once again. I have my welds build now but if will have to admit stepping up and joining Ana’ Advent calender has been good. I think that there is an actual crack in the miter so where.

    Like

    • Amy says:

      I think it’s horrible when parents/families don’t separate Christmas and birthday (unless it’s what the child wants and they have done something to make it special—my cousin’s birthday is right after Christmas; my side of the family combined them but made it really fun and gave separate gifts even though he opened them at the same time).

      I’m so sorry your family reacted badly to your coming out. IMO, that should be something we celebrate, not a reason to reject people. I have a kid who is already out, and if she’d wanted it, I’d have thrown her a party. LOL! (She didn’t…it was enough for her that we acknowledged her.) I don’t understand people sometimes.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. larachristine2112 says:

    Oh I forgot, Maude I’ll get some pun!!!!!! What brings me to Ana’s Advent Calender this year? Because last year was AAAAAAAWESOOOME!!!!!!!! And if I didn’t I think either Mistress Ana or Mistress Katie would withhold my pun.
    Okay okay,the best part of Christmas is the religious aspect, the sense of joy, peace and giving without the expectation of anything in return. Which brings to what’s least like……commercialism. Its all about buying crap that no one really needs and the will end up stuffed in their garage, closets, tired in the garbage or dropped off at the goodwill.
    What questions do I have about this year’s event. Well let’s start out with this, will Ana actually get spanked with something other then a guess Mistresses hand? Who will be this year’s guess Mistresses? Is it okay if you have more than one elf?
    And lastly my favorite part of last year? EVERYTING!!!!!! All the fun and get people and guests, the games Ana being spanked the stories that were shared and books, Ana getting spanked, being sent to the corner more than once😀😀😀😀😀 plotting to get sent to the corner, Ana getting spanked, stealing the cookies, the guess Mistresses and Ana getting spanked.

    Like

  22. kaisquared4 says:

    My answers to the questions.
    1) I have enjoyed the eclectic crowd that comes and comments on the calendar and am back for more.
    2) favorite part- Christmas caroling Least favorite= the ads on TV that try to equate how much you love someone with how much you spend on their present
    3) questions about this years event- I signed up for the elf thing and know nothing about what I signed up for, which is giving me performance anxiety
    4) What are my favorite memories of this event? The general feeling of acceptance and freedom to not be perfectly happy during the holidays and of course Mrs. Claus,
    5)I tried to respond to several, so many interesting posts!

    Like

    • Irishey says:

      Hi, Kai. I signed up for the elf thing, too. I almost didn’t because I was clueless about it. We can be anxious together about performing in whatever this is Ana has gotten us to sign up for …or, we can just forget we signed up for it and be surprised and excited whenever we find out what it is. No matter what, I am fairly certain it won’t hurt! Well, unless it involves those dang wooden spoons. 😉

      Like

  23. Irishey says:

    Sweet Ana, congratulations on what looks to be a very successful launch of your 4th annual Ana’s Advent Calendar! Army’s post and the comments I’ve read are wonderful. Of course, it isn’t the sadness and tough memories that are wonderful, but that so many people feel comfortable and safe in sharing their hearts with each other here at your place. You rock, my friend.

    Amy, thank you for your post to kick off this year’s event on Ana’s blog. Freakish Mama Angst must have been brutal, scary and sad for you as a child, not to mention the lingering memories that affected future Christmases, made worse by grief following her passing. Hugs to you!

    I am really glad you have so many things you still enjoy about Christmas, and that you’ve acquired warm and zany in-laws with whom to build warm and fun family memories! That must help soften those old bad memories into something more bittersweet. Not sure if that is the case, or whether I am saying it correctly. The bad history won’t change, but perhaps now having much good and happiness in your life strengthens your heart with a warm filter with which to view, and endure, memories of past Christmases.

    Ana has homework for us, so I want to get it done before midnight… 😉

    1. What brings you to the Advent Calendar this year?

    Ana, of course, and my other old friends. Hi, y’all!! I have enjoyed participating in years past because of the camaraderie, warmth, sharing and true holiday spirit we build here. I also admit I like the fun, silliness, hijinks and shenanigans!

    2. What is your favorite/least favorite part of the December holiday season?

    I don’t do the “favorite” thing very well, so these types of questions tend to stump me, or perhaps stupefy is the better word. I love all the good stuff, and don’t like the bad stuff. Hmmmm… I love snow and snow people. 😉 I love most Christmas music. I especially love seeing and feeling the warmth and generosity of spirit that this season seems to allow people to show more readily. I am going to try to maintain only a positive attitude about the season, as much as possible, so here I choose to weaken the negatives by leaving them unnamed and ignoring them for now.

    3. What questions do you have about this year’s event?

    I can’t think of anything.

    4. If you have participated before, what is your favorite memory of Advent Calendar? If this is your first year, what are you looking forward to most?

    I loved the entire event in years past. Some things which stand out are the variety of post topics, the thoughtfulness and mindfulness we are encouraged to, the openness and sharing, the turkey that hid in the closet to escape the elves…

    5. Please respond to at least two other people’s comments and introductions. Let’s help make everyone feel welcome this year.

    Off to do that now. Happy Advent Calendar!

    Like

  24. Monica Wiant says:

    1. What brings you to the Advent Calendar this year?
    Ana, a longtime friend, invited me to be a contributing writer.

    2. What is your favorite/least favorite part of the December holiday season?
    Favorite: The generosity and charity that comes out in people. Exchanging gifts. The music.
    Least favorite: People who complain about the holidays. Finding a parking space at Target.

    3. What questions do you have about this year’s event?
    How are you so awesome? Don’t worry; it’s a rhetorical question.

    4. If you have participated before, what is your favorite memory of Advent Calendar? If this is your first year, what are you looking forward to most?
    I’m looking forward to making new friends and reading the perspectives of all the different writers.

    Like

    • afodom says:

      Hi, Monica – nice to e-meet you. Thanks so much for agreeing to contribute your writing. Ana’s Advent Calendar wouldn’t be the great thing it is without so many people willing to contribute. 🙂

      Like

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      I agree about the complaints. It’s good to vent and have a listening ear, but there’s no need to ruin things for everyone. Just as happy-happy types need to be respectful that not everyone has a magical holiday season, it’s good for respect to go both ways.

      We’ll be posting favorite holiday music on another day, so hold onto that. 😀

      And aw. ❤ Thank you. It's people like you joining in who make this event awesome.

      I hope you get to meet many lovely new friends. Thanks for jumping in.

      Like

      • JoanneBest says:

        Ana, I’m not sure how to go about joining the Elf exchange but I’m in if it’s not too late. As far as Christmas music, I tried to record the song I wrote and to make a long story short, it didn’t happen, BUT, I do have a Christmas song already recorded so if it’s okay I’d love to share it on holiday music day 🙂 It’s a traditional song that everyone is familiar with.
        Also, I want to donate something and Secret Santa too. You are my REAL family, even if I don’t get any spankings, I’ll be more than happy to share my cookies with anyone who wants a bite (heh, I meant that in a SFA way 😉 )

        And to everyone who said such beautiful words to me, huge gigantor hugs and all the love from me to you ❤ You all know who you are without me having to name you, if your eyes are reading these words then you must know I mean you! And you! And you too! And especially you! And all the yous ❤

        Like

        • Anastasia Vitsky says:

          You’re already marked in the registration sheet as participating in the Elf Exchange. 🙂 And sure! We always want more music for the sing-a-long.

          Hugs back to you, and just let me know what you want to donate toward the general prizes.

          Like

  25. afodom says:

    Hi, everyone! Nice to virtually meet the group. 🙂

    **What brings you to the Advent Calendar this year?
    This is my second year, and I just really love what Ana does with this initiative – how all inclusive it is, how heartwarming, how much a reminder it is of what we’re celebrating in these dark winter months.

    **What is your favorite/least favorite part of the December holiday season?
    Favorite: That warm feeling I get when gathered with loved ones when everyone’s laughing and feeling especially in love with each other.

    Least Favorite: Guerrilla attacks from memories of previous holidays when my health killed my enjoyment and left me missing important moments that I can never get back.

    **If you have participated before, what is your favorite memory of Advent Calendar? If this is your first year, what are you looking forward to most?
    St. Knickerless Day! I’m naughty like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. nerdgirl1115 says:

    1. What brings you to the Advent Calendar this year? I saw you discussing it on FB, and was curious. I thought it would be a good way to interact with some new folks.
    2. What is your favorite/least favorite part of the December holiday season? My favorite part of the December holiday season is watching kids get so excited about it all. My least favorite part is how rude people can be to others. Seems more so than usual.
    3. What questions do you have about this year’s event? None so far.
    4. If you have participated before, what is your favorite memory of Advent Calendar? If this is your first year, what are you looking forward to most? I love reading stories from people, so that will probably be what I enjoy most
    5. Please respond to at least two other people’s comments and introductions. I’ll do my best.

    Like

  27. Laura says:

    1. What brings me here every year are the fun posts, witty replies and banter that we all have. This is one of the best parts of my day.
    2. My favorite part of the holidays is the laughter that we share. My least favorite part is that this year we all seem to be at each other constantly. God, I hate it.
    3. Questions – moi? No every knows that I never make an error. Double lol.
    4. My favorite memories are the heartfelt posts and love that comes through.
    5. Better late than never so:
    Hi Nerdgirl I know you’ll love it here. Mary McCoy I also love St. Knickerless Day.

    Like

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