Tag Archives: holidays

The Halloween costume I almost didn’t wear

We skipped celebrating Halloween last year. No, really- we were those people who hid in the bedroom with the lights out, and whenever the doorbell rang, I held my breath until I heard the footsteps fade away. I knew the kids couldn’t hear me breathing anyway, but somehow that abated my guilt.

This year, we resurrected the Halloween party we had two years ago, down to the same costumes. We also invited friends from different social circles (e.g. John’s entire department and my ex-colleagues) who ended up chatting and, I think, enjoying each other’s company. I still remember my friend Robyn praising our 2012 bash, saying she loved how we invited people from various parts of our lives who didn’t know each other, but who all got along. It’s damn hard to make friends when you’re an adult (or maybe it’s just me?) so I like opportunities to throw strangers into a room and see what happens.

We had a really great time, which always surprises me about parties. I don’t really like large gatherings and feel the need to take a nap after talking for more than 10 minutes, but good company and good food put me at ease. Seriously, friends went out of their way, bringing gorgeous caramel apples and chocolate cake and pizza and…the list goes on. I tried to refrain from turning into my alter ego, DJ ADD (if we were at a party together in college, you’ll remember my tendency to change songs after 30 seconds), and let Spotify do the work with a cheesy Halloween playlist. Not even mine. I’ve become lazier about parties, abandoning the obsessive cleaning beforehand (well, to an extent), and even buying a dessert instead of making one from scratch. No one complained.

I was also dreading the party a bit because of the costume factor, even though I love dressing up and putting on layers upon layers of eyeshadow. John and I were zombie Germans two years ago, and again laziness drove the decision to recycle those costumes. But my dirndl is now at least two sizes too small, a result of loosening my iron grip over food intake, not setting foot in a gym for 3 months, and, well, an affinity for dipping chocolate in peanut butter. When you have to pay outrageous prices for Reese’s in this country, you go to extreme measures for your fix.

I try not to let it get to me, because I hate the pressure on women to look and act a certain way and I try not to buy into all of that (anymore). But squeezed into that dirndl, I couldn’t help compare myself to those cumberland sausages I was serving. I was paranoid that buttons were going to pop off. I thought, how was I ever that small? Oddly enough, I didn’t feel small, then. That’s body dysmorphia for you.

Anyway, I put my faith in German craftsmanship and trusted that my top would stay buttoned, and luckily it did. I let insecurities slip into the background as I gave John some smokey eyes and teased my hair into oblivion, and welcomed friends into our teeny tiny apartment (seriously, it was a little like a clown car, but doable). As for next year, I think it’s time to retire the Gretel get-up and wear something that fits, and not feel bad about it.

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The Second Christmas Day

For a country that purportedly prides itself on not being very religious, England is all about Christmas. Not as much as Germany – which has Heiligabend (Christmas Eve), Weihnachtstag (Christmas Day) and Zweiter Weihnachtstag (the second Christmas day), but close enough. I mean, they started decorating after Halloween. Somehow, I managed to avoid the usual holiday stress of getting exactly the right gifts and having exactly the right plans, and had a really nice time.

Today is Boxing Day, which (much to my disappointment) is not rooted in boxing the crowds at the mall to return all those gifts you didn’t like. Wikipedia, source of all knowledge, says:

Boxing Day is traditionally the day following Christmas Day, when servants and tradesmen would receive gifts, known as a “Christmas box”, from their bosses[1] or employers. Today, Boxing Day is the bank holiday that generally takes place on 26 December. It is observed in the United KingdomCanadaHong KongAustraliaNew ZealandSouth AfricaTrinidad and Tobago and some other Commonwealth nations. [Source]

 

I’m not disappointed that I didn’t get a Christmas box from bChannels. I’d much rather have a day off, to lounge around in my pajamas until 3 pm (not that I’m speaking from experience…), bake gluten-free banana bread, make tikka masala for dinner (this is the best recipe ever, but today I’m using pork instead of chicken), and finally go for a run after 9 long, mostly-bedridden, flu-filled days. Being sick is the worst.

Anyway, it was a very nice Christmas. John got me a gift card to a department store that sells Mac and Urban Decay makeup, which is wonderful because I love that stuff but am too stingy to buy it for myself. I got him some double-chocolate digestives and chocolate (no, really, it’s for him…not me) and finally, a reasonable-sized mug for coffee-guzzling. Because that’s what we do in this house.

I also got us tickets to see Cats tomorrow in centre city Oxford. I’m sure Icarus and Zora will appreciate us badly belting out showtunes and making them dance around in a reenactment after the fact. But, they’ll be spared (for the most part), because just a few hours after the show, we’re hopping on the red-eye bus for the 3-hour journey to the Stansted airport. 

Then it’s off to Germany for a few days. Can’t wait!