How kitty sweaters, virtual fires, and friends saved the day I had to work on Christmas day

December 22 | Guest post by PinkeySherbet
Lucy and Emily wore matching kitty sweaters because they're the best.
Lucy and Emily wore matching kitty sweaters because they're the best.

Last Christmas was a lonely one for me. My older brother went to spend Christmas with his in-laws in Kansas, my mom decided to go back to Maine to visit my 90-year-old grandmother, and my boyfriend celebrated Christmas morning at home with his awesome huge family. I had to work.

At the time, I worked at a movie theater. Because the holidays are always really busy for theaters, we could not request time off and we were assigned shifts semi-randomly. The high school kids and managers with children didn't work in the morning, so on Christmas morning I had to wake up and get ready for work like it was any other day.

My heart was broken. Christmas is one of my favorite holidays. I love being with my family, telling stories of past Christmas pranks, eating Costco danishes for breakfast, drinking mimosas all day, opening gifts. My favorite part is sitting together as a family and bonding over a roast chicken and mashed potatoes at dinnertime. But instead of waking up to booze and cream cheese pastries I was getting ready to pop popcorn and hopefully muster up some cheer to spread for the few who came in to the theater that morning.

After my Christmas fate was sealed, I told my group of besties about how sad I was about missing my favorite part of Christmas for work. We then decided to have our own Christmas celebration after my shift was over, as nobody was doing anything Christmas night. The name for our shindig was not original, but it meant the world to me: Friend Christmas.

My friend Christmas tree with presents underneath.
My friend Christmas tree with presents underneath.

I spent a few days focusing all my energy on our Christmas: the stockings, food, treats, and gifts were carefully shopped for and planned out. I decorated my new four-foot tree, and cleaned my house. I made homemade soup the night before my shift, and put everything in the fridge. I was so stoked, and the excitement for the party brought me the Christmas cheer I needed to make it through my workday.

The night was a smashing success. We ate soup, sandwiches and treats, drank champagne and sparkling cider, exchanged gifts, and sang along to Pandora's Christmas station. We laughed at the hokey virtual fire video that was on Netflix, we danced, and, in the end, we felt the same genuine joy that Christmas can bring. It really taught me that there is no shame in sharing my favorite time of the year with friends, because they are family that we get to choose. And spending time with those you love, even if you're celebrating with yourself, is what Christmas is all about.

Me sprawled out over everyone on the couch.
Me sprawled out over everyone on the couch.

My chosen family is a creative, dynamic, loving, hilarious and amazing group of people who I would not trade for anything in the world. When your biological family can't fulfill you, chosen family can fill your cup and then some. I know my chosen family is already excited for Friend Christmas this year, and I have a new job that allows me Christmas off. Bonus!

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  1. My family is spread all over North America, and this year, most of us are doing our own thing instead of heading "home" to my parents house. Unfortunately, my husband is working a 24 hour shift on Christmas day and his in-laws are 3 hours away and aren't really doing anything.

    Christmas has always been a huge deal in my family, and it has been an adjustment for me having it without my family, or with my in-laws who don't really do much. This year it is going to be even more of an adjustment as Christmas day isn't going to be much this year with just the dog and I at home. My husband and I will open gifts and pretend it is Christmas on Boxing Day, and I have a neighbour who has invited me over for dinner, so I won't be alone all day but it is going to be tough. Given my husband's job, this is likely not the last time that this will happen and I'm going to need to learn how to adjust.

    I'm thankful for the neighbor who thought of me, and Skype which will keep me connected with the rest of the family.

  2. This seems like way more fun than running from family household to family household. My husband's parents are divorced, so two separate families there and my immediate family is also in the same town as us and I feel like all we do is spend the holidays running around to other people's houses. We may have to plan our own friend Christmas for next year, at our house. Thanks for the idea.

    4 agree
    • Go for it! It has been the best thing because it definitely made the day less hectic and we really looked forward to it.

      1 agrees
  3. Your post almost had me in tears, thank you for sharing. It's so true that our friends are the family we choose.

    2 agree
    • I am so happy you loved it so much! It made me cry when I found out this was going to be featured. I'm so blessed to have such amazing friends who made so much effort to make this happen.

  4. My husband doesn't have to work on Christmas Day, but he is working the 22nd, 23rd, and 26th, so we can't go anywhere for Christmas. We are going to visit my parents next week and having Christmas then—so on Christmas Eve, we're going to bake 100+ cookies, and on Christmas Day, go around to local businesses and the hospital and fire station and hand them out to people who have to work!

    7 agree
    • Ohmygoodness now I want to do something like this. It's not in the cards this year because of scheduling with the rest of hubby's family, but from now on, any year that we DON'T go to his mom's house the day of Xmas I totally want to give cookies to all the folks who have to work on Xmas day!

      2 agree
  5. Holidays are what you make of them. Some years we're all in the same place, some years we aren't and send care packages. Some years we forego presents and take a vacation instead. This year we did Christmas today because people were working yesterday. I don't think Jesus is going to mind if we're a little late to his birthday party 🙂

  6. My friends and I always used to do Friends Christmas at night time, after everyone had spent all day with our dysfunctional families, it was great to drink and relax and not have to put up with creepy uncles and racist grandmas and raging political arguments. Now that most of us are all partnered off and some with families of our own, it doesn't happen any more, but it was my favourite part of Xmas.

    1 agrees
  7. This is awesome! I'm very glad that you were able to have a full and meaningful Christmas, all while providing for others (co-workers and customers) at work. 🙂

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