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A Golden Retriever, Pine Cone Elf, Merry Christmas Miscellany

golden retriever hat
Monty elf

I blame the lack of a coherent column this morning on Monty Dog, our golden retriever puppy.

He is obsessed, obsessed, with Christmas stollen.

He rightly suspects I have toasted stollen, which I was going enjoy with my morning cup of coffee as I crawl back into bed to write. He knows this because he has stalked me from the toaster, up the stairs, back to bed.

Other retrievers probably reserve such laser focus for ducks. Monty for holiday carbohydrates. He is relentless.

Now he’s climbing up the duvet Ninja-like, behind the laptop, to POUNCE on my toast!

Not so fast, Fluffwit! 

I grab my plate in the nick of time. Monty has a sit-down strike, flopping all 40 pounds of his puppy mass atop my keyboard until I relent. I fling a piece of toast across the room.

He runs to go gobble it up in a nanosecond, and he’s back.


I’m only managing to type this now because I surrendered my remaining breakfast. (He’s licking the keyboard for crumbs. Eww.)

I am ruled by fluffy cuteness. Mr. CL says what Monty lacks in good behavior he makes up for with good looks, and that’s probably a better advantage in life. I tell Monty that Santa’s spies are watching, but he’s unmoved by this threat. He eats elves.

I know this, because I had to fish a pine cone elf out of his slobbery jaws the other day.

Yes, even the pine cone elves are not safe. Or the Christmas ornaments (Mid-Century felt ones are apparently the tastiest.) Or the presents. (He retrieves stick-on bows and deposits them throughout the house.)

If it feels good, don’t do it, Monty.

Did Monty take this advice?

Poor Mr. and Mrs. Claus.

Your Friday Challenge is to set aside the sturm und drang of fuckwits and tell me about your holiday plans. All the gain-a-life goodness.

If you have no holiday plans, this isn’t a holiday you celebrate, or you’re going through a lonely suckfest now and don’t want to gin up any positive vibes, you can send me your dog training tips. Or post your favorite recipe.

It’s a holiday Friday Challenge miscellany!

As for our plans? Golden retriever awaits arrival of all three sons for Christmas. A bounty of dropped snacks and unguarded toast awaits.

We haven’t had all three kids together for awhile, so you might get a few reruns next week. Also, the Universal Bullshit Translator needs to rest its sprockets. So much Lebkuchen, so little time.

Merry Xmas!

love Chump Lady


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  • Merry Christmas to all. Living my best life and relishing in the idea it’s mine and happy. Planning on a relaxing day of golf and dinner with friends then a cozy movie with my 7lb spoiled rotten never listens to me Miss Rosie. May even carve out some time for a dip in the pool. Nice to be able to do whatever I want. Stay warm everyone and safe travels

  • My dad died a few weeks before Christmas so it’ll be quiet here but on the 28 dec my beau is flying from Sweden to me in New Zealand! Yes after 7 years of singleton life post DD I met him last year on line in a professional capacity in a pandemic. Lucky me had 2 work related trips to Europe after our strict borders opened so we connected IRL & going to make it work! I am well and truly at meh best wishes to you all.

  • My adult children are coming over tonight for food and Festivus. We are leaving “airing of grievances” out. JK! Adult children are coming over for dinner and presents. They are going to be exposed to the Christmas classic movie “Die Hard”. We do our Christmas around Christmas so we can spend time together instead of having them rush around for two days because of inflexible families. I am working Christmas Eve but am being compensated well for it.

    Christmas Day is church and lunch at my moms house.

    Christmas is pretty chill for my family, which I am thankful.

  • With this huge storm moving across the US, I was concerned that it might throw a wrench in our plans. FW had son with him in Indiana this week …. right in the bullseye of the craziest winter weather about to hit. And of course no updates from FW about how he was going to get son back to the East Coast (by car) in time for this weekend. I had to let FW know that he might want to leave early to avoid traffic and weather, or he’d need to find a way to fly son to California. Because son, boyfriend and I are flying to Southern CA to just hang out and visit with friends. Totally chill. And this trip is based on what son requested. Guess I scared FW enough that he got son back last night.

    My little family of 3 are looking forward to getting away for a bit. Just exploring beaches and playing it low and slow.

    We’re Jewish, so Christmas Day will very likely be at a Chinese restaurant. But we may just stay in and rest before the trip.

    Merry Christmas to those who observe. Happy Chanukah to those who observe. And best wishes to all for a very happy New Year! I hope everyone gets some time off and peace ☮️

    Thank you Tracy for everything you do for Chump Nation. Enjoy your break and time with your family. Merry Christmas to you.

    • SoCal is my neck of the woods! Enjoy our milder weather. I apologize for our freeway signs, I think they make them confusing for visitors on purpose! If you need beach, sight-seeing recs, I’m happy to share!

    • Like CurlyChump, I am also a SoCal resident. It’s supposed to be nearly 80 degrees on Sunday. I hope you enjoy it! I quite like heading to the beach in December.

      • Thank you MollyWobbles and CurlyChump! I used to live in San Diego and frequented L.A. My boyfriend lived in L.A. But it’s been 20 years (!!), so if there’s anything you recommend — I’m open!

  • I’m working over Christmas, dogsitting for a favorite client. I have canvases with me and plan to knock out a couple of commissioned pieces. I also have free access to the wine fridge.

    Living alone and cheater free for the past 4.5 years, and working for myself as an artist and housepainter, I spend a LOT of time in my own company. I get lonely at times, but I’ve learned to just sit with my feelings, allow them to come up, acknowledge them, then let them pass. Feeling lonely doesn’t mean anything is wrong or needs to change.

    I have a scant handful of really great friends. I’m deliberate about nurturing my relationships with my three grown kids as well as my brothers and extended family in Sweden. I have opportunities here and there to interact with my neighbors in my new home town, and with my short list of housepainting clients I always say yes to because I like them.

    I have created and curated the life I never knew I always wanted. It’s a solitary one, and that’s okay with me.
    Happy Holidays to you, Tracy, and to all of Chump Nation!

  • Happy to have my daughter with me after her move out of state even though she’s on her phone 24/7. Quiet holiday with a couple of other friends during the day, all without being screamed at about how I’m wrongly untangling lights, etc. Threw lights out six months after I threw him out. My little dog stares down and steals toast, too! Big love to Tracy and all of CN.

  • Aw, Monty is *adorable* ! I really miss my two labradors.

    I’ve celebrated by making *Lebkuchen* 😝, absolutely delicious, I can see why the UBT loves them. I was going to send some to my nephew and niece, but with all the strikes here (UK) I thought by the time they got them they could probably teach them to walk and talk. So my neighbours have benefitted instead.

    Christmas for me will be a lovely relaxing day, just me on the sofa with a Bailey’s, Lebkuchen, chocolate, a good book, and *no cooking* ! I am so thankful not to be subjected to screaming tantrums about roasties not being crisp enough, and shrieks of “I expect everything on Christmas Day to be perfect” !

    A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all you wonderful people, and especially to CL – thank you for everything. Xx. 🌲💝🌲

    • Isn’t it interesting how, so often, the very same people who are absolutely determined that Christmas should be perfect according to them, are not nearly so invested in actually doing the work to make that happen? So weird! I’m fortunate enough to have a spouse who actually participates in whatever the various plans are, you know, resolves Christmas lights drama, vacuums, goes and gets the food, all those adulty things. Your Christmas of ”not being yelled at and made to dance nicely” sounds fab!

  • “Fluffwit” made my day. Thank you for the linguistic holiday gift! We have a fluffy-butted conure 🦜 who likes to eat wrapping paper, especially shiny ones. She also will detach bows from gifts and fling them around the room. The big having-a-life news at our house is we are planning to get a Shih Tzu puppy in Feb. She is still a little gerbil looking thing right now but we are already preparing the house. So exciting! I cannot wait for more fluffy witted chaos and cuddles!

  • Happy Festivities, CL and CN. Three years out, and while I can’t say that I’m happy, I’m getting there. And I’m probably as happy as most of us in England are right now. We’ve had quite a year with more, worse (?) to come. My Christmas is home alone except for my injured whippet who had a run in with his bestie. We are paying daily visits to the vet, the credit card is being mugged, and we are both tired and in need of peace. Which is what we will be getting. Shopping’s all done, last presents to be distributed tonight. Then just him and me, and books, and chicken, some very expensive fizz, snacks, bit of tv, and nothing to do until Boxing Day. Every now and then I have a slight sense of failure and inadequacy. It quickly passes. If I had not divorced cheater ex, the whippet wouldn’t be with me. I would probably be slogging myself to bits in the kitchen, cooking relentlessly, or having to support the ex MIL’s kitchen dramatics (because only women ever got called upon by her). Or coping with my family madness. Peace is good!

  • Quiet Christmas this year.
    How about a dog training tip or two from someone who has survived the terror that is husky puppies? Raw hide is cheaper than furniture. Kennel training is a good thing. A tired dog is a happy dog (and those walks are good for your waistline, too). Merry whatever you celebrate to all!

  • I think about my FIRST Christmas since my divorce, when I was swimming in debt and sorrow and learning to walk again by myself after 23 years of marriage. Since then, I’ve made a great life for myself and my four girls– recovered financially, rocking my job and side hustles, taking them on some great trips and overall just living our best lives. Our walls literally sing just like CL said they would. This year, we are keeping it simple — some cookie baking leading up to the holiday, brunch and a movie on Xmas day, and thrift shops and coffee shop on the 26th. Time with my girlies is prized above all else and I can’t wait! And after the holiday, when they are with cheaterpants dad and his schmooopy, I’m taking off to Miami for several days of sun and fun. I told someone the other day: I never imagined I could feel as joyful as this.

  • As Jewish chump who’s birthday is Christmas Eve, I always make plans to make myself happy this time of the year (especially post-divorce). Pro-active planning always makes me happy. I get to look forward to whatever I want to do. I stopped giving up my desires to please others!

    This year I have tickets to see a movie and dinner on the 24th with one of my kids followed by a delicious dessert ❤️. It will be freezing in the northeast so I will be getting in smoked fish and bagels for a cozy breakfast with my BFF, 4 pound puppy. A good book is ready next to my bed.

    Self-care is a must and I’ve learned to be kind to and gentle with myself.

    Monty is the cutest ball of puppy-fluff out there!!! Next year he gets his own stuffed elves to abuse and the decorations up off the floor 😂

    Happy everything to Chump Nation ❤️ we are all together is spirit!

    Love you Tracy and Mr. CL 🥰 🎄
    There’s extra smoked fish if you’re in the neighborhood 😂

  • Christmas Eve lunch with my brother and SIL. Christmas Day 12-step meeting and virtual visit with out of state family. Both days with newly adopted kitty whose presents are hidden up high in closet.

    Ignoring the holiday card received from ex-SIL addressed to me using my (former) married name and wishing “Cheers to the New Year”.

    Feeling amazed that the pain is just a twinge this fourth Christmas alone after a thirty-year marriage. Am I numb? Is it “meh”? Grateful for whatever it is and especially grateful for the gift of Chump Lady.

    • One year for this chump and just barely -jan2. My SIL
      SENT XMAS CARD signed, we will forever be sisters. Mind you she called (only after my son ripped the family a new one)to inquire how I was post D day, she attempted to bank roll MY boat to my ex in the divorce, and has yet to have a discussion with me about what the fuck happened here??? 35 yrs….

  • This Christmas is 8 years post The Christmas Eve DDay and 1 year divorced / basic no contact I am living an hour away from my son, his wife and two grandsons. I’m so happy to be spending the whole weekend at their house and get to be fully immersed with them. There’s plans for tons of my favorite foods, a cozy couch, games (I think my older grandson is gonna beat me this weekend – I can’t wait as I know he’s been memorizing every move his opponents make), crocheting and reading in between or when they are on a screen.

  • All adult children, my elderly parent and myself are flying to a warm Caribbean destination for an all inclusive week of sun and fun. This is something that FW desperately wanted to do, but we never had the funds to make it happen (thousands of dollars were being diverted to pay for sexcapades and generic viagra, but I digress).

    Now that the divorce is final and the marital home is sold, I have a few extra dollars for a once-in-a-lifetime trip that will create wonderful memories for my kids.

  • My 10 year old Irish water spaniel loves cinnamon and ginger. She is a pro beggar for a cookie. She hovers for chai too, can’t leave the cup where she can reach it. Barricaded the thumbprint cookies last night. 🐾
    I am fortunate my daughters families live nearby. I saw some sweet Christmas program last week. Grands exclaim Pamma! When they see me ❤️ and deliver lots of hugs.
    My son came from Midwest a day early, yay❣️. We all enjoy each others company.
    Peace to all ❤️‍🩹🎄🎅🏼☮️

  • It’s been 3 years but I’m still so grateful not to be going to my x-in-laws -with my critical ex & his disapproving mother that anything (anything!) is an improvement for the holidays! 1st Xmas, I felt like I had been orphaned & replaced (I was) but then I saw the silver linings. I just said to my BFF the other day, I’m still astounded by the person I was/became with the FW!
    I’m just happy to be my authentic self again & grateful to not be sneered at or criticized by my ex for saying the wrong thing or wearing the wrong thing at a family gathering. I did go to Vegas with my besties for a few days 1st Xmas (my ex had the kids. must of cramped Schmoopie’s romantic idea of a first Xmas haha ) & it definitely kept my mind off not having a “traditional” Christmas. If it hurts too much those first holidays, I fully recommend shaking things up by going somewhere or doing things in a different way. Now I’m back to doing more traditional things but in different (and less exhausting) ways. Wishing CL & Chump Nation a very happy & healthy holiday!

  • It suddenly is raining babies in our family! My wife’s son has a two month old boy, my oldest son has a six week old girl and the youngest is expecting a boy in May. My brother’s son is expecting late January.. So Christmas this year is about babies and new parents. It had been a long dry spell.

    • Wonderful! Each of my sons (with my DILs of course) has supplied me with a baby grand, and the littles are both toddlers this year. We will all be able to get together this year for laughter and fun. And good food. Wishing peace to all of CN.

  • When I became a first time pet owner at the age of 45 with a puppy “for the kids” two years ago, I really loved and appreciated Patricia McConell’s book “The Other End of the Leash” and her blog. I later went on to read some of her other books, some were about trauma (both human and canine). When I got a four session in-home basic obedience trainer to come, I made sure her methods/beliefs were in line with Patricia’s perspectives (no ne of this alpha business!), and we and our pupper have been very happy ever since. Highly recommend.

    • Thanks for this, meg, I love every word of it and look forward to reading her stuff. Happy winter holidays to you and your beloved pupper!

  • Merry Christmas, Chump Lady and family, and happy all-the-holidays, Chump Nation!


    With love and mighty support,


  • I made Christmas cookies that look like black cats tangled in Christmas lights. This is the first time I’ve decorated cookies with full use of my hands. (My hands have always been partially numb thanks to undiagnosed pernicious anemia) and I’m actually not bad at it!

    My son is going to church with me on Christmas Eve for the first time and then we’re having dinner. I’m spending Christmas with my boyfriend and our 3 cats. I put their gifts in little gift bags and Norman will tear through them like a toddler, pulling out a gift at a time, playing with it, and then moving on to the next. It’s pretty cute.

    Plus I got a ham and I love ham. It’s going to be a good holiday.

  • I am not sure how relaxing my holiday will be. I fought the crowds yesterday to get all the needed holiday food supply. My son comes in today with two Navy friends. We will have a Christmas Eve dinner with my parents, son and his friends. Christmas Day my son is doing the breakfast (hopefully the kitchen will not be too messy afterwards). I will be making Christmas dinner for my parents, son, friends, a recent widower friend of my parents and making a to go platter for the neighbors (she is undergoing chemo so they are not doing a lot of celebrating). We do plan to go out and look at the Christmas light show drive through at one of the local parks. After that, I have to get the marital home ready to sell (FW has removed himself from it totally and I got it in the settlement). Couldn’t stay in it because to me, it just has a lingering odor of cheater. Thankfully, I have some time from work and once my son and his friends leave (they plan on helping me with the house prep) I may be able to have some alone time.
    Although I am only divorced for one month, I can honestly say that it is so much better than celebrating the holidays with a FW and having to walk on eggshells with him and his narc family. I am thankful every day for having found this site because it really honestly saved my sanity. Happy Holidays to CL and CN. I am so glad that I found you. For all newbies, it does get better.

  • Hello CL and CN. Merry Christmas. I took off today to save my sanity. Working in the airport busiest time of year- I got wiped out and had to regroup. Hosting for my family this year. It’s been a while but I’m pulling it together.
    I can only talk about what it’s like to “remain” with the person who cheated on me. I haven’t talked much about this BUT I’d like to be candid so that it may HELP you if you’re just after dday, on the “fence” or what ever your situation may be.
    To share what it’s like: mediocre, unfulfilling conversations/time together. Frustrating.
    I won’t lie I am not miserable. HOWEVER, I am drained most days. We do our “own” thing. Just work and maybe eat together. Either of us make any real plans. The quality time I used to long for has turned into myself, him, and his daughter. He basically stopped parenting since I stepped back.
    He cooks and cleans. Great. We go to “therapy”. He’s clearly only there for me(?) I don’t even want to waste time anymore. He doesn’t change. And at this point, I don’t either. Not for the “relationship”. For me. And my future which could very well be alone. I’ve had the visions. I’ve felt the peace. The sadness, occasional loneliness the mighty.
    I feel “muffled”. Can my parents possibly think I’m having a great time here? Can my stepdaughter really expect greatness from us?
    My adult daughter knows best. And the most. And God above. He’s shown me the truth I asked for nearly 3 years ago. Here I am. I don’t even know what to call this union and I never saw myself in such a space, where some days I’m ready to pack up and hit the beach and other days I just want to rest my head. It spins A LOT. I complain how little things are constantly disregarded.
    *asking him not to wash my work clothes with towels, please use fabric softener, take the garbage out so our beautiful GOLDENDOODLES(can’t believe i didn’t mention!) don’t eat it!
    I do work afternoons so I do housework at odd times. There isn’t a lot of extra for quality time anyway. And I’m heading to EMU for a Social Work degree in January:) I can’t give up on myself I’m it sure where I’ll be;)
    I love and support you ALL. I APPRECIATE the awesome Monty Christmas shenanigan pics!

    Rock on everyone🎄💛💛🎅

    • Blessings upon you. Sorry to read that you are stuck in this sucky situation. I hope that you are able to see get better with each every passing month. And that you will be in a better space next Holiday Time.

    • Shann, sending you a huge hug. I was in that phase for awhile. I’m in a different (post-divorce/no-contact) phase now and it’s better. You are not alone. I understand and hear you😘😘😘😘

  • Merry Christmas! I’ll be spending Christmas with my seven year old son and our two dogs. When I left FW we moved closer to my best friends ranch. We will spend the day there helping cook dinner and then back home in the evening. It’s nice and quiet. No stress like Christmases past. No yelling FW. No feeling awful because FW didn’t buy me presents. Just a Merry Christmas for us. Hope all of you have a Merry FW free Christmas too!

  • i’m almost ready for christmas. my kids live with me, and we will spend christmas day together, relaxing, and make a 3-course italian meal together for dinner. we’ve scaled down the presents this year, and that feels good, right sized. with the X, there was too much focus on spending. maintaining the image, etc.etc. and it was never good enough.

    my house is peaceful. i feel more myself than i have in years. oh, i struggle somedays, but not too often, not too much. i have my kids and a few friends, good friends. i have my work. 2023 is going to be a good year!

  • For the first time EVER, I have a fake tree and it’s truly delightful. After having real trees every year for 25 years of marriage, and during the following 5 years of teenagers who needed things to be “just the way they’d always been” due to a major family…ahem..disruption…I now have a lovely pre-lit sparkler with no shedding needles or watering needs. My two children will be with me in my cozy little home in Mass. with their significant others. I feel truly grateful we all survived the worst, and can now enjoy our AUTHENTIC family around our FAKE tree! xoxo and happy holidays to all of Chump Nation!!

  • I love that CLs biggest problem getting a column written was the unquenchable love from a fur baby. What lovely trouble. We need a dog but haven’t decided on a breed yet.

    Colonel Greatguy and I just returned from a lovely adventure on the Iberian peninsula which was fabulous until sickness overtook us on the last day. We’re finally good again and really happy to be home.

    I was prepared to see none of our adult kids but one of mine has decided that a “home” Christmas is what she wants. She is bringing home a new beau who is a fellow she has known for years (a huge bonus as they are both very quirky) but recently decided to leave The Friend Zone with.

    Im happiest keeping the frou-frou of Christmas simple (still a bit traumatized from the Christmas lightswitch covers of my childhood) so the best I will do is to maybe put up the tree.

    When all the dust of dysfunction settled, me and now-deceased spouse’s mom and sister decided that we’re still family and we have exchanged gifts and talked on the phone with all the warmness and love one could hope for.

    Im years out of the trauma and honestly feel nary a twinge of the pain of the past…which is my hope for each of you. Calm contentment and healing. Love to you all.

  • My ex, to whom I was married for 30 years, has a birthday on December 22,
    He was a holiday gift baby!
    Divorced for 18 months now

    It was such an incredible relief not to have to celebrate his birthday with him

    For 30 years he insisted I make his mother’s antiquated 1950s recipes – including a fish dip utilizing 2 packages of gelatin and 3 cups of mayonnaise
    And a chocolate cake only from a Duncan Hines mix that he liked.

    I don’t have anything against Duncan Hines
    I just wanted to celebrate with him with food that was from me and our life and our experiences. Or minimally not from his mother, and his pining for his childhood, which was awful by the way, I don’t know why he insisted on this

    He would reject anything else I made. He also would reject my gifts often asking that they be returned
    Once is in a restaurant with strolling musicians, I asked them to come over and play happy birthday and he became irate and sent them away because he was afraid there was going to be an extra charge.

    It was an extraordinary relief this year not to have to deal with the aggravation and rejection and criticism of acknowledging his pre-Christmas birthday.
    I hope his new girlfriend, who I have nicknamed Botox, is enjoying making mamas Good Housekeeping recipes. Or she is refusing, in which case she’s getting the same aggravating BS that I got

    I just feel relief, the kind that puts just a little smile on my face.

    Celebrating the end of my first complete year divorced from an abusive cheating awful person.
    I have for the most part been moving towards healing though I have my moments of weakness
    No meh yet
    Happy holidays Happy New Year to all

    • Gosh, that brings back memories. I had a cookbook from his mother of family recipes that I mostly cooked from because it was hard for me to get him to branch out. He eventually accepted some of my dishes, but I wasn’t fond of his family’s recipes. He did NOT like chicken unless it was fried or stir-fried, which made it challenging when our budget was tight.

      After he left, he eventually asked me to send him “that cookbook.” I asked the college kids if they wanted me to copy anything before I did that — NOTHING. Apparently, they never liked those dishes. So we branched out quite a bit, especially eating a lot of beans and lentils when I was broke. They grew to like that, and I still do some vegetarian cooking when they are around.

      At this point, I’m totally into this chapter of life. If he has someone, whatever.

      • I am with you, Elsie

        Turns out left to my own devices I’m a pretty good cook and I’m enjoying the creativity. I am trying not to care about how he is demanding he be fed now but it is a hard habit to drop I’m glad you got there on your own

  • I got my son home for the Holidays, back from his first semester at college. He was with his father last year, so this year is especially sweet. We were laughing and playing last night together, 18 years old and I can still make him giggle! (but not in front of his friends Mom!)

    We sat down and wrote out a Christmas menu yesterday, nothing too elaborate. And he promised to help me in the kitchen. Christmas eve: marinated moose sirloin steak, spinach and cheese crescent rolls, glazed carrots. Christmas day: Rock Cornish game hens in Mandarin orange sauce, sage and cheese scones, pumpkin pie. We’ll eat when we’re ready, after playing in the fresh snow dumpage we had this week, and top it off with something fun to watch. About as perfect a plan as there could be!

    Blessed Yule All!

    • Wow! That’s an impressive meal.

      I picked up BBQ with sides today for Christmas eve and Christmas day dinner. My kids are both out of college and working and are quite the gourmets when they go out with friends, but they wanted BBQ. Easy for me!

      My daughter is in charge of the dessert and the charcuterie board for Christmas brunch/lunch.

  • Happy Holidays!

    For Solstice I invited three also-recently-retired women colleagues from my old academic department over. I had a fire going, candles lit, and all the light strings shining bright (I have a light curtain in the dining room and a string of icicle lights hanging from the mantel year round). Solstice happens to be the birthday of one of my guests, so I made a chestnut-chocolate “cake” to celebrate. They stayed and stayed, and left only reluctantly, which made me happy. A good way to celebrate the longest night of the year and the return of the sun.

    We’re in the path of the storm, so I planned a “hole up, hunker down” Christmas, and am keeping my fingers crossed we don’t lose power. For Christmas Eve, I will be by myself. I’ll make myself a celebratory dinner (honey-orange duck breast–thank you Maple Leaf farms in Canada!–roasted potatoes, and asparagus), then listen to music while sitting in front of the fire. On Christmas day, my adult son will come at noon, and we’ll cook brunch together and otherwise make merry.

  • For dog training I reccomend the book ‘The Art of Raising a Puppy’ by the Monks of New Skete. The best tip in the book for me was the umbilical cord for house training.

    • I so desperately want a dog but whenever I see anything about puppy training, I experience internal panic. Im like the dog version of a person who thinks that babies are cute for like 3 seconds and most assuredly does not want to take one home.

      This reinforces for me that my heart is with geriatric rescue dogs. I want an old Mildred or Earl dog…one who wont even be bothered to fuss when someone knocks at the front door. I love them so but it is heartbreaking that they dont live long.

      • Uni, I know how you feel. I have two elderly rescues and had another before them. They both have heart disease. They don’t have long to go but I am making sure their lives are as full as possible while they are here. It’s hell when they leave us, but I comfort myself by knowing that when they are gone I will then have the resources to save another dog in need. Or two. Two is my limit in my small house. I’d have twenty if I could handle them.

        Happy holidays to you and I hope you do get that sweet old dog you’ve been wanting.

      • Uni, I never wanted a dog because I was attacked as a child but FW and son did so I gave in July of 2019. We got a rescue. She was a 2 year old catahoula with maybe some pit who is brindle and beautiful. That rescue dog is as good as gold. She is next me right now. I don’t know how I lived without a dog. I get the dog every other week when I get my son. More of the divorce shit sandwich.

  • Merry Christmas CL and Chump Nation…as I am only a year out of Dday…some friendly dog advice/warning. My Old English Sheepdog has a penchant for unwrapping and eating chocolate treats which can be deadly. A dog with the trots and during this storm is not how I want to remember this Christmas with my kiddies. So…put all (wrapped and unwrapped) edibles out of reach. Lastly, the best advice is a tired dog is a good dog. Merry Christmas and wishing a safe, healthy and wonderful 2023 to all at CN.

  • First Christmas without my kids high school and college aged. We’ll celebrate when they come back the day after. While they are away I have a date tonight and tomorrow afternoon, will go to Christmas Eve service, visit my parents Christmas morning and then spend the rest of the day binge watching tv. I let go cooking the big dinner and making tons of cookies this year and it’s glorious. I still managed to have a tree and put up outside lights while working full time and having my kids the majority of the time. I feel mighty and excited about my future. I had an excellent year end review at work with a nice bump on salary and bonus to boot! Life is good!

  • I am working 9 hours on Christmas Eve but will have all day long on Sunday with my beautiful boys. Just the three of us and our pups! We plan to watch Krampus and have a relaxing day. The boys understand that I’ll likely be too tired to make a big meal so I’ll just make pies in the early morning and we’ll snack on those all day!
    Thanks so much to everyone who responded to my letter yesterday! xoxoxo

  • Have a wonderful well-deserved holiday! My golden retriever is my partner these days. She keeps me walking everyday and having to get outside myself to care for her. I too have to watch her so various “decorations” survive. Everything movable in my house is at least 2.5ft high or pushed way back on the table-landing strips for her constantly wagging tail. Hugs to CN. This can be a difficult time and my heart goes out to you! I remember my fist and second holiday. Heartbreaking! Now I look forward to the family coming to my house and enjoying each other without Mr Grumpy. Lighter and happier! Be well! Be safe! Stay warm!

  • Christmas Day; my three adult kids, plus Mum, Step-Father and Sister. Doing Rib of Beef (rare) with the usual accompaniments, with a mango, passionfruit and pomegranate pavlova to follow.

    Boxing Day; my three adult kids, eldest daughter’s boyfriend, plus Sister in Law and her two boys (my nephews) and my Step-Mother. Doing Glazed Ham and Dauphinoise potatoes, with Tarte Tatin to follow.

    Cooking things I love, with love, for people I love is just the best.


      • Thrive,

        This is my 19 year old daughter’s recipe, cribbed from my mother.

        3 large egg whites, 175g/6 oz caster sugar.
        Oven preheated to 120 degrees c/100 degrees c if fan.
        Large flat baking tray lined with baking parchment.

        Beat the egg whites until stiff, but not dry. Then add the sugar a teaspoon at a time, whisking well after each spoonful, and then repeat until all the sugar is gone. The meringue should be stiff and glossy. Use a spatula to put meringue in the centre of the parchment and use it to sculpt the meringue into a circle, but higher at the edges than in the centre. Bake for an hour to an hour and a half, at which point it should be be a creamy colour and lift from the parchment without sticking. Return to the oven and turn it off, leaving the door slightly ajar until the oven is cold. Alternatively, leave it in the oven overnight ….. but put a sign on the oven door to say not to turn it on without removing the contents; she learned that one the hard way!

        Hope this works for you.

        Tomorrow’s pavlova will have the cream flavoured with ground cardamom seeds, with mango, passionfruit, coconut chips and perhaps some pomegranate sees for colour.


  • I can’t remember how long ago the last Xmas with Voldemort was. 8? 7? years? Maybe it’s meh; maybe it’s senility. Maybe I just got so busy with everything else in the world I had to do that I really can’t recall anymore.

    I won’t be forgetting what happened that last get-together though. Voldemort was late getting home because of “work commitments”. And you could have cut the tension in the house with a knife. A whole bunch of us (friends and family) were preparing to go out for Asian food (I haven’t cooked an elaborate turkey meal in years). We were starving, late for a hard-to-get reservation, and right before we rushed out the door, Voldemort told me that it was over between us; that we weren’t married anymore, and that they were moving back to the family farm ASAP. I had to hold back tears and put on a show of holiday happiness throughout the entire meal. My stress levels were so through the roof I kept running to the restaurant’s bathroom every 15 minutes; I couldn’t keep anything in. Voldemort laughed and ate their way through an expensive meal, completely untroubled. Meanwhile, I slowly died inside.

    Fast-forward to now. We (more or less the same group of friends and family) were planning to do Asian as usual, but it got derailed at the last minute by a close relative’s health issues. So we’re going to do it at my home. I’ve had a year of difficult health issues myself; turkey-based shenanigans are NOT happening. So we’re doing a pair of frozen lasagnas, chopped Caesar salad (from a kit), shrimp rings, pre-packaged charcuterie boards, ham, garlic cheese bread, and a frozen chocolate pie. ‘Tis the season to defrost, heat, and serve. Even though I got voluntold at the last minute to host Xmas, I’m not feeling even a fraction of the stress of that last disastrous gathering. Life is good these days; it’s peaceful and boring. May all of your current and future holiday gatherings be fuckwit-free. Sending lots of love from Colorado Chump Nation to all of you. XOXO

    • What on earth is it, with FWs and Christmas being the exact moment they want to spill their guts to you?! I have read some years worth of posts on here, and the discard and ensuing chaos seems to happen at Christmas A LOT! There really does seems to be some bizarro cheater script they are all operating from! My best wishes for the season and virtual hugs to you.

      • Yup – me too 👆🏻👆🏻👆🏻👆🏻. Dday 12/27/14. 25 year marriage. 4 kids— youngest was 10. Heartbreaking reminder every year — XH traumatized me, our kids, and our entire family with devalue and abandonment for Christmas but that’s who XH is. I trust he sucks… left a cheater and gained a life. Thank you CL!

  • I’m going to my daughter’s in-laws house for Christmas. They are lovely people and very gracious hosts and I appreciate them including me. But I still feel somewhat like a 5th wheel. Three years post divorce. But I’m sure it will be an enjoyable day. 🙂

    Merry Christmas, Tracy and to the entire CL family. Thanks for all you do for CL Nation. ❤️

  • I just finished reading “Becoming Duchess Goldblatt” – plowed through it in two days – and highly recommend for all chumps.

    • By the way, this is my first Christmas as a divorcee. Signed the decree on my 25th wedding anniv, about a month ago. Not quite sure how this is gonna go, what with the children and all my emotions, but…here we go. I wish for all a tolerable – interspersed with moments of joy – holiday.

      • Juniper, You will be fine. My divorce was just last month too. Aside from cleaning up all the financial stuff and getting the marital home ready to sell, I don’t have too much stress. Stress levels were so much worse when having to do the holiday thing with FW and his family (his mother is probably related to various demons and perhaps even the devil). Just keep calm and be happy you are free. I am doing everything pretty differently this year (especially with the menus).

      • J–One day at a time!

        My divorce final in May 2018, 25 years to the month I married Asshat. Relish the moments of Joy, for they will definetly get bigger and better.

        My first Christmas after divorce was also the first without my parents. Many ups and downs since, but best I can tell, this year my son will be spending all the holidays with me and my daughter will be with me us on Christmas. So it’s gonna be football, lamb and wine all with good cheer……..and lots of SNOW!!!!!

  • Merry Christmas CL and family !!! Enjoy.

    And tell us sometime how you enjoy your new home. Thank you for all your excellent work.

  • As my dogs would say, nothing tastes as good as being free feels! I’m surrounded by friends and family and all is well. God bless and happy holidays, all, my mighty friends!

  • After my divorce 5 years ago, I purchased a new home. I wanted a great room/kitchen where everyone can gather. Now when my kids and their families come over we all gather and eat and talk – and I love it! I could never have had all this with my former f**kwit cheater! And it’s so much less stressful without his bossy presence.

  • Me and my gorgeous little one are spending Xmas eve at a fancy restaurant and then with friends. Xmas day, no cooking and shouts of ‘the turkey’s rawwww’ when it was perfect and then the idiot would nuke my perfectly cooked dinner in the microwave to ruin it

    Again with littleun, all day Xmas day, hurrah, because after demanding 50/50 custody and arranging to split Christmas with FW months ago, the nob doesn’t want him Christmas Day EVER

    This was after a letter threatening court summons demanding 50/50 custody and ALL of Christmas week, turns out he doesn’t want it after all. All in the best interest of me and child of course

    What a hero! Oh but he wants to know where we are and what we are doing. Nah, don’t think so. Enjoy your frumpy, dumpy, dull OW

    • “This was after a letter threatening court summons demanding 50/50 custody and ALL of Christmas week, turns out he doesn’t want it after all.”

      He just wanted to win. To have control. It’s sickening the way they use their kids for that.

  • I have finally given up fighting with a passive-aggressive covert narc for “taking turns” on Christmas. Awesome Boyfriend recommended that I simply pick a day that works best for all of us to get together, including kids’ partners, their parent(s), dogs, cats, work schedules, flights, and make plans for that day, and let the chips fall. And what a relief that has been! X can take all the specific holiday days for all I care. My kids and I will celebrate when we can. Now that there are no littlies, Christmas is more like a Thanksgiving with stockings, and a little cash gift for the adult kids. I am not about to stress out and waste money buying wrong things that nobody wants–easy! I don’t have to pretend to love something that someone bought for me! I am all for low-cost traditions, like baking or taking a nice walk punctuated with laughs, or working on a puzzle together. Leave perfectionism alone–there is nothing perfect about being super stressed and unappreciated. Best thing? NOT doing anything FOR or on behalf of X everrrr again. That part of Christmas was so goddamned frustrating and angering. No more, yay! Happy holidays, my chumpy lovelies!

  • I have to work today, tomorrow, and on Christmas (I work in an emergency room.)

    But I spent last weekend at the German holiday market with my boyfriend and his family. The 26th I will be spending at the art institute with my boyfriend.

    Last night he gifted me three Lush bath bombs, and massage bar, a candle, and a gold necklace with the scorpio constellation in little stones (found at the market. I loved it. He went back for it.)

    Gotta work, but still having a good fuckwit free Christmas.

  • Monty needs a Kong! It is so worth the money. Stuff his treats, or even his food, in the Kong, and he will be silent for at least an hour. To them, their Kong is like shopping on Amazon with a $500 gift card , while binge watching Breaking Bad and eat buttered popcorn simultaneously. I also marinated my dog’s Kongs in chicken broth. It is messy but they will go in their crate and you will not hear a peep.

  • The biggest holiday blessing this year has been health. That might seem strange to say since the kids and I got the gift of covid this year but that’s happening in a context where some of the kids’ more serious past chronic health issues have dramatically improved.

    Like the first time we caught covid two years ago, I got it the worst while the kids sailed through. Even the kid with primary immune insufficiency only had a fever for a few hours. Now the worst has passed, I can breathe through both nostrils and we bypassed the 4AM burst eardrum/ER visit thing– yay. The kids were a huge help when I was in the can’t-get-out-of-bed stage. All the gifts were already purchased and now I’m recovered enough to put the agnostic, merry-everything tree up. A bonus would be if none of us spring a surprise covid-induced allergy to pine. We won’t be able to see anyone before the New Year because we’re not yet symptom-free but friends arranged to drop off and retrieve gifts from our porch and smash their faces against the window to say hello to the leper family.

    The kids’ collective food allergies typically rule out trad holiday cooking. Not that I’m even up to doing the traditional spread but it’s kind of sad that generations of holiday recipes bequeathed by my great grandmother are permanently off the menu. All the same, the local organic market delivered the most amazing looking free-range pork chops, the kids go mad for sweet potato fries and there’s been a huge improvement in packaged gluten-free/dairy-free/soy-free/corn-free/egg-free (etc., etc.) desserts and treats these days so we shall not want. And one bright side to restricted diet is no one can ever eat junk food. No cavities, no teen acne and even with covid we’re pretty much glowing. The owner of the organic market we’ve been going to since the kids were tiny joked that we’re a walking promotion for the store whenever we blow in like a pack of tall, healthy marauders. Likely related to the fact that it’s easier for me to eat whatever the kids do, my middle-aged BP is 108/62.

    And behold! Not an in-law in sight to accuse me of Munchausen-by-proxy for the kids’ food allergies and middle kid’s other chronic health stuff. It’s bliss. Reminiscent of killer Chris Watts’ mother feeding her nut-allergic grandchildren peanut ice cream to punish Shanann Watts, my last brush with those idiots was when my ex-MIL told a table full of family friends and extended family that my kids’ clinically documented health problems aren’t “real,” that I invented them “for attention” and I’m basically guilty of a criminal disorder punishable by ten years in prison. Past holidays with in-laws would be hell because that’s where the “he/she can’t eat that” would come up every five minutes followed by side-eyes, eye rolls and passive aggressive cracks. Trying to recover kids’ from complex health issues while being judged for it is like trying to fly a Cessna with passengers screaming instructions in your ear. But in the peace of their absence, we’ve made so much headway that there’s much to celebrate.

    Even more wonderful is that it’s been long enough since that fracas that my heart rate doesn’t even go up when I’m reminded of it and the kids never think or ask about those long-lost narcy relatives and their oxygen-sapping vibes. It wasn’t so long ago that I’ve forgotten the knots in my stomach every time those in-laws were around, so I feel especially blessed with friends for whom that story has faded to a punchline. I found CN where a simple “Chris Watts’ mom” reference is enough to explain why any grandmother would do something so vile. I can look around my life and the kids’ lives and see there’s not even one person left who doesn’t fully get us and such a richness of people who do. Throw some Christmas lights on it and it’s pure magic.

    • “my ex-MIL told a table full of family friends and extended family that my kids’ clinically documented health problems aren’t “real,” that I invented them “for attention” and I’m basically guilty of a criminal disorder punishable by ten years in prison.”

      Whaaaat? Wow, she’s disordered AF.

      • Undiagnosed, lol. Sick as it is, what she did is a well known thing in the arena of parents of disabled or chronically ill kids. Narcissists tend to be bummed out by illness and disability and want nothing to do with “defective” children, particularly a child who’s related by blood since this “taints” the family tree. People might wonder if it’s gentetic. But the challenge is that outright bailing on a sick child in the family has terrible optics The typical solution for those types is to scrounge around for ways to find fault with the child’s parents’ parenting on any arbitrary grounds so– tada– they have an excuse to distance themselves from the child while still pretending it’s out of “concern” for the child in question. Then they can say they’re keeping their distance because they can’t “bear to watch” what the parents are “doing to that poor child.” Because their hearts overflow with saintly empathy, see?

        It’s so common it’s become a kind of running gag. My ex-MIL just took it further than most extended family narcs but it’s usually something along those lines. She took her whole toxic side of the family with her– not a difficult feat since they were all in the market for excuses to bail anyway and ex-MIL’s fabrication filled the bill. Now that my son is doing great, it’s sort of the dictionary definition of “their loss.” He doesn’t remember any of them so it’s not his.

  • This time of year is really triggering for me. But I’m spending it with new partner and his two grown kids. Going to the beach and relaxing. Happy holidays to my fellow chumps ❤️

  • 😄 Go, Monty Dog!

    I’m going to my brother’s place for a big spread, for which I am baking three pies; pumpkin, blueberry and apple cranberry. My darling niece will be there so it will be nice.

    FW has sucked up to our eldest, who ghosted us in the wake of Dday. She hasn’t spoken to the whole family in four years. FW is willing to ignore that and not even ask her to explain why she missed her grandmother’s funeral and wouldn’t come to see her when she was dying. So now he is invited to stay there for a week and enjoy the grandchildren he would not even have if not for me. Daughter isn’t even his biological child. She’s from my first ex.
    So the kids aren’t even related to FW, but he gets to see them and I don’t, because he’s willing to have a fake, non-reciprocal relationship in which he doesn’t hold her accountable for anything she does. The list of her shitty and shady behavior is long and continues to grow, but FW will never even mention it. He will treat her like he wants to be treated, which is like there is a special exemption from the rules of decent conduct just for her. FW wanted that exemption too, but he did not get it from me. I am done letting anyone get away with being selfish and toxic, and that includes my own kid.

    Oh well. There’s nothing I can do about the unfairness of it, so there’s no point in dwelling on it. I just wanted to vent. I know I’m better off without the hurt they both cause, but that means no grandchildren. 😥 I was supposed to suck it up, stay with FW and play happy family. I wouldn’t, so I’ve been made obsolete. It sucks that we have to lose people in order to live with integrity and free from chaos and cruelty.

    Happy holidays to CL and CN. I hope you have a great time you lovely people!

    • OHFFS – My ex-FW also chose not to confront his adult daughter about her hurtful, disrespectful behavior. I think that part of his emotional maturity never developed, which works for both of them. Glad not to have to wait hours to open gifts due to the tardy party.

      • AM, I’m sorry to hear that. It’s hurtful when our kids chose to emulate the disordered FW rather than the sane parent. I’m not going to hold onto any hope that it will change some day, because I don’t think it will. We have to stop puffing hopium about other toxic people in our lives besides the cheaters. It’s hard, but we don’t heal otherwise.
        My best wishes to you and yours for the holidays.

        • It’s sort of an axiom that people are especially avoidant of the thing their intuitions are warning them they’re particularly susceptible to. It seems your eldest especially turned her back on you– the victim. I’ve never seen anyone on the edges of a fracas do that to the victim who didn’t end up becoming one themselves in short order. I have so many stories. It’s so painful not to be able to save your own flesh and blood and I’m sorry this happened but that what hope there is lies you with continuing to live your best life.

          • Thank you, HOAC, and you are right as always. She claims to have been a victim of some sort of trauma herself that she will not tell anyone about. She uses it to excuse her behavior, which is disheartening, to say the least.
            Her first husband was also emotionally abusive and he abandoned her.

  • Mele Kalikimaka from Hawai’i! I am happily back in my home state after many years on the mainland. My brother also moved back and now lives an hour drive away, rather than the 9 hours when we lived on the east Coast. My adult daughter is thriving and is here for a month long visit. My adult son and his wife are moving here next month!
    Is everything perfect? Of course not! But is it a beautiful, imperfect life? Completely!

    For the newbies here – I literally thought I would die of a broken heart and that life would never be whole again. It has taken me a long while (certainly longer than I wanted) to feel that life is good again- no better than good- life without a FuckWit is a delight I would never have know had he not blown up our family. I would have continued on thinking we were happy as my health deteriorated and I focused all my energy on HIM.

    One step, on day at a time and Tuesday will come. Tuesday snuck up and found me while I was snorkeling in the Pacific!
    Peace and blessing to all

    • I lived in Hawaii and am a graduate from UofH Manoa. I MISS the tradewinds and rainbows! Right now I’m sitting in my Michigan house watching the blizzard of a generation engulf my house! But my adult son is here and my daughter will be spending Chistmas with us. Getting to meh….one day at a time.

      I dream of retiring to Hawaii!

      • I’ve only been once and I loved it there! I am here in MI also. How did you get way over here?!? What are the odds. You’ll be back. If it’s what you really want:)

  • 3rd Christmas apart. I agree with just celebrating when we can. While the divorce is–ffs–not yet final, I feel relieved to not be with him. Not all the time, but I’m taking the W when it happens.

    FW family “tradition” changed from yearly (decades of this) Christmas Eve “family dinner” which has been SIL’s edict since 1999. Just to be a dick, to-be former SIL changed it to Christmas Day afternoon. Yes, the day we spend with my family (mixing these people was disasterous–FW and his mother complained about.the.everything. while my parents were relgated to staff). I was haunted by their callous disregard of my family tradition, had a horrendous nightmare that “they” (3+ AP) were there trying to manipulate my kids, and that the kids “Liked AP#2 (a child psychologist) better” than me. When I woke up, made a cup of joe, and as it seeped into my soul, realized that the nightmare was not real. Even if it were, it was still better than remaining the doormat to FW and all the glory that is him. Suddenly felt the release of eggshell trauma and moved forward with the day.

    My dog will go with kids (4) to their father’s rented house (don’t even get me started); I will open the 2 bottles of wine I’ve been saving for this occasion, watch the best holiday movie ever (Die Hard; can’t watch Love Actually–you know why), and wrap presents. So.there. I may be drunk and the wrapping of said gifts will leave much to be desired, but the unhealthy drive of perfection can Yippee Ki-Yay the fuck away.

    For the newbies and anyone else who needs to hear this: The kids are happy and safe. (FW and new GF have glorious plans post-kid drop off–skiing in Aspen but he can’t afford child support. [IKR, I’m such a bitch]. Kids likely won’t see “dear old dad” until right before the next hearing, because, you know, he “cares”.) Anywhooo, spending time when we can be together is the “happy” of the holidays. Full stop. He’s a jerk and still angry that I daned to have boundaries and allow the natural consequences of his behavior be felt. Ah well, I hope he eats the yellow snow, becuase you know I “care”.

    Happy getting a life, CN. You.Are.Mighty

    • I love your attitude! I’m so sorry about your FW, but seriously, why are they all such sick twisted dicks??? Manipulating our children is just so sad and wrong.

      We may all have the same past horrible stories, but our futures are bright!

  • Good wishes to all xxxx

    A family of NHS workers here and have often had to have Christmas after the 25th. This year, however, all work schedules have aligned and we will all be together on the big day!! I also have a pup who enjoys chewing the decs….straight off the tree 🤣🤣🤣🤣

    Life is sweet. Life is joyous. Life is full of love here. To any newbies here please believe it DOES get much much better….

    Hugs to you all 😘

  • The facts….

    Tree not up yet. In the back of my truck still. House looks like an episode of Hoarders, except my stuff is cool. Higher Power in the earthly form of an appliance repairman arrived yesterday to fix the oven knob, broken when my daughter forced it in the wrong direction when she was ten. She will be sixteen next month. (DDay happened when she was ten).
    I just got home from the nursery where I got my annual allotment of red and white cyclamens for my outdoor Christmas decorating, usually acquired the first week of December.

    The feelings….

    Glad to be divorced. Sad about my dream of family being nuked. Very long gratitude list despite the hit man I was MIRAGED to and his hired hit woman (women?) that took us down. On that list? Daughter, cat, bird, home, friends, sobriety, Chump Lady, Chump Nation ….I could go on and on.

    I don’t feel my usual Christmas spirit feeling….my soul and spirit are beyond exhausted with all the energy and bandwidth that goes into divorcing because of and recovering from infidelity.
    I loved Christmas. I have an embarrassingly large collection of Christmas sweaters and plan to add a pair of Santa boots from Rocketbuster someday. The reality is that the TLC (traitor thief liar cheater criminal) and his accomplices definitely spoiled Christmas, but that’s not going to be forever. I am recovering and reclaiming.

    Little Hammer and I can do whatever we want and buy whatever we want and celebrate however we want without that phony jerk Scrooge McSkinflint Wetblanket Killjoy Buzzkill dampening the mood. Christmas Eve we are going to the Nutcracker in San Francisco. Santa is the guest conductor. It’s been a Christmas Eve tradition for me for decades and Traitor Ex won’t be missed.

    There is no greater gift than to be spending Christmas with my daughter. I would never have even considered doing anything to harm my family, and today I am so glad I didn’t.

    • PS

      A personal note to “guess who I am”, who evidently thinks I am your ex wife….

      You are not my ex husband.

      I recommend verifying the facts before speaking or acting.

  • I went to a Christmas party last night, won the ugly sweater contest, and got a nice white elephant gift after all the swapping. The food was delightful, as was the company.

    I did some errands in the morning and have work tasks this afternoon. Ah, the blessings and curses of working remotely. I mostly can choose what time I work, but I have some “by the end of day” things, including some mandatory online training. As if they are truly going to check tomorrow to see if I did it? I’ll get it done anyway.

    Both adult kids are going out with friends tomorrow, but we will have Christmas eve together, and then open presents the next day. Yes, there was a box from the ex that I opened, but the kids said they didn’t want to look inside until after Christmas. They haven’t seen him or talked to him in over five years now and have been no contact for three years. He still sends things, trying to pull at their heartstrings. I don’t get in the middle.

    So it’s a good Christmas season other than being beastly cold today.

  • I HAVE to express my gratitude for Chump lady. I read you every night before bed which so much better than.STB- Xh unrelenting physical demands and tantrums when he didn’t or even if he did get what he wanted. Peace at last. His last AP he used a hospital bed at the job he worked at to do her. That was the last straw. I moved into a 600 Sq ft apartment 2 months ago and will have my son and daughter in law plus 2 grands squeeze in for Christmas eve. I invited another chump for Christmas day left overs. No crying for me. Divorce going on and on but no contact is s w e e t and calming. I love my new silent nights. I am no longer being used like a vending machine and disrespected. Worth living in a shoe box forever. God has given me a gift this Christmas and it is to fly solo and find me after 32years. My first husband had an AP and left me on the delivery room table. My second one waits 32 years. I am so happy to have no man to hurt me ever again. Thank you all for caring!! Happy Holidays without the turkey!

  • I have no plans, no recipes, nothing to add. I just wanted to say how much I love your writing, CL! Made me smile, and that’s good enough for this weekend. 🙂

  • Thank you for everything this year CL. Although Dday was back late in 2016 this is my first official Christmas OUT. I left cheaterpants this year and am about to travel into fw territory for the sake of my child. I don’t feel great about it, I feel like it’s kinda giving them false hope having the family ‘back together’ on inlaw territory, but it’s given me firmer ideas about How Things Should Go for next year. God (and CN) give me the strength to endure fw and his family (only upside – this kind of stuff serves as a great reminder as to why we’re not together in the first place anymore, so much enabling) until I can leave again and go do my own thing. This year has been crappy for so many people, myself included, but it has opened my eyes too, my child and I have been wrapped up in lovingkindness by people we hardly know, my work community have been pillars and it’s really let me see that common decency is not such a high expectation. I’m at a a low, but this is the beginning of the upswing. Thanks everyone for all your wise, insightful words and inspired living. Take care over this most mindfucky of seasons, and remember how fucking mighty you all are. Thank you Tracy, mother of a nation, and CL and I know nothing about puppies, I’m more of a cat person, but can appreciate cute-but-naughty. Happy Holidays.

  • I’ve been going through a rough patch. Lost my job and I’m struggling to make ends meet on the part-time work I can cobble together. But I’m still enjoying a low-key Christmas. I will be spending time at home, cozy on the couch with a book. Well my son is with the ex, I’ve been entertaining myself by reading over zoom to my niece and nephew. Once my boy is home, we will be baking cookies and enjoying the things that matter. I’m looking forward to the new year when hopefully hiring will pick up. Even slightly challenging times are better when you don’t have a f*** wit lying about!! Happy holidays to CL and CN.

  • It’s gonna be a very quiet week. Anyone I’d visiting is out of town until the new year. I plan to work on a photo project, clear up some messy closets and enjoy some television binging.

    If this storm knocks out my power, my plans may change to get into my car and find a warmer climate that has power and room service.

  • I am working in a veterinary ER both Christmas and New Year’s. Staying busy caring for animals and their worried owners keeps me focused on others during the holidays and I don’t think about the Kaiser of Loathesomeness. ‘Tis the season of “tinsel kitties” and “chocolate dogs” (things eaten that land pets in the hospital), so I know the ER will be jumping. Please, no pine-cone elf GI obstructions or Stollen bloats!

  • Wow, I just realized it’s been 8 years since my last Christmas with my ex. I can’t even remember what we did… I’m sure he got drunk and stormed out. I always used to have to beg him to stay home with us. I always bought my own gifts and wrapped them too. I can laugh about it now. I have been at meh for the past few years and I have to say I’m happier than I ever imagined I could be. I’ll be spending Christmas with my 11 year old and my husband of 1 year (he and his mom were chumped by his dad so he gets it- and he’s a nerd with a heart of gold ❤️). We’ll be eating tamales and exchanging gifts. Never imagined I’d ever love again, trust again, or get remarried.. but life really does go on. Couldn’t have done it without CL and CN. Happy holidays to all.

  • Merry Christmas Monty, you have the best time with all those yummy & fun Christmas things!! I had a great giggle reading today xo.

    I’m 2 years from DDay,
    divorced this year ✅ ,
    my financial settlement done ✅ , child support agreement done ✅ .

    Wow I cannot believe I am really FW free.I get the wobbles only about once a week now, I still walk lots, think lots, sometimes have days of not coping.

    My C day will be with my best friends family, another friend and my 12 yr old until 2. A shared cooking lunch. Then, I fly to my boyfriends that afternoon, 1 hr away. I feel so happy & lucky.

    After 9 months in a new relationship (also a chump of 33 years!), I am in a safe emotionally, I am loved, I can simply relax and be me. It has been incredibly healing for both of us to be within an honest caring respectful reciprocal relationship. I had no idea what normal was like and actually it is marvellous!!

    After the rain, the sun has come out. And it smells so sweet.

    This blog truely saved my sanity and gave me strength through the darkest days. I am grateful beyond words.

    Thank-you Tracey. Have a wonderful Christmas day.💕

    From sunny Brisbane, Australia

  • Due to storm, All three of us are home. We have spent most of the day chilling and baking. Oatmeal/raisin cookies, brownies, choc.chip cookies and apple crumble. House smalls great! We are watching The Muppetts x-mas Christmass Carol. Tomorrow is turkey with a close friend joining us. Happy Solstice, and all around good New Year!

    • The Muppets “Christmas Carol” is hands down one of the best Christmas movies ever! My lovely now-husband and I watch it every Christmas Eve. And I still cry at the end, every time!

  • I am going to enjoy the next two night listening to live music and attend services. I will have my boys over to my apartment to open their presents from their grandparents and I, followed by building said presents on Christmas Day. Then we will make mini pizzas and enjoy some of the week together.

  • I’m working a bit on Christmas Eve while my two teens are with FW for a couple of hours- extremely grateful the kids opted to NOT spend ALL of Christmas eve traveling with their father and I will get them for the night- we’re keeping it casual eating “hoagies” (aka “subs”, or sandwiches on rolls) drinking hot chocolate, eating all the christmas cookies we made, and watching Polar Express (they are 18 and 15 but my youngest still likes to watch this every Christmas eve). Christmas day is also just the three of us (and our 2 cats). I’m making a fire and we have cinnamon buns for breakfast, then lots of cooking for our more fancy dinner on Christmas night (steaks, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, brussel sprouts and 4 different pies that my boy will make). On the 27th my very cool niece will come for dinner (my ONLY non-switzerland family member and the only one I’m in contact with). She’s coming in from Michigan (we’re in PA) and we haven’t seen her for over a year so I’m looking forward to it. Happy Holidays Chumps!!!

  • My pup and I are driving across the desert to get together with my long distance bf! 5 1/2 hrs, but I find it goes by quick with good music. We’re going to spend Christmas together, cooking and enjoying being in the same place for a week, and then drive together to where he lives in CA. I’m going to spend a month there. It will be so nice to have a break from the snow and cold temps, and just to have the chance to spend all that time with him. I’m glad I’m able to have an adventure when I feel like it, freedom feels so good.
    Happy Holidays all you wonderful chumps around the world!

  • All my adult children and my grandchildren with me for Christmas Day. I’m lucky, my girls all pitch in (I have three daughters, one son), and we love the christmas chaos! Midnight mass and a ‘Gino’s bucks fizz’ before night nights Christmas Eve where my small canine companions also wait for fallen snacks as I’m stuffing in the twiglets (they’re like marmite…love ‘em/hate ‘em)…
    Chums over for fizz, more food and games on Boxing Day. Christmas just the way I like it..
    Happy festivities to you all, however you do it, and may the new year be kind to you🥰

  • Well, while trying to set up TWO holiday parties at work, I did the self own of a lifetime when I put out a staff email asking to borrow an extra crock. Except I left out the *r* in crock. Apparently much hilarity ensued at my expense. Very glad I could give everyone a good laugh and a nice luncheon of soups and cookies.
    When I recovered, I got an extra day off due to the storm and finished an enormous oil painting to ship.
    House is so so decorated ( good enough), all gifts waiting for family.
    Kinda burnt the blueberry muffin cake ( still good enough ) but I have a snug home, bills paid, could splurge on gifts for everyone and myself this year. First time in a long time I had enthusiasm and no worries about gifts or groceries for big meal. Many family depend on me for hosting the holiday at my house.

    Oh, yeah- Hey, Tracy! My kids replaced my house Roomba- that one that I loved, because the last one hit puppy dookie. The brand new ones detect 💩 and swerve around. Word.

  • File this under miscellaneous – Donald Trump cheated on all three wives and every girlfriend. He bragged about it. He cheated on his wives when they were engaged, first got married, while they were pregnant and when he had infant children. Whenever I read articles about him I think of all of the patterns cheaters have in their toolbox that this website has helped me see with my cheater-ex and no matter what happens Trump follows every single one of them. Today he is a “sad sausage” because he can’t believe he was being blamed for the January 6 insurrection.

    I get flashbacks just hearing or reading any news about this man. If there was an award or some sort of something for champion fuckwit cheaters he’d win it handsdown. No one DARVOs better than Trump on every single issue.

    • “Today he is a “sad sausage” because he can’t believe he was being blamed for the January 6 insurrection.”

    • I was really enjoying reading about everyone’s holiday plans, post holiday as it is. Then I came upon your post. You had to ruin it all by throwing politics into it, huh?? WTF? There’s a time and a place and this wasn’t it. 🙄

  • We’re snowed in and enjoying it. My son and his sweetie are playing music. At mealtimes they join me for simple cozy food like soup and dumplings. We don’t do gifts anymore, we just put money in a Jar over the year and after Christmas we split it. My friends are all snowed in too so we’re doing virtual book club aka video chat about everything but the book.

    I know nothing about puppies but Monty is the cutest and I believe in him!

    Happy holidays, chump Nation, it’s so nice to read how you’re surviving and thriving.

  • Monty dog is the cutest guy!! Great description of his naughtiness CL, could practically picture his intense need to secure some stollen from you. Animals are so awesome, they can enliven any kind of day!
    I have a little crack head doggie myself who loses his mind if he hears the reddi whip container from frig discharging if he is anywhere within a 5 mile radius. ( I squirt a tiny dollop in his dish and his world is complete for that moment)
    I make a Christmas Italian cookie every year( Rococo) from a recipe I got years ago from ex’s grandma. Christmas doesn’t feel complete without them. It’s an involved process, they are similar to biscottis in that they are hard and can last for weeks and weeks in a paper bag. They have tangerine and orange rinds( 12-15), about 4 lbs of almonds and hazelnuts, ground cloves, a dozen eggs and flour and take the better part of the day to make about 70.
    Max( my Yorkie born on Christmas Day 6 years ago, named after the Grinch’s dog) loves rococo even more than whipped cream, so a peaceful cup of coffee with a cookie is completely out of the question. (I can’t even blame him either!)
    I’m with my three adult kids now at my son’s place and his live in wonderful gf.
    We are having a really fun time together, even got a little snow in Dallas to watch and it’s single digit cold with the winter storm, so it’s like my NE Christmases of old, which I fondly love.
    I have been cooking and baking up a storm my 10 days here and it’s greatly appreciated, which is a nice bonus.
    Tonight ( Christmas Eve) even I’m getting a break as we will go to a great steakhouse for a very different change of pace for a 10 PM meal ( only reservation available) and probably be up most of the night playing games, talking and laughing together.
    I feel mighty blessed to have my family to love, Santa has nothing in his sleigh I would ever want instead.
    Merry Christmas to you all!!🎄❤️💚🎅🏻
    May the peace and love of the season find you wherever you are, alone or surrounded by many.
    The little joys of life are all buried in our tragedies, feels good to be able to dig a few up every now and then and make the most of them. I’m very thankful for that. ❄️☃️

  • I drove 15 hours over 2 days to get my4 teens and me to the Alps. We will spend Xmas on the slopes. This is the first holiday without FW and I am so proud of myself for getting us here after the worst 6 months of my life. I wasn’t prepared for all the memories that would hit me on the journey and when we arrived….but am determined to make many new great ones this week. Love to all of you. Reading this column and all the advice and experiences if CN has helped me enormously xxx

  • My daughter is 6 so I’m excited for this “peak Santa“ year and doing a low-key taco dinner with my mom instead of the big stressful roast and trimmings my FW always insisted on. Then I’m having a day of Thai food and binge-watching on the 26th to rest from this chaotic year. Even though we’re in the middle of the divorce I sent out Christmas cards from me and my daughter – did a professional photo shoot and everything. It was very empowering and I’m enjoying lots of nice texts today from recipients (most of whom know my story).

  • Getting ready to go for a holiday feast. Hogged two kinds of pie for breakfast, all vegan, no lard in the crust, out of respect for my fellow 🐷. Youngest bought me a beautiful Havanese dog calender, my favorite breed. 😀 It’s a tradition that she gets me a different dog calender every year.

    Just want to say, in the spirit and Monty Dog and of my dogs, feliz naughtydog to all! ❤

  • Merry Xmas to CL and all of CN!🎅🏼🎄 Monty is too cute. I showed the picture of him to my son (my youngest) and he agreed.

    Other than my son stopping by at 1400 to give me a Xmas present (unasked for, and he told me about it only last night when I took him out for dinner), I’m simply working four hours today (as I text!😂) for FedEx Express from 0900-1300.

    Then going home, changing, seeing my son for a short bit, and then off to my long time friend’s house for Xmas dinner, made by her stay-at-home husband. He’s a good cook, but a bit of a narc as well. She and I were pharmacist partners back in the 90’s, and we try to get together every month or every other month thru the year.

    She unexpectedly invited me over for Xmas dinner this past mid-week, so I scrambled to get a couple of gourmet desserts from my local bakeries, some wines (her husband is a bit of a wine junkie), and some hard cider for myself if they insist on me joining them for alcohol.

    I heard from my youngest daughter today. She’s been incommunicado for the past few weeks, but texted me a merry Xmas, which was nice. My oldest, also a daughter, is still not speaking to me because she decided to act like her mother (they almost could be clones in so many ways, not just physically, which they are) around me about a year and a half ago, and didn’t like my enforcement of boundaries. I’m slowly trying to get her to talk w/me again, but it’s not all her fault, so I’m being patient.

    So, alone yet not alone today. Still very happy to be free of the FW XW. Still ignoring her relatively recent request to be on cordial terms w/me. I’m always up for civil, but cordial is a bridge too far, after her exit-affairing me w/her older, richer boss. Life’s too short for that bullshit, and I’ve better things to do w/my life’s energy, small though it may be.

    So, happy holidays to all (Chanukah, Kwanza, etc.). And may we all enjoy our day hopefully fuckwit free. It’s great that we’re all there for each other.

  • Happy holidays to CL and CN! Best Christmas ever … post 2019 divorce. DD and I have conveniently moved inconveniently far enough away from fucktard (and his traveling band of fuckwits) that all our Christmas’ shall be merry and bright.
    New job, new town, new life. 2 cats and one mortgage with money in the bank.

    Ohhhh glorious CN! Thank you for the love and support. To those still struggling … don’t look back, you aren’t going that way ❤️ It. Gets. Better. Trust the process. XOXOX

    Best wishes to all.

    • Nice to hear your doing well and Merry Christmas
      . Thank you very much for the words of encouragement! Hope was needed this year.

  • I’m so happy to read everyone’s GAL Christmas good times. Gives me something to look forward to.

    I’m not able to sleep as I am stewing because I am still living with klootzak and he is being himself. First, he gave our main credit card number to a phishing fake website. He caught it before there were fraudulent charges but now that card is shut down while we wait a week for a new one.

    Also, klootzak refused to refill the oil tank for our furnace when I told him to in the fall and we ran out of furnace oil on Christmas Eve. So I am running the gas fireplace and a space heater and wearing thermal underwear and under electric blankets (same for kiddo) until I get the oil company to come out and fill us.

    And the not unexpected of receiving klootzak’s I’m-buying-you-a-few-presents-to-show-face-for-the-child plus what he bought me on our child’s behalf. Two candles in scents he knows I hate (I don’t do floral scented candles ever! Balsam, vanilla, peppermint, citrus, firewood… anything but floral), a charger for my phone that doesn’t work with my phone, and a large box of all dark chocolate (I don’t eat dark chocolate). In short, 4 gifts that said Fuck You. What did I take our child out with me to buy him? Three nice shirts, a belt, a book from his Amazon wish list, a board game he can play with our child, a bottle of very good honey (and he actually uses honey to sweeten his coffee), and an herb garden kit. Our son was so happy to see his father happy with the things we picked out. He had no idea what things klootzak had bought and stuck his name on. These weren’t witless choices; they were malicious. I’m very much not meh about it. I’m not unraveling the skein of why he would do such a thing because I don’t care. This is not acceptable to me.

    I will never ever sit next to the Christmas tree opening presents with klootzak. And I’m not one bit sad about it. Not sentimental for the good old mirage days one bit. I can only think how much merrier Christmas – and EVERY day – will be without him ruining them.

    Thank you, CN, for sharing all the examples of how good and pleasant Christmas can be after you purge disordered FWs from your life. We have a finite number of days on this earth and I have already wasted too many tethered to this twit. Next year will be very different!

  • I am holidaying two hours drive away with my kids in an airbnb. I invited the ex to spend a few hours on Christmas day with the kids. Not that I want anything to do with her, but I respect the kids’ right to see their mum. It’s a very nice place close to the beach, on the sunshine coast in QLd Australia.
    Two weeks ago I received an email from her, asking me to pay more child support.
    We are divorced , everything is settled for 3 years now. The ex used the money she received at settlement as a initial payment for an apartment. She was left with a modest mortgage. 7 interest rate rises later and she has trouble making the mortgage repayments – or in other words she bought something she couldn’t afford. And wanted to make this my problem.
    My lawyer told her, that as part of our settlement, I already pay more child support compared to what the official ruling would be – and that this is documented in a legally binding court document. There was no way I would pay more.
    Christmas – she arrived all smiling and friendly . I just smiled back and went to the gym, whilst she had time with the kids.
    Merry Christmas

  • I had a little party with my best friend last week, then for Christmas eve I had my in laws (mother, father, sister and her kids) over, as well as my mom and brother. FW died September 2022, so that first Christmas was a bit subdued for my kiddo. But this year it was family and fun. It was my first time having everyone to my place (I have my own apartment, which is lovely), and everyone complimented how I’ve done it up. We had chili and cookies and so many presents. My son lost his dad, but he gained a set of grandparents, an aunt and uncle, and two cousins (FW didn’t have a relationship with his family and my son hadn’t seen them since he was two – he is so happy now). I treated myself to a serger as a gift, something I’ve been wanting for a long time but could never afford. Then I got to watch the Call the Midwife Christmas special (yay!).

    Living my best life, FW free.

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