The other night we temporarily transformed our apartment into a cookie factory and baked a ton of cookies for the holidays—chocolate chip, cinnamon chip and chocolate mint chip—while watching Chevy Chase succumb to holiday psychosis in Christmas Vacation.
Usually the first batch of cookies gets a bit burnt on the bottom because we haven't figured out precisely how long to leave them in for yet (our cookie factory typically only opens once a year!) but this time each and every cookie came out perfectly. In the end things also worked out for Chevy Chase as his boss learned the error of his ways and decided to give Clark (Chevy) the bonus necessary to put in his planned swimming pool.
However, sometimes the holidays really are a full-fledged disaster. The pressure to be joyful can make us just the opposite if our lives are the slightest bit less than perfect. Financial problems, work stresses, falling out with friends, undergoing a break-up, fighting with family, illness, suffering the loss of a loved one or having to spend the holiday alone—any of these things (and many more) can infuse us with sadness, anger and feelings of deep frustation or dissatisfaction.
And so, although I hope your holidays are happy I also hope that if that's not in the cards for you this year that you can find a way to ditch the happy holiday pressure. Sometimes doing things for people that have it worse can help and sometimes we might feel better skipping the holiday entirely or breaking with previous traditions and spending it with different people and/or doing different things than usual. I think it's important to remember that now isn't always and that if are having a tough time now that next week, next month or next year you could be on top of the world.
With that in mind I want to wish everybody out there all the best for 2011! One of the things I'm really looking forward to is, of course, reading some great new YA books early in the new year. Here are some with late December or January release dates that I'm especially looking forward to and either have on order or recently picked up:
Truthfully, I finished Fall for Anything last week and it is stunning. Like Courtney Summers' previously novels it's extremely intense but Fall for Anything is my favourite of her books so far. I just loved Eddie and my heart ached for her as she tried to make some sense of her father's suicide. The books I love the most are the ones that make me feel something deeply and this is one of those books—a painful, truthful exercise in empathy.
One last thing, there are still a couple of days left to enter the contest to win signed copies of my three books at Ramblings of a Teenage Bookworm. Contest closes December 27th!