Letter From The Editor: Celebrations

Are you ready to celebrate?

Celebrations | A Practical Wedding

Dear APW,

It’s been quite a year. As December rolls around, I’m more than ready to talk about celebrations. For me, this month is all about the celebration of surviving our baby’s first year. This time last year we had a teeny tiny days old baby with some major digestion screaming issues. We were over the moon, but we were also very very tired. This year? It’s just a new (happier) normal. This month we’re also celebrating getting through completely rebuilding APW from the ground up before the kid’s first birthday. (Who in the hell signs themselves up for that kind of shit? Lord.) It’s about enjoying the slowing pace of work, time off, and time with my family. In short: I bought a gold glitter dress at Forever 21 that makes me look like an Oscar, and I’m ready to wear it.

For the first time ever in December, the APW staff decided to go easy, and just have as much fun as we can. We put our heads together and decided we’ll be doing APW gift guides this year, inspired by our people and your probable shopping list. (Who actually knows what to get for your new In-Laws, right?) Apparently gift guides are the staff’s favorite thing about the internet in December (they were one of the first things I started reading on the blog-o-sphere, back in 2004), and we have no idea why we didn’t start doing them years ago. So let’s celebrate that.

For me, this year has been about survival. It’s been tough in a whole lot of ways, but that toughness has somehow let me thrive. So now that the kid is mostly sleeping through the night, I’m ready to go. Let’s celebrate where we are, what we’ve come through, and where we’re going…come hell or high water.

What are you ready to celebrate? Let’s put together a list of small joys.


Photo by Gabriel Harber

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  • TeaforTwo

    It’s no small joy, but I am getting married in 12 days.

    This is my favourite time of year, and we’ve found a way to make 2013 an extra festive one. I can’t wait to have all of our people in one place, put on sparkly shoes, make enormous promises and then drink champagne.

    • Congratulations!!

    • Kendra D


    • Kristin

      I’m getting married in 12 days too! I am so excited to celebrate our love with great people, great food, and some really great wine. Congratulations and good luck!

    • Alyssa M

      “Have all of our people in one place, put on sparkly shoes, make enormous promises and then drink champagne”

      I think that may be my favorite way ever to describe getting married.

  • Kendra D

    We’re celebrating our imminent return to the US. After 3+ years living abroad in two different countries on two different continents, we finally get to move back in February. These will be our last holidays spent on the opposite side of the world from our families and we couldn’t be more excited to cross them off, pack everything up, and relocate again.

    • TeaforTwo

      Oh, what a wonderful feeling! I spent six years living several hours away from my family (not the same, I know!) and then one living an ocean away. When I finally moved home, I realized just how much I had missed them. Now we see each of our families a couple of times a month, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

  • Superfantastic

    I’m celebrating having my husband home all month, including Christmas, New Years Eve, and our first anniversary in between. He’s been on a months-long deployment earlier this year and two shorter ones, including over Thanksgiving. Being able to celebrate together is cause for celebration for me.

    • Jessica

      Yay! I’m so happy for you two! Enjoy yourselves!

    • Kendra D

      I’m glad he gets to be home with you this holiday season! I hope y’all have a fabulous time together!

      • Superfantastic

        Thanks, everybody!

    • Meigh McPants

      Wonderful! Thank you both for your service, and I hope your holidays/anniversary are spectacular.

  • Margi

    My 5 year relationship just ended, as if this time of year wasn’t hard enough, so I have no small joys at the moment. Here’s hoping I can bask in the reflected joy of the rest of the APW community.

    • Class of 1980

      That is hard.

      Let’s hope this ending opens the door for a new beginning when you’re ready.

    • a single sarah


      Right there with you. I’m celebrating that the library has lots of material to binge read to give me escape.

      • KC

        Libraries are awesome.

        (as is Project Gutenberg, depending on your toleration for fiction written a long time ago. Actual dime novels with melodrama and ludicrous coincidences ladled in with a bucket! (try Laura Jean Libbey and you will laugh all the way through, although I’m pretty sure you’re *supposed* to be In Suspense and whatnot – it’s like a really bad soap opera, condensed, in a book) P.G. Wodehouse for your dose of frivolous British humorous fiction! L.M. Montgomery for restful Canadian fiction. Probably most of the books you had to read for High School English or basic college lit classes! Anyway. It’s a useful site for non-recent reading matter, no returns necessary. :-) )

        • a single sarah

          Adding Laura Jean Libbey to my Goodreads list. Do not know her, but am so excited to learn more.

          • KC

            Seriously, she is a so-terrible-it-is-awesome one.

            I read a book by her yesterday which contained two instances of discovering-the-child-you-thought-was-dead (plus additional “discovering the adult you thought was dead” instances), four vengeance-based attempted-but-not-successful murders (two of which are circumstantially blamed on the wrong person), two unexpected inheritances, three successful costumes/unrecognitions, a going-blind-and-then-falling-off-a-balcony-and-going-unblind-just-in-time-to-see-your-fiance-flirting-with-someone-else, floral prophecy, a fortune-teller coincidence, two kidnappings (one of them an attempted forced elopement), a carriage wreck which almost kills both occupants, a carriage wreck that *does* kill one of the occupants (who then has a dying wish based off a total misunderstanding of another character’s request), a surprise (consensual) elopement, and lots, lots more. In one book. Wherein four of the central characters are, at the beginning of the book, bookbinders. It’s really quite something.

            No royalty-falling-in-love-with-the-shopgirl, though. :-)

    • Chiara M

      Hang in there, sweet pea. You’ll find the joy somewhere.

    • Margi (and a single sarah), I am so sorry. (And I am also there with you, but mine ended in July…) I wish you both healing and rest and a community that supports you through this difficult time…

  • Laura C

    I just ordered this sparkly top, and I’m looking forward to having a place to wear it. I’m not feeling real optimistic about the next few weeks because A is going to be super busy and stressed, and he’s the “let’s celebrate” half of the couple that is us. But I’m hoping we’ll figure out something lovely to do for NYE, and then January 1 we will host our epic hangover brunch, which is the best.

  • Caroline

    In a couple weeks, I will be celebrating finishing our first semester with both my partner and I in school. It has been a real challenge (complete with moving during midterms), but we are almost done with the first semester!

  • Dani

    Last week my fancy pet rat made it through surgery to get a cancerous lump removed. It may sound small, but it’s a huge point of celebration for my fiance and I. It’s been the one thing we can’t stop talking about! Never mind the wedding planning, we can talk about the table decor another day, but don’t you wanna hear about how Tyr had a successful lumpectomy? He was a little trooper :)

    • Colleen

      Yay! My cat is coming up on the one-year anniversary of his perineal urethrostomy and he’s been doing great :-)

    • Laura C

      I know “fancy” must be some kind of technical term, but I’m totally picturing a rat in pearls.

      Know what you mean, though. My cat had a small cancer removed from the top of his head about a year and a half ago and it was not a small thing in my life.

      • a single sarah

        I know someone who had a cancerous lump removed from a goldfish. I think any surgery on those you love counts a a major event :)

      • KC

        That would be really, really hilarious and cute. Pearls and a feather behind the ear, maybe?

        (and yes! pets are not a small thing.)

  • Emily

    We had a banner year: engaged in January, moved into a great new rental house in June (with a yard!), married in August. Will hopefully get pregnant this month!

    But for small joys: mastering our new smoker, throwing our first Grown Up Party for Christmas, and creating the perfect cheesy Christmas card, which involves Christmas sweaters, ridiculous expressions, and a very pissed off cat in reindeer antlers.

    • Ariel

      I would love to see that card!

  • Samantha

    Normally I love this time of year. I get so excited about the holidays, decorating, baking, holiday music, and so on. This year I’m just not into it at all. I think it’s because my wedding is Jan. 11. I think I have to expend so much energy in the direction of the wedding that there is none left for the holidays which is really disappointing. Anyone experience this during planning?

    • TeaforTwo

      Ha yes! I wanted a “Christmas wedding” and had originally thought about getting married on the Feast of the Holy Innocents, but then I thought that wedding anxiety and logistical planning might ruin Christmas for me. Now we are getting married on the 14th, but I am still so wedding-focussed that I haven’t had a chance to do much Christmassing. We’re not having a tree because we’ll be on our honeymoon right up to Christmas (which we’ll spend at our families’ places), and I haven’t even thought about when I’ll have time to do Christmas shopping. Whoops!

    • kc

      Yes – I had a “big deal birthday” during wedding planning, and it, um, kind of vanished. (sending out invitations! fabrics! so much to deal with!)

      On the plus side, there will be holidays next year. And my experience was that the “absent” celebration was just not that interesting – I mean, it’s like being offered some fancy pie while you’re extremely full – one part of you regrets not being able to eat the fancy pie, but most of you is just *full* and not interested in the pie. Let go of as much regret or feeling “cheated” or whatever as possible and aim to enjoy as much of wedding planning as possible and, for Big Holiday Excitement, just say “next year!” :-)

      • Shotgun Shirley

        Pie is such an excellent analogy, and not just because of the pie I just. couldn’t. eat. on Tday.

        • KC

          There may possibly have been some contextual holiday inspiration there… ;-)

      • Lizzie C.

        Same here- my 30th birthday was exactly a week before our wedding, and for the first time in my life I had no party at all. It was my choice, and my bridesmaids brought a pinata to the wedding for me to whack, but I’m still a little bummed. Maybe I’ll make up for it with a big 31st-birthday bash.

        • KC

          Go for it! 31 is the new 21! (or, um, something like that)

    • Lindsey d.

      Same here and our wedding isn’t until mid-March! Football season was a bust for me, and not just because our football team was only middling this year (only in the SEC is a 10-win season a little disappointing). And Hanukkah/Christmas are being overlooked as well. Normally I’m pretty much done shopping by Thanksgiving; this year, nada. Add to it that we are preparing my house to put on the market in January and won’t be putting up decorations this year. So it’s a bit blah. Hoping to put some holiday spirit in my step vicariously, though…

    • Superfantastic

      Our wedding was December 29 last year and it was like we sort of skipped Christmas. It’s making me doubly excited to go all out this year though.

  • Kayjayoh

    Today we get some early practice in the “in sickness and in health thing”, as my fiance has a minor surgery this afternoon. Nothing to serious, but I get to leave work early, pick him up, and help take care of his groggy self later on today. While I’m not celebrating that he needs surgery, I am celebrating that is it minor, that he has the healthcare, that he can take the sick time, that I have a job I can leave early from without penalty, and most of all, that we have each other.

    • Kayjayoh

      Following up, he was actually doing quite well post-surgery, and wasn’t even in any pain. By the time he went to bed last night, he still hadn’t bothered with any of the narcotic painkillers he’d been prescribed. So I am celebrating that, as well.

  • Anna

    Thanks for reminding me that there should be some celebrating going on! I usually love Christmas (and my birthday, which is a couple of weeks afterwards) but this year I’m wedding planning, I’m moving continents, and trying to get a bunch of thing done for my dissertation, and I just can’t think about anything beyond what I have to get done each day. So looking forward for the move to happen and this long slog to end…

  • Anonymous

    This fall there’s been so much to celebrate: I switched jobs, we got engaged (thanks in part to a disastrous performance on a television game show), and my fiance just got a great new job offer. Excited to share the celebrating with everyone APW this month!!

    • Lindsey d.

      I want to hear this engagement story!

      • Anonymous

        Hahaha it was crazy! Basically, the bf and I had been dating for a long time and planned to get married eventually, but because of my student loans decided to put it off for a long time, as we were committed and felt that getting married mattered but wouldn’t change how we felt about each other. Then I suddenly got a call to be a contestant on a game show (which, because of all the legal releases I had to sign I probably shouldn’t name), and my secret plan was to win enough money that I could pay off my loans and our obstacles to engaged-ness would be removed. It was foolproof!

        BUT then I crashed and burned on the show so spectacularly that they aren’t even going to televise my performance. Humiliated and heartbroken, I waited until I met up with him to burst into tears, crying that “now we have to wait forever to get married!” He consoled me and we told each other again how much we meant to each other. The next evening, he came home and said that getting married does matter more than we thought it did, so let’s do it! And so now we’re planning a wedding. A weird and unexpected turn of events, but somehow perfect for us. :)

        • KC

          That is a fantastic story!

          And congratulations on being on the road to get married!

        • Lindsey d.

          Yay! That is an awesome story! I love it!

  • Caiti_D

    Lots of big joys this year, but small? We’re happy, healthy and warm!

  • Shotgun Shirley

    Big changes coming up next year, so I’m celebrating what a great year this has been… and my 2.5 yr old is finally sleeping through the night too! (Ack, that took a while, but one night – on vacation, too – it was like a switch was flipped.)

  • I’m celebrating the end of a really big year (there was Africa, and photographs, and so much growth it made my head spin) and gearing up for another (major thanks to APW on that). Beyond happy, and hey – proud of myself!

  • I’m going all out this Christmas. Two Christmases ago, I got married, and we had a lean Christmas since all the money went to the wedding. Last Christmas, my almost ex husband lost another job (the fourth or fifth that year), and so it was another lean Christmas. This Christmas I am celebrating the end of a dysfunctional marriage and a million new possibilities. This Christmas feels magical and exciting, and this is seriously the happiest I have been in what feels like forever.
    I’m slightly worried about my wedding anniversary on the 17th. What can I do to make it feel like a normal Tuesday – or anything other than the anniversary of the worst mistake of my life? I don’t want to slide into a depression right before Christmas.

    • Lizzie C.

      Sounds like you’re due a big Christmas for sure! How about going out with some girlfriends on the 17th and toasting everything you have to celebrate? I know it’s a Tuesday, but I bet friends would still consider it a good reason to go out on a school night.

    • Jacki

      I second Lizzie’s idea – get some friends together and toast to your new beginnings on the 17th, if you can! While that day may be a little sensitive this year (and maybe in future years) you can celebrate the positive changes you now get to make.

    • Sarah E

      Any local theater productions of Christmas plays or caroling events happening? Can you gather a friend or two for something festive- ice skating or window shopping or sharing your favorite hot drink while looking at lights or watching your fave Christmas movie? Best of luck for a merry Christmas and a better and better new year :-)

    • KC

      Depends where you are, but some cities have a soup kitchen *somewhere* every night of the week. I don’t know if volunteering there in the evening might help. (volunteering makes me feel good; feeding people makes me feel good; realizing how much I have [friends and family and stability and “stuff”] compared to many makes me feel sort of good and sort of guilty for feeling grumpy) Helping with a toy collection drive or a food bank might also be a volunteering option?

      Or, indeed, collect people for something festive or fun that they’re likely too busy to do on the weekends (or host a present-wrapping or card-addressing or cookie-baking party to make a fun thing out of something they have to get done anyway).

      And, um, maybe not helpful, but at least if you’ve got the Worst Mistake of Your Life already over with, in theory it should be better from here on out all the way to 100? :-)

  • Meigh McPants

    We’ve been having one of those “emotional growth” years. You know, the ones with lots of awesome and terrible and not much in the middle? We bought our first house! We lost my beloved grandmama. We got a new puppy! My stepdad had to have open heart surgery and nearly died from complications. We renovated our kitchen ourselves, like badasses! We managed to not get pregnant yet after months of expensive trying. So, I’m really trying to focus on those small joys right about now. We got to spend Thanksgiving with my family and watch my stepfather slowly become himself again. I called my marvelous aunt for the recipe and made her ridiculous chocolate chess pie. (It almost made it 24 hours in the fridge. Nom.) The wife and I decimated the Target christmas section yesterday and are prepping for our first holiday in our own home. (Okay, I decimated and the wife looked on indulgently. Same difference.) It really is the small stuff that makes you grateful to be here. I’m going to to make a cup of tea, put on some very tall socks, and get back to work, but thanks for the reminder to celebrate the little stuff too.

    • a single sarah

      I latched onto chocolate chess pie. Am now googling recipes. And being grateful :)

      • Meigh McPants

        It’s sooo good, and super easy. Also? Add pecans. You’re welcome.

    • K2

      Wow, “emotional growth” seems like a really productive way to frame it. I’ve just been thinking “This year sucks, and all these terrible things are keeping us from enjoying all the great things.” My grandmother died. I found out I was pregnant!/My cousin got married! (same day, 2 weeks after Grandma died.) Several other relatives/friends died. Several beautiful new babies! Relative hospitalized for suicidal plans. Uncle had a stroke. Etc., Etc., Etc. Bad emotions + good emotions = too many emotions, period.

  • MC

    Our cat survived his first road trip to Fiance’s parents’ house!! We love our cat to death and I was a little nervous about how he would handle the car trip and being in a new house. He was not happy in the car but he survived, and he was a perfect house guest and everyone in our family loved him.

    And speaking of family, my dad and brother joined Fiance’s side of the family for Thanksgiving dinner and it was SO GREAT! Even though I didn’t think it would be terrible, the fact that everyone got along so well is very relieving. We are looking forward to the next celebration where family come together – our wedding!

  • Jacki

    Hell yes, let’s celebrate! It’s been a weird year for me. Moving in with my honey has been a big adjustment. It’s all good, but it’s … more effort than I realized it would be. I’ve never lived with anyone but my ex-husband (and that didn’t go well … for many reasons). Plus, I’m having this weird emotional thing about turning 30 in a few months and not Being Where I Wanted to Be at 30, WHATEVER THAT MEANS, because hello, I didn’t even really KNOW where I wanted to be at 30 until maybe a year out, but still, it’s throwing me for a bit of a loop and I’m feeling pouty about not being able to travel RIGHT NOW because boring life stuff keeps getting in the (financial) way.

    All the more reason to celebrate the little joys, right?! So, an unexpected small joy for me is my fireplace. We’re cutting our furnace usage by at least half so far this year. This is actually more of a huge joy/relief for me, when I think about the length of winter and the price of heating oil.

  • Lizzie C.

    We’re finally going on our honeymoon more than a year post-wedding…and are kind of excited to be “missing” our family holidays as we skip the country. This year feels like the first time we get to have the Christmas we want instead of the one our parents want with us. With 3 deaths in the family, job changes, moving to a new town and making it through our newlywed phase, we don’t feel bad taking 10 days for ourselves. Because (as Meg put it) ADULTHOOD!

  • MEM

    I was all set to celebrate- only 3 weeks until the big day, only 2 weeks until I get to be home (I’m living long-distance for grad school) and christmas is coming, which is exciting. Then today I found out that my Nana has an aggressive strand of non-Hodgkins lymphoma which has already spread to the bone marrow. suddenly, celebrating doesn’t seem so important.

    • KH_Tas

      As much Internet sympathy as I can give

      • MEM

        thank you!

    • a single sarah

      *more hugs*

      • MEM

        thank you! the more hugs the better!

    • Ariel

      oh honey, I’m so sorry! *big ass bear hug*

  • lildutchgrrl

    My wife and I are celebrating the sudden change in our housing plans! We had planned to rent for a few more years (moving at the end of the year into some larger place suitable for an adoption homestudy), but I just found out that my grandmother left me an amount in her will that will let us bump up our down payment fund and purchase our first home instead. It’s kinda crazy.

  • My husband and I got our first Christmas tree together on Friday morning. He had to work, so I worked my butt off at home and got the house (mostly) decorated by the time he got home. This is his first ever live Christmas tree, which made it extra fun for both of us. Friday also marked 5 months of marriage, so we ordered takeout, basked in the christmas lights and watched a movie curled up on the couch. It was pretty much the perfect kind of holiday celebrating in my book.

  • elle

    I’m celebrating a long overdue bottle of champagne with far-away friends. xo

  • Jo

    Celebrating a large joy – this year the hubs and I seem to have cracked the code on communication, and we now don’t fight anymore, basically. Which, I used to think was impossible for couples, but now I see how it’s done. Only took us 8 years! :) Being someone who always wants to talk about everything and share and be honest, it took me a long time to figure out how to be respectful, kind, and bring things up in a constructive way. But it seems worth celebrating (along with many other big and small blessings in our lives… but those I can shout about elsewhere), esp. among this community. :)

  • Sakura

    Celebrating seeing all of my family that couldn’t make it to my wedding for the first time since we got married!
    Relishing time with my brand new baby niece and my gorgeous nearly-two-year-old nephew who I never get to see.
    Celebrating New Years Eve (and my husband’s 31st birthday) with some of my oldest friends.
    Celebrating surviving a really tough year that has been filled with so much joy mixed in with huge emotional trials.
    Celebrating the start of a new year as husband and wife by selling most of our belongings and making our plans to move overseas!
    Oooh and (hopefully this week) celebrating getting our wedding photos!

  • Ariel

    So many joys to celebrate this year: finally deciding to propose to my man & subsequently getting engaged, getting tenure, getting two observations marked “highly effective” (this is hard to do under the new evaluation system my state is using; I think I’m the only one at my school to get this), almost being done with my Masters (hopefully by the end of the month!), and I get to go to Hawaii for free with my job in February (what what!!). I don’t remember feeling this consistently content in a long time. It’s wonderful.

  • Alyssa M

    This list is awesome. I let listening to a perpetually negative person steal all my joy today, but these comments helped a lot.

    My joys? Getting Christmas and New Year’s off this year. My super awesome partner making thanksgiving happen for us, despite my work schedule, snow Wednesday, and my mother’s 50th tomorrow. :)