So that I might enjoy some blog time off for my birthday, GWAS friend Zoe Foster has ditched her regular online digs in order to amuse us all with some Christmas holiday antics inspired by her latest book, Textbook Romance (Penguin, $24.95). What a treat!
For those not familiar with her impressive body of work, Foster is a beauty editor by day (director of Primped.com.au via Harper's BAZAAR and Cosmopolitan), Cosmopolitan's dating columnist and an author (if you loved her debut, Air Kisses, you will luuurve her upcoming Playing the Field, too).
She's also exquisite to look at, funny and smells good: the kind of glistening package that you'd be stoked to unwrap on Christmas morning if you were a boy. In fact, she'd make a pretty tree ornament, too.
But enough with the flattery – here's what she has to say about handling your holiday relational pickles with the utmost diplomacy (ha!), with gratuitous random Christmas flick pics added for festive visual excitement...
GWAS scenario: Your ex is at the same pub/club with his new girlfriend....
Zoe says: If your gut feeling is the desire to throw something (a punch, your drink, that poker machine), I suggest leaving. There’s no valor in staying put when the environment (or rather the company) upsets you, and there are plenty of establishments that serve vodka. If you’re feeling okay about seeing him and his new lover, I still suggest leaving, or at least situating yourself in a different area of the pub because even if you two are cool, just knowing he’s there will impact on your evening and taint your jovial festive energy.
GWAS scenario: A cute boy makes eyes with you just as you are about to leave the venue and head to your mum's for supper...
Zoe says: Catch his eye right back, lower your head a little, tuck your hair behind your ear and flash him your Super Dazzling Smile. You know, the one that comes when you find $20 in your jacket pocket or you get a spectacular parking spot. Then leave.
GWAS scenario: You want to watch Carols by Candlelight and put cookies out for Santa; he wants to party at the pub wearing a Santa's hat...
Zoe says: There are two options and neither includes fighting. Option one: Compromise by asking him to go play Carols with you for a few hours, then join him at the pub for a while. Option two: Both do your own thing with each other's blessing and don't bitch him out the next morning when his pores ooze Tooheys, his brain is operating at 12% and you have to be at your parent’s place in 15 minutes. Laugh at him instead – you would hope for the same concession if it were you who’d had a big one with all your school friends on Christmas Eve (which a lot of people do.) People have different ideas and experiences of Christmas, and being in a Quality Relationship means not trying to squish him into your mould or censor what you really want to do to fit into his. Communicate and compromise.
CHRISTMAS DAY (Whee!)
GWAS scenario: You have no boyfriend/fiance/husband and are attending Christmas lunch with your extended fam. You are not Bridget Jones...
Zoe says: I think this is actually a real gift (zing!). When you're single you tend to be more present (double zing!) because there's no mental real estate being dedicated to your man and what he's doing, or how his day is going, or why the f*ck he hasn't called yet. You can REALLY listen to Granny as she babbles that Aunty Lorna's pudding is rubbish, and REALLY thump your cousins at Wii bowling, and REALLY help your mum make that epic walnut salad she makes every year. Christmas day happens once a year. Soak it up.
GWAS scenario: You are attending your first Christmas lunch with his extended fam...
Zoe says: Everyone has a different experience and way of executing Christmas, so I guess the key is to do your best to elegantly shimmy into his family’s way of doing Christmas (without secretly losing it because they still haven’t served lunch at 4pm, when your family eat at 1pm.) Of course, it goes without saying (but not writing) that you must be a the Number One Helper Elf: even if all the kids are sitting around and his mum is the only one in the kitchen, go in there and make a firm, more-a-statement-less-a-question request to help prepare food, or set the table, or make the Pimms or pass round the stubbies or hand round the caviar or whatever.
GWAS scenario: He wants to do Christmas with his family; you want to be with yours...
Zoe says: This one is terribly common and extremely delicate. Especially if there are geographical barbs. Most couples roll with the, ‘My family this year, yours next year’ thing, because it’s fair, but some prefer the, ‘Oh HELL no, I am NOT spending Christmas with your screwy family,’ which is slightly less fair, and more conducive to epic blow-ups.
If it’s possible, geographically feasible and fits in with both families’ Grand Festive Plan, maybe see one family for Christmas Eve dinner or Christmas lunch, and the other for Christmas dinner. (If you buy each other rollerblades for Christmas you could rollerblade from his parents place to yours on Christmas day and avoid the old, ‘Who gets to drink’ conundrum. Awesome.)
HOLIDAYS! (Double whee!)
GWAS scenario: You are going camping with him and the boys. You hate camping...
Zoe says: Ah, but you have consciously decided you are ‘going’, which overrules the ‘hating’ part. Shift the mind-set: This is the perfect opportunity to suck it up and do something out of your comfort zone for the man you love. Honour your decision to go and to do something that makes him happy and his gratitude for your attitude will ensure you have a walloping good time. And when it’s your choice next time, he’ll go along with it happily because you were such a good sport. Holiday WIN.
GWAS scenario: You are mad-keen for a holiday fling. How do you meet a boy (who, I might add to keep the parental groups off my back, is not a 10-year-old Macaulay Culkin)?
Zoe says: Go where everyone goes over the summer holidays: the beach or bar (or RSL or Bowlo) but don’t go out hoping to find a guy: having fun with your friends should be your ultimate goal. A woman having fun is irresistible; guys will seek you out. Also, try wearing sandals and less makeup – for some inexplicable reason the less time you spend on or care about your appearance, the higher likeliness of sexy times. Not sure why. Just know it’s true.
GWAS scenario: A wisdom tooth forces you to spend your holidays inside eating jelly. Best romantic holiday read?
The Bronze Horseman... Oh, Shura. Or Air Kisses, obviously. Or Textbook Romance. (Oh come on, you left that wide open, Erica.)
Zoe and Girl With a Satchel