Festive Cheer Across the Fault Lines


When Ylva’s publisher Astrid Ohletz asked me early in November if I would be willing to contribute a holiday blog, I eagerly said yes. After all, I love the holidays. When I think back, it’s not that they’ve always been happy occasions, but for some reason I only tend to remember the good things. I have to really dig through my memory banks to recall the years that weren’t so great. I mostly let those occasions recede into the background.

Anyway, I started thinking about ideas for this blog and then…it felt as if our world fell apart. Our national election in the US took place, the unthinkable happened, and everything changed.

Part of the continued aftermath is that many of us have started to learn hard truths about friends and family. Bigotry and resentments that had apparently simmered below the surface for a long time have now boiled over. Families are being torn apart over these very fundamental differences in ideology, ethics, and values. For many of us, this upcoming holiday season is going to be a challenge.

Here in the US, the holidays begin in November with Thanksgiving and continue through the New Year. As we do most years, my partner and I will be spending our holidays with two sets of people we love.

One set is a merry mixed-up bunch of people from different countries who support us wholeheartedly, and who feel as we do about everything happening in the world.

The other set is a bit more uncertain. I don’t know if hard conversations will happen. There’s a choice to be made between not “spoiling” the holidays versus choosing not to remain silent. I don’t know where that line will be or what it will take for us to cross it.


I do know that the most important thing is that I will be spending the holidays with the woman I have loved for almost a quarter century, something I once thought could never happen. We will have each other’s backs if need be.

We’ll watch favorite Christmas movies we’ve watched a hundred times. We’ll read holiday-themed books. Somehow, even when the reality is less-than-ideal, there’s comfort to be had in escape.

We will dress the dogs in Santa hats. We’ll go for walks in these long, dark nights of winter, holding hands and grateful for the blessing of having each other.

I wish for all of you, the joy of family—chosen or birth—and the peace of a world that truly is good, even if sometimes we have to look really hard to see it.

Caren Werlinger was raised in Ohio. She has lived in Virginia for over twenty years, where she practices physical therapy, teaches anatomy, and lives with her partner and their canine fur-children. She just published Cast Me Gently with Ylva Publishing.

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