Anyone who has been around me for any length of time knows that I love Christmas. I love the lights, I love the music, I love the charity work, I love the cheesy movies, I love the cookies. Everything about it pleases me immensely.
But one thing I really love? Giving people presents. And advent calendars are a really nice way to do that, with little presents all month long making December a little more fun. If you normally dislike the holidays, or find yourself cynical about it, gift yourself an advent calendar. Consider it a reward for making it through each day.
The one issue is that in the US, where we don't really do advent calendars so much, we're often stuck with really shitty paper calendars with even worse, waxy milk chocolate. No longer! Here's some suggestions on advent calendars you'll actually be excited about.
24 Days of Beard Treats
Let's be honest, every advent calendar on this list is sraight out of hipster heaven. But this one, with tiny vials of beard oil, scented with everything from fresh cut grass to leather to steel, really takes the cake. It's practical, though, especially for bearded folks who travel.
Ciate Mini Mani Month
These tiny nail polishes allow you to sample a bunch of different colours and techniques without committing to the full size deal, which is great! The small size does mean they tend to dry out faster, so consider some nail polish revitalizer if these polishes might be sticking around.
The Whisky Advent Calendar
Fuck cheapo milk chocolate - how about a taste of some real holiday cheer in the form of expensive whisky? Each year has a different collection to help you get through all your wrapping with the company of some good spirits. Not into whisky? They also have gin, tequila, rum... basically every type of booze, including a premium version of the whisky one.
The LEGO Advent Calendar
Available in both a city and Star Wars iteration, this is a great calendar for people who like to fidget with something at work. Who doesn't like LEGO? Just don't forget to pick them up after - no one likes stepping on these plastic blocks!
Christmas Beer Advent
While perhaps lacking in the specific holiday/winter beer categories, this advent calendar is great for those who enjoy good German beers. What's more holiday feeling than that? After all, the Christmas tree comes from a German tradition.
Artful Tea Advent
Winter is the perfect season for getting cosy. What's more cosy than a steaming hot cuppa? This calendar offers up 24 numbered tea bags with different flavours of tea from an independent tea shop, in a nice assortment from black to green to herbal.
Lovehoney's Big Box of Sexual Happiness
I wouldn't be me if I didn't offer up a sex toy advent calendar. Lovehoney's offering isn't filled with expensive leather, but it's got some cute supplies for the couple who might enjoy a bit of spanking, and it's not intimidating. There's also masturbation toys for penises and clits, which is nice.
Moonstruck's Truffle Advent Calendar
Finally, if you just have to have chocolate as your countdown treat? Moonstruck is an excellent chocolate company based in Portland. With 24 luxurious truffles to soften the blow, it'll be a little bit easier when you finally lose "Little Drummer Boy" while running errands.
“I feel like you were being manipulative,” his email read, “and I cannot tolerate that.”
He had dumped me, as far as I could tell, because I was hurt he canceled two dates in one week.We had just had a long conversation about how I needed to see more investment from him, that I needed to trust that he was in this relationship because he wanted to be. He reassured me, told me how glad he was that I felt safe talking about my feelings so openly, sent me home with a kiss and a wave.
Then he canceled two dates in a row, with plans to have his ex sleep over instead.
We had been dating for almost 9 months. Every text, every date, every time he held my hand I felt like I was deciphering some cryptic text bound tight in the worn leather of toxic masculinity. He said he loved my body, but wouldn’t touch me unless it was to tickle me, something I hated.He said he loved me, but wouldn’t introduce me to his friends. I had read this writing on the wall before and refused to believe it to my detriment, so this time, I felt exhausted.
He never asked me to read his mind, exactly, but he also didn’t offer anything up. When I asked him to tell me what was going on if there was trouble, his response would be, “I probably won’t”. I would tell him, over and over again, for months, that I didn’t want to do the emotional labour of dragging his feelings and needs out of him, but I did it anyway, because that’s what women and femmes are taught to do, because at the end of the day no amount of feminist critique shields us from the overarching expectation that women are here to nurture men. Including at their own expense. Perhaps particularly when it’s at their own expense.
Frankly, it got too expensive for me.
During our texting conversation where he pulled out on one date, then the next, I said “you know, you can just drop my stuff off at my house.” It was a declaration of defeat, an acceptance of distance that he was clearly asking for even if he never used those words. I had fought to stay with a lover the year before and it caused nothing but heartache. If this one wanted to go, and was too cowardly to straight up tell me, then I’d give him an out.
And then I was accused of being manipulative.
I’ve been accused of being manipulative before. Always by fit, white, cis men who identify as queer and almost exclusively date queer femmes. Men who almost seem like they’ve got some intersectional framework but then you realize that maybe they just went to a feminist 101 class to try and get laid.These men almost seem like allies- until you ask them to give 50%, to stop expecting you to carry the relationship on your back like a burden. They’re allies until you put your foot down and say “what you are doing is hurting me and it’s not ok”.
What kills me, and the reason I wanted to write this out, is that it’sthese men who are being manipulative.
They never see it that way, of course. They don’t see the way they play both sides of the coin, that they’re socially aware and reject toxic masculinity, but also that they’re still wrapped up in it, leaving the women who love them to make excuses for their childish and selfish behaviour. “Oh,” we rush to say, “he knows this is hurtful, but he’s still unlearning old habits.” “Oh,” we say, “it’s not him, it’s society.”
We make so many excuses for these men that when they tell us that we’re manipulating them for snapping at their ridiculous expectations for constant emotional coddling, we almost believe that we might be.
This is my third white cis man to accuse me of being manipulative for having a boundary around being their mystical manic pixie therapist mother. The third lover to accuse me of disappointing their high expectations of me because I got tired of reading their minds. The third patronizing scolding for expecting them to give back the same amount they took.
Guess what, ex boyfriend? “I cannot tolerate that” either. I cannot tolerate being called a “filly” in your “stable”, or having you refuse to touch me or even TALK to me about intimacy while showing off other women you’re fucking.
I didn’t even notice how you manipulated me all along… while making me apologize.