Hate to Fake It to You by Amanda Sellet (Excerpt)

Chapter 1

I love holidays as much as the next gal, but here’s my truth: it can be a struggle to put my personal stamp on a day defined by the expectations of others. Yes, I plan the menu, curate the tablescape, select the guests, and choose what to wear, but it’s never entirely about me.

Instead of constantly stifling my need for self-expression, I started to wonder what it would look like if I had a celebration that was a true reflection of me and my tastes, down to the smallest detail.

Don’t we all deserve a Me-mas once in a while?

This year, I invite you to join me in breaking free of the calendar and creating a new tradition. Pick your favorite season, a meaningful place, your best people. Or fly solo! You get to decide, because this is Me-mas, a tribute to the sacred me in each of us.

Own your joy. Honor yourself. Make it a Me-mas to remember.

Love, Lillibet

Image: Flickering votive candles and white orchids arranged in the shape of a heart on an antique mirror.

#songofmyself #memasmyselfandI #alwaysinseason #cultivatebliss

“My Me-mas morning,” Libby narrated as she typed. Her fingers froze before frantically hitting the backspace key. “Maximizing my Me-mas.” More deleting. “What Me-mas will mean for me is a time to Me-mas the crap out of—” she broke off with a groan.

If you repeated a word too many times, it started to sound fake. Not just odd ones like toboggan but the normal, everyday kind. Say “coffee” often enough and it turned into nonsense. Never mind something as inane as Me-mas.

It was too late to choose a different name for her made-up influencer’s fake holiday. Anyway, that was part of the joke. Why stop at self-esteem when you could catapult all the way to self-worship? A one-woman cult of personality. Also Me-day sounded too much like a distress signal, and (despite her roommate’s intense lobbying) My-ween was an obvious non-starter. Which left freaking Me-mas.

This was not the right headspace for what she needed to write. Think serenity. Unlimited free time. Smugness.

“Making the most of my Me-mas means starting the day with sunrise yoga, followed by a salt stone massage while Mr. L prepares a brunch of hibiscus Me-mosas and Crepes Lillibet. We’ll eat on the lanai, lulled by the gentle sound of waves, and— Are you kidding me, dickheads?”

Forget wind chimes and murmuring surf. The only thing Libby could hear was the Pukui brothers blasting Adele on repeat while they worked on their car. This was hour five. “Rolling in the Deep” had shaken her out of bed; she’d lost count of the number of times she’d been Hello-ed since then. Emoting and power tools: the soundtrack of her life.

The bathroom door cracked open, revealing a sliver of her roommate’s face: one dark eye and crimped black hair that skimmed her chin.

“Trouble in paradise?” Jean called over the sound of the faucet.

“I’m trying to finish this My Me-mas Is Better Than Yours caption.” Libby stood, arching her stiff back. Finding like-new kitchen chairs on the curb had seemed like a major score until they tried sitting in them, at which point they understood the previous owners’ decision to put them out with the trash.

Crossing to the window, she squinted at the grid of fences, clotheslines, and slivers of backyard. In her mind’s eye, she tried to replace the actual scene with an idealized version. What would Lillibet see? An ocean view, obviously. A lush yet manicured garden. The fleet of employees to take care of it all so she didn’t have to chip her perfect nails. She probably had a chef, too.

Maybe food would jump-start Libby’s brain. She yanked open the fridge. “Did you eat all the Spam musubi?”

There was a garbled affirmative from the bathroom. Frowning, Libby shoved aside a jar of olives, sending a lone pimiento bobbing to the surface. If she wanted to do mustard shots, she was set. Otherwise, she was looking at a foil-wrapped pita—probably old enough to use as a shiv—and whatever was in this white box. She closed the door with her hip as she peeled back the lid.

“Hey, can I finish your sandwich?”

The water turned off as Jean opened the door. “It’s not mine.”

“Do I want to know?”

“Somebody ordered bar service, but they left most of it.”

Libby stared at the teeth marks. Neither she nor Jean had ever been shy about bringing home free food from a job, but they usually drew the line at finishing things that had been inside a stranger’s mouth.

“I was going to use it in a still life,” Jean explained, joining Libby in the kitchen. Two narrow pink foam curlers wrapped her bangs to the hairline. “Old Master vibes but also kitsch.”

“What is Lillibet supposed to say about a half-eaten sandwich?”

“That’s the challenge, isn’t it? But I’ll find something else, if you’re starving.”

Libby hesitated. Desperate times and all. “Is it from last night?”

“No, but definitely this week.” Jean’s dark eyes fixed on a spot near the ceiling. “I think. Did you smell it?”

“Exactly what you want to hear about a cheese sandwich.” Libby took a cautious sniff, immediately jerking her head away. She slapped the lid on and buried the box at the back of the refrigerator, closing the door to keep the stench from escaping.

The cherry on top of that moment of glam was the tickle of sensation that brushed Libby’s toes. Grabbing the rubber sandal next to the trash can, Libby pounded the linoleum. She was pretty sure the massive roach laughed at her as it slipped under the door to safety.

“Did you get it?” Jean yelled.

Copyright © 2024 by Amanda Sellet

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