Hugs for the Holiday
Once I was older, I realized the holidays were equal parts stress and joy. Thanksgiving may be my favorite because the only real expectation is that you’ll show up and over eat. At which I feel I excel. That’s not what this blog post is about though.
I’ve heard from a few Jane’s World fans that they are having anxieties about the holidays. One reader sent me a very touching email to say that Jane’s World was the only place she could relax, things are stressful with her family since she came out. She’s dealing with a religiously conservative family who actively practices “love the sinner, hate the sin.”
I’ve been there, my friend. (And are you really “loving” when you call someone a sinner to her face? It seems like maybe that phrase cancels itself out, from a theological standpoint… but I digress.)
Another friend told me about how a young family member just came out to her parents and things are not going so well. They are expecting stressful times around the Christmas tree this year, so she’s taking two JW books in an effort to add some humor to the mix.
I remember when my parents first found out I was gay, my brother was still in college and they didn’t want me to tell him, so I came home and he picked up on all this tension but didn’t know the source. My dad gave me a hammer for Christmas that year, to which my brother pulled me aside and asked, “Is Dad really mad at you about something?” That gift launched a long tradition of tool gift giving from my father. And actually, I’m not complaining at all. Thanks to my dad, I now have almost every tool imaginable in my garage. There is no task too big or too small that I don’t have the tool for.
In all seriousness though, the hammer was a small indication of the tension that was present during that first Christmas after leaving the closet. Ten years probably passed before holidays really became normal again. And what happened was things had to come to a head. I remember talking to my mom once and telling her that I wasn’t going to use all my vacation time to travel home for the holidays only to get the silent treatment. I told her that we were all adults and that it was time for us to decide whether we wanted to have a relationship with each other, despite our differences, or not. And the condition was that our relationship needed to be authentic, no more superficial stuff. We would each make a pact to be more honest and talk about what was really going on in our lives, instead of me avoiding “gay” topics to make everyone more comfortable. I wanted my parents in my life, my real life.
About six months later mom called and ever since then things have steadily improved. She even had a wooden, artistic sign carved for her kitchen that reads: There is no normal life, there’s just life. I think that was her way of making peace with things.
A few years later she did another sign for the living room from a Robert Frost poem: Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.
I told her I thought that sounded kinda negative, I mean it is from a poem about death, but I think I know what she was trying to get at.
Anyway, the point of this long post is to say, in honor of the holidays, cherish your family. Both your chosen family and your birth family. And be kind to one another in the spirit of the season. And to remember that love with limits is not really love. So let’s make a pact to love each other authentically and fully for the individuals that we are. And hug it out. Happy Christmas.
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