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Let's Once Again Deja Homo Again Some More For the Holidays Redux Anon
It's time to update again!

Dateline: 11/16/03
by Deborah Levinson

Note: Most current updates are in hot pink

YEAR BY YEAR | TIMELESS THOUGHTS

It's that time of year again ---  with a few [more] updates.

I almost didn't update this year.  Holidays are never an easy time, and this year will be more difficult for me than most, for somewhere along the way between last year's set and this year I misplaced a good portion of my family, or more accurately was displaced.

Ah well. Life goes on, bra, la la how the life goes on....

Year by Year

[1997] When I was growing up holidays were somehow rather simple. I don't remember a lot of fuss and bother over which "side" of the family we'd spend the days with, although I'm sure that there was some. There is a little something tickling my brain about bickering regarding who would have Thanksgiving any given year but it couldn't have been too big a deal, or I'd remember more clearly.

[1998] Now that I think about it some more, I do recall a few questions about whether "we" were going to have Turkey Day, or whether it would be at my aunt's or one of my uncle's houses.

[1997] Although we were (and are) Jewish, my father really got a kick out of seeing my brother and myself come down the stairs and head in to the den where a stack of presents awaited us. Presents from my parents and presents from Santa.

[1997] For Christmas we'd open our presents, then go "up the hill" (but not over the river or through the woods) to my mother's parents, and then exchange gifts with them. Thanksgivings I remember spending with my father's family. One of the brothers or the eldest sister would have the entire family over. I remember endless football games and delicious mashed potatoes courtesy of my paternal grandmother. (I also remember women cleaning up and men watching those games - but that's an entirely different subject)

[1998] My mashed potato making grandmother passed away this past year [1998]. She is, and will be missed - and not just for her mashed potatoes.

[1997] Now that I'm older, and with a family of my own, there are more choices to make. We tend to do Thanksgiving with my side of the family, the dinner rotating casually between us, my mother and my sister-in-law. Quite often one of my sister-in-law's sister and her family joins us as we've quite extended our family over the years.

[1998] Sometime last year the ease of this all working out disappeared. My sister-in-law's mother moved down to "our" town, and I suspect doesn't feel that comfortable with "our" part of the clan. The sister-in-laws sister doesn't live that far away, so there's always a question of "Are they are or aren't they going to be part of this group or let us know that they're going elsewhere?" This year it appears that we're all gathering at my folks.

[2000] My in-laws moved back "down" near most of their children, including the T person, and we'll be having Thanksgiving dinner with them. I made a unilateral decision for which I was appropriately chastised, but I had this image (which I wanted to avoid) of the lesbian version of Alphonse and Gaston: "Let's go to your family" ... "No, let's go to your family." Not because we don't enjoy our own families, but because we know how much we both enjoy our respective and mutual families.

[2001] I got in trouble last year, and rightly so, for making the unilateral decision that we'd go to Therese's family for Thanksgiving.  I am glad that I did however as it was the last Thanksgiving with Therese's father, who passed away in January of this year.  As unique as he was ornery, he will be very missed this year, and those to come. 

[2001] My mother has written a note (email of course, we have very modern parents) noting that we need to make plans for Thanksgiving and the rest of the year end holidays, and nobody has responded, including myself.  I can sum up how easy it is going to be to balance all needs and desires in a single word: Oy.

[2002] This year we're going to do Thanksgiving with Therese's family.  Last year we ended up dining with my folks, and joining Therese's family later during the evening.  This year that just isn't practical.  My folks will be at my aunt's house, and my grandmother will hopefully be up to attending.  I plan on calling during the evening to wish them all the best.

[2003] Well, this year I'm going with my folks to my Aunt's house, which will be very nice.   Along the way we'll gather up my grandmother, still ticking along at 95 and eats like we all wish we could.   Making her a plate is fun.   Last year I was annoyed  because it was the first year my Aunt had been back in the family fold, and we not only went to T's Mother's house, but we didn't even go to dessert to my family.  I said then it wasn't practical - but there was nothing impractical about it actually.  It's just one of those compromises one makes along the way.   So I called them from the patio, and wished I was there, and this year I will be. 

[2000] My folks and brother will be taking Thanksgiving dinner to my grandmother who has been feeling poorly (from continuing and crippling arthritis) most of the year. My niece will be with her mother and other aunts.

[2001] My grandmother is probably not going to be up to much again this year, and I do need to get by to see her.  If not for Thanksgiving or a holiday, just in general.  Is is just me or did there seem to be more time in a day when I was younger?

[1998] This year is also the one-in-seven when my brother's birthday falls on Thanksgiving. Like most "holiday" babies he doesn't want a "joint" celebration, so we'll be doing something separate for his birthday. Any suggestions as to what to buy a 35 year-old banking finance aging rocker type for a birthday?

[1999] [Thankfully this year his birthday falls on the day after Thanksgiving. However, we may be driving up to see T's parents for the weekend after Thanksgiving dinner, perhaps missing the bro's birthday, perhaps not. We still don't know when they plan on having his "party" --- or what to get him. Suggestions still gratefully received....]

[2000] By the way, I never mentioned that you all had provided some wonderful suggestions for presents, which were very much appreciated. I know what I think I want to get him this year, but suggestions are welcome, as always (after all, he's not getting any younger).

[2001] This year I know what we're getting him and he'll love it.  Life should always be this easy.

[2002] We did my brother's birthday early this year, ended up meeting at a restaurant for an early dinner.  Perhaps you've heard of "The Cheesecake Factory?"  Dinner was wonderful but there are still a few head scratches related to my brother's wife bringing a dessert versus us all ordering and/or sharing cheesecake.

Therese came up with a super idea for his present, and he seemed to like it.

[2003] I have no clue what I'm getting my brother this year, but he's giving himself a trip out of town, and will miss the family Thanksgiving celebration and will be soaking "naked in a hot tub with [his] wife," (his words) while the rest of us are stuffing our faces.

[1997] Christmas is also easy, thankfully. T's family traditionally has a Christmas Eve celebration, generally held by one of T's many sisters, while my family continues the Christmas morning tradition, now rotating that morning between us (although this year there's a new baby in my sister-in-laws side of the family, and we're being deserted by my brother and family as they travel to spend the baby's first Christmas with it).

[1998] Easy! Ha! If only I had known that while I was writing this. Apparently my brother didn't know that "we" were still doing "traditional" lox and bagels at our house for Christmas morning. This led to some, well, dissension. Ah well. T and I decided early this year that we'll be doing Christmas morning since it appears to be not of the same importance to the sis-in-law. Last year we went to a movie with my folks and my grandmother (maternal) and I hope that we'll do the same this year. Many good movies to choose from, we'll have to decide soon which we'll see.

[2000] Last year's movie wasn't as good (The Talented Mr. Ripley) and I'm not sure whether we'll be doing a movie this year. My preference would be to make a "Christmas Dinner" at our house and have everybody from both sides of the family over so that we can all spend a good deal of time with each other. Ultimately that is what these celebratory times mean to me --- endless days and hours to lounge and relax with family.

[2000] This year Christmas morning is already decided as my niece announced that her tradition was to spend Christmas Day with her aunts, in this case meaning Therese and myself. So we'll have Christmas Eve with the in-laws, Christmas morning with my family, with the balance of Christmas Day and Christmas Night still pending.

[2001] Not that I'm brain dead, but I don't even remember whether we saw a movie last year.  Hopefully those "endless days and hours" will be there, and again, that is the ultimate holiday gift.  I imagine that we'll do our traditional Christmas breakfast, but we may have to move the location to either my folk's house or my brother's new house  (with his new wife!) as our living room  is a tad too tiny for entertaining around a tree, although casual gatherings (meaning the ones where folks also stand around in the kitchen) are still possible.

[2002]  We ended up doing Christmas at our place last year, and will do so again.  This year we're in a bigger place, and it is perfect for entertaining!  My aunt, her son (aka "my cousin"), and possibly her "roomie" will all be attending.  I don't think Grandma will be up to making the trip, but who knows?  She's doing better all the time.

It would be nice to see a movie, there are some good choices out this year, but it will depend upon timing for Christmas dinner I imagine.

Christmas is a time for families, regardless of traditions, at least as to the more secularized aspects.  I enjoy spending as much time with my family as possible.

[2003] My grandmother has asked that we go to her for Christmas morning, and there is no reason not to do so.  My brother will be on a Cruise with his wife and my niece so it will just be me, my folks, my aunt and her family.   My cousin from my father's side (recently moved back home from several years away in Kentucky) may end up joining us for part of the day, which will be nice.   She's a sweetie, and ... gay!  Let's hear it for biological coincidences.  We think a few more of the cousins will be coming out one day but ssh, it doesn't appear they know they're gay yet. 

[1999] [My grandmother didn't make it last year as she wasn't feeling that well, hopefully she'll make it this year. We went to see Shakespeare in Love which quickly became one of my all-time favorite movies. But I'm easy, and I digress...]

[2000] My grandmother did make it last year, but may not be up to it again this year. Heck, the woman is 92 and 1/2 years old. I think she's doing well joining us every other year!

[1998] It all tends to work itself out, and we've only all stopped talking to each other a couple times over the years over planning the celebrations.

[2002] Not only is everybody on speaking terms we've added back my aunt into the fold.  One word: Cool.

[2003] So, this year I guess I'll be seeing a movie.  Hmmm. "Paycheck," starring Ben Affleck looks good.

It's funny, I notice I've never included my birthday in this, which falls not too long after Christmas.   Last year was great, my aunt threw me a super party, and this year ... well, we'll see.    

It's temping to say I'd like to go away, but I know it sounds better in theory than being away from hearth and home would be in practice.  

So, the odds are pretty good  I'll stick around, and that's okay too. 

I'll see you around and about either way.

.... and a Happy New Year to you all! 

Timeless Thoughts

Not everybody molds and mends families so easily, and there are dynamics involved for gays and lesbians atop the basic stress of the holiday season.

For the single queer, there may be the stress of "When are you going to get married?" for those who are not out - and "I hope you're not bringing *them*" for those who are out and seeing somebody.

For coupled queers, the standard pulls from each side of the family can exist in even larger proportion.

If you haven't told your family, you're expected to participate with them as holidays are a family time, and you don't have "anybody" with whom to spend the time.

(By the way - holidays can be an interesting time to come out - as one comic suggests trying, "Please pass the gravy to a homosexual.")

If your family doesn't know, or isn't supportive, they're going to expect that you spend the holidays with them - and not worry much about what your "friend" or "roommate" is doing.

Personally I would refuse to attend a "family celebration" that didn't include my spouse, but that's a decision each has to make for themselves. When I was growing up none of us much liked my Uncle's wife, but she was always included in the celebrations.

Even if your family (or one of your families) is accepting of your relationship, it's a rare set of parents that isn't jealous of in-laws under even the best of circumstances. It's harder still when they don't quite "get" that these strangers really are your family too.

Your family may suggest, "This is a time to be with your family, let [your other half] go to theirs and you'll come here" without realizing that your other half is your family.

Even if everybody and every side of every family is "cool" there still may be time conflicts. "But we always celebrate XYZ together!"

One solution is to create your own traditions as you have your own nuclear family now. Invite both "sides" of the family over for Christmas/Thanksgiving. It's a lot of work, but think about the joy of not having to drive anywhere.

Or, just spend the holidays with each other - go out of town, or if you're staying in town annoy both "sides" by telling them you're spending the time with the other "side."

It's also possible that all sides of all families are "cool" but you and your other half each want to do it "your" way.

All in all the dilemmas surrounding this time of the year are not that much different than anybody else's, with just a few added wrinkles.

In Pride,
Deborah

 


 

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Questions? Comments? Submissions?
Drop a note to Deborah at gaylesissues@rslevinson.com

copyright 1986-2010 Deborah Levinson