Family holiday's got you feeling gray about being gay? Then let's start a new tradition!
The Jack O’ Lantern’s have hardly hit the compost heap these days before the first overt whispers of the holidays invade the retail shelves. On top of that, now Mom has declared Thanksgiving Dinner is now Brunch so that she and Aunt Tilly can get to Wal-Mart for the pre-Black Friday Sales that start at 8 pm on Thanksgiving Day. As if that isn’t enough to drive you crazy, you also have to deal with the coin toss over whether you’re going to his families or yours. Oh, and to add interest, you’re a gay couple so now the coin toss doesn’t really work because...
Scenario #1: You’re “out” but your boyfriends not, so we have to play the “This is my friend Todd” game.
Scenario #3: You’re both out, your families are both accepting, but it’s the extended family that’s stuffing you with underhanded comments around the dinner table about what you’re stuffing where.
It really doesn’t matter the complexity of the situation or the reality of the drama that may ensue when you roam home for the holidays as the token homosexual. Truthfully speaking, it rests on your shoulders and in your own thoughts how you choose to be in the festivities and how you react or deflect the smorgasbord of family dynamics that will come your way. Same goes for your partner/boyfriend/girlfriend as well as for your family. We all stand at choice as to how we will be in the moment when Adam & Steve step into the festivities with glee.
Rather than rely on holiday elixirs to warm the heart and numb the senses, a little “Operation Make It Work,” may be the best gift of all to keep emotions and loose lips in check.
Chat it up and be honest. Avoiding what you’re feeling, anticipating, or wishing will or won’t happen by not speaking your truth, doesn’t rack up bonus points with Good Old Saint Nick. Speak candidly and from the heart with whomever you feel compelled to bare your holiday angst with so that you get your feelings out in the open. Better to diffuse the situation before five generations of Clampett’s are in the house, than to become the fuse that explodes because you and your beloved cannot partake in grace do to your “lifestyle.”
Have a game plan. If Uncle Pete is know for becoming surly and homophobic after a few cocktails, then find an ally who can block and tackle on your behalf. While his behavior isn’t something you have to accept, it also isn’t something you have to be a party to. Assembling your defensive line-up in advance helps prevent “in the moment fumbles” you may regret later.
Be you and only you. You’ve taken the big steps to “come out,” embrace your truth, and be with same-sex partner of your dreams. It’s taken you years to get to a space of loving and trusting yourself to be who you are. So let’s be clear. Out of respect for the traditions of overeating, too many after dinner Brandy’s, and opening presents Christmas Eve not Christmas Morning, you’re now going to go back to pretending to be someone your not? Why not just ask for a White Christmas without snow? Honor and respect for others isn’t a one-way street. If that’s what’s expected of you, then you may have to re-examine what picture perfect holidays and traditions mean to you in life as you now know it.
Listen and learn instead of defend and demand. Honestly, the merriest of times have a way of sparking the deepest discussions. While the Chestnuts are roasting on an open fire, Aunt Mildred may be burning with innate flames of desire to right your wicked wrongs with a tongue-lashing laced with Eggnog. Tempting, as it may be to slip the old biddy a couple laxatives disguised as Godiva Chocolates, often situations can and will be diffused when we instead “listen to learn.” Not only does this diffuse the situation, it also bides us time to think clearly before we go on the defensive rebuttal. The listening ear is usually the recipient of valuable information, which makes for respectful and open dialogue that may even melt the most hard-core hearts of stone.
No matter where your holiday travels may or may not take you, one truth remains the same, holiday season after holiday season. The pressure we feel during this time of year is the pressure we place on ourselves or allow others to place on us. One of the greatest gifts we have as human beings is the power of choice. This holiday season, exercise the gift of choice to it’s fullest potential and see how differently you embrace the sweet sounds of sleigh bells ringing, carolers signing, the quiet solitude of silent nights.