My name is Erica, but for the season you can call me Aunt Erica. I would be delighted if anyone reading this would like to be considered a part of my extended family. In a very real way you already are. I am an out lesbian, and have worked for LGBT rights in one way or another since I came out at twenty-three. I wasn’t as brave as you. You’ve done it so young.
On Christmas Day I get to my mom and dad’s house at around ten in the morning, mostly to say hello to everyone and chat before my sister, her husband, and her kids get there. Imagine spending time hanging out with my mom, dad, and grandma who are always happy to get to know people. If you like little dogs, there’s Sammie who’s a rescue dog with a big personality. He’s not much for playing, but enjoys a good scratch and a lap to sit on.
Gifts are exchanged – I make Christmas cards for my mom, dad, grandma, and sister. I buy gifts for my sister’s children and, of course, something for you. I don’t like buying toys and music, I’d rather find things that kids like doing. Ideally, I look for something that is intellectual, and something that has to do with what you like to do. You’d have to let me know what you’re into: books, math, music or pet care. They aren’t big item things – it’s more about the time spent. Imagine me spending this time on you, too.
My parents are into the practical gifts: a warm coat, good shoes, and gift cards for places like Meijer’s. Imagine my grandma asking you what you wanted most and even if she had no idea what you were asking for, she’d find a way to get it. If you want music or a video game she’s the one to go to, just remember, she’s a 90-year-old woman in her sense of decency.
Then we have Christmas dinner with ham instead of Turkey. My mom makes Jewish bread called challah, (as I said we are multicultural) although for some reason we’ve always called it “holly.” One of my running jokes is in the song’s line “deck the halls with boughs of holly.” When I was little, I thought they were talking about letting the bread cool and how good it smelled. In time, that story or one of many others will be brought up as dinner finishes and gifts are gathered. They will all be wondering if you liked your gifts and hoping you have a happy New Year.
I believe in the idea that we are all family. You are my holiday niece or nephew, but more than that, you are a part of the extended family of the LGBT community. You are in my thoughts and in my heart even if we never meet in person.