Welcome to our crazy and comfy home. Don’t mind Iggy, she just barks really loud whenever anyone comes in but is a total wimp. See? She’s already given up and is back to sitting in the most comfortable chair in the house. And please don’t step on the cat, he is old and blind and might accidentally poop on you. Ha ha, just kidding, he totally only poops on the stairs on his way to the litter box that he doesn’t use. Also, don’t mind the kids – Alden will want to show you her rope climbing skills, Kato will become suddenly shy (though he can be easily coaxed out of his shell with inquiries about planes or rockets) and August will toddle up and hug you and probably demand your iPad or phone (don’t do it). In our small town, the kids all call grown-ups “Aunt” and “Uncle” – so just by being introduced you’ve already become a part of our family. We’re so happy to have you.
Perhaps this holiday season is hard for you, perhaps it is lonely. Perhaps you have struggled with acceptance from your own friends and family, and perhaps you have even struggled with yourself for identifying as LGBTQ. And for that I am truly, truly sorry. I hope that you can find some respite in our home and at our table, though I can’t guarantee there won’t be a lot of chaos involved too.
One of the unspoken treasures of true acceptance is when you aren’t treated differently from anyone else, and so I will demand that you not stand on the table (August is the most frequent offender), that you finish your dinner before starting your dessert (actually, no one ever follows that rule, including me), and that if you happen to accidentally kick or punch someone while wrestling, you have to give hugs and kisses and say you’re sorry. Them’s the rules. If only that last one could be applied to everyone— both literally and metaphorically. If anyone is ever hurt, we need to extend our hands and try to help them heal. And so I hope you’ll metaphorically take my extended hand, friend.
Please have a seat and warm up with a cup of tea while I scurry around the kitchen doing the final touches on our meal. Ha ha, who am I kidding? I’ll be sitting hanging out with you while Matthew does all the kitchen stuff. We all know I’m a horrible cook. You and I can chat about this and that, about the latest things that you’re up to, about the book you just read that I got started but never finished (I’m never going to finish it, so please just tell me how it ends). I’ll ask how you’re doing, but you probably won’t tell me directly because Alden and Kato are fighting over the trampoline and everything’s a bit distracting. Matthew will interrupt and ask me to dress the salad (he always puts way too much dressing on) and I will get up and give your shoulder a squeeze on my way to the kitchen. Matthew will offer you some more tea and we’ll swap – he’ll probably ask all the same questions and you’ll have to repeat yourself a lot and I’ll apologize loudly from the kitchen. You are kind not to seem to mind.
And now Kato has asked you to please please please play freeze tag, and you are so good to oblige. I’m so sorry that he’s no longer wearing his pants.
I see that you are concerned when the three kids collide, but no harm done – the frenzy of the chase is enough to get them back up and running, though August points emphatically at his head and demands a kiss from you before he rejoins the fray. Thanks for doing that.
I have to interrupt the freeze tag so we can all eat dinner. We settle down at the table and say a quick “itadakimasu” – the Japanese version of grace, or more like “bon appetit,” I grew up saying it (did you know my mom was japanese, and awesome, by the way? She would have LOVED you – she was an extraordinarily quick and accurate judge of character). Itadakimasu literally means “I humbly receive” and that’s how I feel about having you here with us on this special day, thrown into the soup with us, as it were, and gracefully weathering the storm of my family.
The kids are occupied with their food, so we can talk some more. We’re excited to hear about your latest plans, and I think you should just do it. Do it! Matthew’s a little more cautious, but not un-optimistic. He offers some sage advice while I wink and nod and smile at you from behind his back to convince you I’m right, and you pretend like I’m not acting like a weirdo. Matthew totally knows I’m doing it, so he looks you right in the eyes and says, “You gotta do what feels right to you.” He’s all right, that one.
We barely have time to finish our meal before the kids are demanding another game of freeze tag. I insist you don’t have to, but you insist you do. They are so ecstatic that they forget to ask for dessert (seeing how crazy they are now, you definitely don’t want to see them after brownies and ice cream). You just scored 100 points with me and Matthew. Well done, friend, well done.
Once you’ve run them around the room a few dozen times, they start to flag and ask for a story before bed. (200 points!) You settle down on the couch (since Iggy’s still occupying the recliner) and the kids pile on your lap, each one with a book. By the time you get to the third book, August has fallen asleep and Kato’s eyes are drooping. (300 points!) You ask if you should keep reading and Alden says, “I’m a night owl. I’m not ever going to sleep.” After book #3, Kato is out. (1000 points!)
Time for dessert. Alden gets a tiny portion but doesn’t finish, because she suddenly decides she wants to do some drawing at her desk by the window. I eat the rest of her brownie. You and Matthew and I finally get to sit down and talk like adults – to the gentle soundtrack of snores from August and jingles from Iggy’s collar as she rearranges herself in the recliner. We laugh, we tell stories, and I don’t really remember what all we talk about, but I feel such a fondness for you that I feel in my heart that we are simpatico. It’s a warm fuzzy feeling because frankly I don’t feel simpatico with just anyone. There’s something special about you.
It’s getting late and you see that Matthew has suddenly gotten tired. He does that, all of a sudden. I could rattle on for a long time (Alden isn’t the only night owl in the house) but it’s clear he needs to go to bed. We pack up a little tupperware for you (don’t worry, we’ll get it back from you next time) while you put on your coat. We walk you down the stairs and are saying good-bye when Alden comes trundling down with a paper in her hand. “Don’t forget your card!” she says, “I made it for you.” You kneel down to take it from her, and she points out all of the pieces of the picture. “Here I am. I’m wearing a crown. This is Kato and this is August. August is so small because he’s just a toddler. Here’s Papa – he’s wearing fuzzy pants because it’s so cold outside. And here’s Mama. She has a crown on too, because she’s the queen. And here you are. I drew you in pink because pink is my favorite color. We’re playing freeze tag next to the Christmas tree.” You nod patiently and say some nice admiring things about her drawing skills. Then she takes it back from you and says, “And see? When you fold it up like a card, on the back it says, ‘I love you. Love, Alden.’ That’s because I love you.” She hands it back to you and says “Hug and a kiss!” and you kindly oblige, and she scampers back up the stairs.
Our evening is over and Matthew gives you a big hug. “Good to see you, friend.” Then it’s my turn, and I give you a big hug and an extra squeeze. I start to apologize for the chaos and you stop me. “I had a nice time,” you say. And I look in your eyes and say, “Me, too.” You put Alden’s card in your pocket and you’re out the door. We watch you as you head down the block, and I call out, “Until next time!” and you turn and smile and wave.
Happy holidays, Friend. We’re so glad to have you.