Happy Holidays: Mama Sunshine

Listen To The Audio Version Of This Message

To My Beautiful Adopted Holiday Child,

Even though we didn’t have a lot of gifts, my mom always loved Christmas – cookies, decorations, lights outside, big turkey dinner – the works. She was little and round, and looked like an elf scurrying around getting everything done. Of course, she was always a procrastinator, so that necessitated a LOT of scurrying.

I think that’s why I believe everyone deserves a little magic over the holidays. Often, my favorite uncle came to visit at Christmas. The not-so-magical part was that my mom never accepted her brother as gay. Everyone knew. We just didn’t talk about it. Once or twice, he brought along his partner. Mom liked him, but they had to stay in separate rooms. I can only imagine how hard all of that must have been for him. 

Now I have a gay child of my own. He can be who he is with his dad’s family. They are a league of nations, and no one sees him as different because they recognize the uniqueness of each person. But my side still doesn’t talk about such things. My son accepts this, but it makes me sad. He’s a great guy! A beautiful human being.

Having this dichotomy in my own life, I can see how some people struggle with not being embraced for who they really are. What I want you to know is that I embrace you. As you go about life for the next few weeks, keep a picture in your mind. There’s a mom who has you in her heart, as she prepares for and goes through the holidays.

Do you like chocolate chip cookies or peanut butter? What would you dunk them in? Coffee? Tea? Milk? Are you content to just try one or two, or do you need to eat six or seven like your adopted mom? Can you see me at the door, with my arms open, waiting to hug you? There might be snow, and we keep our house pretty chilly in the winter, so better wear a sweater. What color will it be? I imagine you in a blue one, because that’s my favorite color. Is it cold where you are? We always hope for snow for the holidays – but not too much. Can you smell dinner cooking? My mom always made turkey for Christmas dinner. For some reason, I make brisket. Funny, too, because I don’t really eat meat. I would be glad to know if you have any special food requests. Sit down, have something to drink. You are among folks who care. In my eyes, you are completely whole, just as you are.

I don’t know what your journey is like. I imagine there are good days and not-so-good days. You are so very brave. I wish I could be more like that. Wherever your path leads you this holiday season, remember that I am with you. As you are shopping, I will be the voice offering suggestions. As you get ready for and are mingling at parties, remember I see how beautiful you are – inside and out. Imagine that I am the person handing you bits of tape as you wrap gifts. If you are driving long distances, I will be your co-pilot. I’m a pretty good navigator, even without a GPS.

The holidays can be tough for everyone. So many expectations. But as your adopted holiday mom, even though we don’t meet in person, remember that I am behind you all the way. Even if you can’t see me, imagine me, and remember to feel my love.

With Warm Holiday Hugs,

Mama Sunshine

Photo Credit: Jeff Stroud


  1. Adam says:

    I’ve considered putting your recording on my iPod, for how often I go back to listen to it, but I think breaking down crying on the train would be a slight faux pas…

    Your letter is the most touching thing I’ve ever read/heard. Every time, I sob, and although I went into this project with some skepticism, I can honestly say that when I’m feeling like crap lately I think of you saying “You are completely whole, just as you are,” and I feel better.

    Thank you so much for your kind words and your love.

    • Mama Sunshine says:

      Adam, I’m sorry you’ve had bad days lately. I hope you know that I, and all of the moms, dads, and family here truly mean what they say. I believe in you, your inner and outer beauty. You have a light – let it shine, so we can all share in it! Hugs, from Mama Sunshine

  2. Patrick says:

    Can I just throw myself in your arms and cry for a while? I’m gay and gender variant, and my family tries to accept it but it only goes so far… They can’t even use my name (they still call me by my birth name). They’re like your family–just don’t talk about it.

    Then on top of that my mom died almost 7 years ago and this was her favorite time of year and I just miss her so much. But I don’t know if she’d have accepted me, either…

    Everything just hurts so bad this time of year… and I really just need to be held for a little while by someone who won’t judge me.

    • Mama Sunshine says:

      Wonderful Patrick, I’m so sorry for your loss. I miss my mom, too. I think I follow some holiday traditions that she loved just so I can feel her close to me. Remember that you are perfect, just the way you are. I am here, hugging you, and lending my shoulder for tears, just like all of the moms, dads, aunts, brothers and sisters on this site. You have family here who accept you and love you. Feel it in your heart.

  3. Jeff says:

    Hi Mama Sunshine, your words touched me so deeply and brought tears to my eyes. I was 9 years old when I lost my mother to cancer, my sister was 10 and my brother 6. Life as we knew it came to a halt although my father did what he had to do to raise us and try to keep things normal and the family together. Social Services would send woman in to care for us, some were nice, while others were not. Dad never married and as I approched my teens, I new I was different but in what way I didn’t know, I was uncomfortable, and then became a not so nice kid although I did manage to make it through school, graduate and held 1 or 2 jobs. I should add I’m 51 now and Mom died in 1970. My teens I rebelled as most do and after high school my father kicked me out. By the mid 80s when he found out I was gay, he disowned me. It took years to get back in his good graces and family and friends went to bat for me and thank god, were friends now. Well it’s been 42 years without a Mom and although I’m doing ok, I often wonder what my life would have been like growing up in an intact family. I’m astranged from my brother and sister lives out of state. Like the “It Gets Better” Campaign says, it really does! Thank you and feel free to contact me.

    • Mama Sunshine says:

      Jeff, How brave you have been! There are lots of Moms here. Even a sister. You inspire us with “It gets better. It really does!” Happy holidays.

  4. Tyler says:

    Thank you so much, this is honestly what someone like me needed to hear. My family is supportive….. but only so far. They are so wrapped in their own problems their own stress with money, and the last time I tried to really talk to either of them it was bad. I was told my parents wished I could just be normal or at least Gay, not this weird Trans thing. They won’t use Tyler, and it’s on my list for Christmas that they start but all I get are frowns. We aren’t going to have much of a Christmas this year I’m afraid there’s no money for it but this message makes me at least feel like I’ll be in the heart of someone else who barely even knows me and that’s more than I could have wished for 🙂
    And by the way I LOVE brisket and peanut butter cookies, maybe I’ll take some along when I gather my moms side of the family together on Boxing Day. They’ve never liked me, and it’s turned into open hostility but I want them to know that even though they openly hurt me, I’m going to be OK. I hope they can find in their hearts the same kind of welcoming and understanding that you do Mama Sunshine.

  5. Bev says:

    I listened to this post last night before going asleep, and yes, I cried, but I also felt warm and comforted, so thank you, a lot.

    I also don’t know if this is the right place to say this but, if anyone wants a holiday sister? I would happily do that… I’ll find a way we can get in touch.

  6. constance says:

    Although they wouldn’t feel comfortable if I brought a girl home, I know my parents would try their best not to show it. So my liking people regardless of gender is not that much of a problem for them. And I know I am lucky for that. Still, my family deeply lacks warmth and affection. And as I am abroad for a year right now, haven’t seen my family in five month, and do not hear that much from them, this is very much appreciated. I cried a lot listening to this. I am trying my best to fight depression and this feeling of loneliness that nevers leaves. But you just made me feel accepted and loved for a moment. And I cannot thank you enough for that.

  7. Max says:

    Don’t know why this has me weeping (still), except perhaps for grattitude at the love you’re sharing here. Just today I signed Christmas gifts (for my VERY religious family) with my male name. With 8 nephews and nieces, my brother and a well loved sister in law, this evolution of coming out is scary. Thank you for this safe space, to be who and how I am, without concern that simple little words like her or him, daughter vs. son, can be used as weapons. Happy holidays to all of you. Please accept my wish for peace and my love in return.

  8. Ashley says:

    Thank you, Mama Sunshine. This letter is such a blessing to me.

    My relationship with my mother has never been a good one, and not in the way you might think. It’s gone from her sharing too much with me to the point of a psychologist calling her side of the relationship emotionally incestuous, to everything in our relationship being about business, and nothing else. I don’t feel free to talk to her about anything – when I bring up a subject that is important to talk about but even remotely inflammatory, she ends up in tears and starts guilt-tripping me. Coming out to her (which didn’t work exactly, as I don’t talk about it anymore, so she assumes I got over my “phase”) was a messy business as well, what with her saying that she’d love me no matter what and that if I were gay she wouldn’t trust me with children in the next breath, and the counselor she sent me to that told me that liking girls was a twisted form of narcissism.

    It’s been a while since then, and I’m on the brink of adulthood now, just starting to feel that hole in my heart where the right woman is going to fit. But I’ve still been wishing for a mom who would care about me – care about what I think, what I like, what I dream. This letter is the validation that I needed. I felt more secure and loved reading your words than I have in years. You are an amazing woman with a beautiful heart and I really do wish that I could be your adopted daughter.

    • Mama Sunshine says:

      Ashley, I will keep your thoughts, and dreams, and wishes in my heart. Remember I am keeping you in my thoughts and wishes, too.

  9. Jude says:

    Ugh.. I can’t stop crying. I wish my mother was more like you.. but she will never be, and I have to accept that fact. Thank you for doing this, you’re an amazing person.

  10. Alexis says:

    I cried while listening to this. Not only because I myself am not accepted for my sexuality, but because… I guess because it makes me fells like someone cares about me. My family is crazy and dysfunctional, and although I love them sometimes I feel like I want a “real” family, with people who accept me for who I am. Thank you so much for posting this. You make me feel like someone cares.

  11. Sarah says:

    My little brother is in my arms sobbing, and has been for the past ten minutes; because, and I quote, “At least someone loves me.” (Our mother rejected my coming out, and refuses to even acknowledge his; it’s messed with him, even though we no longer live with her)

    Thank you so much for your love and affection for us. I can’t even express how grateful we are. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  12. Amanda says:

    Can I just thank you for taking the time to record this? I’m not estranged from my family, because I know better than to even think of coming out to them, but holidays are always a little harder than the rest of the year because if how much I have to hold back. I know this isn’t something that’s ever going to change, but hearing your message, and pretending, for just a little while, that it was my mom accepting me so completely…

    Thank you.

  13. Jayne says:

    This made me cry for a long time. A lot of what you say about your mother resonates with me because mine, too, had a gay person in her life, before me, whom she loved but could not accept. She was happy enough to receive her sister’s lesbian partner into her home, so long as nobody admitted what the situation really was. Then in 2005, my aunt and her partner decided to form a Civil Partnership when they became legal in the UK. My mother couldn’t deal with that at all, being, as she said, forced to acknowledge it. We went to the ceremony, but my mother turned around and made a little disgusted sound when my aunt and her new spouse kissed, and that was the moment I knew our relationship was doomed. She tried for her sister, but the little sound of disgust was involuntary and that was how she really felt. After that, she saw less and less of her sister and I felt more and more alienated from her. I had always been a daughter not the daughter she’d wanted. She would say to me over and over in exasperation, “Why can’t you just be normal?” I knew she knew I was a lesbian. I also knew, from what had happened with my aunt, that the worst thing I could do to her would be to tell her so directly.

    We were never particularly close. She never understood me, I was always wrong for her. Luckily for her, and for me, I suppose, I have a younger sister who is ‘normal’. She has a fallback child. I think that’s what has stopped her from trying to force me to be somebody different. Instead, she just doesn’t speak to me any more. She invites me home for the holidays, but the invitation is only for me. My partner, whom she refers to as my ‘housemate’ if she must mention her at all, is not invited. And i don’t want to go home without her. So we don’t speak much. I think she loves me, but it’s sometimes hard to understand how anyone could have the trouble she has with accepting things for the sake of love. She doesn’t have any religious reasons to oppose homosexuality, it just physically repulses her, and that is the hardest thing to realise.

    Anyway. I have always wished my mother was somebody like you. Thank you.

    • Mama Sunshine says:

      Jayne, Remember that there all of the moms here are sending you and your partner hugs this holiday season, and always.

  14. K says:

    Thank you so much for your warmth and kindness. You sound like a wonderful mother — and an incredible person. Please know that this made a difference.

  15. Jessie says:

    Thank you so much for these. My family doesn’t really support me for who I am in this aspect. It helps me to hear these. It also helps to hear a motherly voice just comforting me, because I am spending a year abroad and haven’t seen my mother in four months. She doesn’t talk to me this way, though, when I’m home, because most of the time is is drinking. She’s an alcoholic, and I’m just really glad to be able to listen to these during the holiday season when I have no one else to turn to. It’s very kind of you all to post these.

  16. Billie Sage says:

    Thank you, tears for my son as he has to deal with my side of the family that can not talk about it either. Thank you for your wonderful message.

  17. Tom says:

    Simply a wonderful and heartfelt message. Thank you so much! I have tears of joy from just reading this. After years of so much pain and anguish it’s so wonderful to see people who care for those they don’t even know. Thank you so very much!

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