Holiday Mom: Sogi Ruth

Holiday Mom: Sogi RuthHello Most Precious Soul!

I am writing to wish you the very best over this Holiday season and to share that you are, by far, not alone. I am the mom to a beautiful 14 year old girl who I thought would never happen, as I lost 9 babies before her birth. You are one of the most precious in our Native American tradition, being recognized as “Twice Blessed” or one who is connected to all life in this world. We in the Native culture respect and revere the incredible potential you have for healing and good.

Christmas is a tough time of the year for so very many. Me included… So I try to make a good tradition every year with my hubby and daughter. We keep it very simple with a home made gift or two, spending a quiet day together talking and watching movies (my favorite is Little Lord Fauntleroy with Ricky Schroeder), and then having a simple Christmas dinner. Usually, it is a roast (Roast Beast) from our farm with farm grown veggies. This year, it will be a venison roast from my daughter’s first hunt (very important in our culture). Dessert will be an apple pie, a mince pie, and crème fraische to poor over the top of both.

Now, as I close, I want you to know that I remember being confused as a child, and the pain that my adopted father had given me because I was different (seeking my own identity). I give you a hug, dear soul, because I had precious few growing up. You are loved unconditionally in my heart. I will send you as many hugs as you need, and offer a small gift for your special holiday celebration. I remember one that I had, alone. I had a can of soup to celebrate the Holiday, and made a single origami crane ornament from the label. This was 23 years ago, and I still have that crane… because it symbolized my freedom. It was HOPE in paper form. Please know that you CAN and WILL make a difference in someone’s life, whether you can see it or not. It is the quiet and the hidden who affect the most profound change.

Much love,

Sogi (Aunt) Ruth

Pronounced SUE-Ghee (Mi’q mac language)

Holiday Mom: Mama Aly

Holiday Mom: Mama AlyHello, dear one. I’m so glad you could join us for the holidays!

It’s cold here, and likely snowy, so knock off your shoes and hang your coat while I get you a warm drink. Tea? Coffee? Cocoa? I always feel like I need to make sure everyone’s had something nice to drink and eat. Make yourself comfy!

As soon as the dog is done wagging her tail off at you and Kiddo is done orbiting you, telling you all about his latest Lego creations (you’re his favorite, you know), you can pick a couch spot and settle in for however long you like. It’s holiday schedule, which means it’s time to chill out for a staycation.

Has it been rough, dear? I know it can be. Holiday Dad and I are here for you; maybe we haven’t had to deal with your particular flavor of trials, but we’ve sure had our own. Sure, we “pass”, but it’s not like we’re in the Closet. We’ve had our own challenges, for sure, being Bi and Poly. It gets better. I know, it’s scary right now. We’re here for you. I’m always happy to dispense hugs, if you want them. We’ll keep working on it, bit by bit, a day at a time. You’re not alone, not ever, dear. You are LOVED, and don’t you forget it, not ever. WE LOVE YOU, even on the darkest, coldest nights, we’ve got a light burning in our hearts, and it’s lit for YOU.

In the meantime, let’s enjoy each other’s company. Let’s put up some decorations — help me figure out what goes where! We’ll go pick out a tree; I like the ones with soft needles. It’ll have to be set inside for a day to warm up. Can you believe it’s that cold out?! Then lights, ornaments, and the Sun at the top of the tree for Yule!

Sun? Well, yeah, we celebrate secular Christmas, sure. And who doesn’t love Santa Claus, the true Spirit of Giving?!? It’s just he visits our house on the Winter Solstice, when we celebrate the longest night and the return of the sun. We hold the Light of Love in our hearts and wait for the Sun, because we know it will come to meet our Light. So it’s awfully nice for you to return home to us as we stay up late and celebrate the sun’s return, too!

We’ll light the Yule candles together, and leave treats out for Santa and the reindeer. Then we’ll stay up watching movies — probably geeky ones, knowing us — as late as we can, to honor the long night. In the morning, it’s presents!!! Stockings first, loaded with food treats, and always a mandarin orange in the toe. Mine has tea and chocolate, and Kiddo’s has lego-shaped candies and peanut butter treats. Yours looks delicious! Ooh, look at all the presents under the tree; they’re all so beautiful. Thank you for all the lovely gifts, dear; I hope you liked yours, too!

And then, two weeks of glorious relaxation, doing whatever we like before everyone has to start work and school after New Years. I’m so glad you’re home for the holidays!

Happy sun return!

Love and Light my dear,

Mama Aly

Holiday Mom: Mama Claire

Holiday Mom: Mama ClaireDearest and best holiday child:

When I grew up, my mom (a single parent) really didn’t think much of holidays. She had a tree because I asked her to, but there were never presents from Santa under the tree and she used to hide in the bathroom with the lights off on Halloween. I love her, but I also really love building my own traditions.

This year, I’m so happy that my tradition is going to include bringing you into our home. We’re still struggling to figure out exactly what things we like to do at the holiday season…I like to make little presents and decorations for the house. Maybe you could help us make some ornaments for the tree; I’d love to have one with your name on it. My husband likes to leave cookies out for Santa and the reindeer and makes sure they get eaten down to crumbs by Christmas morning, so maybe you’d like to help with that too.

We don’t really have any special foods we love to eat — although I really love baking, so we could make bread and cookies or muffins. We are vegetarians, which I hope is okay, but we don’t mind making turkey for our loved ones if that’s what they really want to eat. My toddler daughter would probably throw all of hers on the floor and try to eat yours anyway…you don’t have to share with her, but I bet she’d be happy if you did. She loves eating off other people’s plates.

The one tradition I always remember from childhood is filling stockings with lots of tiny gifts (and an orange in the toe, chocolate or real). It delights me to watch you pulling little fun toys or silly hair clips or anything else I can possibly think of, out of your stocking and heaping them in a big pile next to you. We have special stockings for everyone, although we just got them at the dollar store, so I hope you weren’t expecting something hand embroidered! Sometimes something doesn’t have to be super fancy to be special.

You are so welcome in our home and our hearts. As my daughter would say, “hug and kiss”. I hope you feel the strength and love of this invitation and use it to feel as welcome as you have ever felt.

xoxox,

Mama Claire

Holiday Mom: Mama Kat

Holiday Mom: Mama KatHello, wonderful you!

I very much wish you could be here with us this holiday season. We celebrate three different holidays in our house (Yule, Hanukkah, and Christmas), so the joy is spread out over a couple weeks.

The holiday season for us is all about light and hope – coming through the wintertime’s cold and darkness, and back out towards the light and hope of spring. We stay all night long on Yule, watching movies, drinking hot cocoa, and greeting the sunrise together. On the first night of Hanukkah, we light the menorah and make food together.

Christmas morning is the big one, though. The whole family (and sometimes friends) come over, and we open our stockings. Then we have brunch, and then open presents. Our tradition is this – only one present is opened at a time. You can see the smile as someone lights up, get to see them really enjoy each thing before moving on.

We have the fireplace lit, and music on, and everyone just takes their time and enjoys our time together. at dinnertime, we eat together, and we express our gratitude to have each other, and usually tell a lot of punny jokes. We hold a good, long moment in our hearts every year, for all of the people who can’t be with us, or who don’t have a family to spend the day with.

This year, know that you will be with us. You are here, in my heart. Make yourself some breakfast (even if it’s waffles in the toaster!) and know that you are right here with us, eating french toast and eggs and sugared grapefruits.

Some years ago, I had no one at the holidays. Please know that it can, will, and does get better. You will make a family (or friend family) of your own, and you’ll have so much love and light.

So much love to you,
~Mama Kat

Holiday Mom: Momma Phyllis

Holiday Mom: Momma PhyllisDearest one,

I am an “older Mom” with 2 grown daughters.  My one daughter has 4 sons one of which is part of the LGBT community.  The other daughter has Cerebral Palsy and is in a wheelchair.  Having this unique situation has helped us reach out to others with open arms during the holidays and other times.  We want you to feel welcome in our home through this letter and welcome the warmth and affection we have for you.  Our minds and souls embrace you.

Cooking is not my strength but we gather together at my daughter’s house and rejoice and enjoy her wonderful dinner.  I buy an ornament for each member of my family representing something they have done that year.  That includes the 3 dogs!  Each is marked with their name and the year so when they are adults they can put them on their tree.  This year I will include one for you.  Though not in my daughter’s home you will be in our hearts.  Close your eyes and think of each one of us embracing you with warmth and love.  Hopefully you will know you are not alone but part of the barking dogs and the holiday chaos of 4 excited kids and adults.

The holidays can be difficult.  But there are sooo many people in this world that are accepting of diversity.  People have tried to “cure” my daughter of her Cerebral Palsy.  We know that is not going to happen.  She lives in a group home and my family makes sure they can celebrate too.  I make flower arrangements and bring them to their home.  I will think of you when I design the centerpieces.  Just imagine the smell of the evergreens and the look of the pinecones and flowers on their table.  Please be part of the celebration with us.  We all laugh together and enjoy each other’s company.  We  make sure they are left with a feeling of love and know that we are all the same.

Our family holiday will be different this year because we will all have you on our minds.  Though we do not  have a large number of family traditions we are a close knit family and love one another unconditionally.  We want you to be part of that even though you are not physically with us.  You will be in our hearts and part of the dinners, the gift opening, the tree decorating and the laughter and love that abounds.  Cherish who you are and remember there will be people keeping you close throughout the whole holiday season.

Love and hugs,

Momma Phyllis

Holiday Mom: Angela

Holiday Mom: AngelaDear Holiday Child,

I welcome you into my home with open arms. Our home is filled with many traditions I can’t wait to share with you. In our home everyone is welcome. I have four children. My oldest came out to us as transgender three years ago when he was 25. We accept our son and have helped him along this journey knowing our love and support is important. Please know that you too are loved and I am here to let you know how blessed I feel to share this holiday with you.

We start our holidays with decorating every room with cheer. We always try to cut our own tree, but when we can’t it is still a family affair one that takes a lot of deciding. Who wants a fat one who wants a tall one haha but in the end once decorated its always perfect. We all get a new ornament each year so my children boxes are getting quite full. Christmas Eve has always been a special time with traditional Italian food like pasta, fish and of course those delicious cookies. Christmas morning we start with a big brunch attended by extended family. This too has special egg and french toast dishes, and min hot dogs in a brandy currant sauce ( yum ) that has been at every christmas brunch in my husbands family since he was a child. I also cook a big family Christmas dinner with lots of food and we welcome you to join in our feast.

We love being together especially at the holidays. We hope to make you feel welcome too. We would fill your plate with delicious food and your heart with love. We hope you know that you are special all year and that your strength and courage to be who you are makes you unique and wonderful. Remember every day that being who you are inspires others and you inspire me too. I hope this year brings you joy, love, and wonderful memories. Remember I am here for you and I am proud of you !!

Love and Hugs,

your Holiday Mom Angela

Holiday Mom: Meredith

Holiday Mom: MeredithHello my Holiday Child,

I’m the mother of an autistic 11-year-old. Some people view autism through the lens of disease – they think autistic people are broken and need to be fixed. I choose to see autism as an example of neurodiversity: there are so many ways to exist in this world, so many colors, and life’s rainbow wouldn’t look as beautiful without all of us.

The best analogy I’ve ever heard on the subject of neurodiversity involves toast. Imagine your brain is a machine, made of gears and wires and plastic, and when you put all that stuff together, you get a toaster. Now imagine that most people have toasters for brains. They may be toaster ovens or two-slot models, they may make light toast or dark toast, but they all serve the same basic function. In such a world, a person’s worth would likely be judged by how well he could make toast.

Now imagine someone comes along with a head full of gears and wires and plastic, only when you put all that stuff together, you get a hair dryer. Hair dryers are terrific, and way better for styling hair than a toaster would ever be, but they make very strange toast. The person with the hair dryer-brain might feel inadequate in the toast-making department. The toaster-brains might shun him because his toast is bad. But boy, are they going to be grateful he’s around when their hair is wet.

You can cry about how inadequate your toast-making skills are, or you can embrace your hair dryer and be the best hair dryer you can be. I think of my brain as a flat iron – I’ll never be a real toaster, but I can pass for a mini panini press for brief periods until I overheat.

I’ll probably never meet you, but I’ll bet you’re quite a hair dryer. Maybe you’re one of those fancy Dyson Supersonic models, or maybe you’re that reliable Conair that’s stayed by my side for the last 20 years. I’m sure anyone with hair would see how amazing you are if they were given the chance to get to know you.

Something I’ve learned from raising an autistic child is to take nothing for granted. My son may blither nonsensically much of the time, but I’m so grateful he has language, and that occasionally he can use words to tell me what he needs or even how he feels. I’m grateful that he is healthy and generally happy.

Mostly, I’m grateful my son feels free to wave his freak flag. I don’t know if he’s aware yet that he is profoundly different from most of the kids in his middle school, but at this point, he acts like his true self (I’m pretty sure he’s a blender) no matter where he goes and doesn’t appear to notice if some toasters give him the side eye. His typical classmates have come to know him for the lovable, silly, clever kid he is. I worry that someday he will become self-conscious, that he will feel pressured to act more like a toaster, but for now, he is unapologetically himself in a way I wish I, and everyone, could be.

I hope that you achieve that same sense of freedom he must feel, proud of yourself and all you are capable of doing. I hope you build a community of friends who recognize how special you are, and how much you have to offer the world. I hope you always find the courage to advocate for yourself. And I hope that your can look for and appreciate the goodness in others, no matter what the gears and wires in their heads produce, just as I hope they will see the goodness within you.

Happy holidays,

Mama Meredith

Holiday Mom: Auntie Michelle

Holiday Mom: Auntie MichelleDear Holiday Child,

Welcome to your three aunts’ house! I’m Auntie Michelle and I’m so thrilled you’re going to be with us during the holidays.

On your way in, you might notice the video games and couches in the living room. We love all sorts of games and want you to join us and play some. What’s your favorite? We’ve got NES, PlayStation, even board games.

Come over here to the kitchen. It’s kind of small but in this cabinet on the right you’ll find more tea and coffee than you could possibly drink. And the pantry is stocked full of hot chocolate, even white mocha chocolate! Your Auntie Kyle will bring us lots of treats from her bakery so I hope you have a sweet tooth. And Auntie Clara can show you the amazing trapeze tricks she’s learned.

Unfortunately, we don’t have any pets right now, but we have lots of stuffed animals and nerd gear. The big white Tubbs cat plushie is especially comfortable to cuddle up with, but there’s a Star Trek blanket over there if that’s what you’d prefer.

There’s only one rule in your three aunties’ house: be yourself! We love you just the way you are and we don’t want you to change. While you’re in our house, we want you to be completely comfortable, just like we are. Everyone is welcome here and everyone is accepted just the way they are. If you are joyful, dance with us! If you are sad, let us hug you and cry with you. We all get sad sometimes; life can be really hard. But we’re always here for each other and we’ll always be here for you.

Please enjoy your stay in our home. Let us know what you want to celebrate! We have no strict traditions of our own. During these lovely holiday months, we just like being together with the people we love and enjoying each others’ company in a place where everyone can be their wonderful selves.

Love and hugs!

Your Holiday Auntie Michelle

Holiday Mom: Mom Ro

Holiday Mom: Mom RoHappy Chrismukkah from New Orleans!

Like always, Christmas and Hanukkah are overshadowed by frenzied preparations for Mardi Gras, but I can make all the time in the world to celebrate All The Things with you!

I’ve started putting up the decorations already. It’s early, but might as well bring some extra light into a dark season, right?  Some people might raise an eyebrow at our black tree, but the black & white striped ornaments and ribbons look so beautiful, IMO. I’m wrapping all the presents in black and white paper too, and am thinking a touch of red – or maybe lime green for the bows? Haven’t decided, so I can leave that pop of color – or not – up to you. Even though Hanukkah is late this year, abba’s lion menorah is on the living room mantel, and there’s a big bag of the good gelt – the kind that actually tastes like real chocolate!

I hope we can get out and do something fun for the holidays. What would you like to do? There’s the Krewe of Jingle parade on Canal Street. It’s on my birthday this year, so I hope you’ll be the first person to pin a dollar bill on my coat! Maybe later, we can take the streetcar uptown and do the Garden District holiday home tour. The houses are so big and beautifully decorated, but our cozy little shotgun house is just as homey, especially at this time of year.  Afterwards, we can continue the family tradition of going to Commander’s Palace to have a yummy Reveillon dinner. They always make such excellent choices for those special holiday menus, and if you know whom to ask, they’ll make it vegan or vegetarian.

The sweetest New Orleans tradition is caroling in Jackson Square, the week before Christmas. It’s nice seeing so many people coming together and raising their voices in song. And, this being one of the most musical places on earth, we can sing the heck out of a carol!

It’s pretty cool that Hanukkah starts right before Christmas this year, and then, of course, Kwanzaa begins right after. Some of the neighborhood kids have promised to come over and teach us more about Kwanzaa if we teach them about Hanukkah.

What’s your favorite thing about this time of year? Mine is that the holiday season doesn’t let up in New Orleans; it just keeps going! As soon as Christmas is over, it’s only a week until New Year’s, and even better – after that, only six more days until Carnival Season begins! So there’s another month or two of festivities.

Be ready to get covered in glitter. I’ve busted out all the craft stuff to decorate shoes for the Krewe of Muses Mardi Gras parade, and I’d love for you to help. Can’t tell you (you can peek if you promise not to say a word), but the one I’m making for Uncle Don & Uncle Billy is EPIC!  The starting point is a ‘70s disco-era men’s high-heeled ankle boot, with flames on the side of it. I’m nearly done with the one to celebrate Uncle Chris & Uncle Fred’s wedding; a little more traditional, but they’re traditional guys, so it’s totally appropriate.

I love having people over to help work on shoes – it always turns into a party. Our Mardi Gras peeps are so wonderful – loving, generous, inclusive folks who’d do anything for their friends.  Doesn’t matter how creative or talented they are – there’s nothing I can’t fix, and sometimes I get surprised with a work of art that’s truly beautiful and unexpected! Just like you!

Much love and light,

Your Holiday Mom, Ro

Holiday Mom: Mama McA

Holiday Mom: Mama McADear beloved child—

The Christmas season is approaching, and I can’t wait to spend the holiday time with you! The gifts and celebration are fun, but the best part is just hanging out with you, hearing what you are doing, what you are thinking about. Seeing the amazing person you are continuing to grow into being—that is the gift I want the most.

I’m hoping that this year, you will help me bake the dozens and dozens of cookies that we love every year. I love sharing that with you, because it was such an important part of my holidays growing up. Aunt Jan and I used to spend hours, into the middle of the night, kneading dough, grinding nuts, making frosting, burning our fingers on the thumbprint cookies to make the little dents where the jam goes. I know you will love the apricot crescents that Dad rolls out on the counter, and we put together so they look like little babies in blankets. And the melting moment cookies that Auntie Nette renamed “butt cookies” before you were born—so yummy! And of course, Colin’s favorite lemon cheese dainties—maybe we will make him an extra batch to take back to the barracks when his leave is over! Which ones will be your favorites this year?

The best part will be going to “unchurch” at the Unitarian Universalist congregation. Even though we aren’t Jesus-y any more, that doesn’t mean we won’t love going there together and singing all the Christmas songs together. Luckily the UUs like all traditions, so we get the old-fashioned songs there. And then we will come home, and bust out the cookies (and probably the whiskey, unless Dad makes us try egg nog, AGAIN), and watch A Christmas Story. We will get a bit tipsy and head off for a wonderful night’s sleep.

Then, in the morning, coffee and something special to eat—maybe cinnamon rolls, or a yummy egg casserole. All of you kids will open your stockings, since I have been keeping them here for you. I will wrap all the chapsticks and new pens and silly stuff individually, so you have lots to open. We will take turns opening gifts one-by-one, to make the day last so long. We will laugh and smile and cheer everything, and the dogs will get another lesson in how to unwrap presents. Mostly, we will just be together, and love one another.

Later we will make dinner together and relax. Maybe some of our friends will join us, and we will have a white elephant gift exchange, or just play a game. None of this will be complete unless you are with us. We will be so happy to have you join us for our holiday traditions. The holidays are a time of love—sharing love and feeling love. We love you and we want to spend our family time with you.

Much, much love, and longing to see you,

Mama McA