Your Holiday Mom: Emily

emily picDear Adopted Holiday Child,

It is so good to see you! I’ve missed you so much. I often have imaginary conversations with you. Today I saw a bald eagle sitting in a high branch on a cottonwood and I wished you were there to share it with me. It was a beautiful day—chilly and windy, a late fall day. One of those days where the sky is so blue it seems it might shatter and the eagle’s head was brilliant white against the sky. You would have loved it.

I know that you’ve been trying lots of different things and really searching to find what is right for you. I want to hear about your experiences. What have you been up to? How has it been? It’s not easy to step away from the group and into our own self. But it is worth it. I want you to know that. It is worth it, and in time we find our people, the ones who love and support us for who we are. That will happen for you, I know. I just don’t know when.

When I saw the eagle today and I thought of you, I got the feeling that you might be going through a rough time. I remembered some rough times in my life. Times when I hit a wall so hard that I couldn’t get up for days. I mean that; I would stay on my couch or in bed for days. Months, even, a few times. I would hate not only the wall, but also myself–I would beat myself up, endlessly, for not getting off the couch.

We have high expectations for ourselves, as we should. But when we hit walls, we have to give ourselves grace and generosity and kindness. None of us came out of the womb knowing how to deal with walls this hard. So far I’ve always managed to get up and get going again. I found ways around the walls, but it takes a lot of time and energy. All of that is the long way to say that I know that you will keep going and moving when the time is right. In the meantime, be kind to yourself. Take a slow walk. Enjoy your surroundings. Look for bald eagles and think of me.

I’m rambling on. You and your partner are welcome in our house for the holiday. We’ve been trying to keep a Norfolk Pine alive all year, but really it looks like that Charlie Brown Christmas tree and the dogs aren’t helping—they’ve knocked it over three times in the last week, as they were running to the window to bark at a rabbit! If you can accept my house with barking dogs and the unfortunate Christmas tree, I’m happy to have you and anyone you bring. We can sit by the fire and drink hot chocolate—real hot chocolate, made in a saucepan!—and watch the snow. And I hope that in our togetherness, we all feel some healing shifts in our souls.

As a parent, I want you to have a fulfilling life, whatever that looks like for you. I don’t know your exact situation, but I know that we all have deep wounds. I support you in being you. Please accept my love, and here’s a big hug, and, oh! Let me brush that dog hair off you.


Take care.



  1. Katie says:

    It’s been 3 years, and I still come back to this letter, several times a year. It struck a cord, deep down inside, and I appreciate it. A lot of the other letters over the years just talk about eating all the food and seeing all the relatives and opening all the presents, and then yours talks about hitting walls and depression and watching snow fall, and there’s something so refreshing about the rawness and truthfulness of it. And I appreciate it greatly. Thank you. Katie

    • Auntie Hay says:

      Dear Katie-
      I am getting all teary here, imagining the love in this letter radiating over you throughout the last few years. The power of love, even through a computer screen, is a beautiful and amazing thing.
      I hope this holiday season you are still feeling the love- from this letter, and from all the random people like me who read through this site and feel the pain and love along with you.
      I am thinking of you tonight and hoping you are doing well and feeling cozy.
      Auntie Hay

  2. Skyler Thomas says:

    Dear Emily thank you so much for sharing this. Merry Christmss to you and your family. Christmas isn’t the same w/o my Mom. She passed away in 1999 so having your encouragement is awesome. Peace and blessings to you and yours!

  3. Taylor says:

    This letter was very lovely and I enjoyed reading it. Thank you mom Emily for accepting me and being the mother that I probably won’t ever have. Happy Holidays to you! <3

    • Emily says:

      You are welcome Taylor, and happy holidays to you!

      Here’s a really psycho-babble idea for you: ultimately we all end up parenting ourselves. Perhaps you can be the Mom you want to have… to yourself. 🙂

  4. Dakota says:

    This letter brought me to tears. I have hit so many walls in my very short life… Too many to count! But when you said “I support you in being you”. I haven’t heard that in over two years and sadly that person is no longer with us. The holidays are tough, but they are getting better! And as a Floridian, I would LOVE to see some snow! haha

    Happy Holidays! And thank you!

    • Emily says:

      I am hoping that snow will come too… after a burst in early November we’ve been woefully short this year. Walls suck, but they can be overcome. I do support you in being you. Take care – Emily

  5. Auden says:

    Thanks so much for this. Last week I saw my parents for the first time since they disowned me for being queer a few years ago, and it did not go well. I needed this reminder today to be compassionate toward myself. In a season where everyone around me is so focused on their own families and traditions, it’s healing to have these letters to remember that someone sees my pain and cares about it. Love to all you letter writers <3

    • Emily says:

      Auden, please give yourself lots of gentle care. I’m sorry the situation is difficult. Take care, Emily

  6. Jenn says:

    Thank you, Emily, for such special words! “But when we hit walls, we have to give ourselves grace and generosity and kindness,” brought good tears…I’m sure so many can relate to that message.

    • Emily says:

      Thanks for your reply Jenn. I wish someone had given me permission to be kind to myself sooner. Probably, people tried, but I wasn’t able to hear it. I hope that people can hear and act on that message. Take care!

  7. Marni says:

    I love your beautiful letter, Mom Emily. I’m no longer in the “youth” category and lead a happy, fulfilling life with my wife, but there were some very dark times in my early coming out/trying to figure things out years … your letter would have meant the world to me during those time – it still does! Thank you for sharing your experience and your eagle.
    Much love,

    • Emily says:

      Marni, Hooray on moving out of the dark times! It’s good for us all to know that the dark times can end. Take care and enjoy the birds. Emily

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