December 23, 2011

Christmas Thougts and Memories

Until a couple of years ago this time of the year had become a sad, dreadful time. Life in general had made it a bad holiday for me, but it wasn't always like that. There are plenty of previous experiences at Christmas that probably made it fun, so I'll write about a few of them:

My earliest memory of Christmas is from when I was about 5 years old. My parents had split up by then and my older sister, my brother and I were living with my dad. I remember my sister telling us about dad and her going to see the 3-Wise Men (in the part of Mexico we lived in there was no Santa, instead the 3WM = 3-Wise Men--brought toys and presents for kids on January 6th)--and she went on to tell us about the things that we might be getting from the 3WM if we were good boys and behaved...surprise, surprise---on January 6th we got a toy truck (pretty much like the one below), candy, underwear and socks just like my sister had predicted! LOL

 The next vivid memory of Christmas for me was when we moved from Mexico to Houston. Somehow or other in the move we managed to cram our old Christmas tree in the car--just in case we might need it--well times were so hard that first year with dad barely making enough and all those kids so when Christmas came around we dug out the old tree we actually brought from Mexico and put a few decorations on it. We didn't expect anything big until of course, LDS Church members came to the rescue with decorations, gifts, food, carols and goodies for all of us. It turned out to be a good Christmas after all.

While I was on my mission I spent 2 Christmases away from home. The first one was in Mexico City and the family that we rented a room from invited us with some of their friends or relatives--can't quite remember and the dinner was nice, lots of people and lots of booze which of course we didn't drink. I was asked to say a few words--which I can't even remember but it must have been an awkward message because I do remember people going back to their drinking and merriment right after that, LOL... the second Christmas was just spent with other missionaries hanging out and eating in Cuernavaca, it was nice and quiet. We always had a nice service and show with the President's family--they loved to sing, dance and put on a show for us--that's actually where I learned all about White Elephant gifts too!! :-)

Later on--Being married it meant that we had to spend time with both my family and in-laws. It was crazy because both families expected us to be there with them at the same time, it was hard to leave one house--because they weren't quite ready to do presents and such yet--then arrive at the next house and be told: "you weren't here, we opened presents already". I think that's when I started losing the joy for the holidays with the pressure of outdoing others for presents and the stress of "who are we disappointing this year"? Maybe it was just eagerness to please everyone and not being able to put our foot down and say: "look, we have to have our own traditions too, or we'll trade off every other year" try as we might it never worked out-- No bueno.

Fast-forward to now, I sure don't miss the anxiety and pangs of the holidays. Instead I focus on the kids, the babe and whatever little I can do to make it a special season--making the most of the circumstances. There have surely been adjustments in life, family dynamics and even revised/new traditions but I feel much, much better about the season and I don't have quite the anxiety levels I used to before. Sure, there is always so much more I could do so many more to touch and help, friends to remember and candles to light, but even in small ways, a lot of good things can happen. 

I hope everyone who might read this has a very

Merry Christmas
Happy Kwanza
Happy Hanukkah
Happy Winter Solstice Festivus

And if you're not with relatives, perhaps with friends or in any other possible way. If being with someone isn't an option I hope that at the very least the spirit of the season is enough comfort for now until times get better--that's how I used to make it through those dark times way back when...

December 08, 2011

Breeding them Tender (Femmy)

I attended a baby's blessing at an LDS ward last Sunday. It had been a long time since I had last attended the LDS church and a fast & testimony meeting on top of that! I didn't feel weird not partaking of the sacrament although the thought did come to my mind how at City of Hope the pastors always stress the fact that everyone is invited to partake of communion, even if you don't believe in anything, but that's not the point of this post--I'll get back on track, promise.

So finally testimony time came around--we had taken some paper to keep tallies on how many times we heard key words (Jesus-Christ, Joseph Smith and such-) and make it a little more lively. As usual the bishop shared his and invited members to do the same. After a few awkward moments of silence people started making their way up to share. We heard the token stalwart member who had spiritual experiences to share, a couple of kids, crying women and so on; at one point a guy got up and started sharing his thoughts at which point Jeff scribbled on his paper that his gaydar was going haywire. I paid a little more attention to the guy and well, yeah the way he expressed himself and gestures gave me cause to agree with Jeff (I don't have a great gaydar myself--I usually can't tell right off the bat)--maybe I should think like one of my friends does: Everyone is gay until proven otherwise--ha!

Anyway--getting back to the post it was interesting to see some of the other testimonies and the inflection that comes with them, particularly from the males. Some of them did seem spiritual and all but at some point I mentioned to Jeff how easy it is/was for many of us gay folk to navigate in the church pretty much unrecognized for our queerness all in the name of spirituality and he said something that he had mentioned before but I had not completely understood: "That's because in the church they breed them femmy" I guess it made sense to me at that point even though I had heard yet another friend before who mentioned that some people outside of Utah say that their gaydar doesn't work in Utah because everyone is trying to act all spiritual and such...

Good food for thought!

All in all I had a good experience at the LDS church. I had made a decision a long time ago that if I ever found myself in a situation where I needed to support a LDS family member in their life-events I would be supportive and make the best of the situation. I have to admit that up to now the last few times I hadn't been so much at peace with going back to a sacrament meeting but this time my impressions were not as bad and I felt in a much better place--not that I'll start attending my local ward or anything!!

One last observation: Jesus-Christ and Joseph Smith were neck-and-neck being mentioned in testimonies, according to my tally marks but Jesus won only very slightly--I'm not 100% sure what to make of that or if it even matters at this point...