Did you or your partner ever get left off the family Christmas letter?
My mother has been writing a Christmas letter since the year my oldest niece was born. I suspect the reason she started writing Christmas letters was because she was excited about having a grandchild, but it also coincided with the first year that she owned a computer and a dot-matrix printer, so who knows, maybe she would have sent one when I was a baby if the technology had been there!
It was seven years after that first Christmas letter that I came out to my parents. Of course that news didn’t make the Christmas letter and quite frankly, I wouldn’t have been ready for it, if it had. Over the years however, my partner has been mentioned in the letter several times – not as my partner, but just in context with other happenings. I think I remember one year where she got a pretty good mention talking mainly about her career.
Although we’ve been together for 17 years, we live in a state that bans same-sex marriage, so we haven’t crossed that bridge yet. We never had a commitment ceremony and I doubt I ever said to my parents, we think of our relationship as you think of your marriage. So it’s not as if my mom just skipped over an important event in her Christmas letter. But some years, she has left my partner out of the Christmas letter altogether and it has a little sting to it at first, but then I think it all the way through…
Point 1: It’s only been a year or two ago that I told my parents, that I was comfortable with who I was and that I used the word “partner” to describe my relationship. I also told them that however they wanted to handle it when it came to introducing us to their friends, was fine with me. It had taken me years to get comfortable, I certainly don’t want to force them into something that’s uncomfortable.
Point 2: Even though I had that conversation with them, I have a strong feeling that my Mom thinks I would prefer not to be publicly “out”. In fact, I’m still a little guarded about it when I see old friends in my old hometown where my parents and other relatives live. That’s a bit of a conundrum, since I believe the reason I’m guarded there, is so I don’t make things awkward for my family.
Point 3: I know for a fact that my mom is afraid for me… she’s afraid there are people in the world who will hurt me because I’m gay and she would do anything to protect me. I confess that’s the main reason I am cautious in public – to keep my mother from being afraid for me. We would each risk everything to save the other, but neither of us would want the other to gamble with her own safety.
Point 4: It’s only been in the last couple of years that my partner and I have sent out Christmas Cards together. It’s taken me a long time to get over the fear of having someone thinking less of me because I’m gay. How totally lame, but why should I expect my mom to handle this better than I have.
If you or your partner or spouse have been left out of the family Christmas letter, how have you handled it? Have you been fair to your family or maybe even given them some leeway just because you love them? Have you ever talked to your family about it?
For the record, my parents have been very supportive since the day I came out, even if a little awkward. I can’t blame them for that… I am still totally awkward when talking to most straight people, even those I totally trust!