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Note: This letter is written mostly as snark, but partly as a genuine list of concerns families have on both sides of coming out.  I found that when I stopped trying to gently explain things and just started pointing out to our family just how ridiculous some of their concerns sounded to us, they began to understand more that our lifestyle choice didn’t have to be a lifestyle change for them, that we were still the people they raised to be responsible adults, and that we weren’t going to destroy our extended families with our poly laser vision.   Maybe don’t print it out verbatim, but feel free to use it as a rubric for conversation.    

Dear Friends and Family,

I have chosen to be open with you about my family and how we choose to live.  This honestly means that I trust you to at least not condemn me, though I hope you’ll try to open your heart and accept my extended family even if you do not understand how or why we have made these choices.  I understand that this may be unfamiliar and possibly uncomfortable territory for you to navigate, so I will do my best to give you some helpful highlights to make this holiday season enjoyable for us all!

1.  My partners are people, not aliens or monsters.  They have lives, families, and personalities of their own.  Try having a conversation.  About anything, really.  You don’t need my mediation.

2.  My partners are not made of glass.  See above.

3.  My partners are not homewreckers.  See number 1, and see my husband/wife/etc.  That smile?  That means we’re still happy together and that this is a mutual decision we’ve made.

4.  Remember when I went to prom and you met my date at the door cleaning a shotgun and interrogated him until he had sweat through his cummerbund?  Don’t do that.  We’re all adults now, and the fact that these are people I love and value alone should convince you that they’re good people.

5. There is no need to tiptoe around our children.  They know exactly what they need to know, that they have a family full of people who love them and that there are presents to open.  I assure you they are more concerned about the presents than who sleeps in what bed with whom.

6.  You don’t need to buy us all gifts.  Don’t worry, this is not a scheme to get more stuff.  If you want to include us all, and we hope you do, you can give us something we can all use!  Or feed us.  We LOVE that.

7.  We don’t care if you say Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, or Hi.  Just be nice, and smile.

8.  There is no need to worry about us acting inappropriately at your gathering…unless it’s that kind of gathering.  The important thing here is that we’re people, not animals.  Those manners we’ve exhibited for years?  Didn’t disappear when we chose to love more than one person.  Let’s add to that that we won’t discuss our sex lives out loud if you will promise the same.  Lookin’ at you, Grandma.

9.  I understand that members of our extended family may not understand our relationship situation.  If they question you, tell them whatever you feel comfortable saying.  It’s not integral to our household that you use titles.  When I introduce my family to people who might not be poly-friendly I simply say “this is Jane”.  Jane knows she’s my girlfriend.  People who have asked me know she’s my girlfriend.  Let Aunt Gertrude make her own assumptions.  People do it all the time for all kinds of ridiculous things.  Again, see that part about acting appropriately at a family function.  We have this covered.

10.  Please don’t feel like you can’t ask any of us questions or trust us not to make the entire family name look like a circus.  I’m still your son/daughter/etc, and we are all family.  We want to share these celebrations with you, and we are thankful to be included as a family.

Love,

(sign here)

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English: Saint Patrick stained glass window fr...

 

My maiden name is Italian, and the red highlights that grace my hair in the summertime could have come from anywhere, but I married an Irish boy who takes his corned beef and cabbage very seriously.  St Patrick’s Day has become an imperative celebration in our household, and there is no shame about it.  I will gladly patronize my local Five Below for all the obnoxious green, blinking, sparkly accessories I can muster, dress like a fool for a night, and have a good time with my family.

With it currently being trendy to be cynical, sarcastic, and non-participatory with every day set aside to be special (ie. Valentine’s Day, St Patrick’s Day) I get hassled a lot by anyone from hipsters thinking they’re ironic to geeks giving me a diatribe about historical accuracy and political correctness like it’s new information.  I’ve learned not to take it personally and asked them all not to be offended when I celebrate anyway just because it’s a tradition.  St Patrick’s Day has as much to do with St Patrick as Cinco de Mayo has with Mexico.  Nothing.  It’s a traditional celebration that brings people together and begs them to pull the stick from their backsides.

For me it’s not about the drinking, as I’ve had plenty of dry St Patrick’s Day celebrations. Honestly, if you need alcohol to have a good time you’re doing something wrong.  For me it’s about letting loose and not worrying about a single thing for a few hours.

Our society has lost a lot of it’s ability to have fun for no good reason, to be silly and unplanned, to look ridiculous as a crowd.  There is nothing wrong with looking like a fool for a day.  As long as my responsibilities are being taken care of I have earned the privilege to put on a green wig and dance like a fool, and I’d like to see anyone try and stop me.

I usually have some idea what I want to do for Hubby for Valentine’s Day.  This year, however, my well of ideas has run dry, so last night I set out on an internet search.  I was thoroughly unprepared for the magnitude of hilarious Valentine’s Day crap out there!  While I’d never pay money just to give Hubby a gag Valentine, I will let him read this post and laugh with me, which is all in the same spirit anyway.  I hope you’re all prepared, because ready or not, Happy Valentine’s Day

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I’m a little uncomfortable being just stared at this way, but I might give this card with a taser. 


valentines-niccage-national-treasure-03This one has creepy pink-lipstick adorned Nick Cage, and why is that teddy bear sitting up on the side like that?  I’d give this with a ragged old teddy bear I found at a thrift store.  Maybe a rape whistle.

 
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I actually considered buying this one, especially because it’s a magnet.  I might give this in a “gas acceptance” gift basket full of canned pork n’ beans, cabbage, and grapes.  

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Cutest. Card. Ever.  I’ve never cuddled a hedgehog, though.  It’s probably not as cozy as it looks.
il_570xN.409376516_swwoThis was made me snort.  I love science…and puns…and science puns.  I’d pair this with one of those foot-long giant pencils.

 
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For the dog lover in all of us.  I might give this card before a romantic picnic in the park as warning to watch where you step. 

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Card number two I almost purchased.  I had never seen an episode of Star Trek from beginning to end until I met Hubby.  Last yeqr we had a romantic Jacuzzi suite where we spent a whole day watching a Star Trek marathon.

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As is Jack in the Boxes weren’t creepy enough, here’s an image for you.  Also, where to puppets or spring action “Jacks” have butts?  I would give this with an actual Jack in the Box, the older and creepier the better, and a shaving kit.
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This card speaks to the part of me that feels rebellious and indignant when people get overly suggestive.  Still, I’ve always had a fondness for Alf, and it reminds me of my childhood.  I’d give  this with a box of fruit snacks and a slap bracelet.  

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This is just a big NO.  It’s creepy, it’s bratty, it’s everything I dislike about Pokemon. Picachu was created to specifically attract girls and mothers to Pokemon, which makes it a manipulative “pocket monster”.  It should not be using innuendo. I would give this with two bouquets.  One for my date, and one for her mom.

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What does it say about me that the first problem I had with this was the grammar?  I’d at least send this with a cliche bottle of wine or box of chocolate to soften the blow.valentines-starwars-yoda-cupid-Patrick-McQuadeCreepy Yoda cupid.  I probably don’t need to say more.  I just hope there aren’t any old people in the room when my date sees the picture.

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I’m pretty sure there are pictures of me and Hubby this way somewhere.  I may have taken them as proof that I love him and have not booby trapped my side of the bed yet.  Being alive still is my gift.
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This is just terrible, but lends well to a bouquet of Pixie Sticks.
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How cute are Pac Man and Mrs Pack Man about to eat each other’s faces? This card obviously compliments a romantic dinner and a bag of marshmallows.  Maybe fondue. il_570xN.410181853_il5e

Don’t give this card if you’re part of a triad or poly family.  Just sayin’.  I’d give this with a bag of Sudoku and crosswords, maybe one of the personalized crosswords I mentioned last year.

il_570xN.421091800_319fThis last one I actually loved!  For those of you who don’t know, the date on our marriage license is Pi Day (3/14) with a time listed as 1:59:26.  Why?  Because we’re nerds, that’s why.

There ya have it, friends!  If you actually want to purchase any of these gems, they’re all available on Etsy.com.  I send you all my love this Valentine’s Day, and whether or not you have a date I hope you do something exciting!

Aloha

Go now, love.

     It’s Thanksgiving, and the internet is abuzz with post of blessings and thanks for everything we have.  It’s heartwarming to see, especially in a time when things are not well for everyone.  In fact, things are not well for a lot of people.  Many continue to struggle, and many have lost quite a bit to that struggle, our family included, but we continue to be thankful and to try to keep our perspective in the right direction. 
     Today I saw a man yell at a McDonald’s worker for giving him the wrong kind of cookies, telling her “You screwed up, so my meal should be free!”   Perspective.  You’re a man who can afford a meal at McDonald’s.  Not only that, you can afford air fare and time off work.  You’re alive today, dressed warm, and at least healthy enough to be yelling at some poor girl, who is not with her family on Thanksgiving, in front of your two well dressed, warm, fed children who are both carrying tablets of some kind.  Hubby has said to me more than once, “It’s not about getting what makes us happy, it’s about being happy with what we have,” and I have agreed with him.  As long as our basic needs are met we continue to thrive.  Would I like a new computer?  Of course I would.  Would it make my life easier?  Of course it would.  Do I need it to be happy?  No, not really.
     This Thanksgiving I reflect on the last year.  I think about the people who have come into it, and the people who have left it.  I think about the changes we’ve made and the opportunities we’ve had.  I think about things I’ve accomplished and lessons I’ve learned.  My life is full of love, even when I am struggling.  My life is full of laughter, even if there are times of anger and sadness.  My life is full of chances.  Chances to move forward.  Chances to grown.  Chances to take chances.  I took some big chances this year, and some of them landed me flat on my face, but others have flourished.
     We may continue to fight and crawl, but we have the chance to survive and stand up again.  This is more than many can say, and I am thankful for each and every one of the chances I am given.

I have a confession to make, dear friends.  I still believe in Santa.

My mom worked very hard to make sure I believed in Santa as long as possible, and I did far after my friends and other kids had grown jaded and cynical.  One year she even made dirty boot prints on our carpet, a mortal sin in our house and punishable by slow, torturous death, only to complain about having to clean it up.  That Santa, she said, he can come down a chimney, but he can’t deliver presents without making a mess?  There were years of half eaten cookies of which I took pictures with dreams of running dental records, glasses of half drunk milk, and dozens of letters and pictures left for Santa.  Yes, my friends, my mother suffered terribly in her role as Santa.  I often wondered in later years why she went through so much work.  All kids eventually stop believing in Santa or dragging their irrefutable proof of his existence to school for skeptical friends on the first day back to school.

The simple answer is the sheer excitement, mystery, and wonder that comes from waiting for Santa.  For years my cousins and I would swear we heard sleigh bells and feet on the roof.  Hubby’s mom even snuck him to the top of the stairs one year to witness Santa, proxied by Pop-pop, to suspend his belief for a few more years.  Especially for kids like Hubby and I were, kids who knew too much and always looked for more answers, it was hard to keep that belief and excitement alive.

I have not yet had the opportunity to have  Christmas morning with Lil Guy, but his excitement around opening presents and Santa this year was contagious.  I hope someday we can come to some kind of agreement with his mother, but I hope more that she does what she can to keep that spirit alive in him as long as possible.  Too often we stress to children their need to mature and grow, and we let those things that keep them young and vibrant well into their adult years fall by the wayside.  Children need a good portion of fantasy and mystery in their lives in order to not become adults with no sense of imagination or silliness.  Bah humbug to that!

In any case, it appears this year, his five-year old’s excitement was contagious, and could not have needed it more than I did this year.  With Hubby and I apart for the holidays for the first time in four years,  it had been a stretch for me to find the spirit.  I was going through all the motions and waiting for January until one night I had a thought.  I hadn’t had Christmas with my family in at least six years, and I missed it.  I’ve always had jobs that kept me home at Christmas, but this year I had enough seniority to get the day off.  If I could find people willing to pick up the rest I would fly to California for Christmas.

The logistics here were rough.  I decided to make it a surprise to everyone but my dad, who would have to pick me up.  I wanted that excitement!  The last few times I’d seen my maternal grandmother she’d seemed down and a little depressed, and I hoped this would brighten her day a little.  I also didn’t know if I could get there.  Because my day job is at an airline,  I fly for free, but I fly standby.  To fly standby at Christmas is a gamble all around.  I didn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up and not make it after all.

So, I schemed.  My dad helped.  Co-workers were kind, and flights were miraculously free of a seat or two.  Lo and behold, Santa arrived in Oakland two days early on a Boeing 737, carrying me!  I was as excited as a kid on…well, Christmas.

What I didn’t know is that both grandmothers had been having a bit of a rough year, and both of them needed a little extra Christmas spirit.  When I showed up at the first one’s house she almost fell over.  Then she cried.  The other was so excited after I called that she rearranged her plans the next day and couldn’t sleep that night.  They needed to reconnect as much as I did.

And so it began!  My dad and I drove the neighbourhood looking for elaborate displays of Christmas lights.  My grandmother and I made the cemetery rounds, and I was able to reconnect with the family I’ve lost.  Afterwards we had lunch and were finally able to talk like we haven’t been able to do in a long time.  It’s been an amazing experience.  While Hubby and I may have needed the overtime pay, but he recognized this need as well and encouraged me to do what was best for me and my spirit.  We can make up the money.  I would never have been able to make up this time with my family.

While I only celebrate Christmas secularly, this is what it’s about to me.  It’s about family, togetherness, and excitement.  It’s about sharing, connecting, and laughing together no matter how rough the year has been.  It’s about hope for the coming year and casting off the grudges and petty arguments of the past year.  It’s about excitement, mystery, and surprise.  It’s about magic.  It may be only a part of the Spirit of Christmas, as I do respect that it is a holiday to celebrate the birth of Christ, but it is the power behind the Spirit of Santa and the reason I will always believe.

Aloha.

Go now, have a Merry Christmas!

I read a fantastic piece of news today from Domestic Witchery Examiner.  Having gone to Catholic schools all my life, this was never an issue for me; only Christian holidays were observed or excused.  Anything else was a reported absence.  Even with a note I would’ve caught Hell for missing a day for a sabbat.

It seems that a mother in New Jersey wrote a note in advance for her daughter to be excused from school to attend Yule and was told the absence would be noted as excused but that Yule was not included on the schools approved holidays.  After being repeatedly brushed-off, and after swimming through several bureaucratic channels of command,  the girl’s mother, who is a reverend in her tradition threatened legal action.  The vote finally reached a state level, and New jersey’s 2010-2011 will include all eight Wiccan/Pagan sabbats.  I would like to make a couple comments about this, besides the obvious or expected ‘it’s about time!”

I would first like to express gratitude to the friends, family, and supporters of this woman, many who are not Pagan, who wrote letters to the Board of Education asking that this expression of religious freedom be extended to the Pagan/Wiccan community.  From my family and many around the country dealing with the sometimes daunting task of raising children in a Pagan/Wiccan household, thank you.

More importantly I would like to send a huge “shame on you!” to the forums and message boards this woman went to for support who told her it was not their problem because they don’t have children.  As a community often misunderstood and omitted from opportunities afforded other religious systems, we need to support each other as often and as outwardly as possible.  There are innumerable families out here who are no longer content to raise our children in the broom closet, who are no longer hiding our beliefs from our children like a dark secret, and who should not be any more afraid to wear a pentagram necklace than we would a crucifix or a Star of David.  We are ignored enough without it coming from within our own community, and this level of disownership of a prominent member is unacceptable.

That being said, this is still a marked victory, and New Jersey just moved up a peg on my list, even if it still smells funny.

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