Over the river and through the woods

"Just being together to eat, laugh, sing and hug makes Christmas Eve wonderful for me," says Gayly Life Issues columnist Bruce Hartley.

by Bruce Hartley
Life Issues Columnist

Some say Halloween is the biggest LBGTQ holiday. As a 50-something gay dad, I think Christmas and New Year rank highest on my favorite holidays. Yes, I’m an old dude and I still embrace some traditions that have been in my family for years.

Humor me and take a walk down memory lane to my home in Southwest Missouri where I grew up and still spend my winter break.

My kids are now in their twenties and we continue to celebrate Christmas with family traditions, but we are adding a few new twists this year. One new thing is a private Facebook page that we started during October. We invited our family to be members of the private social media group to cover events from Thanksgiving to New Year.

This page has been a place for us to put photos from past Thanksgivings and Christmases along with menu plans for parties (with food assignments). We also include our “Christmas wish lists” so family can easily get gift ideas at the touch of their smart phone.

Other December traditions we enjoy include a trip to Silver Dollar City (SDC) in Branson, MO. Yes, it’s not the most gay-friendly place on earth, but it’s certainly full of bright lights and is a delight for my old gay eyes! I’m sure they would love this endorsement in my column. SDC at Christmas time is lovely and the nightly electrical parade is enchanting to say the least. And, warm funnel cakes and hot chocolate always tops off the activity.

Christmas Eve is the time when my family gets together to go to an afternoon movie. We have done this since my kids were babies. I’ll never forget taking my daughter who was barely a month old to see Father of the Bride on Christmas Eve in 1991. I wept like a baby while she laid still in her pink stroller sound asleep. I can’t wait to see what movie we will see this year.

After the movie, we migrate to one of our homes and enjoy a feast of finger foods and sweets. Now that my kids are older, we add special cocktail drinks to the festivities. After we eat we continue with opening gifts and finally playing some group games. My son or son-in-law will usually play some carols on the guitar as we visit.

Just being together to eat, laugh, sing and hug makes Christmas Eve wonderful for me. I am very thankful for a family that accepts my sexual orientation and my wonderful partner of three years, Bill. Once the night comes to a close, we all hug and head to our own homes.

My kids have their own families and are starting their own Christmas day traditions. I spend Christmas day with Bill and his kids who still live at his home. Bill is a big Christmas decoration guy. His home is decorated with an abundance of trees, lights, candles, greenery and more. I feel like I’m at Santa’s workshop when I’m at Bill’s house.

We usually get up, have presents with his kids, and then have a scrumptious dinner. Did I also mention that Bill is an amazing cook? I put on a few pounds just enjoying Bill’s wonderful culinary skills.

Finally, after two days of celebrating, Bill and I usually get to relax and start thinking about New Year’s Eve plans. Of course, that’s my next favorite gayest holiday!

It’s been a wild year and I pray that you find a way to celebrate the holidays. Dig into your memory and bring back some old traditions or begin some new ones. If you like any of mine, feel free to borrow them. Whatever you do, pay attention to people around you that need hugs and love at Christmas.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Bill and me to you and yours!

Copyright 2016 The Gayly – December 21, 2016 @ 11:10 a.m.