Who's Your Daddy

The Stockings are Hung

Some of my favorite childhood memories stem from Christmas. The amazing open houses on Christmas Eve that my parents host. The World Almanac my aunts gave me every year as a little extra gift because the 25th is also my name day. The Almond Roca our neighbor Mrs. Marchant would give me every year for shoveling her walks and never accepting payment (um, you see, more than a few almonds make me break out in hives …)

Like many gay men who are away from their families during the holidays — either by choice or circumstance — Kelly and I created our own traditions. When we lived in San Francisco, for example, on Christmas Eve we’d grab dinner then meet up with friends to hit the Gay Men’s Chorus’ holiday show at the Castro Theater. After the show, we’d head up to Nob Hill and catch a little of Midnight Mass at Grace Cathedral, before heading across the street to “oooh” and “aaah” at the tree in the lobby of the Huntington Hotel. We’d end the night with drinks or dessert at someplace that was still open and then stumble home to bed. Meanwhile, across the city, kids were just waking up to see what waited for them in the stockings they’d hung by the chimney with care!

I’ll never forget when my niece, Lyndsey, still an excited 12 or 13-year old, enthusiastically called at 6:30 a.m. to thank her favorite uncles for the really cool present we’d sent. When she asked me if I’d had a nice Christmas, I replied, “I don’t know. It’s 6:30 in the morning and we don’t have kids!” and then hung up on her.

All that changed, of course, when the boys came along. Now we’re waking up at an hour when many of our friends are just jumping into bed! But what we’ve given up in sleep, we’ve more than made up for in fun. These Christmases, Kelly and I get to be little boys all over again. We’re allowed to get caught up in the excitement in a way we hadn’t in years.

Take our first Christmas in Los Angeles. It was the first time that Gus really had any understanding of the holiday and Santa. And, man, was he excited! Kelly decided to put a few lights on the house. When Gus suggested, “More, Papa, more!” Kelly just kept adding new strings of lights.

Now you have to understand something: our house was located on a street that didn’t have street lamps, and many of our neighbors were elderly or Jewish. To say our house stood out is an understatement. When our best friends, John and Sabine saw it for the first time, they were compelled to ask if they were playing “Spot the gay Christians.”

We took a lot of good-natured ribbing. People asked if the Space Shuttle could see us. Folks wanted to know if we owned stock in the power company. But Gus loved it, and secretly, so did we.

Last year we didn’t even wait until December rolled around before we put up our tree. The weather was still nice, it wasn’t all that cold and there wasn’t any snow, but that didn’t stop us from going shopping for an evergreen. Here’s the really weird thing: I’m one of those guys who complains and whines when I see Christmas stuff out in stores before Thanksgiving.

But there was just something about the boys’ enthusiasm that was, well, contagious. And I know that I’m going to catch their holiday spirit again this year. As a matter of fact, before any of you read a single word of this column, we’ll already have purchased and decorated our tree; the little vintage village will be up around the family room; and our stockings will be hung by chimney with care.

I’m not trying to imply that you have to have kids to enjoy the holidays, or that holidays without children are any less enjoyable. Heck, for years before the boys were even twinkles in their bio-dads’ eyes, we’d plan our Christmas party around when How the Grinch Stole Christmas was being aired on TV!

But for me, my sons bring a new perspective to the celebration. A perspective, frankly, that I think maybe I’d lost. And so long as they get themselves whipped into a frenzy of excitement over the first snowflake that falls, I’m going to go along for the sleigh ride.

Have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Wonderful Kwanzaa, Great Solstice or just a Happy New Year!

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