Let's Once Again Deja Homo Again Some More For the Holidays Redux
Anon from Afar
It's time to update again!
by Deborah Levinson
Note: Most current updates are in hot pink
YEAR BY YEAR | TIMELESS
Year by Year
 Apparently I was too busy last year
to update this page. I had business in New York towards the end of the year, and
plans to visit many friends, including one very special one, I had met over the
past year or so via a variety of Internet sites, gaming, AOL, and IRC.
a friend of mine used to say when introducing her husband (yes, some of my
best friends are heterosexuals, imagine!) "...he's my third, and
Well, the visit with the
special one turned out to be a very extended visit, lasting from 11/18, the week
before Thanksgiving last year, through Christmas Eve, with my barely making it
back to Los Angeles in order to spend the holiday with my family. My luggage was
not so fortunate, but that was a different story.
as you'll see with this update, life has changed a bit, for like my friend of
old, that visit confirmed that I had found my First, my Last, my Everything.
I was just too busy.
 It's that time of year again --- with a few [more] updates.
almost didn't update this year. Holidays are never an easy time, and this
year will be more difficult for me than most, for somewhere along the way
between last year's set and this year I misplaced a good portion of my family,
or more accurately was displaced.
Ah well. Life
goes on, bra, la la how the life goes on....
 When I was growing up holidays were somehow rather simple. I don't remember a lot of fuss
and bother over which "side" of the family we'd spend the days with, although I'm sure that there was some. There is a little something tickling my brain about bickering regarding who would have Thanksgiving any given year but it couldn't have been too big a deal, or I'd remember more clearly.
 Now that I think about it some more, I do recall a few questions about whether "we" were going to have Turkey Day, or whether it would be at my aunt's or one of my uncle's houses.
Last year MsD and I spent
Thanksgiving week on a boat attached to a dock in Illinois. What a silly thing,
you might say. Well, no, not if that boat is fully stocked with Blackjack tables
and slot machines. It was a wonderful week, filled with scrumptious buffeting
and my first vacation in far too long.
year, having settled into a slightly less decadent lifestyle, (and having
transplanted myself from California to West Virginia towards the beginning of
the year) we'll be taking the grandkids who live with us to visit the daughter
and grandson who don't. We will be literally going "over the river and
through the woods" too, although it will be Grandmother, known as "Gran,"
"Granny," or "Ga" in these parts, traveling rather
than travels to her house.
It will be nice, although we haven't discussed dinner
yet. I keep putting that on my to do list, and really need to get that to done
before the Wednesday night before that Thursday morning.
we'll be hitting all the sales at a bright and yawnie hour. I haven't done that
since the Furby craze (yes, resold on eBay for quite a profit) and a good time
should be had by all. If not I imagine you'll all hear about it next year, right
 Although we were (and are) Jewish, my father really got a kick out of seeing my brother and myself come down the stairs and head in to the den where a stack of presents awaited us. Presents from my parents and presents from Santa.
 For Christmas we'd open our presents, then go "up the hill" (but not over the river or through the woods) to my mother's parents, and then exchange gifts with them. Thanksgivings I remember spending with my father's family. One of the brothers or the eldest sister would have the entire family over. I remember endless football games and delicious mashed potatoes courtesy of my paternal grandmother. (I also remember women cleaning up and men watching those games - but that's an entirely different subject)
 My mashed potato making grandmother passed away this past year . She is, and will be missed - and not just for her mashed potatoes.
 Now that I'm older, and with a family of my own, there are more choices to make. We tend to do Thanksgiving with my side of the family, the dinner rotating casually between us, my mother and my sister-in-law. Quite often one of my sister-in-law's sister and her family joins us as we've quite extended our family over the years.
 Sometime last year the ease of this all working out disappeared. My sister-in-law's mother moved down to "our" town, and I suspect doesn't feel that comfortable with "our" part of the clan. The sister-in-laws sister doesn't live that far away, so there's always a question of "Are they are or aren't they going to be part of this group or let us know that they're going elsewhere?" This year it appears that we're all gathering at my folks.
 My in-laws moved back "down" near most of their children, including the
T person, and we'll be having Thanksgiving dinner with them. I made a unilateral decision for which I was appropriately chastised, but I had this image (which I wanted to avoid) of the lesbian version of Alphonse and Gaston: "Let's go to your family" ... "No, let's go to your family." Not because we don't enjoy our own families, but because we know how much we both enjoy our respective and mutual families.
I got in trouble last year, and rightly so, for making the unilateral decision
that we'd go to Therese's family for Thanksgiving. I am glad that I did
however as it was the last Thanksgiving with Therese's father, who passed away
in January of this year. As unique as he was ornery, he will be very
missed this year, and those to come.
My mother has written a note (email of course, we have very modern parents)
noting that we need to make plans for Thanksgiving and the rest of the year end
holidays, and nobody has responded, including myself. I can sum up how
easy it is going to be to balance all needs and desires in a single word: Oy.
This year we're going to do Thanksgiving with Therese's family. Last year
we ended up dining with my folks, and joining Therese's family later during the
evening. This year that just isn't practical. My folks will be at my
aunt's house, and my grandmother will hopefully be up to attending. I plan
on calling during the evening to wish them all the best.
Well, this year I'm going with my folks to my Aunt's house, which will be very
nice. Along the way we'll gather up my grandmother, still ticking
along at 95 and eats like we all wish we could. Making her a plate
is fun. Last year I was annoyed because it was the first year
my Aunt had been back in the family fold, and we not only went to T's Mother's
house, but we didn't even go to dessert to my family. I said then it
wasn't practical - but there was nothing impractical about it actually.
It's just one of those compromises one makes along the way. So I
called them from the patio, and wished I was there, and this year I will
 I was thinking about standing on
that patio the other day. You know how some moments freeze in time? While
reflecting upon this past year, and how fast it has gone, thinking about the
boat last year, I couldn't help but pop back that one additional year,
contrasting the feelings, the emotions.
from me, and don't let anybody ever convince you otherwise, smiling is much
preferable to not smiling.
Do yourself a
favor, and if you're not smiling, do what you can to ensure that you will be
 My folks and brother will be taking Thanksgiving dinner to my grandmother who has been feeling poorly (from continuing and crippling arthritis) most of the year. My niece will be with her mother and other aunts.
My grandmother is probably not going to be up to much again this year, and I do
need to get by to see her. If not for Thanksgiving or a holiday, just in
general. Is is just me or did there seem to be more time in a day when I
 Grandma is still kicking. She's an
amazing woman. I suspect she may be updating this column long after I'm gone.
 This year is also the one-in-seven when my brother's birthday falls on Thanksgiving. Like most "holiday" babies he doesn't want a "joint" celebration, so we'll be doing something separate for his birthday. Any
suggestions as to what to buy a 35 year-old banking finance aging rocker type for a birthday?
 [Thankfully this year his birthday falls on the day after Thanksgiving. However, we may be driving up to see T's parents for the weekend after Thanksgiving dinner, perhaps missing the bro's birthday, perhaps not. We still don't know when they plan on having his "party" --- or what to get him. Suggestions still gratefully received....]
 By the way, I never mentioned that you all had provided some wonderful suggestions for presents, which were very much appreciated. I know what I think I want to get him this year, but suggestions are welcome, as always (after all, he's not getting any younger).
This year I know what we're getting him and he'll love it. Life should
always be this easy.
 We did my brother's birthday
early this year, ended up meeting at a restaurant for an early dinner.
Perhaps you've heard of "The Cheesecake Factory?" Dinner was
wonderful but there are still a few head scratches related to my brother's wife
bringing a dessert versus us all ordering and/or sharing cheesecake.
came up with a super idea for his present, and he seemed to like it.
I have no clue what I'm getting my brother this year, but he's giving himself a
trip out of town, and will miss the family Thanksgiving celebration and will be
soaking "naked in a hot tub with [his] wife," (his words) while the
rest of us are stuffing our faces.
again I have no idea what I'm going to get David for his birthday. Help!
 Christmas is also easy, thankfully. T's family traditionally has a Christmas Eve celebration, generally held by one of T's many sisters, while my family continues the Christmas morning tradition, now rotating that morning between us (although this year there's a new baby in my sister-in-laws side of the family, and we're being deserted by my brother and family as they travel to spend the baby's first Christmas with it).
 Easy! Ha! If only I had known that while I was writing this. Apparently my brother didn't know that "we" were still doing "traditional" lox and bagels at our house for Christmas morning. This led to some, well, dissension. Ah well. T and I decided early this year that we'll be doing Christmas morning since it appears to be not of the same importance to the sis-in-law. Last year we went to a movie with my folks and my grandmother (maternal) and I hope that we'll do the same this year. Many good movies to choose from, we'll have to decide soon which we'll see.
 Last year's movie wasn't as good (The Talented Mr. Ripley) and I'm not sure whether we'll be doing a movie this year. My preference would be to make a "Christmas Dinner" at our house and have everybody from both sides of the family over so that we can all spend a good deal of time with each other. Ultimately that is what these celebratory times mean to me --- endless days and hours to lounge and relax with family.
 This year Christmas morning is already decided as my niece announced that her tradition was to spend Christmas Day with her aunts, in this case meaning Therese and myself. So we'll have Christmas Eve with the in-laws, Christmas morning with my family, with the balance of Christmas Day and Christmas Night still pending.
 Not that I'm brain dead, but I don't even
remember whether we saw a movie last year. Hopefully those "endless
days and hours" will be there, and again, that is the ultimate holiday
gift. I imagine that we'll do our traditional Christmas breakfast, but we
may have to move the location to either my folk's house or my brother's new
house (with his new wife!) as our living room is a tad too tiny for
entertaining around a tree, although casual gatherings (meaning the ones where
folks also stand around in the kitchen) are still possible.
We ended up doing Christmas at our place last year, and will do so again.
This year we're in a bigger place, and it is perfect for entertaining! My
aunt, her son (aka "my cousin"), and possibly her "roomie"
will all be attending. I don't think Grandma will be up to making the
trip, but who knows? She's doing better all the time.
would be nice to see a movie, there are some good choices out this year, but it
will depend upon timing for Christmas dinner I imagine.
is a time for families, regardless of traditions, at least as to the more
secularized aspects. I enjoy spending as much time with my family as
 My grandmother has asked that we go to her for
Christmas morning, and there is no reason not to do so. My brother will be
on a Cruise with his wife and my niece so it will just be me, my folks, my aunt
and her family. My cousin from my father's side (recently moved back
home from several years away in Kentucky) may end up joining us for part of the
day, which will be nice. She's a sweetie, and ... gay! Let's
hear it for biological coincidences. We think a few more of the cousins
will be coming out one day but ssh, it doesn't appear they know they're gay
 This year my brother is going to be in Hawaii
for Thanksgiving and his birthday (which falls the Saturday after Thanksgiving
this year), and Japan (with my niece!) for Christmas and New Year. Given that
I'm not intentionally "going away" for the holidays I managed a smug
"Tch" at the concept, but as my mother noted it's the easiest time for
them to get away. Which reminds me - if you're anywhere in the Los Angeles area,
the best pizza is served up by my brother at Dino's
Pizza, located in Burbank.
No movie last year. I was just too brain dead
from my trip, and was never going to be able to sit still that long. I know it
sounds like an oxymoron, but honestly, it made sense at the time.
This year I doubt we'll be seeing a movie. Heck, there
isn't a movie theatre where I live now, the closest one is about 20 minutes
away! I am going to try and get Scrooge from Netflix though and share
that joy with everybody. "Thank you very much, thank you very much, that's
the nicest thing that anyone's ever done for me!"
The daughter and youngest grandson will be coming here
for Christmas, so it will be nice. I'll miss my family family, but at least I'll
be in a place that has very much become home to me.
I'm seriously considering introducing the bunch of them
to lox and bagels. Although I don't even like lox. Or cream cheese. Maybe bagels
and peanut butter. That should work. They've already tried Fried Matzoh however,
and just don't get it. Maybe if I serve it with grits? Then again, they
don't all like grits, although I do, and always have. Heck, who wouldn't like
what amounts to hot cereal?
 [My grandmother didn't make it last year as she wasn't feeling that well, hopefully she'll make it this year. We went to see Shakespeare in Love which quickly became one of my all-time favorite movies. But I'm easy, and I digress...]
 My grandmother did make it last year, but may not be up to it again this year. Heck, the woman is 92 and 1/2 years old. I think she's doing well joining us every other year!
 It all tends to work itself out, and we've only all stopped talking to each other a couple times over the years over planning the celebrations.
Not only is everybody on speaking terms we've added back my aunt into the
fold. One word: Cool.
 So, this year
I guess I'll be seeing a movie. Hmmm. Paycheck, starring Ben
Affleck looks good.
 We ended up seeing Mona
Lisa Smile in 2003, a wonderful movie which I just watched again thanks to
Netflix. First time I saw it Julia still had that "Star" quality
that steals the screen, but watching that group of young, talented, gorgeous,
actresses sharing that space with her, I felt like a dirty old woman.
don't think I've ever mentioned the Annual Levinson Chanukah party. Well, what
better year to start than the year my mother isn't having it? It would vacillate
between a simple affair to a bit more complicated, not only a party for the
"kids" but also guests from my mother or father's business contacts
(who would be very bent out of shape if they thought they weren't being invited
in any given year).
There would be a
"white elephant" game with food, and food brought for the purpose of
donating to those less fortunate, as well as gifts for the kids under whatever
age the oldest kids happened to be that year, with a $5 limit on all, so it was
never too much strain on anybody's pocketbook.
fluctuates from year to year because it's based on the Hebrew calendar, and this
year it is inconveniently situated with first candle being 12/25, and last
candle on 1/1. With David out of town, and me in "drerd" (as I'm sure
my mother would note), any pertinent kids far too old for such things and/or
similarly away, it does make sense to not have it.
year I was on the road between two points, driving with not so quiet passengers,
and they called from the party so I could participate in the blessing over the
candles. It was nice. It was impossible to find a Menorah hereabouts (and I
didn't bring mine with me, so I don't have one again) so I created one with a
rule, some tape, and some birthday candle holders. I think this year I will do
my best to find one way in advance of the holiday. I haven't been that good at
lighting Shabbos candles, but I haven't missed Chanukah lighting for years, and
I'm not about to start now.
 It's funny, I notice I've
never included my birthday in this, which falls not too long after
Christmas. Last year was great, my aunt threw me a super party, and
this year ... well, we'll see.
It's temping to say I'd like to go away, but I know it sounds better in theory
than being away from hearth and home would be in practice.
So, the odds
are pretty good I'll stick around, and that's okay too.
I'll see you around and about either way.
So last year my family made me a nice dinner. :)
year I'm away from that family, but here with my new one. There's a part
of me which still wants to run away some where and reappear sometime in
January. Some things never change. But at the same time the more I want to
run, the tighter I find myself holding on, and that's a good thing too.
in all it has been a very good year, my best year ever if truth be told. The
world isn't perfect. Los Angeles is much too far from West Virginia, and vice
versa (2,345.6 miles, to be exact), but thank goodness for the Internet and
national cell phone plans.
I've been silently
threatening to make myself Veal Parmagiana for my birthday, a traditional
"special" meal for the Levinson family. I'd love it, but I'm
not sure anybody would believe my making my own dinner would be "A Good
Thing" even though it would be a nice cross-mix of a little bit
of "both worlds" though.
instead though, assuming things work out all right, we'll go out. I already have
a restaurant in mind. We'll see. There's still time to hide from the
world. Well, all but One part of it. It's very much a pity that the latter is
just not possible but at least the usual tumult will afford me hiding
opportunities. Silver lining!
 .... and a Happy New
Year to you all!
 It's been a long time since I haven't ended a
year with the thought that the next one would have to be better. (Although the
second half of 2004 was certainly the beginnings of this wonderful year.) As
Gilda Radner would say while in character, "It's always something."
odd as the end of this year is feeling, and I know it's only the merest
beginnings of that oddness, I couldn't be happier.
best part is that I don't have to hope that the next year "is better,"
but can write with the knowledge that just as each day is special and filled
with more and more smiles, so too will the coming year be.
hope the same for all of you and yours through this holiday season, and for the
Not everybody molds and mends families so easily, and there are dynamics involved for gays and lesbians atop the basic stress of the holiday season.
For the single queer, there may be the stress of "When are you going to get married?" for those who are not out - and "I hope you're not bringing *them*" for those who are out and seeing somebody.
For coupled queers, the standard pulls from each side of the family can exist in even larger proportion.
If you haven't told your family, you're expected to participate with them as holidays are a family time, and you don't have "anybody" with whom to spend the time.
(By the way - holidays can be an interesting time to come out - as one comic suggests trying, "Please pass the gravy to a homosexual.")
If your family doesn't know, or isn't supportive, they're going to expect that you spend the holidays with them - and not worry much about what your "friend" or "roommate" is doing.
Personally I would refuse to attend a "family celebration" that didn't include my spouse, but that's a decision each has to make for themselves. When I was growing up none of us much liked my Uncle's wife, but she was always included in the celebrations.
Even if your family (or one of your families) is accepting of your relationship, it's a rare set of parents that isn't jealous of in-laws under even the best of circumstances. It's harder still when they don't quite "get" that these strangers really are your family too.
Your family may suggest, "This is a time to be with your family, let [your other half] go to theirs and you'll come here" without realizing that your other half is your family.
Even if everybody and every side of every family is "cool" there still may be time conflicts. "But we always celebrate XYZ together!"
One solution is to create your own traditions as you have your own nuclear family now. Invite both "sides" of the family over for Christmas/Thanksgiving. It's a lot of work, but think about the joy of not having to drive anywhere.
Or, just spend the holidays with each other - go out of town, or if you're staying in town annoy both "sides" by telling them you're spending the time with the other "side."
It's also possible that all sides of all families are "cool" but you and your other half each want to do it "your" way.
All in all the dilemmas surrounding this time of the year are not that much different than anybody else's, with just a few added wrinkles.