I'm not going to pretend and say that this season was something I was looking forward to. In a lot of ways, it has had too many unwanted firsts and this has caused a lot of stress.
Regardless, there is a lot to be grateful for and the big ticket item this year is my wife's family.
Allow me delve further...
This past summer I had made the incredibly difficult decision to cut off contact with my parents and most of my family. It was a decision long time coming, and honestly was inevitable. I had done all I could to try and make the relationship between my parents and I work. And honestly, I deserve better than how I have been treated.
It was my first true act of self love in my whole life
This is the first year I have been doing life without my biological family. Birthdays, holidays, life events- without them. And that is the hard choice that I made. And I bare the weight of it everyday. But it was the much needed choice.
I won't go too in depth into my complicated and toxic relationship with them (primarily my parents), but I will say that I have not regret my decision for even a second.
Has it changed a lot in my life? Yes.
Do I feel a lot less triggered and attacked? Yes.
Do holidays feel a lot lonelier now? Also yes.
But I know that I deserve healthy love, a love that doesn't come with pain attached.
Now I haven't shared too much about the intricate details of this complex event, and I don't know if or when I ever will. And that's okay. Those closest to me know what I want them to know. And of course my wife, has been there by my side through it all (as difficult as it has been).
But the beautiful thing is, is the love and care her family holds for me. They are my family too, of course. But now they're all I've got to be honest...
Sometimes that's a really scary thought, having to depend on others like that
It's definitely a unique and special experience being adopted into a Mexican Catholic family; I've never felt so seen. As a raised-Jew-gone-agnostic queer genderfluid butterfly, you'd think a Catholic Mexican family wouldn't be the best match. But on the contrary, my mother-in-law loves me! And maybe she can't quite ask me all about my gender expression, whether for lack of language or understanding, but I've never felt judged. I've always felt safe. And that's huge.
My mother-in-law and I have a real special relationship. I don't speak a lot of Spanish, and she speaks basically zero English. But she'll always accept my hugs- as much as she isn't physically affectionate with anyone! My wife will bug her to no end, and they playfully fight all the time. But when I hug my MIL, she accepts and reciprocates it in such a meaningful and genuine way. It sometimes makes me want to cry!
And she knows I do my best to keep her daughter safe and taken care of while we live two countries away.
Even though my MIL and I can't always speak to one another in the same language, we still communicate with intention and love
This holiday season I had to celebrate Hanukkah without my wife as she had flown to Mexico ahead of me. She wanted to spend more time with her family, and definitely wanted to avoid the 24/7 dark period in the Arctic! Last year was very difficult for her to be without the sun for 2.5 months. I don't blame her.
Although, that meant that I was celebrating one of my favorite holidays with no family physically with me, nor any biological. And it was okay. I'm immensely grateful to my friends who really showed up and still helped me cook, decorate, and throw a little Hanukkah party.
And for Christmas... I flew 5 planes south to Mexico with a two-day delay! That was wild.
I also caught a cold, and developed a beautiful sinus infection while in Mexico and wanted to chop my ears off Van Gogh style due to the constant airplane pressure changes.
But Christmas with my loving Mexican family was awesome!
It was so much fun to: eat endless tamales, play Loteria (kind of like bingo), play the Mexican version of dreidel and clean out the kids, give and open lots of presents, and just be surrounded by good fam. I never once felt like I didn't belong.
Sure, I couldn't communicate as much as I would have liked- but it didn't matter in the moment. There was respect, safety, and celebration. Three things that I really need and quite frankly deserve.
And yes- my wife did make me be there when they prayed for like an hour. Thankfully only the kids had to be on their knees. But my wife told me I had to be there otherwise I wouldn't get food or presents! And it never felt weird (except when everyone started to clean and then kiss baby Jesuses and I was like... not for me...) But no one ever judged me or thought ill of me for it. They actually appreciated that I was just there in support.
As much as my Spanish sucks, and my conjugation of everything is... creative(?), my wife's family has always opened their home and their arms to me. They'll do anything for me, and it really feels like it.
I am so grateful to be able to have the privilege to be a part of the fam.
I feel at home with them.
And considering everything that's happened this year, that truly means the world to me.
Happy Holidays everyone, and cheers to more respect, safety, and celebration this year!