Christmas Past by Ryan Field
Below is a post I wrote for Queertown Abbey’s 12 Days of Christmas event this December. When they asked me to write it and I noticed they wanted specific traditions and recipes, I wasn’t sure what to do. I guess in a general sense Tony and I spend Christmas in certain ways, but we’ve never had any set traditions that went from year to year. I love restaurants and great food, but I’d rather skip a meal than cook one, so traditional recipes were out of the question. Why make pizza at home when the pros do it so much better?
I tried to focus in a more general sense, which covered many years in only a few paragraphs.
In any event, wishing everyone a great Christmas and safe travels if you’re on the road!! I’ll resume normal gay news blogging on Friday.
The night we met the entire east coast in the US was dealing with record cold temperatures and snow that had frozen over to ice in many places. We actually met in a gay bar in New Jersey that’s not around anymore, on a Saturday night. And there’s a reason for this. If it had not been for the cold and ice we probably never would have met at all. We only went there was because we didn’t want to drive into the city on Saturday night in that weather.
After we met that night, we started “seeing” each other on a regular weekly basis all through that Christmas season. I would drive to meet Tony on Friday nights, and he would meet me on Saturday nights. We did this for two reasons, and I’m mentioning this to show what the times were like. One, we were both fresh out of college and still living at home, and the distance between us was about an hour. Second, in 1992 it wasn’t common for two gay men to “date.” Although neither one of us ever denied we were gay to family, we didn’t talk about it either. And getting picked up for a date by a guy just wasn’t done in our worlds.
During that time, Tony was in the process of purchasing his first home and he was going to settlement the week before Christmas. This bothered me a little because I wasn’t part of that and I felt as if I were intruding in a way. In fact, at the time I thought things might not work out because of this. I’d always pictured meeting someone and buying a home together. But life, as we all learn eventually, is never as we plan it and I wound up loving the town house he bought and I eventually moved in later that year. There wasn’t a move-in day. It happened slowly over the course of that year. Since that time we have purchased other homes together.
But as I look back now, I think those years, in that town house, were some of the best we’ve ever had. We were too young to even know what we were doing and we learned as we went along. The first Christmas in the town house we purchased the biggest tree on the lot and spent hours decorating it and I still didn’t think we had enough ornaments. So each year after that, even to this day, I wind up buying at least a dozen or more new ornaments. Although I’ve never actually counted them, it’s reached a point where there are so many ornaments to put on the tree it takes a full afternoon to put it up. (And hours to take it down.)
It’s hard to pinpoint a specific tradition or “thing” we do for Christmas…other than this massive overly decorated Christmas Tree. Each year since 1992 it’s always been a little different. Up until we moved to our present home we had huge Christmas parties every year, with forty or more people. One year we hired a male stripper to help serve and he turned out to be the best help we ever had. He really did work. When we moved to our current home, which is in a more rural part of town, we stopped having large Christmas parties because our driveway only holds about twenty cars. There’s no parking on the street because it’s so rural. So we figured that in order to avoid insulting people we couldn’t invite for lack of parking space we just wouldn’t have huge parties anymore. And that’s been fine.
The point is that it’s always different in that sense. I wish I could say we have a specific tradition but we really don’t. Last Christmas we spent a good deal of the time in the hospital with my mom and that came along without warning. The year before, we both had the flu and didn’t do much of anything. If there is any specific tradition I suppose it’s Christmas Eve. We started having a small dinner for just us and two very good friends we’ve known for years. They were an older couple I met when I owned my art gallery and we all hit it off immediately. At the time we met, they were already together about forty years. We spent many Christmas Eves with them, until one of them passed away about five years ago. So now we spend it with the survivor…just the three of us. It’s something I think we all look forward to each year and it’s something I also know I’ll miss one day.
As for favorite recipes. Each year that’s different, too. And I think that’s part of what I’ve always enjoyed the most about the Christmas season. It’s never exactly the same, but it’s always spent at home and it’s never been uneventful. The one huge change is that we’re both “out” with our families and we do spend time with them at Christmas. And, of course, now that we’re legally married it does make a difference. Neither of us thought it would. But it does. It makes us equals with every other straight family member and that’s important. Far more important than most people actually realize.