Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Have a Holly, Jolly Hanukkah

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Have a Holly, Jolly Hanukkah

Article excerpt

Elections have their "October surprises" (or November, this year), and my home has its "December surprise." It's when my parents trek from their kibbutz in Florida to my house in Los Angeles. Last year, to add even more fun and frolic to this annul ritual, they got a chance to enjoy my significant other's own ritual: decorating the house for Christmas. Although my parents have been aware of and supportive of my sexual orientation for more than two decades, there's a wide gulf between marching in a pride parade and warming up to my ex-Mormon UPS driver boyfriend and his Christmas fixation. (He's since become my ex-boyfriend too, but that's another story.)

The fact that my S.O.'s 8-year-old daughter was coming to visit right after my parents caused him to decorate the house particularly vigorously last year. It was about the spirit of the season, he said, not about religion. So I warned my parents to expect the house to be a little more "thematic" than they were used to. But that did not quite prepare them for the candy cane lane in front of the house that we walked along when we got back from the airport--nor for the Christmas guest towels in the powder room, the porcelain reindeer, and the singing Santa. (Thank God I was able to talk him out of the stigmata Jesus over the fireplace.) There was nary an inch of the house that didn't have some expression of Xmas glee.

As soon as my parents and I came in the front door, I could tell things were going south quickly. My mother, known affectionately in the family as "the General," is at age 70 still a tall, attractive, and imposing figure, particularly for first-timers. By the time we got to introductions, I swear that steam was coming out her ears. Realizing he was about to incur the full wrath of Hurricane Myrna, my S.O. looked at her sheepishly and said, "The elves have been busy." Without missing a beat, Myrna said, "I don't know about the elves, but the fairies sure have been." There was a dark cloud over their visit that took a long time to lift.

I have been living so long in Los Angeles, where Jews and gays are thoroughly assimilated into society, that I had forgotten that my parents, particularly early in their lives, had to fight identity struggles just like I did. …

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