Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring – except me. I am downstairs in my room, writing this blog post. I wasn’t going to post on Christmas Day. I mean, get a life, right? Who would post a blog post on Christmas Day unless he didn’t have a life? Right?
Yet, here I am, typing away. Real time. Nothing is the same this year. Is that bad? Not necessarily. Am I sad? Not really. Things are just different, and that is not necessarily bad.
That shouldn’t be surprising, right, that things are different? I mean, I came out to my wife almost two months ago, and a month later, she told me she wanted a divorce. We continue to live in the same house, but we have been effectively separated for almost two months. Living around each other has created strains, to be sure, but things have been a little better this past week or so. More civility, less feelings of hatred emanating toward me. Heck, yesterday I almost felt like giving her a hug at one point, but I resisted (fairly easily), not sure what would happen, but knowing that chances were pretty good that it wouldn’t be good or “productive.”
Like most families, we have always had certain traditions for Christmas Eve. The same food every year. The same activity – watching “White Christmas.” The same schedule, the same procedures for setting out gifts. Everything always the same, as if the sameness itself is was gives meaning to the event. Which is not the way it should be. Not really. Traditions for the sake of traditions become a false reality, masking the meaning-less-ness of the actual reality, distracting us from this awful fact.
As I thought about this, I thought what an appropriate metaphor this is for my life, for my marriage. We went through the motions for so many years, thinking that it was the procedures that gave meaning to our marriage, when in fact there was no underlying meaning there. Activities distracted us from the cold, hard reality that lay there under the surface, until, of course, all that pretense was shattered when I acknowledged the basic reality about myself: I am gay.
I decided to give up pretense and instead embrace reality, deciding that reality was more important than pretense. Real life was more important than going through the motions.
Which brings me back to Christmas. Last night was not the same as it has always been. Today will not be the same as it has always been. Nothing will ever be the same as it has always been. But I remind myself that traditions are not what give meaning to life. Life is what gives meaning to traditions. If there is no life, the traditions are dead. If there is life, however, one can let go of old traditions that are no longer meaningful and embrace new ones that are reflective of that life, that reality.
The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life (2 Cor. 3:6).
Which makes me reflect on Christmas gifts. This year, I am thankful for the wonderful gifts I have been given by so many of you who have reached out to me in different ways, each one appreciated. I am grateful for life, for moments when my “face lights up like a boy,” (how wonderful is that!?) for genuine happiness, for delight and joy (and for friends who have helped precipitate these precious gifts). And I am grateful for the feelings of love and life and appreciation that fill my heart as I contemplate these gifts. I am grateful to feel alive.
I am also of course grateful for my children and for the love they bring into my life. As a dear friend pointed out recently to me, my relationship with them will also be changing – and has already started to change – as a result of coming out. Substance is going to take the place of form. Old forms will die. New forms will be created, but will not take the place of substance. Too much of life is made up of forms that mask the reality of little or no substance.
And so, I come back to my opening thoughts. Get a life? Well, I guess I am, i.e., getting a life. And I guess, now that I think about it, that it is appropriate to have these thoughts and feelings on this day of all days, when we celebrate rebirth and redemption.
Cheers, everyone. I hope you have a good day today. Merry Christmas.