"Poly and Jolly for the Holidays"
Happy solstice-season holidays, whatever your version of them may be! Winter begins at 12:47 p.m. EST today (Dec. 21), the shortest day of the year.
Last night we went to a big, kid-oriented Christmas service at our Unitarian Universalist church. Then at 7:12 this morning, a bunch of us stood in the snow and freezing wind at a lakeshore to sing up the solstice sun. It rose right on time to our call.
How do you and your partners handle the holidays with each other, and with your families of origin? This little article snuck by me last year, so here it is now. It appeared in Canada's gay-newspaper chain Xtra, "where queers conspire."
Multiple partners doesn't have to mean more stress
By Liz Stembridge | December 23, 2008
'TIS THE SEASON TO BE JOLLY (AND POLY). Competing demands from multiple partners can certainly add to holiday stress, but there are plenty of ways to make it work.
..."I plan on spending equal time with both of them. I planned something special with A and planned something special with B. As far as actual Christmas Day, which I celebrate, I plan to be with my family.... It is just a way to make things fair and to avoid hurting feelings."
Maggie, who has been in polyamorous relationships in the past, says competing demands from multiple partners can certainly add to holiday stress.
"Oh, was I ever dreading the holidays," she says of her holiday experience while dating two women a few years back. "First off, my parents are not thrilled about my being gay... so one girlfriend is awkward, I couldn't imagine them knowing about two...."
Here's the full article. The illustration and ads may be NSFVG (Not Safe For Visiting Grandmas).
If you live in a multipartner home, are you affected by people who don't know how to address their Christmas cards and letters to you all? (Or who pointedly choose not to?) Some people are as is being discussed right now on LiveJournal. Posts tehuti:
I am one part of a quad. We're about as out as you can get without tattoos or neon signs. :-) Some cards have come addressed to all four of us, some only to the legally married couple, one even came specifically to only one of us. In at least one case, a card sent to just the married couple was from people who know better. These cards are actually quite useful. We're getting a really good idea of which of our family and friends "get it" and which ones don't. Mostly, it's family that's the problem.
Here is Mistress Matisse, a high-end professional dominatrix, member of a longterm poly vee, and columnist for Dan Savage's alternative newspaper in Seattle with a thoughtful piece on bringing her partners home to her relatives' traditional gatherings in Georgia: Bringing Poly Home:
...I suspect that having me show up with Monk instead of Max is going to be challenging to my kin.
...My biofamily is quite clear about the fact that they don't wish to know about the kinky side of my sexuality. But my observations of other people's coming-out experiences make me think that some families actually have an easier time accepting kink than they do polyamory.
...I suspect the difference is that kink doesn't seem to reliably make vanilla people question their own relationship choices. At least, not to a point of discomfort. But rare is the person in a long-term monogamous relationship who hasn't been attracted to another.... Too often what I've seen is someone more or less saying, "If I have to suffer, you should, too!"
Don't miss this sweet classic from 2007: a jingly-bell quad from Poly Victoria in Australia singing The 12 Poly Days of Christmas. The final verse (copyright Anne Hunter):
On the Twelfth Day of Christmas my true loves gave to me
Twelve minutes alone (sigh)--
Eleven Christmas dinners
Ten jealousy cures
Nine long discussions
Eight dozen condoms
Five Ethical Sluts!
Four sandwich hugs
Too much attention
And a quick course in polyamor-y.
Polyfulcrum offers some holiday thoughts and experiences:
...I am strongly in favor of not coming out at major family events!!! There is a certain sick draw toward dropping the poly nuclear bomb at such occasions. Resist the temptation! ...Tell people in smaller groups, answer the questions, deal with the shock and awe, and be prepared to have people tell you that they always knew there was something different about you/ going on. Then, by the time the next family gathering comes along, it's part of the family fabric; weird fabric, but hey, there's always got to be an eccentric, right?
...We finished [Thanksgiving] weekend by hosting a meal here that was open to our friends in the poly community, as they often stand in as our family of choice (particularly for me, as I don't have relations close by). It was much more satisfying than the mandatory family event, because it was a conscious choice.
On the same site, s1m0n posts about polyday gifting. If you think it's already hard enough buying presents....
Citi Kittie, who's in an equilateral QQF triad, has tales to tell:
...The next people we told were Alexis's parents. They were both stunned. Her father said, "I'm going to need another glass of wine." This from a man who only drinks beer.
But they seemed to adjust quickly. Seeing how happy we are together made it easy for them to accept our triad. Then they proceeded to tell the rest of the family and suddenly I had a whole new set of people to buy birthday presents for.
When her grandma heard she giggled and said, "Oh, I didn't know you could do that." When she thought about it some more and said, "Well, I don't think it's for me." But she's been sending the three of us Christmas cards ever since.
Later, at a party for her parent's thirtieth wedding anniversary, we met Alexis's entire extended family, over 10 aunts and uncles and cousins by the dozens. Most made no mention of the fact that we have a different kind of relationship. Except Aunt Sadie. After talking with my wife and I for a while she said, "Well, I wanted to meet you and make sure you weren't creepy."
...My mom said it's not a good idea for my wife and I to have someone else living with us. She said, "What if you need to fight?"
Surely we can fight while living with someone. Growing up I had a brother and a sister and we fought all the time. So I think "fight" might have been code for "make a baby." And "why do you want Alexis to move in with you?" might have been code for "when are you going to give us some grandchildren?".
And finally, here is Noel Figart with one of her Polyamorous Misanthrope columns, on the meaning of the holidays beyond any lovers-and-relations problems: The Holiday Spirit:
Mama Java, she loves Christmas. A lot. It’s her birthday, and she was named for it, after all....
I have always thought of Christmas as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol