Poly and jolly for the holidays
Sparkler and I got back yesterday from an overnight Longest Night party with about 50 New Culture/ HAI type people in icy New Hampshire. Christmas/Hanukkah caroling, Yule log with wishes attached, hot tub, feasting, the works. Wall-to-wall sleeping arrangements. Back home, our Unitarian Universalist church had a full-bore Christmas service in the morning and an equally packed Solstice service at dusk. We are blessed.
To celebrate the season, here's a roundup of poly holiday jollity and other matters.
● Need a last-minute gift? The abundantly poly Bone Poets Orchestra (formerly Gaia Consort) has a new album, Belladonna Smiles; listen and buy here. Recommended; it's well and truly stuck in my head. The album adds a new poly tune to the canon: "Yes!". Also, Terisa Greenan has produced a video for the album's "Christmas Down South (of your Mason-Dixon Line)," featuring rooftop singers Christopher Bingham and Sue Tinney with um-friends down below. Cute! There's a PG version and an R-rated version for your holiday viewing pleasure, depending on the sensibilities of your visiting relatives.
● Another last-minute gift recommendation: be a little bold and give someone Sex at Dawn. Moses Ma interviews co-author Christopher Ryan in Tantric News and writes,
"Polyamorists should run, not walk, to the bookstore to get this book, because with its research backing you up... you'll finally have amassed enough intellectual ammunition to withstand the holidays, when well-intentioned family members try to talk some sense into you."
● If you're attending or hosting a family gathering for the holidays, chances are good these days that it's not quite traditional:
Four in 10 say marriage is becoming obsolete
Associated Press, Nov. 18, 2010
As families gather... more people are accepting the view that wedding bells aren't needed to have a family.
A study by the Pew Research Center, in association with Time magazine, highlights rapidly changing notions of the American family....
Indeed, about 39 percent of Americans said marriage was becoming obsolete....
When asked what constitutes a family, the vast majority of Americans agree that a married couple, with or without children, fits that description. But four of five surveyed pointed also to an unmarried, opposite-sex couple with children or a single parent. Three of 5 people said a same-sex couple with children was a family.
"Marriage is still very important in this country, but it doesn't dominate family life like it used to," said Andrew Cherlin, a professor of sociology and public policy at Johns Hopkins University. "Now there are several ways to have a successful family life, and more people accept them."
"More Americans are living in these new families, so it seems safe to assume that there will be more of them around the [holiday] dinner table"....
The changing views of family are being driven largely by young adults 18-29....
Read the Time article.
● For example, Joreth describes her multifarious Christmas plans as a radical atheist out poly:
...But with everyone reminding me that I'm "different", it got me to thinking ... how does a skeptical polyamorous atheist deal with a holiday that is more or less seen as a religious family holiday? Apparently, people want to know.
...First, I talk to all the partners and metamours who will actually be able to be present (i.e. the local ones and anyone who can travel). We discuss who has any pre-existing traditions, and how strongly everyone feels about those traditions....
...One of my metamours has a very strong attachment to decorating the tree, exchanging gifts, and spending the 2 days with her loved ones. On Christmas Eve, she likes to sleep out in the living room, under the lit tree. On Christmas morning, she likes to exchange gifts while sipping hot chocolate. Well, the rest of us think this is a fine and dandy way to spend a couple of days with loved ones, and since no one has any other traditions that they feel more strongly about than she does about her tradition, that's the one we all do....
● "Around the holidays, you tend to get a spike of interest [from others] in your family," writes blogger sexpositiveactivism. "I find this frustrating because in choosing to only be selectively out about my polyamorous status, I necessarily get stuck telling some lies, and I’m a big truth-teller...." See Poly Holidays and the Difficulty of Telling Half-Truths.
● Here are some items from my Christmas-season post last year, starting with one 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...."
See 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 cards and letters to all of you? (Or who pointedly refuse to?) Some people are — as was discussed 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's 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 video 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-ee.
● 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.
● If and when you come out to your family of origin, you might ease the shock a bit with some nice, positive news articles showing that at least you're not a lone nut but part of a (supposedly) hip social trend. Find a bunch at my category Show Your Parents!
● 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 30th wedding anniversary, we met Alexis's entire extended family, over ten 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