Poly at the holidays
One of the adorkable Polyamorous Platypus cards and items
By Patricia FancherI’m preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving as I have for the past several years, with my extended queer, polyamorous family. My husband will make Norwegian cardamom buns, and his girlfriend wants to try a new Brussels sprouts recipe. My husband’s girlfriend’s boyfriend is committed to roasting a duck and making eggnog that no one else will drink. Her husband isn’t going to cook. We’ll make him wash the dishes....Polyamory is a nontraditional relationship structure where people have multiple relationships that can be sexual, romantic, casual, platonic or some mixture of all of these things. Each person practices polyam differently. My polyamory takes the word rather literally. I have many loves. While my entire polyam family celebrates our togetherness in nontraditional ways, for me, holidays are especially unconventional because I was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness growing up in the 1990s in South Carolina....When I was 20, I was excommunicated and completely cut off from my family. The command to “quit touching the unclean thing” extends to people, even family. When I had sex, I became the unclean thing that my community, even my mother, refused to touch. The part of me that was broken when my family of origin rejected me gets a little closer to being whole each time I celebrate holidays with my chosen family.This year, my crush of more than a year is bringing the cranberry sauce. They are now my dear friend, writing partner and occasionally more than a friend. Last year, I found joy during the pandemic when I fell in love with a nurse, and I celebrated all the locked-down holidays with him and his wife. Our romantic relationship ended as the world shifted toward normal, but our love still brings me joy. His wife will make multiple pies in my kitchen on Thursday....The value of our polyam family isn’t in its stability, but rather that we choose each other even when we change, relationships change, feelings change. The power is in the choosing. There’s no obligation. I can only offer invitation and acceptance.Next year, our Thanksgiving guests may be different. My ex, the nurse, and his wife may choose to visit family in Colorado. My husband’s girlfriend may prioritize another partner or her family. These choices are ours to make. For me, the beauty is in making space for us to gather and also making space for each person to make their own choices.Polyam family is like any family. We get our hearts broken. We have petty fights and legitimate conflicts. We complain about one another from time to time. We don’t choose one another because we’re perfect. Chosen family means choosing complex humans, including our faults and struggles. It’s vulnerable to build a family with deeply flawed humans. But there’s no other option.After a childhood spent learning to say no, deny pleasure and abstain from anything possibly unholy, I’ve learned to revel in life’s abundant pleasures. My polyam family amazes me with each of their capacities for love. It’s not easy to be vulnerable. We open ourselves, share love, swim in pleasure, sometimes get hurt....My community reminds me that the scarcity mind-set that tells us we can only have one love, that we must compete for our lover’s attention, is a lie. There’s always an abundance of love if you have the courage to be vulnerable. And the courage to share.
Ty, Jennifer, Daniel
By Jennifer MartinI'm polyamorous, and I live with my two partners, Daniel and Ty, and our two kids, D and H. When it comes to the holidays, we try to take a fair and equitable position and see as many relatives as possible. It takes some finesse and a lot of scheduling, but we do it.With two partners, you have two sets of in-laws, which means instead of juggling two places to go for holidays, we have to consider three places — or more, depending on how those relatives are dispersed. ... I luckily enjoy planning. We try to ensure that our holidays go as smoothly as possible, especially for our children. But we have limited space, limited time, and limited income. So how do we do it?Our holiday schedule....
...For all the many holiday movies, there’s not a lot that deals with this particular scenario: talking to whomever’s hosting that big meal about how to bring not just partner A, but also partners B and C (and possibly partner A’s other partner as well…). Or how to gracefully decline seeing family, because they were rude and unwelcoming last time. Or how to arrange your own celebration with all the people you love, and that they love. Or how to navigate a celebration day alone, as your partner has prior obligations with their other partner…For many polyamorous people, or those in open relationships/ consensually non-monogamous, the lack of models and stories that aren’t couple- or monogamy-oriented has meant working all this out for the first time.... What’s suggested here may provide a starting point for things to consider and to discuss.1: What do you want? Given an ideal world, what would you like to do on the holiday days? Are there people you’d like to have a meal with – or spend time with at an event? Would you prefer to hang out at home and play boardgames and read books, or to go to the beach and surf? Is it important to you to see your partners on particular days, or simply at some point? Consider this, and then…2: Talk to your partners. Do any of them have plans already? ....This is where shared calendars can come in handy, as people try to mesh their desires with the practicalities of time limitations.3: Are there any potential conflict areas? This could be wanting (and able) to take multiple partners to a family event, but the family not being aware of the importance of each person to you. Consider if this is a situation where it’s worth being upfront and bearing the possible judgement, or if you can stand a day where yourself or a partner is considered ‘just a flatmate’ or ‘just a friend’. There’s no right or wrong answer here; it’s about what’s the least stressful for those involved. ...Even if everyone in the family knows that you’re polyam, and who your partners are, there can still be awkwardness. Are you comfortable holding two partners’ hands on the sofa? Is your great-grandmother comfortable with it? ... (This is an ongoing issue for queer people as well, with actions that are ‘fine’ for a heteronormative couple taking on more ‘sexualised’ overtones, even when functionally identical.)Another potential conflict area is a partner or metamour feeling unacknowledged during discussions, or that their plans aren’t considered as important as your own. ... If you’re in a hierarchical relationship, make sure your secondary’s plans aren’t subsumed into your own – they have rights and needs as well.4: Consider your budget. ... Different people and households have different discretionary spending, and this can be brought into sharp relief when exchanging gifts.5: Alone for the holidays? ...Perhaps a phone call or video chat can be arranged. If you’re seeing family or friends, you can make note of funny or memorable experiences that you can share with your partners later (as they can share theirs with you). If you’re staying home, be gentle with yourself, and remember you’re loved and cared for – these are people who appreciate having you in their life. ...
Give your Relatives the Benefit of the Doubt. If your dad has to ask you yet again who this new person is – even though you have been dating them for the past three years and your dad just met for the fourth time at your birthday party a couple of months ago -- try to stifle the dramatic sigh and explain kindly that you are dating this person, and yes, your/their spouse knows about it. Polyamory can be a foreign and confusing concept for many people....Unless they are obviously trying to be rude or hurtful, try to cultivate patience and forgiveness for family members who are slow to grasp the true nature of your relationships.Have an Escape Plan. When the benefit of the doubt has been stretched to its breaking point... be sure you can get away. Whether it is taking a walk, making a grocery store run, or returning to the sanctuary of a hotel room....
...Tip Five: Whatever amount of holiday events and activities you THINK you can do, decide to do LESS than that! ...Tip Six: Don’t make the holidays into a test, because if you do, your partners will fail that test. ...
Step 1 or I should say Step 0, in making holidays work in a polyamorous constellation, is to get all expectations out in the open....
...How comfortable is your polycule spending time together? If you’re a very kitchen-table oriented polycule, some holiday questions will be simpler. If everyone is comfortable being in the same spaces, and there are multiple options of spaces, it opens planning way up....
...He’s told at least his mother that he’s dating someone, but she has essentially bent over backwards to ignore our relationship. Although we don’t subscribe to an emotional hierarchy, there’s still the functional/social hierarchy of him living with her, being accepted by his family, etc., and holidays really seem to heighten that glitch in the matrix.My own biological family lives too far away for me to spend time with. ...
...Host the Party Yourself. First heard this idea from a friend on a polyamory forum and couldn’t believe it never occurred to me. ...Rotate Holidays...Each Visit Your Own Family...Create Your Own Thing...
...We are also a divorced family, with the child's birthday falling on or around Thanksgiving every year. Every year, our polycule decides on 'what to do' by throwing out ideas and seeing what we all like. Sometimes the fall and winter have already been so stressful that the idea of hosting ourselves is daunting.When we do host, we give priority to guests who have no other place to go, and extra priority to Trans/NB, to POC and to the city's youth. reating an environment of warmth and support for our partners and the folks they know is important. It's equally as important to create an environment where people feel safe to speak on any topic, and in giving priority as we have, we have avoided a lot of drama. We find this collaborative process to be gentle and soothing. We can't control much of the holidays, but how we communicate and flow together is the gift we give each other...
Give your Relatives the Benefit of the DoubtIf your dad has to ask you yet again who this new person is – even though you have been dating them for the past three years and your dad just met for the fourth time at your birthday party a couple of months ago -- try to stifle the dramatic sigh and explain kindly that you are dating this person, and yes, your/their spouse knows about it. Polyamory can be a foreign and confusing concept for many people....Unless they are obviously trying to be rude or hurtful, try to cultivate patience and forgiveness for family members who are slow to grasp the true nature of your relationships.Have an Escape PlanWhen the benefit of the doubt has been stretched to its breaking point... be sure you can get away. Whether it is taking a walk, making a grocery store run, or returning to the sanctuary of a hotel room....
...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.
● When Bone Poets Orchestra played the Poly Living West convention in Seattle a dozen years ago, lead singer Chris Bingham declared from the stage that any band hoping for commercial success (something that has eluded BPO) must do a Christmas song. Here are Chris and life partner Sue Tinney...
...from a video directed by Terisa Greenan, with "Christmas Down South (of your Mason-Dixon Line)". Also starring um-friends indoors.
Bone Poets Orchestra and its previous incarnation as Gaia Consort produced some poly-themed songs across many years. These deserve to be heard. To listen to a selection, see Footnote 1 below.
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
Seven Google Calendars
Five, Ethical, Sluts!
Four sandwich hugs
Too much attention
And a quick course in polyamor-ee!
|Again from Polyamorous Platypus|
1. Some poly songs from Bone Poets Orchestra / Gaia Consort:
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“This struggle will define in what world our children and grandchildren will live, and then their children and grandchildren. It will define whether it will be a democracy for Ukrainians and for Americans.”
The Russian family-cartoon series Masyanya
turned dissident. Watch. The cartoonist has fled.
Update: a brilliant sequel of turnabout, and a
coda of empathy in wartime.
Here was a country with a tragic history that had at last begun to build, with great effort, a better society. What made Ukraine different from any other country I had ever seen—certainly from my own—was its spirit of constant self-improvement, which included frank self-criticism. For example, there’s no cult of Volodymyr Zelensky in Ukraine—a number of Ukrainians told me that he had made mistakes, that they’d vote against him after the war was won. Maxim Prykupenko, a hospital director in Lviv, called Ukraine “a free country aspiring to be better all the time.” The Russians, he added, “are destroying a beautiful country for no logical reason to do it. Maybe they are destroying us just because we have a better life.”
|"Defenders of Bakhmut," the city where Zelensky spoke to soldiers near the front line a day before he spoke to Congress. They gave him a battle flag that they signed, which he presented to Nancy Pelosi. Art by Natasha Le in Mikolaiv, who reinterprets traditional guardian angels as riot grrls for an upcoming generation.|