Donna Rose

'Tis the Season

Filed By Donna Rose | November 25, 2008 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: giving, LGBT Holidays, Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving is just a couple of days away. For much of the country that means copious amounts of food, time with family, a lifetime of special Holiday memories, feverish shopping, and the gateway to the Christmas, Hanukah, and New Years holidays. It is also a time to reflect and to give thanks, something most of us should probably do more often but take this special opportunity to truly reflect on our blessings.

For many, however, the Holiday season kicking off this week is not nearly so festive or happy. In fact, it can be a very difficult time because it can remind us of all the things we don't have. For those rejected by friends and family all we've got to cling to is painful memories of times gone by. For those struggling financially it is a reminder of all the things we can't afford. For those who are alone it can easily make us feel more alone. All these things can make the Holidays something to survive, not something to enjoy.

I mention this today because it's important to find brothers and sisters who may be struggling and who may need a little extra loving over the Holidays.

For example, I received an email from my electrologist, Maria, in Phoenix, who is a friend to the transgender community unlike any other I've met. She has been a den mother and a friend and a sister and a source of encouragement and a shoulder to cry on for many of us for over these past 25 years. She can't bear the thought of someone being alone over the holidays so she organizes a Thanksgiving Day feast each year and invites anyone who wants to come. This year she's already gotten 30 RSVP's with some making the 6 hour drive from California to attend.

Others around the country are arranging similar events. The important thing to remember, though, is that although they often provide temporary distraction from the day-to-day travails of our lives when the lights go out and the night gets dark it can still be especially difficult to cope.

I say this from experience because I've been there. I know what it's like to be apart from my family and the people I loved most over the holidays. I know what it's like to need to find new traditions to fill gaping holes where old ones that were no longer available to me used to be. They say that difficult times build character. Perhaps. When you're going through them all you know is that it hurts.

Many of us have much to be thankful for. Many of us do not. It is in that spirit of giving that I urge each of us to take time over the Holidays to reach out in some way to those needing help. It is a time to forget labels and petty differences and to focus on far higher ideals - to be an angel to someone who may have lost their own wings for the moment.

The Holidays are upon us. May each of us look for opportunities to share our strength with those in need, our courage with those who may not have found their own yet, our bounties with those who are without, and our smile with those who need one. That is what will help many of us to not only survive the Holidays but to experience them in a whole new way.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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Great post, Donna. One of my favorite parts of our holiday tradition has always been that we are an "open house" for Thanksgiving- anyone and everyone is welcome. It's really built a great extended family, with new people added every year.

I think the queer open house is a holiday tradition for a lot of us. While we're hosting Jerame's parents and brother this year, we have a few other folks "stopping by" (in time for dinner!) too.

But if I'd known Waymon put out a spread, I'd have bought a plane ticket and saved a lot of trouble stocking up on groceries. *grins*

And, Donna, you'd be welcome at my home for any holiday meal. Hell, we could celebrate Boxing Day, if you'd like. :)

Thank you for allowing me to be an occasional guest in your "house."

Like it or not, Monica, you are part of our little dysfunctional family. You are stuck with us. :)

Donna,
I agree with Waymon. Absolutely great. Seems you finally got the hang of being a decent writer. (giggle)

This December 17 will be the fourth anniversary of my father's death. This was a major turning point in my family accepting me back into the fold. The 7.5 years previous to that I was not allowed to see my parents or enter the house I grew up in.

But, when my father laid on his death bed in Phoenix, my mother wanted me to come home. I called the hospice room from Atlanta and my sister put the phone to his ear. I got to tell him I loved him, and he made a sound. My sister said my voice was the only thing he reacted to the rest of the time.

I was able to go home and while I waited at the Atlanta airport for my flight, I got a call from my youngest son saying my father had passed away. I was never able to look into my father's eyes one last time. Christmas was not Christmas for our family, and for my mother since then.

I have been back for every year since for either Christmas or Thanksgiving, except this year. Since I spent all of my vacation time and money on being at my son's wedding in October, I will be at work for Thanksgiving and alone for Christmas. I will cry on Dec 17, but I will still be able to smile on Christmas. Because, I know my family loves me.

I'm sorry you'll be at work during the holidays, Mon. Just know that your Bilerico family loves you as well.

Thanks for sharing such a personal and touching story.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | November 25, 2008 8:05 PM

Thank you for this post, Donna! I'm so glad you've broached the topic. Even though I've got loved ones in my life, a good job, and a great lifestyle from a materialistic point of view, as a queer person living in a decidedly non-queer area, I frequently battle loneliness and it's particularly hard during the holidays.

During a time that celebrates emotional connection, it's hard to feel like a "misfit."

Erica Keppler | November 26, 2008 3:36 AM

Love the sentiment Donna, but just a quick comment on the details. Maria is not holding the dinner you mentioned. I am. I didn't get 30 RSVPs, I got 20. Also, no one drove from California to attend the dinner. There is one person who drove here from LA for electrolysis, and since she's here alone in Phoenix during Thanksgiving, she's planning on attending. Actually, she's staying in my house, making it all the more convenient.

Other than that, you're spot on. Maria is definitely a friend to the trans community. She's a tremendous resource and asset to all of us. We here in Phoenix are so lucky to have her, and she's a major contributor to making Phoenix the best city in America in which to change your sex and live as a transsexual.

Hey Erica: Thanks for the update and congrats for pulling this together. I received the invitation from Maria and a follow-up phone call about it as well - it seems like a team effort to get the word out. It's important to have gatherings like these so those who don't want to spend the Holidays alone have a place to be with friends.... Happy Thanksgiving.

An interesting note about Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving, as a national Holiday, is also a very Union holiday.

It was created in the Federal system by the same President who today sits as a constant reminder of the true meaning of the words: All men are created equal.

Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving as a permanent national Holiday after a campaign by Sarah Josepha Hale to enshrine what until then was observed somewhat fitfully for decades.

it was in the middle of the Civil War. From that point until the great depression, it was the last Thursday of the month.

It became the fourth when Congress, reacting to the actions of FDR (arguably the most popular president in US history), mandated it as the Fourth Thursday in order to give the economy a boost.

It is, sadly, going to be overlooked in terms of its "traditional" roots by many.

for it was freedom of religion which allowed it to be -- an escape from persecution.

(Then again, the ones being persecuted were fundamentalists. You'd think after having experienced persecution and the loss of civil rights they'd...)