My mother's home here in Shreveport, Louisiana, was fraught with excitement last week. Christmas decorations littered the living room, the almond scent of cookies filled the air, and last minute phone calls and arrangements made it all feel like a major production was underway.
And there was. The event that had everyone scrambling was held on a Sunday afternoon, when siblings and extended family arrived for the taping of The 'My Fabulous Disease' Holiday Spectacular.
Now just take that in for a moment. My family was enthusiastically participating in a video about my life as a gay man with HIV. And they were much more concerned with choosing a fun holiday outfit than being publicly associated with their HIV+ relative. For them, sitting down for an interview about my HIV status, well, that was the easy part. They had no problem being candid, as you will see.
I am an extremely blessed and fortunate man.
When I was young, I remember watching "The King Family" on television (right, below), a big happy bunch that sang really well and wore lots of matching outfits. I was starstruck, and always wondered if that King family might bear some relation to mine. And if they didn't, would they let me come be on their show anyway?
Well, today, I'm proud of my own family for displaying our dubious talents, and by going a big step further by discussing the importance of supporting those of us living with HIV/AIDS. For far too many, the difficulty in disclosing our status -- or the result of doing so -- has distanced them from the people they need most during times of challenge.
The Holiday Spectacular includes some family greetings, a cooking segment with Mom (you'll want that divine almond scent wafting through your home, too), some holiday drag, a surprise here and there, and even an appearance by the big man himself, Santa Claus.
You might also remember my gay brother Dick, who made an It Gets Better video with me. He was also one of the main subjects of the award winning "Once, When We Were Heroes" posting I made for World AIDS Day several years ago. But today, you're also going to meet sisters, nieces and in-laws who have special holiday greetings just for you.
Enjoy the holiday special, my friends. I hope you'll share it with anyone that could use some holiday cheer, or needs a reminder that they are loved. And as always, please be well.
PS: As promised in the video, here is the recipe for Mom's Christmas Cookies. I'm certain they're fantastic for your t-cells.
Mom's Christmas Tree Cookies
(Note: Mother uses a MIRRO Food Press, a device that must have been manufactured during the Eisenhower era, judging from the faded instruction manual she still keeps handy. I found one on E-Bay for you for less than four bucks, or you can use a more modern appliance, if you must. I don't guarantee the cookies will taste the same!)
1 cup shortening 3/4 cup sugar 1 egg 1/8 tspn salt 1/4 tspn baking soda 1 tspn almond extract 2 1/4 cups sifted flour Green food coloring
1. Cream shortening, adding sugar gradually 2. Add unbeaten egg, dry ingredients, flavoring, and a few drops of food coloring. Mix well. 3. Fill the cookie press and form cookies on ungreased sheet. Sprinkle with sugar and bake. 4. Frost and sprinkle something fabulous on top of them (this is Mom's provocative departure from the original recipe. That's just how she rolls.).