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Things I've written about christmas

Week 51: The piano

  • Happy Hanukkah and/or Christmas to those who celebrate!
  • Even though our house is (reluctantly) multi-religious, we forgot just about every tradition we were ever taught for this time of the year. On Hanukkah Eve, Anja said “where are the tea lights?”, but we had no luck finding them to produce a makeshift chanukiah. Probably for the best. I don’t mind that we didn’t put up a Christmas tree, but I did find myself missing our outrageous ornaments.
  • This week was all about the new piano I bought. I can’t stop thinking or talking about it.
  • All I’ll say is: this piano project is the first one I’m approaching through a neurodiverse lens, and it’s making everything so much smoother and funner.
  • Illegally, I’m mentioning something that happened in week 50. A. took me for my annual Fancy Birthday Dinner. For the first time since we began dating, I told her to leave it a surprise. I suppose it’s one of those benefits of having gone to in-patient eating disorder treatment: chill vibes about food surprises. If you ever have an appetite for exquisite 10-course Asian fusion dining, book a table at 101 Gowrie, where the atmosphere is as beautiful as the tableware, the bread is to cry over, and the umami is so intense that you’ll have trouble putting it into words.
  • We needed a two-nighter to finish watching Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. I’m very much at that point in my mid-thirties where finishing a feature film under a warm blanket on the sofa after 8 p.m. is a challenge. I love whodunits — the genre might be in my top three — but I was quite disappointed to learn that both A. and I were able to guess the ending within the first five minutes. Janelle Monáe and Kathryn Hahn looked great nonetheless.
  • All week, people kept asking me what I’d be doing for Christmas, and I’d cheerfully reply “Nothing! You?” every time. I feel liberated from the pressure to spend time with family or friends during the holidays, to eat more than I can carry, and to be and have fun. We certainly did have fun, just in a “really couldn’t be bothered” kind of way.
  • I made my first batch of heavenly mud, a rich, creamy chocolate dessert. It was heavenly.

Family, or notes from the battlefield

As soon as she hands you the gift
you know it’s another one
“Trans Life Survivors”
says the cover
“Merry Christmas!”
says your sister
you have only been using
they/them pronouns
in private
for a year or so
it’ll look so beautiful next to
the ex-gay book
your other sister presented to you
on your birthday last month

At family dinner you
spend bathroom breaks in your
childhood bedroom
five in total
logging on to talk to us
about how the heavy things feel
being the punching bag
on which your 11-year-old cousin
practises her right hook
screaming fire about
her trans classmate
it stings
like a shattered jaw

Your father-in-law planned a
Christmas pub crawl of sorts
each of the siblings hosting
the entire family
for a portion of the day
hopping from house to house
eating, drinking, loving the way only
a big family will
At the fourth stop you are full
zonking off into the distance
catching the smiling face of your
sister-in-law on the way there
and you remember what
it felt like when
she wouldn’t come to your lesbian wedding

For you and them
there is no Family
not since you came out as non-binary
and your parents
“check please”
the only trace of
those you came from
is the card your grandmother sent
She writes “I wanted you to
know I support you”
She is a sweetheart
it is a teardrop in the desert
that you cling to

Your father was no exception
first the pandemic
now the respirator
the store has been extra busy these days
but you’re getting by
it’s keeping your mind off
of how much he was hoping
you’ll find a girl someday soon
Today, the phone call
from the hospital
lets you know that
he can come home for Christmas
The disappointment you feel
sits in your body like a monster

You have all the time in the world
to tell me how you’re doing
but not a moment to yourself
to commit to the act
with all those relatives in the house
prone to restricting themselves to
those parts of the Bible
that make Christianity look easy
and you being back
in the home of your youth
after the attempt
confirms what you fear and
what your parents have been saying
is true about your life
“I have no love for the gays in my heart”
your father said
You wonder how gay
he knows you are
I wonder where you’ve hidden
the Pride flag that I sent you
as a housewarming gift

Colossians 3:26 The freedom of the Lord is the wisdom to decide who is truly your sister, your brother, your father, your mother. Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

This is a Scripture reflection on The Holy Family of Jesus, mary and Joseph, written for Vine & Fig.

Indian Summer Christmas

Christmas break is passing by me like it passes by an ambitious teenager. I greeted all the things I could do with great enthusiasm. Sadly, that feeling quickly turned into terror once I realised two weeks isn’t that long and I need to sleep.

Productivity-wise, man can only fail under such conditions, this I know.

Meanwhile, I keep being amazed by the weather in Haarlem. I managed to take some photos downtown last week that remind me of the beginning of September, despite a winter coat here and rain hat there.