Growing up, over the holidays, in our home, those holidays were filled with lots of people, lots of food, good conversations, and always ended in heaps of physical abuse.
When we arrived at the final iteration of home, in my 6th grade year, my parents were introduced to social circles that they had never experienced before, as of yet.
Meeting new people always invited others to ones dinner table, over the holidays. Those dinners became the stuff of legends. My mother perfected her cooking while competing for the top spot ranking of who threw the best soiree…
Hands down, my Step mother had this competition IN THE BAG.
We grew up in the company of several local families who hobnobbed together at festive times of the year. My step mom, Nancy (not my real step mom/but close enough), she and Fred had The House, The Wealth, and the Alcohol, to win the grand prize of best party hosts.
My father, as hateful as he was, and as judgmental he was, and as HOMOPHOBIC as he was, relented when it came to dinner parties, even if those dinner parties had invited guests of the HOMOSEXUAL stripe. Elton, Garcia and Bob, were the three gay men I grew up with.
My step mom knew I was gay, before I openly admitted to anyone that I was gay. So did my parents. It was like, they all knew, and nobody told me. However I had, all along, been doing my gay homework, reading the assorted “Material” my father left out, in their bathroom, for public consumption.
I can’t, for the life of me, believe, that my father did not know, I was reading his smut. I mean, you can’t be that stupid to think that if you leave something in the bathroom to read, that someone isn’t going to pick it up and PERUSE …
Yet, after every dinner party, where gay men were on the field, that I could carry on conversations with, that I never carried on with my own father, made him IRATE. And when we arrived home each night, he would beat the shit out of me, hoping to BEAT THE GAY, out of me.
My step mom had the huge house, with the appropriate dinner table that sat an army of men and women, all at the same time. When we were kids, the kids would find themselves at the kids table in the breakfast nook, off the kitchen. Separated from the adults, until we grew up and had “Come of Age” and were invited to dine WITH the adults.
I was telling my friends at dinner tonight, parts of this story, minus the gore.
Nancy taught us social skills, she raised all of the kids/Nee teenagers, into quite well-behaved and respectable young adults. Alcohol was always available to us. When we crossed the room, into the main dining room, with the adults, we had arrived.
The other day, Nancy’s oldest daughter said that she missed mom. Nancy died a couple of years ago, so holidays are a bit bleak for her daughters. Me as well. Because if it was not for Nancy, we would have never had the life experiences we did, growing up.
I told Dawn that yes, mom is gone, and we miss her terribly. But, the silver lining to missing someone is that Mom sure knew how to throw an A-List dinner party with panache and style.
Juan and Nadia are two very important friends. Juan and I have been friends since the day he walked into Sunday Nighter’s more than three years ago. He is still sober.
When Juan and Nadia got engaged, Hubby and I began to include them in special events, or dinner “Double dates.” Bringing friends into your social circle is an important part of growing into well-rounded sober adults.
So it went. Juan and Nadia had gone to Toronto for Christmas with his parents, to visit his brothers and sisters, down south of us. The weather was NOT stellar, so the drive down and back was fraught with danger.
I had decided this year to change-up my guest list. We put off Christmas dinner until this evening, so that Juan and Nadia could have Christmas Dinner at our place tonight.
This dinner was special. Because my in-laws had gifted us a ton of money in HSBC gift cards for The Bay. We really did not have the proper tools to entertain, because we only have the one set of dishes from our wedding registry.
And in Mom’s honor, I wanted to do this the right way.
I shopped new earthen ware dishes, in yellow, hubby shopped cutlery and glasses. I cooked a turkey dinner to feed a small army. We spent all day yesterday cleaning and scrubbing the apartment to standards that aren’t usually seen.
With the stage set for success, today, we did the shopping that needed to be completed for dinner, and this afternoon we cooked.
Dinner was a grand affair. We learned a little bit more about each other. And as a married couple, our jobs, as friends, is to paint a picture of what married life is going to look like, in a general way. Socializing outside of a meeting can be fruitful and is also important. I don’t invite many people to my table.
Out of respect for my elders, my GAY elders, in the rooms, I always invited a particular friend over for holidays. But after my gay friends turned their backs on me over the last year, my jaded and bruised heart was resolute. No more charity for people who aren’t charitable towards me.
Our little spartan kitchen is not huge. And space comes at a premium. And making a grand holiday dinner work, takes a bit of work. I have a system that I have polished over the past sixteen years of holiday dinners. It all worked.
A good time was had by all.
I think I did Mom proud tonight and I know she was smiling down at me.