I remember Thanksgiving as a kid. The smells of the macaroni and cheese baking in the oven, the turkey and the glazed ham with pineapple rings attached to it by toothpicks, both waiting it’s turn to be placed in the oven. The mixing of the sweet potatoes for the pie and the chocolate frosting that will soon make its home on the homemade cake. And it has to be said everything was made from scratch, no box crap in our house. Of course this is all witnessed at the edge of the kitchen door as mama’s rule was, “Get out of my kitchen”. The only time we was allowed in was to wash the dishes after dinner was finished.
When it was time to eat and relatives have arrived, the table would be filled with empty plates and filled dishes of food that was soon to be devoured. It was laughter and memories of days past shared. It was a time for family.
Soon the laughter fades, along with the food and the smells of the food as you’re left with memories of what used to have been. You no longer have access to such experiences. You’ve been outcast, no longer allowed for many different reasons, because they now know you’re gay, they feel you don’t follow the family values or the knowing you have HIV and your refusal to be served with plastic forks and spoons and paper plates while everyone else get real dinnerware.
The holidays may mean good feelings for people but in reality there are just as many who have lost that space at the table and holidays reminds one of what you don’t have.
Family can be a curse and a bane. They can treat you in a way that you would never let a stranger, yet becausse they’re family they get a free liscene.
After I was turned away from the table it was sad and lonely. I remember spending one Thanksgiving eating Cheeseburger flavored Hamburger Helper while watching the television show, Survivor” just waiting for the day to be over so I didn’t have to be reminded of what I no longer had. I was denied a place at the table for me being what I was born to be. And although I would tell myself I wasn’t going to have the usual dessert, there would be some trigger and the dessert of tears would be served.
I soon learned that family doesn’t mean the people you were raised with. That family can be a potpourri of people who you have developed relationships with and who accept you for who you are. I was fortunate enough to find an adopted family, but although my mind would sometimes drift back to what holidays used to be, I had to learned to appreciate what I did have.
Despite the commercialization of the holidays, I just feel no one should experience it alone. If knowing someone no longer has a connection to their real family an effort should be made to invite those to your gathering as it gives them a sense of connection. I think in the end we all want to feel connected to something.
That lost of connection is so valuable that without it, people resort to aids to help them through it, whether it’s alcohol, drugs, risky sex with a stranger, suicide, whatever as long as they don’t have to be reminded of what they don’t have.
Embrace those who don’t have no connection with family. Fight against their pride and let them know that we want you to be part of our family. I was saved by people who did the same to me. Although I told them I was okay and refuse their invitation they knew it was a ruse and pushed that ruse away and dragged me to the table. I was at a table with people I wasn’t raised with but they became my family. I’m so glad they accepted me at the table because I found my connection.
Tis the season to think of those who don’t have and to do whatever you can to make them feel that yes you do have family. And for those affected, accept the invites and don’t allow yourself to wallow in your dish of pity.
Enjoy the upcoming holidays the best you can and be blessed!
Corrine Cochrane on Hurt/Hate/Heal Anonymous on Life’s Lesson with … gerard riveron on Christmas Wish Anonymous on Happy World AIDS Day Anonymous on Happy World AIDS Day