My partner just left the house to spend Christmas Eve with his family.
We have lived together for two decades, but they don’t know me. We’ve never met, although they only live an hour away.
Over our many years together, like a child of divorce, he has juggled Thanksgiving and Christmas, one or the other, with these strangers to me.
In my family, we opened presents on Christmas Eve in our basement recreation room with the fire roaring. My partner knows I love Christmas Eve, and we’ve always reserved it for us.
My family is gone now, and this will be my first Christmas Eve alone, ever.
Because we are spending Christmas Day with close friends, he mentioned that he’d like to spend Christmas Eve with his family this year. Yes, they are conservative and devout.
He says I would hate them, but this year he has not been well and seems to want to go.
Because I love him, (and I myself would kill to have family I could go to), I have blessed this choice without complaint.
As the very few moments of his absence pass, I am struck by how many partnered gay men and lesbians still separate over the holidays to accommodate homophobic families rather than come out and risk losing them.
When I came out to my parents in the mid-1970s, my leading a life of loneliness was their chief concern.
Five years later, they were visiting me and my partner, and we them; it became a non-issue.
And it occurs to me that the single, middle-aged aunt or uncle who used to come alone to family events – the dreaded ‘Orphan Christmas’- probably was lonely, but possibly lonely for the partner they too, left at home.
I wonder, before the advent of cell phones, how many disappeared into a den or a bedroom to sneak a call home to their waiting ones to whisper, “I miss you, it’s awful, why did I do this? I’m so sorry…” only to return to the festivities, red-eyed and sad, to make their excuses and leave early.
What will I do tonight?
I’ll light the fire, have a glass of wine or two, listen to classical radio while I eat alone, and later walk along the streets in our neighborhood to see the lights.
When I see families gathered round the tree, I will think about my folks, and be grateful for the happy Christmases they gave us, and my good luck to have a family who loved me for who I am.
The author s a sometimes contributor to WeHo News who asked that his name be kept off the commentary "for obvious reasons."