As Xmas eve is arrives, I am grateful for so many things. I am not religious, so I don’t ascribe anything to some mythical sky-being who supposedly knows everything. Not that it matters, I just thought it was worth clearing up before I go any further.
First of all, I am grateful for Hal (person) with whom I have been in love for 16 years now, well technically it will be 16 years on January 6th. I had no idea when we met that we would still be together and going strong after all these years. I am far from a perfect person, but being with Hal has made me a much better person than I was when we first met. I was getting out of the Navy and I had no clear idea what I was going to do with my life. I drank like a fish and showed no signs of slowing down. Within a year I had almost completely stopped drinking altogether. The amazing thing was that Hal never once got on me about it. I unconsciously made the decision because I didn’t want to lose him by doing something stupid that I would regret. I suppose that is the truest testament to love that I can think of.
I am grateful for my career. I have been with the same company for nearly 10 years now. Once again I attribute this to the influence that Hal has had on my life. Without the commitment that Hal has shown to me, I seriously doubt that I would have this job today.
As far as family is concerned, it is something that I learned to live without a long time ago. It has nothing to do with me being a Gay man, it has everything to do with coming from a family that existed in spite of its own extended circumstances. Both my parents were outcasts of various types. My Mom was the youngest of 13, and was orphaned when she was an infant after her parents died in a car crash. She didn’t know her siblings until she was an adult and by that time they had absolutely nothing in common. I remember the Xmas when my Dad took me out to bury some valuables because one of Mom’s brothers was coming to visit and he already had a long police and prison record for burglary. My Dad never trusted him and let my Mom know that. Another of Mom’s brothers showed up one time and neglected to let us know that he had 2 guard dogs in his big RV. I was almost attacked by one of them. My Dad threatened to shoot the dogs and then my uncle for not letting us know that. Ah, memories that define my view of extended family.
My Dad was also the youngest of his family, but he was much older than my Mom. From what I always understood, their marriage was not approved of, so they bonded intensely and remained close for the rest of their lives. This sense of the household being the most important thing was ingrained from an early age. I was the only child. Extended family was not really something that I grew up with. To this day, long after Mom and Dad have gone from this world, I have almost no contact with any of them. I prefer it this way, it is Hal and I against the world and I am comfortable with that. Hal does have a more traditional relationship with his siblings, and I respect that. At times it does make life rather complicated because I won’t insert myself into his family relationships, but we make it work.
I am grateful for friends. I tend to have a few close friends rather than a ton of acquaintances. Through the years I have purged many people from my life for various reasons. Nothing worth going through now, let’s just say that I am better off having done that. Let’s just say that there are people who are very important at certain times in your life for a specific reason. Once that time is past, the connection is broken and you have to move on. I learned this lesson by trial and error, and I learned that I also tend to place a higher value on friendship than most other people do. For better or worse, I expect the same level of commitment and effort from the other person but that rarely happens.
I am grateful for The Stooges. They keep Hal and I grounded. They are a wonderful addition to our lives and we have never regretted the decision to have the Stooges with us at any time. If nothing else, they are a true judge of character. There have been instances when a new or potential friend has visited, and The Stooges react with hostility. In every case, those persons indeed turned out to be bad news.
I am grateful for my own inquisitive nature. I got this from my parents, that is the gift to never accept things simply because everyone around me does. My parents taught me that my individuality was the most important thing in the world, and one of the very few things that would truly be mine. It is this inner peace and confidence that allows me to move through life and the associated struggles with the knowledge that I am doing the right thing. I remember my parents talking to me about things like religion and politics without attempting to indoctrinate me. I was taught about all sorts of things and then given the choice to make for myself. This kept me away from religion as I grew older simply because when something or someone offers all the answers with the condition that you just follow them, it always means that they are taking advantage of you and fucking you over.
To this day, one of the most common comments made about me is that people have never met anyone quite like me. That is exactly how it should be. I have grown throughout my life, I was left with a solid foundation by my parents, including the belief that I was in this world to make a difference, and that when it came to myself and my life that I should never compromise because that was the start of dying an early death. Getting along with others is important, but not at the expense of losing yourself in the process.
For all of this, and for so many other things, I am grateful right now. My life is still in the making, I still have influences over the outcome. I am happy and have learned from my mistakes, but those mistakes have not made me afraid to continue to grow and learn. I don’t need a particular day to remind me of all this, but in the sense of the conventional world, it seems to be appropriate to take note of them today.