Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Have a Poly, Jolly Christmas!


Or whatever sort of holiday you do celebrate! One of the concerns I see bandied about rather frequently this time of year is how to handle the holidays? How do you split up time? Introduce your partners (people that are voluntarily in your life) to your family (not quite as choice-oriented)? How do you decide who goes to what house or event for a given celebration? How does it impact someone when they are left behind for a particular event? What about the dreaded "Holiday Party" for work? Are there some cans of worms that are better left just hibernating in the refrigerator for another time?

We've worked through several different approaches over the past several years. Particularly memorable was the work holiday party that PG's employer threw a couple years back: He happened to be out of town spending time with another partner, but since the event was at a pretty cool venue, and they throw a good spread, he didn't want the tickets to go to waste, so S and I went to PG's work party. When asked, I merely said that he was out of town, and had asked S to escort me for the evening. He had a fun time on his trip, we had fun at his party.

Last year for Thanksgiving, S's parents were in town for a week or so. He came out to them early in the week as poly, although they were already familiar with the general living situation. That gave them the opportunity to ask questions and brace themselves for impact with the larger family unit. When it came time to have the traditional Thanksgiving feast, they were gracious, curious, and engaged. We also cooked and served a separate meal and spent time with PG's family of origin that day. I was cooked out, but felt great about having supported diverse family connections.

Note: I am strongly in favor of NOT COMING OUT AT MAJOR FAMILY EVENTS!!! There is a certain sick draw toward dropping the poly nuclear bomb at such occasions. Resist the temptation! Sure, by just getting it all out there at once, you won't have to tell a bunch of different people who aren't going to "get it" numerous separate times, you may even avoid being the brunt of some family gossip (good luck with that!), but this isn't all about you! Just tell people in smaller groups, answer the questions, deal with the shock and awe, and be prepared to have people tell you that they always knew there was something different about you/going on. Then, by the time the next family gathering comes along, it's part of the family fabric, weird fabric, but hey, there's always got to be an eccentric, right?

This past week, S was out of state with his family of origin for Thanksgiving. PG and I had extra time to ourselves, and with our daughter, and there were some really great things about that! I also missed S and was happy to see him get home. It's okay to miss someone, it's okay to enjoy couple time, or time with yourself, and it doesn't make anyone less polyamorous to not spend every significant moment in their lives surrounded by all of their connections.

We finished the weekend by hosting a meal here that was open to our friends in the poly community, as they often stand in as our family of choice (particularly for me, as I don't have relations close by). It was much more satisfying than the mandatory family event, because it was a conscious choice.

Bottom line: Don't sweat it! Spend time when, where, and with whom you want. If there's a conflict in events, flip a coin, and come up with another opportunity for the event group that isn't graced with your presence. If someone you care for can't make it to your special family thing, find other ways to show them they are important and valued by you. And remember: there's always next year!
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