Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Holiday Time

The Holiday Season in New Zealand is much longer than it is in America. I’ve talked about that before. With the double-up of double holidays this time of year, it’s very easy to have a long break around Christmas and still have time leftover for later in the year. This works really well for a lot of people.

The pace this time of year slows: Buses run on reduced schedules, shops sometimes have shortened hours and rush hour traffic is minimal. There’s a pleasant feeling in the air, regardless of whether the weather cooperates or not.

This year on Christmas Day my partner and I hosted 14 of his family members (he has a large family): His Mum, some siblings, some nieces and nephews and even a grand nephew (even though we’re far too young for a title like “great uncle”). This amounted to about half the immediate family. It was a lovely day.

My point in mentioning this is that basically our holiday break, complete with BBQ, was typical of many families in New Zealand—extended families getting together to share food, drink and good times. Our extended family gets together—in whole or in part—quite a lot, actually.

This year it struck me how lucky we are: We’re lucky because we have each other and a family that embraces us. Many gay couples don’t have that, for a variety of reasons. But we’re also lucky to be living in a country that recognises our humanity both legally and socially. To be honest, for most people in New Zealand the fact that someone is gay is no more an issue for them than the colour of a person’s eyes.

I’m keenly aware of how different this is from America because things there were very different in every area: Less time off at the holidays, less acceptance of gay couples legally, socially, or even in some families (my own being a notable welcoming island).

I wish I could wave my magic fairy wand and make every country realise the importance of fostering family connections within and among all families. I wish I could make
America give workers more time off to be with their families, and I wish I could make all families open, accepting and loving.

I can’t, of course. Still, as more gay couples take their places as welcome and cherished parts of families, the general situation with improve. It won’t be fast, it won’t be dramatic, but it will happen. Together, families can do anything.


lost in france said...

I like your sense of hope. A friend that I saw yesterday said that about the most important thing for our sense of self confidence is to be accepted as we are by our families. There is alot to be said for unconditional love.

Arthur Schenck said...

Thanks, LiF, I try to remain hopeful but it's not always easy these days. I think your friend is right. It's what society needs in order to move on, I think.