TJ, we called him TJ (can you believe that?), until that very snowy morning in February when it was cemented in our hearts and our hands for the rest of our lives that he was in fact a he, our little boy, the most beautiful boy (I know, all parents say this, but we're right, we're so right and no one can say otherwise). On Christmas this year, there was us, there was Vincent and there was your parents who helped me face being away from my own family during one of the most challenging and exciting years of my life; your mum made me feel safe and protected and at home while we celebrated with hearts as full as our bellies from meal after meal while we were spoiled beyond belief.
The rollercoaster ride that was 2015 ended on a high yet anti-climatic note where we were still very lucky and very happy yet there was one missing link, and because of that, for the month of December my stomach was, for lack of a better word, fucking ginormous. Ginormous. I was a Christmas ham. A Christmas whale. I couldn't do much despite all of my protesting that I could do everything that I had done previously (minus the whole drinking dark roast and espresso daily and having a margarita twice err three times a week). I cried to you, I cried for so many different reasons, I made you shave my legs, I'd kick you out of bed when I moaned that I needed the entire bed to feel comfortable while I thought I was about to go into labor (I wasn't), I'd pull you back in from the couch.
There was a lot of crying and bickering, but the holiday season was rich with love. We celebrated Hanukkah together, my first one with you, I learned about how you grew up, your traditions I was too shy and nervous to ask you about the year before, I got close to your parents, closer than I had been before and it was an unexpected surprise as to how I developed a bond with them I had never developed before with a significant other's parents; your mother and father played pivotal roles in helping to ensure we were happy and supported.
We dressed our home with ornaments, with lights and reds, and greens, and gold. Our home, the first place that we ever called ours. Do you remember when we both said I would just move in with you? We never discussed a place, we just figured I would stay with you since I had been there night after night, my apartment a reminder of an independent life I was no longer living. We fought, we made up, and we fuck, god did we fuck.
We spent the final stretch of the year camped out in Brooklyn, the most domestic we had ever been, spending our nights watching films while the living room in our new home smelled like cedar and pine, the tree, over three times the size of the fragile branches we hauled on the train the year prior, was the perfect centerpiece in a room with windows spread across every wall that surrounded us, keeping the cold out. We created wreaths in a crafting class where I'd catch you looking at other dads interacting with their own children. I could see the curiosity, the fear in your eyes, the unknown wonders that appeared knowing we were inching closer and closer to meeting our child, our nameless, genderless child who we already loved more than anyone we had ever loved before.
It was our first Christmas as "us." Our first Christmas where I wasn't terrified to kiss you in front of strangers or my family. The first time I put presents under the same tree for you and you did the same for me. We wrapped onesies and unwrapped them excitedly as though we didn't know what they were even though we had picked them out ourselves, making promises to ourselves to never lose sight of who we we became as a steady unit. We played the classics and I reluctantly danced with you, my stomach prohibiting me from putting my head on your shoulder while we swayed to Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald.
Our house became more than just a house, it became our home as we awaited the day where our lives would change for the better and our purpose to be the best versions of ourselves included this new subplot. While we waited for our lives to change, we were quick in realising that our lives had changed, they hadn't stopped molding and shaping into new figures that rested side by side in perfect harmony. Do you want to know the best part of it all? Spending those moments, those formative moments, creating new traditions with you.
The weather is warm, hot even, it's been getting hotter and hotter as we're approaching the end of the year, we're in the thinnest and most sheer of fabrics we own, our limbs exposed and our noses kissed by the sun. I know this isn't what you think when you think of the holidays, I know you haven't experienced Christmas or even December in this capacity before, I don't know how many Americans have. This is Christmas to me, or rather, this is what I have known as Christmas, and to be able to share that with you, to catch all of your firsts and bottle them up in a jar of memories is a surreal experience to me.
When I study you, all of your reactions and actions lead me to believe you've not miserable spending the holidays here with me, and that alone means the world. You're someone who does have a tendency to keep a collected facade, but I'd like to believe I know when there's something bubbling underneath the surface and the point is, I'm not worried, I feel the happiness radiating off of you when I'd come home from an afternoon showing of the play and see you and Rocky laughing on the couch together.
I know how hard it can be to be away from your family, your parents, the traditions you've grown accustomed to; you'll tell me I am your family now and you're right, but that doesn't make it any less hard to be away from your loved ones and I couldn't be happier knowing you're willing to sacrifice seeing your own parents to be here with me, that thought and that action isn't lost on me at all, I will never take that for granted.
You being here with me while I work is the greatest gift, to be lucky enough to have you here with me, with Rocky, getting to see my home and meeting my friends who you have only heard about in the stories painted over time, getting to spend more time with my parents and my siblings, learning about how I grew up and the spots where so many of my formative moments were created, the good and the bad. It's exciting, I can't say that enough.
This is what I would have wished for long ago with you, to have you meeting everyone rather than waiting two years to bring you here and show you my world. It's never been easy for me to take men home. I've only taken a very, very small number and it's never gone as well as this, just know that. I know this relationship of ours is backwards, but it's funny to me that the holiday in the mid of a hot summer is a bit backwards too, all of it is for an American, spending the holidays in a climate that makes you believe you're stuck in the middle of June or July rather than December and January. Maybe there's some connection or maybe I'm romanticizing the idea of making you sweat.
The lights are lit, we've brought a real Christmas tree into this home after I have spent my entire childhood never having a real tree in Australia, this is something new for me in a way despite us having real, fresh trees the last two years (RIP to my Charlie Brown tree). Rocky won't understand all that's going on right now, but he can sense something. I think. I hope. This is his first where he's here, our man, the first year we get to unwrap presents with him rather than to unwrap gifts while he's still inside my belly. I get wildly sentimental thinking about how our lives have changed and the changes to come and winding down the year with you is where I belong, I know that to be true, it's why walking away from you or us has not happened. I'm happy to spend this time with you and to share Rocky's first and to wake up on the beach with you.
You're the one thing keeping me grounded and keeping me connected to the states, to our home there, to the life we've built. You're the reminder that we don't need the snow to feel like we're home; we have each other, we have Vincent and a rental home that doesn't feel foreign to either of us, and most of all we have our Christmas miracle who doesn't quite understand the meaning of what's going on around him, but he'll learn, we'll teach him. Thank you for making this time special for me and for being here to celebrate with me. I love you. Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah, baby.