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Front Porch: Joy of Thanksgiving found in family

Thu., Dec. 5, 2013

I offer a final few words about Thanksgiving.

We spent the holiday in Seattle with our youngest son. His life and schedule are so jam-packed that it’s hard for him to get home – and especially now, as he’s in dress rehearsal for a play opening this weekend, in production for another one he’s directing, teaching theater classes and busy putting in hours at a part-time job where inventory needs to be readied for Christmas.

Making a living in the arts is not for the weak or the lazy. It’s hard work with long hours and modest pay, but everyone I know who works at it, loves it and makes the disposable-income sacrifices in order to do it. They are the financially stretched people who get up every morning knowing it’s another great day in which they are able to work at what they love.

Sam, like many other people who do what he does, has friends who make a lot more money but who confide they are envious of the joy he has in his work. They wish they could feel the same. And Sam, of course, wishes he had their income.

Sam has a number of good friends. Like a lot of people living in a large city, he has connected with people who are making a life somewhere other than where they grew up. Among Sam’s friends are people from California to Georgia and every place in between, along with some from outside the country.

So a group of the friends got together for Thanksgiving, and Sam brought along his parents. We were kind of the token mom and dad for the group that assembled for turkey, dressing, potatoes, homemade biscuits, Brussels sprouts, yams and probably the best stuffed mushrooms I’ve ever eaten. And as a lover of mushrooms (truly the fungus of the gods), I’ve tasted more than my share and feel qualified to provide a ranking. There were more hors d’oeuvres and side dishes and plenty of leftovers for people to take home.

It was a warm and joyful gathering that was held in the condo of two Texans – which meant, naturally, that the Texas-Texas Tech football game was playing on the big screen TV, sound off. Nice music played in the background and conversations centered on recipes, politics, life in Seattle, work, sports, movies and, well, pretty much what you heard around Thanksgiving tables all across the country.

These nice people are a part of Sam’s Seattle family. Some of them were couples, some singles, some had boyfriends who were out of town. And, like Sam, most of those gathered were gay. There’s no significance in that really, except that I was thinking during the dining and conversation and laughter and camaraderie that what was going on all around me was what family is – or should be – all about. And I was thinking about how families are all constructed differently. There’s one family unit in my extended family, for example, that’s made up of a young child, her mother and her grandmother.

And of course there are a variety of other sizes and shapes and races and genders and ages and circumstances that make up particular families. The point is that they are unique unto themselves and, hopefully, are the nurturing entities that any configuration of a family is capable of being.

I mention it also because I still encounter people who are mean, or who hold peculiar ideas about what happens when gay men (or lesbians for that matter) gather together and exhibit discomfort over anything to do with homosexuality. I’m hoping that someday the following two sentences will no longer need to be written or said, but that day is not today. For the record, please allow me to state that Thanksgiving hosted by a gay couple is pretty much like Thanksgiving at any other home. It’s not a gay Thanksgiving, it’s just Thanksgiving.

OK, maybe the food is a little better, but that’s it.

I know that this is the season for wishes and expressing thanks for the blessings in our lives. I give thanks for the Thanksgiving my husband and I had with our son this year and for the friends who enrich his life, gay and straight. And I wish for more understanding and kindness.

Voices correspondent Stefanie Pettit can be reached by email at Previous columns are available at

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