(Originally published in the Dec. 16, 2016-Jan. 26, 2017 Holiday Issue of Pacific Citizen.)
By Marsha Aizumi
With each passing year, I feel that time is moving faster and the choices I make are becoming more important because I am older, hopefully wiser and have less time to dwell on things that take me away from what I love. It seems like just yesterday, I was the mother of two young sons, and now, those little ones are 28 and 25 years of age. I remember walking down the aisle on my father’s arm to start my new life with my husband, and today, we have been married 44 years.
Time has gone by so fast .…
So, when I think of what season, time of my life or event I want to remember, I want to remember and cherish them all. And each season has been an important part of who I am today. Writing this article has given me the opportunity to reflect on what makes a season memorable to me. And these are some of the things that have stayed in my heart from years gone by.
THE LAUGHTER: I remember having fun with my cousins. As children, we couldn’t wait until it got dark, so we could play flashlight tag. Do any of you remember this game? It was like hide-and-seek in the dark, and you only got caught if the person tagged you with the flashlight light and was able to identify who you were.
After we got older, it was playing more grown-up games. The guys like to play poker, my brother makes up some crazy, funny games and the kids love to find ways to torture their parents . . . like how man
y times can I shoot my mom in the behind with the marshmallow gun, or which egg do I drop on my dad’s head and see if it is hard boiled or raw. I am glad that the moms got the marshmallow game!!
Last year, the parents totally embarrassed their kids by doing our variation of a talent contest by lip-singing songs like “Uptown Funk” or dancing to the “Mashed Potato,” “The Carlton” and “Whip NaNa.” This year, Aiden is going to set up Jimmy Kimmel’s “Whisper Challenge.” We will laugh until we cry. I am sure of it.
THE FOOD: My mom always said when you cook, do it with love. So, during the holidays, what I remember are those dishes cooked by my family and friends that were seasoned with their love. We all have those favorite dishes that are so yummy that we eat more than we should. And we all know the cooks that no matter what they make, it is delicious. Here is the recipe that my family always looks forward to that I make during the holidays:
Parmesan Cheese Biscuits
2 tubes of biscuits (we like to use buttermilk or the flaky biscuits, which are 10 in a tube. If you use the Grands, then only put 14 in each bundt pan)
½ cup of butter (1 cube)
½ cup of parmesan cheese
3 T lemon juice
½ tsp dill weed
Direction: Melt butter and then mix in the cheese, lemon juice and dill weed. Dip each biscuit in the mixture and stand the biscuit up in the bundt pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Invert the bundt pan on a plate and serve.
THE TRADITIONS, OLD AND NEW: Aiden loves traditions that we have carried on for years, like taking turns opening up presents, instead of all of us opening at once. We always put up our Christmas tree, Thanks-giving weekend.
I have a perpetual journal that I ask the family to write in each year, based on a prompt I give them. One year, I asked them to write about their favorite moments. Another year, they were to pick three words and describe how those words defined their year.
To be honest, it is not one of my family’s favorite traditions, but it is absolutely mine. I love to look back each year and read what they were thinking in previous years. And I always look forward to hearing their new thoughts.
We started a new tradition recently of going to Disneyland as a whole family to celebrate and also take in all the beautiful holiday decorations. It was the best gift I could have received last year, and it kept my heart happy all year long.
THE CREATIVITY: When I think about the holidays, I think about those creative moments and creative people in my family. I love to decorate our home, and when the spirit moves me, I send out a Christmas letter, inspired by music, movies or Top 10 things we heard throughout the year.
I save cards that are handmade by friends and reuse fancy bows that my sister-in-law made to decorate framed pictures around the room. We still hang up some of the handmade ornaments my mother-in-law made years ago out of ribbon, beads and decorative pins, as well as handmade ornaments from friends.
But my favorite ornaments are the ones my kids made: a glittered paper plate with Stefen’s photo in the center when he was 4 years old, or an angel made by Aiden in first grade from a crushed soda can painted white and Stefen’s cotton ball snowman that has grown a bit raggedy but is still so cherished.
THE GRATITUDE: As we sit around eating food, sharing stories, opening gifts and cooking together, I so appreciate these moments. They fill me with gratitude for what I have . . . my family and friends that come together to celebrate, the love that my parents taught us to have for each other even though we may have differing opinions.
This year, I will be seeing people during the holidays who voted for Donald Trump, and initially, that made me sad. But I also know that they love my transgender son. And so I will be grateful for their love and hope that if I don’t judge them, they will continue to support him and stand up for him in their own way.
Sometimes in the midst of all the hustle and bustle, I stop and take in the moment. I turn around and see the young people sitting together, talking about their hopes for their future families, traditions they will be creating and sharing what their year has been like.
Then I turn to see the parents of these young people happy for the lives they are living and grateful for their children who are doing well.
Our family gatherings have expanded to include Aiden’s mother, father and grandmother-in-law, who we have grown to love so deeply. We don’t exchange gifts at our larger family gatherings now, except for the little ones who are being born. But I am so grateful for all the gifts around me in the people who are part of my life.
I look to the coming year with more trepidation and concern than I have for years, but during this season, I will not let anything mar the warmth, the memories and the love that are part of our times together.
For me, my overarching thoughts will be “Live and Love in the Moment.” I will not allow what is happening globally, or nationally, affect the joy of the season. I will take a moment to thank those who are doing this work, but there will be time for me to continue to work on issues.
Instead, I will choose to soak in the joy and bliss of time with my family, taste the love sprinkled into all the dishes at our gatherings, remember the creative ways people have left their mark on my heart, laugh until tears run down my cheeks, but most of all, I will be grateful for all who have come before me to give me the life I have today, celebrate all who are part of my life at the present time and be hopeful for all who will be part of my life in my future.
Marsha Aizumi is an advocate in the LGBT community and the author of the book “Two Spirits, One Heart: A Mother, Her Transgender Son and Their Journey to Love and Acceptance.”