Gifts at Christmas

A Callan Christmas

Gifts at Christmas


If I can't be a ballsy broad, then what's the point?

It's Winter Solstice. I sit here, candles burning, Gregorian Chants on the stereo and a tall handblown goblet of Drambuie near the keyboard. It's a long night, and I am alone.

On this night, though, I feel invigorated. Goddess has been smiling at me over the past few days as I reentered the fight. Notes from friends popping up, boxes that just went on sale, another year work of unique wrapping (last year was rubberbands), poinsettias that just went on sale for $1, the perfect gifts popping up here and there. A card from Val, joking with Barkat in a girl way, a package from my sister addressed to Callan, phone calls from Kirsten, IM from Tina, tape in the store, food and gifts.

Even a tree. A 7" Frasier Fir stands in the corner, taking up altogether too much room, but when I saw it for $5 at Lowes, I knew she wanted me to have it.

She hangs heavy in the sky tonight, the first full moon at winter solstice for a couple of hundred years. She is powerful and dramatic, shining boldly. When I walk outside, she hangs right overhead, a powerful spotlight shining on me.

It's that boldness that I love.

"It's not the frivolity of women that makes them so intolerable.
It's their ghastly enthusiasm."
Horace Rumpole (John Mortimer)

Saturday I got dressed to go out. I did go out, just around town, but nothing was happening. I came back and played with my appearance -- bright red hair, and lips painted on far beyond the boundaries of my own. Big and bold, almost Bette Davis -- and it felt good.

I moved beyond the boundaries of decorum and good taste, and I loved it. I may have hated how people saw it, what they projected onto me, but odds are I wouldn't like that anyway. Bold -- bold enough to buy the $10 silver lurex and black pants and then cut out the tacky modesty shorts. I have nice underwear, and that's enough.

Another of the many gifts given to me from the sky was this quote

"The affirmation of one's essential being
in spite of desires and anxieties
creates joy."
Paul Tillich

It's the challenge at Christmas as I am the dutiful son, spending 72 hours and driving from here and back to get my father's paper laid out for publication. I do the impossible, learning new software and creating magic, making it work. I love giving to my parents, I really do, and I know they give to me. What they can't give me, though, is an affirmation of my essential being -- they know only part of it, and choose to ignore the elephant in the living room.

There is the one problem with all these gifts -- the little signs, the high drama, the peace and comfort -- I don't have anyone to share them with. There is no place that I can giggle with glee like a schoolgirl, share secrets and joys, a place where I can be enthusiastic & exuberant -- a place for me to be an intense and glamorous ballsy broad, a goddess incarnate.

I called Penny in Richmond tonight. She was stabbing away at a Win98 install on a machine she is giving her brother for Christmas, headache pounding. She has a new job, a couple of trannies she met when she had her surgery last year down for the weekend, needing being taken care of, a dying father, a mother who has just gone though cataract surgery, and a perpetual headache.

"Where is your enthusiasm?" I asked her. We both knew the answer -- she is afraid that if she is visible, looks like a ballsy broad, people will assume she is just ballsy, assume he is just ballsy. That's not what she wants. She -- and I -- are way past guy-in-a-dress, though so many people find birth sex so essential we fear they will never see that.

"Take belly dancing lessons," I told her. "Go somewhere where there are adventurous, dramatic, ballsy broads with open minds, and let yourself go. Be the diva."

She understands the suggestion, even things it is a good one. But doing it will be hard, maybe harder than she can handle. Yet, if she doesn't find some where to be enthusiastic -- the kind she fears showing at work, the kind she can't show around queers -- she will be crushed by what the loss of balance.

This is the choice, in every moment, what to be crushed with -- social connections or inner spirit. Without a place, a person where we feel safe to be ecstatic and be mirrored, someone to share our joys, our rages and our emotions, though, it gets very, very hard. Trannys don't want joy, and most of the ones born male are still guys, still not moved beyond their own training and security. Straights don't get the joys of someone finding their own womanhood, and showing them that exposes us.

Gifts are great, but with no place to share the joy of what really invigorates us, our ecstasy withers on the vine.

A Callan Christmas

I went to get bread on a crisp & frosty, Christmas Eve morning, from the last coal fired bakery in town. There is always a lineup on Christmas, sometimes a slow one if the ovens are still doing their work to put bread on the feast table. The staff, decked out in Christmas aprons, do their work, knowing that on this day, they contribute to thousands of gatherings and family celebrations in their own special way

In the parking lot, air heavy with the scent of yeast & fire, up over the railroad tracks, up over the power lines, up over the ridge of hills in the distance, was the reflection of a smoky pink sunrise. In the deepening blue sky hung the bright and awesome moon, just starting to wane from her solstice display, unwilling to not make her presence felt at this special time of year.

I stood and stared at the power in the sky, this huge glowing orb marked with dark spots, covered with character, the jagged shapes that reveal history, reveal earned wisdom from millennia of impacts with objects and ideas that changed her.

As I drove away, she floated in my windscreen, over the buildings of town. I told her how much I loved her, but the hard part, the choking part was saying out loud that I knew how much she loved me, how much I knew that she had made me special, warts, scars and all. I walk in her light, as we all do, beneficiaries of her love, the love of a caring mother who has given us life.

On the radio someone was talking about how, if Mary had given birth in a stable, it had been anything but a silent night. Mother and child screaming out with life and the sharing of it, a messy entrance, covered with the fluids of life. Entering between piss and shit, we are given birth, given life, and then we have to do what we must with it. Life is a gift, the gift we give and the gift we receive at Christmas, gifts given with sweat and strain, gifts received with screaming and shock, breaking the surface and entering life, entering the struggle at Christmas.

As the moon beamed down on me this Christmas eve, a spotlight in the sky, a song formed in my mind -- "that lucky star I talked about is you, baby everything's coming up roses" -- the song of a mother telling her daughter to go and take the light.

I turned towards the East and the ball of fire that is the sun caught my eyes, coming up on his daily trip. The light was blinding, but I knew I had to face it to get where I needed to go. I threw on the "peril sensitive sunglasses," as Sabrina would say, taking a page from Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's guide, her magic screen that allows her to face the light and be out & bold, and I drove on.

Often over the past five years I have referred to myself as "stuck in the birth canal." What better time than at the celebration of the birth of a savior, the breaking of a dark night with a gift given and a gift received. This felt to me like a moment of birth. the moment of breaking free. I laughed and sang, and although time with my family made me feel pushed back in, I know this is time to come out.

This may just be a Callan Christmas, a Christmas where Callan claims herself, bold and beautiful.

For the record: I opened the gifts from my sister. They were

Have I mentioned that she is brilliant and gorgeous, and that I love her?

Val misses me and wants me to come up for a spa day at Mirror Lake Inn in Lake Placid where she works. And I have to schedule a meal with Kristen. . .