By Forest Riggs

Ho ho ho! And away we go! Don we now our gay apparel and get crazy(er)! Island weather does not feel much like Christmas this year, so shorts, T-shirts and colorful Hawaiian shirts are the preferred attire for most island holiday parties, of which there many this year.thwi1qtyc6
The “ spirit of Christmas” seems to come, no matter what the weather is doing. I think in our collective minds, we all see images a Norman Rockwell scene with snow covered trees, children skating on a frozen pond and cups of warm cider and hot chocolate being held in a mitten-covered hand. Off in the distance, a small cottage is aglow with candles in the windows and a trail of smoke is carefully climbing from the chimney toward a starry sky. A few glasses of white wine mingle with the dreamy voice of Dinah Washington singing “ Ol’ Santa” and I am there.
December, and specifically Christmas, means a lot of different things to most people. There are good memories and some not so good. Being human, not everyone has had the same Rockwellian experience and therefore it is best to embrace the month and the holidays with whatever celebration or memory that makes you happiest.
kwanzaaMany of my LGBT friends have commented they feel very alone during the holidays and some, perhaps many, try to numb this feeling with all sorts of bandages and diversions. I think one of the keys to fighting the “ holiday blahs” is to stay active, be around people, change your pattern and don’t dwell on the past to the point of destroying your present celebration and happiness. I mean, we have all had broken hearts, lost loved ones and myriad of things that can easily swell up, and when dwelled upon, cause feelings of loneliness and emptiness.
I decided long ago that Christmas and the holidays are great for those in love and for children. Children experiencing any holiday, especially Christmas, seem to come alive in a magical world filled with excitement and celebration. Given the opportunity, it is great to watch and sometimes, be a part of.
A lesbian friend of mine told me recently that every year she comes up with some new way to amaze and thrill her young nephews and nieces. This year, she is making a “ Peppermint Garden” for them. She says it is simple. You color some granulated sugar green, place it in a “ growing container” and give the kids green or red Tic-Tac mints to “ plant.” With some boasting and convincing, the little ones are amazed on Christmas day when full-grown candy canes are sticking out of the green “ soil.” I think this is fantastic; anything that stimulates a child to think, wish and hope is always good in my book. If only life were that simple for us adults!250px-menorah_0307
I know some people do not celebrate Christmas for whatever reasons and for the “ Holier Than Thou” set, there is great upset over the words “ Happy Holidays” instead of “ Merry Christmas.”
“ You’re taking Christ out of Christmas!” they wail.
For me, saying “ Merry Christmas” encompasses the whole shebang of holiday
celebrations, no matter what the specific date or title. It is sort of like calling all sodas a “
Coke” when you might actually be referring to something other than Coca-Cola.
“ Merry Christmas” is a greeting and a cheer, not a branding of someone as Christian or not.
Well, rest assured, there are many more holidays that roll along in the month of December, and not just religiously based ones.
December is chock-full of holidays. As I read over the list of them, I am amazed. For example, the month starts off with Eat a Red Apple Day, and then comes Bathtub Day and Day of the Ninja. How wild is that? National Gazpacho Day is followed by National Cotton Candy Day. Then comes Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe; following this are Poinsettia Day and Chocolate Covered Anything Day. Of course, not to be forgotten, there is the Winter Solstice, celebrated all over the globe.
How can you have December without Hanukkah and a flickering menorah on the mantle or window to remind us of the plight of the Maccabees? There is also Kwanzaa, which has become a huge and popular holiday to celebrate.
From our Canadian friends, we have Boxing Day to celebrate right after Christmas, which leads us to New Year’s Eve—the granddaddy of them all. Everyone loves New Year’s Eve and celebrating the end of a year and the beginning of new one.
Along with New Year’s Eve, the last noted holiday for December is Make Up YourMind Day, which for many can be a real challenge, especially if you partied a bit too hard the night before!
So you see, December really tis’ the season. There is way more to celebrate than just Christmas and the “ normal” holidays. There are many more than I mentioned here—mostly dates associated with saints or some special religious day—but looking over the list, I think you get the message: December is all about celebrating and making memories.
Good ol’ Galvetraz is no exception. Islanders love the holidays and more—they love celebrating just about anything! The LGBT community really comes alive during the holidays, from festive, theme centered drag shows and performances to special fundraisers with a holiday dressings and music. December is one of the best months to bar hop on the island and get a taste of each venue and love it. Private house parties are the norm and old Victorians are crammed with LGBT friends sharing some holiday cheer.
No matter what the past 11 months have wrought, December is a time to celebrate and make the best of memories. The LGBT community of Galveston is ready and waiting to make your holidays bright…gay apparel or not! Merry Christmas! And I am still thinking about that Chocolate Covered Anything Day.That could be very interesting!

A resident of Galveston where he can be found wasting bait and searching for the meaning of life, Forest Riggs recently completed a collection of short stories about his beloved island and is working on a novel.