THE BLOG

Why I Love The Holidays With My In-Laws

12/23/2011 03:07 am ET | Updated Feb 21, 2012

In my business, the business of gay weddings, I meet lots of couples who don't have their parents as guests at their wedding, lots of couples who have created a "chosen family" because their real family doesn't accept them, lots of couples who aren't invited to Christmas dinner.

My parents passed away a long time ago, before I ever came out to my very religious dad and before my mom ever met any of my girlfriends. She wasn't so wild about the idea of me being gay anyway, but she eventually said the magic words every gay kid wants to hear: "I love you no matter what."

After my parents died, there was this long period of time -- most of my twenties, really -- in which Christmas was especially depressing. My siblings are all much older than me and prior to meeting Jen (who I married), I felt particularly orphaned on Christmas. My siblings and I didn't have parents to force us together, and sometimes we just weren't.

I'm so thrilled to say that now I love Christmas. My in-laws are truly awesome and I couldn't be more grateful for their support of our little family.

Holidays with the Coveneys are really fun. Even us adults get to act like kids. We all come down the stairs on Christmas morning where my mother-in-law has made gooey "monkey bread" for us all to pass around while we're opening presents. We each have a stocking full of stuff -- and every year, we each get Eddie Bauer shoe-shine and new socks. We take turns, one at a time, as we go through the stockings and all the gifts, oohing and aahing and laughing and just enjoying normal togetherness.

After we're all unwrapped, usually around 11 or 12, we eat a bigger breakfast, then lounge around and chill out. Some people watch "Elf"...again. My brother-in-law and father-in-law play Cribbage. Sometimes we do tastings -- one year we did a whiskey tasting, going through everything from Canadian whiskey to Rye to Irish whiskey and scotch (the single malt scotch won, of course...) Last year we did a beer tasting (champ: the Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA).

Then later on, we have dinner and, if we're not too tired, play a board game like Cranium or Apples to Apples. It's simply great and simply simple.

Now that I have a kid (my son Patrick is 14 months), I'm even more aware of how fortunate we are to have this togetherness, and be able to share traditions with our son -- and create traditions of our own.

Lots of couples get engaged this time of year. Same-sex couples, too. It's the season for it. And I am hoping that those that do can call their parents and say "Hey mom, hey dad - we're getting married!" and receive the same kind of enthusiasm that Jen, Patrick and I get from the Coveneys. It's the best gift any same-sex couple could receive - being treated equally, like one of the family, during the holidays, when they announce their engagement, on their wedding day, and every day thereafter.