Southwest Christmas

Mom and sister, Stacy. Yee Haw.

This was this was the first Christmas I spent without my family. My father died in July. Mom spent the holidays with my sister and her family in Alabama. Josephine, our middle sister, stayed in New York with her husband Joe, and I accompanied Chad to visit his family in Arizona.

I had a Southwest Christmas.

Chad: very 90210

The Shroers make up a total of ten people: Dad, Vern, mom, Roxanne (her license plate proudly states: FoxyRoxy), their eldest son, Jeff is married to Donna. They have three boys: Philip, Kent and Brandon. Stacy, Chad’s younger sister, is married to Lonnie and they also have three boys: Tyler, Shane and Colby. It’s a lot of testosterone if you ask me.

As for myself, coming from a family that is predominantly made up of women (two sisters and a mom), I felt intimidated as we drove through the desert on route to their home in Scottsdale. I was daunted by the idea of being around that many men under one roof. And it’s not just the sports talk or discussions of war, even though Philip, is in the marines and about to be deployed to Afghanistan in February. He’s been to Iraq several times already. Even Lonnie was in Iraq, although he has retired from the military since. The military is a way of life for this family. Why even the younger boys shot their new  bb guns on Christmas Eve, donning fatigues and protective facial gear. Vern even joking said to me one morning that he bet I hadn’t spent a night in a house with so much armed artillery, and he was taking about the real thing, not toy guns.

No, the thought hadn’t even crossed my mind until you said that. Thanks Dad.

Scene from the Schroer's living room

The Shroers are proud Americans, and they should be. Of course I felt anxious, and yet, even though we all slept under one roof out in the desert, a large rock my view from their living room window, reminds me that we are in middle America. The land of the Indians, cowboys, and Republicans but also a place where people say, hello, thank you and how are you?

I always find it interesting to visit with other people’s family, particularly if it is the family of someone you are involved with. Seeing your partner in such a context, answers questions about them that you didn’t even think to ask. How curious was it for me to see Vern cooking breakfast for us, Chad waiting with fork and knife in hand, seated at the island waiting for eggs and cinnamon rolls to be served up. Or noticing how quiet he gets as his older brother tells jokes or ribs his brother-in-law about college football. (I admit I got quiet too). But then to watch him play with his youngest nephew Colby, his blue eyes strikingly similar to Chad’s.

Then again, all the Schroers, even the in-laws, excluding this one, all have light eyes. Big, wonderous blue eyes that rest equidistant from each other on pale, clean skin, and don’t let me forget about the height. All the Schroers are tall, including the in-laws, except for this one. Why Lonnie has to be over 6’4”. Donna is at least 6 foot in flats. Why even her son, Kent, is over 6’2” and has a size 14 shoe. You could say I spent Christmas in Arizona among Vikings and here I was, a gay Danny Devito, standing tippy toe on my hind legs to hug them hello and then three days later to say goodbye.

It was a short visit but a comfy, cozy one. I mean really, how could it not be when Roxy makes you sing, “We wish you a Merry Christmas” before each person opens a gift, one at a time, I might add. Yes, you could say it got tedious but that’s what makes the holidays so memorable.

There is some validity in the expression, we appreciate what we have only when it’s gone. I appreciate the Schroers. They made me feel at home. And regardless of whether or not you agree with someone’s politics; they’re still your mom and dad. And that man who is going to Afghanistan is going there to protect you and me. Even if Chad and I can’t get married, we’re still free people because of men like Philip and Lonnie.

So Merry Christmas Schroers and thank you for making me feel at home.



  1. Siddharth
    Posted January 2, 2010 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    This was a nice post.. I enjoy reading your posts and the tone of your posts. You are lucky to have found the other half but well you are good looking and good looking ones never have problems when it comes to finding that someone. I am going on a date this evening I hope that guy likes me and I like him, though I am going without any expectations.

  2. spinellimd
    Posted January 3, 2010 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Go into this date as I always have: with optimistic pessimism.

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