Saturday, November 30, 2013


This time of year.  It can be the absolute worst one year and then the next year.  Well, the next year, it is pretty incredible.  I just went back and read my blog post from last year around this time.  It's funny, I wrote about settling into a quiet waiting around this time last year.  I wrote about finding a faith that things were going to work out.  And just around that time, perhaps a few weeks after that faith settled in, our Millie was born.  We didn't even know her yet, but there she was, waiting to come on out and find us.  Incredible.

Anyway, this year, I find myself settled deep into the holiday spirit.  Carla and I hosted our families at our house for Thanksgiving and as we went around the table and shared the things we were thankful for, my heart was so so full of thanks and so full of real, true gratitude.  There is so much to be thankful for this year.  For Millie.  For Carla.  For our families.  For work that is meaningful.  For friends that are kind.  For a world that seems to be getting a little bit better and more tolerant.  There is a lot.  

Our Thanksgiving meal was incredible.  Carla cooked the whole thing (with some delicious additions from my mom).  I wish that I could say that I was helpful in the cooking process, but mostly I wandered around the kitchen and tried to clean stuff when I could.  It was a wonderful day. There was so much love in our home.  It was enough to overwhelm me several times throughout the day.  And as family trickled out, we were left with just the three of us.  We felt the love of our families all day and our home stayed so full of all things good. 

After a short rest, something really great happened.  We put up our Christmas tree.  This is my first ever Christmas tree and I am in absolute love with it.  As I write this right now, I have the tree lit up and the blinds open so that the lights will be showing to all those who walk by.  Growing up Jewish, I always wanted a Christmas tree.  They are just so darn pretty.  And to have one, with my family, is exciting in a way that is hard for me to describe.  

In typical Jess and Carla (and now Millie) fashion, there is not just a Christmas tree up, but there are also two menorahs set out on our dining room table.  Each night the light of the Hanukkah candles mixes with the lights of the Christmas tree and our home is filled with so much tradition.  It's funny, neither Carla nor I are particularly religious. I know this sounds funny considering my father is a rabbi, but religion just doesn't mean a whole lot to us.  But, and I have never understood this until now, there is something about celebrating holidays that I just love.  And I now understand that for me, it is all about the traditions.

This year, there is something so incredible about starting traditions with our little family.  There is something amazing about passing things on.  About starting something that is going to live longer than perhaps even we will.  And I just can't get enough of it.  So there is a tree, there are menorahs, there are decorations, there are holiday cards, there is as much tradition as we can jam into this tiny, love-filled house of ours.  And it doesn't matter to us what religion we say we are, what matters is that we have these family traditions that are so very us.  To us, that is what is most important.

So as the holiday season descends upon us, I find myself more invested in it than I ever have been before.  And I am thankful, so unbelievably thankful, to have the family that I have to celebrate this season with.

A few pictures of our holiday fun so far...

First came Hanukkah. Some of our festive decorations. 

First night of Hanukkah. 

And then as we were trying to cook for Thanksgiving, Millie got into the dishwasher. Pretty typical. 

Our delicious Thanksgiving lunch, thanks to the hard work of my wife. 

Millie loved everything about her first Thanksgiving meal. 

Millie and Carla before the tree became a Christmas tree. 

Hanging the very first ornament on my very first Christmas tree. 
The finished product!!
The cats quickly found their place under the tree.
Not at all holiday related, but one of my new favorite pictures. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Thank You, Illinois

On the NBC news this morning, there was a report about how Target was going to begin selling chocolate covered Lay's potato chips.  This was definitely a sign that today was going to be a good day.   By the end of the day, it had gotten so. much. better.

As I left work this afternoon and sat in awful, awful traffic, I received a text from HRC that the Illinois Same-Sex Marriage bill had passed.  I was overjoyed.  I instantly became emotional.  I called Carla and she was emotional as well.  Sometimes, I find it hard to explain why these moments feel so monumental. And why they feel so emotional.  It is hard to explain, to those who have never been denied rights that other people receive, why it matters so much.  It is hard to explain, to those who have never been made to feel as if they are less than those around them, why today was such a big deal.  It is hard to explain, to those who have never had people carry around signs that tell you and your family that you are going to hell, what it means to have the government of your own state finally recognize you and your family as equals.  All of this is to say that I am kind of at a loss for words.

By the time I made it to Millie's daycare, I had finished crying and was in a state of simple and pure joy.  I picked our little one up and I told her that today, her mommies got to be married in our own state.  I hugged her and told her that things were going to be different and that they were going to keep getting better.  As I carried her to the car, however, I couldn't help but think about all the states that have yet to feel the joy that I was feeling.  I couldn't help but think of all the kids growing up in states that still send the message that they are not as good as everybody else or that their family is not as real as everybody else's.  I couldn't help but think about how much farther we have to go.  And that is what happens each time a new milestone in equality is reached.  I celebrate the successes while still leaving room for the sadness that these successes are even needed in the first place.  I leave room for the sadness that there is still so much fight left to fight.  And I leave room to remember all of the people who still have to struggle to feel comfortable enough to simply be who they are.  I try to leave room for all of that so that we don't become complacent.

So at the end of the day, I look back and recognize that today was a really good day.  By the start of the next school year, I won't have more money taken out of my paycheck than other people.  By the time we file our taxes, we can file jointly on both our state and our federal taxes.  When I am asked to identify my title, I will no longer have to debate between Ms. and Mrs.  And when I tell people that I am married, I won't ever again have to explain that while we are married according to the laws of Vermont, we are not married according to the laws of our own home state.  These are all really good things.  These matter.  These make me feel more equal.  These things give me hope that more good things are on the way.  These things give me peace that goodness and fairness and justice really are going to win in the end.  That, and the chocolate covered potato chips now on sale at Target, make this world a better place to live in.