Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Year of Firsts

I thought it might be a good idea, in the aftermath, to write a little bit about our first Christmas as a married couple. In fact, I'm fairly certain we'll be thinking about the next year as a bunch of "firsts". However it didn't feel all that first-y.

Emerson and I have been together over five years and have lived together for a good portion of that so I was honestly more excited about it being the puppy's first Christmas with us than our own. I know, that makes me a horrible person. Or perhaps it's just a reflection of our relationship. As my father said in his toast at the wedding, if you don't think Michael and Emerson are really married, spend five minutes with them.

It was a Christmas of firsts in other aspects. Emerson finally got to eat his first New Haven pizza and, as predicted, it was better than any other pizza on the face of the planet. We bought our first tuxedos (more on that later). And for the first time we bought each other the same gift!

It was also a Christmas of babies. On our ride up to Connecticut to visit my family, we stopped by Princeton to see our friends Patrick and Jennifer (who was an extremely pregnant reader at the wedding) and their new son, Emmett. We also got to play Santa to our neighbor's newborn nephew; his sister lives in New Haven and so we drove presents up to them. My cousin just had a baby, as well, and so we got to play with her at my grandparents.

And this whole year is going to be a bunch of firsts in other ways. I'm looking forward to finally getting in front of a classroom and expounding upon the beauty of biophysics. And now that we're married and "settled" down, it's time to start thinking about that first house down-payment. And whether or not we think about any seasonal marker as our first "X" as a married couple, the one thing I know for certain is that, more importantly than this being a "year of firsts", everything that happened last year was a "year of lasts."


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Extravagant Gifts, Simple Thanks

As I mentioned earlier, we did get our thank-you notes in the mail before Christmas vacation, nine weeks after our wedding, which is hardly a heroic feat, especially considering how urgent most thank-you notes seem. A boss I once had would get quite angry at late thank-you letters, and I remember her saying, "A same-day acknowledgment is so important and so possible!" Possible, yes - but important?

The spirit of her complaint is true: gratitude should be delivered with a sense of urgency.

We sent a little more than 50 thank-you notes. We did not send Christmas cards this year, because that would have been a ludicrous amount of correspondence all at once, and we could throw a little "Merry Christmas" into each note. It took just two weeknights to get them all written and addressed and in the mail.

Here were some things that helped:

1. Keeping it simple. We did not order custom stationery. In fact, we did not use pre-printed thank-you cards. We used these simple, recycled white note cards. The only real aesthetic call-back to our wedding was the return-address rubber stamp that was produced for our invitations. We added a little holiday cheer with this year's Nutcracker postage stamps. The result was, I think, both casual and elegant if (as one friend has said) a bit "Emily Post-ish."

2. Fool-proof writing instructions. I'm sure you've all read and internalized these tips from Leslie Harpold, which are so utterly perfect as to require neither discussion nor description. I remember finding this little article to be heart-warming when I first read it, and Harpold's passing makes it not just a resource but a treasure.


Monday, December 29, 2008

The Goose Got Fat, Eaten

I don't think either Michael nor I feels especially bad about not posting for a long time since the wedding. We have some explanations, none of which is an "excuse" because we are not particularly sorry for the past seven weeks of silence, except in one important dimension:

We owe our amazing network of fellow wedding bloggers a serious apology. In the weeks before our wedding, you were here for us, being sweet, making our wedding seem like the most important day in the whole world. We should have been celebrating with you virtually, as you celebrated with us, and tossing good vibes and pithy advice your way.

Instead, we spent the first few weeks of our married life detoxing from stress, the spending, the narcissism of what we did. We spent a lot of time with local friends and with our parents. There were turkeys. We bought and wrapped and exchanged Christmas gifts. Very importantly, we got all our thank-you notes written and in the mail before Christmas vacation. We were reading your blogs (seriously!) but not commenting. We never once navigated to this page.

I think both of us were a bit shocked by the life that this blog took on. Literally dozens of regular readers supporting us and learning about us, visiting the site hundreds of times each week. It fed our egos, and it stoked the smoldering embers of guilt. Who were we to merit this attention? And who on earth were all of you to give it to us?

We never meant to be gay-wedding journalists or memoirists. We started this blog to make sure that our guests knew where to stay and eat, and buy us silverware. Obviously we had more to share, and I'm glad we have had the platform.

As we opened our lives up more and more, things got more rewarding as well as more scary. We knew we wanted to draw a line at some point. As much as we hoped for our wedding to be a very public celebration and to set an example for others, we didn't want same-sex marriage to become the defining issue of our lives. I'm not sure that's avoidable, but that is still our hope. Michael is a scientist and I am a professional fundraiser - we are not full-time grooms.

The weeks after our wedding were an emotional roller-coaster in other ways, especially with the passage of Proposition 8 and similar state initiatives across the country. Not only was that personally painful, but I think both of us felt shouted-down by our friends who thought that we were making too much of the issue, and should just be quietly grateful that we got the wedding of our dreams (and the end of the Bush morass).

So, part of our silence was fostering some bitterness about that. We are certainly recovering, trying to think optimistically about things we can do politically to help secure marriage equality, things that go beyond complaining. And, we both led anti-hunger fundraising and advocacy drives at our respective offices; it has been tremendously rewarding to do something purely for others, immediate and tangible, that doesn't benefit one's self at all.

In any case, even though our wedding has come and gone (and I do see the thank-you notes as being the Finish Line), we have more to say and more to share, and we appreciate the attention, and we do think of you - incredibly - as friends.

I am developing a new blog that I will announce and launch once I figure out what it ought to be and have enough material on there that you should want to visit it. I'm not sure if Michael will continue to write, and if he does, what it will consist of (he's been an intermittent blogger over the years).