These are two keywords that don’t actually make a very smooth sounding title when used together, but I’m going to go with it anyway. I do not believe in the Elf on the Shelf, but I do believe in gay marriage. Let’s talk Elf on Shelf first as Christmas is just two more sleeps away. The Elf on the Shelf is not for our family. This is in no way a reflection on other families who love their Elf on the Shelf, placed cleverly in funny positions to bring a hearty chuckle or giggle to their children’s morning. We visit friends and cousins who have elves and love them wholeheartedly. When our children asked at the beginning of Elf Season why we Krills don’t have one, I simply replied, “Our family does not do the Elf on the Shelf.” Period. End of conversation. Now, I hear them repeating that to other people when their kids ask what our Elf’s name is. I do not feel like they are missing out on any of the magical component of Christmas, and they haven’t asked for one again. Now, that doesn’t mean that come next year we won’t be revisiting the deja vu experience, but I’m going to remain consistent in my response. We Krills don’t do the Elf on the Shelf. I won’t launch into a lecture about how good behavior and manners are something to practice and get really good at all year long, because that is more information than they actually need.
Now, gay marriage, that’s another kind of keyword. When I received my first Google ad report back from the Author House Publishing marketing department, I was surprised to see that my largest demographic was the LGBTQ crowd. Who knew! True North does illustrate a family who has two moms, and whose children resulted from embryos that were donated. But this LGBTQ demographic surprised me, when I imagined that teenagers would be my largest audience when I was writing it. Wrong again. So, then I took a brief tutorial on KEYWORDS with one of my former students, Aaron Burhoe, who has been working at our school as our ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher. He showed me how you could check on different keywords to see how likely they were to receive a lot of hits etc. He then showed me how to check out the many different kinds of categories to fall under the LGBTQ heading. I had no idea how many subgenres existed including: Light Gay Lit, Lesbian Romance, Queer Mystery just to name a few. The Kirkus Indie Review deemed my lesbian mothers’ characters “underdeveloped” which is a bummer, and I ought to have done more research there I suppose.
But what’s cool is that our kids have a lot of amazing partnerships between women in their lives– some of our dearest friends were married at roughly the same time Geoff and I were trying to have a family via in vitro fertilization. Part of that long process included a terrible phrase called “harvesting the ovaries” and it involves jacking the woman up on a variety of hormones so that her ovaries grow a bunch of eggs at once. Then, through a procedure, the fertility specialist retrieves them. Right before Cathy and Jill were supposed to get married, we found out that my ovaries had been overstimulated, no one’s fault really, happens sometimes. But that meant our future miracle embryos would first have to be frozen (we called them Krillsicles) and then thawed after my body recovered from being overstimulated and a hormonal hot mess…a story for another day!
Cathy and Jill’s wedding was one of my favorites. One, because I was a bridesmaid in my first Civil Union, and we had t-shirts- thus the picture- leading up to the big event. Secondly, because I helped to set Cathy and Jill up on their first date, which turned into many dates, and then they fell in love and were married on top of a hill. The gay couple in the novel is not Cathy and Jill, but parts of the story about how they met is based loosely on their early romance. Cathy was my best friend and colleague at school; we coached soccer and softball together, and she encouraged me to get to know “my” Geoff as he had been her brother Jeff’s college roommate. Long story short, her wife, Jill, runs Northeast Passage out of University of New Hampshire and is a bit of an adaptive sports Jedi. Her program helped Geoff 20 years ago summit Lafayette and Gale Head just to name a few exciting wheelchair adventures. Truly, Jill and Cathy were meant for each other. Jill’s sister, Brenda, worked as the guidance counselor here at school with Cathy and me, thus the blind date of the century.
When planning their wedding, we went shopping for bridesmaid outfits. This was was by far one of the funniest shopping experiences in my life. Jill and Cathy were not going to wear dresses, rather linen pants and tops, classy and elegant for a late June wedding. They had found these awesome periwinkle blue tops for the four women who would be their bridesmaids. Two of their maids were also lesbians, and three of us were not. Well, wouldn’t you know it, but we fit a stereotyped demographic when the three of us non-lesbians chose white linen skirts to wear with our tops, while the other ladies chose pants. This became an issue because we didn’t want the just the non-lesbian women in skirts while everyone else wore pants. I switched over to pants because it didn’t really matter that much; more of an interesting sociological study.
Our kids call them Auntie Cathy and Auntie Jill, and we have traditions established like long hikes on Thanksgiving morning and peach picking in August. Only once did the topic come up about whether or not boys can marry boys or girls can marry girls. Greta was just 3, and she said to her brother, “Well, Auntie Cathy and Auntie Jill are two girls, and they had a wedding so they are married. And Shawna (her teacher from school) is getting married this summer to her girl, Jess. So, see, girls can marry girls which means boys can marry boys. You just have to love each other.” Simple as that.
Like the Elf on the Shelf, it’s the only explanation needed.
Merry Christmas to everyone, whether you believe in the Elf on the Shelf or not!