Tobi and I made it to Utah for Christmas. The main purpose of the trip was to spend spend time with a friend of mine, an older woman I have been close to for about 20 years, who has a health issue that may prevent her from seeing too many more Christmases. Tobi and I spent quite a bit of time with her, doing what we have done since people became people: sitting by the fire and talking.
On Christmas eve we walked through Temple Square. Tobi was impressed by the Christmas lights as well as the architecture of the pioneer-era buildings. We raised just a few eyebrows as we walked arm in arm (it was cold, and we were feeling romantic from all the Christmas lights), but the general feeling of the crowd on Temple Square was friendly and accepting. We ducked into a Japanese restaurant on Main Street for some sukiyaki to beat the chill.
Tobi and I also made a run to Siegfried's, a German deli in downtown SLC that stocks all kinds of great European Christmas treats. We stocked up on marzipan and whitefish. Highly recommended.
On Christmas Day we braved the black ice in Sardine Canyon to visit one of my sisters and her grown kids in Cache Valley. It was Tobi's first introduction to my large Mormon family. Considering that the idea of Christmas is still new to him (coming from Japan), he did well. He especially liked the cinnamon rolls and peppermint bark my sister had made. It was a cultural experience for him. Even though my family is active LDS, they accommodated Tobi graciously. Only the new husband of one of my nieces seemed reserved, but he warmed up by the end of the visit. We break them in one at a time. The marzipan we brought helped.
In the evening of Christmas Day Tobi and I went to a party at the home of some artist friends of mine in Salt Lake. These friends create art but also collect it. Their house is like a museum, with original paintings covering every wall. There were about 12 people at the very convivial dinner, many of them artists. I noticed that five of the dinner guests had paintings hanging on the walls of my friends' house. The party was a great mix: there were three gay male couples, two husband-and-wife couples and several single (straight) people of both genders. There's nothing like candlelight and stemware and a talkative crowd to set the Christmas mood.
Tobi and I left Salt Lake refreshed and buoyed by the love and support of my friends there. I also feel grateful that my very Mormon family has grown accustomed to their gay contingent and that this is really no longer an issue. In the end, the people you love matter most.