by Sarah Rutledge Fischer
Hello my darling holiday child! Come in, come in from out of the cold! You must be freezing! The wind off the lake can be bitter and sharp in December. Come in and warm yourself by the fire. Your father has been tending it all morning so it’s nice and toasty here. He’ll be so happy you’re here. I’ve got your favourite cookies in the oven, and we’re just getting ready for our traditional New Year’s Eve fondue dinner. We can linger over the meal and you can tell us everything you’ve been up to, lately. I’m so excited to hear all about it. Your younger brothers are playing with the dog in the other room. They have been so excited that you’re coming home. They probably heard you come in and will come running any minute so give me just a moment with you. Just a moment to hug you, and tell you what I’d like for you to know before the year closes out at midnight. I love you. I love you and I am so very proud of the person you’re becoming. Your journey isn’t over and you aren’t done but I can see that you are already so strong and so spectacular.
– Mama Nic, 2017
Website offers virtual holiday home to LGBTQ
Each year, during the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, countless LGBTQ children, teens, and adults navigate the holiday season without the love and support of family. But each year more and more of these individuals find their way to the solace and comfort of the website Your Holiday Mom (yourholidaymom.com). The site is filled with letters like the one excerpted—a new letter posted each day between Thanksgiving and New Years—and tries to create a virtual holiday home for all who do not feel welcome or accepted.
The project that became Your Holiday Mom began several years ago when Robin Rice, thinking of her late gay brother and her own transgender son, wrote a letter offering love and acceptance to all LGBTQ children who do not have a supportive family during the holidays. In short time, the letter became a video, and that video led to the website. In its first year, 40 moms signed on to write letters, and their efforts were met with over 30,000 visits. Robin’s offering of love had struck a chord and a chorus of supportive “holiday moms” grew around her.
These days over 24,000 prospective “holiday moms” are notified by email when letter writing opportunities are open. Appropriate letters are accepted on a first-come- first-served basis, and they come from all over the world.
“We are everyday friends and family from everyday homes. Many, but not all, have LGBTQ children of our own. Many, but not all, are straight. Each mom speaks to the holiday/s she observes, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. In other words, even our writers here represent diversity!”
The impact of Rice’s site and the letters can best be seen in the hundreds of comments that fill each page of the website. Here, the internet rule about not reading the comments can be set aside. Rice says that in all the years they have operated the site, there has never once been a troll. The comments are mostly personal notes from the site’s visitors—a young woman whose parents disowned her after she came out, a trans-boy whose parents refuse to accept him, a drag queen who has just proposed to her lover—expressing gratitude for the comfort and encouragement the site offers. Visiting “moms” are encouraged to reply to the commenters with personal offerings of love and support, and the site’s visitors have complied with such fervor and generosity that it is nearly impossible to find a comment that has not been answered by one more of the “moms.”
Rice doesn’t take the success of the site for granted. She makes it her mission to find a new social change project every year—something that serves an obvious but unaddressed need, like the need for a mother’s love during the holidays.
“If you really want to know what I’m about,” she says, “I’m about changing the world.” And she has no doubt that Your Holiday Mom is doing just that, letter by letter, mom by mom. “We save lives every year.”