2009 Holiday Letter (by Matt Churchill)

xmas09December 20, 2009

Dear Friends and Family,

2009 was a year for weddings.  Now some of you may be wondering how a couple of 43-year olds would get involved in a series of nuptials.  While we do live in the South, even down here Luke and Thomas (age 13) are still a bit young to get hitched.  And most of our college and high school friends got the marrying bug out of their systems in their twenties and early 30s.

Ah, but you forget about gay weddings!  My brother, Bruce, and his long-time partner, Scott, tied the knot in a beautiful ceremony on the roof of a hotel on Beacon Hill in Boston in May, and my good friend, Robert (from law school), married his partner, David, in the fabulous Mount Washington Resort in the White Mountains of Vermont in October.

And let me tell you, gay men really know how to throw a party!  Incredible venues; top-notch food and wine; an attention to detail Martha Stewart would envy; and no spared expense.  In fact, Obama may want to consider gay marriage as a fundamental building block of his next stimulus package (although I have to admit that a speech discussing a “package,” “stimulation” and gay weddings may be political dynamite).

In all seriousness, these were two great events, because in each case, in spite of societal pressures and bigotry, two talented, successful, kind and strong men were able to declare and affirm their love.  As my brother said in his wedding speech, “We did not choose to be gay . . . but we DO choose to marry in front of family and friends and we are lucky to live in a state which allows us to do so.”  Amen, brother.

Setting all that love stuff aside, gay weddings have the added advantage of making me a much more popular wedding guest than Suzanne!   In fact, Suzanne couldn’t even attend the Vermont ceremony because Thomas and Zac were struck down by the swine flu, or according to today’s New York Times article on buzzwords of the year, the “Aporkalypse.”  Just so you know how “with it” we are for attending same sex weddings, “Gaymarry” is also a New York Times buzzword of the year for unconventional relationships: e.g  “I love my new cellphone so much I want to gaymarry it.” . . . Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

There was also an important “straight” wedding in my life this year, as my brother Ian married his French bride, Hermine, in a Parisian suburb.  But was I invited to Paris?  Of course not – I only get invited to the same-sex ceremonies.  One of my brothers was invited to “witness” the ceremony and spend a week trolling along the Seine eating French culinary masterpieces – while I sat at home eating my barbecue and cheese-whiz sandwiches.  Tres unfair!

Continuing with the “left out” theme, Suzanne managed to land a fellowship from the Freeman Foundation this year supporting a three-week Japan-studies program in Hawaii.  Conveniently, the program specifically forbade spouses and children from joining in the fun.

So while I watched the kids (admittedly, with great help from Suzanne’s Mom, Valerie, and our “second family” college kid, Kennesia, who graduated from Davidson in May), Suzanne was kind enough to “include” me in her Hawaii experience by sending emails like:

“Today I went snorkeling with sea turtles and dolphins at Turtle Bay on the North Shore of Oahu – wish you were here!”

“I was lying on Waikiki beach today, watching the beach volleyball players in their very brief swimsuits, and thinking of you.”

“Hiking with friends along ocean cliffs today, I met a handsome, bare-chested, National Geographic photographer who volunteered to give us a tour of the “wildlife” on the Island!”

But being home with my own “wild” offspring wasn’t so bad, as they’ve been great to watch this year.  Luke and Thomas are in 8th grade (kings of middle school), playing soccer, participating in a state champion engineering club, and looking more like men than boys every day.  They were playing computer games last night (surprisingly!), and Thomas gave me one of my parenting highlights of the year when I overhead him say, “You know, Luke, we’re lucky to be brothers and such good friends.”  Awww.

Luke did have to prove he’s still a dumb teenager by breaking his wrist on Super Bowl Sunday.  I wish I could say he was playing tackle football in preparation for the big game (“Dad, I was like, Brett Favre, and Thomas was like, Lawrence Taylor, and I went back for the game winning throw and . . . snap!”).  But no.  He ignored the old adage, “If your friends told you to jump off the roof of a shed, would you?” to his peril.

Zac (8 years old and in 3rd grade) is as happy-go-lucky as ever and now matches his enthusiasm for soccer with a passion for Harry Potter books.  Zac also appears to have matured past the “potty mouth” stage that I wrote about last year – although that maturation process continues to be entertaining.  While walking through a mall to a birthday party with a friend’s mom recently, Zac appeared to be inspecting the local Victoria Secret’s store quite carefully.  When the mom moved Zac along and averted his eyes, he turned to her and said, “It’s like a magnet . . . I can’t take my eyes off of it.”  So probably no gay weddings in Zac’s future – although I guess we don’t really know if he was looking at the models or the lingerie.

Unfortunately, I’m out of room or I’d fill you in on our travels and our 25th high school reunion.  (We certainly aren’t the most successful alumni due to that darn classmate who had to hit Forbes’ 100 most powerful women in the world list, but at least we’re still recognizable based on our high school pictures!)

But you’ll have to come down to North Carolina to hear more about all that.   Please come see us.  We think you’ll like the trip so much, you’ll want to “gaymarry” it!

Happy holidays!

Matt, Suzanne, Thomas, Luke and Zac


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