When people see the amount of time I put into decorating the outside of my home for the holiday season, quite a few have had the tendency to ask me why I put so much energy into it. The answer to that question begins way back in 1995, just as the holiday season was getting underway.
I was less than a year out of college at the time, working my very first corporate computer programming job, and was going through a pretty severe depression having just come out of the closet to my best friend at the time, someone whom I was also in love with, and someone who completely kicked me out of their life because of it. Thankfully, my friend Tom felt my pain and did everything he could to console me, one action of which was him bringing a real 5-foot Christmas tree into my home, where he set it up and completely decorated it. His only concern was to help me find some Christmas joy, when I really was feeling none of it and it actually worked.
Ironically, the next year I lost my father to suicide a mere 2 months before Christmas, which honestly made it very difficult to tap into that Christmas spirit again. Yet God saw fit to have someone else be in my life at the time who was able to once again begin generating some of it for me. That being my first partner Jerry. Christmas was his favorite holiday too, just like Tom’s, and he was one of those who placed a lot of energy into decorating for it. I spent two holidays with him, both of which were pretty amazing in the indoor department of decorating, including a 12-foot tree we had in our townhouse the second year.
After spending those two years with him, I had found my own Christmas spirit, which helped a lot in 1998 when I finally purchased my own home in Falls Church, Virginia. It was there I finally had a yard to work with when the next holiday season arrived and I wanted to spread some of that cheer to the outside as well. And that I did, although it was extremely small compared to what I do now.
A few years later, I was in another relationship with someone who had the highest level of Christmas delight I’ve ever known. He became super excited each time the Christmas season came upon him. Oddly enough, his name was also Jerry. When the two of us bought a bed and breakfast together a few years into our relationship, we had a 5500-square-foot home to work with and must I say, he truly went to down with decorating, helping to make our home look like it was something out of a magazine. For four years, he decorated the inside of it with three uniquely designed Christmas trees, and a ton of other decorations that complimented them, where I decorated the outside of the home making it look like it belonged on an expensive Christmas card.
I truly thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with Jerry, and up until 2007, so did he. But, the bed and breakfast business tore us apart, and our relationship ended when summer arrived that year. Six months later, I became deeply invested in a sex and love addiction, which looking back, had simply become an escape from the huge pain and emptiness I felt over the loss of that business and seven-year love.
I lost my Christmas spirit altogether for the next four years as I became entirely wrapped up in being addicted to guys who weren’t available and would never be in a gay relationship. And none of them had any Christmas spirit to boot either. When I finally began to break free from all of them and that addiction, I moved into a home with a guy named David in Weymouth, Massachusetts. He helped to get me back on track in my first year renting a room in his home, when he asked if I would aid him in decorating it for the holiday season.
At first it was somewhat challenging to tap back into that Christmas spirit, but when David allowed me to put a number of strands of lights outside on his front bushes, trees, and porch, it was the jump start I needed. Doing so, brought back my love for the holiday, but something was still missing, that being a loving relationship to share it with.
For those you know who don’t have a partner to spend the holiday season with and don’t seem to have much in the way of any Christmas spirit, understand you’re probably not going to make them feel much of it no matter how hard you try. I spent five solid Christmas’s in a row without a partner and Christmas is by far the worst holiday to go through like that. Trying to decorate and find some Christmas spirit without a loving relationship to share it with, when everyone around you seems to have someone special, is tremendously challenging, especially when every single thing that’s advertised focuses on loving relationships and families during the holiday season.
It wasn’t until I met my partner Chris and began dating him in 2012, did I rediscover my Christmas spirit again. I helped to decorate his home a little on the inside and outside when Christmas arrived in 2012 and did the same in 2013, even though I hadn’t fully moved in with him yet. In the meantime, for both of those holidays, I also helped my roommate David continue to decorate his home, keeping at least some of my Christmas spirit alive there too.
Everything began to change in 2014 though when I moved in with Chris and it was then I felt fully motivated again to do the holiday decorating when the season arrived. For four years now, God has blessed me with enough energy to keep on doing this and keep on expanding it as well. While Chris usually decorates the inside of our home, I generally take care of the outside. Each year seems to take a little more energy to complete, yet somehow, even through all my pain and health issues, I’ve found enough of it to keep on doing it. On some level, decorating the outside of our home as much as I have has also become a way of me staring at my health issues and saying I’m not giving up. And so far, I haven’t, with this year’s outside decorations having taken me almost two weeks to complete.
Some say I decorate a little too gaudy like Clark Griswold from the movie “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”, but I say I decorate like me and feel I’m quite far from my home and yard becoming covered from head to toe with lights and figurines, even though it might eventually look that way at the rate I’m going! Regardless, decorating for Christmas as much as I do, not only provides me hope to keep going, it also seems to bring some of that to others as well who have seen it all lit up.
So, now you can fully see why I keep on decorating as much as I do. It’s because of a guy named Tom and a few named Jerry (no pun intended, lol!) and two others named David and Chris, as well as a bunch of health issues and a lot of physical pain, that has motivated me over the years to keep on finding my own spirit of Christmas within, enough to add a very personalized flair of cheer each time the holiday season arrives…
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson