A Christmas of Secrets
By Linda C Dipman

     The snow softly fell producing mounds of glistening white newness to the surrounding
houses.  All things looked clean as if the snow had washed away all bleakness and
allowed a new beginning.

     It was Christmas time.  The children were excited and the decorations were hung.  The
tree was all aglow and  beneath its branches lay colorfully wrapped presents.

     I loved this time of the year.  I liked all the shopping and the searching for the perfect
gift for all of my children and extended family members.  I enjoyed putting out each piece
of my nativity set and worshiping the birth of Jesus in my church.  And I loved how each of
my children took every detail in and lit up with pure joy.

     When my children were small it was a tradition to go to their minister grandpa's house
and  read the Christmas story.  But when my life took a sudden turn everything changed
about this holiday.

     Now our family was mixed.  A divorce can do that.  It can change traditions and force
children who don't want their families to change to celebrate differently.  Before, all
members of my family and my husband's family joined together to celebrate the birth of
Christ.  

     Now Tori and I were about to start our own traditions in our new house.  Tori had
invited her parents to our house to celebrate Christmas day.

     This was going to be a real challenge to Christmas because her parents didn't know
that I lived with her.  Tori had fabricated an elaborate story surrounding her life.  She was
supposedly engaged to a man who was in the mafia.  

     A man whose identity had to be kept secret in order to protect her and her son. A
story her parents demanded because they would not accept her having a relationship with
another woman.  

     Tori had sole custody of her son because her ex-husband confessed to child abuse.  
Her ex had no interest in seeing his son under the supervised visitation specified by the
courts.  So she was Brad's sole parent.

     In the past her parents threatened to take Tori's 5 year old child away, if they ever
found out she was with me.  A threat that was easily feared since I was deprived of being
my three children's custodial parent by the court system.  

     It was not an easy front to keep up.  We had to be very careful even with how we
handled work.  In secret we ran an upholstery business out of our home. We advertised
through a local free paper with a separate phone line for the business, never using our
real names.

     I worked in the basement of our house securely hidden from any sudden visits from
her parents.  And Tori who was a wonderful decorator sold upholstery, window treatments
and even carpet.  

     Our upholstery and design business was growing.  It was as if God reached down from
heaven and blessed all our work to pay us back for all the persecutions we endured.

     I was a very dedicated Christian. I was raised a Baptist who did not believe that living a
homosexual lifestyle was right before God.  

     To drastically change my belief system and become gay, revealed yet another secret.  
From the moment my life began to change I began to receive secret typed messages from
God.  

     These messages reflected God's will for my life.  They made me determined to stand
up to the Religious world I had been raised to believe was absolutely the only way to
worship God.  They gave me strength to hold onto my faith regardless of how hard my life
had become.
     
     These secret messages helped me to believe beyond my ability to understand why the
church persecuted people like me.  They made me find the answers as to why
homosexuality was created by God.

     God captured my mind and made me depend on Him with these words because of the
constant persecutions that Tori and I faced.  "My Ways Are Not Human Ways, Trust in Me,
Pray for protection from Satan, God Has Spoken, I love you Linda"

     I clung to these words with a determination to make the best of Tori's and my life
together. During this Christmas season we would begin making our own traditions in spite
of all of our secrets.

     We had a two story house with a full basement.  We decorated two Christmas trees,
one in the master bedroom suite and one in the family room downstairs.

     My children and I would quietly celebrate Christmas upstairs.  To my surprise they
enjoyed just spending their time with me.  They loved their presents and together we read
the story of the birth of Jesus.

     Our house may have been filled with secrets, but our hearts were filled with the Spirit
of Christmas and love.  Jesus gave us a determination to be the family God wanted us to
be separate from those who didn't understand.

     The day passed and the years proceeded with the secrets we held inside the walls of
our home.  No regrets, no turning back we found our way because we placed our trust in
God.
     
     The falling snow sparkled giving way to a brand new world igniting into light.  An
understanding that sacrificing our traditions are not really what's important during the
Christmas season. The most important part of Christmas is the gift of God's Son and the
love He can bring to each persons life.