My bestie Leo has been working hard to reclaim the Christmas spirit for the last couple of months. In the years since her mom passed it’s been hard and this year her dear ones have been watching her diligently working on figuring out what she can do to bring Christmas cheer back into her life.
Photo by The Think Theater Queer Photography. I swear Leo and I are just friends, we don’t date even though we take great photos together.
You should know a little bit about Leo. She’s extremely kind and generous, introspective and intentional, capable and handy. She’s also extremely dapper and wears a hanky every single day. In fact, one of the Christmas cheer things she’s done is to wear a hanky with snowflakes on it. She fixes computers as an IT professional for a living but she really loves working with her hands. Carpentry has become a recent passion of hers and she knows a lot about tools and what it takes to build things.
Leo at my house helping me weatherproof windows. Note the hanky in her left pocket.
We decorated for Christmas at my house, she got a bunch of us together to go to a holiday market outside with apple cider because it reminded her of her childhood Christmas tradition with her folks going around to tree lots in Jacksonville with warm beverages and finding the perfect tree. So we did the adult version of that and she had a flask to spike the apple cider.
The whole time we were at the holiday market I did a new exercise to be okay being un-partnered during the holidays by “Husbandifesting*” with holiday gifts. It was a visioning exercise where I told my friends what gifts I would get the future Mx. Branlandingham–a wooden brain teaser puzzle because they would be super into solving things but not so into getting lost in the iPad, a nice tie with a cool pattern on it, a pocket watch, etc… And I told them what Mx. B would get me–a gift certificate to a tea vendor I was excited about, a teapot with a steeping basket inside, a teal glowy glass lamp of a goddess for my altar. It made it really fun and my friends totally played along!
In the same spirit of visioning for what she wants, Leo has been talking about this hammer for weeks. This very expensive ($200) very light (11oz) framing hammer that is titanium and does your taxes or something. At first I was like, that’s sweet, asking for what you want but where would I get $200 to buy you a hammer. But then I thought, well, maybe I could get it together to get friends to throw in for it. With all the stuff going on in my life I didn’t think I could actually rally the support needed to coordinate a Queer Kris Kringle army to buy a $200 hammer. But then after planning our outing to the holiday market, seeing how jazzed she was about reclaiming Christmas, I was like, “Fuck it, I want to make Leo happy, let’s see if we can do this.”
At the holiday market with Tommy, Marico and Leo.
Leo and I run in three distinct mutual circles that only overlap a little bit, so I’m kind of the perfect person to coordinate this. I started a Facebook message and put about 15 people on it who I knew loved Leo. I asked them to add folks to it. I asked someone to step up and take care of the paypal logistics (Jacqueline, with help by Miss Mary Wanna). Then more people added more people to the “Hey, That’s Leo’s Hammer” thread. Then out of nowhere we got WAY more money than we needed–good because the price of the hammer spiked to $199 from $169 the week before Christmas). Everyone just loves Leo so much they wanted to make her happy. So we did it! And then there was the natural queer processing about what to do with the extra cash and Tommy took care of that part, getting a gift card to a restaurant she likes near her house.
Our friends Miriam and Victoria had a holiday brunch and we totally commandeered their brunch to do the Leo surprise. Jacqueline, a very talented videographer, came up with the perfect way to surprise Leo on camera by asking her to “help” with a project she was doing on the meaning of Christmas. I think you’re going to love the results in this super touching video starring Leo!
*Husbandifesting is a word from Avory Agony about those visioning exercises you do to bring forth a masculine of center version of “The One.” I recently wrote a piece about marriage for Autostraddle that talks about all the different ways you can acknowledge love relationships that aren’t just about marriage. I also still believe for a loving, supportive future spouse while being happy with my life as it is in this moment.