“I’ll drive; it’s 20 hours and I’ll be there for Christmas dinner,” my husband, Edwin, said, undeterred after a Canadian snowstorm grounded all flights. Imagining a fatality replacing our festivities, I insisted he come by train. Hours in, Edwin’s locomotive halted, its tracks blocked by debris. Eighteen hours of standstill later, the train reversed direction, returning to its starting point. But Edwin didn’t give up: He cabbed to the nearest airport and boarded a then-available plane. After 54 hours of travel (for a trip that would normally take two hours), Edwin smiled beside me at my family’s celebratory spread. — Laura Schep

When I was growing up, being gay was a joke at best and a ticket to hell at worst. Add poverty, language barriers and a parent with chronic illness, and I had a story that made school counselors cry. My first love was a straight man who couldn’t love me. My second love was a gay man who didn’t love me. My third love fell in love with me after I had learned to love myself. We said “I do” on the same Texas shore I once wandered as a shame-addled kid. Thank you, Tyler, for changing my life. — Roberto López Jr.


As the oldest of three, I did my best to protect my siblings, never expecting I would lose my little brother to a brief bout with cancer. When he transitioned into hospice, I temporarily relocated from San Francisco to Denver. There, my desire for an escape became overpowering, so I reactivated an old dating app. Although my profile clearly stated that I was looking for something fun and temporary, my breaking heart was the perfect conduit for letting in love. While losing my brother, I found the unexpected love of my life. — Mara Kassoff

On my first post-divorce Christmas, our traditions felt essential. My children and I chose a perfect tree, hauling it home atop our minivan. Covered in sweat and sap, I muscled the tree into the stand until it was mostly straight and stable. The next year I opted for friends’ assistance, returning their kindness with beer. A year later my son was old enough to tighten the screws. And this year? My boyfriend, a Jewish man who adores Christmas, was happy to help. Though the tree tradition remains, a lot in our life has changed. I am so glad that it has. — Ashley Davis

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