"I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" is a classic Christmas favorite, but San Diego musicians Danielle LoPresti and Alicia Champion thought it could use a bit of an update.
So the couple, along with their son Xander Lucien, created a video featuring the three of them: a multiracial, same-sex, foster-adoptive family. The fun video is a great reminder that families aren't one-size-fits-all.
The first time I watched this video, I wondered if it was a little too racy for my taste. But after I thought about it for a while, I was struck by the reality: This scene is just like what I see on TV and online every day.
I realized that the issue isn't that the video is racy. The issue is how uncommon it truly is to see a family comprised of two women and a child portrayed in the same way we portray straight couples with a child. The parents are about to have a little fun (if ya know what I mean) and they're interrupted by their kiddo who wakes up and gets out of bed. Real life as a parent. Funny. No big deal.
Why is it that two moms portrayed this way is an anomaly?
LoPresti and Champion came up with the idea last Christmas after they and their son watched Michael Bublé and Idina Menzel's viral video of "Baby It’s Cold Outside."
The video featured two cute kids acting and dancing to the song and the three of them loved it.
"Our son Lucian is a beautiful mix of African American, Mexican, and White, so we’re constantly introducing him to examples of beautiful, empowered kids who look like him, as well as men and women of color who are doing remarkable things in our communities," LoPresti told me in an email interview.
Immediately after they enjoyed the video as a family, they went to find another holiday video that represented a family that looked similar to theirs.
And they came up with nothing.
So they thought: Why not make our own?
After all, they are musicians and producers. The couple had the resources and skills to make their own version of the modern holiday video. (For real on the skills. Scroll down to watch and hear LoPresti's beautiful voice.)
"We wanted to create a peek into a typical American family that at the core is no different than any other, although many people still don’t know that. How can people know this when we still see so few families like ours represented?" Champion said.
They're just like any other family, and it would be nice to see more like them in the media.
And just like most other happy families, their story about meeting each other and forming their own family is sweet.
Champion, who was born in Singapore, and LoPresti, a San Diego native, met in 2003. "I was on stage finishing my sound check when Danielle’s band was loading in behind me. When I unplugged my guitar and turned toward the stage stairs, my eyes caught hers and I lost my breath," Champion told me. "I used to always think 'love at first sight' was a myth – I was proven wrong that day."
But for a while, it was just a friendship.
Lo Presti says they became fast friends, bonding over shared values and the dreams they had for independent musicians. "We started producing events together and after about eight months, I finally gave in to what had become Alicia’s relentless pursuit," she joked.
Champion said yes to LoPresti's proposal in May 2008, the same month that California began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. However, when Proposition 8 passed in November that year, the couple, who had been engaged for just six months, wasn't able to fulfill their plans to legally marry. They were finally married in May 2014, thanks to Prop 8 being ruled unconstitutional.
In the midst of the wait, something wonderful happened: They became moms. Lucian, who's 4 years old now, joined their family of two via open adoption when he was just one day old. "[T]here’s not a single day that goes by when I don’t remember how lucky we are to be his parents," LoPresti said. "He's the center of our universe."
Lucian loved starring alongside his moms in this fun, modern video:
So what can we do to ensure that videos like this become a lot more common?
Given the historic Supreme Court ruling this year on same-sex marriage, it might seem like we're all set on equality and acceptance. Unfortunately, that's not the case. I asked the couple what we can do to keep the momentum going.
For herself and Champion, LoPresti says it means they're creating work that is reflective of their lives. They also speak out against things that aren't right. "We embrace that injustice against anyone is injustice against everyone and we fold that resolve into our daily lives," she told me.
"Sometimes, the greatest activism we can do is finding the courage to simply be ourselves."
"For others, ‘doing the work’ can simply mean sharing things that help create connection and justice as opposed to separation and fear," LoPresti said. "I truly believe that sometimes the greatest activism we can do is finding the courage to simply be ourselves." She mentioned that their neighbors, with whom they've become close over the past several years, are Christian missionaries.
"Just the simple act of being who we are is showing them that we are a family just like they are, with the same concerns for our kids, the same indescribable love, the same hard days and sweet simple triumphs," she said.
For those of us who don't identify as part of the LBGTQ community, I think we can keep speaking out and sharing more examples of media featuring folks that don't fit the mold of the "traditional family" (and, hopefully, that phrase will become obsolete).
I'm an ally and an advocate, and even I had a moment of pause when I realized I'm not accustomed to seeing very many examples in everyday media featuring complete families like Champion and LoPresti's. Let's work to change that.