It’s the start of another holiday season and my inner teacher is bursting with joy. Decorations, themes, outfits! Oh my! But at the heart of every celebration is the eternal family question, who to celebrate with?
Marriage creates a set of negotiations surrounding holidays and celebrations that no one talks about well, before marriage. Do you dress up or go casual? Fine china or everyday dishes? Do you invite everyone you know (and their aunt and uncle) or do you keep things small? And of course the all important Thanksgiving question, what kind of potatoes do YOU mash?
I once overheard a fellow Mamaleh say that she’s so at peace when she and her husband do things the “right” way, you know, her way, and that holidays feel all awry when they do things all wrong; which is his way. Of course. Hmmm . . . Figuring out where to spend holidays is a whole new discussion.
My parents and I moved to the United States when I was six years old. We haven’t lived around extended family since and so various friends (usually other “transplants”) were our extended family and holiday partners. In their circle of friends, different families take on different holidays and it becomes “tradition” at their place. Because she hasn’t had the luxury of spending holidays regularly with her family of origin, my mom always encourages everyone to spend holidays with as much family as possible, no matter how painful, awkward or uncomfortable it may be.
My parents are in California, my in-laws are in Wisconsin and Jason and I are in Minnesota. Often our holiday choices are rooted in location, location, location. When we were kidless and thought we had a lot of money (what were we thinking?!) we’d travel to California regularly. These days, not so much.
Beyond the price, to be perfectly honest, the thought of being trapped on an airplane or in a car with three kids five and under makes me sweat! Because of the travel involved, we definitely don’t have everyone together for every holiday and we don’t have to make the tough decisions that some of you are forced to make about which family to celebrate what, with and when.
What we do try to figure out is also a touchy subject. Our parents are trying to continue what we’re trying to start. Do we go to their house for holidays and respect what they’re trying to do or do we start our own traditions, our own way for our own kids? Is there a way to do your own thing while still maintaining family peace?
Separating for the holidays sometimes feels as controversial of a topic as separation of church and state! Jason and I felt absolutely giddy at the thought of doing things our own way in our own home. But at the same time we mourned the loss of doing things the way we’ve each “always done” with our own parents and siblings. Add onto that healthy doses of guilt and fear at disappointing or hurting anyone and really we had quite the conundrum! In reality, this has been quite a process to figure out (read: we still have no idea what or how we do things!).
This year we spent Thanksgiving day at my in-laws and then are doing our own thing the next day. For us, it is all about creating memories together and everyone being comfortable in their own skin during holidays. Whether that’s at your mom’s table or your own, in your jammys or a dress, with football or the parade on TV (live or DVR-ed), I hope your Thanksgiving was exactly how you wanted it to be and that your kids remember your traditions as far back as they can and absolutely LOVE and adore them!
Holidays are meant to be joyful and fun and as far as I’m concerned, if that means you celebrate Thanksgiving all week long then that’s the way it was meant to be!