It's that time of the year again. The time when we decide if we will spend Christmas with my family or A.P.'s. It's not a decision I like making (or even talking about). I love A.P.'s family, but I also do not know them super well. In fact, A.P. and I did the math the other night. I've hung out with them a total of seven times. Seven times in five years! That's not a lot, but it's for good reason. For one thing, they all live in Florida. For another, they never, ever, ever come to Chicago. A.P.'s father used to be better about visiting once a year, but the last time he came here was for the wedding almost two years ago. Instead, it seems they all wait for us to make the (often expensive) trek down to Florida each year. We have to go to them or else we don't really get to see them.
I, of course, wish we could have holidays here with both families. That would be awesome. I could cook and everyone could get to know each other better. But A.P.'s family doesn't do winter, so we're often forced to choose between holiday flying or staying local. The last couple of years, we've chosen to stay local.
Obviously I know A.P.'s family better now and I feel much more myself than I did that year. Still, I loathe spending the holidays in Florida. Besides the unnatural warm weather that screams summer and not Christmas, it's just hard being away from our animals, our home, and our own Christmas traditions. But being married is all about making compromises, right? So I've had to spend a few holidays with A.P.'s family.
The thing is, I always knew I would dread the day when I was married and I would have to choose between my family and that of my husband. I always knew it would be a headache and turns out, I was right! I love A.P.'s family, but they're not my family. They don't do holidays like us and they don't come together like us. They will spend a day or so together, maybe an afternoon before or after actual Christmas. But there's no tree, no gifts, and well, the meal leaves a lot to be desired. Not easy for me at all. The worst was the first year I spent Christmas with them. We spent Christmas Eve with his one brother and Christmas day with his other brother's then in-laws. I was a stranger and all of it was a bit overwhelming. Plus, Christmas Eve was a lot of the one brother and his wife going on and on about their daughter. It was a bit much for me. There are other (more important, actually) topics of conversation I felt we could have been having but instead they just kept talking about their daughter. Needless to say, it was a long night. One that saw me taking frequent trips to the bedroom we were staying in to text my friend about how crazy I was going. Yikes!
This year, we've decided to stay in Chicago, but in the future we will, I'm sure, have to head back down south for the holidays. The whole thing makes me realize how hard being married is, though. I can't even imagine what it would be like to choose if we have kids one day. How does that work? One set of grandparents gets one less Christmas than the other? What a bummer! We have not figured out a system for alternating, but I know when we do have kids, it will become necessary. I guess we'll adapt, but it still sucks. Plus, no matter how long I'm married to A.P., his family will never be my family. We will forever be different in some fundamental ways. For now, I just enjoy the fact that I can still sneak a holiday season in with no trips to Florida. It may not be a big win, but I'll take it.
So, how do you handle holidays with the in-laws? Do you alternate? Or do you just have your own holidays?
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(Crappy Christmas by Corey Ann)