Xmas is supposed to be one of the happiest times of the year. This year it was a bit rough. Japh’s mother died this past September a few weeks before our wedding so our holiday plans for 2011 were basically all over the place. Also, with this being our first big holiday married that meant that we would actually be spending the entirety of the Christmas holiday weekend bouncing between our respective family’s homes.
Friday, December 23rd, 2011: Japh and I have a tradition of having what we call “Little Xmas” on the Eve of Xmas Eve. We exchange presents and enjoy a bottle of Anchor’s Christmas Ale. This year I got some seriously fantastic swag — A vintage mink stole, An ice cream maker attachment for my stand mixer, A handmade red applique apron, A working hairdryer w/ stand from the 1950′s and a hiking trip upstate.
Japh for years has been wanting to learn how to play the upright bass. Now these things are stupid expensive. Like buying a car expensive. Due to this I decided to go the safe route and rent him one for 6-months to see if he actually takes to it and I threw in a months worth of lessons to be held in our apartment.
Saturday, December 24th, 2011: My family celebrates on Xmas Eve. We have a tradition of eating pizza, then opening presents and then listening to some David Sedaris. It’s pretty much the most amazing family night ever. This is the first year that a non-blood family member was privy to these events. Japh has participated in two of our Thanksgivings so I briefed him that our Xmas Eve celebration would for the most part be the same — except that there are loads of prezzies and instead of a traditional dinner, we have pizza. The boozing and eating for hours remains the same, as does the playing video games with my Dad. I think Japh liked it. A lot. Also, my parents got Japh and I a telly!
So, in review — Friday the 23rd we have an awesome “Little Xmas” together. Saturday the 24th was the Xmas Eve Extravaganza in which we drove 70 miles to my folks place. Late Xmas Eve we drove the 70 miles back to our home in Astoria so that we could sleep for four hours before we got up and hauled ourselves to Japh’s Dad’s home to make sure we are there for their Christmas morning celebration.
Sunday, December 25th, 2011: Japh’s Family Christmas — oh man was this rough. The house was quiet when we arrived. A feeling of anxiety and unease wafted through all of the rooms. I don’t mean to sound over dramatic but god damn the tension was thick. I cannot begin to understand how hard it is for them to push through and participate in a holiday in which their mother was the driving force. After a few hours we open prezzies and overall it went alright. Not nearly as cheerful as our previous two sessions of giving and receiving. Japh had the idea of fixing up an old vintage frame that his sister Sarah had found in our neighborhood a few months back. He fitted it with a photo of him, his sisters and father from the wedding. While it was sad, it seemed to go over well.
Early that afternoon we drive about 100 miles to Japh’s uncles home for Christmas dinner. That was a little strange. Not bad, just odd because we don’t really know that part of the family all that well. After gorging ourselves on the amazing food we drive 75 miles back to our home. OMG – So much driving.
I’m not sure that I can handle this much integration of Christmas next year. While nothing incredibly drama filled happened, it was just a bit too much traveling. It’s hard because I’m so close with my family that adding a new addition of family members that come complete with their own ideas of Christmas and traditions is a weird notion. You know how women are supposed to take on their husband’s family as their new family? Yea, that’s not exactly how I was raised. The selfish part of me is like “My Family! My family! MY family!” but I know that’s not fair.
I’m working on understanding the nuances of gaining new family members. And understanding that now that I have sister in-laws as opposed to them just being my boyfriend’s sisters that more responsibility and communication is now required. Maybe it’s just me being selfish but I’m pretty sure that my family is not nearly as much work. My folks do their own thing and require very little from me or Japh. My kid brother lives in West Virginia, so actual interaction is pretty minimal. I’m not entirely sure how to be a good sister / daughter in-law but I’m trying to figure it out.