Thursday, November 16, 2006

It's all relative

With the upcoming holidays, I've been thinking about relatives. I have quite a few of them, especially since my parents divorced, giving me two sets plus inlaws to contend with. All my relatives live far away, the nearest being ten hours away. I see my dad and stepmother quite frequently since they are willing to meet us halfway. I don't see as much of my inlaws. And they are a very close family and I think they see our not visiting as odd somehow. Doesn't everyone want to be around 30 people at holiday time? Well, no. Not really.

Mr. Geeky is the only sibling to have moved away. The other two are still there. Single sister-in-law I really like and wish I could see more often. I also like my father-in-law. My brother-in-law is fine, but his wife drives me crazy and they now have 4 kids under the age of three. It's going to be a hard holiday season for them since my mother-in-law died in the spring. Everything is going to be different, but they have a large close family and good traditions. Except not this year. For Thanksgiving, bil and his wife have decided to have a separate celebration and didn't invite fil or ssil. A cousin, who traditionally has Thanksgiving at her house, is still having that celebration, but bil and his wife and 4 kids won't be there. Christmas will be worse. The immediate family used go to the grandparents house in the morning and an aunt's house in the afternoon. Since the remaining grandparent is in a nursing home, the morning event is no more and the bil and his wife are having Christmas dinner (inviting the whole family this time). Ssil thinks this is too much change all at once and feels like the bil (but mostly his wife) is grandstanding.

This kind of stuff was par for the course in my family when I was growing up. Thanksgiving and Christmas plans changed year after year. Sometimes we went places. Sometimes people came to us. Most of the time, it was just me, my sister, and my parents. And that's how it is most of the time for us now too. Thanksgiving and Christmas have become for us a time to reconnect with our immediate family without the hassles of everyday life. We have our own traditions now and my kids (especially Geeky Boy) say they prefers my food to anyone else's. I know the various families want to see us, but I'd prefer to see them some other time when there isn't so much craziness with the holidays. Plus, our kids don't get a huge amount of time off at either holiday and since we have so far to travel, it's difficult.

As I was talking to ssil about the holidays and she was describing the soap opera-like negotiations, I said "All the more reason for me not to come." And she said, "All the more reason to come. I need support." I suggested she come here. Maybe she and fil. I'd be happy to host relatives even though I don't have a huge house or a dining room table that seats 12. We can sit on the couch with paper plates for all I care. And ssil thought about it and she thought getting out of the fray might be a good idea.