Saturday, December 26, 2009

Norman Rockwell Drop-out

The holidays are always an interesting time. Other people talk about their family traditions and speak in nostalgic driven phrasing. I feel as if I am a Hallmark/Norman Rockwell drop-out! We had traditions growing up and they seemed very important at the time, but as the family has shrunk and dysfunction has separated us, those traditions seem kind of hollow now.

My mother-in-law died shortly after my husband and I married. It was sudden and tragic. Three months after that, my father-in-law's mother died. The matriarchal mantle fell on me and I was completely unprepared to handle it. Sure I could do the cooking, baking, cleaning and decorating. I just couldn't handle organizing people I hardly knew, let alone telling my husband, father-in-law and brother-in-law that if they wanted holiday meals, they would have to come to my house! Thus began 20+ years of wondering what we would do for each major holiday. I tried doing nothing. I tried being Martha Stewart. I tried forcing my husband to tell his family what to do. I tried not caring. I gave birth to 2 children, had a breakdown and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Not that the holidays should be held responsible for any of that!

This year I tried something new. I emailed my husband, father-in-law and brother-in-law and pointed out this recurring theme. I ASKED them what they wanted and TOLD them what I was willing to do. Quickly it became apparent that food was not as important to them as I would have thought. We agreed to all meet at "Pop's" house around noon. I brought ham and rolls, green bean casserole, pumpkin bread and mincemeat cookies. I told the rest of them to bring what they wanted. We sat down to eat at 12:30 without brother-in-law and his family. They came in while we were eating and joined in. I don't know if they were offended, but they were nearly an hour late, so I didn't really care.

We swapped presents, nibbled, chatted, cleaned up and everyone headed home by 4 pm. My children were basically content; my house was straight enough when I got home; and I had very few leftovers. My kids went off to dog sit and my dear husband and I sat down and watched our home team get slaughtered. I think I may have just experienced Christmas nirvana (except for that football part!).


  1. Good for you! Glad you had a good holiday.

  2. It's amazing how simple a solution can be... in retrospect. I'm so glad you had Christmas nirvana.

    Greg just let my know that nirvana for him for New Year's eve would be staying at home with me and the kids. I think I'm up for it.

  3. I LOVE staying in on New Year's Eve. I'm just not one of those "go out and mingle with large crowds" kind of people. And as we all know Alan has trouble staying awake past 10 pm.


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