Before we were married, my husband and I discussed several times what we would do for holidays. With the whole family, by ourselves, or some of both? Despite the fact we agreed (4 times) to do them by ourselves and "make an appearance" at family gatherings, I knew in my heart that agreement would go out the window at the first invitation to the extended-family feast.
I grew up hundreds of miles from any extended family, so all of our holidays were strictly our immediate nuclear family. I liked it that way; it was quiet, it was comfortable.
Up here, everybody lives within 10 miles of each other. Family gatherings mean excessive amounts of food, excessive amounts of noise, and for me, a lot of stress. I love these people! My husband's family is incredible. But even with these people I really love, it's stressful to for me to be in somebody else's house, eating somebody else's food, sitting on somebody else's couch, laughing at somebody else's jokes, and living somebody else's traditions when I just want to be at home with my own turkey on my own couch with my own husband.
I'm not going to lie. Since I was a little girl, I've dreamt of cooking at holidays for my husband. I love the excitement of making several dishes; the hubbub of timing each dish perfectly; the joy of a meal well prepared. My mother takes such pride in setting her beautiful table, making her mother's stuffing, glazing her candied yams... it was a delight to watch her. I looked forward to the day when I was married and could do it myself.
Now? Any dish I make to bring will get swallowed up in the cruise-like buffet. To make an entire meal here and then go over there for Round 2 would be wasteful and absurd. But what is the alternative? Making a grand feast and sitting here at home by ourselves when the party of the millennium is going on a few miles away? To be anti-social and hurt my husband's feelings by shunning his family... all because I want to stick a bird in an oven and put out my Thanksgiving napkins?
Despite the initial smarts and stings of accepting this fate, I've come to see that if we were back in the big city, I'd be at my parents' house in a heartbeat. We'll have years to ourselves later on; for now, I am so grateful I have a loving extended family who has welcomed me as one of their own.
I am so so grateful for the wondrous gift of the Sacrament of Marriage; the gift that helps rid us of our petty selfishness! The gift that takes the focus off of me, my wants, my desires, my ideas... and shows me how to die to self so as to best serve and love another. What a wonderful gift to be thankful for!!