Disclaimer: I’m writing another Christmas post. I know I probably shouldn’t, but I’ve decided not to let thoughtless and inconsiderate commenters dictate what I do or do not say on my blog. I’m not going to abide obnoxious comments – I’m happy to have you disagree with me, but if you can’t disagree respectfully, your input will be deleted.
Thanksgiving was lovely, though more than a little strained. Remember this story about t.v.? Well, Uncle T has gone one step further (one might say he’s gone quite a bit further than that) and acquired himself a 60″, HD flat screen. Seriously? I think it’s bigger than one of the screens in our local movie theatre. Anyway, after dinner (which did not include the indian corn), we of the family who love football gathered in the living room to ooh and ahh over Uncle T’s new entertainment unit.
The in-laws were not at all pleased, though they were a little better at not stomping around and clucking their disapproval this year than they’ve been in the past. Auntie L, who wasn’t feeling terribly well to begin with, was in no mood to put up with much of anything. “If you all want to watch football after dinner, then you all watch football after dinner. This is MY house, and I want you all to be happy.”
We had a lovely dinner, we sat around and chatted (though, to be honest, a lot of our discussions centered around sports and such; we only see these people three times a year – we don’t really have a whole lot in common). All in all – for us, anyway – it was a pretty good day.
On our way home, Mr. Chili and I were discussing how the afternoon took on a very different tone than Thanksgivings past. His cousins are grown; one of them married the summer before last and one of them is engaged to be married next fall. They have in-laws who will want to see them at the holidays and I speculated that, since both cousins and their respective mates were in attendance at Thanksgiving, the likelihood of their coming for Christmas is severely diminished. He agreed, and the other day we called Auntie L to find out if she knew what her kids had planned.
It was during this phone call that we learned that Auntie L has been unhappy with the holidays for years – perhaps even decades. She, too, feels pulled in too many directions, and the expectations and pressures of the day that are imposed on her from others has reached a point where she’s not willing to buck up and take it anymore. She told us that it’s likely that her kids will come by her place in the morning, but that they’ll be spending the afternoon of the 25th with their respective in-laws (a situation made even more complicated for them in that their spouse and fiancee both have parents who are divorced, which means they’re going to be juggling parents, too). She suggested that we reserve Thanksgiving and Easter as Chili holidays, but that we take Christmas to celebrate on our own, and I couldn’t agree more.
Mr. Chili went to his parents’ house on Friday to start broaching the subject of changing the holiday. We love our Christmas Eve traditions with them; we go to their house, Daddy lights a fire in the fireplace, we admire the tree. Mom makes lasagna and we have a lovely dinner. We light one of these things:
the girls peruse the nativity scene, then we all sit in the living room and read excerpts from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. It’s a really nice way to spend an evening, and Mr. Chili suggested to his parents that we make that our Christmas tradition by including gift opening in the evening.
His parents are “thinking about it.”
He’s going back over sometime this week (hopefully, sooner rather than later), to continue the discussion (I feel as though he’s a frickin’ Secretary of State in delicate, volatile negotiations with a hostile nation with weapons of mass destruction) and, after he’s done that, I’ve been asked to call Auntie L so that SHE can discuss with her sister-in-law what her branch of the family plans to do on the holiday.
It’s going to be tough going. I think it’s worth it, though; change is inevitable. Children grow up and have families of their own, and doing things simply because we’ve always done them – whether or not they still suit us or bring us joy – is wrong. Still, we should make every effort to come to some sort of agreeable compromise. My fear, though, is that everyone but my in-laws will be happy with the compromise we collectively design. While I’ll be sad if that happens (and, really, I don’t have high hopes for the outcome of these negotiations), I also plan to stand firm. I think this is important, and I’m willing to see it through.