As I sat through a screening of "Four Christmases," I started to break out in a sweat. How will I, with four families of my own, survive the holidays? I could relate to the anxiety Brad (Vince Vaughn) and his girlfriend Kate (Reese Witherspoon) experienced in "Four Christmases" as they shlepped from one crazy family to the next on Christmas Day. In the movie, the couple struggles with the idea of marrying and having kids of their own after having to spend a stressful day with their divorced families. Growing up with divorced parents, I can relate to this movie and have certainly had moments with family (in-laws included) where I've wondered if bringing a baby into a world of nutballs was really a wise choice. It was hard enough as a child to bounce around from family to family, to party to party, in order to spend time with all families -- do I really want to do that to my own child? I think I have no choice.
Before I got married, Thanksgiving was always a holiday I celebrated at my mom's house and my mom's house only. But once I got married, everything changed. The first year, we went to my mom's house. The second year we went to his parent's house. The third year, we really changed things up and went to my dad's house. The fourth year, we had a baby and then evvvvvverything changed. Everyone wanted a piece of us (well, the baby really) and we were going to have to find a way to divide our time. The solution? Host thanksgiving at our house and invite everyone. The problem, my stepmom hosts Thanksgiving at her house too. SO, everyone (except for my dad's family, who we visited in the morning), came over to our house. From the turkey to the side dishes to the company, the day was a complete success. It seemed like this would be our new tradition and everyone seemed to be okay with it.... until now.
My brother-in-law just got married last month. His wife typically spends Thanksgiving with her family, which means that now there is a FOURTH family. This poses a problem ... My brother-in-law will join his wife of course, and my in-laws will now go there too. But what about the other two families? What happens to them? Do I tell my parents, both vying for our company and time with the baby, that this year everything is changing (AGAIN) and go to my sister-in-laws? Decisions, decisions... Ultimately, we decided staying at our house and forging ahead with our new tradition, without my in-laws, was going to be the best game plan. I know my husband would have liked for all of us to be together, but I've reminded him that at least at home we have a big flat screen television ready for his football viewing pleasure and he won't have to worry about whether or not someone else has the game on.
Much like "Four Christmases," for me, the holiday season is one big marathon. At the end of every get together, I always feel slightly more insane and dysfunctional. At the same time, I'm completely grateful to have so much family when some people have none. Having four families definitely comes with its share of chaos. But all I can say is that it's a good thing we're Jewish and there are eight nights of Hannukah....