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Thursday, December 8, 2011

The truth about holiday swapping

Repeat the Sounding Joy by David Fleck
Here's the thing about you and your partner both having families that want you there for Christmas: nobody wants to give.  And honestly, that's not meant in a "eyebrow-crinkle-grr" sort of way; it's the truth.  Tradition when it comes to this time of year is a deeply-rooted thing, and it is hard to change.  Change is hard.  Marriage has been very comfortable, like a warm pair of wool socks -- it has not been hard.  But holidays?  Grunt.  Hard.  And the thing is, we have it incredibly easy -- we don't swap holidays exactly.  Or rather, we do for Thanksgiving, but not for Christmas.  So I should really be incredibly thankful we have Christmas down pretty easy, and that the holiday we swap around is not the one that causes us heartache to even think about changing.

Ultimately, the trouble with holidays is that they aren't easily rescheduled -- you can't simply compromise, because there is no real compromise.  Swapping?  It still means one year, somebody is missing somebody's family Christmas.  Going to Thanksgiving for one and Christmas for the other may sound like a compromise, but it's totally not, at least not for us.  Christmas is so very clearly the top tier holiday.  Thanksgiving (while lovely) is second place, so it still means one of you is getting the better deal every other year.

And that sucks.  So we don't do it, at least not with Christmas.  We speed through one Christmas then drive two hours on 95 to DC with our two dogs in the back and do it all again because we can't bear to think of missing one.  And this is good, because it means we get to both not change too much.  It is also tiring, but at least it's the kind of tiring that can be soothed with audiobooks and holiday playlists.

Because the thing is, that year isn't rewindable or relivable.  What if something bad happens the year after you swap Christmasses, opting to go to your partner's family Christmas, and you realize too late that you missed the last Christmas your family could have been together for?  (Am I a really morbid downer person to think like that? I'm a worrier, always waiting for a shoe to drop.  Maybe some people are less gloomy than I...but I don't know what living would feel like were my worry about everything to disappear...)  The thought fills me with dread, so it's simply not an option.  We both love our families, and they're both within a manageable distance, so for us...we couldn't bear to make it easier on us, because the mental anguish of missing one would end up making it harder to go to one or the other.  So we will be tired, but it will be a good tired.  And that's the best we can come up with, for now.

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