Back in the day, I used to love to come home for the holidays. I would barge through the front door, drop my dirty laundry on the washing machine, hug my parents and plop into my favorite chair.
Being home meant intimate family dinners with just my parents and then larger ones with my cousins and grandparents. I was fortunate that both sets of grandparents liked each other and we would have one Hanukah celebration and one Christmas (yes, we’re a mixed religion family).
These days, coming home for the holidays doesn’t always mean going to just one or two family affairs. With divorce more prevalent than when I was a twenty-something girl, many kids have to celebrate with their mother and stepdad. And then their dad and stepmom. Already that makes two holiday dinners. Which wouldn’t be so bad, if it stopped there.
But then they may have grandparents on each side, who might also have new partners. So there’s a grandmother on their mother’s side and her husband, a maternal step grandfather. And maybe a grandfather on their father’s side with a step grandmother. And their mom’s father and his wife, yet another step grandmother. And their dad’s mother and her husband, not to mention aunts and uncles and cousins and well, it can get too damn complicated.
One only has to watch movies to see that the times have changed. Over a half century ago, there was a “A Wonderful Life” and “A Christmas In Connecticut” to name just a few. Heartwarming family stories. Several decades back we had the off-beat movie “The Ref” and the very truthful “Four Christmases.”
Just thinking of having four celebrations in one day is exhausting.
And full of calories galore. How many turkey dinners can one stomach take? How many of a “special” aunt’s “famous” Jell-O molds can one taste? Not to mention all the family bickering that goes on. Yes, even in the most functional of families this does take place. But when you multiply it by steps and divid it in halves, these events can become overwhelming.
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Who wants to listen to your stepfather’s sister complain about her step daughter-in-law’s teenaged son’s girlfriend who claims being a vegan is better for her unborn child?
But there is a positive side to all of this. It’s quite possible for a child of divorced parents to meet a future spouse at one of these extended family affairs. Because there are certainly going to be a lot of non-blood relatives filling up on brisket or turkey and drinking one too many rum drinks.
Who knows? That half cousin of her uncle’s stepbrother on her mother’s side, just might turn out to be the love of her life.
And just maybe, this child will get married and stay married. Her parents will adore her husband’s parents, making her home the place where everyone gathers to celebrate.
And as her children grow into young adults, they will come to one home for the holidays- just as I did so many years ago.
Janie Emaus believes that when the world is falling apart, we're just one laugh away from putting it together again. She writes about how life is NOW compared to THEN, with her special blend of funny and sweet. She is the author of the time travel romance, Before the After, and the young adult novel, Mercury in Retro Love. And she has an essay in the Best Selling humor anthology, You Have Lipstick On Your Teeth. She is a staff writer at In The Powder Roomand blogs frequently for The Huffington Post. She is proud to be named a 2013 BlogHer Voice of the Year. To learn more about Janie visit her blog www.theboomerrants.com and her website www.JanieEmaus.com.