Glad it’s over? Oh, man, I sure am. My husband’s family has some very nice people in it, but they are not people who like to be together. It is one of those awkward families that only gets together on holidays. Several members actually showed up after the food was on the table, sat down, ate, then left. There was no socializing, visiting or camaraderie. There was a stressed out aunt in the kitchen, running herself absolutely ragged, tension galore, and uncomfortable silences. Not what I’m used to.

After getting all the kids settled at their table, I went to sit down and join the adults, and there had been three seats left at the table, and my lovely mother-in-law sat next to my husband, leaving me to take the only other empty chair, down the table from him. It was not the time to make a scene, but I pointedly looked at the prospects, turned around, and sat at the kids’ table.

For all the little complaints and trials I have with my mother, they are minor when I look at the big picture. My family is very close, we hang out and talk to each other all the time, not just on holidays, so when we are together for a celebration, it is really fun, loud and enjoyable. It is rare that more than a few days go by without talking to both of my brothers, and I talk to my mom every day, really. So yesterday, when I talked to my mom (for the third time), I told her that I have a plan, and there is not any room for discussion or changes. This is the Plan:

Next year, the kids and I are going to fly down to California for Thanksgiving, and we will stay until Christmas. DFM will fly down with us, then fly home for a couple weeks, then come back down for Christmas, and we will all go home together after Christmas. My mom said, “What if we kill each other?”; while that is a possibility, I have gone down with the kids for three weeks several times, and things have been fine. My kids will get to see that holidays are really fun, not weird time-warps with strange tension and people they don’t know. They will be with three grandparents who dote on them, not be auxiliary kids; they will get to go in the woods with two dozen uncles, aunts, grandparents, friends and cousins to hunt for a Christmas tree, and then help grandpa cut it down. They will be a part of the crazy wonderland that is my mom’s house at Christmas, including the Grizwald-style front yard, and the huge tree in the front window that has a remote control and actually spins. (People drive by my mom’s house at night, stop, get out, and look in wonder.)

There were trade-off’s I knew I was making when we moved away; my kids don’t get to have Sunday dinner with grandma and grandpa, my dad has to come up here to teach the boys to fish, things require a little more effort, but sharing in the magic of a really close and loving family is not something I am willing to trade on.

I know the plan is a little risky, but I really think it will work. My mom laughed when I told her what was happening, but my brothers both called within the hour to vote their encouragement. DFM is mostly for it- when we got married he told me he was so happy to part of this family, and he knows how much fun Christmas is at mom’s. I don’t want another day like yesterday, and even cat-fights with my mom would be more fun than having my mother-in-law sit between me and my husband. DFM agrees with that!

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