Be it Thanksgiving, Hannukah, Kwanza or Christmas, going home for the holidays brings a mixed bag of emotions, usually involving varying degrees of trepidation. Add in an element like bringing a significant other into the throes of your family’s unique brand of crazy and anxiety goes into hyperdrive. But, regardless of the embarrassment and inevitable inner eye rolls, there is almost always a healthy serving of laughter and love to go around making the annual gathering an affair well worth the effort. For many, autumn holiday gatherings with the family follow a formula that can look something like this:
In order to spend time in the same place, almost everyone will have to take some form of transit or travel. Driving in traffic, braving manic airports, and jamming into overcrowded trains is a part of the experience. Unless you’re the courageous soul that has agreed to host dinner (we’ll take the congested subway any day). The upside is that once the crowds thin, the autumn foliage offers a beautiful show that makes the madness of thanksgiving travel worth the trouble.
PREPARING THE HOUSE
The house will be buzzing with manic anticipation as parents bustle around talking on the phone, unpacking groceries, cooking, and decorating with all kinds of special touches like autumn flowers and mini pumpkins. The dog will be losing his mind circling their ankles all week wondering what the hell is going on. His tail will nearly fall off from wagging so hard.
REUNITING WITH EXTENDED FAMILY
Showing up fashionably late means all the grandparents, cousins, siblings, aunties and uncles will already be there. Some will already be “loosened up” by the mulled wine and spiked coffee. The nieces and nephews will be destroying something, perhaps hammering on a piano. The introductions to a significant other begin. One of the crotchety old uncles will make some horrible joke and repeat it every hour on the hour.
EATING DINNER AND THEN MORE DINNER
Then it’s time to eat. There’ll be all the usual suspects: turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, etc. The family will pass the dishes around like a well-oiled machine of limbs and spend the next hour gorging themselves amongst laughter, fights, and more bad jokes.
LIVING ROOM LOUNGING
Then it’s time to retire to the living room and complain about how full everyone is over a pot of coffee. Some of the more ambitious family members will go for a walk to “get things moving”. The rest will play a game or just sit around talking about how great the pumpkin pie was. A grandparent might suck one of the newbies into perusing old family photos. Then eat more pie.
It’s one of the most emotionally charged times of the year, bringing up a lot of old baggage, but it’s one of the only times to slip into feeling like a kid again. Families are crazy, but they’re ours.
THAT’S ALL, FOLKS
Time to leave with five or six Tupperware containers of leftovers so nobody misses any opportunity to get fat this week. Parents will complain that they never see you and that you have to call more. They may shake you while they tell you to bring your special person again soon. Then they’ll drop something embarrassing about grandkids. Then it’s time to go back to real life.