Plans for a less disastrous Christmas

It's somewhat axiomatic that holidays become more divisive the moment you marry, and moreso if your spouse's family and your own do not live in similar areas of the country. Since marrying, Jeff and I have become privy to the marital practice known as Holiday Juggling, to wit:

"We'll visit your family on holiday X, and my family on holiday Y, and then we'll alternate holidays each year…"…so that we never spend a lot of time with each family, and manage to pacify both. It's frustrating and requires a lot of driving time, to say the least. My parents live in rural south central Arkansas; his parents live in rural northwestern Alabama. We are an hour and a half away from Jeff's parents, and seven and a half hours from mine.

In my discussion with Jeff just now, I realized that we haven't had an ice-storm-free Christmas in the entire time we've been married. Our first Christmas, we had an ice storm and thus spent Christmas Day alone in our apartment. No friends, no cats, just phone calls—it still qualifies as the worst Christmas I've ever had.

The next year, we made plans to go out to Buddy and Shirley's. All well and good—our weather was clear—but they had had an ice storm, and had no power. I remember this because I'd promised to make a batch of red beans and rice for everyone to eat, and we had no way to heat it. We ended up driving into town (braving ice and such) to get a hot meal with decent lighting.

Then there was last year, the official Christmas From Hell—where we drive out to Arkansas and wake up on Christmas morning in the middle of one of the worst ice storms to hit Arkansas in decades. I end up in a hotel room for several days, frantically trying to catch a flight home (where there was no ice) to avoid getting the sack because I had no vacation or sick time. I spent most of the holiday on the phone to friends who weren't stuck in the ice storm, which is the only reason Christmas 2000 is merely referred to as "The Christmas From Hell" instead of "The Worst Christmas Ever."

It's still a pretty close race, if you must know.

We have passed months upon months since then, and once again it is time to make the dreaded decision about the holidays—with whom shall we spend each? Tradition would dictate that we reverse last year's course and spend Thanksgiving in Arkansas, and Christmas in Alabama.

We're going to try to pull one over the ice storm fairy—perhaps we can pull two ice-free holidays while she's not looking.

Andy is coming to Alabama for the Thanksgiving weekend to spend time with Heather's family. After the actual Thursday, they're coming to Huntsville to spend some time here. Since Thanksgiving is a one-day affair with Jeff's family, that means we'll have time to spend with him as well. In addition, Andrew and Joy will be in Arkansas for Christmas. Not surprising, since they and both their families are from Arkansas.

If we reverse course, we can see both friends. If we hold with tradition, we see neither.

I dunno, it seemed like an easy enough choice for me, if you must know. I'd love to be able to spend more than two hours with Joy and Andrew, since I only see them once a year now. I also know that after December, when Heather moves to D.C. to live with Andy, that his reason for visiting Alabama goes away.

It seems—silly and wasteful, somehow—to not take advantage of these circumstances.

There will come a year in which I'll want to spend Christmas here, at home, with Jeff and the cats and no one else. I sense that year is coming sooner than I expected. Perhaps next year I can throw something of a Christmas Eve party with the Huntsville geek locals.

For now, though, my mind is beginning to turn toward remembering where I packed my Christmas decorations, and plotting how to keep Edmund from trying to eat the artificial tree again this year.

You know, the mundane things. Friends, family, cats, house, and home. The things you actually care about.