We had two Thanksgivings this year: one with my family on Thursday and then one with C's family on Saturday. Whenever you have over 18 people in a house, for multiple hours, all trying to cook and eat, and with a lot of pre-determined expectations about what the holidays should entail; there is bound to be some emotional drama. To be honest, I expected more drama from my family's side but that's not how it went down.
On Thursday, everyone came over to my parents' house. My one sister boycotted because she's still in her teenage rebellious phase, despite the fact that she is 23, but we knew about this ahead of time. She called later and we had a nice talk. We still had my other sister and her husband, uncles, cousins, and some family friends. "The more the merrier" is definitely a value my family holds dear around the holidays or any other celebration. The sister who came is the one whom I'm not really talking with. We were pleasant with each other, but definitely more distant than we would have been if not for the incident. At one point, we talked for about twenty minutes about the stress happening in her life and then she eventually changed the subject to a TV show without asking about how things were going with me. This was expected. She was very dramatic throughout the evening about how rough her life is going. This was also expected.
Otherwise, the evening was nice and relaxing. I have no nieces or nephews from this side of the family, my cousins are all single, and most of the conversation focused on my uncle getting remarried rather than family building in the child-sense. There was no pressure and no awkwardness. Marv (our dog) probably enjoyed himself the most and had to sleep most of the next day to recover from the excitement.
Saturday was different. All three of C's sisters were there, with husbands and a total of 9 nieces and nephews in tow, plus two aunts and his parents. It was also a very full house but with a much different tone. C's dad is in the middle of testing for some medical issues he's been having, and there is talk of cancer. I'm sure this made all the emotions run higher and know that his mom was definitely different than normal and had cried earlier in the day. His oldest sister was also in rare form and, at one point, threatened to leave and drive the 3 hours back to her home after getting in a dumb argument with C. Later in the evening, she gave us all the silent treatment because of something else that C had said. Personally, I think he was sort of pushing her buttons but her reaction was completely disproportionate. The other sisters were taking bets about why she was more difficult and emotional than normal, and pregnancy was top of the list. This made my heart skip a beat. I also couldn't help but get a lump in my throat when (emotional) sister told us of her plans for the parents for Christmas: a family tree with the parents in the trunk, the four children in each of the branches with their spouses, and then all the grandkids as leaves with thumb-prints. I wondered if our branch would really look as sad and barren as it did my imagination and if there would be space for us to add our thumbs prints later or if this was her idea of the family being complete.
It wasn't all bad. In fact, I laughed and probably had more fun overall. I am very close with his one sister but she lives 4 hours away so we don't see each other as much as we'd like. We had some great talks, she and her husband were super supportive of our difficulties and said all the right things, and we did a lot of bonding via making fun of the other sister (discreetly of course).
This is family. When we have children, I want it to be like this. I want my children to have the same family values that C and I both grew up with. In good and in bad, despite the drama, your family is there. They love each other. There will be fights and there will be different personalities and opinions. There will also be laughter and support and a common bond that no one else could understand. For this, I am thankful.