I haven't talked a lot about my in laws in this blog. One of them is on facebook and can thus read this whenever he so chooses, and the other one, well, I wont even go there. Suffice it to say that holidays, if we celebrate them together at all, are not based on tradition or even familial obligation, but whether or not there is a boyfriend in the picture, who is not speaking to whom, which parent the children will be with this year and whether those parents are speaking to each other, in addition to the regular family dynamics and subtle manipulations that we all experience to some degree. A plan is made around mid-November, and then the plan changes at least half a dozen times, and I don't trust that any plan is set in stone until the whole event is over.
I am not, by nature, a spontaneous or flexible person, and plan changes drive me insane. I want to know where I'm going, what I'm supposed to bring, how I'm getting there and what time I can leave, well in advance. I know I should loosen up, I know I should "break out!" as my friend says, but I'm comfortable with my rigidity and analness, and I feel like I have enough challenges in this lifetime, what with the dinner making and the working out, that I don't need to tackle my very character right now. Rob and I usually let the more neurotic members of the family take over the planning. We watch them push timing up or back in fifteen minute intervals, or see the menu and locale change, and we just go along. I am slowly learning, though, that I can actually exert some amount of influence over these events by either A) inviting everyone to my house where I can make the rules, or B) have Rob initiate the plan-making and head off some of the insanity at the pass.
Or, I could try to "break out" and roll with it. But that just never gets me anywhere. I really don't want to spend Christmas swilling wine to make my blood stop boiling, counting the minutes until I can get in my car and go home. Actually, I will swill wine either way, but I'd rather drink joyfully than in total irritation. I would venture to guess, though, that this is how many Americans spend their holidays, with fists clenched. And they have to travel on airplanes for the pleasure of gritting their teeth and wanting to kill themselves. That is no way to celebrate the birth of Christ.
Last year, I actually did start a new tradition. We usually spend a bunch of money on some elaborate dinner for Christmas day, usually just for the two of us since Leila wont eat anything, but we end up eating m&ms and ChexMix all day, and drinking mimosas and mulled cider, and by the time dinnertime rolls around I (surprise) have no interest in standing in the kitchen cooking and then cleaning up, or even watching Rob do it. So last year, we did what the ancient Hebrews did: we ordered chinese food. It was fabulous, and I'll do it every year if I get to be in charge. No pesky ham or turkey, no standing rib roast with mashed potatoes. General's chicken! Walnut prawns! Pot stickers, two orders! That is the way to celebrate the birth of Christ, my friend.