If you know me and Jeff and have followed our relationship from the beginning, you will know that holidays have been a challenge pretty much from the beginning. And not just the major ones like Christmas, basically any sort of holiday that could possibly be celebrated. See, here is the conflict - his family celebrates EVERYTHING. And when they do, they involve EVERYONE. My extended family does the biggies together - Thanksgiving and Christmas. If there is a major milestone birthday there might be a little something special, but that's about it. Part of this is because of our distance, but I think part of it is just kind of how we are as a family.
Now, I won't lie, Jeff's family traditions really bothered me at first. And there are a few that I'm still not crazy about, but I understand it and can respect it even if I don't like it. But for the most part, they are starting to grow on me.
Christmas - This has been the biggest challenge for us. We got engaged just a few days before Christmas so that is a special time for us as a couple. This has always been the one big holiday for my extended family to get together, on Christmas day. Jeff's family has several Christmas traditions including Christmas Eve AND Christmas Day. The newest twist is now the fact that it is a religious holiday, and that makes it a work day for me! And that means that traveling more than an hour or two and being gone any longer than one night is pretty much impossible for us. Negotiating time with everyone is going to be a challenge, but I'm sure we will learn as we go.
Thanksgiving - This one is usually a bigger deal for my family than it is for Jeff's. But this year we're going on vacation that week so we don't have to worry about negotiating much of anything! In the future I'm sure we'll have to figure something out, but I would really love to start hosting a family holiday (especially once we get a house) and I think this would be an ideal one for us because it's not religious and is guaranteed to not be on a Sunday so no matter what I won't have to try and manipulate it around work. I get a pass for this year and next year can start negotiating our first new (permanent) tradition.
Easter - When I was young we always celebrated Easter with my grandparents and even when I was in college I always came home for Easter weekend. Jeff's family will always make a weekend of it, but it's much more low key and flexible than other holidays. The past couple of years it's been a work day for me, and that is going to be the case from now on. On the one hand I would love to have people come see us, but because I'll be working I don't see myself really being able to do a whole lot. I'm sure it will matter more once we have kids but we can cross that bridge once we get to it.
Birthdays - Jeff's family makes a much bigger deal about birthdays than my family ever has. And I am not a big fan. I think big birthday parties are fine when you are a kid and if it's a milestone birthday, but beyond that I think big parties are just unnecessary. Yes, I have had very crummy birthdays for a long time with no real sign of a break in that trend, so I am not eager to make a big deal of it. I don't like cake, I don't like singing, and I don't like going out with a million people for dinner. Jeff's family is all over all of this. I think birthdays are a personal thing. And if you want to make a big deal of your birthday that's your choice. But I just can't get them to understand that I really don't like celebrating MY birthday. This year my birthday is a work day so hopefully it will be low key. We can cook out on Saturday and then maybe go out for lunch after church on Sunday and that will be the end of that.
Valentine's Day - Jeff and I were very sweet and romantic on our first V-day. After that, it just didn't really seem to matter that much. This year we may do something, but we'll have to wait and see. Thankfully this one is not a family holiday!
Halloween - I actually really like halloween. I love seeing all the little kids dressed up, the cool weather, and the pretty fall colors. We usually decorate at least a little bit, although I don't know how well that'll work this year in the condo. I will probably dress the dogs up for pictures though!
Anniversaries - I think anniversaries are personal. Milestones MAYBE have a little party or something, but in general they are between the couple and should be left alone. My family never made a big deal about other people's anniversary. In fact, we were doing good to remember other family members' anniversaries. Jeff's family doesn't have parties for everyone every year, but they do make it a point to call everyone and wish them a happy anniversary. I'm still deciding how I feel about that. Next year we won't get to celebrate much because, again, I have to work. But, I doubt I will answer the phone if anyone calls! They can leave a message!
4th of July - this is not a holiday that has ever even been on my radar as a holiday! We might go over with friends to cook out when I was younger and we would buy fireworks to shoot off, but now I don't even think about it. This was the first year I have done anything in a long time. We had a big family cookout at Jeff's grandparents on the 3rd because that was when everyone was off work. Then, his grandparents came over on the 4th and we cooked out. Finally we went to see Thunder on the Mountain with his aunt, uncle, and cousins. Personally, I kind of miss letting it pass without a thought!
I like having an excuse to celebrate as much as the next person. But I also feel like celebrations lose some of their special-ness and excitement when you celebrate everything! I think special achievements deserve special celebration, but when you have some sort of "big family celebration" at least once a month, you're not going to get excited about much of anything after a while. And that really isn't fair when you have something that is really worth celebrating!