Monday, December 8, 2008

Four Christmases

I went to see the movie, "Four Christmases" on Saturday night. It was cute, fairly predictable, and full of good actors playing not so strong characters. The premise of the movie, a couple who refuse to get married because their past family experiences with marriage are terrible, avoid their families every single Christmas and go somewhere like Tahiti, but tell their families it's mission work of some kind. Hm, why did I never think of that?

If nothing else, this story makes me feel so much better about my own dysfunctional family.
Everybody's family is dysfunctional. Everybody. There is always a crazy aunt, or an obnoxious cousin, or a second wife, a strained relationship between siblings, an ailing grandparent, banished relative, or scary pets to deal with. That's why we all overeat at Christmas, get strung out about buying presents, and end up exhausted by Dec. 26th. If we focused less on the "feel good family moment" BS that tv, movies, and stores were shoveling at us with lightening speed and focused more on our own family unit and the true meaning of Christmas, I think we would enjoy it more.

Over the last 12 years, I've been navigating family Christmases slightly less neurotic than the movie characterizes, but only just. This year, it seems to be easier. Perhaps because I care less, or maybe because I care more. Not sure yet. I guess as we grow older and as our own immediate families become more complete, it is easier to say "not this time, thanks."

Instead of running hither and yon, we're all compromising. My four are headed to see my sister's 3 with our mom on the way out of town to see my husband's fam. It's convenient, it's low key, and it's something I really want to do. It's just me and my sis, and we've been tightrope walking Christmases for a long time now. It will be fun to just hang out and watch our own kids wreck the tree, have tantrums, and break their Christmas gifts while we eat mom's awesome chocolate cake and drink red wine.

We ski every year at Christmas with my husband's family. It's a nice trip for us and our children as well as a visit to see my husband's brother. This year we have a new sister-in-law and her family to mold into the mix. So we will see our my brother-in-law when we see him, knowing full well the responsibility he has this year and we wish him well. It was us once too.

When we come back, my dad is coming here. This is great news as he has only himself to pack and drive, whereas we have 4. He likes to play games and I have a 4 year old who is really into games. I wonder how many rounds of Chutes and Ladders they'll play before dinner?

It's great that we will get a chance to see everyone this year. We've all made the effort to make our little units work together. I don't feel the struggle or the guilt or the anxiety I've felt in years past. Whew what a relief! Now I can actually enjoy my Christmas. It's going to be so exciting!
Hooray for a movie that made me laugh a little at myself. Hooray for a movie that reminded me, my family isn't nearly as screwed up as I thought it was. Hooray for Christmas! Bring it on!

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