However, upon further review, I have uncovered some quandaries that the holidays present. Here are some pitfalls that the holidays bring every year for couples and singles:
Where do we go?
My family has Christmas traditions that are so embedded in our psyches that these traditions are immovable forces. Now, as people get married in our family, we have to consider other families' holidays. Most couples I know do the Thanksgiving/Xmas tradeoff: the wife has the husband join her family for Thanksgiving, and the husband has his wife join his family for Xmas. Then they swap the holidays the next year. When families live near one another things are easier, but holiday plan negotiations can definitely cause conflict.
So, you've worked out where you're going to spend each particular holiday, now you must face the reality of hanging with the in-laws for an extended period of time. There are so many things that can go wrong here:
- Forgetting names
- Accidentally offending people
- Getting offended by people
- Spilling wine, or other mini-catastrophes that can cause the record to scratch at the gathering
- They have a pet that you're allergic to
- You can't cook, but every other person there can cook...and you're expected to be part of this crew
- You finally steal away to the TV for some peace and quiet, but there is a huge que of other people that are going after it
- Gas after the big meal
- You're stranded with a needy child that is not yours
- You're expected to eat their "traditional holiday meal" which could be fish heads, or some unidentified gelatinous substance
...and so on. Hopefully your in-law relationships are all great, but it takes a lot of energy to work it at the gathering.
The False Holiday Charm
I'm guilty of this one: I get all fired up about dating someone during the holidays and I get all into it. Then, New Year's rolls around and then Spring-two symbols of new beginnings. Spring is a total renaissance, complete with pheromones and reproduction all over the place. As quickly as I jump into arelationship for the holidays, I'm suddenly snapped out of it in the Spring.
To buy, or not to buy a gift
The other day I was walking home with my friend from work, and she was contemplating whether she should buy a gift for this guy she just started seeing.
"I mean, is he going to buy me one," she wondered.
When you're in a relationship, there is a time when gift-giving becomes acceptable, but this time is more based on feeling, and it depends on the nature of your relationship. But say you just started dating a few months ago, and things are going smoothly. You have not discussed buying gifts. So, given this unknown, would you feel comfortable buying a gift not knowing whether or not this boyfriend/girlfriend of yours has bought one? Whether you're the person that didn't buy a gift when they bought you one, or the other way around, it's pretty awkward.
...and let's not even mention when it gets to the point that you have to buy gifts for in-laws, or significant others' families!
While my sisters have brought multiple guys home for the holidays, I have brought a grand total of zero girls home. People are lapping me in my family: cousins and sisters getting married and having babies. My family must be some secretly discussing what my problem is. Gay? Can't attract women? Mentally unstable? Well, that last one might be right.
Sorry to be such a Scrooge, but I hear a lot of people complain about the holidays. The holidays themselves are always great, but the logistics of making it all work are pretty tough.
So do you have any problems in your relationships that the holidays create? How do you work out your holiday visits, and do you have any horror stories from visiting your significant others' families? Do you ever wonder if/when you should give that special someone a holiday gift?