25 November 2007


The first time I spent a holiday away from my immediate family and instead traveled with Bub to see his family for Christmas I hated it.

I love Bub and did at that time when I thought that it would be great to actually travel somewhere for the holidays since my family is all local. He had already spent a Thanksgiving with my family so it seemed no big deal that I see his on Christmas.

Boy was I wrong.

I felt so out of place. These people that he calls family were not strangers; we had met and spent time with each other a number of times before, but I felt like an observer looking to other people for clarification on how to celebrate a holiday that I had grown up celebrating on my own with my own family and friends.

Presents were opened after mass on Christmas eve. Naps weren't uncommon and the day was very relaxed and perhaps a board game or two were taken out for fun later on in the day. Lots of eating and some drinking. All in all, not a super different take on how my family celebrates the holiday if we aren't trekking to Grandma's house or to a restaurant instead of someone doing most of the cooking.

Yet it was strange. I felt like a person who was plugged into another nuclear family and their traditions and I felt like a little girl and a bratty one at that for feeling so strange.

But time and time again, when visiting Bub's family I can't shake that I don't fit. Bub says I'm crazy and that I'm self conscious. I fit just fine and I'm making a fuss. But I'm drab and dull compared to his younger sister who is older than I. I don't have much in common with his parents who find my fiction reading sub-par to their non-fiction, academic lit, and my hobbies of baking, shopping, and eating out (!) are not in line with their political and historical chats, architecture love, and Costco trips.

When I'm at their home sometimes I wonder if they can see how different I am from them and think that I'm a wrong match for their son. It makes me sad and anxious.

So I tell Bub and I get upset. But after six years of dating I wonder why I still feel this way. We are married and I feel like we know why we're together; why should feeling like I'm part of his family be so seamless? I guess it's because I see how easy it is for him to blend in with mine and to be loved unconditionally.

And then I remember the times when Bub's mom tells me that I'm stuck with them, flaws and all and that they're so happy that their family has grown to include me.

And I'm just in awe because I'm making myself look like one big flaw, by obsessing over who I should be. I wish I didn't care so much and could let go and be that easy-going girl. I think I should be past the insecure stage. I think I'm ready to take it to the next level and act like the sister-in-law, daughter-in-law, and wife that everyone already views me as.

It's like I'm stuck on the first meeting of the parents and sibling. And I don't know how to get unstuck.


the fanny said...

Sorry things were a little rough - I'm sure that they'll get better with time. It took me several years to feel comfortable at my beau's family parties, too. Hang in there!

sassafras said...

If it weren't for the fact that we spend so much time with BHF's family (I'd say about once a week we see his parents) I would absolutely feel the same way as you. But even still, it took me over a year to relax and be myself. I see his sister less frequently and still feel self-concious around her.

Give it time.

daily editor said...

I totally get where you're coming from. I always think the same thing. My sister-in-law makes it look so easy. When I'm with B.'s family, though, I always feel awkward and out of place. I tend to be really quiet around them, and with his sis being in med school and all, sometimes I just feel like a huge liberal-arts-educated underachiever. I know it's not true, but still. Maybe it just takes a while to find your place with someone else's family?

Dawn said...
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Linda said...

Wow, do I know these feelings! My husband's family lives in Mexico City and we spend every other Christmas there. My husband always wants to stay for at least 10 days when we go! The first few Christmases were horrible for me - I just stay quiet, while everyone is talking non-stop, in
Spanish, and I count the minutes until the trip is over. Now, some of his family has started coming here for Christmas on the years that we stay here. My husband & his family thinks 'the-more-the-merrier' and all I can think of is 'how dare they come visit when it's the year to spend Christmas with my family'? I speak Spanish now, but my family does not - It is so tiring to have to interpret between the families. Who spends Christmas with both your family and your in-laws (AND who don't speak the same language)? Isn't that just asking for trouble? My husband thinks I am a snobby, unwelcoming American for thinking this way. Bah-humbug.