Thursday, October 27, 2011
The not-so-great compromise
It happened. We had our first discussion of how the holidays are going to work.
Our hometowns are 3.5 hours apart by car, no quick jaunt but certainly not so far that it's not expected we can make it happen. I imagine that if we had bicoastal hometowns, we'd be forced to properly choose. But a compromise - could there be anything worse?
It probably seems odd that in six years together, we don't have all this mapped out in some contingency rubric. But Nick often worked holidays back in his scrubs-wearing days (what up time and a half pay). It was uncomplicated - I did my celebration with my family as usual, and he tried his best to grab an afternoon or evening with his parents, often driving through the night on Christmas Eve, dangerously sleep-deprived.
Last year we attempted to share Christmas and it didn't go so well. We drove separately to my parents' house, I got almost immediately ill upon arriving, and spent the evening alone on the bathroom tile while my family went to church. Nick stole away to Canton under cover of darkness while I longed for death's warm embrace.
The next morning, I weakly opened gifts and had to abstain from the traditional bucketfuls of coffee and breakfast casserole (a great tragedy). Late that morning, having pooped out my whole childhood, I drove to Nick's mom's house in my pajamas. The trip was miserable, hurricane-force winds(unscientific exaggeration) had me white-knuckling to keep my little station wagon in its lane. By the time I arrived (to manic and overwhelming Christmas cheer) it was all I could do to not spend the remainder of Christmas Day fantasizing about dramatically faceplanting into bed, on top of the covers, still in my clothes.
We are lucky that there is no spoken pressure for us to do any certain thing, and that we both get to see our family fairly often throughout the year. When it comes down to it, neither party wants to concede Christmas Eve night or Christmas morning. Neither party wants their partner to be unhappy. And neither party certainly wants to make the final call.
"Well," I said last night, serving myself another slice of pizza, "we could truly alternate. Spend the entire holiday in one place this year, and then switch next year."
"We could do that," Nick said.
Then we stared across the table, silently daring the other to suggest which places gets picked first. We didn't break eye contact, or make a sound.
Then we laughed, paid the bill, and walked home, with Christmas still unscripted.