We're having Thanksgiving at my in-laws this year. It has become sort of a tradition for us, but mostly because I refuse to have Christmas anywhere other than my own house. I firmly believe that children should have memories of waking up in their own beds, running down the stairs and finding the presents Santa has left for them under their own tree. I want my kids to be able to stay in their jammies and play with their new toys as long as they would like. I want them to be comfortable, and at home, on Christmas. But my idea of Christmas breaks tradition with my husband's family's idea of Christmas, so I've had to do some negotiating. The compromise that we've reached results in my getting Christmas at home (with an invite to the inlaws to stay with us), but Thanksgiving with them.
As I've said many times, I like my inlaws, so spending Thanksgiving with them isn't any big deal. Plus, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law are amazing cooks. I do miss my family's Thanksgiving traditions, but marriage is all about compromise. And to be truthful, when I was little, my family spent every Thanksgiving at my dad's parent's house, so going to my husband's family's for Thanksgiving feels kind of right.
Going to my inlaws for Thanksgiving, however, has presented some interesting challenges in recent years. As my mother-in-law has gotten older, she is less physically able to handle making such a big dinner for so many people (but of course insists on hosting anyway). My sister-in-law and I would therefore help out, each bringing or making several dishes to ease the burden on my mother-in-law. And I think all three of us would say in years past, it worked out nicely.
This year presents a new challenge. My mother-in-law is still hosting Thanksgiving this year, but she's physically unable to cook. She had foot surgery a few weeks ago, and as someone who had foot surgery a few days before Christmas one year, I know she is in no position to be standing around cooking all day. Plus, my sister-in-law is no longer technically my sister-in-law, so she understandably won't be spending the holidays with her ex's family. Which leaves me to cook the entire dinner for my husband's side of the family.
Oy vey. I'm pretty comfortable in the kitchen and would have no problem making Thanksgiving dinner for everyone at my own house. But my inlaws can't travel (see foot surgery, above), so I'm going to have to make dinner at their house, in their kitchen. And I'm going to have to do it on the fly. Both Husband and I work the day before Thanksgiving, so we won't even be leaving to travel to their house - 4 hours away - until Thanksgiving morning. That doesn't give me a lot of wiggle room.
I won't lie and say that I'm not sweating the details a little bit. But, in some strange way I'm looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to being able to give my mother-in-law a break for a holiday. I'm looking forward to the kids, playing at grandma's house. I'm even looking forward to the challenge of putting together a Thanksgiving dinner with only what I remember to bring and what happens to be at my inlaw's house. Because being together, warm, fed and crazed really sums up so much of what we have to be thankful for: Thankful for our jobs, even if that means we have to get up at 4 am on the day of Thanksgiving. Thankful to have food, even if all the ingredients the recipe calls for aren't there. Thankful for a place to go, even if we are a little squished in that small house. Thankful to be together, even as we miss those loved ones who couldn't be with us this year.
Wishing you and your family a happy Thanksgiving.