By Maggie Reimherr
For the first time in years, I woke up on Thanksgiving morning and did not immediately go into the living room to mercilessly mock the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade performers with my siblings. One year, we kept rewinding the DVR to watch a country singer miss his lip sync cue. Aren't we a sweet, charming American family?
This year was different. I could pretend it wasn't weird, but it was a little. I woke up just as excited to watch the parade. But this year, I woke up next to my sleeping husband, at my in-laws house. I walked downstairs sans-Derek prepared to request "MACY’S PARADE, PLEASE" to find that my mother-in-law had kindly recorded the beginning of it already because she knew I love watching it. Unfortunately, the best parade banter I could get was Derek snapchatting the awkward dancing white people. My MIL was cooking, and my FIL couldn’t care less about the Diary of a Wimpy Kid float. But I still got to enjoy one of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions (and texted my sister parade musings).
Derek and I were in the South for 8 days for our Thanksgiving trip. Holidays are definitely a learning opportunity for newlyweds, especially when you’re out of town. Here are the lessons we learned from our first married Thanksgiving and will take into our Christmas trip:
1. 8 days straight with other people is a lot, even for the closest relatives and friends. It’s important to build in some “me time.” I’m struggling with this concept as I think about heading back down to Georgia for Christmas. On one hand, I want to maximize that time and see as many people as possible. On the other hand, I’m not fun to be around if I haven’t had some alone time. Self care isn’t selfish, y’all! Quality time is always better than quantity time. Don’t feel bad about going to Starbucks for an hour to read a book if you need it.
2. Pillow talk is more valuable than ever. Since we live far away from our families and most of our friends, our married life thus far has included a lot of time as “just the two of us.”. When that’s your life, you grow accustomed to ditching your filter. When it’s not just the two of you sharing space, it’s different. The short window of time before bed was so important for decompressing and speaking our own married language (yes, this is totally a thing).
3. Be on the lookout for some personality changes. It’s safe to say that most of us act like our old selves, the selves we’ve tried hard to evolve from, when we’re around family. But thinking about that actually makes me grateful: I’m thankful both Derek and I have parents who raised us to thrive outside of the nest rather than within it, and I’m thankful that we both have nests to return to for the holidays. That being said, you can help your spouse not turn into a whiny teenager by kindly pointing out these behavioral changes in private.
4. Flexibility is important, for holidays and for always. Our original plan was Thanksgiving at Derek’s parent’s house. But the day before, we decided to go to my grandparents’ house and bring Derek’s parents. It was great to bring my new family into my family of origin’s holiday traditions. Every year, we stand in a circle and individually share what we’re thankful for. It’s fun to cheer each other in victory, from babies to job offers to a smooth transition from middle school to high school. My in-laws got a glimpse into the big, crazy, loving family I come from. They got to eat my grandmother’s amazing dressing, and my cousins, aunts, and uncles experienced my mother-in-law’s delicious apple cobbler. We had a lot of fun, and I couldn’t have asked for a better first married holiday. We couldn’t have done it this way without flexibility on both sides.
So now, we count down the days until we return South for Christmas - 16 days to be exact. I’m looking forward to the lessons I’ll learn then. For the time being, I’ll be in Massachusetts, preparing for snow and resisting the urge to gorge myself hot chocolate and Christmas cookies. Happy holiday season, y'all!