I took a 30-minute break from work this morning to pick Jeff up at my condo and drive him to the airport, where half an hour from now he’ll be flying out to the Bay Area for the Thanksgiving holiday, returning next Monday. In comparison, I’ll be at work today–though it’s likely that we’ll be released at least a little early. I have a 6:00 reservation to pick up a rental car, and then I’ll get up very early tomorrow morning to drive down to the mountains to be with my family through Sunday.
This is the first major “family” holiday since Jeff and I started dating, and we both already had planned to spend it, as well as Christmas, with our birth families. While I’m definitely going to miss him, I’m okay with spending the holidays apart this year. Holidays aren’t particularly important to me, in any event, but they’re very meaningful to my mother, and I think it’s especially critical for me to be with her this year, our first Thanksgiving and Christmas without my father.
My freshman year of college I missed my first Thanksgiving with my family, spending it instead in Brooklyn with a friend from my dorm; my sophomore year my sister came up and spent Thanksgiving with me, at Harvard (though that’s a story for another day’s blogging). At that point my mother told me that while I might miss other holidays, my attendance at home for Christmas was non-negotiable. And in 41 years I’ve yet to miss one. It’s also been the case in my past relationships that my partners, for various reasons, were willing to spend Christmas with me and my family, so it’s never yet been an issue.
I was discussing this with my sister just a few weeks ago, though, and pointed out that in future years Jeff and I would probably want to spend the holidays together, and that as he also has a close relationship with his family, we might have to miss an occasional Christmas, perhaps alternating Thanksgiving and Christmas from year to year. She was adamant that it was unthinkable, that my first duty would always be to my birth family and not to my partner. My sister’s husband has long been estranged from his own family, and my sister and her family live practically next door to my mother, so there’s never been a conflict for her, but she said that she’d leave her husband behind alone and come home–insisting that the kids would also have to come with her–at Christmas if there were such a conflict.
Jeff and I have decided to see in the new year together, though. While New Year’s has never been a really special holiday to me (though I did particularly enjoy First Night back when I was living in Boston), and spiritually I tend to recognize November 1 as my own New Year’s Day, there’s still something symbolically appealing and romantic about being together for this first calendar new year since we’ve become a couple.