I’m not sure how many people come from the polar opposite family environment as their spouse, but it sure seems like a lot of us. My family is at least 65 strong, counting only two generations (aunts/uncles and cousins). My husband’s family is 3 strong. People usually ask how in the world my husband survives my side’s events, but honestly he seems to love it. The noise, activity, competitiveness, lack of attention on one person for too long, and more noise has somehow suited him from day one. My mom is one of 11 kids who made me 30 first cousins who made their own babies. My dad is one of four kids who made me 19 first cousins who made a lot of their own babies. Also, my dad and his siblings grew up in a machine shop and their mother went deaf young so shouting is talking to them. Again, it’s a lot of noise.
My husband, mother-in-law and sister-in-law actually speak loudly and passionately most of the time, but the difference is you can actually hear and understand and respond to everything they’re expressing. It’s exhausting. Haha! Who knew three people could be more tiring to mingle with than 50?! This thanksgiving, after a lifetime of practicing how to stay lightly involved in multiple conversations at once and rallying into as many games as are played in one holiday day lest I might miss something, I experienced down time and the choice to either sit up, eat and watch TV or lie down and sleep. The strangest part is that I felt slightly uneasy most of the weekend. Certainly having traveled out of state and sleeping in the living room meant I was out of my comfort space but I didn’t expect to feel claustrophobic. I really felt watched and I am absolutely positive it was my imagination. At one of my family’s holiday parties you might have 10+ eyes on you at any given moment and the max there would have been 6! So clearly, I was feeling overly sensitive and out of touch.
I have been taught (no, I did not know this) that change is hard no matter whether it’s good change or bad change. The thing is that the trip was overall pretty wonderful. While I missed my family a lot over the holiday, I made sure I called them to hear their celebration and played a lot of memories through my mind with a smile. At Thanksgiving dinner, I was able to give thanks with a love-filled heart and experience my new family in a new way. I got to see more clearly than ever that my husband is the man in his family and both his sister and mother look up to him with complete love, pride and confidence. It’s an unbelievable thing to watch and a blessing to be a part of. I realized too how seldom I recognize the strength of his family in our lives. They are as vital a part of our marriage and its success as my family. So the score is tied: 3 to 50.