Thursday, November 22, 2012

Blending Families

As you may know, I have been married for almost a year and a half now. Last year was the first time I really had to deal with spending holidays away from my family. As happy as I was to finally be spending these special days with my new husband, I couldn't help but feel sad. My family has a ton of traditions. Some of them are silly and I really don't know how we started them but it was that familiarity, the consistency. I just loved it. Last year we spent Thanksgiving with my family in Texas and did Christmas with Patrick's family here in Kansas. It was good but it wasn't the same.

This year, unfortunately because of my work schedule, I will not get to spend Thanksgiving OR Christmas with my family. Initially I was pretty down about it but here we are Thanksgiving Day and I have to tell you my feelings have changed. We just got back home from the in-laws and if I didn't have to work in the morning I would have stayed all weekend. The food may not have been the same as what my mom made back in Texas today and the company was a little different but it was darn near perfect in my opinion for other reasons.

We drove down Wednesday afternoon after I spent most of the morning baking at home. My mother-in-law, Julie was in the kitchen when we got there and was doing some of the prep for the 'big meal' before my father-in-law, Philip, got home. She and I worked in the kitchen, I peeled and cut potatoes, worked on dinner for that night and we both talked. I realized then that I have a very special relationship with my mother-in-law that many young women don't have. She never had a daughter, just Patrick and his little brother, but she treats me like her daughter. She is so sweet and genuine and I absolutely love her.

We started talking about our families. She asked about my grandparents. One grandma was recently in the hospital and the other we had to put in a nursing home a few months back which has been hard on my grandpa. She asked about my sister who had just been accepted to college where I went. She asked about my crazy brother in Hawaii and my little brother in college in Texas. She asked about my parents, too. How many in-laws know that much about the extended families of their children's spouses? How many people would visit their child's in-laws without the child? Mine have but based on how I hear some of my friends talk about their in-laws, my guess is not many. And for that I am truly thankful.

I missed my parents and brothers and sister dearly today. I thought back to previous Thanksgivings and had to smile to myself for all the beautiful memories I have growing up in Texas with my family. And now as the Christmas season approaches, though I will certainly at times wish I could be in Texas, I no longer feel a sense of loss for not being with them. My family has grown. I have Julie, Philip and Brian (my brother-in-law) now. They love me and treat me as if I have ALWAYS been part of their family. Traditions may not be the same but one day when we have children of our own we will form our own traditions.

The process of blending our two families (especially since mine is so far away) as not always been easy. I will always be homesick from time to time. But I feel blessed to have so many loving people to call my family. After all, family really is what it's all about.

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