After my ex-boyfriend and I broke up, my sister told me that she had long held reservations about him because he never attended our family's Thanksgiving. I think that was partly my fault. I asked him to come, but I didn't insist. I never opened my eyes wide and told him that it was really important to me. It was important to me, and like my sister, his resistence nagged at me. But of course I never said anything, I just let it bother me.
We had some communication issues. Or maybe I had some communication issues.
Thanksgiving is a Big Deal to us. We don't give two craps about Christmas. Okay, that's not true. But we don't have Christmas traditions, unless you count going to the home of your in-laws a tradition. Most people have to juggle which family they'll visit for Christmas, but that's never been a problem for my siblings. Since Thanksgiving is established as our big yearly get-together, we're happy to let other people have that other holiday. Just give us Thanksgiving.
I guess if I had to do it over again, I would be much more forceful about "inviting" my boyfriend to Thanksgiving. "Listen, pal, once we get married, you don't ever get to see your family at Thanksgiving again, unless they happen to show up at my family's house, to which they are of course invited. We officially are holding the holiday of Thanksgiving hostage. You might as well get used to it." That sounds terribly harsh and uncompromising, but that is exactly the way I feel about it. I understand that relationships involve lots and lots of sacrifice on both parts. But sometimes each person has the right to be, well, unreasonable. And the other person has to recognize that time, cede the point, and mark down in their ledger that they can have an unreasonable moment of their own sometime.
I don't actually have a Reasonableness Ledger.
I told Josh about how his predecessor's continued absence at Thanksgiving had hurt him in the eyes of my family members. He immediately took that to mean that he would need to attend the very first available Turkey Day. This happened only a few months after we started dating, which I honestly thought was a bit hasty. I hadn't intended to ask him to come that year. I was just letting him know that I had learned my lesson about not communicating to boyfriends about the significance in participation in annual family gatherings. But somehow I'd thrown down the gauntlet.
We also have some communication issues. They're just different ones.
And so we went, and he did great. He played basketball with my brothers and seventy-year-old dad. They did not go easy on him. I'm sure when he was standing underneath the goal, trying to determine how best to play strong defense without hurting the reckless and already bloodied septegenarian that was barrelling toward him, he might have wondered whether I was really worth it. But he came back the next year, and he keeps coming back, so either he decided he likes me a bunch or he's banking that there won't be any more basketball.
Someday, I expect his family to invite me over for Thanksgiving. And I'm going to have to explain about the hostage situation my family has with the holiday. I'll tell them they can have every Christmas until kingdom come, but that magical Thursday in November is reserved for us. I'll say it nicely, but very clearly. I don't want there to be any communication issues.
Happy Thanksgiving, y'all.