Christmas Eve was my favorite time of the year when I was a little girl. On Christmas Eve, my family would eat a fantastic dinner of tamales, open one present each (where my sister and I would carefully choose the biggest and most interesting box), and collapse happily anticipating the next morning.
Then we grew up. Now my Christmases are mostly spent shuttling back and forth between my family’s house and Boyfriend’s family’s house (because both families have their Christmas events on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day). Because we are both very close to our families and because both families live in town, skipping a holiday with either family results in my mom or his mom giving us unintentional kicked-puppy eyes as they go, “you aren’t coming to Easter/Thanksgiving/Memorial Day barbeque?”
Because Boyfriend has been my only serious relationship and I his, splitting time has never been a problem for either of us before now (which may have spoiled our parents in that they now expect to see us at each and every holiday or family gathering). But as Boyfriend and I enter another Christmas together, the thought of shuttling back and forth has become more and more daunting.
“Let’s just skip everything and spend the evening with Puppy,” I suggested one day as we tried to map out a schedule.
“Puppy doesn’t understand the importance of the holiday,” Boyfriend argued.
Which is a true statement, as the only thing Puppy seems to enjoy about the holiday is the opportunity to yank the shiny tinsel off the tree (and, on one occasion, yank the whole tree down and then hide under the table for an hour for fear of being punished).
Then my sister and her boyfriend moved to Portland, Oregon for new experiences and some time for my sister to prepare for law school. The plot thickened when my parents decided to fly out to Portland to see her on Christmas Day, leaving just Christmas Eve to spend with my family. More kicked-puppy eyes.
“You sure you don’t want to just hide out in the apartment until the holidays are over?” I asked Boyfriend as we again tried to map a schedule for Christmas Eve. “Puppy seems to be getting into the spirit.”
This was stretching it a little bit. Puppy was really just prancing around the tree because he had found a leaf outside and likes to carry it around. But he did look pretty cute with tinsel in his fur.
“Come on,” Boyfriend, the more analytical (read: practical) one of us replied. “Divorced families deal with this every year. Kids with stepmothers and stepfathers handle this. We can definitely handle this.”
I knew he was right. And while it might sound stressful to be shuffling back and forth between homes on Christmas Eve, missing dinner at one family and missing opening presents at another, the big picture is that both Boyfriend and I are surrounded by loved ones who care about us deeply, and who we care about just as much. And that’s what the season is all about, right? So to you, to your Boyfriends, to your Puppies, and to your (hopefully not sad-puppy-eyed) mothers, happy holidays!