*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.
After my first year of spending holidays with two sets of in-laws, I was already fed up; so I quit.
My husband and I got married when we were still in our teens. I was nineteen, and he was eighteen. It seemed like a good idea, at the time. It wasn't. We plunged into a routine of misery and despair that didn't let up around the holiday.
During our first holiday season together, I tried to make everyone else happy. My husband and I stopped at my parents' home for an early Thanksgiving lunch. Then we drove across state lines to his father and stepmother's house for a mid-afternoon dinner.
With my belly full to bursting and my patience wearing thin, we made the hour-long trek to my husband's mother and stepfather's house for meal number three. That makes three meals and three families spread across three different states in one single day. It was too much.
I was sick to my stomach by the time I crawled into bed that night, and it wasn't because of the food.
Visiting three families in one night is stressful, especially when you only want to visit your own family.
I wish I could say I figured it out after Thanksgiving Day, but it took one more hectic holiday before I put my foot down. We repeated the same frantic schedule on Christmas Day, and that's when I vowed I would never do it again.
It would take nearly a full year before I could prove my point, but I did prove my point.
On our second Thanksgiving Day as husband and wife, I announced I would be enjoying a turkey dinner with my own family. My husband was free to do whatever he liked as long as it didn't involve joining me.
We were married for a total of five holiday seasons. Other than the first, we never spent a holiday together. Instead, I made the short drive to my parents' home, and my husband made the dual journeys to his father's home and then to his mother's home.
At least, I think that's what he did. It isn't like I was there to see it.
All I can say is that it worked for us.
My husband and I had many fights throughout our relationship, but this wasn't one of them. It worked out for both of us.
I was happy because I got to spend the holidays with my own family, and he was happy because he got to spend the holidays with his own family. It was a win-win situation. At the end of the night, we returned home to our shared apartment and went to sleep. There was no conflict involved.
In fact, I'm proud of myself for resolving the issue of where to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas so easily. I can't imagine why other couples don't try the same thing.
I don't believe a marriage certificate obligates anyone to share Thanksgiving dinner with anyone unless they want to. Obviously, there are some people who actually enjoy the company of their in-laws, and their spouses for that matter. For those who don't, there are other options to explore.