Before marriage my family used a Family Christmas Cheer Formula (FCCF) where one side (Family A) would celebrate on Christmas Day, while the other side (Family B) would grit their teeth and use Christmas Eve or Boxing Day. The following year Families A and B swap as to who gets to grit their teeth and who celebrates on the revered celebration day.
Now married, I have variables—Family C and Family D—to slot into the formula. The once relatively simple FCCF now turns out like this:
This year is Family A’s turn to have celebrations on Christmas Day, while Family B makes do on Boxing Day, even though some would rather attend the Boxing Day cricket test and the kids will have already opened their presents, it’s doable. But Family C, who has no immediate connection to Families A or B, has celebrations on Christmas Day every year, not seeming to have to juggle other family interests around, so to take part in that celebration, a Christmas visit is mandatory, for there will be no other chance to share the Christmas cheer with them. However, Family A will be upset if we don’t spend at least 50 per cent of the day with them, because two years ago, on their Christmas Day turn, we missed their celebrations altogether, thoughtlessly visiting Families C and D instead, making it a whole two years more—a total of four years all up—before we could meet with Family A on the actual day of Jesus’ birth (which I know is really at some other time in the year anyway), so a quick visit to Families A and C on Christmas Day keeps them both half-happy. (Breath.) But with Family D deciding to go camping over Christmas this year, no possibility to visit them arises due to the commitments to Families A, C and B—a blessing, as it turns out, because attending a Christmas celebration involves eating at least two helpings of each course or offence is given due to eating more at the other’s party, communicating that the other party’s food was better. But while having one less party is easier on the stomach, it also incurs weeks if not months of making up family ties to family D, because we didn’t show at their Christmas vacation.
Next year? Alaska sounds nice!