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Hosting My First Christmas

January 2, 2015

Ah, adulthood. Aren’t our 20s just chock-full of coming-of-age experiences? After all, that’s what this blog is about. Well, this December I reached another milestone of adulthood: I hosted Christmas for the first time. My in-laws were making their first (and hopefully not last) big visit to the Middle East, and I knew it was up to me to make sure they didn’t regret leaving their other kids and all the grandbabies at home during the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

Okay, it didn't look quite this good. But I did my best.

Okay, it didn’t look quite this good. But I did my best.

Well, as it happened, we were all camping in the desert on Christmas Day, so it certainly wasn’t a traditional family holiday. However, I thought the presence of sheep, donkeys, and camels gave things a nice Nativity-esque touch. Since we were traveling (and seeing a bunch of amazing stuff btw—Jordan for the win!) throughout the week of actual Christmas, we had to make up for it when we returned home. I had picked out a turkey weeks before, and had grand dreams of wowing my mother-in-law with my domestic skills, skills she’d never really seen since they haven’t been able to visit our home at all in the last 2.5 years of our marriage.

Overall, it went great. They brought gifts, and although we didn’t have much for them (we paid for the vacation, though) my mother-in-law was, I think, truly touched by the hand-embroidered, somewhat cheesy, “Grandma” sweatshirt I’d made her (again, have to prove my domestic skills, even if my mom helped me with most of it). We had a small tree, and pine-scented candles, and Christmas music playing, and hot apple cider. I let my in-laws take care of cooking the turkey and a lot of the other parts of the meal, both because it would be delicious that way and it would allow them to feel purposeful by helping us. But I contributed the green bean casserole and an apple pie that had them in dessert-heaven.

Early on in their stay, though, I felt like I was on the defensive. No sooner had they arrived than they noticed the drain in their shower didn’t work quite right, and the fan in that bathroom was broken. I had only put out three bath towels for the two of them, and my mother-in-law desperately needed a fourth for her hair, “since these are so small.” I know none of it was meant with criticism, but I so wanted them to be impressed with us, our house, and the life we lead here. It made me uneasy and easily annoyed. When it came to cooking, it seemed for a while like everything we had was “different.” They never said it was bad, but that word “different” came up so many times it started to sound like a slur to me. My mother-in-law made rolls, but wasn’t satisfied with how they came out (actually they were great). Obviously it was something “different” about my yeast, my flour, or my oil. She dumped too much white pepper into a casserole, and then blamed it on how the spice “just must be stronger over here.” The miracle whip tasted “different,” despite the fact it was ordered from Amazon, and the cream of mushroom soup had a “different texture,” even though it was Safeway brand, with “Made in the USA” written right on the can.

I think, though, that most of this annoyance was created in my own mind. They never openly complained about anything, and if that’s the worst things got in such a long visit, we did pretty well, right?

It still didn’t feel completely like Christmas. Perhaps the 85 degree weather had something to do with that, or the lack of pitter-pattering feet. But I think we did remarkably well, hosting them for almost 3 weeks and finding that balance between pampered relaxation and boredom.

I hosted my first Christmas. But I’ll tell you, next year I’m looking forward to going home and being the guest once again!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. thelittlemerskank permalink*
    January 3, 2015 3:23 am

    Go, Cinderslut! Hosting Christmas sounds intense! I am definitely not that adult yet– ‘yes please, come to my… room, and we can have a nice party, everyone on the floor’.

    Also sympathy about everything being different. As you said, I know they weren’t trying to be mean, but really- what’s the point on commenting on every difference, I mean it’s the Middle East, of course it’s different! That’s why it’s exciting!

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