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Cheers to Contrast!

My mother-in-law thinks I’m weird, for many reasons. One thing that keeps our holiday interactions so sour, though, is my family’s lack of traditions. While mulling over her extensive made-from-scratch menu, she was appalled when I admitted my family sometimes had our Thanksgiving meals catered from the grocery store.

While clearing space for family and friends to crowd her home in loud numbers, she only pretended to relate when I told I her I usually spent the holidays with just my mother and sister.

After she purchased a pile of gifts so vast their placement around her tree took up the entire room’s space, she cocked her head in confusion when I told her there were some Christmases when no one exchanged gifts in my childhood home.

And I know she wants to disown me now that I’ve revealed I have no stash of annual holiday décor and don’t see the point in redecorating my home just because a new season has arrived.

Now that I’ve given birth to her grandchildren, I purposefully resist the few holiday traditions I considered starting, only to prove my point: Over-the-top rituals do not determine my worth as a wife, mother, or woman. Behind her back, I make jokes about my husband eating chitterlings every season just because she says it will bring him good luck. You know you don’t like that stuff for real. I roll my eyes at his yearly longing to travel back to Houston just so he can be present when she cuts the sweet potato pie. You can eat pie any time of the year. I sit in awkward quietness when forced to attend the large family gatherings. I’d rather be at home reading a book.

But what do I accomplish in my stubbornness? Nothing. My husband still wants to go to his mama’s house for the holidays. And I still could care less. If I’m honest, I would probably accomplish more if I gave in and acknowledged the beauty in our differences.

Maybe her holiday parties are big, expensive, and loud, but they allow her to show off her culinary skills, get joy from serving others, and engage in endless amounts of laughter. Maybe my holiday gatherings were small, cheap, and quiet, but they allowed my mother to stay on a budget, gave us space to celebrate in ultimate comfort, and helped our bond to grow more intimate. Maybe if we focused on the benefits of our differences, we could use them as foundation to form new traditions that work better for our expanding family.

This holiday season let us cheer the contrast. There are so many lessons in variance. You’ll miss the opportunity to grow, if you refuse to accept it. Let’s focus on joining the positives from our separate experiences to create something even better. That’s the best way to create a good remix!

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