14 Things To Expect When Your Partner Takes You Home For The Holidays For The First Time
I'm Australian. My dude is a Welsh Brit. For all you Americans, that means that our festive seasons are a bit of a cultural crossover period, to put it mildly. We've experienced each other's family Christmases once, now — a snowy, chestnut-roasting day in rural England, and a just plain roasting summer in coastal Sydney — and both of us were confused, amused, and generally bamboozled by the experience.
The festive season is so stressful in general that, around this time of year, an entire host of articles begins to appear telling you how to avoid getting past New Year without suffering a breakdown or breaking anybody's nose. Add a new partner's family into the mix, and whether it's Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa or just general festivities, you're essentially primed for some hilarious mishaps. It's like The Family Stone all up in here.
If you're being taken home for the holidays, chances are that you've met the family before, or at least are a pretty solid fixture; but whether you've been together for years or are squeaky-clean new, entering another family's festive zone can be a treacherous journey. There may be monsters ... or at least violent opinions about eggnog. Here's what you can expect.
1. You will be afraid of doing something weird
Unless you're oddly laid-back, you will at some point experience anxiety about, say, being too over-excited by Charlie Brown's Christmas, and making your loved one's family think you're completely insane. Forever.
2. You will inevitably do something weird
Unless you're a robot, or repressing your personality so strongly you'll need an enema later, you will inevitably do or say something that doesn't fit seamlessly with family festive times. Be prepared to laugh it off.
3. you will attempt some form of bribery
I had no goddamn idea how to do British Christmas, but I knew how to bake, so I bribed my husband's crotchety elderly relatives with gingerbread cookies and a Yule log. They were lulled into a sugary stupor of acceptance. Genius.
4. Gifts will present a hilarious problem
Do they get you something? Do you get a stocking? Do you and your partner do joint gifts for his/her parents? Is it rude to respond to a kind "What would you like, darling?" request from his family with a specific item, or does being sweetly noncommittal leave you open to receiving eight pairs of singing underpants? Oh god. Make it go away.
5. You will be confused and/or mystified at least part of the time
Welsh people sing. Welsh people sing VERY WELL. There is, correspondingly, copious group singing of Christmas tunes at my dude's house, and a cathedral carol service at which his opera singer brother performs. Oh, and as if that wasn't enough, THEY GO OUT CAROLLING. In FOUR-PART HARMONY. If you tried that in my bit of Australia you'd get a puzzled look and a flip-flop thrown at your head. I am bewildered by it, but I do my damn best, even though my singing sounds like a mating elephant seal.
6. You will eat everything you're given in an attempt to please
In an effort not to offend you will consume more calories than are regularly fed to cows being fattened for Wagyu beef. This act of intestinal diplomacy will result in distraught efforts to refuse a third helping while attempting not to burst at the abdomen like a potato-filled piñata.
7. Your partner and/or their family will have to explain family traditions at length
Even if you two come from the same cultural background, you'll need a rundown of the way things go, regularly. Otherwise, it'll be Christmas morning and people will be running around your bed throwing clementines at you and you'll have NO IDEA what's going on.
8. You will actively encourage yourself to be on good behavior
You'll have read all the advice on playing nice, and seen every Christmas special where someone dramatically storms out as the turkey's carved, and you'll insist to yourself, "That will not be me." You'll bite a hole in your tongue so wide that it can later be used for handy piercings.
9. You will be encouraged to join in, even if you really shouldn't
See above re: singing. Or stuffing a turkey. Or lighting a menorah. Or anything that possibly involves chaos. I once got snowed in on a German mountain on Christmas; I attract more festive season disaster anecdotes than John Candy.
10. Things will be taken for granted that you can barely fathom
"Well, yes, of course we go to the beach/compete to find the almond in the pudding to win a marzipan pig/dress up the eldest girl in a crown of flammable things/put masks on and go play pranks on people. You're looking confused. Why is the new girl always looking confused?"
11. You'll be delighted by traditions that are completely obvious to them
I find decorating the Christmas tree — an actual, nine-foot pine that doesn't wilt or start to keel over in 30 degree heat five days before Christmas — amazing. Also stockings, and Christmas crackers, and snow, and all sorts of other shit my dude and his family got over when they were about four. You'll be patted on the head a lot.
12. You'll be primed for every cross-generational feud and passive-aggressive relationship
If your partner is a decent person, or at least likes avoiding drama, they'll give you the lowdown on all the stuff that's been happening behind the scenes with the family around the table. This, with most modern families, may mean you need to make an Excel document.
13. You'll try to explain what it's like at your family's place, and give up
Telling Northern Hemisphere people you go swimming on Christmas afternoon because it's so warm in Australia makes their eyes pop out of their heads. You'll also possibly inspire a bit of competitiveness. Two of my mates have their separate families in a turducken arms race to find the biggest, more impressive bird. It's like divorced parents, but with more cranberry sauce.
14. You'll (probably) have a good time!
Somehow, coping with somebody else's odd relatives and festive weirdness seems so fresh and cheerful compared with the run-of-the-mill lunacy of your own. For the first year, anyway.
Images: 20th Century Fox; Giphy