As a young married woman, this friend and her husband alternated between his home and hers for the holidays. She found her in-laws’ customs to be foreign and strange—really, who serves creamed spinach as a Thanksgiving dinner side dish?
I have a *friend* who, although she loves her family dearly, finds her stomach tightening and her left eye twitching when holidays and family gatherings approach. Perhaps it’s the added pressure of having to dust all those high shelves and wipe those fingerprints off of the walls (and cabinets and doors and chairs and floors). Perhaps it’s because even when she does clean the house until it’s spotless and she puts fresh towels on her mother’s bed and mints on the pillow, her mother will invariably mention that the guest bathroom has no soap or that there’s a shortage of cheese in the fridge (don’t ask). Perhaps it’s the thought of having to *entertain* family members in the dead of winter, after the actual holiday is over, when there’s nothing to do except shop at T.J. Maxx and watch football. Or perhaps it’s the knowledge that when family comes to town, there will inevitably be some tension. Unresolved issues. Elephants in the room, taking up all the chairs. And this *friend* will often have to bite her tongue as she slips into the age-old roles of daughter, sister, daughter-in-law (now that one’s a doozy), trying to balance these roles with her current ones as wife and matriarch, finding herself mother and child at once.
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