My younger brother got married last year and even though I wasn’t exactly thrilled to have new family members, I always played my part as his big sister and tried to remain politely diplomatic from a distance. It wasn’t that they were bad people; it was more of a personality thing. Not to sound like a snob, but they were a little rough around the edges and even though I don’t consider myself high-maintenance, I definitely make the effort to stay fashionably current. Maybe it’s because I reside in the fashion capital of the world – you kind of have to step up your game in order to get the right kind of attention.
My brother’s in-laws hail from Atlantic City but he and his wife remained in Maryland and they bought an amazing house, which they absolutely adore. So of course they couldn’t wait to play host for the holidays and they invited the whole family on both sides to indulge them. I had planned on spending the holidays with my boyfriend’s family but I suddenly found myself single and even though I tried to get out of it, I ended up on the Bolt Bus headed for Greenbelt, MD. It was actually Thanksgiving Day, and I arrived later that evening, exhausted, starving and moody. All I wanted to do was dive into bed. I didn’t have the energy to pretend that I was happy to see everyone or pretend that I enjoyed the food. My sister-in-law’s mother is a notoriously bad cook who relies on canned goods and artificial flavoring and I knew that I would not end the day with a good home cooked meal.
As soon as the door flew open, I was readily embraced and everyone seemed to be a having a jolly good time. There was food everywhere; music blasting and there was liqueur. Lots and lots of liqueur, I had no choice but to jump right in and things got even more chaotic. This was my first bonding session with people that I didn’t know very well and I felt that I needed to try to stay sober and behave myself so they at least have a good impression of who I really am. But that plan went out the window once I downed my third vodka and cranberry. I wasn’t sure if this was an indication of the way the in-laws get down for the holidays but I knew why I was drinking so much. I needed an escape from what I thought was going to be a disastrous affair but even in my drunken haze, I could tell that the feelings being expressed were genuine. I felt guilty for being so judgmental in the beginning and not giving them a chance to show me their true colors.
We spent the next day nursing our much-deserved hangovers and I was able to really connect with everybody as we sat around and shared stories and experiences. I found out that both my sister-in-law’s mother and grandmother were breast cancer survivors and they actually instigated my first mammogram exam this past summer. After a nice long weekend, I hopped on the bus back to New York, and as I looked out the window, I felt grateful. I was thankful for the fact that my brother had married the love of his life and inherited a new family. I was also thankful that I was able to share the wealth and I couldn’t wait for another opportunity to get to see them all again.