Holidays as Relationship Milestones

Amy Keyishian
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I made a Plague Apron!
When I was much younger, being invited to a boyfriend's home for Thanksgiving was a huge marker of how serious we were.

Later, negotiating family holidays – lunch with my parents, dinner with his – became a stressful part of each relationship, as we laid claim to family-of-origin territory.

Now, of course, with kids and step-kids of our own, my husband and I are finding that holidays are still a perfect check-in for the state of our union. And by "our," sometimes that doesn't just mean him and me – it can include my parents, his kids, and even his ex-wife in the mix.

How are we all doing? Depends on the Fourth of July fireworks!

Last night, we had our usual Passover seder with my step-kids. We always get them for the second of the two nights, which is special, because it's one of the few times we get them all to ourselves on an actual holiday, as opposed to our usual "When should we have fake-Thanksgiving?" and "What time do we have to be in the suburbs to trick-or-treat with people we don't know?"

Rather than throwing our own seder – which can get hairy in a tiny apartment with a toddler and a cranky, pregnant lady – we took the kids to the huge one at our temple, which is chaotic and fabulous.

This morning, while the kids played with P out in the living room, my husband noted that this was our fourth seder with the kids. For the first, my parents were in town, so I orchestrated a family dinner chez my sister, ordered 30-Minute Haggadahs, and went all-out making traditional Armenian sarma along with my Jewish grandma's farfel pudding. Not only was Randy meeting my parents, but his kids were too; it was huge. And it was fun! The best part was Max doing a spot-on imitation of Randy as we waited for him to pull the car around afterward.

The subtext, though, was that this was scant months after we'd met, so when the kids weren't around, we were in sexy-humpy-halo world, doing it on the kitchen sink (so cliché, but we really did) and spending Valentine's Day reading Pablo Neruda until we were in a froth of bread-dough-scented lustular chaos. Feeling like teenagers one second and long-married parents the next was definitely new territory for me, and illustrated how life doesn't always go in order, or as expected.

At the end of each seder, you're supposed to say "Next year, in Jerusalem." For me, next year just means I'll have one in my arms, one in a booster seat, two more helping me feed them, and one big one across the table, probably looking as wide-eyed and surprised as I feel every time I see where a chance meeting at a comedy club has brought us. Amen!

How do you do holidays with family and extended family?

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