Four

“So Thanksgiving with your parents, Christmas with mine?”

“Yeah, we’ll swap next year.”

“….When will it be our turn?

My husband and I have had this conversation all four years of our marriage. Four is such a tiny number in comparison to the six decades of tradition with which we are competing. No wonder they still win. 

At some point our parents broke from their parents, relegating Christmas to the 29th or 17th, traveling for a turkey dinner but not committing to stay for a three day weekend. We know this is true—we were there, just unaware of the shift.

Four is such a tiny number, but we have weathered so much. Grad school and jobs with no benefits package. A too soon pregnancy, a miscarriage, a why is this taking so long pregnancy. Bartering for an hour apart or begging for time together. Vacations and date nights. Road trips. Stolen kisses. Pizza Fridays. We buy each other’s favorite cereal and ignore each other’s bad Netflix picks. Most days a year we are our own family.

But then November comes around. We plan to leave our beloved town, missing the magic of the tree lighting in the square. We sleep on air mattresses and eat leftover pie from plates laced with childhood memories. We pack presents into duffle bags, explain to our toddler that Santa knows where Grandma lives, and open gifts in front of in-laws.

Next year the most exquisite outcome of our marriage will become a big sister. Our backseat will have two car seats, dinner tables will be outfitted with a high chair and a booster, and our budget will be a little tighter. Four is such a tiny number, but maybe four is the number that will bring tradition into our own home.  

***

This mini-essay first appeared at thetribemagazine.com as part of their Family Traditions collection.

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