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Thanksgiving? It’s Complicated.

Making Thanksgiving plans with a partner? It’s complicated.

By F+

Illustration by Kai Huang.

Illustration by Kai Huang.

For months now, I’ve been trying to figure out whether or not my boyfriend is coming home with me for Thanksgiving, if I am going with him to see his family, or if we are doing a combination of the two.

I want him to see his family if he wants to, but I definitely want to see my family, as Thanksgiving is when I enjoy my family the most: Everyone is marginally more well-behaved; there’s that family camaraderie (I’m not so into it, but some in my family are); the food is great, and the drinking starts when I get up at 8 a.m. with bourbon milk in my coffee.

But BF doesn’t seem especially thrilled to spend the holiday with his family, partly because there will be long, difficult visits to his great uncle’s nursing home. He said that the food there isn’t very good, he will hardly eat a bite of it, and it appears to me that he is only going to spend Thanksgiving with his family because he feels like it is the ethical thing to do. And while I understand his reasoning, I would selfishly rather have him at Thanksgiving with me.

While the first two conversations ended in the same place — “We’ll see how it works out closer to time” — the last conversation revealed a plot twist: If he doesn’t go with his family to Washington, D.C., for Thanksgiving, he has to stay home and watch his dog. That means that either the dog has to come along with us, together, to my parents’ Thanksgiving — or he’s home alone.

In an ideal world where I didn’t think about other people, I would be taking my boyfriend home for Thanksgiving. As a child of divorced parents, I have two dinners: one with Mom, then one with Dad and the respective families. Both dinners are delicious; my mom does country cookin’ while my dad’s house is filled with a buffet of all kinds of holiday foods and at least two turkeys.

But there is a large part of me that would rather stay in Chicago and have a quiet, relaxing, and productive Thanksgiving with just the two of us (and potentially his dog), rather than trying to figure out who gets to see their family and who doesn’t.

Deciding who goes where on holidays in a relationship seems more dramatic than it is. At the end of the day what does it matter? We can have family meals whenever we want and I’d imagine it would be cheaper to have Thanksgiving at a different time of year. It is all about finding the balance between our ideal situation and our real-life situation, and recognizing that holidays like Thanksgiving are societally assigned family time even though we can arrange large family dinners whenever we want.  

We are now just a couple weeks away from Thanksgiving, and I still haven’t bought my bus ticket home.

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