Thanksgiving at the Trolls

Yesterday was Thanksgiving in the US. So, it’s not unexpected to see that much attention is given to the holiday from meals, to parades to football. It’s has also been interesting to see how recurrent this Huffington Post article about sharing the holidays as a poly family has been. Looking Through.Us tweeted about an article that was at least a bit of an exception in that it acknowledged that there may be differences. Even this article, though, assumes that there is some holiday tradition. But what happens when there is none at all?
‘What?…Nothing at all?’ Try telling a stranger who insists on asking what your plans are for Thanksgiving that you don’t ‘do’ Thanksgiving and you’ll assuredly meet with more responses like the above than anything else. That’s part of the problem for me; the assumption is always there, and it’s more often than not a battle to get this hypothetical stranger to accept that their assumption is wrong. I have a personal tradition of not celebrating these holidays, so I’ve been having those same conversations with strangers for quite some time. It’s not that I don’t believe in tradition, it’s just that I did not grow up with the ‘standard’ traditions; instead, our traditions were always about non-participation. So, then, imagine the difficulty of trying to have that conversation with someone you hope to build a family with.

As stated in the Looking  Through.Us article, it’s about communicating and finding a balance that works. I can’t imagine that integration of ideas or balance is always easy even when a matter of comparable celebrations or competing families. The challenge is different, though, when one of the ideas to be integrated is the absence of the other. How can the absence of something exist with that something? We talked about this at length. For Êta, though the holidays mattered, what was most important was the sense of tradition and family that she had growing up. Although I probably didn’t realize it at the time, I’d always had that same sense of tradition growing up. If there’s anything that went unresolved for any significant length of time when we got married, it was this.

It was less important back then when it was just the two of us. At that time, she’d been able to do all of the holiday celebrations with her family because we lived close by. I know it wasn’t easy for her with me not being there, but it worked OK. Now it’s different. We’ve moved away, and she mostly only gets back to be with her family a couple times a year, and this year is only the first or second that she and the kids won’t be back for any of the end of year holidays. And it’s mattered more for a while now that those family traditions aren’t there for our kids. That’s where our compromise idea has come in.

Instead of either of us giving up our beliefs to appease the other, we decided to take what was most important to both of us, and make something new out of it. We had been talking about it for a while, since before our daughter was born maybe. But if what’s most important are the sense of family and of tradition, maybe we can work on creating those things without bending to the framework of existing holidays. We can make our own. Untraditions. Or maybe we’ll call them something else. Or maybe we won’t give them a name at all. The most important thing is that they will be something that we are able to (hopefully) give a more direct meaning to. We had meant to implement it before the kids were as old as they are now, but for a number of reasons, I think that now is the best time that we could start this.

We don’t know how these untraditions will fit into the poly aspects of our life. As much as I dislike it, this assumption that everyone is doing something for Thanksgiving is so common because it is most often  a correct assumption. So, it is most likely the case than anyone(s) that we end up pursuing a relationship will celebrate the holidays in some respect; though it is something that has never quite come up seriously to date. We obviously don’t even know how big an issue it’s really going to be, so we can just add that to the list of many possible bridges to cross when we get there.

What about you? How big a challenge has it been in your relationships if someone celebrates holidays or doesn’t? What are your experiences with differences in holidays and traditions in Poly relationships? What are the most important elements of your Untraditions or your traditional Holidays? If you could build your own Holiday for just your family, what would you build it with?

Stop by the comments and let us know. We’re also on twitter @twoofx.

-Rho

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