As April drew near during our first year of marriage, the question of whether or not to visit Clark's family for Easter was in the air.
While we had survived our first spring break alone and had gone to Clark’s grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary, we weren’t positive we wanted to go again for Easter.
We gave in. Easter was a big deal in my family, as it was in his, and therefore we found it necessary to visit. I had a new dress that was for my sister’s college graduation in May, so I figured I could give it a test run for Easter. Clark had a shirt and khakis to match. (Unfortunately all my pictures from this are on the other computer and not easily accessible at the moment.)
We arrived in Fayetteville with the intention of not staying our entire break. Clark was lucky to get the weekend off from work, and we didn’t want to be pushy.
I had packed us up since we could only leave once he was finished with work that Friday. I even drove the whole way for the first time. It started off good.
The weekend progressed rather typically with his family. We ran errands that were necessary for us, and ran errands with or for his parents. We spent whatever time we could with them, though we had only been there a week or so earlier for the anniversary party of his grandparents.
Sunday morning suddenly arrived. As the daughter-in-law, a guest, I always seemed to have last priority to the bathroom. Luckily we were staying with his NaNa and PaPa, so I got a bathroom to myself and time to spare. Unfortunately, as it came time for Clark to be dressed, we noticed the first mistake of my packing.
Clark had reminded me to grab his khakis, which were still in a dry-cleaners bag. Well, I grabbed a dry-cleaners bag that looked as though it had khakis in it, but to my dismay it was one of my scarves. Clark tossed on his jeans and we headed to his parents’ house to see if he could fit in to his brother’s khakis or if he had a spare in his old closet.
We arrived and Clark immediately took the blame for my mistake. Lovely husband that he was to take that on his shoulders, it was not enough to stop his mother from commenting on the neckline of my dress.
“Oh, that is beautiful. Are you all taped in?”
It seems it’s always the little things that annoy me or hurt my feelings the most.
With a pair of khakis on, we were able to be fashionably late, as his family nearly always is, to church.
We arrived and I kept fiddling with the sweater I had on over my dress, unsure if it was able to hide my bare shoulders and chest. Clark nagged and said to take a look around; I was the only one “scandalously” clad for the holiday.
Although I did not get through the service without having a few older pairs of eyes giving me the disapproving look, I made it through without getting the, “oh, you’re the new daughter-in-law,” comment. The minister gave us welcoming hugs, as was normal, and told me I looked beautiful. I was thrilled.
Then, there was Easter “dunch” or “linner,” whatever you like to call it.
With my family it’s a great affair of ham, potatoe casserole, rolls, green beans—it’s almost like another Christmas dinner, but with a spring twist to it. With Clark’s family, however, it seemed too difficult to combine church and cooking together.
We went to an Italian restaurant instead.
Though the food was delicious and the conversation did revert itself to the subject of me every now and again, it wasn’t what I was used to.
I mean, Italian food for Easter? It just didn’t seem right. My mom called in the midst of us eating and when I told her where we were, she contained her laughter.
When we did our Easter baskets it was like Christmas. Candy, gift certificates, movies—you name it, and it was probably in there. I wasn’t expecting anything, and when I got so much it made me feel guilty.
Our Easter’s were never this big in the gift department. It was usually something small and meaningful; such as, one year, we each (my sister’s and me) received a cross that reflected our personal style.
Once again I was reminded that each family had their own traditions, and now that I was a part of my family, Clark’s parents’ family, and my parents’ family, I was going to have to give in to giving some things up sometimes, and twisting them at others.
When I look back on that first Easter I wonder if it would have gone smoother had I been a little more accepting. Had I laughed at his mom’s comment or not poked fun at the style of his childhood church, or complained about receiving too much in my Easter basket! Perhaps if I had just gone with the flow, it would have worked better.
Or, maybe not.
Regardless, it made me realize, moreso than Christmas time had, that I was going to have to compromise my traditions as he had compromised his. In the confusion of it all, we were forgetting the true reasons for holidays. Instead we were focusing on whose family was right and whose family was wrong.
During our first year of marriage it was so difficult for us to establish ourselves as our own family because his parents, and sometimes my parents, were always bearing down on us.
As time went on, and as time continues to pass, we have learned and are learning to separate ourselves and know that we are accountable to our family first, our parents second.
While we still get in to disagreements as to how our kids should be raised, how we should celebrate certain holidays, what church we should attend, what is appropriate and what is not— we are learning that compromise is key.