For Jonas and I, the holidays this year were a big time of travel to see not just one family - as it had been for most of our lives - but instead both our families. Last year we had already been to Texas in October and opted to spend Christmas with my family in Iowa. Having already spent Thanksgiving with my family this year, we headed down to Texas for a lengthy 6 day period of time. Flying into Dallas, we saw his extended family for lunch, including his brother's recent fiancée (they are adorable together). Then we headed back to the homestead east of Dallas.
This holiday at Jonas' parents' place was a big deal for us and, overall, it was a big step forward over the last time we visited their household. Last time we came down for holidays was Thanksgiving in 2008. Jonas had been told we couldn't touch (period) while in sight of his parents (particularly his mom, for whom it might have initiated another bout of tears, which were quite common in those days); we didn't feel free to use affectionate language; most interactions seemed a bit awkward and always tinged with "I wish the homewrecker weren't wrecking our previously 'perfect' family life"; we couldn't share a bedroom, even though bunkbeds allowed us to sleep in separate beds. Granted, these things range from minor inconveniences to moderate discomforts. But holidays are the time of year to relax, get comfortable, and be yourself. With all the worrying about not getting close enough to touch or slipping and saying the word "honey" or "baby", there wasn't much relaxing that holiday. (Though I did learn how to play 42.)
This time was different. We could touch in front of the family and there was no crying. We could say most anything we felt like saying without being worried. And we got to stay together in a cabin on the property (and no, this wasn't a bad cabin ... it was like staying in my apartment in fact. And just to show how nice the cabin was, his parents stayed in the one right next to us for the first part of the trip, while the main house was fully occupied).
Practically a night and day difference, at least from our standpoint! Was it perfect? No. Especially with his seminary-trained brother who dropped a bombshell right as we were leaving for Austin (subject of a future post). But I can see that the bargaining that went on over the last six months (yes, Jonas has been in "negotiations" since about June/July) really paid off. And their efforts did a lot to further endear myself to his parents.