How’s that song go? “You can’t please everyone/So you got to please yourself” It’s certainly obvious that Ricky Nelson was not the first child in birth order. As the eldest child, I find myself doing everything I can to please those around me. Now, a first-born married to a first-born is a psych study unto itself. If there’s a young go-getter of a psych student out there, you should consider examining that in your dissertation and doctoral thesis.

The reason I bring this up is that we are entering that time of year that, if we didn’t have children, we would probably be drinking ourselves blind while scarfing down hors d’oeuvres at one holiday party or another, waking up Christmas morn and carrying our besotted selves to our parents’ place to exchange gifts and then departing shortly after dinner to hit a Chinese restaurant for scorpion bowls or Zombies. What? This doesn’t sound familiar? Well, sooorrry Mr. Rockwell. I’m kidding. This isn’t really me either – we never went for Chinese, we just went back to the apartment for a keg of Sam Adams. Now, seriously, Christmas has always been one of my favorite times of year, and since I’ve been married I’ve always enjoyed it that much more. But now….now…hoo-hoo! Having a baby changes everything. Most things for the better, of course. Some things, however, become far more difficult and involved.

Our parents (for better or for worse) live only 5 or so miles from one another. I hear ya – this should be a piece of cake during holidays, right? Fruit cake maybe – the one that’s been re-gifted thirty times since 1979. When we didn’t have Declan and we lived nearby, it was very manageable – go to one for a little while, then to the other, then back to our place for a little holiday cheer. Then we moved to Connecticut. I don’t know about you, but I like waking up in my own place and enjoying the day itself – being lazy if you will. But, when you’re the ones without children yet, you can be guilted to do just about anything. Add to that the first-born problem mentioned earlier and you see what I mean. So, you have a child and decide, “I’m putting my foot down and we will stay home on Christmas this year. Declan will enjoy Christmas in front of his hearth and tree. Time to start making up traditions.” Besides, I want to I want Declan to be able to play with his new toys and stuff.

I’m not sure you or I could be more wrong. There are a few more wrenches to throw in. My brothers and their families for starters. One lives in upstate New York, the other about 15 minutes from my childhood home. Now, my parents like to have us all at their place because, well, it’s easiest for them. If they come to CT, where will my younger brother and his family go? If they go to NY, where will my younger brother and his family go? You get the picture. On wifey’s side, it is a little similar. Her sister will be trekking to PA to spend the holiday with her future in-laws. This leaves wifey’s Mam and Dad who won’t travel to CT either because then what will her younger brother do? Sorry, not what I meant. Got in a rut. He’s got his social life to deal with so traveling to CT is out of the question – ah, to be 26 again.

So, being the good eldest children we are, we will pack up late Christmas morning and trek back to Boston to celebrate the holiday with family — damn you Catholic parent guilt.

Thankfully, this doesn’t apply to Thanksgiving. The Dubya clan will be jetting our way to Lake Havasu, AZ, to spend time with friends. There will be no guilt on the back nine I can assure you.

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