Three years ago, I was preparing for a similar trip to the one I’m making today: flying to Scotland to visit Husband’s family for Christmas.
The first time I did this, of course, he was not yet Husband, he was The Last Boyfriend, and we were both living and teaching in Japan. For our first Christmas together (we’d met November the year previous), we planned a whirlwind holiday specifically so we could meet each other’s families, and possibly to give ourselves one last chance to run screaming if all went drastically wrong. First we’d go to his family for four days, then to mine in the US for four, and finally we’d head back home to Japan.
People, people, don’t do this. Seriously, don’t do this to yourselves. The jetlag. The endless airplane rides. The security. Do. Not. Do. This.
I was nervous, to say the least. Not only would I be meeting The Last Boyfriend’s family for the first time not on Skype, I would be staying with them, in their house. And not only would his parents be there, but his brother and two sisters would be as well. I would be sharing Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with this group of strangers I so desperately wanted to please; I knew I had to make a good impression. And how better way to make a good impression than looking good.
First off, I asked Husband what the weather would be like, to which he said, not bad, maybe zero?
Me: Zero Celsius?
Him: No, Fahrenheit.
Of course I proceeded to freak out. Not only did I not have a heavy enough coat for that kind of weather, I needed to get sweaters, thermals, snow boots, oh my GOD I didn’t have TIME for this what was I going to DO?
Turns out he was kidding. Really, he assured me, it’d be about sixty degrees the whole time. Fahrenheit. Fifty at a pinch.
Sixty was fine. I packed my coat, a few cute skirts and tights, maybe a sweater. Mostly I focused on looking nice, not sloppy. Composed. Someone (who shall remain nameless but not blameless) had told me that Britain is a little more formal in its dress than America, so basically I just picked out what I typically wore in Japan. Cute stuff, not the most practical, but perfectly good for sitting around indoors and perhaps visiting a castle or two and, most of all, looking like The Kind of Person You Are Happy Your Offspring Brought Home.
Turns out, The Last Boyfriend was wrong about the weather. Not deliberately, but still wrong. It was not sixty degrees in Scotland, it was forty. Four, zero. And it rained torrentially all four days we were there, plus the extra bits where we went from and back to the airport. It was damp, it was freezing, it was cold.
And I looked like an idiot. Boy did I look stupid. Cute, sure, but dumb.
Not only was I not dressed for the weather, I was way more formal-looking than necessary. All my little scarves and hair-decorations were completely out of place in casual Scotland, and as I didn’t bring a single pair of water-proof shoes, I was condemned to borrow some to trek around muddy paths at the local ruins.
As I dragged my runny-nosed self back into the car after a blustery hour of clutching an umbrella as my tights froze to my legs, I wanted to crawl into my present-filled suitcase and quietly die. Right after I killed The Last Boyfriend by poisoning him with thermometer mercury, of course. Remember, my darlings, writers are inventive. Pick your significant others wisely. Heaven knows what his parents thought of me.
Three years later, I’m not bothering with the skirts. I’ve got the dark jeans and the light jeans, and, okay, I lied, the one skirt in case I need something nicer, but that’s as far as I go for formality. Mostly I packed my everyday kit: sweaters and turtlenecks and the occasional scarf because hey, why not? I’m going on vacation, the first vacation Husband (because he is Husband now) and I have had in a good long while. We will lounge around with family, we will go see a panto, we will stuff ourselves silly with every sweet imaginable, and it will be perfectly lovely.
Even though, once again, the forecast is for nothing but forty-degree torrential rains all week. You can’t have it all, I guess.
[Featured photo from Pixabay by Enrilon, in public domain.]