I have a confession to make: my husband and I are family junkies. We happily spend about 85% of our meager spare time with one family or the other. Luckily, since it is such a high priority for both of us, we never conflict about how often we go to my parents’ for dinner (at least once a week) or how many weekends we spend with his family (at least once a month). For both of us, the answer is always, “Yes, please.”

This weekend, we got a good hit of family from both sides. We spent most of the weekend with my in-laws, starting off yesterday with a rousing 45-minute play of “The Wizard of Oz,” in which our two nieces aged 6 and 8 absolutely stole the show. (Of course, it could be argued that I am slightly biased.)

Today, his parents hosted a large Hanukkah party for all and sundry, featuring a wide variety of fried items, both savory and sweet. After making our early goodbyes, we made the two-hour drive straight to my parents’ house for my father’s birthday dinner, featuring a wide variety of curried items in honor of his Indian heritage.

Now that we’ve made it back to our own home, the clothes are all unpacked and my lunch made for work tomorrow, I am finally able to sit back on the couch and take a deep breath in preparation for the week ahead. Despite being a family junkie, I am also deeply introverted, and it takes a great deal of effort for me to be around people for a sustained period of time. This is perhaps even more true when it’s people I love, since I pay closer attention to their needs and am less able to distinguish them from my own.

But therein lies the beauty of it all: my fierce love for my own family is rapidly growing to include my husband’s as well. Especially since the wedding, spending time with my in-laws really does feel like I am with relatives of my own, and I have noticed subtle differences in our interactions. For the first time, I spoke to the girls with the authority of a real aunt, and was able to make them finish their broccoli before having any more gelt. Later, at the adult dinner table, I spoke more boldly than I normally would have, which was only partially due to the large quantity of good white wine I was consuming. And when the girls were doing their big numbers during the play, I had tears in my eyes and a grin just as big as if the same blood was in our veins.

As we spend time with my new relatives, I am seeing more and more that I really did gain a family as well a husband. True, my brother and I have a few more years’ worth of personal jokes between us than I do with my sister-in-law. But given time, I will make my own stories with my new family, and over the years I won’t be able to tell the difference between one household and the other.

And for a family junkie like myself, that is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

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