The kids were their usual boisterous selves, tumbling and yelling and mostly laughing. Food was cooking in the kitchen and the adults milled around in various conversations. I lucked out with the in-laws: I love them all and look forward to hanging out with them. I must resolve to be more interesting next year so I have something to bring to the conversation.
Dinner was fantastic, and afterward we lounged with tea and cookies and related our favorite Sarah Silverman episodes. Rebecca loaded up Mario Kart in the Wii and (after struggling with synching the Wiimotes) the kids were well into it. I guided them through some of the most interesting maps. Molly, four years old, wanted to play too--she pressed the accelerator while I steered. When we finished (ninth place, but first out of our group) she cheered and gave me a big hug. That surprised me, as I always have in the back of my mind a subroutine calculation as to how long it'll be before the kids completely accept me as part of the family. They were there at the wedding, I've been at several holidays, but the heart of a child doesn't swiftly accept a new player into the fold. I try to play it cool and give them their space, let them come to their own conclusions.
We came home, I gave Rebecca her Hanukkah present, and we went to sleep. My dreams were unpleasant, mostly revolving around performances, expectations, and betrayal. When I woke it was hard to shift gears and not hold my wife accountable for the things I made up in my head.