As you read this, I am likely running around like a crazy woman. Last month, I foolishly offered to host the Thanksgiving holiday for 12. In my apartment. So, for the past week, I've been planning, plotting, prepping and stressing. I've also been thinking about another part of Thanksgiving: taking the significant other home.
Do people still take people home for the holidays? Is it really a big deal? And when should you take the significant other over?
Wes Emerson, 35, of Towson says never. Or, more accurately, rarely. Emphasis on the rarely.
"Keep 'em away from your family," he says.
Emerson says he has taken a few women home over the years, and he says he has learned his lesson. The family home is your sanctuary, and you have to be sure that this person is for keeps before you introduce her.
Keeping friends and family separate from the relationship riff-raff keeps the peace, he says. Especially if you break up.
"You don't want your cousins or your grandmother or your mother lobbying for somebody. You don't want that connection."
Amanda Burden of Park Heights disagrees.
"I don't think you should wait until the last minute, like, 'Oh, we're getting married, and this is who I'm getting married to,'" she says. "To me, that's so Stone Age."
Burden, 22, doesn't think that introducing a woman to her family is a major event. When she took her girlfriend of two years to another family gathering, Easter, she says she wasn't nervous. (Her girlfriend says she was.) It went off without a hitch, she says.
"My criteria [for taking someone home] is that she has to be a nice person," Burden says. "Good personality, because my family is outspoken. You can't come around being shy."
And Laura Paulsen, 18, is of the same mind. She says she takes people from the John Hopkins University to her parents' Lutherville home all the time, so taking a beau home for Thanksgiving isn't a big deal.
"I think it depends on where you live," she says. "Because I live 12 miles away ... I'm always bringing people home."
Perhaps it is about distance. Dea Lovy, 19, is from Seattle, so when her brother, who was going to school on the East Coast, took his girlfriend home, her family was in a tizzy, she says.
"I'm sure my brother thought it was a big deal," she says. "... I mean, it was a big deal for the whole family, because we're all like, 'He's bringing her home to the family. What does that mean?'"
Lovy says she's not sure she would ever take someone home, possibly because of the stress, questions and intensity. "I know my parents are very critical," she says. "And my brother and sister would be critical. It would be crazy."
And I can understand. Even though I'm bringing the family to us, it's still scary to meld family and significant others, because you're exposing your beau to your family craziness.
In my case, that means my by-the-Bible grandmother and my boyfriend's father, who is very off-the-cuff. My cousin already has asked where the alcohol is stashed.
You can find ways around the stress -- Paulsen says you always can introduce your S.O. as a friend -- but my view is that you might as well just suck it up and go all out. Besides, if this person is important enough to you, the familial introduction is only the beginning.
Raffi Wartanian, 21, of Charles Village agrees. Though the holidays can bring on a lot of pressure, Wartanian says taking a girlfriend home would be worth it, at least for him, because family is high on his list of priorities.
"Thanksgiving is supposed to be about giving thanks, but what actually happens is it's a chance for the family to get together," he says. "So if you have someone you think is important to you, Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity to bring them into that element."