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Holidays with extended family are so much fun. Sure, there are challenges when ten or eleven people spend a week in a house that’s usually home to two. (At some point some of us are going to have to stay in a hotel. I figure we can postpone that longer if we cosleep.) But still. I love my in-laws, I really do. For a million reasons. Here are some of them.

1. My mother-in-law gets up early. Every morning. My kidsĀ usually sleep in till a reasonable hour, but if by some chance they do get up early, Grandma is happy to play with them.

2. My niece is exactly the same age as my daughter, and my nephew is only 18 months older. Cousins the same age = built-in playmates. What could be better? True, the first four or five family get-togethers of my daughter’s life all culminated in her biting her cousin (we can blame sleep deprivation and overstimulation for that, right?). I guess that’s a hazard of living with playmates. It certainly was when I was growing up, anyway. My sister has the scars to prove it.

But most of the time, the kids actually entertain each other. It’s pretty awesome.

3. They live in Virginia. I love Virginia. Sure, we’re pretty established in Atlanta right now, but I love visiting Virginia. You can seeĀ real mountains from my in-laws front yard. And it actually gets cold there. Sometimes it even snows for Christmas.

4. My sister-in-law (the one who’s also a mom) makes tea every night. Sure, I can make it myself. But it’s so much more fun to drink with someone else. And it’s even more fun when it’s actually cold outside. Which it is in Virginia.

5. My (fellow mom) sister-in-law brings out the ice cream. She’s from Canada, so she never thinks it’s too cold for ice cream.

6. My father-in-law plays piano. When my husband and I were dating, he used to play piano a lot. I loved listening to him play — it’s so romantic! — but since we’ve been married, he rarely gets to play anything besides nursery rhymes on his synthesizer. But my father-in-law is a talented musician, and he has a real piano. Which my husband also plays while we’re there. It’s great. There’s a lot of music in the house.

7. Everyone likes to read. I married into a literary family, and yes, that was on purpose. Actually, I pretty much decided I had to marry my husband after I met his family. They talk about interesting things like books and history and religion and family traditions. They’re fascinating people.

8. My brother-in-law loves G.K. Chesteron. Need I say more? I need not.

9. My (cool single) sister-in-law loves ALL THE BOOKS that I love. And she’s a writer. She and I have spent many hours at family events huddled in a corner talking nonstop about the latest novel we’re reading or writing or about Oxford commas or blogging or work or the meaning of life. I think if I hadn’t married my husband, I still would have become close friends with her. She’s awesome. Tragically, she couldn’t come to Virginia this year. Boo.

10. They’re frugal. Translation: we don’t buy gifts for everybody. I love this. Buying a present for everyone in your family means a whole lot of shopping, even when your family isn’t that big. So a few years ago, we started drawing names for gifts instead of everyone shopping for everyone. We all still get presents for the kids (because really, how can you resist?), but we put all the adult names in a hat and we each draw one. Then everybody gets one nice present instead of a bunch of not-as-nice presents. And the whole present-opening ritual isn’t so involved and lengthy. It’s great all around.

Plus, my (cool single) sister-in-law and I have drawn each other’s names almost every year since we started, which is just a bonus. She gives the best presents.

How about you? Are holidays with extended family fun or stressful?