I had a plan to keep this all under control.

I kicked off our first night together with a wine and cheese gathering for the six of us in my parents’ room. And, like the inspirational story of the loaves and fishes, one glass of wine miraculously turned into three bottles; so by the time we stumbled over to the restaurant for dinner, we were all slightly tanked. This: a) quelled my nerves and b:) resulted in what I perceived to be a delightful meal fraught with witty (theirs) and slightly slurred (mine) conversation.

The next morning, we met at another hotel for brunch, a tasty buffet affair that included live music along with a cornucopia of free booze – champagne, wine, and a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar. And other than having to scream over the pianist, who had a Casio chock full of jazzy horn riffs and backing tracks, everyone got along like gangbusters. My plan to keep all the parental units distracted with liquor and food and music was, so far, working like a charm. Which was fortunate, because I really didn’t know how to score any Vicodin.

The following day, we met at the Pahrump Valley Winery in beautiful downtown Pahrump (which, other than the winery grounds, looks pretty much like it sounds), about 50 miles outside of Las Vegas. And there, as we took a winery tour, I began to notice a bizarre, and entirely unforeseen pattern emerging. My family and my partner’s family seemed to hug each other a lot. And trade stories about their lives and their children a lot. And laugh a lot. They seemed to just enjoy each other’s company – whether there were distractions or not.

By the time we all gathered for dinner at a steakhouse, it began to occur to me that it didn’t seem to matter what we were doing. Or where we were. It didn’t even seem to matter if I was even there (which is another story). It didn’t matter who was sitting next to whom or who might open their fat trap about something embarrassing. The only thing that mattered was having time together. And in that moment, I found myself able to just relax. And finally, totally, enjoy myself.

I don’t know what I had really imagined would happen. My parents are extraordinarily kind and gracious people. My partner’s parents are warm and chatty and delightful. And we’re all at a point in our lives where we realize that life is too short to spend time doing much of anything beyond just appreciating one another.

Maybe, at this ripe old age, I can finally start letting go of worrying about everything not being perfect all the time.

Of course, Vegas could start charging full price again. I could start worrying about that.