I have known my boyfriend for four years. Before he was my boyfriend, he was my best friend.
I swore I knew everything there was to know about him and I think he'd agree.
So when he invited me to spend Thanksgiving with him and his family after finding out that I wasn't going to be able to make it home to my family, I jumped at the opportunity.
His family is great, and the drive to St. Louis would be significantly cheaper and shorter than my drive from Kansas City to Indianapolis.
I went into our three-day stay in STL reminding myself of the obvious: Be respectful, help out where you can and don't spend forever in the mirror like you usually do.
We'd spent time together with one another's families too many times to count, so I figured this would be no different.
But a few hours into our stay, I realized that I couldn't have been more wrong.
What I thought would be a predictable stay turned into a few lessons that I am truly thankful for this holiday season.
1. Where all those weird quirks come from.
My boyfriend does some weird sh*t sometimes.
He brushes his teeth with scolding hot water, he refuses to open up the napkin when cleaning off his face and he'll eat just about any vegetable raw, like even potatoes.
Before spending more than a few hours with his family, I was sure those little quirks and others were just things he did because he knew it was odd to me.
But that's certainly not the case.
Everyone learns a habit from somewhere. I'm just thankful that his are cute and funny.
2. The things that only his family does that set him off.
I know I do things that get on my boyfriends nerves, and for the most part, I'm aware of what they are.
Everyone has his or her set pet peeves, and I thought I knew all of the things that made my man tick.
Turns out, there is an entirely separate list of things that really grind his gears.
Sometimes, no one can get under you skin quite like family can.
3. The family traditions that are most important to him.
I love family traditions.
I have probably asked my boyfriend about what his family does for every holiday at least 100 times (I wish I was exaggerating, but to be fair we've known each other for a while).
No matter how much I asked, he'd always offer a less than enthusiastic "Ehh, I don't know, nothing really."
Luckily, I was able to experience some of them first-hand this year.
I love that his families traditions are so different from what my family does because as we get older and start a family of our own, it gives us the opportunity to blend the traditions we love most into our new family.
4. What he loves (and hates) about his hometown.
Maybe my boyfriend is an anomaly, but he never talks much about his hometown.
He loves sharing stories about his childhood, but on our way to St. Louis I realized I knew little to nothing about his home city. So when he asked me what I wanted to do while we were there, my response was simple: "Show me your city."
We spent the next three days visiting where he used to go to school, his favorite Chinese restaurant, cupcake shop and museums that he loved as a child.
Watching him get excited and recount stories from his childhood allowed us to bond on a level that we hadn't before.
5. That there truly is no place like home.
Neither myself or my boyfriend are quick to admit when we're homesick, but as soon as my boyfriend saw his family, I knew he had been missing them.
I felt the same way when Thanksgiving festivities with my family meant having to accept that a 10 minute FaceTime call was all I was going to get. Luckily, I had him to support me when I was feeling down.
No matter how much you think you know about your significant other, you really don't know the full story until you meet the family.
Getting to spend Thanksgiving with my boyfriend's family was truly eye opening, and if anything, it made me love and appreciate the man he's grown to be even more than I did before.
So if you have plans to spend the holidays with your boo, don't shy away from it. Embrace it, the exciting moments and the potentially awkward ones.
And if you find yourself feeling homesick, remember your family is only a phone call away.