Stressing over the holidays

Avatar for deenow17
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-12-2004
Stressing over the holidays
7
Wed, 09-25-2013 - 9:30pm

So looking for honest opinions here. Should I continue to try to coordiate family events or just let it go...

We are fast approaching our Cdn Thanksgiving in 2 wks & I'm wanting to just cancel our family celebration but my family will tell me that I'm being passive aggressive. In reality, I'm just frustrated & would rather skip the holidays. 3 wks ago I sent out an email asking the kids if we could celebrate on the Sat or Sun knowing my SIL doesn't get the holiday Monday off. DD said sure but can we do it at 2 pm if we do Sun so they can get back home at a reasonable time. NP, then my DS replies that they can only do Mon as he works 3 to 11 on Sat & his MIL is hosting on Sun. DD then says she doesn't want to celebrate without her brother so lets do it the following weekend which I know makes it easier for her as her inlaws want them to join them at her BIL's inlaws. So trying to be flexible, I agree to the following weekend to which my DIL responds today with that's fine but don't count on me as I may be scheduled to work. My DS won't come without his DW as he won't leave her alone for the weekend which I understand.

I don't even want to think about Xmas. DD has said she is staying home which I totally understand. Her DS is almost 7 & shouldn't be dragged away from his toys. She will host the dinner & wants us all to come there but this means spending Xmas Eve & Xmas Day with her inlaws. This is a royal pain as her MIL insists on always being with the grandkids & so I try to hold back to avoid a competition plus we have nothing in common. I don't enjoy these shared holidays but have continued to do them when it's an event for the grandkids. Not sure what DS's inlaws are planning but naturally his DW wants to be with her family. She is the baby & the only girl.

Holidays were always special in our house & I hosted my inlaws for yrs once my MIL didn't want to do it anymore. My Mom was rarely around at Xmas. As the kids found partners, I was disappointed at having to change many of our traditions but I got over it & adopted new ones but now it is such a struggle to find time for us as a family during these holidays. It is making me stressed & unhappy trying to pull these events together. Last yr was the first time we didn't have any family around on Xmas Eve, I was sad but I survived it. So frankly, I'm thinking I would rather just spend the time with DH relaxing than getting involved in trying to ensure that we can do a common event. It's not like the kids don't want to see us. They all show up when their schedules are free, most of the time we are lucky if we get 2 or 3 hrs notice which is fine with me. My door is always open & the grocery store is only 5 mins away if there isn't enough to feed the extras.

Dee

PS: I have invited my kids' inlaws to holiday events but really all we have in common is the kids & I don't think anyone has a relaxing time. Each of my 3 kids' partners are also one of 3 kids so we end up with quite a large group.

 

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Wed, 09-25-2013 - 11:33pm

Dee, I can totally understand how you feel.  We've gone thru the same thing.  Even before our kids grew up, it was a headache trying to accommodate my family, dh's family, and all the siblings "extensions".  Now, our kids have families, and their families have families.  I stopped trying to figure it all out. 

I sat down with the kids and told them that I understood everybody has families, and they did not need to come here for EVERY ONE of the holidays.  Christmas was most important to me, so if they couldn't make it on Thxgiving or Easter, that was fine.  Here in the States, Thxgiving is on a Thursday, so that gave us other days to choose from anyhow.  I told the kids to pick either Christmas Eve, or Christmas Day, and then I would cook on that day.  If they picked different days, I would THINK about cooking on 2 days.

I can appreciate how my kids feel, especially now that they have kids.  Personally, I took off the day AFTER Christmas, for DECADES.  If *I* was cooking, it was simply too much to work to try and clean up the entire gift wreckage of Christmas, as well as all the cooking and dinner wreckage, then fall in bed and get up at the crack and go to work.  Even if I didn't cook, we always got home late, and then, since the kids had the week between Christmas and New Years off, I'd have to get up at the crack, take them to a sitter, and THEN go to work.  No thanks.  So for many years I took the whole week off, too.

My dd the teacher also has that time off, and her fiancee has gobs of personal time, but my other dd does not.  And her SO has 5! brothers and sisters, as well as his parents. 

So I guess the best advice I can give you, is to be understanding.  They love you, and each other, and even if you can't see all of them on "the" day, at least YOU now have the flexibility to see them on a bunch of DIFFERENT days, making the holiday last just that much longer!!

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Thu, 09-26-2013 - 12:38am

Dee, I don't have much experience in this arena so  I probably cannot help much. Since TG is not  celebrated in Mexico dh's parents come to our house---the only time I host a formal dinner for the family. And we're kind of fading it a little....since both kids and dh's sister and her kids are all far away, my relatives have passed away and SIL goes to her daughter's home, the only relatives to attend now are dh's parents. At 82 and 90 yo they don't want to drive 2+ hrs so dh has to go get them--which is no fun for him. Last year we cancelled the dinner, I cooked the turkey the night before TG, and dh and I spent TG afternoon hiking in the mountains with turkey and cranberry sauce sandwiches in the backpack. It was delightful. We're debating if we'll do that again this year. So if you and Ian want to do something similar I highly recommend it.

I don't see it as passive agressive if you cancel the dinner. You put it out there, they couldn't all make it at the same time, so you decided against it. Same as if you tried to hold a dinner party on a specific date and none of the invitees could attend. The alternative is for you to decide when YOU are going to host it and whoever can make it, does. 

For Christmas, is there any way that you don't have to go to the in-laws for Eve and Day? That sounds like a bit much. Could one of the days be for Sandy's family and the other for SIL's family?

I wonder if they have all gotten so accustomed to you bending over backwards to be accomodating that they don't realize that its stressful for you, and that YOU would like to be accomodated sometimes. Would it help to have a family powwow and explain how you feel, and ask for ideas for solving this dilemma?

Avatar for nora_mcl
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-30-2011
Thu, 09-26-2013 - 8:59am

I think the key is flexibility-& deciding that you can do & what they can do. We used to love having everyone & their SO's home for Christmas-but eventually we had to celebrate several Christmas'sa year-or not. Last year, for instance, DD#1 came home the Sunday before Christmas-we had gift opening & a big dinner & celebrations with them. DD#2 came home Christmas afternoon-so everything was repeated-gift opening, big dinner, celebrations. In the meantime-we had our own celebration with Adam & Mom-Christmas Eve & Christmas morning-when Karen came-he opened their gifts & enjoyed the whole chaos. Our son went to celebrate with his in-laws, not here.

This year, Karen's in-laws had bought tickets in January to fly to visit her, so she was very apologetic-this year she will not be home for Christmas Day but will come just before then to be with us. Not sure about the other 2-at one point, they will come. We've served notice that we will spend a quiet day at home-it will NOT be a day to travel for us-it will be a day to miss Adam.

I think the key is flexibility-our kids live around the province, I do not think I have the right to put my foot down & say "You will spend this day with US". Their kids want their own traditions, they do not want to be travelling (any more than their parents did at this age)-I appreciate what they can do/are willing to do. I will go to visit them some years-much as my parents went to visit us when they could. But sometimes, quiet is good too. Having the kids here is fun-but it's fun for their other grandparents & it's fun for them to stay home with their new toys. Wherever they are-we always phone & always talk to them all. And I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss them that day & if I didn't admit to a tear or 2-but they're grown ups & I have memories & pictures & it's time for them to build their own memories.

Nora

Avatar for suzyk2118
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997
Thu, 09-26-2013 - 9:24am

As my parents were 300 miles from here, we did Thanksgiving/long weekend with them (both our anniversaries are/were around that time) and Christmas day at MIL's.  Usually then we'd go to Chicago either before Christmas, or for New Year's/after Christmas to spend a few days up there then.  It seems like every year all 7 of dh's sibs and families and us would go to MIL's on Christmas day - I can only remember a couple of years when one or the other was not there.  But now that the kids are older, I'm guessing some of them might not choose to be around for one holiday or the other (hasn't happened yet but it could). 

What we've done, too, is have a day either right before or after Christmas when everyone comes over and we pile in cars and drive through our local park that does a 'Winter Wonderland' of lights - we order pizza and people bring salad or an appetizer or beer or wine, and after the ride we have cocoa and marshmallows and leftover Christmas cookies, etc. - it's very low key and relaxed, which I think everyone likes considering the chaos of the season with all the extended family obligations.  And this one isn't a 'gotta' - it's usually pretty well attended but no one worries if they can't make it.  That's the environment I prefer!

Sue

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Thu, 09-26-2013 - 11:26am

Dee, I'm thinking about TG a little more. I still think that its okay to not do it if you're "not feelin' it" but its also a holiday that doesn't really have to be celebrated on a specific calendar date. So you could pick a weekend day later in the month or in November and ask everybody who works weekends to request that day off, and do the traditional feast then.

Like Sabr and Nora said, it gets very complicated with so many families to consider and all of the tugs of other family obligations. Flexibility is key---a flexibility that doesn't just mean a willingness to celebrate on a different day. It could include doing something completely different than in years past or doing nothing at all. 

Avatar for deenow17
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-12-2004
Fri, 09-27-2013 - 5:08pm

Thanks ladies as always for your support & understanding. I finally figured out what my problem is as I am normally flexible, understanding & accomodating. It just my personality. I have done separate meals, had them with the inlaws at my place or theirs, held them before, or after the holiday & even once took dinner to the child who was at school & couldn't get home. But I got upset because it's always me who changes, does without, etc.. DD's MIL decides when she wants to hold something & never changes. She rules her family with an iron fist. So after 11 yrs, I have learned to accept that SIL will always insist on doing what his Mom wants. Now we have the new DIL & what upset me was her comment that since my DS2 had to work on Sat & her brother's g/f's family always has Thanksgiving on Mon, then her Mom had no choice but to do Sun. It was said with simple logic & so either I do mine on the Mon or they can't come. The g/f isn't a fiancee, they aren't live-in & all DIL's family live within 5 mins of each. They see each other 2 or 3 times a week. I live 90 mins away & I see them once a mth, twice if there is an event. So I became resentful. 

I reacted as this just seemed to be the straw that broke the camel's back. I am trying to accept that while my kids are close & I talk to them often, they are married to people who insist their family has priority. Both DIL & SIL are the baby of their family but then so is DS2 but he has never been one to insist on anything. 

So I followed through with my "sorry it's not going to work out this year as no one can commit to another weekend".  As I expected DIL said that isn't a problem but DD wasn't happy. So DD is going to her DH's family on Sat then they are driving 2 1/2 hrs up here Sat night so that we can have a 1 pm dinner on Sun. I have told her she is crazy as they won't even be here 24 hrs & I think it's too much with the kids but right now she is insisting. It's interesting, the first time I say we aren't doing something & suddenly it must be done even without DS2 but it's ok if DD cancels.

2 yrs ago, we had a family conversation about the holidays & what they mean to me. DS1 said I make too much of an event, do too much work & that it means too much to me. But we decided that somewhere around Xmas I could host a family dinner. We have tried NY's Day but it only works if Jan 1st is Sat or Sun so the Mon is a holiday. We tried Xmas dinner which was great for me but not so good for the kids as we don't live close to shopping & they had to get up for 6 am to go back to the city for the sales. So I'm just going to have to accept that my time is in the summer when they want to be here to enjoy the lake & if I want to see them, then I must go to them for the holidays. Anyone want 20 boxes of Xmas decorations as I just can't see myself bothering if they aren't going to be here. Seriously, I will check out where I can donate the stuff so that others can enjoy & just keep a few things. DH has always disliked my decorating for the holidays, so he will be happier. We don't get anyone for Halloween so I had already decided this yr that I would donate my 10 boxes of Halloween stuff & I gave away my Valentine's Day & Easter when we moved north. Yes, I admit, I am a holiday junkie.

Family time is difficult to schedule as DD, DS2 & DIL all work shifts & SIL gets the US holidays not the Canadian ones. DS1 is out of the picture living in Amsterdam. DS2 can't change his schedule for personal things as his company builds his schedule around his classes & exams. So it's rare the stars line up for all to be together.

Dee

PS: I'm not a nice person because I'm hoping DIL's Mom makes a similar dinner to last Easter when she threw  a package of fried chicken & fries from the freezer into the oven for dinner . DS2 sent me a txt after the dinner saying they would be up after his exams for a real Easter dinner which of course I was pleased to make. There is no predicting what the Mom will do as she is a bit of a "flower child" & if she is feeling creative then she forgets about things like holidays. 3 yrs ago, she "forgot" to wrap presents & buy food for Xmas. So they had their presents in plastic bags & ate pizza.

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Fri, 09-27-2013 - 9:32pm

Dee, with your son, you kind of know that if there's a choice, he will choose to make his wife happy rather than you.  At least that's the vibe I've gotten, and that's usually the way is goes-- "a son is a son till he takes a wife...".  But then your dd's husband goes against the tide, caters to his family, and your dd gives in.  I don't blame you for being resentful.  At the very least, she could have stood up and said, Let's ALTERNATE years, so both families have a Christmas with the kids. 

I'm glad she finally asserted herself somewhat.  Maybe this is a sign of better things to come in their relationship.  She really has done her husband no favors by continually placating him.