Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

Posted by Anonymous.

First, a little history. My husband and I have been dating or married since 1999. When we got married, I was slightly horrified to discover what his Christmas celebration plan looked like. He got up early on Christmas morning, raced over to his parent’s house, opened presents there and then went to his grandmother’s in the afternoon. It wound up being this non-stop marathon of a day, where he was never home. AND they never went to church. On one of the most important holidays of the year, his highly Christian family (as in, no swearing, very little drinking, prayer before meals, goes to church twice a week, etc) doesn’t go to church on Christmas. I was flabbergasted.

Anyways, when we got married, I told my husband that I wasn’t enthused about the way Christmas worked, but I would do it until we had kids. When we had kids, I wanted to make some changes so that a) the kids were able to wake up in their own beds on Christmas morning (something that I didn’t get to do as a child very often) and b) not have to be rushed through present opening, and c) not have to leave newly-opened, and hopefully much longed for presents to go to someone else’s house for more Christmas celebrations. He agreed. This is important to note: MY HUSBAND AGREED THAT WHEN WE HAD CHILDREN WE WOULD CHANGE HOW CHRISTMAS WORKED.

Fast forward to now. We have children. Two of them. A girl, E, who is 5.5 and another girl, L, who is 3.5. To date, we have done the Christmas thing roughly as described above for the last eight years. When E was born, I said “I don’t want to do Christmas like this anymore.” And then caved because she was 4 months old and as long as she had food and a pacifier, she couldn’t have cared less about what we were doing. Each year, I would mention that I was still unhappy with the Christmas craziness and every year, I would back down because the kids were too young and they wouldn’t care. Or because my parents were in town (my parents are divorced and remarried. My mom and her husband live about 20 minutes from us and my dad and his wife live in Michigan) and so things were slightly nutty anyway. I think we skipped exactly one Christmas because his mother couldn’t grasp the concept of naptime. My kids, when they napped, went to bed for nap at 1 pm. Every day. Maintaining the consistency of naptime was very important to me so that I wasn’t dealing with the Anti-Christ on Christmas evening because someone hadn’t had their nap. Now that they are older, they don’t need to nap as much and I can be more flexible.

Anyway. Last year, I said my annual “I don’t want to do Christmas like we did it last year. It’s too crazy, it’s too much. I don’t like it.” And my husband talked to his parents about potentially changing things so that we could host Christmas here or make some other arrangement so that everyone was, if not happy, at least more content. It was flatly turned down. His dad didn’t want to change things. Whatever. I bit my tongue, and worked very hard to relax through the day so that I wasn’t a vibrating ball of stress. It was a nice day. Not exactly what I wanted, but good enough.

This year, October turned to November and we started thinking about Christmas. And I said my usual piece about how much I hate the craziness of his family’s celebrations. And my husband, bless his heart, dutifully called his mother and said again that we would like to host Christmas. Or make some other arrangement so that those of us who weren’t happy with it could be happier. Or something.

-> I need to insert a small digression here.

OK. So the whole tradition of everyone trooping over to my husband’s parent’s house has its roots in his mother freaking out about running all over kingdom come on Christmas Day and deciding that everyone could come to them and they would just stay home. This was probably 30 years ago? I think? SO. You would think, if you were a logical person, that she would COMPLETELY understand where I’m coming from. Given that SHE ONCE HAD THE SAME ISSUES. Apparently not so much. Either she has COMPLETELY forgotten how her tradition came to be or she just doesn’t give a shit about my opinions, because we have told her repeatedly that I don’t like the craziness and I want to just stay home on Christmas with my family. She even SAID when we were talking about this stuff that when the time came, she would willingly change it so that WE COULD JUST STAY HOME ON CHRISTMAS. I’m not much for swearing, but WHAT THE FUCK, WOMAN?!

/Back to the story.

One of the things that my mother-in-law said to my husband was that he needed to contact his siblings (he has an older brother and a younger sister) and make sure that they were OK with the potential switch from Christmas morning at his parent’s house to Christmas morning at our house. Now, in here, the communications between my husband and me got a little garbled. What his mother said was, if your siblings are OK with it AND her slightly agoraphobic/somewhat strange/also Alzheimer’s-y parents were OK with it, then you can host Christmas. What I *heard* was “If your siblings are OK with it, it’s OK with me.” Now, I’m not sure where that message got messed up, but regardless, I’ve spent the past week and a half under the impression that I was hosting Christmas morning at our house. His family is somewhat large – there are the 3 kids and their spouses, plus my mother and father-in-law and then my 2 kids and his sister’s 3 kids, plus his mother’s parents and aunt and sometimes his mother’s brother and his girlfriend. So that’s what? 18 people? In my 1400 square foot house. And my nephew and nieces, God love ‘em, are somewhat like hyperactive bulls in a china shop. On speed. (The bulls. Not the china shop.) So, this Christmas celebration wasn’t exactly what I was looking for when I said I just wanted to stay home, but it was better than dragging my kids away from their presents at 815 because we had to get dressed and ready to go to Nana’s house.

So last night my husband calls his mother to talk about Christmas. And as the conversation progressed, I could tell that the kibosh had been put on us hosting Christmas again. This time, his mother said that she’d been dithering back and forth, trying to decide what to do. And then his dad made the executive decision that Christmas was being hosted there. Because my mother-in-law’s parents would maybe come to their house for Christmas, but they ABSOLUTELY wouldn’t come to Christmas at our house.

My husband gets off the phone and relays this information to me. And is upset because he thinks that we won’t be going to his mother’s for Christmas. At which point I lose my ever-loving mind.

The problem is this.

Well, there are actually a bunch of problems.

1) My husband is perfectly happy with things the way they are. He’s been doing this for so long, it’s how Christmas should be to him.

2) He wants to see his siblings and parents ON Christmas Day. Christmas Eve doesn’t count. (I don’t understand it either, but I’ve given up trying)

3) I don’t really want to host Christmas.

4) There isn’t a viable or acceptable alternative to the current Christmas plan.

-> Here’s another slight digression.

When my husband spoke with his brother to make sure he was OK with changing the venue of Christmas, my husband was all “E doesn’t want to do this anymore. E doesn’t like running around all over the place for Christmas. E wants to just stay home.” Which, while perfectly true, somewhat tossed me under the bus. And pissed me off. My husband hasn’t exactly grasped the concept of presenting a united front to people and so he doesn’t see anything wrong with what he said. I’m hoping I can help him see the error of his ways with that. Because OMG I was ready to smack him.

/end digression.

Now back to the problem.

So all of this boils down to the fact that I am not happy with this situation. I don’t like rushing on Christmas. I want to stay home, relax and linger over breakfast and presents. I want to stay in my pajamas if I so desire until I decide that I want to get dressed. I want to have the ability to consider going to see a movie or watching a movie. I want to watch my children open and then play with their new presents. I want to be able to wander off and take a nap if I so choose. I can’t do any of that because we have to leave the house at 1045 to get to his mom’s roughly near the 11 o’clock hour and that means we have to be done with presents by 10 and we shouldn’t have a big breakfast because his mom will be serving brunch. And if we have to be done with presents by 10, that means we should be dressed and more or less ready to go by 9. And so on.

So my choices are:

- Give it up and go with the flow. My girls don’t know any different – this is the way it’s always been.

- Or decide to make a stand and make my husband very unhappy.

- Or or have our family Christmas celebration on Christmas Eve, wherein we do the leisurely present opening, breakfast eating, potential movie watching, nap taking and relaxing the day before Christmas and then go to his parent’s on Christmas Day.

-> Yes, another digression.

We bought our house from my husband’s parents. His parents built this place back in the late 70s and when we bought it, we agreed that they could stay in the house with us until the house that they were building was sufficiently completed for them to get their Certificate of Occupancy. When we moved in, we naturally started going to the church that his parents were attending. I was 4 months pregnant with E. I wasn’t all that wild about the church, mostly because the members were mostly of the same age as my in-laws. My husband’s sister and her husband were also going to the same church, but that was about it in terms of people our age in the membership. It is a VERY small church. When E was born, I received very little support from the church. And when E reached an age where she was beginning to be a disturbance in the sanctuary during the (usually hour to hour and a half) service, I was encouraged to take her into the pastor’s office, which was attached to the back of the sanctuary. It had a speaker in the room so that I could hear what was going on, but I was still essentially told to leave.

As E became older and more active, the setup was less than optimal. Finally I asked the pastor if it might be possible to set up a small nursery somewhere so that I could take E someplace that had some toys and wasn’t equipped with printers and copiers and computers and other office equipment that is so very tempting for a mobile baby to get into. He agreed that sounded like a good idea, given that in addition to E, there was now a second baby, my nephew T in the group. That was the sum total of the child care available to us at that church. It’s been 5 years and I STILL find that appalling. When I spoke to the pastor several years (and 1 building move) later, and said the lack of Sunday School/Child care/ volunteers to watch kids/what-have-you was troubling me and making me unhappy at the church, his response was “Start a Sunday School.” THAT wasn’t my point. My point was HE was my pastor and it was HIS job to (forgive the Christian-y language) shepherd his flock and provide for their needs. After ANOTHER entire year of this, I finally had had enough. I told my husband that he was perfectly welcome to take the girls to that church, but that it was affecting my relationship with God and I had to go somewhere else. We both made it exactly one week. He agreed to leave that church and begin looking for somewhere else that would better meet the needs of our whole family, not just him.

/end digression.

This whole Christmas thing has a very strange “déjà vu” feeling for me. It feels so eerily similar to the church issue where I spent FOUR YEARS repeatedly telling my husband that I wasn’t happy with something and he repeatedly telling me he didn’t know what I wanted him to do and around and around until I finally reached my breaking point (during the church thing, I remember asking him “how long? How long is long enough? How long do I have to be unhappy at this church before it’s long enough for us to go somewhere else? Another year? Two? Because if I know how long I have to deal with this, I can do that. But I need to know how long.”) and made the decision more or less for him. Unfortunately, I can’t do that here. I can’t up and decide that I’m going to take myself out of the equation because it’s Christmas, not Sunday church services. But the fact remains that again, I’m telling my husband that I’m not happy about something and while he’s willing to work with me on this, he’s also not entirely convinced of the issue.

A big part of what brought this to such a gigantic head this year is a conversation I had while waiting to pick L up from preschool. A woman, who was there to retrieve her grandson, and I were talking about the craziness of the impending holiday season. And somehow she said that she really regretted not taking just one Christmas to spend at home with just her family. That they always did the rounds to see all the relatives and while no one complained and everyone seemed to have a good time, she really missed just taking that time. Because her kids are all grown now and have families of their own and so she doesn’t get to just spend the time with them. I desperately want to do that with my family. And I’m essentially being denied that chance.

But I know that if I put my foot down and say that I don’t want to go to his mother’s for Christmas, that my husband will go along with it, but he won’t be happy about it. And when I look for agreement that this was a nice Christmas to have, he won’t agree. Because he didn’t see his family. And I don’t want to do that. Not only because he won’t agree that my vision of the perfect Christmas isn’t the same as his, but also because I don’t want to keep him from seeing his family. And I don’t want to be “THAT girl” in this family. Though I am sure I already am. Clearly I have opinions and am not shy about expressing them.

I just don’t know what the hell to do. What do I do? Do I go along to get along? Do I cobble together an acceptable alternative? Do I give up on the perfect quiet Christmas at home? Do I tell him that he can have Christmas as he wants it as long as I get {insert other large-ish religious holiday here} the way I want it?

Also, Christmas is in a few days. How the HELL am I going to rid myself of the seething anger and hurt and sadness that comes pouring out of me at the mere MENTION of Christmas in time to be all happy happy joy joy on Christmas morning? And then continue that happy happy joy joy-ness while I’m visiting my parents in Michigan, since my stepmother LOVES this kind of conflict and will drag this out of me faster than fast? And then bring it up for YEARS to come in a pseudo-caring, but really just nosey and gossip-monger-y way?

Please help me, O citizens of the basement. I don’t know what to do. And it’s tearing me apart.

Thanks ever so much.


Magnolia said...

why can't you go late? or skip out of portions of the activities there?

In my family we had the same deal and eventually my dad was like 'no we'll be there when we'll be there and if you don't like it then tough'

My grandma was pissy about it for a bit but in the end my dad just put his foot down..we went over for dinner or whatever, but we never left rushed like

Anonymous said...

My family does the relaxing go nowhere thing and it’s amazing. We get up, open presents, eat breakfast, and then fill the family room with sleeping bags and blankets and watch movies in our PJ’s all day. I would not have it any other way. So I totally understand not wanting to run around. I think the idea of turning Christmas Eve into your leisurely Christmas is a great idea. I have a friend whose family always opens gifts on Christmas Eve and they love it. Make your own traditions. Have Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve, open presents, relax and the next morning all you have to do is get up and go to the in-laws. No rushing through presents or breakfast.

Anonymous said...

I'm a little taken aback by your horror at the lack of church attendance in Christmas Day. Most churches don't even hold services on Christmas Day because it is, as you've explained so well, such a busy day already. I wonder if you bring that up primarily to depict the way your husband celebrates Christmas as wrong - not just something you don't personally prefer, but rather the wrong way to celebrate. The fact that you refer to it as "craziness" throughout this post bolsters that impression. I don't think there's anything crazy, or unChristian, or wrong about the Christmas Day schedule you've described.

What is at issue here is the fact that your wishes are not being heard. Partly that's because you have kind of a weak case: you want the children to spend time with their toys, while your husband wants them to spend time with their family. But still, it's not fair that he gets exactly what he wants every year, while you get nothing of what you want - and maybe that's what's really bothering you here, rather than the tyranny of having to leave the house at 10:30 on Christmas morning. It seems like there's a history where, in order to get what you want, you have to simply DO it - talking achieves nothing. And while you are considering his feelings, you don't get the sense that he's considering yours. One option you have here is to do the same kind of negotiating you did with the church thing - indicate you're not leaving your house until 2:00 pm, and if he wants to take the children and go earlier than that, it's his call. That would probably work, in the sense that he would back off (especially since it sounds like his mother's house is the only destination this year, rather than his mother's and grandmother's). But you might still have these feelings of not being listened to. If that's the case, you could ask him to make you an offer - i.e. "You want to spend the entire day with your family. I want to spend the entire day at home. You need to come up with a compromise - make me your best offer."

The thing is, what you want just doesn't exist - a family day at home where everybody there is doing exactly what they want to do. That's not going to happen - if you stay home, it will be your husband accommodating you, as you're well aware. It seems, though, that part of your anger stems from the idea that staying home all day is the reasonable approach to Christmas, something that most people take for granted but that you are being unreasonably denied. The vast majority of people I know spend Christmas in transit between various family members' houses. It's not unusual or unreasonable punishment. Your husband's desire to spend the day with his family is completely normal. Your envisioned perfect Christmas is normal too, but it's something you may not have been able to achieve no matter who you had married.

Anonymous said...

I can totally relate to your post. I married into a huge close knit family, my husband and I have four children (10,7,7,6) and have been married for over 12 yrs, christmas eve is spent at his parents house because his dad is Danish and Danish tradition is to do presents and dinner on Christmas eve. Then Christmas day we are back over to their place to celebrate with his mom's side of the family. On the 26th it's back again to celebrate his dad's birthday and then the next day we are packed up and driving to my parents house to spend the next 4-5 days. I've told my husband how much I just want to have our own traditions, to have a lazy Christmas day, but like your husband he doesn't quite get it. Seeing his family (who all live close by while my folks are a 10 hr drive away) trumps everything. Just know there is another mom out there doing the hustle and bustle on Christmas dayvwith a fake smile on her face ( that's been plastered there since the night before) wishing to be snuggled in her pj's watching the kids enjoy their gifts

Nicole said...

1st anony makes some very astute points and cuts to the core of this well. Still, I think you're wrong.

I'm on the other side of this. For me Christmas always meant: Christmas Eve at my Dad's parents, Christmas morning at my parents and Christmas afternoon @ my mom's parents. We became estranged from my mom's side of the family so Christmas became all day at my parents.

After we got married we spent a few years still going to my parents' on Christmas day. Eventually my husband made his wishes known: OUR FAMILY means US - him, me, the kids and Christmas is for OUR FAMILY. He really desperately wanted Christmas day to be just us. So now we DO have that lazy day at home for Christmas and catch extended family other times. DH puts up with a lot of extended family over the holidays. The least I can do is protect this one day for US.

Do I wish I still saw my family on Christmas day? Yeah. I think we could swing both. But my DH has a point - we're adults now and we have a different kind of family that we should honor. It took awhile to get used to a quiet day with no running but now that it's tradition I see the merit. It is really nice to jsut be us and not have to rush. I think it makes my parents sad to have Christmas alone but we make up for it by having a really awesome celebration a different day. My parents know that we have our own family now and honor our need to have our own traditions.

So I see both sides of this. I see why your DH wants to see his fam, but I also dislike that he's not respecting YOUR needs to have a tradition with YOUR family (meaning you, him and the kids). Part of being a father and a husband is making your wife and children more important than your parents (I say as someone who's had to make this adjustment myself!)

I think at this point talking and coming to a consensus with all your ILs is pointless. I think you and your DH need to come up for a vision for YOUR family and then just make it happen without consulting the extended families. Your DH is an adult now and has his own family, he needs to honor that. Personally I think going later in the day (like 2pm maybe) would be a good compromise to have some of all worlds....but we've clearly made the choice to not do that with our family. More than anything I think it's totally wrong that you and your DH aren't coming together to find a way to honor your personal family on this day.

Jackie said...

I get your post. When my children (now 14,12,11,9) were younger I told my husband that we were not doing the whole going to 4 places dragging young children around anymore. The kids didn't enjoy getting presents only have to load in the car and go somewhere else, get hugged by people they barely knew and do it again, and again. By the time we would get home everyone was stressed out, tired and cranky. Merry Christmas, right. I said no more, that anyone was welcome to come over to our house but I wanted to get up with my kids, lounge around in pjs while they opened presents and have a nice Christmas. It's been wonderful.
Maybe in your case there could be a compromise, one year you do the whole going to his parents house and the next year you stay home.

Anonymous said...

Does the MIL holiday have to start with brunch? When my in-laws still lived by us, we used to do Christmas Eve with my family, Christmas morning with the kids --and a very relaxed morning it is--and then we do Christmas visiting and Dinner in the (late)afternoon. If they would be willing to shift the time schedule a bit, you could all probably get what you want (or close) with this schedule.

St said...

A compromise is definitely possible here but it requires much putting down of the foot. When we had kids, my husband insisted we at least have a leisurely Christmas morning with just us. So we told my parents we would come up later in the day. This requires you putting your foot down with your husband and (perhaps the harder part) him putting his foot down with his parents. If this just. won't. happen. then I think that a Christmas Eve at home sounds like a lovely alternative.

Anonymous said...

I would do one of two things:

1) Make a new tradition where Santa comes early at your house and you open presents and have a lazy day on Christmas Eve.

2) Ask if your MIL could have an early Christmas dinner instead of brunch. If you guys didn't have to be over there at 11am, then you wouldn't be rushed in the morning, and you could have a nice relaxing morning playing with presents and relaxing, then in the afternoon go to her house and celebrate there.

I think the biggest thing is to talk to your husband and present that "united front." And maybe even talk to your brother/sister in law and get them on board before you present it to your MIL.

Is there any way you could talk to her directly about it?

Jane said...

I think your husband (and his family, but he's the one who should be concerned about your feelings) is being horribly selfish. You don't want to put your foot down and make him unhappy, but he's been perfectly content to make you unhappy for years.

Whatever is going to happen, it's going to have to be you that makes the change (or lack thereof). Your husband has already shown you that he's okay with you being unhappy if it means he doesn't have to actually do anything. So it's up to you.

I say to make the executive decision to stay home this year. Who knows? Your husband may come around to your way of thinking after he actually experiences what you want, instead of just hearing about it. (Kind of like the old "Women get excited about a baby when the test is positive, men get excited in the delivery room" thing. Guys sometimes need it to be right in front of them to really understand.) And if he still doesn't like it, then you guys can take turns. One year you get what you want, the next year he does. But a marriage shouldn't be about one spouse getting exactly what he wants all the time, and the other being miserable. It's about both spouses being equally miserable (j/k).

I really feel for you here. I've gone through (and continue to go through) most of these issues. Your husband really needs to understand that his loyalty lies with you and your kids now, and if there's any preference to be shown, it should be to you, not his mom, etc.

selzach said...

Situations like this remind me there are blessings to living far away from family!

If your husband is willing to compromise, I'd suggest going later in the day. Have your relaxing morning with the kids, let them have time to enjoy their new toys, then head over to the IL's sometime in the afternoon. I wholeheartedly agree with the "unified front" as earlier commenters said - your husband should be the one to talk to his parents about the situation.

Seriously, brunch? Who expects families with little kids to be up, dressed and done with presents in time for brunch? I'm sure it boils down to your MIL wanting to keep with her tradition, but why not a later lunch or early dinner if she insists on having everyone at her house?

When I was a kid we always had the gathering late in the day at our house or one of my aunt's. Some of the family made it for dinner, some only came for dessert and it was no big deal. We were all happy to see one another and spend a little time together.

lalalorlor said...

We do the lazy, at home day doing crafts and hanging out together. We wont go ANYWHERE the entire weekend and its always marvelous! When my husband and I were first dating, I told him if we ever got married that I was NOT going to subject our children to driving all over the place just because his mother wanted us to.

The first year we told his mother we werent coming up there - she threw an enormous tatrum - it was even better than my then 2 year old could pull out! And the same fit was thrown every year, several times a year because she wanted us up there for EVERY SINGLE HOLIDAY known to man. We did not budge one inch because that was not how we were going to spend our holidays - it wasnt fair to the kids and she and her husband could come down any day and see our kids. They are retired and way more portable than us and our 3 kids that dont like long car trips.

Thank goodness she goes to Texas now from Dec to April! Christmas is blissful!!

Anonymous said...

After all these years, I think it's time for some compromise from your husband and his family.

Judging by his brother's request to stay home, I'd suggest that you make a deal whereby on even years you do it their way. All smiles, no complaints, happy happy. On odd-numbered years, you stay home with your respective nuclear families and find a different day to celebrate together (e.g., Thanksgiving, New Year's etc.) and do it up big so no one misses anything. No guilt trips, no whining, happy happy.

I know, it's a dream, but you've gotta start somewhere. I'd pick the three elements of this situation that are the most frustrating and focus on fixing those. Then you have to let the rest go or you'll drive yourself and your relationships over the edge.

Laura said...

You've got some GREAT comments and suggestions here. I can't really add much because I've seen my first thoughts written a few times in the comments. I am the one in my family who has the big family gathering for lunch (we're talking 30-40 people) and it is EXACTLY how Christmas should be in my mind :). But, it never feels too rushed because we get up with our kids and play a while here, then head down the driveway to my parents' where we open gifts there, then we head down to my grandmothers where the rest of the family gathers. That sounds very busy when I write it, but it has never felt that way to me. I might feel differently if if wasn't MY family though... Luckily for us, my husband's family is out of town (2 1/2 hrs away), so we don't have to rush over there. However, we get my step-daughter on the 26th every year and she is closer to the in-laws, so we always drive down there on Christmas evening and get her on the 26th to spend a few days. Wow - that does really sound busy when I read it. But, it has always worked for us (until this year when work schedules mean inlaws are coming here instead of us going there). Staying home all day on Christmas sounds lovely and I can completely understand your desire for that - bug I also understand your husband's feeling that Christmas means being with the family.

I agree with several other posters who've said to go over there later. If they don't like it: fine, but they will see you at 1 or 2, not 11:00. That is just the way it is. I have several cousins who are part of the big family gathering who have other family commitments now and they just come later. It isn't a big deal.

You didn't depict your inlaws as being unreasonable people (unless I just missed that part), so I think it is reasonable to TELL them what you are doing (staying home until 1 or 2) and would like to come over there afterward. You could ask if they would mind having a meal later in the day. If so great, but if not, then you'll be there later and will bring dessert (or whatever).


Anonymous said...

As a single parent, with shared custody and alternating holidays and remarried happens.

Bottomline and the true essence is the holiday. Embrace the season and the nature of the holiday. Be thankful for your immediate and extended family. Embrace time together.

Try not to stress about specific days, but whichever day you celebrate, celebrate how you want to celebrate.

While growing up we had our family traditions - adaptation and flexibility lead to a lot less stress and aggrivation. My son may celebrate five Christmas'. He knows what Christmas Day is, but it's about the essence and the season and spending time with family.

At the end of the day (or in the wake of a loss) it's about remembering the memories of the moments of celebrating and being together that matter most. Not that you celebrated ON Christmas Day.

Happy Holidays...may you find peace and happiness with your family today, tomorrow and every day.

Anonymous said...

You know why your husband loves to spend the holidays this way? Because he's recreating his childhood.

Now, he needs to let those same memories happen for his children.

When I was a child our family and my Uncle's family would switch off years. One year we did Thanksgiving at their house and then Christmas at ours. The next year we switched. Everyone else came to one of those houses.

Now, as adults, we pretty much leave it up to the family with the youngest child. They host Christmas dinner - at 5pm. Nobody is allowed over earlier than 4pm. It's potluck. Everyone from all sides of every family is invited and welcome. It's a blast!

Kids have had plenty of time to play with their gifts, Christmas breakfast & lunch has been had with nuclear families, PJ's worn all day (PJ's are welcome at dinner!), naps have been taken, etc...

Grandparents are seeing the kids for the first time that day and they have presents anew to open. It's all very relaxed and easy going.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the previous commenter. Your husband is re-creating everything he loved about his Christmas. And I get the sense that you would like to do the same, but never get the chance.

I totally know how you feel because I have fought with my husband about issues such as this also. I would also like to start our own traditions and family's that don't always have to involve the whole freakin extended family. I am an RN and so I sometimes have to work on Christmas. One year I told my in-laws that it was fine that I had to work because when I got home we would just have our own supper, church, and presents all cozy. The were apalled that I would actually consider having Christmas alone as a family and not wait until we saw them for the kids to open there presents. They even said something along the lines of "well why would you do that".

I, like you, tend to give in because I don't want to be the bitchy wife or in-law that wants to do things different. But you know what? I've gotten to the point where it is too damn bad. I think you need to get there too. Your husband loves you and the kids, so he should be fine with a Christmas involving just you guys. But my vote would be to do your own family thing on Chrismas Eve, and going over to his mothers the next day for a few hours you can see everyone. That way you don't have to try and do everything in one day.

Anonymous said...

I don't have any advice, but totally agree with you. We did the running all over thing when we got married, but both my husband and I agreed (long before the first kid arrived) that once we had children Christmas morning would be at our house. Part of it is just plain selfishness on my part, but I want to see my kids come down the stairs Christmas morning. I'm not a very good cook or crafty person, but Christmas morning is a day when I go all out. I want to make special memories for my kids. Yes I suppose I could do it another day, but this is us creating our own traditions. Someday my kids will marry and create their own traditions as well.

Luckily my family has been very understanding. We have special family get togethers all month, but Christmas morning is at home. The grandparents are welcome to come over in the afternoon, but they know that until noon we'll all be in our pajamas!

Don't know how to make your husband understand, but don't give up. One quiet Christmas morning at home and he'll never look back! Good Luck!

Loverly said...

Dear Poster,

It really doesn't have to be this hard on you. Calm down, take a step back. There is a bigger picture here if you would stop forcing your mind to work to exhaustion on all the little issues.

First of all, do you not see, in all the years you've been together with your husband that a relationship, kids included, is a team effort? You talk about "getting him to do this," and "making the decision for him." Is he not capable of seeing things your way? Have you considered giving him the chance to see exactly what you mean?

It sounds like he just makes decisions based on what he wants, and it sounds like you're in the habit of maintaining silence if you mention something once and it doesn't work out. Why do you just wait until the next year, when the subject comes up again? It seems like a large mishap every year, when your husband looks like a jerk just doing what he wants to do, and you too scared to stand up for you and your children's happiness.
Family is important to him, and while that's admirable, you and the children are his family too. It's just not a good workable way to live together. You're unhappy, why doesn't he listen? Why does he stubbornly get to hang on to his way of doing things while you sit there unhappy?

I wish you peace on this holiday season!!


maria sylvia said...

wanna get sexy body shape ?
greatest way to get your best body shape

Anonymous said...

And how did you think that hosting Christmas for 18 people would be relaxing? You think you could just run off and take a nap? Wtf...obviously YOU would be running around crazy dealing with all of that. You need to just get the fuck over it already and quit being so whiny. Be grateful you even have a family to celebrate with.

Anonymous said...

anonymous 5:34 PM I think I love you. This is so damn simple. This plan would work perfectly for us!!! PS I want to join your you want to adopt us?!?! But not until after 4:00 pm, because we'll be doing our own thing on our own time until then.

Cat said...

I agree that Christmas running is stressful and your husband needs to understand how you feel. My husband and I were lucky enough to work that out before our daughter was born. coming from a multi-parent household i HATED going all over. I just wanted to relax and on Christmas Eve we do that and head out in the early afternoon. I hope you two can find a tradition that will make you both happy. As far as anonymous 1:20pm - If you don't like what she said, move on to the next blog. Don't be snippy just because you don't agree.

Anonymous said...

So ... it's after Christmas, what did you end up doing?

Anonymous said...

It is late, but if you see this ... here is what we did for Thanksgiving. Historically, it was a trip to MIL where she rigorously tryied to reinact a Normal Rockwell holiday which led to screaming and FAR too much wine consumed by everybody to keep from running out of the house.

This year. We announced where we were eating, anybody could come, anybody could stay away but WE WERE going to have a chill Thanksgiving. Nobody came. It was kind of great.

It is important to be with his parents at the crack of dawn. That's cool. If you drive, you and the kids will meet him at the parents house when you are d@mn good and ready.

Anonymous said...

Ok I just found this post and had to share. We used to go through the same crap every year, until I put my foot down and said no more !

How did hubby deal you ask? Well after the fabulous Christmas morning s.e.x., wonderfully.

Every year he looks forward to one of his "fantasies" and I look forward to a day of chilling with him and the kids. So next year tell him you'll make it worth his while, and show him The true meaning of giving on Christmas morning.

Anonymous said...

Oh my, grow Up! The holidays are about family, just because you can't manage to get along with your inlaws doesn't mean everyone else should Suffer!