Non-Visting Christmas

Mrs. - posted on 12/18/2011 ( 20 moms have responded )

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This year, my husband, daughter and I are doing Christmas at home just by ourselves. We don't plan on visiting any family on the day, we really want to give our daughter a relaxing day, in her own home, with our own traditions.

Now, my family doesn't have a problem with this as they live in a different country and we all stopped trying to travel long distances during the crazy holiday season to be miserable the whole time.

However my husband's family is a different story...
They are miserable together, with his parents having gone through a nasty divorce, several people not talking to each other, the death of his grandmother from suicide and yet, they all want to get together and be even more miserable, bicker and insult each other this Christmas. Several times they have all tried to guilt, implore and conspire to get us to drive five hours to enjoy, what I'm sure will be, a splendidly horrible experience with them.

So, what do you think? Do you endure your extended family no matter what and go visit them with your children for the holidays out of obligation? Or do you stay home? What is your tradition and ideas about what is expected in a family during the holiday season?

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My ex in-laws live about 6,000 miles away from us... ;)

I go to my dad's every year. He's only a 15 minute drive though. I wouldn't go next DOOR to see people that would make me miserable, so no way I'd drive 5 hours for it.

Mrs. - posted on 12/19/2011

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You know, it's odd, Lindsey, we were the same growing up. We always stayed home just my siblings and parents. When my relatives lived close by, we might visit with them a few days before or after, but never on the day.

I wonder what it is about the older generation that doesn't always understand that once their kids have kids, they might want to have their own Christmas...just like they had with us? I know it isn't everyone's parents, but I have noticed a trend.

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Charlie - posted on 12/21/2011

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Jamies family has christams about a month before christmas so everyone else can spend christmas day however they like which I love.
I love his family they are awesome and their tradition means I get to spend christmas at home with my family ( including my sister and mum)

Ashley - posted on 12/21/2011

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I cannot imagine Christmas without my parents, I am 27 and have yet to miss many major holidays without them actually. But Christmas NEVER. My parents actually drove 8 hours today to be with my family for Christmas, my husband loves having my dad here b/c it is someone to get up with him and do the turkey and of course my kids are soo excited when Grandma and Grandpa get here it is a countdown!
As for my husbands family well my MIL lives across the country and so do my SIL and BIL. But I have another BIL and my FIL who have been sucked into my family so they come out early as they can (my BIL prefers to sleep in a little and come later) but we always save a bunch of presents if they come late.
I may one day have to spend christmas alone with my little family but until then I will LOVE my big family get togethers

Sherri - posted on 12/21/2011

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I have no in laws and my family we get together the week before Christmas for our Christmas. So Christmas day we all just spend it with our husbands and children.

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I don't endure anyone's company anymore if it can be avoided and most of the time it can be.

Mary - posted on 12/20/2011

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Heather - I'm lucky in that both my own and my husband's family are in agreement that little kids who believe in Santa absolutely should sleep in their own beds on Christmas Eve, and wake up to the presents under their own tree on Xmas morning. My in-laws are over 5 hours away, so it does mean that we will never be spending Christmas Eve or day with them, unless they come to us. Luckily, two of my three SIL's live close to them, so they alternate between their homes for the actual holiday itself. The past two years, we have gone up for a visit just around New Year's.

My dad only lives 5 minutes from me, and my sister is a little over an hour away. The way we've worked it out since my daughter is born is for my dad to go down to spend Xmas Eve at her house, and wake up with her kids. We have spent Xmas Eve at my best friend's home, had Christmas morning here alone, and then headed down to my sister's a little later in the day. It works really well for all of us. Even at 41, I wouldn't feel like it was Christmas if I didn't get to spend some part of it with my sister. We will probably keep it like this for another year or so, until both of her kids stop believing in Santa. When that happens, my dad will stay here with us, and my sister's family will come here for Christmas Day dinner instead.

Any year that my in-laws want to drive down to spend the actual Eve and Day with us they are welcome to do so. Heck, I already know that when I host Xmas day itself, it could very well include my BIL's somewhat odd parents, and that's fine too, if that is what it would take to make sure I got to spend some part of Christmas with my sister and her family.

Ashley - posted on 12/20/2011

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This year is our first year in our new home .. so we have decided to host christmas ... my husband family (like his grandmother and aunt) live a couple hours away and have chosen not to join us on christmas (long story short his grandmother can be rather two faced and believes christmas is her thing so it should be where she wants it ..) any ways so it will just be us and my mom and brother and uncle (hoping for my grandma but shes in the hosiptal in ICU right now) and husbands parents and sister ... one of the reasons we chose this way was because we have the room lol and second found that christmas wasn't fun when you have to run all over the place all day so we wanted it our way .. quiet family around but no "running" around ....

Lady Heather - posted on 12/20/2011

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Also, I do know some people actually like to be away from home for Christmas. My sister is one of those. She is not super big on tradition anyways and she doesn't really like doing all the stuff (tree, decor, food) but she does like to visit people who do. She loves coming here for Christmas because I bake a lot. And we have a real tree but she didn't have to chop it down. She likes that we go sledding on Boxing Day - something that is hard for her living near no decent hills and not having a car. So for her it's like her childhood Christmas when she comes here. Her husband is just happy to not be with his depressing parents. So I'm guessing we will see a lot of them at Christmas and that is just fine by me. Somebody needs to eat the cookies.

Lady Heather - posted on 12/20/2011

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Oh, and even though we have Christmas with my dad, it's at our house all the time. We do a Swedish Christmas Eve and an English Christmas day and I like to be in charge of the food. I really want my kids to have that sense of special Christmas at home. I get the feeling my dad isn't too upset about not having to do the whole production anymore.



I think there is an expectation from my husband's family that we will come stay with them every couple of years. I don't think it's fair given that my husband only ever had one Christmas away from home between 1983 and 2005 and that was when they went to Mexico. They didn't make him travel for Christmas so I don't see why we should have to. And they don't realize how much it makes things suck. Like this year Freja asked for a play kitchen. So we got her this really nice one. Well obviously it can't go on the plane. So it's here. And she can't have it before Christmas. That wouldn't make sense. So I have to make a letter from Santa for her explaining that he left it in her room. And then she has to wait until the 29th to get it. I'd much rather get to see her have it on Christmas morning. I'm super excited about it. Blah.



But see the problem with the in-laws is MIL is so routine oriented it's frightening. She hates coming here because it messes with her shit. She has to spend about 4 hours a day outside smoking and drinking either coffee or beer and doing crosswords. It's like she can't survive without it. Try doing that in -30. It's not always that cold but it might be so she won't come to stay.

Lady Heather - posted on 12/20/2011

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We stay home most years but we still have to endure family because my dad and his wench are here. I think it would be weird to tell them not to come over given that they live 10 minutes down the road. I find that rather annoying because I really don't want to spend every Christmas with them. Correction - I don't want to spend any Christmas with the wench and I don't want to spend any Christmas with both my parents together so when mum is in town I really want to tell dad to stay away.

The norm in our family is for the people with kids to stay home most years and let the grandparents come to them with the odd year in which kids travel to see cousins (when parents feel able). We've been home since Freja was born, last year my sister brought her son for a visit and this year we are heading down to stay with my in-laws who live in the same town as my brother. We head out today with the kids on the plane. Wish me luck! Haha. Anyways, every year we let everyone on both sides know that anybody is welcome to stay with us. Only my family ever shows up because the husband's family don't like coming up here for some reason.

Mary - posted on 12/20/2011

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"I wonder what it is about the older generation that doesn't always understand that once their kids have kids, they might want to have their own Christmas...just like they had with us?"

I think a lot of the expectations surrounding the holidays are based on what is "normal" or traditional within each individual family. For me,as a child, that did include the presence of my grandparents on Christmas Eve and Day.

My parents were both only children. My mother's father died when I was three. Every Christmas thereafter, my maternal grandmother (who only lived about 30 minutes away, and drove up until a month before she died) would come to our house early in the day on Xmas Eve. We all went to my dad's parents in the afternoon for a traditional Polish meal. My dad's parents then went to the Polish church in the city with their siblings for mass, and we went to church in our own Parish. My maternal grandmother spent the night at our house, and was there for every Christmas morning that I can ever remember. In fact, although my parents did all of the "Santa" presents, my grandmother was the one who did our stockings. My dad's parents came to our house later in the day for a big holiday dinner.

I have such happy, magical holiday memories from my childhood, and all of them include my grandparents. In fact, I think a part of what made it the day seem more festive and special was their presence. Did my parents ever want to have that day with us to themselves? I honestly don't know, but I sincerely doubt it. I do know that my mom was extremely close with her own mother, and would have been heartbroken at the thought of her mom, who had made her childhood Christmases so special, sitting at home by herself for the holiday.

As time went by, and my grandparents aged, our traditions did change. My maternal grandmother died when I was a sophomore in college. The first Xmas without her was hard for all of us. When I was about 23, my dad's parents, who were in their mid-seventies, were in a horrendous car accident. That year, instead of the my grandmother hosting the traditional Polish Xmas Eve in her home, we were bringing the meal to them in a rehab facility. The last year that my dad's mom was alive, she was living in a retirement community, but was really too frail to do much travelling. My sister, whose kids were about 2 and 4, drove up an hour from Virginia, and we had Xmas Eve dinner together, as a family, at the retirement center. Was that anyone's "ideal"? Of course not...but leaving my grandmother alone for the holiday so that we could have our own perfect little family Christmas was simply unthinkable.

I now have a child of my own. My mother died unexpectedly a year and a half ago. What we do every year may change a bit, but the one thing I do know is that my father will never spend Christmas Eve or day alone. In fact, my sister and I sort of bicker over who gets to have him spend the night for Christmas Eve. Not only do we each love having him, but our kids....to them, there really is nothing better than having their Pop-Pop around!

My in-laws are over 5 hours away, and typically spend Christmas eve and day with my SIL and her family. However, if there was ever even a remote chance that they would be alone for the holiday, they would also be welcome here, in either mine or my sister's home. Heck, even if they just wanted to change things up and come down here to spend it with Molly, they would be welcome. I might secretly be a little annoyed, but there is not a doubt in my mind that my daughter would be just over the moon to have ALL of her grandparents here on Christmas.

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Oh and by the way, Rebecca, you said, "I wonder what it is about the older generation that doesn't always understand that once their kids have kids, they might want to have their own Christmas...just like they had with us? I know it isn't everyone's parents, but I have noticed a trend." That's exactly how I feel. The thing that keeps going through my head is that I want to do the "normal" thing on Christmas where we have OUR time and then we make the rounds to the grandparents houses. Just like my MIL had with my husband and his brother. There were never grandparents at their house on Christmas day before the sun came up! I feel like she's forcing a new tradition on me that I really want no part of, but I'm conforming to it because of her health and because I'd feel like the hugest asshole ever if I said no. And I probably wouldn't say no next year either. Because by then, them being here at the ass-crack of dawn on Christmas will already be a tradition. Jacob will expect it next year. That just means she'd better keep on living and surviving and being the tough bird she is, so that she'll not let her grandson down. We'll find other ways to make our own traditions I guess.

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Well, Miss Three, if THIS isn't the perfect thread for my life right now then I don't know what is. Here's my deal. In February of 2010, we (my husband, son and myself) moved from sunny Florida (I'm a native) to Central NY State, so that we could live near his parents and so that our son could grow up in a smaller community. Barf. It's NOT what we thought it would be. Anywho, last Christmas, my MIL wanted to be at our house on Christmas morning, bright and early, before the boy woke, so that she and her husband could see his face when he saw the tree surrounded by all of his presents. I made myself be ok with it because a) I didn't want to disappoint my MIL and b) it was their first Christmas they'd ever been able to spend with him. Flash forward to now. My MIL is stage 3 rectal cancer and recently had major surgery to have a large tumor removed, as well as a permanent colostomy installed. Is installed the right word? Anyhow, we're close in some ways, but not close in other ways. Like, it breaks my heart to think of what she's going through. Her lymph node biopsies came back 4 out of 8 showing that the cancer has spread. So on one hand, I get why she wants to repeat last year. She told me a few weeks ago that she wants to be here at the butt crack of dawn on Christmas day (my words, not hers lol) to watch Jacob open presents. Then, even though I spent hours researching her dietary needs and found a bunch of awesome recipes I could do to give her a semi-traditional Christmas meal, she decided she wants me to make lasagna. I'm trying to concentrate on the "I love your lasagna" part of the conversation but, I'm bummed to not be making a turkey and the fixin's. Oh well. Boo friggin' hoo right? Anyhow, I guess the point of this is that I understand where you're coming from. But I envy you because you've put your foot down and decided to make your holiday how YOU want it, instead of dealing with everyone else's drama. Now, I don't think of my MIL's cancer or her struggle or her fears as drama, so no one get me wrong there. I went through my own cancer treatment this past summer for melanoma, so I am familiar with the fear. I feel selfish for saying this but, in my heart of hearts, all I want for our Christmas day is this: Hubby & I stay up way to late the night before wrapping and assembling things. Jacob wakes us up at like 7, his normal time. We eat breakfast and open gifts and chill for a few hours, while consuming massive amounts of coffee and getting a sunburn from basking in the glow of our son's happiness. Then, around 1 or 2, we head over to the MIL's house to eat (the food that I've already made at home and transported to her house) and spend the afternoon with her. Then we come home and fall asleep. The end.
I know this isn't gonna happen and I'm working my way to swallowing it, accepting it. Because I KNOW she's afraid this will be her last holiday. I know some of you probably think I'm a heartless bitch, but really, I'm not. There is history with my MIL that I don't have time or energy to talk about now. But basically what it boils down to is that when we lived in Florida, we made our own decisions and had our own traditions and no one we knew had squat to say about it. Up here, we live under a microscope and it's ALWAYS MIL's way. Always. I feel backed into a corner. So, me being the "let's find the silver lining" type of person that I am, I'm finding a way to be comfortable in the corner. I'm trying to find a way to make our own traditions, something I can look back on and be satisfied with as far as what I want for my little family, while still satisfying her. And again, please don't think me a heartless bitch. I'm trying, really, I am.
So I told my FIL the other day that when they show up Christmas morning, they need to be holding a box of donuts because I'm not making breakfast that early lol They're ok with that. And I'm ok with them being here early because I'd be the biggest asshole in the world if I told my possibly dying MIL she couldn't see her grandson's face light up first thing in the morning on Christmas Day. I'm also ok with having lasagna for Christmas dinner because I have a turkey in my freezer that will be cooked and eaten (with all the fixin's lol) probably New Year's weekend. And I'm ok with them eating here, in our tiny apartment, on tv trays, because she's stir crazy and needs to be out of her house. BUT, this year, we're gonna make our own tradition by opening a gift on Christmas Eve when it's just us. When it's quiet and the room is softly lit by the tree. When the tv is off and there's nothing but love in the room, that's where I'll have my moment. And I guess that's the moral of my story. If it won't be exactly like I want it to be, I'll find another way to have our moment. Damn, this is long, isn't it? LOL Sorry!

Lindsey - posted on 12/19/2011

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I know, it's so foreign to me. It's almost as if they have forgotten what it was like to be a young family, just starting out (relatively speaking, I'm 32 so I wouldn't consider myself all that young). They seem to forget that we're grown up now, and that we (in our case, myself, my husband and my son) ARE our family. Don't get me wrong I love to spend time with my family and friends during the holidays, but why does it HAVE to be Christmas Day?

Rebecca - posted on 12/19/2011

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We have two kids and my mum and dad live 2 1/2 hours away and my husbands family live some 4 1/2 hours away. Our tradition is going to my parents for Christmas as they have a very well ingrained, relaxing Christmas full of tradition and we love it. We used to, a very long time ago, go and visit his family but there was always sure to be dramas, they don't really have any traditions (it feels like you're down there on just a visit) and they don't all get together (which means we spend the day travelling from house to house). It's just not right and exhausting when we're supposed to spend the day relaxing. Especially now we have had kids. They just want to play. So we stay with my family and love it.
On the other hand, we both suspect that as the kids grow up it may become harder and harder to ship them down (pressies and all) and eventually we would love to create our own traditions. So we're not sure if it's forever either.
At the end of the day, Christmas should be relaxing and happy. If you feel you'd be happiest at home with your family then go ahead and do it. The only reason we're still going to my parents is because for now, it's easy and we know we'll have a great time.

Lindsey - posted on 12/19/2011

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I'm having a similar problem this year as well. Usually my hubby and I spend Christmas with his family (as my family is all over the place). But this year we've decided to start our own family Christmas, at home.

Some members of his family just don't understand this. They have repeatedly asked us if we're coming and we have repeatedly told them no. It's not as if we won't see them at all throughout the holidays, we've told them we'll come for a visit on Christmas Eve or Boxing Day, but we won't be going anywhere on Christmas Day. We've also extended an open invitation for them to come and visit us anytime (except of course for Christmas Day).

I guess the best advise I can give is to stick to your plans and not give in to any guilt trips. I know that, for us, if we decide to give in this year, it will just make things more difficult next year.

I just don't understand why it is such a big deal. Growing up, I honestly cannot remember spending Christmas with anyone other than my parents and my sisters. We never spent it at our Grandparents or at an Aunt or Uncles home, and we never had extended family at our home for Christmas either (and we all lived within a few hours of one another). We were close, and visited with each other throughout the year, just not on Christmas Day.

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I love my Sig Other's mom and dad, they are truly wonderful people. However, he has this "sister" who isn't actually related. She dated his brother 35 years ago prior to him committing suicide. After the suicide, my SO's family sort of took her in as their own. She's a smug, hypocritical, passive-aggressive, holier-than-thou BEE-OTCH.



In past years, his mom and dad, or we have hosted Christmas Eve. Last week I was informed that my pseudo SIL will be hosting. At first, I said, "absolutely not!!!" Even told my SO he can go by himself, I won't be at all upset to spend Christmas Eve alone with my son, not a big deal.



Then, this last weekend I sought guidance from his mom, I knew that my SO wouldn't go without me and I was starting to feel really guilty about keeping him from the rest of his family on account of her being a rude little you-know-what. She basically said that she doesn't blame me for not wanting to go (LOVE HER!!), but she did say that the whole family shouldn't be penalized for pseudo sister's crap-tastic behavior. She also said that a few hours a year isn't so bad to suck it up and take one for the team. :) She's right, I may not like it, but I chose this extended family when I chose him. There's always some bad that comes with the good and one day a year won't kill me. I have 364 other days to enjoy my family in peace and quiet.

Becky - posted on 12/18/2011

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My inlaws all live in Ontario and won't travel at Christmas, so we have yet to spend a Christmas with them. Which is okay with me, since it sounds like their Christmases are quite a bit different from what I'm used to - a lot of drinking, etc. We do always spend time with my family, who all (except my brother) live within about 15 minutes of us, although how that looks varies from year to year. We always get together at some point. This year, it's a little broken up. My sister and BIL are doing dinner with his family, so we're doing brunch with them and my parents on Christmas morning. My other sister's husband wants to spend the day with just their family and their church, so we probably won't see them Christmas Day. So I think we're all getting together on he 23rd. We're doing Christmas dinner here, and my parents are joining us. We all like to do Christmas morning in our own homes, and my parents generally alternate whose house they spend the morning at.
My family is pretty "normal" though and we all get along well. It can get a little stressful trying to sort out everyone's plans so we can all spend some time together, but we do have a good time together. If it was like you're describing, I wouldn't want to spend Christmas with them either!
Being with my family at Christmas is kind of a big deal for me, because for several years, my family lived in Africa while I was here and I was on my own (or with extended family) for Christmas. That was really hard, especially because it was when I was still young - just out of highschool. So now that we're all so close, it's pretty important to me.

Amanda - posted on 12/18/2011

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My family are all overseas too, so we spend xmas day with my in laws.
This year however my husband said he wanted to spend xmas at home. The in laws weren't best pleased but he told them that if they want xmas with us they are more than welcome to spend it at our house if not we will see them after.
As far as traditions go, xmas morning I skype my family so they can watch the kids open the presents from them.
In the past by 3pm in the afternoon and big fight would have broken out between the in laws and me and my father in law have escaped the tears and tantrums to the back garden for a drink in peace.

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