Family Matters
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holiday drama

It's Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend and I'm actually skipping out on my fiance's family dinner. I am sick of turkey after having at least 4 holiday meals a year for the past 3 years. Plus I'd rather spend the weekend working on our house!

So today my fiance and I were talking about Christmas and how we'd like to spend it this year.His family would always travel to another relative's house on Xmas day for dinner while mine stayed home, opened gifts and ate candy until dinner (we did that this year too!). I personally hate the idea of being out of my house on xmas day...i'd rather sleep in with my husband, open presents together, let our dog tear apart the wrapping paper, watch movies together and have a small meal. He is fine with that but my FILs are going to expect us to do the big family thing. My mom said she doesn;t expcet to see me on xmas but hopefully the day after.

anyone facing similar situations? how did you tell you FILs that you are skipping their dinner without coming across like the bad guy?

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Re: holiday drama

  • Well, since staying home is something you both want to do, I would be polite but direct.  I would thank them for the invitation but say that you both have plans on Christmas day.  Of course, they will ask what your plans are, but you just keep saying you have plans.  DO NOT GIVE DETAILS AND BE PURPOSELY VAGUE.  Trust me on this one.  The more details you give, the more they will try to minimize your holiday plans and argue with you. 

    Oh I also forgot to say is that they will be disappointed and possibly even angry.  That is ok.  You can't control their feelings and they are allowed to be disappointed about not seeing you guys on Christmas day.  Also realize that the world won't explode if they are upset with you as well.

  • what your ILs expect and what you do are 2 different things.

    if you dont want to do the family thing tell them. if they get upset-oh well, the earth will not cease to spin.

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  • Here's my thing.  I love my family's holiday traditions as much as DH loves his.  I am bored with DH's family traditions and he finds mine to be too frenetic. 

    SO our solution is to alternate the families (when we can) and to add some down time between them.  So now that we re back in the stats, it's going to be his, mine and the a Christmas at home.

     

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  • image Ilumine:

    Here's my thing.  I love my family's holiday traditions as much as DH loves his.  I am bored with DH's family traditions and he finds mine to be too frenetic.  

    Ha, DH and I are exactly the same. He's got a small family, I have a big one. Every year, we compromise so that we spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with his family, and Christmas Eve and Easter with my family. Everyone gets to see us, and everyone is happy. And if I have to deal with a few boring Thanksgivings, so be it...

    Having said that--OP, are you and your husband in agreement about how you want to spend Christmas? Is it important to your H that you spend at least one or two holidays with his parents? Either way, you guys have to decide together how you want to spend the holidays, and you have to agree on something that works for both of you.

    Once you've done that, you don't need to worry about what to tell DH's family. Simply say that you're celebrating  Christmas with your family, and be done with it. If they get mad, they get mad. They shouldn't expect to see you for every holiday.

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  • well our situation is helped out by my sis and BIL, since we are spread across the country (and i am the closest to my rents (for now) we switch off christmas...even year is my family, odd years are w/ his family & tradtions....

     

    thanksgiving is still being worked out, we def go to my dads for lunch then try to go to his moms parents for dinner (but idk if any of his cousins/bro will be there so idk if we do that)

     

    i wish you luck in figuring this out 

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  • image christinavy:

    my FILs are going to expect us to do the big family thing......

    how did you tell you FILs that you are skipping their dinner without coming across like the bad guy?

    The thing is, your fILS are ALLOWED to be disappointed (sad / hurt) that you don't come to their family dinner. 

    However, they are not allowed to EXPECT you to be at the family dinner.

    Doing what YOU want instead of what THEY want does not make you a "bad guy."  If you did what your fILS wanted instead of following your own wishes, you would still be the bad guy - - you'd just be the bad guy to yourself!!! 

    Just tell them "we have different plans for Christmas," or "we'll be celebrating just the two of us this year."  Don't let them change your plans.

     

    image "Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.
  • I agree with the ladies that if you want to have the holidays by yourselves, do it. People will get mad, but thats that....however; it sounds as if you plan on skipping EVERY holiday ever  since you said you are skipping thanksgiving and have no desire to spend christmas's with family. If I had loving family and in-laws..it would be more about not isolating myself from them than about 'eating turkey'.

    Over time if you never show up (or invite them over) for the holidays...there is likely to be resentment built up towards you, which would be a sad thing to lose your family over....I would try and suck it up for at least one holiday a year and alternate that holiday with the family and the in-laws for the sake not isolating yourselves or becoming the 'black sheep' in the family.

    I actually like thanksgiving (especially since its still over 2 months away from christmas here in Canada) because its really just a meal, theres none of the pressure to spend the ENTIRE day or weekend at someones house or do gifts etc that there is at christmas. Might be a holiday worth devoting to the family if you want to have christmas's alone.

  • image toothpastechica:

    I agree with the ladies that if you want to have the holidays by yourselves, do it. People will get mad, but thats that....however; it sounds as if you plan on skipping EVERY holiday ever  since you said you are skipping thanksgiving and have no desire to spend christmas's with family. If I had loving family and in-laws..it would be more about not isolating myself from them than about 'eating turkey'.

    Over time if you never show up (or invite them over) for the holidays...there is likely to be resentment built up towards you, which would be a sad thing to lose your family over....I would try and suck it up for at least one holiday a year and alternate that holiday with the family and the in-laws for the sake not isolating yourselves or becoming the 'black sheep' in the family.

    I actually like thanksgiving (especially since its still over 2 months away from christmas here in Canada) because its really just a meal, theres none of the pressure to spend the ENTIRE day or weekend at someones house or do gifts etc that there is at christmas. Might be a holiday worth devoting to the family if you want to have christmas's alone.

    Thank you. I was beginning to think I was the only one thinking, "really, you can't just suck it up a few times a year for the sake of family?" I mean, if there are real reasons, I get that, but beyond that, give mom and dad a day to have their kids back again.

  • Holidays are always going to be hard, and spending more time with one family than another can have the potential to cause hurt feelings.  Husband and I take each year and kind of play it by ear - its not always alternating, or one holiday with one family and one with the other.  We don't have a 'system', but we do acknowledge the importance of being with our families during holidays, and we know how much each others' families mean to us.

    Ultimately, as long as you and your husband agree on the plan, it should be fine.  Just make sure that you spend time (holiday or not) with both sets of parents.

  • Holiday season makes me glad H's family lives OOS. Not because I hate them because they are great and I love them. It means that we either spend it with my family here in WA state or we fly and see his family. Usually we just stay here and have it with my family because it's cheaper. Plus H's family aren't really into celebrating the holidays and mine is. No one argues with us about not getting to see us so it takes the pressure off.

     Figure out what works for you two and tell all the families what you'll be doing. Then follow through.

  • image christinavy:

    anyone facing similar situations? how did you tell you FILs that you are skipping their dinner without coming across like the bad guy?

     

    His family = his responsibility.

    Make your decision with your man, and let him tell his family however he thinks is best.

  • I'm sympathetic to you wanting to start your own traditions but in all fairness, I don't think it is going to make anyone happy with you and your FI if you completely stop going to all family functions which is sort of what your post made it sound like.  I can easily see how resentment would start to build up about how you're dropping them like a hot potato. 

    It really is a delicate balancing act creating your own holiday traditions together as a new family unit and blending those of your larger family as well without upsetting people.  I guess I'd encourage you to see if there is some way to see your extended family at least once during the holidays - even if it is just for a little while or you rotate years.  It seems like cutting everyone off completely could end up burning some big bridges.

  • image Wahoo:

    The thing is, your fILS are ALLOWED to be disappointed (sad / hurt) that you don't come to their family dinner. 

    However, they are not allowed to EXPECT you to be at the family dinner.

    Doing what YOU want instead of what THEY want does not make you a "bad guy."  If you did what your fILS wanted instead of following your own wishes, you would still be the bad guy - - you'd just be the bad guy to yourself!!! 

    Just tell them "we have different plans for Christmas," or "we'll be celebrating just the two of us this year."  Don't let them change your plans.

     

    My MIL is the queen of expecting you to be there for every single family thing....and certain holidays they celebrate twice, which we are expected to be there for, which is a mega-huge PIA. And when you try to tell her no, you won't be there, she does not take no for an answer. Or, she will rearrange plans to make sure you will be there.

    I just had to deal with this yesterday when she asked me, oops sorry, told me about thanksgiving. She informed me that BIL and his wife won't be around for Christmas, so instead, they are doing thanksgiving at her house. Why my BIL's plans have anything to do with ours, I have no idea. My birthday falls on or around thanksgiving, I also share the same birthday with my own mother, so we usually go to my parents for thanksgiving because of this. Thanksgiving is a big deal in my family and honestly, this is actually the ONLY holiday I see my family...mostly because they live 2.5 hours away. MIL knows this, and kept trying to get me to budge on our plans since my birthday falls on the Monday after this year. I told her no, we had plans, no, we won't be here, no, no, no. It was annoying to have to keep repeating the same answer of no to her....but whatevs....I'm tired of this woman and her ridiculous expectations.

     

     

  • image R.Wilsonny:
    image Wahoo:

    The thing is, your fILS are ALLOWED to be disappointed (sad / hurt) that you don't come to their family dinner. 

    However, they are not allowed to EXPECT you to be at the family dinner.

    Doing what YOU want instead of what THEY want does not make you a "bad guy."  If you did what your fILS wanted instead of following your own wishes, you would still be the bad guy - - you'd just be the bad guy to yourself!!! 

    Just tell them "we have different plans for Christmas," or "we'll be celebrating just the two of us this year."  Don't let them change your plans.

     

     Why my BIL's plans have anything to do with ours, I have no idea. 

    Because you are a family and your MIL would like to spend the holiday with both her sons. 

  • When DH and I got married, he was in the military so we were stationed 900 miles from home. I lived with him before we were married, and we would usually stay at his mothers' house when we visited home because she had a guest room. When we went home for Christmas, we stayed with her for the entire break, except for Christmas Eve night. DH wanted to stay at his mothers' house the first year (we weren't married yet), he said he always did before and he was used to being there Christmas morning. He expected me to stay with him. I said no, that I was just as used to being at my parents' house Christmas morning, and that we would either spend the night apart at our respective parents' homes, or do what I felt was more appropriate for us to start our own Christmas morning for just the two of us, and then we'll visit our families Christmas day as a couple. We went to his late grandmothers' house for the night after attending a family Christmas Eve party, 

    The following year when we were married, his grandmother's home had been sold so we moved the evening to a hotel room. I got a room with a kitchenette, arranged for my sister to be given access to the room while we were at a family Christmas Eve party, and surprised him when we returned from the party with a fridge stocked for breakfast, our stockings hanging on the tv (as there was no mantel LOL), a very small real Christmas tree with some lights, beads, and a few small ornaments, and Christmas music playing. We did the same the following year, and now that he's out of the military we've moved back and have our own home where we spend Christmas morning together before making the rounds.

    You and your fiance need to decide what you want to, and then inform the families that this is what you're doing. You can plan a short visit later, see them that week, whatever it is you want. It won't be any different when you're married - you two should make the decisions best for you as a couple. DH's mother didn't understand at first why we didn't stay that night, but we told her we made our decision and that was the end of it.

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  • If you want to be home on x-mas, stay home. people will be hurt but you and your fiance are your own family now. you have to start thinking about how you want to spend all of your future x-mas and holidays. if/when you have kids do you still want to be stuck doing holiday things you don't want to do just to make someone else happy? good luck and just make sure you BOTH are firm with your joint decision so there is no fighting between the two of ya'll.
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