L.M. asks from Somerville, MA on October 08, 2008
I need to know if I’m off base here. My husband wants to spend Christmas with his family this year. We spent the first Christmas we were married with his family and the last 2 with mine. Now his family is not religious but it’s more than just that. They denounce God and religion and openly say this all the time. I know other people who aren’t really religious celebrate Christmas but I’ve never heard them denounce God and religion the way my husband’s family does. Add to this the year we were with his family I didn’t enjoy the day – some because it wasn’t how my family celebrates but also because during the opening of the presents I was frazzled. Everyone was opening gifts at the same time so we never saw his niece and nephew open the gifts we gave them but also his brother-in-law was yelling “give me the paper” and others were asking “who gave me this present” and it was all at the same time. I was totally overwhelmed by the end of it. Another reason I don’t want to go to his sister’s house (that is always where Christmas and all holidays are held) is they have a new dog. Now that sounds innocent enough but they treat this thing like it’s a human being or better. What the dog wants comes before what my daughter needs in their eyes. Sorry but that’s ridiculous to me. It’s a dog! They also haven’t respected my wishes when I have said please don’t bring the dog to my house. They did and when I had asked for the dog to stay in the car it ended up in our backyard. Now my daughter will be just shy of 11 months at Christmas. I would really like her Christmas to be quiet and centered around her. This will never happen at my husband family. But more so then just this year I want to say to my husband that I will alternate Thanksgiving and Easter with his family but always have Christmas with my family. Is this too much to ask? I know Easter is bigger in the church then Christmas but my family doesn’t get together (not my brothers because they live far away) for Easter but they do come to my parent’s house for Christmas. Another reason why I would like to see my family every Christmas. Now there is a lot more to the way his family treats me rudely and says nasty or rude things to me that I haven’t put in this email. And my family lives too far from his to do the one day her, one day there kind of thing. But honestly am I off base here? I need to know what others think and have done with their families.
C.M. answers from Boston on October 09, 2008
L. this is a tuff one. My daughter is 2 so this will be her 3 christmas. We do Christmas Eve with his family then Christmas day with my fam. This has worked out for us. We also have all the gift's under the tree, then one person plays puts the santa hat on and plays Santa. that person give out one gift at a time and this makes it so much fun. Hope this helps good luck. Keep me up dated on how it goes.
I am 36 and a sahm of a loving 2 yr old girl
M.M. answers from Boston on October 08, 2008
It stinks, but I think you are going to have to bend. Imagine if your husband suggested that you never spend another Christmas with your family. Sharing holidays and allowing the other spouse to enjoy a style of holiday celebrating (while you sacrifice celebrating it as you like for that year) is, I think, one of the hardest parts of a marriage. It is necessary though. Perhaps your families live close enough that you can spend time with each in the same holiday season so you don't miss your siblings every other year, perhaps not. If not, perhaps you can find another way/time to see them through the year. Again, I know it stinks, but marriage is a partnership and partnership is sometimes about compromise. In the end, you are choosing your spouse over your family which is so hard, especially so at Christmas, but necessary for a good marriage. At least that is what I think and why I rotate Christmas one year with my husbands family, next with mine - even though Christmas is one of the only times my family gathers from all of their distant places across the US and my family's Christmas is (IMHO) the best celebration ever.
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J.Z. answers from Boston on October 09, 2008
It is never easy trying to juggle two different families with completely different traditions. Think about how you feel about your parents and family and your traditions. I'm sure you wouldn't have it any other way. Now, think about how your husband feels. Don't you think that he feels the same way about his family and his traditions? So why would it be fair to completely abandon his family for Christmas? As far as their comments about religion...not acceptable and either you or hubby need to address that. But as far as everything else, please don't be offended, but you are really sounding pretty selfish. We have all for the most part had our "rocky moments" with our in-laws, but I have learned that if you keep a negative attitude about it it can sometimes make it much worse than it really is. Honestly, who wouldn't rather continue their childhood traditions with their own family?? Realistically, that's not what marriage is about. It took my husband and I a few years to come up with our plan. We go to my husbands parents on Christmas day, Easter dinner and dessert for Thanksgiving. We go to my parents Christmas night, Thanksgiving dinner and Easter dessert. This way there is never a hoiday where anyone feels left out. How would you feel if your husband didn't like your family and expected you to ditch them for Christmas? I'm sure you would not stand for it and neither should he. I'm sorry if I am coming across as harsh, but just try to be fair because you love your husband not because you love his family.
You are both going to have to compromise, and if this involves a few uncomfortable conversations with the in-laws about your feelings,so be it. Bottom line, they are not going away so you may as well try to see the good in them. Good luck!
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C.B. answers from Boston on October 09, 2008
I would ABSOLUTELY NOT go to their house for Christmas AT ALL!!!! If your hubby wants to see them for the holidays, then set up a day either a week or so before OR after christmas, and do a gift exchange then.
And how HORRIBLE to denounce the Lord!!!! It made me sick to my stomache when I read that part. A Christian has no right to be around people like that - family or not. They should AT LEAST have the common curtousy to keep their mouths shut when you're there!!!! How AWFUL!!!!!!
Forget about the dog thing - I know it's pathetic - but that'll just make you look like you're finding every little reason not to go there to your husband (unless he feels the same way). I'd stick to the whole - denouncing God, chaotic, & not feeling like Christmas - when it comes to why you don't want to go.
In my home, we visit with my husband's side a few days either before or after Christmas. We visit with my side the weekend before Christmas. That way, on Christmas day, we can Praise the Lord, have Prayer, open gifts at our own leisure, & relax & enjoy the wonderful day. No running around or anything. We get that out of the way before hand. Because let's face it - once Christmas is over - it's over.
Atleast the time leading up to it is still 'exciting' & the holiday spirit is there, leading up to the 'big event'. So that's why we decided to do our 'family parties/gatherings' before hand while the holiday spirit is there.
Sometimes you have to remind yourself that what's important is you & your family. That means YOU, YOUR HUBBY, and YOUR CHILD(ren). When you married each other, it meant that you became your OWN family. You make the decisions together. YOUR side of the family & his side of the family are now "extended' family - since you now have your own. Do what's best for you & yours and don't worry about the extended ones. I'm sure if they're atleast 1/2 decent - they'll understand and won't mind the pre-christmas get together either.
I truly hope this helped you out atleast a little bit. And good luck! Oh & no - you are NOT off base with this situation AT ALL!!!!!
B.R. answers from Springfield on October 09, 2008
Sorry to hear about your in-laws. I know that the holidays can be a stressful time. When my first son was little we were still traveling to my in-laws for Christmas. I finally put a stop to that when he was around 2. It was too much hassle to travel with a young one and I wanted to have Christmas day just for us. Now we have 3 kids and we still spend Christmas day as a family. We hang out in our pjs, take our time opening presents and have a real simple favorite meal instead of the full blown "holiday dinner" that they never eat anyway. My Mom lives nearby and comes up in the afternoon to give the kids their gifts. Then we spend the weekend before or after with my in-laws. Sometimes we host, sometimes it's at their house or my brother-in-laws house. We have someone play Santa so it's not a free for all. Even at home we have the kids take their time so we can see their reaction. So my suggestion is to start your own family tradition of having at least Christmas morning for just your family.
Here's an unrelated Christmas hint. With 3 kids it is very time consuming to wrap and tag everything. A few years back I started buying 3 very different jumbo rolls of wrapping paper that I hide away. This became the "Santa" wrap. I wrap each child's gifts from Santa in one of those papers. For example Child A gets only wrap A. I don't wrap their "big" gift from Santa but put a tag made out of their wrapping paper on it with a note saying all the gifts in this wrapping paper are to you from Santa. That way each child knows exactly which gifts are theirs even if they can't read. We have other wrapping paper that we use for relatives or gifts from Dad and I. It also helps me keep track of how many gifts each kid has so it's "fair".
Good luck with however you decide to spend your holiday. Enjoy that time you can with you daughter.
N.R. answers from Boston on October 08, 2008
I could go either way with the present thing. My family was always one to just rip into everything and my husband's family opens one at a time. They both have their pros and cons. It takes a REALLY long time when everyone goes individually. If you don't really want to be there in the first place, you don't want to stretch anything out. Can you suggest doing Christmas eve with his family and Christmas Day with yours? Christmas eve would be short and sweet.
J.R. answers from Boston on October 09, 2008
Why not just stay at your own home for Christmas? That way you're in control of the situation and can just tell both of your families that they'll need to come to you.
H.D. answers from Boston on October 09, 2008
Just to add a little more to what Nicole has said.. it does indeed take a very long time if you open one at a time, but something families have done that I have spent time with is have the children go first, then they can use/play with one of the items they have received while the adults are opening theirs.
It is a stressful situation for you to feel that you have to choose, regardless, but since there is compromise needed in a marriage, it seems that this is the way it will need to be. I agree that maybe your husband could speak up and mention how uncomfortable it is when the denouncing is done, especially in front of your child. Though this should not be mentioned only at Christmas, but beforehand as well.
Good luck & God Bless
V.L. answers from New London on October 09, 2008
I don't mean to sound insensitive,but after reading your letter my first thought is "what does your great husband say or do about this"?
Although your daughter is young,ask yourself.If she was in a relationship with that situation what would you advise her to do.
Remember she will think,whatever you do is acceptable behavior and tolerance.
She will pick up your emotions and vibe in that house so keep that in mind.
Best of Luck in your decision making,but it sounds like you and your husband have some things to figure out together or apart.Figure out what your dealbreakers are.