Are You Pressured by Extended Family During the Holidays?

Updated on November 29, 2007
S.P. asks from Grand Rapids, MI
9 answers

I was wondering if anyone else feels pressured by extended family during the holidays. If so, in what way? How do you handle it?

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answers from Chicago on

Hi S.,
I know how you feel. We get together with my husband's family all the time. My parents live out of state so its harder. We are going to see my parents the weekend before Christmas though. A few thanksgivings I talked my husband into just going out to eat with our own kids and I LOVED IT!

While my kids are a bit older now, right after the september 11th disaster, I wrote a letter to each of my husband's siblings and said we were not going to participate in a kid grab bag anymore.. and instead we were going to donate gifts to a needy family. I explained this to our kids and I didn't care if his siblings understood or followed suit or whatever. A couple of his siblings still gave gifts.And it wasn't a big deal.. I didn't care. I wasn't going to go nuts and put a bunch of stuff on credit cards anymore. And they aren't the warm and fuzzy type to want to make gifts for each other which I would love to do but I know they wouldn't.

Everyone's kids have more than enough in his family and I wanted to change the focus in our family to giving to others. We did start giving an inexpensive gift to each one of the couples. That seemed to catch on. Christmas shouldn't have to be all about the presents. Its just way too commercial.
just wanted to share.. curious what your stressors are with the extended family?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Broad question...
in terms of who we spend holidays with, one side was never even happy when we spent all 4 major holidays with her family (she's the queen of guilt trips), so a few years ago, I split the four holidays between the families 2 & 2...Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, Christmas Eve and Easter. When asked now, I politely and firmly remind that I split it evenly and this is how it is. That's how it works out that the families are all together anyway which is convenient. Also convenient is the limited number of "sides" of the family because of not having divorces making for more sides of the family and also the close proximity helps with nobody traveling more than 90 minutes for the holidays.
In terms of amount spent on gifts, one side used to spend $300 a person without question. I was SHOCKED by it when we first married and thought it to be absolutely ridiculous and materialistic but felt I had to go along with it...I didn't want to spend that much on somebody chancing that they wouldn't even LOVE it! It's lessened each year and now I have put out the idea of name exchanges or gift cards to buy what we like and then show what we bought at Christmas so we still see what each other are interested in, but don't end up with more "clutter" of stuff. Surprisingly, they've liked the ideas. :) So things like that...a gradual shift and throwing ideas around has helped.
Don't know if that's what you are looking for, but for what it's worth...



answers from Chicago on

Yes. My extended family always does. I actually got in a big email fight with my Mom this year over this. My family lives 5 hours south, His family his parents are divorced and they live about 5-6 hours southeast of us, but about an hour away from each other. We have found that everyone wants to see us at Christmas time, so we make a point to visit everyone during the Christmas season, but last year we decided to keep Christmas Day to ourselves, just our little family. It is hard to start traditions and create warm memories for your kids when you are constantly driving somewhere. We alternate Thanksgiving, one year it is spent with the inlaws, and the next with my family. Then this year we decided we would go the day after Christmas to spend time with my family, and then we will see the inlaws on the weekend when my hubby's extended family gets together so we are not making two trips out there. My Mom was angry that we weren't spending Thanksgiving or Christmas there and called me out in an email to the whole family. I don't understand why people who have grown kids of their own don't understand why you might want to have a quiet Christmas at home. I had to remind her that last Thanksgiving was spent at her house and that we were planning on visiting for several days after Christmas and if that just wasn't the same since it wasn't ON Christmas then we didn't have to come at all if she didn't want us too. She has to work on Christmas anyway so I just think it's ridiculous. It is esp hard when you are the only one in both families who have children and the grandparents all live far away, they are constantly pulling you in every direction.

I just stood up to my Mom basically and said, well, if you don't like it, tough, cause that is what we are doing. She pouted for a while and we didn't talk for about a week, but she got over it. I still don't get why she doesn't understand, but I'm just letting it go.



answers from South Bend on

My mother is the most selfish person when it comes to the holidays even to her sister!! She said to my aunt one year that she didn't understand why she had to celebrate the holidays with them. My aunt looked at my mom and said because they are my family too. I have gotten to the point where I finally told her we can no longer split the day we will have to come to your house one year and my inlaws the next. And to top it off sometimes we split the holidays three ways with his sister too. We were literally eating three holiday meals in one day!!! You are not alone in this.



answers from Chicago on


We used to have to split Eve with my side and my husbands side and then on X-mas day we did nothing! Both of our families always celebrated on the eve- But now my husband and I suggested that we would host Day at our house with his family and we go to my mom's on eve! I love it and it is a whole lot less stressful! Good luck!



answers from Fort Wayne on

The holidays can be hard to split between everyone that wants a piece of to speak. I think it's a wonderful time to be thankful that you have such a loving family. Driving between places can be rough for you and your family, but isn't it great that so many people want to see and celebrate wtih you? We're lucky enough to have a pretty understanding family. We spend Christmas Eve day wtih my mom, Christmas day with my in laws and my dad's side of the family does their gathering the week after Christmas. Would something like that work for you? We always do a gift exchange for the kids ($10 limit and participation is voluntary) and an adult while elephant exchange. If you're a woman, you buy a genenric $10 gift suited for a female. It's nice to have something to open, but it's not expensive. Maybe you could do something like that. Happy Holidays.



answers from Chicago on


I used to be...but we took care of it. I figure there are 4 Holidays...Easter, T-giving, Xmas Eve and Xmas. My mom has "given up" 3 of them and expects to spend Xmas Eve with us 4 kids and our spouses and kids (I'm the only one with kids as of now).

The first year my son was 6 months old and we tried to split Xmas Eve with my MIL and my mom. No way. By the time we got to my mom's house, it was after 9pm and our son was asleep. So, I told my DH that we wouldn't do that again. We see my MIL's side on Easter and TGiving and my FIL's side (still married) on Xmas Day. My mom expects her "kids" to come over on the Saturday after TGiving and the Sat before Easter.

My Dad is out of state and we don't have a relationship really with him, so it's not an issue.

You know what sucks is that we give MIL 3 of the 4 days and she still scoffs that we won't be with her on Xmas Eve. Whatever, you can't please everyone. This year, since we have a (will be) 4 month old, we are hosting Xmas Eve for my side. It's a small, but fun gathering and this way our boys can be in bed and up in the AM for Santa.

Good luck. I'm interested to read others posts.




answers from Chicago on

I feel like my family is being pulled in so many different directions during the holidays. My daughter is 6 and she is obviously open minded (more presents), but sometimes my husband just wants to tell everybody we are staying home. My side of the family is just my parents and sister and her family. My in-laws are another story. There's my in-laws, then separately my MIL's side of the family and my FIL's side of the family. We usually do the Eve with my family and drive out to see the in-laws for part of the day too because they want to open presents then - they aren't very flexible and for some reason won't exchange gifts in front of my MIL's own family. Christmas day we usually see my MIL's family and then go to see my family too. Then the weekend after the holiday we go to the FIL's family celebration. That's 5 celebrations!! This year we are having the MIL's family early on the weekend before Christmas, but only the date has changed. I am also worried that now my in-laws will expect more time from us on the Eve and Christmas Day adding even more get-togethers. While I usually am lucky to be an attendee and not a host, it's still exhausting. I will likely host one of the holidays this year. I just can't help remembering Christmases when I was growing up when we had a quiet Eve at home, falling asleep in front of the warm fire and then all the usual on Christmas morning and dinner at home. Apparently this will not ever happen in my home for my daughter. Of course we enjoy seeing both of our families, but it is rough. Happy Holidays! Sort of...



answers from Evansville on

Having large extended families can be very stressful. My parents are still together, but my DH's parents are divorced and remarried. Plus, my moms side also has a get together every year for her 8 siblings. It used to be get up at 6am open gifts, run to my moms and open gifts, go to my moms family get together, then go to my FIL's. Then try to squeeze my MIL in at 9 o'clock at night. Finally, my moms siblings got together and decided to do X-mas the saturday before. That way every one could be there without missing out on their own extended family. My MIL said she would rather see us for several hours on a different day then 15 minutes on Christmas day. So now we go out to my moms Christmas morning after the kids open gifts. Spend the day there and go to my FIL's in the evening and have dinner. It is sooo much nicer taking our time. It still makes for a busy week, but at least now I can take time to breath.
I am not sure how you are being pressured, but you have to do what is right for you and your family. My FIL and MIL both wanted us to stay at our house and just have grandparents come to us. That meant my parents would miss out on time with my sisters and their families. My inlaws have no other children so for them it was no big deal. I stuck to my guns and they have excepted it. Besides, I think it helped that I told them from the time my husband and I were dating, that my mom said her children WILL come home for the holidays. I know she sounds controling, but we believe in traditions and we don't want to break ours. We will adapt, but only to a point:) Maybe you could start your own tradition. Good Luck.

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