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I’m tired of the stress of providing an idyllic Christmas.

conmamaconmama 4541 replies328 threads Senior Member
edited December 2019 in Parent Cafe
My family doesn’t get together anymore, all sorts of estrangements. I always had Xmas Eve at our house. The boys grew up with that until a few years back. They never saw their cousins much, and weren’t close, but enjoyed the hubbub at the home during the day and evening.

The first Xmas without the get together was pretty sad, although I tried to make it jolly. I told DH we have to do something, make new traditions. So, for the past 3 years I’ve had a party with our friends and their families, about 12 parents and 13 late teens/20’s. We’ve all known each other for years. It has been really fun, and something we all looked forward to.

This year, most of the families are traveling or have guests at their home, so it’s been cancelled as of yesterday. I know my son (the one from the Thanksgiving thread), had told his GF he wasn’t missing the party, as he loves it, and she told me. Younger son loves lots of activities. They are going to be SO bummed when they find out it’s just the 4 of us. DH has a long face, too.

It’s never been just the 4 of us. Here’s the thing...it’s fine with me. I told DH last night that we could go to a Winterlights show that is extremely popular and fairly new, then out to eat. He’s frustrated and was complaining about the cost (please), and where we would go to dinner.

Anyway, I’m just tired of feeling guilty that I’ve cut off half of their family, and that I need to make up for it with fun, fun, fun. DH is just as bad like he’s a kid wanting all the fun, too.

I can’t deliver this year. We actually would have probably got us all out of town for a few days, but his mother announced she’s coming.

Ok, just venting. Anybody else feel this way?
edited December 2019
236 replies
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Replies to: I’m tired of the stress of providing an idyllic Christmas.

  • chardonMNchardonMN 154 replies12 threads Junior Member
    Yes. With teens the magic is kind of gone. The gifts they want are too expensive, so I am predicting disappointment with that part. Our families all get together and it's fine, but it's hard for me to get excited. At least we are doing a tree this year. I like the idea of traveling and so not having to decorate for Christmas. Bah humbug, I guess. Maybe when our oldest is back from his first semester of college next year it will be more exciting?
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  • milgymfammilgymfam 1078 replies16 threads Senior Member
    We struggle on the opposite end. My teens and I prefer a nice quiet Christmas at home with just the four of us, but hubs and his family are always pulling and whining and guilt tripping us to visit. Visiting is expensive and we really can’t afford it, and it’s never very pleasant while we are there, but every year it’s the same arguments.
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  • ChaosParent23ChaosParent23 537 replies31 threads Member
    Try not to put too much pressure on yourself. We're a bit estranged as well. H doesn't get along w/ his family & we've moved around so much that mine just never makes the trip. So it's always just the 4 of us. It's really not a big deal to us.
    During T-giving I saw all these beautiful table displays splashed across my social medias... but I can't walk right now. So for us there was no big hoopla. You know what we did instead? We all gathered around the coffee table, stuffing ourselves while watching football! Sure, it made a bit of a mess but we were together.
    We're not big on events but it sounds like you and your family really enjoy it. My suggestion would be to have something all planned out and present it as a "this is what we're doing". If you ask them what they want you're more likely going to get a pouty "I dunno. What do you want" response.
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  • conmamaconmama 4541 replies328 threads Senior Member
    I really like the idea of starting to get away next year. Maybe DH and I can seriously talk about that. Can’t take MIL. She’s bringing her husband and wants to see her other 2 kids. It would be rude of us to leave.
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  • NhatrangNhatrang 482 replies1 threads Member
    edited December 2019
    Your family just needs an adjustment period, they will get over it. I completely understand the feeling of going from so many people to just a few. But you can make new tradition. Life happens, people moved on, we have no choice but adapting to the new normal.

    For thanksgiving we have a lot family friends coming over (around 20-30 every year), much like your Christmas get together. I dread the day when that will change, that my friends will become grandparents and they wanted their own tradition. Right now they are part of our tradition. I can’t even imagine thanksgiving without them. But I know that day will come.

    For Christmas, it’s all about just the 4 of us (hubby and 2 kids). We don’t want any friend or any family members to spend Christmas with us (Xmas Eve and Day). But I do have Christmas party a week before Christmas, we usually have 60-70 people coming.

    My extended family members who live many states away, they wanted to come spend Xmas with us this year and we told them to fly in on the 26th instead. My kids are very protective of their Christmas. We have Christmas eve dinner with lobster and crab legs, then open just a few presents as a tease. The next morning on Christmas day the kids open the rest of the presents. We play with the toys from the presents. In the afternoon we are going to see a movie. Same thing every year and no one is going to interfere with that.
    edited December 2019
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  • musicmommusicmom 2457 replies89 threads Senior Member
    We are right in the middle of this.
    We relocated locally last fall to a lovely TINY house for retirement.

    DS married this past summer, DD lives w roommates nearby.
    Small extended family that doesn't get together much.

    Our sons new in law family is exactly opposite. BIG gatherings, lots of activities/plans all year.
    I see that he seems to be embracing it all and it's so good to see him happy in his new life.

    Still, struggling to recreate new traditions in a limited size home that really cant accommodate more than us 4, maybe 6 at most.
    The christmas tree that we all still LOVE to put up and decorate takes up 1/2 the living room.

    DS and DIL had us to their house for day after Thanksgiving dinner.
    They'll go to IL house Christmas eve, our house christmas day.

    So our festivities have been downsized considerably.
    I love the idea of a few days away.
    Maybe next year.

    It would be lovely if it all could be more fluid and less orchestrated.
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  • ClassicMom98ClassicMom98 186 replies1 threads Junior Member
    An idyllic Christmas is different for everyone. Spending it around lots of people gathered in a house is the opposite of fun for me. It's torture even if I love the people. I feel like the walls are closing around me and I'm screaming to just get out.

    I'm so thankful that H put his foot down when the kids were born. We were always going to spending Christmas Eve night/Christmas morning at our house alone - just the 4 of us. We would travel later or before to get in those obligatory visits, but Xmas morning with the kids waking up and running downstairs to see what Santa brought - that was reserved for us on whatever schedule the kids happened to be on that morning. And I told mine long ago that as long as they lived in my house, Santa would be coming... and they had better leave him cookies!

    I always hated when H's sister would make her kids (much older than mine) wait to come downstairs until we & my in-laws were called and told to come over. That's just mean! And my sister's in-law's family was insistent that everyone be at grandma's house at 8am Xmas morning for breakfast. So, their kids would have to get up very early, race to tear through presents, only to have to set them down so they could be at grandma's table by 8am. Ugh. I guess to each their own. It's just not me and what I wanted for my family.

    I'm of the philosophy to take what traditions and parts of the holiday you love and do those. The parts you hate? Skip those, no regrets. I guess it is a problem when half the family disagrees with what's idyllic. Ideally, you could rotate year to year and everyone be respectful of others' preferences and not complain.

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  • Midwest67Midwest67 3250 replies13 threads Senior Member
    My sister loves hosting a bunch of friends & family at Xmas, but when people started making others plans and fewer were able to show on the 24th or 25th, she switched the date.

    Now she does her celebration the weekend before or weekend after, usually after, and gets a great turnout.

    I agree with others who said this is a transition period, and there can be adjustment pains.

    We will be having our usual “open house” on Xmas and mostly hosting H’s large extended family. People will roll in and have something to eat, at different times, some staying a long time, some for a short time.

    Still, it’s different now that the cousins are no longer wee, and have grown into teens & young adults.

    A friend of mine does the Open House thing on Xmas Eve as well, but it’s mostly neighbors, friends, and coworkers, instead of mostly family.

    She also gets a good turnout bc people can roll in when they can & stay as long as they are able.

    I’m sure you will figure out some new tradition! Maybe not in time for this year! That’s ok!

    You might have to deploy the “smile and nod” when your family gripes.
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  • kjs1992kjs1992 118 replies2 threads Junior Member
    I hear you. 2 years ago, our darling, wonderful cat ruined our tree. Ornaments everywhere, some broken, and she had her own obstacle course on the tree. I just don't want to deal with the stress of putting one up or having her eat a wire and turn out like the cat in "Christmas Vacation" (we were close 2 years ago!). So, I dug up that old ceramic tree that my mom made, circa 1970, and there you have it. I used to go all out with decorations and creating the magic, but now I'm kind of over it.

    Ever since the kids left, it's just not as much fun to decorate, etc. And, frankly, right now I just don't have the time between my own schedule, our youngest's college sports schedule, and everything else. It's certainly lost its lustre, for sure.

    That said, next year DH and I decided we're starting a tradition of going away on for a few days....preferably somewhere warm!!!

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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 6132 replies10 threads Senior Member
    I feel exhausted thinking about doing all the stuff without the outcome of creating magic and joy, so yes, @conmama , I get it.. With that said, our holiday traditions have been changing over the past few years as our numbers dwindled and we are really loving them. Sure, we miss the hubbub, but we loved having another family, diminished like ours, over for a Christmas Eve meal. Rather than slaving in the kitchen on Christmas day, we slept in, opened presents, and went out for a hike. And having been happy with our modifications, we are now even open to - God forbid - traveling for the holiday. I also love the idea of volunteering on Christmas (although we have not done this).

    I feel like it's easier to cherish the Christmas Past when we're not doing a hollow reenactment for Christmas Present. Some traditions are better than others for creating meaning. Mostly, I value that we are together.
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  • abasketabasket 19936 replies883 threads Senior Member
    These comments and specifically the comments towards the house being more quiet should remind us to be cognizant of those older than us for whom the holidays are even more quiet/lonely/reminiscent of past memories.

    Think of family members or neighbors for whom the holidays is even more a reminder of how small their world has become.

    (not trying to be a downer! But content like this makes me be aware of my mom for instance who is alone day after day and not just the holidays )

    So decide what you want - roll with the punches or make the move to tailor the holiday in a better way for your household (not the people who visit it!).
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  • psychmommapsychmomma 3131 replies47 threads Senior Member
    We have multiple elder issues, kids far flung with varying vacation schedules, a major (depressing) change in one family, and my own getting older and less interested in doing all the work that are contributing to my scrooginess this year.

    There is already one change the kids don’t like- I’m not putting up our large hall tree- the “centerpiece” of our decorations for the past 17 years. H “inherited” a table that is large and taking up that space. He is attached to it (argh). I don’t have the energy to argue about that now. We have two other trees so there is plenty of festive decor.

    I’m expecting this to be a subdued holiday, and yes, I’m very tired of hosting our whole family for Thanksgiving and Christmas for 20+ years. And being ft caregiver for my mom in my home 24/7, for almost three years. On the other hand, I’m really not sure what I would want to do if it was entirely up to me. ? Maybe a trip with the kids would be fun!

    Ok, so upside- I’m thrilled all three kids will be here with us. We will enjoy being together as it only happens once a year these days.
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