Holidays when you don't live near your family

plumbly22December 20, 2008

We have this 'issue' every year, although to be fair this is the first year that it is only with my family, as my MIL passed during the last year...

We live 8 hours by car from my 'family' home and another 8 hours from there from his 'family' home. We are the only ones in either families with younger children (until the nieces and nephews started having children with in the past 2 years).

Every year it's the same thing... why can't we pack up our kids and all their assorted stuff and presents (santa included) and spend Christmas with the family? (take your pick in the past, both sides did it) This year my mother is being especially bad about it as she was recently hospitalized with a minor heart/lung problem (which btw she IS not doing what the dr's have told her to do to change her lifestyle)... this year she's tacking on 'this will probably be my last Christmas'.

Every year we go through the same thing, mom... Santa needs to come to our house... and some years we have packed up a day or two later to go vist one or both families... but this year DH and son are taking a trip together for 10 days starting on the 28th and the 16 YO daughter has to work on the 27th and 31st... so technically we could drive there for 8 hours on the 28th and then return for an 8 hour drive on the 30th so she could be at work... but really we'd be there for all of a day plus... is it worth it??? And no, she can't get off work, tried already... she works at a resturant and those are very busy nights... and jobs for 16 YO's that are typically only on weekends and not interfering with school are not easy to find...

So... my brother calls today to say.. .hey are you coming here after Christmas??? mom said I needed to be ready for you and the girls to stay with me for a couple of nights... wtf??? I told her no... so I that's wishful thinking on her part... no we are not coming... I've told her that... he and I talk a fair amount and he says well that's what I thought and when she said it to me I thought gee I was just talking to her this morning and she didn't say her plans changed, but I didn't want to get into it with her so I figured I'd callyou...

I guess this means now she's decided she'll indirectly pressure me by telling my siblings I am coming and then I look like I'm backing out... she's making me crazy!!

So... I asked her how would she like to come here, I'll bet her a plane tiecket and all she needs to do is get to and from the airport at her end, I'll pick her up her and drive her back... OMG NO... she NEEDS to be home for Christmas... well gee mom, so do my children... including the youngest, who is on what is most likely her last year of Santa... we are staying here and not coming up at all due to schedules... get over it...

Now I am once again the bad daughter... I can't win on this.. it is so much easier for one older person to transport themself to my family than it is for me to disrupt my life and that of my children at the holiday... and for some reason I can not fathom my mother just can not understand this...

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yes, it must be a great relief that one side of the family has been eliminated from the hassle.
When did it become such a disruption to share your family with your parents during the holidays...? how sad that all I see in your post are words like 'disrupt', get over it, guilt.
I'm one of those mom's that every year are told "we'll need to rush off as soon as we eat so and so has hockey practice,and we'll be a bit late as so and so must drop off a gift to her friend. So it looks like we'll be there around noon but will have to leave by 3.....okay.......I'll make the adjustments with the dinner for 14 that I'll be cooking. Your brother is coming but as you know his dear wife can't sleep away from home with out the two little dogs so we'll adjust. I'm saving newspapers so I hope this time they use them.
And your other sister never worries that her life will be disrupted. she brings it along. wonder who and how many it will this year and where will I put them up when we determine who's sleeping with whom...
Oh and yes, an offer of a flight to be your guest would be okay. Except I'm mostly ignored while I'm there. You all are scurrying out the door to you various events. Sil and dgs will be gone, granddaughter off at work, I just won't fit in. so it's much more comfortable for this one "older" person to remain at home.
maybe next year for surely one the following years you holidays will become hassle free and you'll be able to enjoy yours without the guilt. Until then follow your own advice and just get over it....I'm sure you're Mom will long before you think she has...

    Bookmark   December 21, 2008 at 4:34AM
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Stay home and enjoy the holiday with your family. If your Mom wants to see you all at Christmas, invite her to your home.
No one can make you do something you don't want to do, unless you allow it.
I wouldn't want to shlep around with children, either.
Mommie Dearest will just have to deal with it.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2008 at 8:50AM
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It's vitally important that young families establish their OWN traditions for their children. If the extended family can be included, fine, but never feel guilty because you put your children first.

In our case, we live near both sets of grandparents (no more than 3 miles from either bunch)--so we were expected to visit BOTH families on Christmas Eve, and then have TWO Christmas dinners to keep everyone happy (my family ate early, his ate late, unfortunately). Well, we did all that running around the first few years we were married, but when DD came along, I put my foot down and insisted that Christmas Eve was ours--we wouldn't be visiting anyone that day/evening--but we'd make the rounds on Christmas. There was some annoyed disappointment over that decision, but I felt we needed to have some time just for us. And we did invite anyone who wanted to come to our house for breakfast on Christmas.

Obviously, in your case, a compromise for Christmas day simply isn't possible, due to the distance. Maybe in the future, you could do what a lot of families I know are doing? They have their big family get-together the weekend before or after Christmas, so that everyone can have a nice quiet Christmas with their family.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2008 at 9:19AM
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My parents and brother's family are in FL, aunts/cousins in Ohio (where DH and I both grew up). DH's family is in Ohio, and his parents spend winters in FL (coincidentally 30 mins from where my parents live). We've been in the middle for 8 years, 8 hours south to the FL family, 9 hours north to the Ohio family. In that time, we've spent 2 Thanksgivings in Ohio (both by special request, other distand family was there), all the rest and every Christmas in our own home with just our kids.

DH's parents don't really want a big holiday at their house. They are now in FL for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. They did not want or have a houseful of kids, and do not enjoy it. The chaos of our 4 kids disrupts the peace and quiet they are accustomed to. I know MIL has no interest in preparing a big meal, and I think they really enjoy the adult dinners they have with friends in their retirement community. So there is no guilt there whatsever. They love to see us, but not the extra work of a holiday with us.

My family has big celebrations for every occassion. There are big gatherings in both Florida and Ohio for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I know we are welcome to either one anytime. But they don't make an issue of us doing our own thing. We share with phone calls, pictures and video.

I do take the kids to Florida every winter, either over this holiday break of in February when the schools here give a week break. That way we can see both sets of grandparents in one trip. My parents come here every September, when there is another week break from school. We spend every July 4th in Ohio, when my parents are also in Ohio. We stay long enough to spend a few days with everyone in Ohio.

We would welcome any of them to spend a holiday with us, but in 8 years they never have. So I don't feel any pressure to time-share holidays. The idea of "going home" for holidays means different things to different people. Going to my childhood "home" does not feel like home anymore. My home is here now, with my DH and our kids, and that is where I want to spend holidays. Luckily, my family respects that. We make our time together about good, quality time and fun memories, not a date on the calendar.

I think it just comes down to respecting other's feelings, even when you don't bow to their wishes. Families can find ways to make compromises, plan visits off-season, or a visit sometime during the holiday season but not on December 25th.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2008 at 6:11PM
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My mom is real good at guilt tripping me into things I'd rather not do too.
My husband and I did all the same running here and there to please everyone for YEARS.Last year we decided,NO MORE.We stay put so we can enjoy the very few days hubby actually gets off from work.
My mom is also the type who will never leave her comfort zone and ALWAYS expects me to go to her.

She actually had the NERVE,to call and ask my daughter what she wanted for Christmas,then tell her she couldnt get it unless I drove her up there to see her!!!
Nothing like blackmailing your kid with a present to make you want to get together.I told my daughter not to plan on getting anything from her because we were staying home.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2008 at 6:20AM
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