Thanksgiving Dilemma

ulrike1November 19, 2009

Well, I'm joining the ranks of Lamom and others with holiday challenges. This is the first year I will not have either of my biokids for Thanksgiving. My son is on a year abroad with his college, and my DD is going to join him for a week since she has that time off from her college. It is a really cool opportunity for her, and for both of them to spend that time together. My ex and I split the cost of her ticket.

The SDs alternate years, and this is our year. I'll miss my kids, but it will be a nice, calmer holiday with just the two girls. To be honest, sometimes the four kids are so active together that DH and I don't see as much of them as we would like, so we were looking forward to this.

However, BM called last night with a proposal. The girls had mentioned to her that DS and DD would not be here for Thanksgiving, and BM suggested to DH that we all come to their place instead. Her father will be in town, and he is in failing health, so it was definitely planned for the girls to spend a lot of time at her place while they were home. It would mean a lot to her to have the girls there.

We haven't decided what to do, but we need to soon! My thought is that SDs should probably go to BM's instead. But us go? I don't want to. Awkward. But I sense DH is sad that he won't be with SDs. I want to tell him to go if he wants to, but I really don't want to myself. But should he go?

For sure if SDs aren't here, I am going to bag the dinner here--I'd be happy to give the turkey to the food bank and have a quiet, relaxing day.

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Based on MY personal experiences, there is no way in H*LL I would have a Thanksgiving meal with BM. And I would DIVORCE my husband if he spent a holiday with her.

BUT your situation is definitely a friendlier one, although it does seem the boundaries are fuzzy and I know that makes you uncomfortable.

I don't think DH should go, really. YOU are his WIFE. His girls are in college, no? I mean, they had plans to be with YOU this year and if they are changing the plans, that doesn't mean your DH should change his. I think it would be wrong of him to bail on you on Thanksgiving. If anything, maybe you could save the turkey dinner and have it with the girls the weekend after turkey day.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2009 at 12:46PM
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It all depends on you and dh's comfort level with the situation.

For years before I met dh I would attend holidays at my ex's families homes. They would invite me and if I knew my ex was not bringing a gf I would attend. If he was bringing a gf I would drop our son off there and visit for a bit, but not stay long. Now that I am with dh I know he would be uncomfortable with me staying so I don't. And I know he would not be comfortable at all attending with me.

But if your dh wants to go and your comfortable with it then that is your choice.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2009 at 1:05PM
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My husband's ex wife lived in one of our rental properties and she asked us over for Christmas dinner one year and I refused. She asked why and I told her "I would probably say something wrong about your kids and there goes the holiday". She just laughed and said "you Won't say anything worse than what I say about them". I still did not go. I must say when we were thrown together because problems with the house we could and did discuss her children. She said she was disgusted with both of her daughters and their animals. I told her I stepped in dog sh** in one of their homes in the living room. I really enjoyed her company, you could hear her laughter all through the house.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2009 at 4:19PM
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I don't have DD for thanksgiving, she doesn't have a break and it is too far and too expensive to fly for just 3 days. I get along wiht X's family but see no reason to spend major holidays with them, I like his wife a lot and have been to their house for meals as well as my XMIL's hosue but not for major holidays. What for? Can't you join some aunts or cousins or some other family or friends for thanksgiving? Why going to ex's house? It is appropriate for DH to visit with her parents for an hour some other time if he is close to them but spending major holiday there? It is unnecessary.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2009 at 4:43PM
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I really enjoyed her company, you could hear her laughter all through the house.

Well how great is that? A wonderful thing to feel about someone, and what a lovely and succinct description.
You weren't best buds, but that sentence is a terrific little slice of life.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2009 at 7:53PM
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It all depends on how comfortable you are with DH being at a family gathering with BM. Last year we spent Thanksgiving at DS36, then 35, home for dinner. She invited a lot of her cousins on her mothers side, who I know, SS29, now 30, with his kids and her mother, BM. BM works in a hospital and often works on holidays but she had the day off last year.

It was an OK time albeit a little weird. I am closer to SD in age, older but not by much, and I joined her and her cousins talking about things like girlfriends while BM looked on. I had a couple of other places to go so I left and came back twice. Both times, BM was talking to DH and drifted away when I entered the room. BM talking to DH doesn't bother me, I am not threatened by her at all, and I guess she thought she was showing me respect. Really, the drifting off made me feel like something was going on if nowhere else but in her mind.

I didn't love being there but it was OK. In retrospect, for the sake of extended family harmony it was a good thing to do, not sureI would do it again with BM there. Go, Don't go. Let DH go if he wants and you load up on holiay movis in a quiet home just make sure he brings you a big plate of food!

    Bookmark   November 20, 2009 at 11:42AM
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Thanks for your thoughts, everyone. Here it is less than a week and I am still up in the air about this, and DH and I are kind of walking on tenterhooks...I feel so passive-aggressive about it because my inner child wants to say "No and HELL no," but I don't want to be the bad guy in this matter. How dysfunctional is that, ha! Especially notable because normally DH and I discuss everything thoroughly and immediately.

I really don't want to go. With all our effort to become a bit more autonomous as the girls are growing older, to me this continues the precedent of One Big Happy Family. But if DH will be sad to not be with his girls, how can I say no, don't go. I want to spend time with them too, but at our house. What to do.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2009 at 12:09PM
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I liked your description of spending time with BM. It is such a strange relationship, isn't it. I'm with you that there are things I really like and enjoy about BM. If she were a co-worker, I would probably dish over the water cooler with her. We wouldn't be close friends, because we are very different, but we connect on a superficial and fun level.

But, do I want her in my life so much, in her capacity as my DH's ex-wife (and sometimes, it seems, as someone who feels she is his other--and even "senior," in the polygamy sense--wife)?

It seems like a happy movie that we would all be together in harmony, happy smiling children faces around the holiday table. Yet I know my DH would be uncomfortable (BM's dad being there would complicate it even more; he is a minister and vocal about the sin of non-belief). And I would not enjoy it either.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2009 at 12:15PM
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Your description of BM scurrying away when you approach seems familiar! Sometimes our BM will make some little too-intimate comment to DH, and then kind of glance at me and smile and a few times she has said something like "Well, that was a long time ago" or the like, as if to say "Oh we need to cool it, your wife is here." DH (being a guy and all) can just brush it off, but I find it annoying, so we usually discuss it afterwards and do our cleansing ritual, ha.

It's eye-opening to think about it. Because I feel 100% not threatened by BM. Yet that little dynamic really annoys me! I wonder if I am feeling competitive? Our code-word for when BM does that is "Archie and Veronica and Betty."

    Bookmark   November 20, 2009 at 12:21PM
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"I really don't want to go." Ulrike, that says it all. And yes, there is an Archie, Betty and Veronica quality to the situation with me as Veronica and her as poor Betty. Well, in their minds at least.

Don't go, don't waste time and energy thinking about it anymore. Let him/them go, watch holiday movies or better still, get together with some friends you ordinarily don't see and see the big movies, swill martinis and have some no DH, no skids fun!! Make your Black Friday shopping list with the money you are saving by not cooking, cleaning, serving, etc. Trust me, you do something along those lines, you will have fun, let them know you had fun and they won't be so quick to trot off to anything BM is doing next year.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2009 at 1:52PM
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Weed, it is pretty amazing when you know all the facts. Short version here. She left him for another man, the man found out he couldn't divorce is wife and tear his family apart, so she tried to get my husband/her ex back after we had been married a few months. My husband left me for her, took her out one time and she knew right away that he loved me. She did us a big favor because he was carry the torch for her and when given the chance he wanted me.

He would never talk about his kids with me. I would say something good about them and he would just grunt. But I could talk to her about them....Life is strange, but wonderful.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2009 at 1:55PM
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ulrike, Could you work out something like let the SD's have dinner with their mom and when you pick them up have pie and coffee? Brief visit so it is easy to stay calm & pleasant. As they get older you will have more and more events that you will have to share. Graduations, weddings, grand children so trying to work out little now visits will help for later.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2009 at 4:34PM
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going to grown children's house for holidays and ex being there is fine. going to ex's house for thanksgiving is different. the fact that she invited might be just polite gesture on her part (feeling sorry there are just two of you, no other family, nowhere to go to?) but it seems strange DH actually wants to go.

at first i thought that your concerns are unreasonable (when you complain how much time Dh spends wiht ex and how they talk all the time) but now i think it is fishy. why, 14 years after divorce he would even consider thanksgiving with her? and if you don't go, he will still go?

in divorced family parents cannot have children all the time with them, at some events children will be with the other parent. kids won't be wiht both parents 100% of the time. it is called divorce. after 14 years he still cannot accept that?

and frankly if people want to share holidays, events, sit at the same table and act like a family why did they did divorced? i find it strange that DH is uncomfortable when she calls (or says he is) but then is comfortable to act like a family at thanksgiving table...

I honestly do not think it is appropriate or good for your marriage if he spends thanksgiving wiht ex at her house and you sit home, it is just bizzare. maybe you should go to your ex for thanksgiving? LOL i find it strange people think it is OK for him to do that. what kind of arrangement is that?

    Bookmark   November 20, 2009 at 6:37PM
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Wow, what a slap to the forehead! Duh! Of course you guys are right--there is no way I should go, nor should DH! On the other hand, we can arrange to pick up the girls and stop in for a while, say a quick hello to BM's dad.

You know, I was just worried about DH this whole time, mostly. OK, I am disappointed that the girls won't be with us (sad about my own DS & DD as well, but that can't be helped). But mostly I was feeling bad for him...but why? It's just habit that I enable him doing things with her. A habit that it is up to me to break. And it isn't for her that he would feel bad not to go--it is the girls. But it is the girls, really, who made the decision not to be at our house! Not to guilt trip them, because their reason is a good one...but we are not obliged to come to BMs.

Finedreams, what you said is a real eye-opener to me. Because I realize that I need to consider what my DH REALLY wants--and I know that what he wants is to NOT have his ex-wife treat him like a husband, and act as if the family is intact when, indeed, at the table would be sitting me and her DH. Yes, it is very nice that we all get along and that we have done so many events together over the years--and will surely continue to do so.

BUT, this would be an escalation. We have never done an event like a holiday together, unless you count two years' trick or treating when the SDs were still into dressing like Teletubbies, ha.

I think I will feel most confident telling DH what I think if I put it that way: that this would be a NEW level of "togetherness," just at the time when we are trying to establish a new level of "apartness."

Thank you all again so much. Wish me luck!

Oh, and...that 20-pound turkey is totally going to the food bank! For the first time in 20+ years, I am going to sit on my rear end and enjoy the holiday.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2009 at 8:22PM
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Sounds like you made up your mind Ulrike, just wanted to say I agree with FD 100%, it's well said. Maybe drop in to say hi to the granddad, but then both leave. Good decision.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2009 at 11:37PM
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