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Am I being unreasonable to want to do something special for Christmas?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Christmas is always at my house - neither my mom nor my sister has a very big place, and neither one of them is really prepared to have a big family gathering. So fine, it's at my house, and that's okay with me because I enjoy not having to pack the kids up and get them in the car.

But every year I am left having to prepare dinner for Christmas Eve, breakfast for Christmas morning, lunch/snack during Christmas Day, and Christmas dinner (which is informal in our house). I think it is nice to do something special for these meals, but am getting a bit frustrated about the lack of help I get.

Dh basically seems to think that if I want help, I don't get to dictate that it be anything out of the ordinary. For instance, I was telling him how stressed out I am about all the meals - I have been sick for 3 weeks and haven't gotten to the grocery shopping yet. He says he'll make breakfast, fried eggs or something. That's great, but I thought it would be nice to do something a little nicer. I put an email out to my mom and sister about the three meals, asking for help, and my sister says she'll bring salad and apple cider. Wow, thanks, don't put yourself out or anything. First of all, she's the only one who drinks the apple cider (and she knows this), and green salad isn't really going to take a whole lot off of my plate.

Dh is pissed at me because he thinks that if someone else offers to help, then I should accept whatever it is they are going to help with and not expect anything else, that wanting to do something special is my problem, not theirs.

I think that it is reasonable to expect a little more effort to make special food on the holidays. He then says it's my own fault for being stressed out.

I'm pissed that I'm sick, I'm pissed at dh, and I'm pissed that I seem to be the only one interested in making the holidays special.
post #2 of 20
I think asking for something more is fair but give leeway don't make it sound like dictating, maybe in the context of "oh I love the ___ you make, would you have a chance to do that?" or work out the menu with them and ask they cover an appetizer, a vegetable, and a dessert, of their choice and ask what they'd like to do. Example, for breakfast I'd request my husband's omelets if he were cooking, he does them very well and is proud of them. For the dinner it's my aunt's crab dip and pumpkin pie that she does so well and her kids love.

If you've been sick and have kids and all that they should totally be willing to help out a LOT, just let the need be known. Sometimes with my family a relative of ours hosts and we bring all the food to her house.
post #3 of 20


you should get help.

but keep in mind, if you ask for non-specific help, that's also what you get.
make a list of specific things you'd like to have done, and ask people to do them, in a gentle way. jamiecatheryn's idea was a good one.

and tbh, if you've been sick for 3 weeks, and your dh offers to make fried eggs for breakfast, I'd be happy about it.
IMO, getting the family together in the spirit of xmas is way more important than having fancy food.
post #4 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by oceanbaby View Post
I put an email out to my mom and sister about the three meals, asking for help, and my sister says she'll bring salad and apple cider. Wow, thanks, don't put yourself out or anything. First of all, she's the only one who drinks the apple cider (and she knows this), and green salad isn't really going to take a whole lot off of my plate.
I like the suggestions already given, but could you at this point e-mail back and let them know that the green salad is great, and say that you will make a specific side dish or dessert and ask your mom to bring something to go with those? I think you should let them know before Christmas that you are not planning on doing all of your usual cooking because you've been sick, and then run over the menu options, stating what you will be able to make. And ask your husband to pick up a big pizza or frozen lasagna as a back up.

I remember my sister was feeling stressed one year with Thanksgiving preparations, and I called around and tried to arrange with other people to make or bring something so she didn't have to do all the cooking. I lived cross country so I wasn't attending, but my friend was going to eat dinner at her house, and I figured he could help out more. So he said he was bringing a banana cheesecake, that was what he was bringing, that was a big contribution, took a lot of work to make, etc. I tried to tell him he should bring at least one more thing, like a vegetable or something. I mean, you know, banana cheesecake is a nice addition, if you happen to like cheesecake (I don't), but it doesn't really help much with taking the stress off. As it turned out, no one really brought anything but my friend. My mom had agreed to make stuffing, but then called up and said she couldn't make it. My sister did it all, but that was probably fine since she says she doesn't want to do it, but then does it anyway. I actually brought a turkey, ham, stuffing and gravy to her house one year, all prearranged, and she had made another turkey and boxed stuffing and canned gravy too, so it was a complete waste of my time and effort. I took an entire 22 pound turkey back home. So maybe my other relatives/friend knew the score better than I.

I think what you are describing is something that happens in our house too. I *want* to make a nice dinner that is special, and my husband is opposed because it's too much work and he wants me to be able to relax, and doesn't know why I want to do all this extra stuff on the holidays. So I made a big Thanksgiving dinner, and it was nice and not too much work. But I forgot how much work the cleaning up and putting everything away was, and that part is not fun, and no, my husband didn't really help. Because it was my choice to do it, you know. So I kind of feel for you--I want to do something special because it's fun and I like doing it, but I don't really want to do it all by myself. But often others aren't as interested in partaking if they have to do too much to help, so there can be resentment. What I want is other people who want to do things together, and I don't have that unless my FIL and SMIL are here.
post #5 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by majikfaerie View Post
IMO, getting the family together in the spirit of xmas is way more important than having fancy food.
Yes, to this.

We host T-giving and Christmas and I am trying to pare down the menus and the formality of what we do.

If we do it all ourselves, I want to keep it simple. If we have people bring potluck, I don't care what they bring as long as they bring something.

And I am so over using the crystal and china. :

I hope you can make as stress-free as possible. It IS a lot of work, but you have options. Also hope you feel better soon.

post #6 of 20
I know this isn't what you are looking for....but I make Christmas brunch and make a breakfast casserole the night before....if you want the recipes I will share!
post #7 of 20
As said already,no fancy food is worth it if they arnt gonna care or appreciate it.
post #8 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by majikfaerie View Post


you should get help.

but keep in mind, if you ask for non-specific help, that's also what you get.
make a list of specific things you'd like to have done, and ask people to do them, in a gentle way. jamiecatheryn's idea was a good one.

and tbh, if you've been sick for 3 weeks, and your dh offers to make fried eggs for breakfast, I'd be happy about it.
IMO, getting the family together in the spirit of xmas is way more important than having fancy food.
ITA with this.

Maybe it is brash, but I always tell people exactly how I want them to help. I cannot pussyfoot around it -- oh and if they ask *me* specifically "how can I help?" they better not have just asked to be polite 'cuz they will be totally screwed then.

Tara
post #9 of 20
It's nice to have special foods on holidays but maybe you can change your expectations and plan lower effort foods or do it for 1 meal instead of 4 or 5 involved meals.

People have offered help but you have rejected it as not being special enough. Do you want help or do you want Martha Stewart catering? Maybe the people you are cooking for are really saying they are fine eating simpler things and it is special just to be together. Maybe you could learn to scale back.

I would say thanks for the salad Sis. Then call the next family member and say "Sis has salad covered and is bringing apple cider, would you bring some <snacks/appetizers/side dish/dessert> and your favorite drink? Thanks." Then call the next person and ask them to bring something that isn't covered.

I would say thank you to dh for offering to fry eggs. I would enjoy the breakfast he made and the time with my family. Fried eggs are ordinary but you could be playing with your kids or resting while he cooks and cleans up and that is special if you let it be.

Do you want help from family so you can relax or specially catered food? Have you considered buying some pre-made food?


The most fun guests have had at my home with food is build it and grill it pizza. I prepared all the toppings and crusts. People piled on what they wanted and we threw it on the grill. They raved like it was the most special thing ever. It was just pizza and I made them make their own basically. We had salad, garlic bread and some pasta too. Maybe you could take an ordinary meal and change the way it is made and it could be special?
post #10 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by momtoS View Post
I know this isn't what you are looking for....but I make Christmas brunch and make a breakfast casserole the night before....if you want the recipes I will share!
Yes, that's a great idea I would be very specific also. Especially if you know these people and know what their response will be. Hope you feel better too
post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by momtoS View Post
I know this isn't what you are looking for....but I make Christmas brunch and make a breakfast casserole the night before....if you want the recipes I will share!
:Please Share:
post #12 of 20
French toast cups were yummy and diffrent,kids loved them!

quick and easy.
post #13 of 20
Delegate! Including with your husband!
post #14 of 20
Well, it doesn't help you much for this year, but I'd send out an e-mail to everybody the first week in December. I'd say, "I'm so glad everybody is coming for Christmas and I really want to spend time with each and every one of you during the holiday. I realized that I've spent so much time in the kitchen these last few years that I am not able to fully participate in the celebration. For this year, I'll be making (insert listing of what you are willing to make for each meal or which meals/snacks you'll cover). I need (insert list of remaining meals or items). Please reply to all by next week and let us know what you're bringing this year. Thanks, and I look forward to seeing you all again soon!"

For this year ... I guess I'd take what I could get, or on the days of, invite various people into the kitchen and just assign them tasks to help you out.

I hope you are feeling better and able to enjoy your holiday with your family!
post #15 of 20
Wow! I love to host gatherings, but I don't think I could ever do my whole family for 2 days without going insane.

I agree with the PP who suggested an email stating what you can do and what you need. DH's aunt does something similar for Christmas Eve "I'll be making soups, salad, desserts and providing beverages. Please bring a dish to pass..." but she only has to worry about the one meal. At my mom's group, we sometimes do potluck gatherings, and people sign up for specific types of dishes (main course, salad, beverage) and that works well, too. That might be easier for you, since you have so many different meals to provide.

The breakfast casserole is an awesome thing. DH is a conference center chef and he actually put one on his menu. It is one of the easiest breakfast things to serve a crowd. For this year, you could consider doing a mostly continental breakfast. To a lot of people, those types of things are special (pastries, good fruit, yogurt & toppings) because they don't eat them for breakfast regularly. And you could let your local bakery do most of the work.
post #16 of 20
okay here goes some easy...make the night before recipes.

Christmas Morning Wife Saver Ingredients
16 sl Bread; crusts removed 1/4 c Onion;minced
16 sl Back bacon or ham;cooked 1/4 c Green pepper;finely chopped
16 sl Cheddar cheese;sharp 2 ts Worcestershire sauce
6 Eggs 3 c Milk;whole or 2%
1/2 ts -Salt 1 ds Tabasco
1/2 ts Pepper 1/4 lb Butter
1 ts Dry mustard Cornflakes;crushed -OR-

Instructions for Christmas Morning Wife Saver
In 9 X 13" buttered baking dish (use a BIG dish), put 8 pieces of bread, Add pieces to cover dish entirely. Cover bread with cooked back bacon slices or ham slices. Lay slices of cheddar cheese on top, then cover with slices of bread (to make it like a sandwich). In a bowl, beat, eggs, salt and pepper.To egg mixture, add dry mustard, onion, green pepper, Worcestershire sauce, milk and Tabasco. Pour over the sandwiches. Cover and let it stand in the fridge overnight. In the morning, preheat oven to 350F. Melt 1/4 lb butter and pour over top. Cover with crushed corn flakes or Special K cereal. Bake 1 hour in 350F oven. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. From Geminis MASSIVE MealMaster collection at www.synapse.com/~gemini


I don't put the crushed cereal on top and it is fine. Also I would cook it and let it sit abit beofre cutting it.

what about french toast casserole? I go look for a recipe.
post #17 of 20
Okay here is a link to French Toast Casserole. This site you can put in how many you are serving and it will adjust the recipe for you.

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/French-...le/Detail.aspx


So....this morning....send your hubbie to the grocery store...(wish him good luck)! get a few pieces of fruit to cut up, and make up the stuff this afternoon. tidy a bit. Put them in the fridge. wake up tomorrow...and throw them in the oven!

VOILA...stress free brunch!:
post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by oceanbaby View Post
Christmas is always at my house - neither my mom nor my sister has a very big place, and neither one of them is really prepared to have a big family gathering. So fine, it's at my house, and that's okay with me because I enjoy not having to pack the kids up and get them in the car.

But every year I am left having to prepare dinner for Christmas Eve, breakfast for Christmas morning, lunch/snack during Christmas Day, and Christmas dinner (which is informal in our house). I think it is nice to do something special for these meals, but am getting a bit frustrated about the lack of help I get.

Dh basically seems to think that if I want help, I don't get to dictate that it be anything out of the ordinary. For instance, I was telling him how stressed out I am about all the meals - I have been sick for 3 weeks and haven't gotten to the grocery shopping yet. He says he'll make breakfast, fried eggs or something. That's great, but I thought it would be nice to do something a little nicer. I put an email out to my mom and sister about the three meals, asking for help, and my sister says she'll bring salad and apple cider. Wow, thanks, don't put yourself out or anything. First of all, she's the only one who drinks the apple cider (and she knows this), and green salad isn't really going to take a whole lot off of my plate.

Dh is pissed at me because he thinks that if someone else offers to help, then I should accept whatever it is they are going to help with and not expect anything else, that wanting to do something special is my problem, not theirs.

I think that it is reasonable to expect a little more effort to make special food on the holidays. He then says it's my own fault for being stressed out.

I'm pissed that I'm sick, I'm pissed at dh, and I'm pissed that I seem to be the only one interested in making the holidays special.
I'm not so sure you were asking for special foods...aren't you just asking for something a bit more helpful than salad?
which I don't think is so awful by the way---can't you ask your sister to bring a specific dish. and please don't tell DH you made the call.
he doesn't get it. so why bother him with those details..
post #19 of 20
Your dh seems to be doing the "if I have to help I'm going to do a shitty job and make you sorry you asked, all while looking good!" thing. I know this thing. I hate this thing.

IMO you could be a bit flexible - ask for "a main dish with eggs - baked eggs, quiche, something like that - for X people" and then accept whatever you get. But asking for what you need is totally ok, especially from family!
post #20 of 20
Another way to make your life easier with all this company- I know it's not very environmentally sound but using paper plates really reduces the cleanup stress.
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