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How many events/gatherings do you attend during the holidays?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
I'm just wondering. Recently one person invited us to three separate gatherings. I don't mind attending one or possibly two. But we also have two religious gatherings to attend and a couple different friends to spend time with around the holidays. I guess I'm just wanting the season to be more relaxed, more home-centered with family activities, a couple guests and a couple significant gatherings. I want the holidays to be simple and meaningful, not spent running to a different gathering everyday. I want relaxation and downtime. We've agreed to be home on Christmas day and have already received a Christmas Eve invitation. I'm not sure just yet how I want to spend Christmas Eve. Is it selfish of me to want to preserve it for my immediate family (my DH, children and myself), considering the grandparents are nowhere near and not visiting?

I just feel like the Christmas machine spins out of control. I just want to get off. I think there's a book regarding this.

I would be fine with the 2 large gatherings and 1-3 small gatherings--and then focusing on baking cookies, making cards, going sledding and having homemade hot cocoa, etc. I want to preserve precious family time.

ETA: I think the book is Unplug the Christmas Machine, but I haven't read it yet.
post #2 of 25
Not selfish at all!!!

We let our families know that once we had kids we were home for holidays. They were welcome to come to us but we were not leaving home, especially on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It was amazing how unattractive time away from home and travel was when they were the ones who had to do it. Instead we celebrate Christmas w/ the family by going out for dim sum or having an open house the first weekend in January.

Now that our son is older (9) we do go to a close friends holiday open house early on Christmas Eve but are home by 7ish so we can do our regular traditions. Last year was our first year doing so. Before that we stayed home and played Christmas carols, had a nice dinner, read the night before Christmas, wrote our note to Santa, etc.

For the weeks leading up to Christmas we keep the social celebrations to a bare minimum. One close friend has a kids party that we always go to each year. We do a cookie bake with another friend which has become tradition. Those are the only "definites".

The rest are more based on our energy levels and time. I think if you make your expecations clear the fmaily will understand even if they might not love it.
post #3 of 25
Not selfish at all.

We usually have a couple of work parties, Christmas Eve at my grandma's, and most of Christmas day at home. I think for holidays, you have to set your boundaries for what works for you. People have been very understanding once we decided we'd mostly stay home on Christmas and not do a ton of stuff.
post #4 of 25
I don't think its selfish either.. Generally for Christmas we have:
- one church gathering thats geared towards the ladies of the Church (like a lady's night out but we do Christmas crafts, drink cocoa, talk about our kids )
- One church gathering thats for the entire congragation
- Once in a while a work gathering for DH's work
- we host a Christmas eve party for the single Marines at DH's work

As for other outside activities this year we are planning on doing: the zoo's Christmas party (the girls LOVE this one, its a ton of fun for them), the 10,000 lights of Chirstmas at Peace Prayer Park (another the girls LOVE, also I think is important it forcuses on establishing peace in the world and accepting everyone's differences, good things to forcus on), the Botanical gardens Christmas Party (the Gardens are closing at the first of the year, its the last chance for us to go ), probably the Christmas parade at Kadena since one of our friend's children is in the high school band and preforming (both girls LOVE this one as well) and maybe the base Christmas festival... All these activities are things the girls love to do and we will do as a family.
post #5 of 25
I get confused at times here due to different terms we use...'holidays' to us generally refer to being on vacation, so I was wondering when I read the heading, why would you attend gatherings when away on holiday?
Here we just call it 'Christmas time'.

DH's family don't do Christmas due to their religious beliefs, but they still like to have a big family get together at Christmas time.

So when the girls were little we used to often have to go over to the inlaws house and sit politely with DH's siblings and the nieces, all of whom we don't have a heap in common with, plus there were no Christmas trees or decorations and no presents...so to me it was just like any other family get together on any other day! As I was brought up with Christmas being about trees/decorations/presents, it was all very depressing to me. So I put my foot down and said from now on, we have Christmas at home, just us. Instead we all go over the following day on Boxing Day and we all sit round like stuffed dummies on that day instead.

Now I just love Christmas day as it is all ours, once I have made all the phone calls to my family interstate, then the day is ours to enjoy opening presents and having lunch...and I refuse to have anyone over on that day...even last year MIL tried to buck against my rule and was asking to come over on that day to give the kids their presents, but as we were going to their house on Boxing day anyway, what is the point in them getting their presents a day early? All it does is interfere with our relaxation on the day so the whole day is unrelaxed as we have to dress and psych ourselves for a visit.

I have to agree about the Christmas machine spinning out of control, and I think that these days it is getting worse. For one thing the shops start selling xmas decorations in September here! That to me really spoils the special feel of Christmas. The other thing is I hate the huge financial pressure it puts on people. I would happily skip Christmas these days, but it is virtually impossible to do so, as it is all over the streets and the television screens. it's a case of 'if you can't beat 'em, join 'em!"
post #6 of 25
Last year I stood up and said NO MORE and declared that for holidays we would be spending them AT HOME. I declared holidays to be stress free for everyone (especially ds who has autism and does not do well at all this time of the year). It went well last year.

And then this year dp and I decided to get married right after Christmas. On an island. And we have to drive 7 hours to get to my dad's house first to drop off ds.

It'll be fun

So we go to Michigan (7 hour drive) the second weekend in December to do Christmas there (where most of my family and ds's bio-dad/family lives).

Christmas Eve we will spend part of the day/evening with dp's parents/family. We may or may not go to church.

Christmas Day is home. No exceptions. I might even get dp to agree to take out chinese food because I will not feel like cooking or cleaning as we will probably spend the day packing.

Day after Christmas we drive 7 hours back up to Michigan.

Veeeery early the next morning (like- 2am) we get up and drive another 2 hours to get to the airport for a 6am flight. :yawning

We fly back into Michigan at 11pm on January 3rd. The next morning we'll get up and make the 7 hour drive back to our home. It will be back to work/school the next day.

But I swear..... next year the holidays will be stress free

ETA- To answer the actual question- 2 would be ideal (one with my family, one with dp's family). There's usually more though. I do try and cut back on the "unnecessary" ones (if it's something where ds and I won't be too missed then I send dp alone) just for ds's sake.
post #7 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by clutterwarrior View Post
I get confused at times here due to different terms we use...'holidays' to us generally refer to being on vacation, so I was wondering when I read the heading, why would you attend gatherings when away on holiday?
Here we just call it 'Christmas time'.
In the US, we have so many different cultures/religious beliefs that there are a lot of different traditions celebrated around that time of year, so "holidays" is used as an all-inclusive term. Heck, we celebrate Christmas as a family, but only the horrific secular commercial part. So "holidays" works for us, too.

Also, the US Thanksgiving is lumped into the "holiday season" as the beginning and it ends with New Year's Day.

I have always loved how people in other countries go on "holiday" instead of on "vacation." It just sounds so much more fun. I picture people on the beach, merrily clinking glasses and laughing vs. dragging your kids to Mount Rushmore and hearing, "Are we there yet?" fifteen billion times.

Anyway. I love the holiday season, DH hates it. Weirdly enough, most of the events revolve around his family, carefully constructed around the parenting agreement he has with his DD's mom. We start Christmas early because of this (Santa comes to our house on the 23rd) and end late (DSD goes to her mom's on Christmas Day, so we have Christmas with DH's mom and sister the day after). We still have things to do on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, plus we have relatives of DH's that we have to see around that time (want more than have, TBH - if they were closer, they would get one of the big days), and if I am speaking with my alcoholic mother, we really should go visit them over New Year's.

I proposed to DH just leaving for the season, to a tropical island or a cruise and doing no presents, but he didn't bite. Because it would be a "vacation" and not a "holiday," which would be about as bad as traipsing to various holiday gatherings in the frigid Minnesota (read: North Pole) snow.

Ugh. I hate spending Christmas Eve at his family's house. Socially awkward + no wine & dirty bingo gift exchange = worst time ever.
post #8 of 25
We usually do one with my family (but that often takes place in multiple steps because of various reasons...for example, as Steph posted above, she goes the 2nd week of December. Something always comes up that weekend for us, and this year was no exception. So we always have to go the 3rd weekend. So, we'll have one weekend with most of my family, and then meet Steph somewhere for another gathering somewhere between us or at one of our houses.) Then we meet with DH's family. Brandon's school usually has something. We may or may not attend gatherings with our AP group (some years we do, some we don't).

At least we usually skip DH's work party because it's always black tie and kids aren't allowed, and that usually doesn't work well for us.

ETA: Except I just looked at the calender and because of the way the holidays work this year, I probably won't even be able to see my family, unless we go up on Christmas day, which the kids would hate. No kid wants to spend 5 hours in the car on Christmas day.) We didn't get to see them 2 years ago at Christmas either because I was 2 weeks away from giving birth and couldn't travel due to being high risk, and my parents weren't able to come up to see me either. Didn't get to see them last year either because of the whole swine flu thing.
post #9 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thanks to everyone who responded! It helps to hear that I'm not being selfish. I just want to remove the stress from Christmas so that the season is enjoyable for me.

pinksprklybarefoot, you're right, the season starts with Thanksgiving and ends with New Year's Day. It's maddening. I wonder if some of what your DH doesn't like is the family commitments and engagements? It's just a thought. Of course, it can be hard to limit them or not attend them altogether.

StephandOwen, it doesn't sound like your holiday will not be relaxed this year, but congrats on getting married, though! ... If your family is nearby, how did you explain to them that you just want to be home on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and were they offended? The simple truth is that I just want to spend this special time at home and don't desire to travel or have guests (that I have to clean my house and get dressed to entertain).

clutterwarrior, Alyantavid and HollyBearsMom, how did you sell the idea of staying home on Christmas to your husband? I'm actually thinking of having my husband read Unplug the Christmas Machine: A Complete Guide to Putting Love and Joy Back into the Season with me. (I had the library put it on hold for me yesterday and DH picked it up on his way home from work). I don't want to come across as domineering. I just don't want to feel resentful and like I'm being forced to give up my ideal of what Christmas should be.

OkiMom, I really like how your activities are centered around things your family will enjoy, and not engagements others expect for you to attend. That's how I want our holidays to be. Was your husband always on board with this? Or do you not live near extended family?

I used to travel to my family's (4-6.5 hours) every Christmas and buy gifts for all the baby sisters/nieces/nephews/mom/adult sisters and brothers-in-law and it was, honestly, too much. I didn't have the money to be spending, and the children rarely appreciated the gifts. My family would argue over I-don't-even-remember-what. There would be complete and total chaos. The past several years (even when still single) I opted to stay home and enjoy a peaceful Christmas. Plus, I didn't have the money to travel and purchase gifts for the entire extended family.

I find myself wanting to focus on simplicity in most areas of my life. I'm an introvert, so while I love going out on occasion, I need plenty of downtime to recharge and regroup. Instead of going to a large holiday gathering with people that I don't even know, I'd rather take the kids sledding and curl up and watch a Christmas movie. I do like some large events. My Quaker meeting has a huge annual carol sing that the entire community attends. I look forward to this every year. Another large event that I look forward to is my friend's Christmas play. But the reality is that I want to relax and unwind with my family: "family", these days, being my husband and children. I think part of my problem is people's sense of entitlement to my family's time. And then they tack "for the children" onto their invitations, like if I decline I'm somehow limiting the children's enjoyment. Really, I'm apt to decline any invitation that tacks "for the children" onto it. It ticks me off when people try to play on guilt. The "children" will be fine seeing one another anytime near Christmas; they don't necessarily have to get together on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve. Plus, in the past they've NEVER gotten together on either of these days and I'm sure they won't miss it. I really struggle, though, with saying no, and feeling like if I do turn down an offer to a gathering, I have to have an explanation, an alternate event that I'm attending, when, really, I just want to stay home. It's that simple. Then I *almost* acquiesce and agree to a small Christmas Eve gathering because I don't want to hurt feelings, when, really, I just want to stay home. I don't want to get myself and my family ready and drive anywhere. I want to be in the comfort of my own home. Getting DH on board with me is hard. His fondest memories are of large Christmas Eve/Day gatherings. Mine are of comfort and relaxation with my family at home.
post #10 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AllyRae View Post
ETA: Except I just looked at the calender and because of the way the holidays work this year, I probably won't even be able to see my family, unless we go up on Christmas day, which the kids would hate. No kid wants to spend 5 hours in the car on Christmas day.)
I agree about not spending so much time traveling on Christmas Day.
post #11 of 25

Way too many

In previous years, it's been as many as 15 separate events, beginning in Mid December and lasting until after New Year's Day. Last year was a "normal year" and this is what we did:
*sometime before Christmas- trip to botanical garden for light show- we like this, and didnt actually have time this year, but is something i wish was on the schedule this year...
*2 Fridays before Christmas- DH's work party
*2 Saturdays before Christmas (1 hr drive each way)- cookie baking with Mom and sister and neice
*Saturday before Christmas - My parents and siblings, and their kids at a rotating home (we rotate between the siblings and my parents' house). This year it's slated to be at our house.
*Christmas Eve 8AM-2PM- I go to work
*Christmas Eve 2PM-4PM- I meet DH at his parents house for some snacks
*Christmas Eve 4PM till whenever - my grandmother's house (1.5 hr drive) with my aunt and uncle, cousins on my dad's side.
*Christmas morning- DH and I are at home till about 10
*Christmas Morning - 11AM-2PM- to DH's parents house AGAIN, we bring my home made sticky buns and a breakfast casserole.
*Christmas Day afternoon- 2PM-5PM - to DH's cousin's house for DH's extended family.
*Christmas night- 7PM to whenever - to my mom's side, aunts, uncles, cousins, great aunts, second cousins, etc.


Of course, I love the occasions with my side, because it's what I've done my whole life and what feels like "real christmas" to me. but adding in the other events does take a toll, and I'm usually not even excited to get up Christmas morning by the time it comes. Just too much running around ahead.
DH misses sitting around watching TV at his parents' house on Christmas Eve... and is a little bitter about it. But that is just not Christmas-y. We can do that any day. He says that's what makes it feel like Christmas for him. It must feel like Christmas every time we go there....

This year, DD will be 5.5MO, and I think we'll insist on not leaving the house Christmas morning until we go to DH's aunt's house in the afternoon, and the ILs can come to visit us in the morning if they want to, AND bring food, like we've done for the past 6 years. Hopefully they will understand that DD deserves to spend Christmas morning at home with her mommy and daddy.
So, at least this year we eliminate one car trip, and can maybe figure out how to go directly from DH's cousins to my Uncle's house and then make it an earlier night or put DD to bed upstairs there. (that's what we always did when i was little...)
I dont know what to do about the other events. we will prob skip DHs work thing this year, and maybe I'll skip cookie day, though I really look forward to that. But we have to draw the line somewhere. I miss too much time with DD as it is while I work, and having to "share" my time with her with so many other people this holiday season will be hard.

Ugh. Lets not even start about how many *presents* all these events entail.
post #12 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by PoetryLover View Post
.... I think part of my problem is people's sense of entitlement to my family's time. ....It ticks me off when people try to play on guilt. The "children" will be fine seeing one another anytime near Christmas; they don't necessarily have to get together on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve. .... I really struggle, though, with saying no, and feeling like if I do turn down an offer to a gathering, I have to have an explanation, an alternate event that I'm attending, when, really, I just want to stay home. It's that simple. Then I *almost* acquiesce and agree to a small Christmas Eve gathering because I don't want to hurt feelings, when, really, I just want to stay home. I don't want to get myself and my family ready and drive anywhere. I want to be in the comfort of my own home. Getting DH on board with me is hard. His fondest memories are of large Christmas Eve/Day gatherings. Mine are of comfort and relaxation with my family at home.
All of this! esp the bolded. I do have fond memories of Christmas eve at Mom-mom's and Christmas night at my uncle's. i really enjoy those events. I wish it was just limited to those 2. But obviously I have to consider DH's family and his wishes. So, doesnt look like Christmas is going to be relaxed for us unless we're making lots of family members upset. That doesn't feel Christmas-y.
post #13 of 25
It was a relief when dh and his mother had a falling out simply because it meant we didn't have to do holidays with two families. My head spins contemplating the people with separated parents who have 4 families! We used to go to the in-laws for Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. That meant I was feeling tired and run down for Christmas Day.

Now we have a quiet Thanksgiving at home with my mom (we live with her), a family dinner with a couple of my siblings and their families at another time over the Thanksgiving weekend (so they can do Thanksgiving with their in-laws). Christmas is at home, too. My siblings who come here do some kind of split such as spending the night here Christmas Eve, opening gifts in the morning, and going to the in-laws in the afternoon. I'd hate that. Makes me tired thinking about it...
post #14 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LZP View Post
All of this! esp the bolded. I do have fond memories of Christmas eve at Mom-mom's and Christmas night at my uncle's. i really enjoy those events. I wish it was just limited to those 2. But obviously I have to consider DH's family and his wishes. So, doesnt look like Christmas is going to be relaxed for us unless we're making lots of family members upset. That doesn't feel Christmas-y.
I wonder if it might be possible for you to spend time with 1 side of the family one year and the other side of the family the next year and just rotate it like that. Or else you could spend some time with each of your families every year but at only half the amount of gatherings. So maybe you could do the cookie baking, your grandmother's house on Christmas Eve this year and your husband's house on Christmas Day (but not Christmas Eve). Then next year you could attend the gatherings you didn't attend this year and miss the ones you did attend this year. Or (I'm really trying to brainstorm for you here) you could just pick the activities you want to do every year but tone them down. For instance, visit your in-laws either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, not both. Maybe you could choose 1 big gathering per side of the family. You'll still be seeing people but not running yourselves ragged. I'm sure you'll find what works for you. Maybe you could say too, that running around is so very stressful that it gets in the way of the joy of Christmas. I saw a couple things on your calendar leading up to Christmas, but the most hectic times are certainly Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I might work specifically with those days to see how you can pare them down, and I might begin with the people you're seeing multiple times. There's nothing wrong with seeing someone either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. I'm just trying to help, as I know how stressful these things can be. Good luck, though.
post #15 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4evermom View Post
My head spins contemplating the people with separated parents who have 4 families! ... Makes me tired thinking about it...
Yeah, it makes me tired thinking of it, too!

I actually had an anxiety attack yesterday, and it's only the beginning of November. I haven't had an anxiety attack in so long I can't even remember. I think I'm going to bow out of the Christmas Eve gathering if DH is supportive of that. If it sparked so much anxiety in me this early, that speaks to me and it can't be good. My gut is telling me to shoot for a more simple, wholesome, family oriented (DH, Children, Self) holiday season. Regarding the person who invited us to 3 gatherings, we'll probably attend 1, invite them to something we're already planning to attend and maybe get together in their home (or invite them to ours) prior to Christmas, but not Christmas Day or Christmas Eve. Those are 2 days I'm wanting to preserve. Also, I want the events to be nicely spaced and not all lumped together, so I'm going to consider that when DH and I select which events to attend.

I genuinely like the person who made all these invites, and it isn't personal. This is my DS's first Christmas and also the first Christmas DSD will be living with us. I want to focus on the children and establishing meaningful traditions as a family.
post #16 of 25
PL- thank you for all the suggestions! it seems to get harder to pare down every year that we continue the madness, bc we get, "But, you always come here for xyz affair. It's tradition." That's the word that our families seem to use to get us to feel guilty about not attending 567890457 events!

This year, I think I will take Christmas Eve off from work. If I'm home on CE, then DH will not go to his parents in the afternoon, and then I don't have to go either.
That will put your suggestion into action!

eta: i think your decision to skip at least 1 of 3 gatherings with that one person is a good one! You dont want to get burned out. Especially if you're already feeling anxious about the holidays! It's no way to spend the time. Your DH, DSD and DS are lucky to have you do this!! It's just as beneficial for them to have a happy mama around the holidays.
post #17 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LZP View Post
PL- thank you for all the suggestions! it seems to get harder to pare down every year that we continue the madness, bc we get, "But, you always come here for xyz affair. It's tradition." That's the word that our families seem to use to get us to feel guilty about not attending 567890457 events!

This year, I think I will take Christmas Eve off from work. If I'm home on CE, then DH will not go to his parents in the afternoon, and then I don't have to go either.
That will put your suggestion into action!
Could you suggest they read a book about simplifying Christmas or just tell them you want to create new traditions? Good luck!
post #18 of 25
3 - 1 white elephant exchange with C's extended family, 1 on Christmas eve with C's parents and all their friends, and 1 on Christmas morning with just us and C's parents and grandma.
post #19 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JessicaRenee View Post
3 - 1 white elephant exchange with C's extended family, 1 on Christmas eve with C's parents and all their friends, and 1 on Christmas morning with just us and C's parents and grandma.
Out of curiosity, what's a white elephant exchange?
post #20 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by PoetryLover View Post
Out of curiosity, what's a white elephant exchange?
It's where everyone brings a gift and then draw numbers. Then you go in numerical order and pick one of the gifts. I don't know if everyone does this part but C's family will let other people take something from somebody who already went. So if the person after me wants what I got they can take it from me and I get to go again. A present can only be taken away twice. It's pretty fun!
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