How do you handle visiting family at Christmas? This year has caused extreme stress! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 17 Old 12-26-2004, 12:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi! I wasn't sure where to put this post but...

I DESPERATELY need help figuring out what to do- and am hoping someone out there has figured out how to manage the extended family at Christmas/ Holidays.

The problem is this year on Christmas day my fiance and I had to go non-stop from 8 in the morning til 11 at night visiting his family and my family and ended up not really having a meaningful visit anywhere. No one cared to offer me dinner even though I am obviously pregnant and I was only offered a ham sandwhich for lunch (I don't eat ham which they normally remember). Thank God for my Grandma who cooked breakfast for everyone or I would have gone all day with no food! It was like a wild goose chase because no one even thought to ask what times would be good for us to be there (even though we are the only ones who live an hour away and have to visit His and Hers parents). The day went something like this- wake up, rush to get ready and out the door by 8:30, drive for an hour, get to my grandma's at 10, rush to eat, rush to open presents, leave rudely early in order to drive 45 minutes to...His Nana's by 12:30 and get there rudely late- everyone has already eaten and we get there for presents, then leave early to drive 30 minutes to get to my parents house by 2:30- open presents- then go look at my grandparent's new house up the street. Then rush off to Matt's Dad's house to do presents with his dad and sister, then go to Matt's Mom's house (divorced parents) at 5- THINKING THIS IS THE LAST STOP- but then it is sprung on us that we need to go to Matt's Aunt's house to see his other Grandma and cousins! His Grandma ends up not coming so we have to go to her house to see her. Finally at 10:30 we leave for Atlanta and at 11:30 we get back home- I am in tears from being so hungry and exhausted by this point. I am screaming that I hate family and Christmas and that next year I am running away with the baby on Christmas Eve!

It just seems to me that no one REALLY cares about anyone- they just want you there so they feel good even if you are miserable. I have already told Matt that next year I REFUSE to do this crazy routine, if people want to come see us let them come to Atlanta. I would never put a baby through what I went through.

So thanks for letting me rant and if anyone has any suggestions as to what to do or has any unique ways of dealing with family PLEASE let me know!

Thanks!

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#2 of 17 Old 12-26-2004, 12:43 PM
 
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Sounds like you've already come up with a good plan:
Quote:
next year I REFUSE to do this crazy routine, if people want to come see us let them come to Atlanta.
If you don't want to see relatives on Christmas Day -- and that's my rule, too; holidays are for (immediate) family only -- then just say, "no thank you." You can suggest a meeting day later in December, if that won't stress you out. You can suggest hosting an extended-family gathering yourself, if THAt won't stress you out. Or you can suggest telephonic visits on Christmas day, especially if it's a conference call at a designated time so as not to interrupt everyone's festivities.

The only thing you owe to others is to behave with integrity.
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#3 of 17 Old 12-26-2004, 12:56 PM
 
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I can only tell you what we do. Its important to me to be home with my immediate family on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. We have our own rituals and routines that we've established and that I don't want to interupt.

But then at noon on Christmas Day, we pack up and drive an hour to visit DH's parents and his siblings all show up as well. We plan ahead to have a midafternoon meal with them. We do this by suggesting it ahead of time and asking what we can contribute to the meal. We stay for about 4 hours, and then drive home to get the kids ready for bed.

We plan a different day to get together with my family. This year it is today -- the 26th. Last year I believe it was on New Year's Day. It changes depending on when me and my sibs are all available. We have a meal together (pot luck again) and we exchange gifts.

I politely decline invitations to other relatives. My grandparents have begun coming to my parent's house whatever day we get together because they like to see the kids. My husband's aunt has also begun getting herself to his parents house for christmas because she wants to see the kids.

Its important to set boundries with relatives and leave extra time when you have kids. They are slow and like to enjoy each experience completely. I don't want them to remember christmas as a rushed chaotic time. I don't want to find myself barking and shouting at them to get on the ball. Its also important to plan ahead in terms of meals. Its bad to miss a meal when you are pregnant, but its the end of the world to miss a meal with small children! They just loose it.

I think you'll find that when you have a sweet baby, you will have more leverage. They will more inclined to come to you if they want to see your kid.
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#4 of 17 Old 12-26-2004, 01:15 PM
 
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This yr, my mom came for supper on x-mas eve. Dad was working, he's a deacon. So he was busy for all the masses(is that how we spell it??). Then I went with my mom to midnight mass.

X-mas day, we spend most of the day here at home, then left to go to my mom house for supper and open presents.

My in-laws live 8hrs away, so we are not leaving to go there this yr but maybe in a few yrs and then I'm sure that our plans with my family would change a bit. So that we can celebrate together.

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#5 of 17 Old 12-26-2004, 01:48 PM
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Having the only children in the local family, it is easy for us to make demands.

We go out to my parents for Christmas Eve (this is a longstanding tradition that is older than me, so there's no dislodging it) for dinner and presents. What we have done, is to make the meal and presents much earlier in the day (used to serve around 6:30-7. Now, dinner starts at 5), so we aren't still opening presents at midnight! It was a problem this year because my first was tired and cranky, but it wasn't a problem with the tradition, just with my daughter. We're brainstorming on how to make it easier next year.

Christmas Day is spent at my home. The girls opened their presents from DH and I in the morning, then, later on, the rest of the family comes over for ham dinner. This year I served at 2:30pm, so we had a very nice, relaxing time afterwards. Oh, and just so you know, we don't have much family here. It was only my parents, my brother, and my godmother, so a very manageable amount of people. I might feel differently if there were a lot more people.

You have to find a tradition and schedule that works for your family. You can do this without being rude or mean. You don't have to see everybody at their own homes in one day. I can guarantee that you won't be able to keep up that pace with a 9 month old. Make your limits known, firmly, but kindly.

Oh, and as far as the no food that day. Most people don't realize that being pregnant means you need to eat regularly and drink frequently. With as many places as you were that day, your family probably didn't realize that you hadn't had any food. They probably assumed you had already eaten. You have to speak up for yourself, and ask for food if you're hungry. You're pregnant, so you're excused from being rude about food. Don't wait until it is offerred. Grab the bull by the horns and ask for a sandwich!


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Mama to: Katie, Emily , and Abby
Not perfect, Just amazing!
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#6 of 17 Old 12-26-2004, 02:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks you guys! I will definately be setting some major limits (but I might as well be nice about it ) My mom is already talking about how next year she wants us to spend the night at their house and my fiance's Dad is talking about how he wants us to spend the night there! I think I will just say NO to both! It will be Grey's first Christmas and yeah it's special for them, but they got to spend the 1st Christmas with each of their babies and now it's our turn!

This is a year round situation as well since he will be the first Grandchild in both families, first great-grandchild, etc. But I think you are all right- it is so important to set limits and hold to them. I want him to see his extended family- but not to the point of making me and dh crazy! They are all already talking about how the baby will have to come spend the night,etc. and it makes me mad! I mean "no you are not taking MY baby!" Of course they have no regard for the fact that I will be breastfeeding on demand for quite some time or the fact that my fiance and I both have said that any family members who smoke cigarettes will not be keeping him overnight.

I am beginning to wonder what I have gotten myself into! But being willing and able to say NO will be just the ticket to solving all the problems! Just like we will not be calling anyone to announce his birth until a couple days afterward!

If no one in our families can have consideration for us and the fact that we don't want visitors the day he's born and don't want to ship him off for overnight visits at 6 months old then we will just act accordingly and factor in their inconsiderate nature.

Thanks!

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#7 of 17 Old 12-26-2004, 02:23 PM
 
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See, you figured it out right here:

Quote:
But being willing and able to say NO will be just the ticket to solving all the problems!

Midwife (CPM, LDM) and homeschooling mama to:
13yo ds   10yo dd  8yo ds and 6yo ds and 1yo ds  
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#8 of 17 Old 12-26-2004, 04:24 PM
 
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Invite people to your house for a potluck. Use the new-mom thing, and say it will be too hard to travel with the baby. If people try to guilt you into coming to see them, tell them you're celebrating at home with your fiance and child, and they are welcome to visit you there.

Also, if you do end up traveling to see family, can some of the family get togethers be combined? You were at your grandma's, your parents, etc.,. Can they get together somewhere so you can make 2 stops at the most - one for your family and one for your fiance's? Just a thought.

We're Jewish, so we don't have set plans on xmas. But many people invite us over, and for a few years we hopped around and saw as many people as we could. But once we had kids, we decided who we wanted to see, and made a day out if it. If my dh's family has a problem with it, we invite them over for New Year's, or a weekend day.

You have to do what's best for your family. Esp. for your child. Good luck!

"Home is where the heart is, no matter how the heart lives." - PP&M
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#9 of 17 Old 12-26-2004, 04:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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off topic- I just had to say I LOVE this quote!

“Fear, pain, crippling, disfigurement and humiliation are the classic ways to break the human spirit. Circumcision includes them all.”

George Denniston, MD, MPH


where did you find it?

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#10 of 17 Old 12-26-2004, 08:36 PM
 
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Thanks! I worry that it treads the line of offensive-ness. But I can't be worrying too much, because I'm using it...

I found it in a magazine that I get called Compleat Mother. It was on the heading of a call for action to stop circumcision. I just loved it. The group that the author is part of is called Doctors Opposing Circumcision.

Thanks again!

"Home is where the heart is, no matter how the heart lives." - PP&M
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#11 of 17 Old 12-26-2004, 09:13 PM
 
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I don't travel to see anyone during holidays and they are not invited to my house either. If I ever get a bigger house or am able to afford housekeeping help (at least around holidays) I might invite people to my home. right now it is too stessful to deal with "visits" in or out of the house in addition to everything else I have to deal with.

It took me four children to get to this point though. I used to give in to the guilt tripping and travel but now I "just say no."
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#12 of 17 Old 12-26-2004, 09:31 PM
 
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We stay home for the holiday's

We live in a 2 bedroom house

It winter = bad roads for fair weather living family

We live 13 miles from the nearest motel

We live 70 miles from the nearest airport and its a tiny one so the tickets to fly into are pricey

all of that = nice quite holidays for us
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#13 of 17 Old 12-26-2004, 11:28 PM
 
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All I can say is that after showing up at my dad's house and there being NO place for my 16 month old at the table, waiting 45 minutes after scheduled "dinner" time (2pm) to eat, and then watching as my husband tried to keep him entertained in an entirely non-child friendly house for 40 minutes while NO ONE else noticed they were even gone, we will NOT be going ANYWHERE next Christmas day! If they want to see us or our son, they can come here for dessert and visiting in the evening. Based on how they couldn't have cared less it seemed that we were there at all yesterday, I almost don't expect them to show at all. Now, wouldn't that be a lovely holiday gift? LOL
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#14 of 17 Old 12-27-2004, 12:11 AM
 
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We had a rotten Christmas eve and day (we spent the night) at my parents house and have already decided to stay home next Christmas.

I'm sick of traveling for Christmas. I'm not doing it anymore.

The whole thing was so stressful that I became physically ill.

We will be spending next Christmas at home with just me, my DH and our kids.
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#15 of 17 Old 12-27-2004, 03:17 AM
 
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We also split things up. Dh's family comes to our house sometime in December to celebrate (we don't take ds out in winter as he's subject to getting sick) and we do x-mas eve at my parent's (long standing tradition). We do x-mas itself just us, dh, me and the two kids...and the dog. That's it. Nice and quiet.
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#16 of 17 Old 12-27-2004, 03:56 AM
 
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First, I think it's cool that you are naming your baby Grey. It happens to be my ds's first name as well, but we call him by his middle name, Wilder.

Second, the only advice I have for you is to establish a routine that you are comfortable with right away.

I have a very stressful Christmas every year because my MIL & FIL come to stay with us in our small house for a week at Christmastime. This year, my eye started twitching when they got here and finally stopped today, a day after they left. My inlaws also come to stay for a week 3 other times a year, whenever it suits them. It has caused so much strife in my marriage. I feel that I can't say no to their lengthy visits without alienating my dh. I wish I had put my foot down firmly early on and established some very clear rules. The first time they visited us for Xmas (8 years ago) they stayed 3 months! Their visits are down to a week now, but it's still not ideal for me.
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#17 of 17 Old 12-27-2004, 05:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks Saundra! I think Grey Wilder is a great name! I can't believe they stayed 3 months one time! talk about pulling your hair out!

I am glad to hear that I am not the only one who has a rough time at the holidays. I will definately be staying home on Christmas day with the baby and my husband (yay- we'll be married then!) and the cats

Luckily everyone has been understanding so far and my mom is offering to have Christmas a week early so if his side of the family will cooperate then things should be ok.

I feel like I am still recovering from it all!

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