Inside His Head: Stay home for Christmas or visit the in-laws?

insidehishead, 500

Dear Inside His Head,

My husband and I are fighting again about staying home or going to my in-laws for Christmas (my parents usually fly in to visit around New Year’s). I prefer to stay at home and not travel/be exhausted this year. I need advice!

GRAY: At my house we have three cats and two dogs. Their stockings hang above our fireplace along with our own. Are our pets like my daughter, who turns into a nervous, excited, hot-chocolate guzzling mess? No, they hack up hairballs like any other day. So why does Santa still fill their stockings with bones and fake mice? Fairness.

Perhaps you should look at fairness from a different perspective. If you always have to travel to the in-laws, whereas your folks come to your house then maybe you and your husband can work out a way to make it fair. Maybe if you agree to make the wintry, no-gas-station-breaks-for-a-thousand-miles trip to see his parents at Christmas then he’ll agree to take you on a sunny beach-filled trip in the summer to make up for it. You get the drift. If you put on a smile and bite the bullet now then it’ll balance out later.

Or you can see if it’s fair to his parents. Do they have a reason not to travel and visit you for a change? Is this the only time of year they get to see their son? I could speculate forever without knowing the details, but sometimes being fair doesn’t mean doing what you want to do. Being fair can be about making the hard decision to put your desire aside and be uncomfortable because it’s the right decision.

My wife and I split our visits. She travels to see her parents and I see mine at some other time. It may not be the most ideal of situations, but we both agree it’s fair to our respective parents and fair to our daughter, who loves getting to spend time with her grandparents.

And even if they’re jumping on the counter to lap up your cup of egg nog when your back is turned (I sure hope your in-laws don’t do that), come Christmas morning the cats and dogs will still have toys to bat around and chew. It’s only fair.

generichead-1MICHAEL: I go through this each year too. It’s not nearly as big of a deal because our families are 2 hours drive time from here. It’s not that I don’t want to go, it’s just that I get tired as well. It’d be nice to wake up Christmas morning and open gifts with the kids and then just hang out all day and let them play with their stuff. Instead, we jump in the car right after opening gifts and drive.

However, I knew what I was getting into when we moved. We’re the only ones that don’t live within 15 minutes. So the question is, did you know? If you did, then it’s time to buck up and handle it. Otherwise I see three options:

1. You start alternating years. One year at home one year there.(I know, too logical.)

2. They come to you occasionally instead.(Only seems fair, right?)

3. Send the spouse without you (and you look the jerk.)

Good luck. Hope it works out for you.

MAVERICK: Well, you’re entitled to spend Christmas how you’d like. The question is can you get your husband to see reason?

From the tone of your note, it seems like you’ve spent Christmas at your in-laws before and this year you’re just not up for it.

Simply tell your husband that you’re not trying to start a fight but you’d rather stay home this year. Unless he can counter with — you’ve never gone to my folks once, or “Have you forgotten relative X has three months to live?” then he’s already on thin ice.

But you don’t want to make this a conflict. You want to make it a compromise.

In the words of Crap Game, played by Don Rickles in Kelly’s Heroes. “Make a deal, maybe the guy is a Republican.”

Tell him this year you want to stay home and tell him you’ll gladly visit his folks next year. Explain you want to wake up in your own bed at Christmas for a change and you’d like the kids to experience the same thing. Tell him it’s important that not every Christmas tradition need be tied to his folks.

If it really is about traveling and not about the company, suggest to him that you invite his parents to come stay with you. It’s amazing how folks who gripe about you not visiting them shut up when you suggest they return the favor now and again.

Otherwise, stick to the original deal. You get this Christmas, and next year he gets his.

But don’t make it just about you, make the stay-at-home Christmas as appealing to him as possible.

Likely he’s having to miss some things he likes – getting babied by  his mom, sitting and watching Christmas TV with his dad. So offer to do some cool stuff he likes to do at Christmas. Start some new traditions, spend some time with him and make him realize taking a Christmas off from the larger family unit has some upsides.

In the end, if he relents, make him happy he did. Maybe he’ll lobby for more time without the extended family more often.

If you have a question for the Inside His Head husbands, send it to mamas{at}nwaMotherlode{dot}com.