Dear Inside His Head husbands,
Christmas is almost here and we’re STILL fighting about where to go on the 25th. My husband wants to drive over to his parents’ house that day, which is our tradition, but I would really like to stay home this year. I know it’s good for my kids to see their grandparents, but it’s so exhausting to do Christmas morning presents, then pack the car to spend two or three days away. (Their house is about 5 hours away, which is why we usually stay for several days at a time.) His parents don’t want to come here because there are other grandkids and kids who live near them who will be hanging out, too. I think I’m probably just being whiny and should suck it up, but for some reason I’m feeling very resentful this year. Any advice on dealing with holiday drama?
GRAY: As Christmas approached I’d be faced with the inevitable scheduling: my parents wanted to see their granddaughter and so did my wife’s parents. So my daughter typically had three Christmas mornings on different days, which meant about 14 hours driving and two extra weekends exhausted with the effort. “Our” Christmas was at our house and Christmas with the grandparents would be a week or two earlier or later. It wasn’t a perfect system, but it was a compromise we could all live with.
When I was growing up we always visited my dad’s parents, partially because his brother and sister and their families would also be there, but also because my mom’s family lived in Minnesota and I’m fairly confident that not even Santa wanted to be in Minnesota in the middle of December.
After my dad’s parents died, Christmas sort of fell apart in my family because, well, we didn’t have anything we did as a family. We were used to grandmother scooting us off to bed on Christmas Eve and eating sausage balls in the kitchen Christmas morning while peeking into the living room to see what gifts Santa left under the tree. And then grandmother would always insist the tree be stripped of its ornaments and set out on the curb by the time lunch served (and, no, I never understood why).
After my grandparents died we had no traditions of our own and much of the magic of Christmas left with them.
I suppose if I’m saying anything it’s that Christmas should be more than a day on the calendar. Having Christmas traditions with your child is important. It adds meaning to the holiday.
Whether it’s an Elf of the Shelf or an Advent calendar or church services or whatever traditions you might have…it’s those memories that are meaningful when we get older.
We forget most of the gifts we get, but we remember the things we do together. My daughter and I have a series of movies we watch each year and special foods we cook together. We decorate the house and the tree and make gingerbread houses and gingerbread people (gingerbread zombies this year).
I think no matter where we might physically be on the 25th, we feel like we’ve had “our” Christmas together and that she’ll have those traditions to pass on to her family.
MAVERICK: I agree, there’s nothing like being at your own house for Christmas and this goes for kids as well. I think you clearly need to change your routine for your own peace of mind, at least, but it’s really too late to try to do so this year without causing a major dust-up.
I’d suggest floating the idea of you go to his folks’ place this year but stay home next year and continuing the pattern going forward. When I say floating the idea, I mean you tell your husband this is how you want to do it from now on. That way you can buck up this year and do all the family stuff while knowing next year you can stay at home and enjoy the holiday in the comfort of your house.
It’s much easier to take knowing you’ll get to celebrate Christmas the way you want at least every other year.
Other options could include celebrating Christmas the weekend before with his folks so you can keep actual Christmas day open for your family celebration at home.
If the grandparents buck too much, invite them to visit you on Christmas. If they balk, well, they’re saying in no uncertain terms that it’s okay for you to travel and be put our for the holiday, but not for them.