The holiday season has begun. This is a lovely time of year & my favorite season – the leaves are changing, the temperature is dropping, hoodies & hot chocolate or tea come out. I absolutely adore fall!
And then there is the stress dealing with demanding relatives.
I used to love the holiday season as a kid. My parents & I went to my grandparents’ home in northern Virginia on the Sunday between Christmas & New Year’s for a big family get together. It was always fun. But then I grew up & got married, & was no longer able to visit my grandparents’ home for the holidays. My ex husband wanted to spend every Thanksgiving & Christmas with his family that lived about 2 hours away, & it had to be on the exact day- never a visit before or after the holiday. It also didn’t matter if I was sick or didn’t want to go. He told me he was going to be with his family. I could go with him or not- he didn’t care. Our anniversary was Christmas eve, & to me, it always felt like he endured our anniversary while watching the clock, anxious to get to his family’s gathering the next day. Not a lot of fun. Then after our divorce & I later married my current husband, his mother demanded we attend their family get togethers, sometimes at his parents’ home, other times at one of his sister’s homes about 3 hours away. Often, I also had my mother demanding we spend time with my parents on at least one holiday. Needless to say, after years of this, I no longer love the holidays. I no longer celebrate them. In fact, I dreaded them for years. I’ve been told that is wrong & I need to let go of the bitterness & celebrate the holidays again, but I no longer feel the desire. I’m fine not celebrating, thank you very much.
Sadly, I know I’m not alone. Many of my friends feel the same as I do & for very similar reasons, so I am sure there are many of you reading this that also feel the same way. To those of you who dread the holidays, you’re in good company! Don’t let others dictate how you feel- you’re allowed to celebrate them or not celebrate them. If you opt not to celebrate them, why not do as I do? I take the day as a quiet day to myself. I often get Chinese take out & relax with good movies all day, or maybe work on my latest book. It has turned into something to look forward to instead of a day to dread.
If you feel obligated to spend family time with your relatives or in-laws, just remember- you are an adult, & you can determine when you spend time with them & how much time you spend with them. I know many in-laws are like mine- expecting their daughters in-law to act as if she doesn’t have a family anymore, & spend the holidays with her in-laws, ignoring her parents. If you feel you must do this yet you resent it, then set a time limit! Tell your husband you don’t want to spend all day with them, maybe two hours instead, & that you want to spend time at home with him too. Or, suggest you visit his family the day or weekend before or after a holiday, & spend the actual holiday home with him.
Unfortunately I know some men are more concerned about spending a holiday with their family of origin than their wife. As I said though, I’ve turned holidays into a day to look forward to & you can do the same thing. It is either do that or be angry, so why not try to turn this negative into something more positive? Do something you enjoy that your husband doesn’t. Take a long bubble bath. Give yourself a manicure. Participate in your favorite hobby. Read a good book. It just makes more sense to me to try to be positive about this than be angry about something that won’t change until & unless your husband wants it to change.
A funny story- about 10 years ago, I was in counseling. My counselor was great- he was very nice, understanding & supportive. One time I saw him just after Thanksgiving. He asked what my husband & I did. I told him- hubby went to his parents’ house, & I stayed home knitting & watching movies. He was flustered! He understood why I didn’t speak to my in-laws, so he was shocked my husband went without me. I told him it’s happened many, many times. “But aren’t you angry?” I said no. “But! But! You have a right to be angry!” I told him I know that. I also know it doesn’t do any good since I can’t change my husband’s behavior. I prefer to change my perspective & just enjoy my quiet day at home. Poor man.. he didn’t know what to say! LOL He did understand my point, & agreed with me.
Anyway, just remember- don’t give in to holiday pressure from demanding & often dysfunctional relatives! Do what you feel comfortable doing! You have every right to celebrate or not celebrate the holidays however works for you!
In case you’re wondering what I’m doing on Thanksgiving? I’m going to spend my day relaxing, probably with netflix on the TV, furkids by my side & maybe getting in some writing. My husband will most likely spend the day with his parents. My mother invited me twice to go to dinner with my parents, but I refused. She isn’t happy about it, but she will survive. She will survive & I will enjoy a peaceful, relaxing day!
I wish you, Dear Readers, a very happy, peaceful Thanksgiving as well! xoxo