It seems that it gets worse every year, and this year it was the worst yet. About December 15th, I started fantasizing about screaming in the streets “I F-ing hate Christmas!” (I actually thought about saying “F-ing.” That is how repressed I am–I censor even my fantasies.)

Between my mom and her “since you dad left, I have no one” and my sister and her “how can we make sure everyone is happy and never left out?” and my dad’s “when can I stop by for half an hour and drop off presents?” the ol’ Christmas spirit ends up nowhere near me. Finally it all came to a head at Christmas. My mom and husband got into a very short argument, he announced that we were leaving, I cried for two days straight, he sent my mom an email trying to explain why he’d been upset then and how he’s been feeling slighted for years.

You also have a family (parents, siblings) and in-laws and a desire to create memories and traditions for your kids. Any advice? My mom forwarded the email to my sister, which I don’t appreciate, but she responded by emailing everyone in the family and suggesting that we start a conversation, which I do. I just feel like no matter what I say–or to whom–I’m going to end up breaking what was already a very fragile dynamic between my husband and my family.

This is crazy long, and feel free to edit. I’m trying not to be one-sided or too complainy, but I’m just so worried that not only am I never going to have this close relationship between my husband and family (which my brother-in-law seems to enjoy), but they’re not even going to tolerate one another, which leaves me feeling like I have to choose one.

Ah, The Holidays, where Your Aunt Becky likes to imagine that she really enjoys drinking or perhaps medicating herself heavily to get through them (side note: I do not)(sadly).

I don’t think you’re being one-sided in wanting to have some sort of traditions of your own at all because you’re an adult, and that’s kind of what adults do: they branch out on their own and start their own. Or, in the case of others, they do not.

This is where you are at an impasse, my friend. You must decide what is important to you. Not to your mom or your dad or your sisters or your brother or Aunt Sally down the block. (Because we have so much family that has to celebrate holidays at odd random times throughout the season, we’ll end up dragging Christmas out for 4 months if we’re not careful, so believe me when I say that I know this from experience)

But it’s your turn to decide what you want. You get to make the call.

Sure, you may piss some people off along the way, because everyone wants you for something because OBVIOUSLY, but this is where it ends: you cannot kill yourself over the holidays.

Or, if you decide that that’s how you want to play it, and you’re going to cater to everyone else, then you have to just accept that the holidays really aren’t about you anymore. Then you can set aside your own feelings and just accept that the holidays are fucking stressful. Plenty of people do it that way and manage just fine.

In the Sausage Factory, we simply say “no” to the things we’re not going to do. It’s not fair to my kids to drag them to every-fucking-thing that we’re invited to just because we’re invited and we feel like we should. My family, my children, well, we matter too. I’m not guilty or sorry about that. And if other people have a problem, well, they can come over and deal with the post-Holiday Meltdown while I go home to their quiet house.

Don’t feel guilty about standing up for yourself, okay? You matter too.

Aunt Becky,

I need your help.  We all – except for the receptionist – have nice offices where I work.  For over a year now, she comes in my office every day for lunch and sits at my meeting table eating and reading.  At first I thought it was cute, but now its just annoying.  What if I need to call my doc about a raging case of vag herpies? What if I’m interviewing for a new job?  I’ve tried closing my door at 11:50 – she just comes in anyway.  Help!

Hungry for Silence

I am BEYOND sympathetic for your plight, my friend, because I cannot even work on my computer with someone standing near me (and believe me that I’m using the term “work” veeerrry loosely here) so I cannot imagine how annoying it’s got to be to have someone with you during your one period of solitude.

I’m sure that she, on the other hand, sees no reason that this would be any sort of intrusion, the same way people who kiss hello on the cheeks don’t find that to be off-putting to those of us who do not. Clearly, if she’s not getting the “door shut” thing, she’s not going to get any other sort of subtle gesture and obviously you don’t want to hurt her feelings.

So, can you put her in a conference room saying that you need to make some “personal calls” a couple of times a week? Certainly, it’s not like HONEST or anything, but you don’t want to make it all weirdness at work and you can’t exactly be all “here, sweetie!! Let’s go sit it SUSAN’S office today!!!” Because she’s not a toddler. (I’m assuming.)

Or, you could start trying to sell her every sort of Avon, Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, Candlight Party, Sex Toy Party thing, Ginsu knives imaginable. That normally works like a charm to get people the hell away from you.

OR, better yet, you could start polishing your knife collection during your lunch break and pretend to be a serial killer. Then she’d leave YOU the hell alone.

OR, you could pretend to have just married a pillow.

BETTER YET, I’ll open up the floor to my faithful Pranksters who will probably have much better ideas than I do because my next course of action was to suggest filling her car with balloons. CLEARLY I am the unbalanced one.

As always, submit your questions to Go Ask Aunt Becky on the sidebar, yo, and fill in ANYWHERE I left off. Please, Pranksters, HELP THESE PEOPLE.

Comments = full of the awesome. Like gravy. I can haz an RSS RSS feed .

42 Responses to Go Ask Aunt Becky

  • mike says:

    I absolutely agree with Aunt Becky’s advice to the woman having problems with the extended family during the holiday season. To piggy-back on what I feel is one of the main points, at this stage in your life your “family unit” consists of you and your husband (and current/future bambinos) and should be your primary focus during the holidays. The memories that you help to cultivate now will be with (or haunt) you and your children forever.

    My wife comes from a divorced/remarried, split-your-time-equally family that live just 15 miles apart. Well homey don’t play that, and although we live on the east coast now, for awhile we were within driving distance of her familia. If we had let them dictate how we spent our holidays, my kids would have constantly been pulled in different directions. During our time out west my wife and I would invite both sides, but we set the terms, conditions and controlled the environment. By always setting ground rules and sticking to our agenda, our children have nothing but fond holiday memories.

    By the way, one of her parental units had no issues and was glad to be included in our holiday festivities. The other parental unit wanted to control everything and therefore missed out on spending time with the grandkids. This is also the set of grandparents that to this day my kids can barely identify over the phone.

  • ChristmasLover says:

    Ah Christmas….the one time a year when everyone you want to smother is in the same room!!
    Your family isn’t going to like your husband. The end. And they don’t have too. You like him, and that’s enough. Everyone can be civil to each other, get along at functions….but come on. You see these people a few times a year, right? He curls your toes every night, right? Kids yet – then once a week, right?
    I’m all for confronting your problem with your family and talking it out. Just don’t expect anyone to understand you. They are all to busy with their own problems. Your hubby will be the handy scapegoat. Hold his hand, and stand together.
    And next year – take a vacation. No shit. Skip it all. Go someplace warm and sandy. Start saving now!!!!!
    I started a tradition when we had our first son. We (me, husband, and now both sons) STAY HOME Christmas morning.
    We have done this now for almost 9 years. The families complain about it EVERY F-ING YEAR. We don’t care. I’m not caving in.
    We love our family time alone. The boys enjoy their presents, we cook lunch together as a family, watch whatever new videos we got, play with toys, it truly is our favorite day of the year.
    We still see our extended family – just on another day. There are 364 other days to choose from. As I keep reminding them.
    My husband is an only child. (which means we have the only grand kids) Yes, we get called selfish, and worse names. We don’t care. Our boys are important to us. We have LOTS of other time to spend with family. This is our boys’ only Christmas morning.
    Vacation is the easy way out!!! Best of luck to you!

  • Julie says:

    I think Hungry should march into the office of her HR manager and dump that problem right in someone else’s lap like the steaming load that it is.

    Uh, figuratively.

    HR exists in part to smooth out difficult issues between workers, yes? Let them deal with it. Then Hungry can be all “Ohhhh, yeah, that’s too bad” and sympathetic, but “what are you gonna do? Company rules!”

    Cowardly-ly yours,
    Julie

  • Julia says:

    I’ve found that the easiest way to deal with the too-many-people-to-visit-at-xmas-thing is to either move permanently, preferably to another country, or declare that you are going on vacation in another country for the entire xmas period. They may complain, but they’ll be too far away for you to hear them. If that’s too extreme, I guess Becky’s advice is a reasonable alternative.

    I can’t imagine having let someone invade my office every day for a year – I would have let her know after about two days that it wasn’t going to work. I suggest getting a new job somewhere with a lunchroom. If that isn’t an option, perhaps you could suggest that everyone from work stops eating in their offices and instead meets for lunch somewhere neutral (a conference room, nearby diner, picnic on the lawn) every day – then stop showing up for lunch and resume eating (alone) in your office. Hopefully she’ll have made a new lunchtime friend by then and can start invading their office.

  • moonspun says:

    oh that holiday thing is tough….but really, you want to pass on a sense of happiness about them to your kids? Becky is right, figure out what YOU want….to stay home on Christmas in your pj’s all day? DO IT!
    And the second dilemma? First, I’d ask her politely to find another place for lunch (isn’t there a breakroom) and for sure tell someone that it is instrusive!

  • Natalie says:

    We started going away at Christmas a few years ago. And not telling anyone where we are. It ROCKS. (Personally, I think Christmas should be cancelled. Gah.)

  • Why do family events and holidays have to bring such stress. If I had the stones to do it, I would stay home with my kids on Christmas Day and just chill in pajamas. But alas, I do not, I have no great suggestions for you except to echo Aunt Becky’s advice. You matter. Make your own traditions and don’t get stuck in the visit 10 houses in 5 days, world tour (THANK YOU NEW YORK, WE LOVE YOU!) that we do.

  • Jenn says:

    Christmas is… ugh. We were constantly getting pulled in a million different directions during the holidays (Thanksgiving/Christmas) until last year when I finally just grew a pair & told everyone, “THIS is what we’re doing this year. You can either work around it or not see us, your choice.” It was scary but it worked.

    As for Hungry, that would drive me INSANE. Does the office door have a lock on it? Maybe she could get one of those “do not disturb” signs for the door?

  • Scatteredmom says:

    Ahhh…Christmas.
    I’m the one with the husband that my entire family rallied for me NOT to marry, then threatened to disown when I did anyway. Despite our attempts to repair things and actually have a relationship, it never worked.

    There’s a bit more than the reader deciding what is best for her. Her and Hubs need to sit down and decide together what is best for their family for the holidays. What is the single thing that is most important to them?

    For us it was staying at home. Period. Sure, my family did get really irritated but so what? It’s our Christmas. You only get a handful of them with your kids when they are young.

    And she’s got to stop trying (and wishing for) a close relationship between her husband and parents, or letting herself be in the middle. Get out of the middle. Make them talk to each other without being the go between. Face the facts-they may never like each other. Also make clear to them that what they are doing isn’t fair to YOU. The relationship, if it develops or not, is up to them. It’s not her job to make it happen.

    As for the receptionist, why not just ask her nicely? Explain that you’d like some privacy and perhaps she could eat somewhere else for awhile?

  • Melissa says:

    Ugh, Christmas. I HATE it. Especially since I have a large family. Fortunately we have traditions that haved worked out well for most of us. Not sure my sister would say the same, or my other sister. My brother would probably disagree, oh and my other brother too. Not sure I agree either, but everything seems to revolve around my one sister who is married with children lol. That works for me. She even bought steak sauce last year to accomodate me for when she turns prime rib into pot roast. I like her a little.

    As for the receptionist, I feel you. Even though I work in a cubicle and am jealous that you have an office (that is only afforded to Partners in my company). A seasoned receptionist is usually good at what she does, and part of that is being intimidating. I worked as a receptionist for about a year when I was younger and found myself being cranky and found another job. Receptionists have to be hard core but nice at the same time. She probably wants to de-compress at lunch. I dont know why she picked you, but I feel for you. I would be scared too. I would go to a different office or conference room if I were in your shoes. That is how much receptionists scare me. I disagree with the HR thought above because I work at an office, and she will make your world a scary place at work. Your calls wont come in, they will get re-routed. She can make your world hell on earth. And I am sure HR is scared of her too. Receptionists have the power. I feel for them and am terrified of them at the same time. If they are long termers be afraid, be very afraid. They have the hardest job at the company. Imagine having to look good, and be nice to every fucking asshole in the world ALL.THE.TIME. It makes them very aggressive. (in the passive sense)

  • J.R. Reed says:

    This past Christmas was my first not being around my family (we moved from So. Cal. to Buffalo) and I cannot tell you what a great time it was not being around the bullshit. We have a small family and always did things with my brothers inlaws. Suffice it to say that they are snotty and arrogant. After the fourth “My trip to Italy was simply ruined by the baby crying on the plane” story I decided to throw down my own story. “Yeah? Well when Victor and I went to Tijuana there was this wicked ugly chick dancing in the strip club.” That shut them up quickly.

    Christmas 2009 was way rad and so are you Aunt Becky!!!!

  • Jennifer B says:

    Yeah, Christmas, or any holiday for that matter, can become a chore when your family just expects you to do things. I personally have just used my little ones as an excuse as often as possible. “Oh, sorry, no we can’t drive 4 hours to see you all and hang out, the little one has, uh, a fever, yeah. Wouldn’t want to pass that on to you all.” Eventually, the other members of the family come visiting somewhere around us and we all have a nice time together, and then we get to go home! And my kids can take their regularly scheduled naps, and I can breathe. I’m sure they all talk crap about how we never do the traveling, but I don’t really care. I see my husband for about 2 hours a week, and I’m not going to waste it driving somewhere.
    As for Hungry…. ugh. I am anti-confrontational, I would just go to the nearest Subway with a book and leave her there. Or if that is not an option, I would totally buy some house plants, set up a little wall, and then eat my lunch behind it with a book or the internet as my friend. Or call my mother, that would always take the whole time too. I’d hope that she’d get the message (though I’m sure she won’t because if she were clued in, she wouldn’t be invading in the first place).

  • Lucy Cooper says:

    Woman, you hit the fucking bullseye on the Christmas thing. I am full-up on catering to my crazy mother in law and finally this last season I told my husband ENOUGH. I think this year was finally bad enough that his disgust with her demands and insanity finally over-rode his sense of duty. We are going to be HOME this year- not at the crazy lady’s house.

  • CatPS says:

    Oh Christmas… IMNHO, AB hit the nail on the head. At some point you just have to say NO! My mom is divorced twice and now I am married, so that makes for a lot of X-mas travel. Add to that the fact that after 15 years my dad is still bitter… and my ex-stepfather who is the most manipulative & selfish person I’ve ever met (you’d actually love him if you met him and would think I’m crazy – he’s that ‘talented’) also wants us, his EX-stepchildren whom he treated like dirt, to come over and celebrate christmas with him. This year I said NO! and I still feel a little guilty, but I sure don’t regret it. Dealing with my still-bitter dad, plus my mom, two sets of grandparents and my in-laws was my limit. Sometimes you just have to identify your limits and gracefully refuse to push yourself past them.

    As far as the Hungry Hungry Receptionist… lock the door?!? And pick up the phone to make it look like you are too busy and can’t be disturbed. If she makes a fuss, the previous commenters were right – go to HR. This is what they do!

  • jeneria says:

    We take a trip during Christmas that takes us as far away from family as possible. About every third Christmas or so we leave the country. One year Mexico, another year a Caribbean cruise, this past year Amsterdam.

    Thankfully we don’t have kids so we don’t feel obligated to get into the stupidity that is Christmas with the shopping, the planning, and the gatherings. I could totally do without the stupid holiday.

  • CerahSee says:

    My advice for Hungry, I’m a teacher that has students that feel entitled to sit in my classroom before school every morning. Most mornings I don’t mind, but some days I just need peace and quiet.

    So, what I do is tell them that I have things like grading etc that need to be taken care of and that they’re not allowed in.

    You could even tell her that you have to call your doctor about this weird “rash” or your outbreak of vag herpes you’ve got going on. That might be enough to get her out of your office. If not, just tell her to go away. :)

  • Justme says:

    My advice to you, Hungry, is to talk to her. Not in a mushy, “let’s discuss this issue” way – I mean TALK to her. About everything. Car making a noise? Cat hack up an abnormally large hairball? Trouble with the in-laws? Tell her ALL about it. Heck, bring up the herpes if need be. She’ll be looking for her own space in no time.

  • Justme says:

    My advice to you, Hungry, is to talk to her. Not in a mushy, “let’s discuss this issue” way – I mean TALK to her. About everything. Car making a noise? Cat hack up an abnormally large hairball? Trouble with the in-laws? Tell her ALL about it. Heck, bring up the herpes if need be. She’ll be looking for her own space in no time.

  • Kyddryn says:

    When I was married, X-mas went like this: X-mas eve with the in-laws (the whole famdamily), lots of people drinking, smoking, and tallying who got the most gifts/value so they can hold a grudge for the rest of the year (or crow, if they’re the lucky one). Me in a corner trying to fend off cigarettes, protect my asthmatic son’s airway, and be poite yet firm in refusing alcohol/taking sides. Drive home way too late, put Evil Genius to bed, stocking stuff, then bed. I got up early to make breakfast, we did stockings and gifts, and then I did all the work of dressing the child, getting him in the car, and driving us to more family functions until we cam home, exhausted. The kids generally didn’t get to play with his new toys until the next day. And? I’m Pagan – I don’t even celebrate frikkin’ X-mas!

    Then one day, I had enough. I told the (then) husband “I’m done with this nonsense. Fomr now on, we spend the eve with your family, for two hours. That’s it. No more asthma treatments on x-mas day because people insist on smoking in his face, no more worrying about unattended cigarettes burning him because someone’s gesticulating with them. The child and I will leave precisely two hours after we walked through the door. Xmas day is at home, period, no negotiations. We sleep until we’re up, open gifts, and let the kid play until he drops in his tracks. Not negotioable. Anyone doesn’t like it, they can go pound sand or piss up a rope.

    Now I’m divorced, it’s even easier – the Evil Genius celebrates Yule with me and Xmas with his father and both families are happy.

    The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy – if they aren’t, it’s perfectly alright to make them so. If you families can’t handle that, tell them I said so, and they can take it up with me. So there.

    As for the lunch buddy issue…umm…I wonder if a simple “Do Not Disturb” or “Privacy, Please” sign would suffice? You could mention that, while she’s a perfectly lovely lunch companion, you need your lunch time to decompress, attend private matters, meditate, masturbate, or anything else you care to tell her, should she wonder why. If that won’t work, could you switch your lunch hour so you’re working while she’s at lunch, negating your office as an option?

    Shade and Sweetwater,
    K

    • amy says:

      Power to you K for doing what is best for your child and more to you..

      I agree, holidays supposed to be joyful and will do what I can to make sure my kids understand that. Great post.

  • ms.sinn says:

    Hungry obviously doesn’t want to confront her- after a year, if she were willing to do so, she would have already…so here are some more passive-aggressive ways of dealing with it:
    - Fill the table with personal items / plants / work / clean out your desk / leave it messy etc.
    - As mentioned already, talk to her about every. annoying. thing.
    - Have really loud uncomfortable phone conversations in her presence.
    - Invite other people in for lunch, and don’t leave room for her. (Or schedule a lunch meeting that doesn’t include her.)
    - Start using your lunch time to do aerobics. In your office.
    - Eat stinky food for lunch.
    - Clip your toenails at your desk while she’s there.

  • Tiffany says:

    I would mirror what everyone else is saying about Christmas. Try to please all and you will please none. So just do what is best for your husband and kids and yourself. You can always turn the ringer off on the phone so you don’t have to hear about it!

    As far as the lunching debacle, I would say to be up front with her about it. I wouldn’t go to HR about it without talking to her first, that is just asking for some serious junior high drama. It stinks to not have any privacy during lunch hour, for you and her both. Is there any alternative place with privacy for her to eat? If you are okay with her coming in a couple of times a week, say that you would be happy to share your office with her on those days. But otherwise just let her know that you need privacy to attend to personal matters that you don’t need a listening audience present for….If that isn’t going to work can you take a late lunches and work through her lunch? That way you can claim you need privacy for work and then have personal time while she’s busy.

  • GingerB says:

    As to Christmas, I got nothing. That shit is hard. Decide how much happiness you can give up and draw a line there.

    Hungry, I would confront. I was surprised by the comment of being afraid of a receptionist but having thought about it I see that point. I have heard of offices where people deal with fridge food theft by noting thier communicable diseases on the styrofoam box, you could try noting your communicable diseases in similar fashion.

  • GingerB says:

    And why is it that my comment comes up with a stinky poo avatar, Aunt Becky, why??

    • Melissa says:

      I was kinda (KINDA) tongue in cheek about receptionists. But you made me laugh about your stinky poo. I like my Ogre with the tongue sticking out.

      Aunt Becky is evil with the avitar’s she asigns.

      Add note – I am watching a Billy May’s advertisment and am kind of glad he notes that everyone can hear him while he is sitting in a car that isnt moving with a background that is. I will ALWAYS hear Billy Mays. He will never let us rest in peace.

  • Wishing4One says:

    I agree with most of what was said above. I don’t have any better advice, and I know next Christmas will definitely be a blog post.

  • Hampers says:

    just gone through your blog and found it awesome. It was nice going through your blog. keep it up the good work. cheers :)

  • mrs ellenoy says:

    I agree with Ms. Sinn on the ways to deter the receptionist. You could also point out that your workload/job has changed recently (because you know, EVERYTHING changes) and that you need to work during your lunch hour, and that some of that will include phone calls that need to be private.

    Surely your office has a break room somewhere….you can apologize and say how much you’ve enjoyed her company, but that you can’t have company in your office anymore.

  • pattypunker says:

    hungry for silence: turn on the fart machine during receptionist’s lunch visits. put the SBD dial all the way to 10.

  • amy says:

    BAAAA HAAAA! I love your ideas to make your co-worker go bye-bye :) Home party shit drives me batty and I steer clear. Yeah, invite me to your home. Feed me. But try to sell me crap I don’t need?? No thanksverymuch. Are we really THAT kind of ‘friends’?

    Kill her with office home parties. And if she feeds into it you have my permission to suck her dry :)

    As for Christmas we do what makes us happy.. Hubby is a firefighter and half the time not here for the holiday. We make what we can of it and celebrate when we can :)

    My family has been consistently wonderful in including us in their plans and I do my home cooked duty when I can when we are both home. And bring my share the year I am not hosting.

    The older I get the more I appreciate my family… I hope you all do too. However your families and special people have formed :)

  • amy says:

    I promise in future comments I will kill the :)’s.. Freaking annoying when you see them face to face..

  • Cyndi says:

    A solution to all the problems would be to become a Jehovah’s Witness. They don’t celebrate anything and NO ONE wants to talk to them at work.

    You could also become a JW who sells every impossible thing imaginable. Energy drinks. Vitamin supplements. Cruise packages. Purses. Body compression outfits. S&M supplies.

    Or you could just close the door and hang a sign on the outside that says “This property is protected by a pit bull with AIDS.” It may not be YOUR office much longer, but at least you’ll have some quiet time ahead.

  • Becky W. says:

    Like Cynid, my first instinct for “hungry” is to ask the receptionist directly “Have you accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal savior?” .. tee hee hee

  • Oh, Aunt Becky, the truth you speak about Christmas. Yes, anyone who want to get all upity because I am opting out of time honored hardcore family traditions is more than welcome to take care of the intense whining and crying that ensues after all our social obligations. I used to get all scared about what people think, and then I saw how crazy my kids get, and I thought screw this! So I took some power back this year, and going take even more next year. And it feels great!

    The bottom line is you have to do what is best for your family because no one else will.

  • Kori says:

    Um, what’s with all the passive-aggressive crap about the receptionist? If it is “your” office then you should simply say,”this is my office and I need you to find somewhere else to eat lunch.” Period. And then if she doesn’t, poison the food.

  • For the first question – what is the issue, here? Are there many issues? Do they just not get along? Try sitting everyone down with a mediator, like a pastor or a really level-headed and well-spoken family friend, or even a professional mediator. Maybe explaining their complaints to someone not invested in the situation can help everyone hear what is actually being said, not what they are taking personally. As for the super-close stuff; were you close to your parents/siblings before? Really close? If not, then the time to build those bridges is not during the holidays, believe it or not. It’s the rest of the year, when you’re not as frazzled and likely to snap at everyone. Keep in mind that the closeness you seem to be talking about is mostly seen only in commercials and holiday tv specials, you know? Maybe you would feel more fulfilled in getting closer to your kids and husband, especially if the other adults in this situation insist on being butthurt instead of mature and understanding adults.

    For the second question – I agree that receptionists are often treated like crap when they’re behind that big desk, and it’s very stressful on the best of days to get everything done and make even half of the people they come into contact with happy. When she’s on lunch, she probably just wants to decompress. Conference rooms are tricky; getting kicked out of the room in the middle of your egg salad sandwich sucks, especially when the people kicking you out are annoyed that you were in the room by yourself when they obviously needed it for IMPORTANT WORK. Is there a lunch room? An empty office? If this poor woman doesn’t have a place to eat other than her desk, then HR needs to come up with a solution for her. Not because you don’t want her in your office every day, but because she’s important and deserves a quiet spot of her own when she wants it. Approach the situation this way, not in frustration, and you’ll get better results for both of you.

  • Chris says:

    DH and I went through that whole who-spends-time-with-whom-on-Christmas thing too. Even worse, both my parents and DH’s parents live right here. In town. Less than 10 minutes away. Seriously.

    When I had DD, my first holiday rule was that on Christmas morning, we spend it at home. No one comes to our house, we don’t leave. Our children deserve to play with their toys, and we get enough holidays screw up our schedules meltdowns as it is. We spend some time on Christmas eve with my parents, and since DH’s parents have opted not to be a part of our lives (trust me, no loss there) we are much happier. I want my kids to have good memories of Christmas, not of being dragged from stem to stern.

    Our Christmases are peaceful and relaxing and we like it that way.

  • MamaTech says:

    Oh my, CHRISTMAS!! And the power of family to make you feel guilty. The first Christmas I was married, his father was AT OUR HOUSE POUNDING ON THE DOOR at 6am – “Everybody’s there already, we’re waiting on you!” We had not been married a month I tell you and already the guilt trips started. Turns out that his extended family had Christmas Eve traditions (we had just spent Christmas Eve at his aunt’s house, kids shooting fireworks, tons of food, big bonfire – not bad but a full dose of huge family); Christmas Day, everyone – and I do mean EVERYONE – was expected at his mother’s house for Christmas Dinner and his parents wanted to have “family” Christmas before everyone got there. My family had a big family Christmas breakfast together tradition – not as huge as hubby’s family but still.

    I had to put my foot down early and so did he. He told his dad that first Christmas that “We’ll get to Mama’s when we get there. Don’t wait for us.” We eventually came to an uneasy truce, always breakfast with my parents and dinner with his (they lived less than 3 miles apart and less than 5 from us) and for years managed Christmas at both houses. The kids suffered through it for years.

    I’m the mother-in-law / gramma now. I decreed that Christmas is for FAMILIES – not the gramma-grampa family but the mom-dad-kids family. Once they got married and had families of their own, I have insisted that they make their own Christmas tradition. I want my grandchildren to experience Christmas MAGIC on Christmas morning, not running around, irritable, mom and dad grouchy, trying to make relatives that they never see otherwise happy. I want them to be able to spend the day in their jammies if they want, uninterrupted by “family” hoopla and drama. (It’s the South, there’s always sine soap opera drama at one in-law’s or another.) They are welcome to come to Lovey’s house if they want, and they are still “expected” at MIL’s house (can’t change her), but it’s not required. I refuse to be the bad guy.

    We all get together between Christmas and New Year, preferably on a weekend, and it’s soooo much calmer and quieter and my kids can enjoy being with their siblings, I can enjoy the family together and nobody feels like they are on a schedule.

    This has worked well for all of us, especially now that one of my children is married and 6 hours away. When she and her hubby come home the weekend after Christmas, they can visit with whom they want in a liesurely fashion (kills my MIL, she wants to show them off on Christmas day when the house is so packed you can’t move). They all love it.

    As for the receptionist, here’s something I am AMAZED Aunt Becky did not suggest: Phone sex (real or fake, won’t matter) with your Significant Other. Noisy, drama-filled, embarassing phone sex. *grin* Just a thought.

    • MamaTech says:

      just kidding about the phone sex really – I know you can’t really do that in an office environment if you want to keep your job and your dignity – but OH imagine the FUN you could have with that! MT

    • Your Aunt Becky
      Twitter: mommywantsvodka
      says:

      DUDE. PHONE SEX! Where WERE you when I was writing this?!? I needed you?

      Also, you’re amazing. Seriously, if more people were like you, the holidays would be easy!

  • Kendra says:

    Owning up to the Christmas question–thank you so much, Aunt Becky, for all the wonderful advice and support! After the terrible holiday blowout, things have improved. Part of it was that I am terrible disorganized and tended not to pass on messages, so now (with my blessing) my huband and family are CC’ing each other on emails they send to me. That kind of thing has really decreased the misinterpreted messages. When my sister wants to get everyone together for Easter, she can email me and CC my husband. He can answer her right away and let her know whether we have plans that day, since he has the mental family calendar.

    But bigger picture, I decided that I wasn’t going to be put in the middle, I wasn’t going to answer for anyone else, and I wasn’t going to go along with things for fear of making someone mad. It made a lot of people mad when I decided that, but it’s improved since. I’m learning to say “I don’t know if I want to do that. Let me get back to you,” instead of “yes,” and then “dammit! I didn’t want to do that!” And it’s so great to hear that other families like ours (with kids, and family, often in many pieces, all nearby) are deciding to stay home on Christmas. I like going to my brother-in-law’s on Christmas Eve, and I like staying home on Christmas Day. I really got the sense that we were being selfish and insensitive and “choosing” his family instead of mine. But it’s what makes us happy. I’m so glad to hear that others have made the same decision!

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