Author Topic: Help! Where do I spend Christmas? (long) update p25, p45  (Read 5363 times)

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LifeOnPluto

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Help! Where do I spend Christmas? (long) update p25, p45
« on: October 21, 2012, 07:15:23 AM »
This isn't really an etiquette issue, so I've put it here. Mods, feel free to move if appropriate.


DF and I live in CurrentCity. My HomeCity is a 4 hour flight away. DF’s HomeCity is a 5 hour drive away.

We’ve been together for six years, and have always spent Christmas Day (and the days surrounding it) separately. Normally, we have our own Christmas Dinner on about the 20th, with just the two of us, We exchange gifts, and cook a turkey, pop crackers, etc. The next day, I fly back to MyHomeCity where I spend a week or two. DF drives up to HisHomeCity to spend a few days with his family.

My family tends to place a lot of importance on Christmas. On Christmas Day, we have a celebration with my mother’s relatives with a proper lunch and games afterwards; and on Boxing Day we catch up with all my father’s relatives. I also have close friends from high school and university in MyHomeCity with whom I enjoy catching up over the Christmas break. People organise BBQs, or we all meet for dinner at a restaurant or drinks at a pub. Basically, it’s a really fun time.

By contrast, DF’s family have a very low key Christmas. It’s just his parents, brother, niece, and DF. They basically have a platter of cold turkey and salad, then DF, his brother, and father sit around all afternoon drinking beer, and watching his niece play with her toys. His mum has a nap or watches telly. For various reasons, they don’t catch up with extended family. In any case, DF reckons that his family are boring, and doesn’t want to spend long periods of time with them. Also, DF doesn’t have any friends in HisHomeCity. He normally spends Christmas Day with his family, then goes out to their nearby holiday house by himself for a few days.

This year, DF wants to stay in our Current City for the Christmas break. He also wants me to give up my usual trip to MyHomeCity, so we can spend the Christmas break together, just the two of us. This is going to sound terrible, but that doesn’t really appeal to me at all.

For one, it means I’ll miss out on seeing all my family and friends (who I only get to see once or twice a year) and on all the fun and excitement. I also know that my mum in particular would be extremely sad if I didn’t come home for Christmas.

Secondly, Current City isn’t a good place to be over the Christmas break. It has a very transplanted population, which means that most people return to their Home States, or go away to the beach. It turns into a ghost town. This means that all our friends would be out of town, so we couldn’t have people over or anything. In addition, lots of Current City’s restaurants and bars close down over the break. Basically, there’d be nothing much to do, except maybe visit the cinema or shopping mall.

Thirdly, DF and I spend most of our weekends and all other holidays together anyway (eg Easter, Australia Day, etc). We just potter around the house, maybe watch a DVD, go for a walk, etc. DF also likes just sitting around, doing nothing, and knocking back the beers. As a result, he often spends the afternoons of these holidays drinking, and then crashing into bed early. I find this quite boring, and have a suspicion that this is how Christmas Day with just the two of us would pan out. I want Christmas to be more special than just a regular public holiday at home.

I’ve suggested that he come with me to MyHomeCity, and we spend Christmas together there with my family. (My parents have said he’s welcome to come and stay). But he doesn’t want to, as he’s not the biggest fan of my parents. Inviting both our families to Current City also is not an option. (For various reasons, both our families are unwilling and unable to visit us here over Christmas).

I honestly don’t know what to do. I’d much rather spend Christmas in MyHomeCity. However, I know that DF is well… my DF, and I should be prioritising him. Part of me thinks that if it would truly make him happy, I should suck it up, and spend Christmas in Current City with “just us”. But dang, it’s going to be tough.

DF thinks I’m selfish for not wanting to spend Christmas in Current City with him. My mother thinks that DF is selfish for expecting me to stay behind and have a dull Christmas, without my family and friends, whom I hardly ever see. No matter what I choose, someone is going to be upset.

Any suggestions, please?!

« Last Edit: October 23, 2012, 06:23:40 AM by LifeOnPluto »

Redsoil

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Re: Help! Where do I spend Christmas? (long)
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2012, 08:02:06 AM »
Could you spend Christmas day with him and fly up on Boxing Day to your parent's place?  That way, he gets his wish for a Christmas together, plus his usual "chill" time, and you can hopefully still get to see quite a few people?
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Carotte

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Re: Help! Where do I spend Christmas? (long)
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2012, 08:09:43 AM »
I'm siding with your mother and thinking DF is being selfish and even a bit rude to try and pressure-force you to change your plans. You both had "plans by default", it's not your fault he decided to change his (tho I understand why he did and that he has everyright to do so).
He knew about your plans, and probably how much you enjoy seeing your family and how you can only see them only a couple of times per year. You even invited him along.

I would really try to emphasize what you said "For one, it means I'll miss out on seeing all my family and friends (who I only get to see once or twice a year) and on all the fun and excitement. I also know that my mum in particular would be extremely sad if I didn't come home for Christmas. ", telling him it's too short notice to change your plans, and don't know when you'll be able to see Aunt Muriel again, it's Bobby first Christmas and hey, John is back from abroad! - whereas you two can see eachother
everyweeks.
It seems pretty important for you to go so you should really stress that out and make him understand that.

Lady Snowdon

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Re: Help! Where do I spend Christmas? (long)
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2012, 08:17:49 AM »
Oof, that's a tough one!  When you've talked to your DF about this, do you think he understands just how much you want to go back home?  If his family's Christmas isn't really that great, then he may be thinking you don't want to go back as much as you really do.  I would try emphasizing all the things that you want to participate in, and that you really do think it's all fun.  Of course, if he's as much of an introvert as I am, that might backfire, since I would be horrified at the idea of spending that much time with other people! 

Another thought - you mention "Christmas break", which leads me to believe it's more than just a couple of days.  Is there any way you can split the time up, to stay with your DF and to still visit your family?

Last thought - If you agree to do what your DF wants, is there another holiday that you get time off for, that you can plan to go up and visit your family at that time?  It won't be Christmas, but at least it would allow you to spend some time with your family.  My DH and I are in the States, and we spend Thanksgiving with one family, Christmas with the other family, and then switch the next year.  So I miss Christmas with my family every other year, but we're out there for Thanksgiving, so I'm not entirely missing out on spending time with them. 

camlan

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Re: Help! Where do I spend Christmas? (long)
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2012, 08:19:46 AM »
There really isn't any one correct answer to your dilemma. But here's what I'm thinking.

I'm guessing that although the two of you have been together for six years, you haven't been engaged that entire time? The engagement marks a change in your relationship. The question of what to do over Christmas is just one symptom of that change.

Forgetting about this year for a minute, how do you see the two of you celebrating Christmas moving forward? You aren't a big fan of his family's Christmas celebration, he's not a big fan of your parents. So spending the holidays with either family will cause one of you some problems. If you are planning on having children, the issue gets even stickier, if the grandparents want to see the grandchildren. Now, while you don't have the complication of children, is a good time for you and your DF to sit down and figure out how you would like to handle the holidays. Plan now to alternate your Christmas celebrations. One year your family. The next his. And maybe, the third by yourselves. Either a two year cycle or a three year cycle.

I think you should go along with your DF's suggestion of a Christmas for just the two of you, either this year or next year. But don't accept the status quo. Discuss your feelings about a stay-at-home Christmas with your DF. Explain that you are concerned about being bored. Ask him to let this year be a trial year--that if you are miserably unhappy, the two of you won't repeat the experiment. Tell him flat out that getting drunk and going to bed early every day of the holiday is not an option. And if you spend Christmas in CurrentCity with him, there will be a separate trip at some other time for you to go home and see your family and friends.

Then figure out some fun things to do. Treat your city as if you were a tourist stranded there for the holiday and search out activities that you both might enjoy. Somewhere there's a carol service. Somewhere there's a cheesy amateur production of "A Christmas Carol." Go to the beach. Do the museums and historical sites shut down? Plan a trip to the movies.

After the holidays, have a frank discussion about how things went and decide if you want to repeat it. It might be that you enjoyed having the holiday be just the two of you, but you decide that you need to get out of your city, like the rest of the residents, in order to enjoy the holiday. Or maybe you both hated it. Or maybe one of you liked it, and the other hated it, in which case more discussion and some compromise is needed.

Your family's Christmas is a time for you to reconnect with family and friends. Is it possible for you to do that at a different time? Instead of having the early celebration with your DF, could you have an early celebration with your family? Fly out to see them, alone or with DF, either early in December or for New Year's? Or use another holiday to go and see them? You don't have to tie seeing friends and family in with Christmas every year.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


bonyk

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Re: Help! Where do I spend Christmas? (long)
« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2012, 08:30:23 AM »
I agree that this decision is bigger than just this year.  You mentioned that DH does not want to stay with your parents; how would DH feel about a hotel?  That way if DH needs some down time, he can go back to watch some TV/take a nap/go for a swim.  You can even plan some alone time for the two of you.

veryfluffy

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Re: Help! Where do I spend Christmas? (long)
« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2012, 08:37:52 AM »
I'm absolutely with your mother on this one -- DF is the one who is being selfish. He doesn't want to spend a boring Christmas with his family, yet he doesn't want you to spend time that you enjoy tremendously with yours. That is selfish.

It would be different if he was saying, "Let's have a really special romantic Christmas at home" and making elaborate plans to do exciting things.

In this case, someone needs to tell him to suck it up and go with you to your family's for the holiday.
   

camlan

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Re: Help! Where do I spend Christmas? (long)
« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2012, 09:07:22 AM »
I re-read your post and had another thought.

Is it possible for the two of you to spend Christmas at his family's holiday house, just the two of you?

You need to work through what is the real issue here. Missing Christmas with your family? Once most people are married, there is an expectation that Christmases will be shared with both sides of the family. Insisting on spending this Christmas with your family is only postponing the time when you will need to spend Christmas away from them. Unless you can get DF to agree to spend all Christmases with your family, which, since he doesn't like them, sounds a bit hard on him. 

Or is it spending Christmas in CurrentCity? In which case, you and DF can go somewhere else for Christmas, somewhere that isn't near either of your families. He gets Christmas with just you; you get to leave CurrentCity and have a lovely vacation somewhere else.

Or is it that you really want to spend the time with your family and not your DF? That if you had to choose, you'd leave him alone and visit with your family? Then I think you and he need to have some heart-to-heart talks.
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buvezdevin

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Re: Help! Where do I spend Christmas? (long)
« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2012, 09:56:31 AM »
I agree with those who suggest looking at this in a bigger picture sense than this year only.

It sounds as though there are two differences in the preferences of you and your DH, 1. Who to spend Christmas holidays with, and separately 2. *how* to spend those holidays, as you seem to want different levels of activity, celebration and socializing.

A lot of couples alternate celebrating holidays in different years so each has equal years spent with their family, and/or when they marry/have children/move away many couples start their own traditions for celebrating holidays.

However you and your DF decide to spend this year's Christmas, your different preferences each merit consideration, so I would suggest approaching the discussion with your DF after you have thought through whatever things you would want to see becoming your shared tradition for holidays and whether it may work to do "his" way one year, "yours" the next - or if there are ways you can jointly celebrate each year going forward that will work well for you both.
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Talley

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Re: Help! Where do I spend Christmas? (long)
« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2012, 10:07:46 AM »
It may be time to sit down with DF and have a talk about your expectations and his expectations regarding Christmas and any other such occasions in general. I mean, this is your DF, who will be your DH and hence your closest family. You might want to start your own Christmas traditions. I don't know if this is on the cards for you, but what if you have children one day?

I have been in a similar situation for many years. DH's family lives in Place A (and they have a big Christmas party), my family lives in Place B (a very much smaller setup for Christmas) and we live in Place C, and the three places are pretty far apart. Somehow we slipped into this Christmas rotation - one year Place A, the next Place B etc. We just went along with whatever was the norm for each side of the family. And now I actually regret this a lot. I really wish we had our own Christmas traditions, things that only DH and I (plus DD) do together. This year, we do get to stay home, due to circumstances beyond our control. Otherwise it would have been Place A. We will miss seeing family and friends, yes, but we can make our own little Christmas party just as special as the big one in Place A. We just have to adjust our expectations.

So, I guess this is a bit of a cautionary tale. What I am trying to say is that you have to look at what both of you want - not just this year but in all the years to come, and work out something that makes both of you happy. Perhaps going somewhere else entirely, just the two of you together, might be an option? Or you could at least give the Christmas in your hometown a try?


SiotehCat

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Re: Help! Where do I spend Christmas? (long)
« Reply #10 on: October 21, 2012, 10:24:03 AM »
LifeonPluto, your situation is almost exactly like mine!

DH and I spend Christmas apart. I go to my family, almost 1800 miles away, for two weeks. He goes to his family, an hour away, for two days. We throw big parties and have lots of people over. Drinking, games, movies, family, all that stuff. Dh's family is just himself and his parents. They go out for a fancy dinner on Christmas eve and cook Christmas lunch the next day.

I couldn't imagine not going back home for Christmas. It gives me what I need to keep going before I see them again in the summer. It's also a big deal to my parents that we are all together during that time.

I would tell DF to join or not, but I was going. I am just not prepared to spend the rest of my Christmas vacations without my family.

Frostblooded

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Re: Help! Where do I spend Christmas? (long)
« Reply #11 on: October 21, 2012, 10:28:39 AM »
Other posters have touched on some fabulous points throughout their posts, but there is one thing that is bothering me. Why did you tell your mother about your DF's choice? I believe this was not only wrong, but unfair towards him. You have now placed her in the middle of your relationship, and if I were him, I would be absolutely furious with you for divulging this private decision between the two of you -- oftentimes on this board we see instances where a parent on one side rails against the other, it's definitely the pits. I think you need to keep her out of it, it's not her decision and not her business. I have to say, I sympathize with your DF here. He wants to spend time with YOU, and is getting called "selfish" for it. Sometimes in our lives those days when we have time off to just do regular things with our significant others, those mean a lot to us and we cherish those. If my spouse told me that the activities I wanted to do with them were "boring" and they didn't want to spend Christmas alone with me, I would be hurt.

However, I do think you should perhaps talk to him about exactly why it is boring, this is give-and-take between the two of you and both should be spending equally on the relationship. Perhaps he should give up the drinking for an evening and do something you would warmly enjoy spending time together doing on the holiday.

QueenofAllThings

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Re: Help! Where do I spend Christmas? (long)
« Reply #12 on: October 21, 2012, 10:43:56 AM »
I agree what others have said. You are creating a new family with DF, and along with a new family comes new traditions. This issue won't go away - you will have two sets of parents to deal with, and it will only get more complicated if grandchildren come along one day.

Sit down with him and come up with something new. Let him know that Christmas is special to you, and the idea of 'sitting around' doesn't appeal. Can you go see your family the weekend before Christmas? Come home in time to have Christmas with DF, and plan special things together.

Jocelyn

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Re: Help! Where do I spend Christmas? (long)
« Reply #13 on: October 21, 2012, 11:48:03 AM »
I recommend looking at the long run, too.
My sister married almost 40 years ago. We had to work out holidays. It was not a happy time. Personally (and remember I was a kid when all this started) I resented uniting our family Christmas with my BIL's family in any way.
But you know what? Forty years later, I never married, and these people are extended family. I can't begin to list the ways that my sister's ILs have been a blessing as well as an annoyance over the years. But then, that's true of the families I was born into...
You need to establish an identity as a couple. You need to decide about how you'd celebrate the holidays if you had children- surely you wouldn't expect children to have Christmas without one of their parents. And keep in mind that your family Christmas is bound to change as your siblings marry, too. They may be bringing new spouses, or time-sharing with their ILs. The two of you need to decide what YOUR Christmas is going to be.
For decades, my family didn't celebrate on the 25th, because of people's work schedules. If your family wants to include you, then see what they're willing to do differently. Yes, they worked out a Christmas schedule that's worked well for them over the years. But suppose you or one of your siblings had taken up a career that required them to work on the holidays? Or where they couldn't get extended time off to come and visit?  Or suppose someone had a child who had a medical reason that they couldn't travel? (which happened in my family) All of these situations require a family to decide whether old traditions, or creating new ones to include new people, is more important. While this is probably not the year for all this, you do need to work out what you'll do for the rest of your life, because this one isn't going to go away.
And as for your DF, what does 'sitting around' mean to him? If you found out that just sitting on the sofa with you gave him an incredible feeling of happiness and well-being, rather than being a 'didn't plan anything better' activity, how could you include that?
During the years when our family didn't gather on Christmas because I was on call, I would celebrate the day by fixing a feast of ethnic food (nothing like what my family would be serving) and stack up videos for a film festival, or choose some other activity that got me away from watching broadcast TV. That's a sure route to being depressed, watching Christmas specials about happy families gathering when you're alone. :'( I know a Jewish family who has turned Christmas into a celebration of family unity- they play games together, go for a walk, that sort of thing.
And as for your DF not being fond of your parents...how does he expect to become fond of them without sharing some good times with them? Is going through the rest of his life not being fond of his ILs really his chosen option? Does your family try to make him an integral part of the holidays? Or is he expected to do all the adapting? I had a friend whose family was like that...when she was the first to marry, her father made no bones about expecting his daughter to keep on being primarily Daddy's Little Girl, and her husband should just blend into the wallpaper and be a spectator at THEIR family's Christmas.
Although I do recommend hotels. A few hours away from family can be a Very Good Thing. ;)

Deetee

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Re: Help! Where do I spend Christmas? (long)
« Reply #14 on: October 21, 2012, 12:01:59 PM »
I'm absolutely with your mother on this one -- DF is the one who is being selfish. He doesn't want to spend a boring Christmas with his family, yet he doesn't want you to spend time that you enjoy tremendously with yours. That is selfish.

It would be different if he was saying, "Let's have a really special romantic Christmas at home" and making elaborate plans to do exciting things.

In this case, someone needs to tell him to suck it up and go with you to your family's for the holiday.

I agree with everything said here. It sums it up so perfectly that I have nothing to add.