Author Topic: No, I don't want to sing - getting out of holiday traditions  (Read 8930 times)

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AylaM

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No, I don't want to sing - getting out of holiday traditions
« on: November 23, 2012, 12:49:43 AM »
My uncle got married a few years back and his wife has different expectations of what should occur on family holidays.

It is nothing too bad, but lately she's been trying to add events that I (and some others, but I don't know about everyone) just don't want to participate in.

Before she joined the family our events were all rather low key.  We get together and watch parades/football/holiday specials, play cards, talk, ate, and open gifts.

Mostly the new stuff has to do with music and performance.  The first Christmas she decided that we should all gather around the piano and sing carols while she played.  We joked that she'd obviously never heard us sing, and that she should consider herself lucky.  She was disappointed, but didn't mention it again for a year or so.

She hosted Christmas last year and insisted that each family come with a performance piece to share.  We were treated to opera singing, a family slide show, and kids playing instruments and singing.  Then we were expected to sing carols around the piano while she played.

Yesterday, after Thanksgiving dinner,  we listened to kids playing instruments again.  This year Christmas is at her house again.

Even if all the performers were good I'd not want to be held captive.  As a disclaimer, I don't object to her right to do as she pleases in this case while she hosts, but I don't want to join in.  I've tried being busy while she is gathering people, but she keeps pestering people until they join.   Everyone else seems to fold, and I got a few comments from people I am closest to about just going along with it.  So I've just sucked it up.

But I don't want to have to do it again.  I feel silly singing.  Actually I don't sing, I lip sync. And if I wanted to listen to opera...I'd go to the opera!  If it was ten minutes I might be ok. I'd be annoyed and still not want to do it....but last year the whole performance thing went on for an hour.

How do I get out of this?
« Last Edit: November 23, 2012, 01:08:36 AM by KayMarie »

Bijou

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Re: No, I don't want to sing - getting out of holiday traditions
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2012, 04:51:17 AM »
Have you considered hosting the dinner yourself or alternating?
I've never knitted anything I could recognize when it was finished.  Actually, I've never finished anything, much to my family's relief.

Sharnita

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Re: No, I don't want to sing - getting out of holiday traditions
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2012, 04:57:32 AM »
There is always the option of each doing their own, as well.

AylaM

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Re: No, I don't want to sing - getting out of holiday traditions
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2012, 09:18:34 AM »
We alternate hosting holidays and, because of previous events, we held quite a few at our house so it others people's turn to host for a few years.  Thanksgiving wasn't at her house, but at the house of the musical kids.  So it seems that even when she isn't at her house she is trying to put things on.

Next year's Christmas party will be at a different house (the one we had thanksgiving at this year).  And it probably won't be our turn to host Christmas until the year after that.

I enjoy the family gatherings so even though I really don't like this new thing she is trying to instate I don't hate it enough to miss out on everything yet.

Luci45

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Re: No, I don't want to sing - getting out of holiday traditions
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2012, 09:42:13 AM »
You don't really seem commited to not participating. It sounds as if most of the others kind of like it. When it comes to your performance, just say, 'No, thank you.' (No one has ever heard me play the piano, despite the few years they tried to force me to. I just said I only played for myself. End of discussion. No more arguing or explaining - hmmmm, sounds like I knew not to JADE 45 years ago!)

You really can be pleasant and not participate without making a rude big deal out of it. Maybe there are others who feel the same. It's a hour or more out of your life if you hate it. It's only an hour out of your life if you just want to go along but stay in the background.

TootsNYC

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Re: No, I don't want to sing - getting out of holiday traditions
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2012, 10:23:11 AM »
Based on my own recent experience, I might suggest that you stop fighting this and stop thinking of it as all that annoying.

The group singing of Christmas carols has a charm, and you don't have to sing to enjoy it. So find some way in which you could enjoy that half-hour, and try to exercise that. Either stand around listening to everyone else--don't even bother to lip sync, just listen. Or sit on the sofa and be the audience.

And then say that--if you indicate to Aunt that you're participating in some way, instead of looking as though you're rejecting everything about it, she won't be quite as tempted to badger you. "Aunt, singing is not my thing, so I'm going to sit here and enjoy watching and listening to you all. Every Christmas caroler needs an audience, right?"

When people badger you, that's the time for the absolute cut-and-paste. Same exact words. Because it underlines the idea that you have given them an answer, and there is only one.

And if that doesn't work, then say, "Aunt, singing is not my thing. Please respect that."


You really can be pleasant and not participate without making a rude big deal out of it. . . . It's a hour or more out of your life if you hate it. It's only an hour out of your life if you just want to go along but stay in the background.

Luci45 has a point.

Also, from my own recent experience--all the stewing you do when you're NOT caroling needs to be counted, too. (This post, and all the times you check it, should count. Add them up--you'll be surprised.) If you drop the stewing, and resenting, it'll be only an hour.

One other point: all traditions start somewhere.

I'm also likening this to my late-in-life "acquiring a taste" for coffee. I first tried it black. Couldn't stand it (but loved the smell). Recently I tried the International Coffees from Nestle, which have a lot of dry milk and sugar. Liked them! Not an easy or automatic thing to like, still. But it gave me a transition in. Probably in a couple of years I'll use less sugar--I can tell that this will come.


AylaM

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Re: No, I don't want to sing - getting out of holiday traditions
« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2012, 10:38:39 AM »
I am committed to not participating in the performances.  But if the option is "sing carols for an hour" or "spend Christmas alone" I'd rather suck it up.  Ideally I could be busy with something else while the concert is going on, but that hasn't been working.  Yesterday I was helping out in the kitchen.  If aunt wasn't sending in the kid to say "come listen to me play" she was coming in to say "hey, she's playing, come listen now".  Saying  "you can start without me" didn't seem to work and "we can hear it form here" was also a no-go.  In the end I ran out of busy tasks and returned to the living room to watch football.  At which point the concert started. 

We got out of performing last year with a slide show mom made, so I don't mind that part as much.  I can easily say no to the performance part.  It is the having to watch the other performances and the caroling that get to me.  Heck, I stopped singing in the shower when it became apparent that others could hear me.   

I tried just being in the room not singing until I got called on it for being a grump.  I thought I was being sociable by being there, but apparently I was wrong.  So I started lip-syncing/mumbling.  Then I was grumpy.  As I've said I've tried being busy but she just pesters people until they agree to join.  I got scolded by my parents to "just go with it" last year.

I just don't know what to do and was hoping someone had some ideas on it.  I'll try and find a cut-and-paste phrase, but I'll admit to being ticked off at the need for compliance.

I've, personally, never found caroling to be charming or fun.  I won't say anything bad about it, as I know others enjoy it.  I just don't want to be part of it.


mrs_deb

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Re: No, I don't want to sing - getting out of holiday traditions
« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2012, 10:55:27 AM »
I like TootsNYC's answer of "Aunt, singing is not my thing. Please respect that." or whatever similar wording works with the activity they're trying to pressure you into.  I'd hope that declining, with "Please respect that" added on, can't be argued with.  I know people WILL...but I'd keep repeating it.  It's shameful not to respect your decision.

LeveeWoman

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Re: No, I don't want to sing - getting out of holiday traditions
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2012, 11:06:01 AM »
She's a bully. You either do what she demands because she calls it "fun" or you get chastised.

weeblewobble

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Re: No, I don't want to sing - getting out of holiday traditions
« Reply #9 on: November 23, 2012, 11:43:15 AM »
Personally i would be far more annoyed with her pestering and refusal to hear "no" than with a newcomer changing traditions.  Your parents are wrong to tell you to suck it up.  You're an adult.  You're not doing anything wrong. She has no right to demand that you fulfill her vision of what makes a holiday. Is there any way you could talk to your parents /grandparents/ other members of aunts generation about how much you miss the laid back, low key xmases of your youth? Or how aunts bullying is making you feel isolated and alienated from your family? 

And when aunt confronts you when you are busying yourself with other things, i would just give her the dead eyed stare and say no. No explanations ot excuses. Just no.  Be a brick wall.
Or you could leave once the musical portion of the evening starts up. Seriously i don't blame you. This sounds like my idea of hell.

It sucks that the demands of one person have completely changed the way your family celebrates.  What a special snowflake.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2012, 11:48:38 AM by weeblewobble »

GSNW

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Re: No, I don't want to sing - getting out of holiday traditions
« Reply #10 on: November 23, 2012, 11:49:46 AM »
It can be really difficult to assert yourself as an adult member if a large family group that has known you since babyhood.  It's ok for you to say you don't want to carol, and it's ok for you to decline to perform on command.  I like to phrasing others have suggested, a tweak could be, "Aunt, I do not enjoy singing but I'd glad to listen.  Please respect that."  Even if you're NOT thrilled to listen, it's not that big if a deal to passively participate in an activity your host has organized.  I do think , however, that your parents need to also be given a dose of "please respect that."  Scolding you for declining an activity isn't appropriate, it's not like you're five and refusing to eat your sprouts. 

The hunt n wrangle attitude of the aunt is a little pushy IMO.  I'd be interested to hear if she tries to force this sort of thing when she isn't actually hosting.

SleepyKitty

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Re: No, I don't want to sing - getting out of holiday traditions
« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2012, 01:11:35 PM »
Ideally I could be busy with something else while the concert is going on, but that hasn't been working.  Yesterday I was helping out in the kitchen.  If aunt wasn't sending in the kid to say "come listen to me play" she was coming in to say "hey, she's playing, come listen now".  Saying  "you can start without me" didn't seem to work and "we can hear it form here" was also a no-go.  In the end I ran out of busy tasks and returned to the living room to watch football.  At which point the concert started....

I can easily say no to the performance part.  It is the having to watch the other performances and the caroling that get to me.

I've, personally, never found caroling to be charming or fun.  I won't say anything bad about it, as I know others enjoy it.  I just don't want to be part of it.

I don't think Aunt is trying to do this out of some masochistic glee at making other perform for her. I think she's doing it because she's a little clueless, a little too pushy, but ultimately because she genuinely thinks this is a good way for families to come together over the holidays. The way I see it, you're trying to be totally outside these little shows. It may be interpreted by your Aunt as a kind of rejection of the holidays and family. By refusing to even be in the same room as the performances, you're sending a message. You may think the message is: "I don't enjoy performing", but she may think the message is something much different.

The bolded is where I think you ought to compromise. I know it may not be fun, but you should ask yourself exactly what you're trying to accomplish by this. If you have no problem saying no to being forced to perform, and the issue is just that you're trying to get out of watching, I personally think that for the sake of the family you should just accept that you're going to spend one hour out of the holiday being bored.

You don't have to do anything that makes you uncomfortable. Just to throw that out right off the bat. But, if you compromise by at least being in the same room as the audience, it will create good-will and may make Aunt be less pushy about trying to get you involved.  Can you talk to Aunt before the holiday (maybe just bring it up in casual conversation) and tell her that if she stops trying to force you to participate, you'll be part of the audience? Find a way to let her know that it's nothing personal, that you love being part of the family. Maybe being reassured like that will help her understand what's going on.

Sharnita

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Re: No, I don't want to sing - getting out of holiday traditions
« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2012, 01:44:57 PM »
It sounds like some people are willing to perform so I don't really see this as being cometely SS and forcing others to conform.

Deetee

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Re: No, I don't want to sing - getting out of holiday traditions
« Reply #13 on: November 23, 2012, 01:49:13 PM »

I can easily say no to the performance part.  It is the having to watch the other performances and the caroling that get to me.

I've, personally, never found caroling to be charming or fun.  I won't say anything bad about it, as I know others enjoy it.  I just don't want to be part of it.

Your aunt sounds a bit pushy, but if the rest of the family likes this event enough to participate and you don't have to sing (just listen), it falls firmly into the "Holiday/family stuff  that you put up with". Listening to an hour of carols might not be fun for you, but it's part of the holiday. One hour of listening to family sing is not a holiday hill.

TootsNYC

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Re: No, I don't want to sing - getting out of holiday traditions
« Reply #14 on: November 23, 2012, 02:10:53 PM »
It's not necessary that everything that happens on the holidays be something you like. And if you are determined to not like it, you never will find anything about it to enjoy (even if it's just being there to witness Uncle John flubbing on "12 Days.")

I would say something to Rockwell Aunt before the holiday, if you get the chance. Or privately on the day. And say, in a non-complain-y "I'm sharing something with you" voice, "I really don't enjoy these things much. But I don't want to make a big deal about it--I keep trying to sort of surreptitiously bow out. When people try to tug me into them, it just draws attention to it, and I'm trying not to do that. I've noticed that you're one of the people who pressures me, so I wanted to ask you, as a favor, to not do that this year. Just let me be 'the outsider' for that brief time. If nobody discusses it, people won't really notice it."
   And then if she says something about how you should participate, etc., you say, "I thought I'd explained. I was asking a favor of you." And your followup to pressure after that is, "Please respect my choice."

It's one hour. You're letting it take over your mental and emotional enjoyment of the holiday, and it isn't even here yet.