Author Topic: No, I don't want to sing - getting out of holiday traditions  (Read 10322 times)

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Venus193

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Re: No, I don't want to sing - getting out of holiday traditions
« Reply #45 on: November 25, 2012, 08:28:06 AM »
Fortunately there are no children in my family or immediate circle of friends who are young enough to fit that description.

Add me to the list of those who object to parents goading on their children to participate in something they'd rather not.  Age is not a criteria for my opinion, but it is a particularly egregious thing when they treat their adult offspring as if they were five years old.

ilrag

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Re: No, I don't want to sing - getting out of holiday traditions
« Reply #46 on: November 25, 2012, 02:35:45 PM »
Oh my gosh, OP participating OR listening to hour long performances by kids/family sounds like torture for me.

Cooking, shopping, reading in the other room, walking the dog, anything to get away sounds totally reasonable to me.

I would agree with the poster who said talk to your aunt in advance. Tell her that while you understand why she likes the tradition you do not enjoy it. Ask her not to make a big deal out of if and you'll just vanish while it's going on. You can't force yourself to like anything.

magicdomino

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Re: No, I don't want to sing - getting out of holiday traditions
« Reply #47 on: November 26, 2012, 11:37:02 AM »
Sorry about the confusion.  There are 3 parts to the family recital:

The part where I (don't) perform
The part where others perform
And the general carols mixed in between the performances.  So while little Jimmy gets his viola ready, we're singing silent night.

I haven't had a problem with the performance thing because I've gotten out of it so far by not having my own family.  So I still fall under mom's branch.  So I have yet to be called on not having some sort of performance piece because mom had one.  This year I intend to help her so something if she's out of ideas.  A family game, maybe?  Yay!

If someone asked me "do you want to listen to my daughter sing opera?"  my answer would be "no!".  But I'm ok with a short recital ('ok' meaning I'd rather listen than cause trouble).  So the other performers are something I could live if I had to.  All in all some of the performances are not bad, they are just not something I'd listen to if I were on my own.  Some are bad, but we're applauding the effort.  Jimmy, the viola player, was 8 and just starting to learn.  He wasn't great, but at times you could recognize the song.

The carols are something I am expected to participate in.  I tried to just listen but aunt called me on it "Why aren't you singing? Sing!  Everybody sing!  It's fun".  Dad told me to stop being grouchy and just join in.  Mom later said I should just continue faking it.


Okay, it's official.  This is a nightmare.   :P  Honestly, I'd be tempted to say the heck with it and see people either the day before Christmas Eve or the day after Christmas, if possible.

Auntie Mame

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Re: No, I don't want to sing - getting out of holiday traditions
« Reply #48 on: November 26, 2012, 12:05:10 PM »
Wow, that sounds like the special hell.  Sounds like everyone needs a good hard lesson on respecting your boundaries.  Bring up with your parent's privately about their complete lack of consideration and respect for you.  Tell your aunt no.  Just that.  No.  Someone needs to stand up to this woman, she's a bully and a control freak who is making everyone miserable.
Auntie needs fuel, black coffee and a side car.

Enigmatism

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Re: No, I don't want to sing - getting out of holiday traditions
« Reply #49 on: November 26, 2012, 12:19:06 PM »
OP I feel your pain although I don't have any better advice than pp.

At our family gatherings we used to have a sing song which you could join in, listen, leave the room or heckle the singers as your fancy took you.

Then my nephew aka The Golden Child started playing the cornet. He would play (badly) his entire repertoire and hushed silence was expected or tantrums would be thrown. One time some of us moved into the garden. Sadly his music stand and cornet are portable.
What fixed it for us was my daughter learning the violin. She deliberately de-tuned it. Suddenly children's music performances were banned at family parties.  ;D

lowspark

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Re: No, I don't want to sing - getting out of holiday traditions
« Reply #50 on: November 26, 2012, 04:13:25 PM »
You do have the right to say no. You maintain that right even if people attempt bully you, shame you, or insist. Your reaction to their goading is in your control. So far, you've let it get to you so you've given in. You can, instead, just keep repeating, "no, thank you" and go into a different room or sit quietly or leave or whatever. No one can actually force you to join in the singing, do a presentation or sit for an hour plus watching others perform. Ultimately, it's in your control.

Repeat "No, thank you" (with a smile) until they get the message.

WillyNilly

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Re: No, I don't want to sing - getting out of holiday traditions
« Reply #51 on: November 26, 2012, 04:28:07 PM »
Ok I know two households that sing. 

One, is my stepmother and my family.  My stepmom grew up with singing being a big part of celebrating Christmas and it means a lot to her.  My dad and I are really not comfortable with the singing but we love my stepmom so we do.  A big part of us humoring her is that she recognizes that the singing is for her and asks us to do this, for her.

The other is my BBF's MIL, who hosts a big holiday party every year.  I have been most of them in the last 18 years or so (since BFF was just dating her now DH).  BBFFMIL is pushy about it, insisting everyone sing, stating "come on, its fun!" and really pushing it on people.  Usually I make myself scarce right around the time I see the lyric books coming out.  Because its not my family its much easier to duck out and disappear (BFF and her DH also hide away to avoid singing), although often it means standing outside with the smokers for 40 minutes in the cold.  There have been years where I have skipped the otherwise lovely party because I don't want to deal with the hassle of avoiding singing.  If I could just not participate and hangout in the kitchen or another room that would be ok, but anyone in the house is verbally bullied into participation.

My point being there's a right way to do singing and a wrong way.  And your aunt is not doing it the right way.

I would point blank respond to the "its fun" comment with "no its not.  And its condescending for your to push your idea of fun onto me as though its universal.  I think its great you enjoy it, but I don't." And then follow with the great line already suggested "please respect my decision to not participate."

I think so long as you are polite (no sulking , pouting or making loud noises) while the others sing or perform you should be allowed to discreetly duck out to another room, or sit somewhat away from the group and read or look at your gifts, or tidy up or play a quiet game with someone else not participating.  Quite honestly I find even music I love very boring to just sit and listen to.  To me music is a soundtrack to life, not a front and center thing.  I like it while I'm driving, while I'm getting dressed, while I'm cleaning, while I'm shopping, to dance to, etc but not to just sit and listen to while doing nothing else but watching it be made. 

O'Dell

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Re: No, I don't want to sing - getting out of holiday traditions
« Reply #52 on: November 26, 2012, 04:34:18 PM »
You do have the right to say no. You maintain that right even if people attempt bully you, shame you, or insist. Your reaction to their goading is in your control. So far, you've let it get to you so you've given in. You can, instead, just keep repeating, "no, thank you" and go into a different room or sit quietly or leave or whatever. No one can actually force you to join in the singing, do a presentation or sit for an hour plus watching others perform. Ultimately, it's in your control.

Repeat "No, thank you" (with a smile) until they get the message.

I like this. Hard for them to accuse the OP of grumpiness if she's smiling.
Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.
Walt Whitman

nuit93

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Re: No, I don't want to sing - getting out of holiday traditions
« Reply #53 on: November 26, 2012, 07:16:22 PM »
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.

The OP's dilemma is that Aunt Pushy is not content to have her - or anyone else - just listen. They must participate in her "fun" activity or risk being ridiculed, shamed, and called names by people who supposedly love them.  ::)

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.

OP, I don't have any advice for you because I would rather spend Christmas alone than with people who can't respect some very basic boundaries. "No thanks!" should be all anyone - of any age - needs to say to an activity that makes them uncomfortable. I'd be attending with my car keys in my pocket and leaving the minute Aunt Pushy started in on me.

Honestly, I would too.  I have a bit of social anxiety and that would just make it worse.

Lynn2000

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Re: No, I don't want to sing - getting out of holiday traditions
« Reply #54 on: November 26, 2012, 08:35:14 PM »
OP, I also feel your pain. Your original post just made me cringe on your behalf. If other people want to do things, and they want to gently encourage others to join them, that's fine; but repeatedly pushing when someone has declined, or trying to shame them into joining, is rude.

My extended family is musical and are somewhat into performing at family gatherings. I am NOT musical. If they ever try to pressure me into singing along, I shake my head, smile, and say "no thanks." If necessary, I repeat this firmly. If they ask too often, I get up and walk away from the center of activity. I try to always keep smiling, even if it's obviously forced, because as O'Dell said, it's hard for people to complain that you're being unpleasant if you keep smiling.

You said you've tried doing things in the kitchen to keep busy, and people keep seeking you out. If you end up having to walk away from the center of activity, is there, perhaps, an upstairs bathroom you could go to? At least until they give up and leave you alone. It would be pretty heinous to knock on a bathroom door and demand that someone come downstairs and sing with the group, when they don't know if the person might be ill or something. If I've said "no thanks" and people won't leave me alone, I'm not above hiding somewhere, frankly.

Another option is to seek out a relative who has a similar opinion, and arrange to go for a walk with them at the time of the performance. You'll end up having a nice visit with that particular relative, and "blame" is easier to deflect with someone else standing firm beside you.

To me, it sounds like the aunt is pressuring people to do one particular activity at the gatherings--sure, some people are singing, some playing instruments, some making up games for everyone, but the way I see it, it's all forcing the whole group to interact in a defined way. I get to know people better by having extended conversations in small groups, about whatever topics that come up naturally. If there was a very small amount of performing, maybe half an hour or so by people whose personality makes it enjoyable for them, and then we went on to another kind of interaction, I wouldn't mind the performing at all, and I would probably think it was pleasant to witness. But to me Aunt crosses a line when she insists that it be the only kind of interaction allowed, and insists that everyone participate in it actively whether they want to or not. It's a family holiday gathering, not a summer camp.
~Lynn2000

LifeOnPluto

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Re: No, I don't want to sing - getting out of holiday traditions
« Reply #55 on: November 26, 2012, 09:22:00 PM »
How long does the overall gathering go for? Because one hour is quite a large chunk of "party time". I do think it's rude for your aunt to force people to participate in an activity for that length of time. If it was just one or two songs, I'd say just do it. But a whole hour sounds painful.

Anyway, I agree with the other suggestions of smiling (so you don't get accused of grumpiness), yet standing your ground when she orders you to sing.

gramma dishes

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Re: No, I don't want to sing - getting out of holiday traditions
« Reply #56 on: November 26, 2012, 09:36:40 PM »
Honestly, the thing that surprised me the most was that this aunt is a 'married in' aunt and relatively speaking "new" to the family.  I'm a little surprised that the other family members just allowed her to basically take over a huge chunk of time out of the day and run the whole show her way and by more or less forcing her rules and regulations as to how things are going to go. 

I can see it happening the first year maybe, as everyone wanted to make her feel included and welcomed into the family by being cooperative with her suggestions.  But it would seem that eventually there would have been a gradual shortening of the time devoted to fitting the whole family into New Aunt's way of celebrating family events.

I can only come to the conclusion that more people actually like this performance based visit than the OP thinks.  The alternative is that she's not the only one who basically hates and resents it, but no one is brave enough to just join the OP in saying no.  I think, either way, OP is well within her rights to avoid something she finds so unpleasant, even if it means she may want to consider perhaps finding somewhere else a little less "pressurized" to celebrate next year.

Sharnita

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Re: No, I don't want to sing - getting out of holiday traditions
« Reply #57 on: November 26, 2012, 09:39:26 PM »
I think thre probably are at least some people who enjoy it.  The kids might enjoy performing, their parents might be happy about it, proud grnadparents, etc.

gramma dishes

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Re: No, I don't want to sing - getting out of holiday traditions
« Reply #58 on: November 26, 2012, 09:42:36 PM »
I think thre probably are at least some people who enjoy it.  The kids might enjoy performing, their parents might be happy about it, proud grnadparents, etc.

Yes, I think so too. 

But I wonder if there are others who feel like the OP.  Family usually means catching up and having fun with various members in a variety of ways.  I don't think I'd have anything against other family members doing this, but I wouldn't want to be forced to participate.  For me that would NOT be fun and I think I'd wonder why I had even come.

Sharnita

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Re: No, I don't want to sing - getting out of holiday traditions
« Reply #59 on: November 26, 2012, 09:45:30 PM »
Well, she said it goes on for an hour, right?  I wonder how mong they are all together?  If it is an hour out of an hour and a half then it sounds like too much.  AN hour out of three of four, maybe a bit more reasonable.