Author Topic: thanksgiving minus family-- can we get away with it politely?  (Read 4911 times)

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flickan

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thanksgiving minus family-- can we get away with it politely?
« on: October 03, 2013, 10:24:59 AM »
I have been doing a lot of thinking about this year's Thanksgiving because of the Christmas threads and people mentioning that it's fine to do a Christmas with just the spouse if that's what we want to do.  But that's not possible for us because we're already booked for the next couple of years.

However, I've got a lot more leeway with Thanksgiving because it's not a huge do for our family, usually my mother works and can't enjoy festivities with the larger extended families  so we do a small scale thanksgiving at home.  In my spouse's family Thanksgiving is up for grabs, it's also usually dinner with just a few of the relatives.  But they don't know our plans yet for this year.

Yesterday I ran the idea past my spouse of having our own Thanksgiving dinner, just the two of us, at a nice restaurant; Full service dinner, multiple courses, relaxing atmosphere, no dishes, no family squabbles-- heaven!  He immediately agreed and we're talking about booking our reservations this week for a local italian place.

I ran this by my brother this morning trying to get a feel for what other family members might think.  I know we're not obligated to tell anyone our plans but my immediate family is going to ask.  His reaction was essentially: "You're missing the point of Thanksgiving, no one wants to deal with family but everyone has to so you just suck it up."  Real encouraging, right? :P  But the fact is both he and my parents will feel slighted if we do this.  They wouldn't mind us going to my spouse's instead but the idea of having Thanksgiving sans family is not something my folks are prepared to accept.  And I don't want to lie to them about our plans but I do want to suggest that it would be great to get together for dinner another time that week in order to pacify any objection.

Has anyone managed to do anything like this before without ruffling family feathers?  And if we do go ahead with our plan do you think we should be totally honest that we just want a little time to ourselves for the holiday or should we avoid giving reasons at all.  I do not want to slight them, I just feel like this is a great opportunity to start our own tradition that we could go back to every once in awhile.

Zilla

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Re: thanksgiving minus family-- can we get away with it politely?
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2013, 10:33:23 AM »
I wouldn't say anything to anyone. (hope your bro doesn't blab)  And if approached for an invite for Thanksgiving, "Oh we already have other plans, but I am looking forward in seeing you for Christmas!" And quickly bean dip.  If they overcome the bean dip and ask you where are you going then just say that you and your husband are going to out to dinner and bean dip again or get off the phone.

The last thing I would have done was used the words peace, quiet and not have family drama.  Again, hope your bro doesn't mention your conversation with him.

« Last Edit: October 03, 2013, 10:35:29 AM by Zilla »

Deetee

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Re: thanksgiving minus family-- can we get away with it politely?
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2013, 10:39:35 AM »
Of course you can do that. It's your life and your decisions and as yourlike spouse is on board you should do that.

The best way is to say that you want to have a quiet Thanksgiving with your spouse but don't get into why you don't want want to do anything else.

That said, I wouldn't advertise it. A meal at a restaurant with your spouse doesn't feel like Thanksgiving to a lot of people. That sounds like a nice meal but it's not the point of that holiday ( for  me). For me the point is to cost with lots of friends and family and have cheerful chaos. I'm afraid I'm the type of person who, upon hearing you planned to have your meal at a restaurant would automatically invite you to my place.

weeblewobble

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Re: thanksgiving minus family-- can we get away with it politely?
« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2013, 11:05:04 AM »
Your brother's reaction is typical of someone who sees someone else breaking from a dysfunctional system.  "Hey, I'm miserable, too, and if I have to deal with it, so do you!"  Do what makes you happy.

z_squared82

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Re: thanksgiving minus family-- can we get away with it politely?
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2013, 11:20:10 AM »
I have been doing a lot of thinking about this year's Thanksgiving because of the Christmas threads and people mentioning that it's fine to do a Christmas with just the spouse if that's what we want to do.  But that's not possible for us because we're already booked for the next couple of years.

However, I've got a lot more leeway with Thanksgiving because it's not a huge do for our family, usually my mother works and can't enjoy festivities with the larger extended families  so we do a small scale thanksgiving at home.  In my spouse's family Thanksgiving is up for grabs, it's also usually dinner with just a few of the relatives.  But they don't know our plans yet for this year.

Yesterday I ran the idea past my spouse of having our own Thanksgiving dinner, just the two of us, at a nice restaurant; Full service dinner, multiple courses, relaxing atmosphere, no dishes, no family squabbles-- heaven!  He immediately agreed and we're talking about booking our reservations this week for a local italian place.

I ran this by my brother this morning trying to get a feel for what other family members might think.  I know we're not obligated to tell anyone our plans but my immediate family is going to ask.  His reaction was essentially: "You're missing the point of Thanksgiving, no one wants to deal with family but everyone has to so you just suck it up."  Real encouraging, right? :P  But the fact is both he and my parents will feel slighted if we do this.  They wouldn't mind us going to my spouse's instead but the idea of having Thanksgiving sans family is not something my folks are prepared to accept.  And I don't want to lie to them about our plans but I do want to suggest that it would be great to get together for dinner another time that week in order to pacify any objection.

Has anyone managed to do anything like this before without ruffling family feathers?  And if we do go ahead with our plan do you think we should be totally honest that we just want a little time to ourselves for the holiday or should we avoid giving reasons at all.  I do not want to slight them, I just feel like this is a great opportunity to start our own tradition that we could go back to every once in awhile.

I know my parents managed to back before I was born, but that was because all my motherís siblings were having kids and she kept having miscarriages, so she just couldnít handle all the happy babies. She never mentioned anyone ever giving her grief for it. But thatís not a way out anyone wants.

With my extended family, itís easiest to get out of the holidays by leaving town. Can you maybe plan a little trip over the long Thanksgiving weekend? I feel fairly confident my immediate family spent thanksgiving in the Smokey Mountains one year (this would have been when my brother and I were children). Oh, and I know we avoided Easter one year by going on a picnic with one other family. My dadís mom and my auntís mom had both died recently, so they just want something quiet. Again, death is not a good way of getting out of holidays, but itís all I got.

Luci

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Re: thanksgiving minus family-- can we get away with it politely?
« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2013, 11:33:28 AM »
Your brother's reaction is typical of someone who sees someone else breaking from a dysfunctional system.  "Hey, I'm miserable, too, and if I have to deal with it, so do you!"  Do what makes you happy.

I'm pretty big on making family stuff happen. We have the largest place and the most time to prepare, so it has fallen to us.

The years the nephew declined the invitation were fine with us. They knew what they wanted and needed to do. No one criticized them although they were missed, and all was well.

You don't need to make excuses or apologize. It's your day, your time and this is the way you want to do it. They'll adjust or die mad. (I do love the phrase!) I do agree with not going into all the stuff about not liking the drama and hub bub of the family dinners.

I do hope you have the strength to fend off others who want to join you - that may be the next step.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Hmmmmm

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Re: thanksgiving minus family-- can we get away with it politely?
« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2013, 11:46:54 AM »
I'd deal with it based on my relationship with my brother and why he is reacting this way.

If you have a good relationship with your brother and his reaction is because not having you means his Tday is left with dinner at home with Dad while mom works, and that makes him sad, then I'd feel guilty and address it that way. "I'm sorry our decision means you won't have much of a Tday. But DH and I want to start some of our own traditions like you will in the future. And when you do, I'll be supportive of your decisions."

If your brother is more of a control freak and really just wants you there as a barrier, then my response would be "sorry, we've mad our plans."

So how much I was willing to ruffle feathers would be based on the relationship.

WillyNilly

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Re: thanksgiving minus family-- can we get away with it politely?
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2013, 11:47:09 AM »
...Yesterday I ran the idea past my spouse of having our own Thanksgiving dinner, just the two of us, at a nice restaurant; Full service dinner, multiple courses, relaxing atmosphere, no dishes, no family squabbles-- heaven!  He immediately agreed and we're talking about booking our reservations this week for a local italian place.

I ran this by my brother this morning trying to get a feel for what other family members might think.  I know we're not obligated to tell anyone our plans but my immediate family is going to ask.  His reaction was essentially: "You're missing the point of Thanksgiving, no one wants to deal with family but everyone has to so you just suck it up."  Real encouraging, right? :P  But the fact is both he and my parents will feel slighted if we do this...

Ok not to get too corny but its your brotehr who is missing the point.

The point off Thanksgiving is to be thankful. It is a holiday that transcends all - its bigger then religion, or family or anything, it includes all those things plus more. Its a day to look at your life so far and your future ahead of you and be thankful for whatever joys you have eked out of life.

Look at the responses you got - one from you husband full of love and support, a reaction to be thankful for.
And one from your brother which could go either way (I trust you have a gander which way to take it) either anger and bitterness - not something to be thankful for, or it was him not being able to express his love for you but trying to say he wanting to spend the day with you, awkward but ultimately something to be thankful for.

So decide for yourself, does your family want you there out of obligation or out of a love you are thankful for? And then decide from there. Because its a wonderful thing to truly celebrate the spirit of Thanksgiving.

siamesecat2965

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Re: thanksgiving minus family-- can we get away with it politely?
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2013, 12:17:36 PM »
Of course you can do that. It's your life and your decisions and as yourlike spouse is on board you should do that.

The best way is to say that you want to have a quiet Thanksgiving with your spouse but don't get into why you don't want want to do anything else.

That said, I wouldn't advertise it. A meal at a restaurant with your spouse doesn't feel like Thanksgiving to a lot of people. That sounds like a nice meal but it's not the point of that holiday ( for  me). For me the point is to cost with lots of friends and family and have cheerful chaos. I'm afraid I'm the type of person who, upon hearing you planned to have your meal at a restaurant would automatically invite you to my place.

I say go ahead with your plans, and let the chips fall where they may. As others have said, you can do whatever you like, but I wouldn't advertise - just answer if asked. If your brother and parents get upset, without sounding harsh, that's their issue, not yours. I see nothing wrong with your plans, but I'm a bit of a non-traditionallist.

My mom and I generally celebrate the holidays together.  Just the two of us. For the last three years, due to varying circumstances, I haven't even gone down (8 hours) for thanksgiving, but have used that time to go longer at Christmas. The last time I did go, we went out to one of our favorite restaurants. We had invited my BFF from college who lives in the area, but she was horrified we were a. going out and b. not going somewhere that ONLY had a traditional thanksgiving buffet or dinner. So she politely declined.

Mom and I went, and she had duck and I had steak! Neither one of us really cares for turkey, and cooking for just us 2 wasn't something we wanted to do, so we went out, and thoroughly enjoyed it!

Tea Drinker

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Re: thanksgiving minus family-- can we get away with it politely?
« Reply #9 on: October 03, 2013, 03:29:54 PM »
If your brother is serious, he's missing the point, not so much of Thanksgiving but of family meals/reunions generally. Depending on the size of the family, there may be someone you'd rather not see, but that's different from "nobody wants to deal with family, but everyone has to so just suck it up." It's supposed to be a positive occasion, not an unpleasant medical test that you make yourself go through because you trust the doctor who says you need it.

Also, if anyone argues with you that "nobody does that," you can point out that no, lots of people do, that's why so many restaurants have special Thanksgiving menus.

I have managed something like this, but I suspect some of our relatives may think of our cozy three-person Thanksgiving dinners as an orphans' Thanksgiving, rather than what we want to do anyhow, because all of the relatives we might otherwise go to either are far away, have stopped having big Thanksgiving dinners, or both. So I haven't had to explain "why aren't you going to Aunt So-and-so's this year?"
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auntmeegs

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Re: thanksgiving minus family-- can we get away with it politely?
« Reply #10 on: October 03, 2013, 03:32:23 PM »
Your brother's reaction is typical of someone who sees someone else breaking from a dysfunctional system.  "Hey, I'm miserable, too, and if I have to deal with it, so do you!"  Do what makes you happy.

Maybe I'm wrong but I'm not getting the impression that the OP's family is dysfuntional or that anyone is miserable, though.  Of course the OP and her DH can do whatever they want, but I think the brother's reaction is normal one. 

lmyrs

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Re: thanksgiving minus family-- can we get away with it politely?
« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2013, 03:44:22 PM »
I have. A few years ago, I decided that the following Christmas, DH and I were going to be in the Carribean. And so, I suggested it to DH, he agreed and I just told people. It wasn't a discussion or a debate. If it came up it was matter of fact: We're going to Island for Christmas this year. Done. Some folks were diappointed, but there was nothing said after one minor comment by MIL. If you realize that it is 100% your decision and you realize that there is no reason to feel guilty about it, the attitude you give off when discussing it does not invite detractors. We now go every 3rd year and are talking about making it every other year. No one comments negatively on it. It just is what it is. It's no more abnormal than if I was going to go to the grocery store on a particular day.

Luci

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Re: thanksgiving minus family-- can we get away with it politely?
« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2013, 03:59:59 PM »
Your brother's reaction is typical of someone who sees someone else breaking from a dysfunctional system.  "Hey, I'm miserable, too, and if I have to deal with it, so do you!"  Do what makes you happy.

Maybe I'm wrong but I'm not getting the impression that the OP's family is dysfuntional or that anyone is miserable, though.  Of course the OP and her DH can do whatever they want, but I think the brother's reaction is normal one.

In the third paragraph of the opening post, she says "no family squabbles." I took that to mean there is usually fighting.

Lynn2000

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Re: thanksgiving minus family-- can we get away with it politely?
« Reply #13 on: October 03, 2013, 04:51:07 PM »
I think the thing that makes it sticky is asking around to see "what people think about it." In some sense, you're telling them that what they think about it matters, and might change your decision. This is appropriate sometimes--"How about we meet at the lake?" "Well, it's not wheelchair accessible, and Grandma..." "Oh, I hadn't thought of that! Let's just meet at X as usual." But other times it isn't.

It sounds like you and your DH made a plan that worked for you and made you happy, and no, it's not inherently rude to anyone else. If you let other people think they have some say in it, it may change from what makes you two happy. I'm struck by this line from your post: "They wouldn't mind us going to my spouse's instead but the idea of having Thanksgiving sans family is not something my folks are prepared to accept." I know what you're trying to convey, but the thing is--your parents don't have to accept this plan. Their permission, understanding, etc. is not required. They might not be happy about it, and that might make you sad, and maybe you want to do something to alleviate that, but on the other hand, maybe you don't.

There's a lot of factors to balance in family relationships and I'm not saying, "Do whatever you want, who cares what they think!" :) I just think, if you're looking for a way to get Person X's "blessing" on your plans, that may not happen, because you can't control what Person X does. There's no magic phrase. (There's definitely bad phrases, though!) You might have to make what you know is the right decision for you and DH, and also deal with your parents/brother feeling slighted--there may not be a way to make everyone happy.  :-\
~Lynn2000

EllenS

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Re: thanksgiving minus family-- can we get away with it politely?
« Reply #14 on: October 03, 2013, 05:44:27 PM »
(snippety....)
the thing is--your parents don't have to accept this plan. Their permission, understanding, etc. is not required. They might not be happy about it, and that might make you sad, and maybe you want to do something to alleviate that, but on the other hand, maybe you don't.

There's a lot of factors to balance in family relationships and I'm not saying, "Do whatever you want, who cares what they think!" :) I just think, if you're looking for a way to get Person X's "blessing" on your plans, that may not happen, because you can't control what Person X does. There's no magic phrase. (There's definitely bad phrases, though!) You might have to make what you know is the right decision for you and DH, and also deal with your parents/brother feeling slighted--there may not be a way to make everyone happy.  :-\

I think this comes up on a lot of threads, as a matter of fact I just tried to express this on one, but not not nearly so well as Lynn just did.

You are allowed to set whatever boundaries you want to.  That doesn't mean it won't "ruffle feathers".  There are ways to make it less obvious, or more palatable (such as taking a trip out of town), but ultimately you can't control how other people feel about your decision.

Navigating family relationships is tricky.  Telling people, by words or actions, I don't want to spend time with you is a rejection. It is hurtful.  Rejecting someone  and trying to make it not hurt, or being offended by someone's honest emotions, is a fast train to crazytown.

That doesn't mean you have to "suck it up" and be with people who are toxic or upsetting, but if you do value the relationship and don't want to cut ties altogether, sometimes finding a way to soften the blow helps, like making clear that it's the circumstances, or the combination of people altogether, or if you spend time with them on other occasions.
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