Not spending Christmas with in-laws
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I grew up with a very predictable, structured Christmas break. My parents made a huge effort to cultivate traditions for us, and even though they are divorced, we still have the holidays nailed down pat. It’s nothing mind blowing: we always do specific things, like host a big cookie decorating party, Christmas Eve spent at my mom’s extended family, Christmas night spent with my dad, the day after spent with my siblings doing some big activity like ice skating or sledding or whatever. It’s fun to have a jam-packed schedule full of family stuff for the 4-5 days we get to spend at home. I’ve been in a long-term relationship with my fiancé, and since we got engaged last year, we made the decision spend Christmas with my family one year, his the next, mine again the year after that, and so on.
I exposed him to my family’s Christmas two years ago, and, as always, it was a blast. Last year it was spent with his family, and, quite frankly, it was borderline depressing. His siblings live close to their parents (we’re the only ones that need to travel), and from the minute we arrived it just seemed like my FI and I were barely spending any time with them. It was life as normal for them, busy with last minute shopping, spending time with their friends/boyfriends, and flaking out on plans that we thought we had (like going to Church as a family) and we even ended up spending Christmas Eve with his parents and not his siblings because they “were too busy wrapping presents” to come over to his parents’ for dinner.
My FI and I both agreed that it was a less-than-ideal way to spend Christmas.
We addressed this issue head-on last year on Christmas Day, expressing our disappointment that we didn’t get to spend more time together as a family for the four days that we were back in his hometown. We practically spent three days holed up at his parents house getting flaked out on on plans we thought we’d had. This resulted in his siblings calling us selfish, and I get it—we can’t expect everyone to drop everything to spend time with us just because we rolled into town. But the other part of me is just feeling really resentful if we continue to go to his family’s hometown every other year to basically hang out by ourselves the whole time except Christmas Day. I’d rather just go home to my hometown every Christmas where we really all make the most of it with my immediate family, but it would likely break his parents’ hearts if we never spent Christmas with them again.
It seems that can’t force everyone to hang out as a family unit for a few days, but not spending Christmas with in-laws also seems completely unfair all around, too.
If you were in this situation (or if you’ve been in this situation) what would you/did you do?