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Am I the only one to be thoroughly depressed about Christmas and the inevitable family hassles?

(30 Posts)
CambridgeBlue Tue 06-Nov-12 10:50:58

Half term is out of the way so everyone's now thinking about how we will spend Christmas and already it's getting complicated. Family expect us to travel to see them and stay there even though we'd rather be at home and them come to us (but they can't because our house is too small). My DM is already trying to organised us all which neither I or particularly my DH can stand (is there anything worse than forced fun?) and I feel harassed and depressed even though it's only sodding November.

I know all families have their ups and downs but nothing ever seems to be simple in mine (much more to it but too long and boring for anyone else to be interested in). I so long to look forward to Christmas and enjoy it instead of feeling stressed and stuck in the middle and I want my family to enjoy it too. I don't think there's any simple answer but please tell me I'm not alone and if anyone's got any tips for coping and staying sane without resorting to the gin bottle I'd love to hear them.

ImperialFireworksInMyKnickers Tue 06-Nov-12 10:56:12

Thanks to the competing needs of DPs family and my own Christmas Day will be a massive runaround for me. My solution and the thing that will keep me going is that Boxing Day will be lovely. Mainly because the only guests will be friends, not family.

This sodding obsession with just one bloody day... if MIL wasn't ill and DM not widowed and needy we'd be abroad, somewhere warmer, with mobile phones switched off.

HeathRobinson Tue 06-Nov-12 10:57:09

We spend Christmas at home, ever since we had kids. Anyone's welcome to visit, or we'll visit them before or after Christmas. But Christmas Day is for our kids to spend time at home enjoying their new stuff.

Ask yourself what your family used to do at Christmas? Did you all sclep over to gps? If not, why not say to your mum that you're going to give your kids a Christmas at home, just like they did. How can they argue with that?

And you say, 'Family expect...'. But what do you and dh want to do? Do you you want every Christmas memory in someone elses's house? Every photo?

axure Tue 06-Nov-12 11:13:33

No you're not alone, and it's compounded when your family lives miles away and a week long visit is involved. I started a thread about this a few months ago when my DM started on about Xmas 12 arrangements. I found the resolve to tell my mother that she is not invited to stay with us this year and I refuse to feel guilt that she will be at home on her own. We plan to spend a few days doing what we want and enjoy the break, rather than chasing around trying to please everyone else, feeling frazzled at the end if it. Hopefully it will be a revelation!

3bunnies Tue 06-Nov-12 12:40:36

Similar dilemas. FIL lives an hour and a half away, my parents just over 2hrs away. Dh has to work Christmas Eve and day after boxing day. My father isn't well. None of them will travel to us (all late 70s 80). Will have to pack up all three little ones, plus presents, tackle M25 on horrendous traffic. Not to mention all the politics once we are there. Happy Christmas!!!

Lottapianos Tue 06-Nov-12 12:45:17

Loads of family nonsense here too. I've been thinking the same OP - now that Bonfire Night is done, it's downhill to Xmas sad Every year I promise that this will be the last year of pandering to our families demands and next year we will be sodding off to somewhere warm and sunny but it never quite works out like that hmm

I think I would be 'meh' about Xmas even without the family stuff though. I don't see why everyone should enjoy the same stuff and I hate anything where you are expected to be jolly, like Xmas or NYE <runs away screaming>

ExitPursuedByABrrrrrrr Tue 06-Nov-12 12:49:37

I have already moaned on another thread that I hate Christmas because it is just me, DH and DD. All family either live at opposite ends of the country, abroad, are housebound or dead. I am considering asking at Church if there are any old people who could come and have my Christmas inflicted on them.

girlywhirly Tue 06-Nov-12 13:19:57

Is your house too small to host Christmas dinner, or to put up guests overnight? Could they stay at a hotel?

I feel that if you could manage to fit people in for the meals and they aren't willing to come and stay in a hotel, why should you always have to do the travelling to them? It is unfair to expect certain family members to do all the travelling every year.

If it is causing you so much distress now, you must tell them that you are staying put. Tell the family whatever you like as a reason, but you don't have to justify yourself. If the journey there is a long one, even not being able to afford the petrol/tickets should be enough.

Could you cope with seeing the family at another time during the festive season, or does that not appeal either? You will have had your Christmas day at home and enjoyed it and relaxed, the majority of stress will have gone from the unrealistic expectations people have of the 'perfect' Christmas, it might be better to bear then; but only you will be able to judge that.

PeppermintLatte Tue 06-Nov-12 13:56:47

I feel your pain, nothing is ever straight forward in my bloody family either, they are all so miserable and it's difficult to plan anything.

Put your foot down, your kids will soon be grown with their own traditions, this is your time now, you'll never get the magic back. Stay at home if that's what you want. Just explain the reason why to family, and arrange a lovely christmassy visit to them inbetween christmas & new year. Please don't spoil your christmas for others.

CambridgeBlue Tue 06-Nov-12 17:49:55

I'm glad I'm not alone in this but sorry you're all getting grief too sad

We have tried so many different ways round this - last year we invited everyone here and they stayed at some local holiday cottages as our house really is tiny. It was OK but they weren't really comfy and also they barely spent any time there - left ours late on Christmas Day night and were on the phone by 8.30 on Boxing Day telling us they were on their way back round angry so somehow, even though we were in our own home, we still found ourselves doing what everyone else wanted.

They don't live that far away (1.5 - 2 hrs drive) but in the absolute arse end of nowhere so driving there is never fun in the winter. My parents are separated and it's my DM who is the main organiser/guilt tripper if you don't do what she wants. My Dad is much more laid back but unfortunately can't drive any more and also doesn't have anywhere for us to stay so, as he lives about 1/2 hr from DM, it makes sense to stay at hers and tie in seeing him while we are there.

Going to hers is the sensible option but I hate that we feel forced into it and that none of us can relax when we are there - I am OK to a point if DD and I visit on our own (and DD is usually happy although I hate the thought of her picking up on tension as she gets older) but we can hardly leave DH behind at Christmas and he just gets so stressed out by my Mum's irritating ways. I feel stuck in the middle all the time and I am SO sick of it sad

Lottapianos Tue 06-Nov-12 17:55:13

Its shocking the amount of energy we all put into pleasing other people but having a rubbish time ourselves. I usually start worrying about Xmas around September! It's madness. I wish the whole thing would be cancelled one year

CambridgeBlue Tue 06-Nov-12 17:57:59

The stupid thing is my DM never seems to particularly enjoy it either and she is the one everyone is running around trying to please - I give up!

FromEsme Tue 06-Nov-12 17:59:45

My parents are miserable too, my mum does the whole martyr thing, my dad sits in front of the telly from morning til night and my brother and his wife are just lazy twats.

Not looking forward to it AT ALL.

Lottapianos Tue 06-Nov-12 18:08:09

Anyone else feel like a freak when colleagues or friends go on about Xmas like its the best thing EVER? I feel a bit bad about being a misery about it but just can't fake it

FromEsme Tue 06-Nov-12 18:19:34

I wouldn't say I feel a freak, but I feel a bit left out and sad. I wish I had a nice family to go home to.

CMOTDibbler Tue 06-Nov-12 18:22:02

I used to get stressed about it, and then dh and I decided we would work out just what we could deal with each year, and then stick to that. Letting anyone elses views wash over us.

So, last year we saw my parents the weekend before Christmas, took them out for a nice meal, just the three of us Christmas day, dh's parents late afternoon/evening (mil would like it to be from 10am onwards..). This year we will get up at home, take precooked/preprepared lunch to my parents (90 min drive, and the traffic is great Christmas day), cook it for them, then come home at 6 ish.

In previous homes we've been further from both sets, and when we didn't have a car it was a nightmare, but now we suck the driving up, and actually it makes it less stressful

TeeBee Tue 06-Nov-12 19:04:48

I'm keeping my head well and truely down in the hope that by the time I surface, everyone will have already made plans then we can do our own thing (i.e. get drunk).

CambridgeBlue Tue 06-Nov-12 19:28:12

Lotta I do feel sad when other people are getting excited and don't seem to find it as stressful as I do. To be fair my family mean well so I know I am luckier than many people but that doesn't make it much easier to deal with!

BerthaTheBogBurglar Tue 06-Nov-12 20:02:22

We stopped seeing my family at Christmas a long time ago because they were always so miserable, and that was easy cos we never ever visited anyone at Christmas when we were children, so I just said "Mum, we're doing what you did".

Dh's family is harder - because they're nice and we like them! But sometimes I just want Christmas to be relaxing and just us. And it's no good dh and I trying to decide what we'd both like, because he would always choose a manic Christmas with 12 million other people and I'd always choose quiet-and-relaxing.

This year I win - Christmas Day at home. Hordes descending for the day on Boxing Day. I achieved this by showing dh my spreadsheet blush showing where we've spent all our Christmases, and who with. Thus proving it was my turn. grin

PeppermintLatte Tue 06-Nov-12 22:29:15

bertha your spreadsheet!!! oh, i love it! you keep a spreadsheet of where you've spent christmas?!

Valdeeves Wed 07-Nov-12 07:07:47

I feel exactly the same - Xmas is about pleasing other people and when you have complicated family issues it just becomes a misery.i'm hoping we can have our own this year, alternate for two then have our own again xxx

exoticfruits Wed 07-Nov-12 07:25:45

I wonder when people actually get to do Christmas themselves? Perhaps this is why parents hang onto it for so long if they spent all the years their children were young going elsewhere. Children don't like it and it gets particularly difficult as the get older.
It is a bit late for this year but at Christmas why not announce that next Christmas you are staying at home? You will happily see anyone who comes to you.

schilke Wed 07-Nov-12 11:41:59

I hate the planning. My parents are easy, but dh's mother is bloody awkward. Fortunately this year dh is playing in a show from next week to end of Feb, so we are not going anywhere - downside is that dh only has 2 days off from now until Christmas eve. His mother is coming before Christmas as his sister is going to stay with her for Christmas. My parents came here last year, so will go to my brother's this's just us!! I'm so excited.

We stay put at Christmas and take it in turns for parents to come to us. Dh's mother usually insists that he go up there (4 hour drive away) with the children...I stay home with the dog. He tries to go before Christmas. It is difficult as she is on her own and although we don't get on, I don't want her miserable by herself. Fortunately dh's sister(unattached, no children) usually goes and stays with her for Christmas itself.

Arithmeticulous Wed 07-Nov-12 11:54:12

My parents are hard work and have ruined the last 3 Boxing days for me. DH thinks we should invite them for Christmas eve, so that we can enjoy Christmas day and Boxing day. But to me, that ruins Christmas eve grin How do we do the Christmas prep and reindeer stuff with two misery guts stuck to the sofa? Apparently if they come the weekend before Christmas, that 'won't count'

And don't start me on DH's siblings annual game of refusing to pretending not to invite MIL for Christmas day. It's like a huge game of chicken and musical chairs rolled into one.

HappyJoyful Wed 07-Nov-12 12:08:43

I've been looking at getting myself (husband and toddler aged dd) adopted by a new family for Christmas as I'm already, like many on here, feeling a bit down and dejected about it because of my f**ked up family.

We used to have great big family Christmas's as kids that my Grandmother, then my Mum and Aunt dutifully hosted - there were general arguments and disagreements, however, we're not a family that holds grudges and generally I look back on them with fond memories. Now however, cousins have grown up got their own kids, grandparents dead and the worst bit my parents are separated. I loathe intensely my Mums new partner and having already had one horrendous Christmas Day with him refuse to inflict the pain and grief on us again so am ruling out option of that. Unfortunately all my husbands family are abroad and whilst visiting them as we did last year would be my preferred option, we just can't afford flights this year. Dad complete with his midlife crisis will be with his partner and friends and my sister and her kids are (to be fair after considerable deliberation) will be with her partners family so it leaves the 3 of us - now I don't like to 'moan' as to some that would be perfect, to me I just feel a sense of looming..

Anyway's not sure what I'm adding here - however, must say I feel better already for the moan.

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