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Christmas with an only child

(19 Posts)
Everhopeful Tue 30-Dec-14 22:56:06

Having just spent Christmas being scragged by my atheist in-laws for believing in God (they know this because I went to midnight mass. Alone. I didn't ask them along, because I know they don't believe and my dh was ill. I can't see what causes them a problem in this), we are now considering not bothering with the gathering next year. This is more of a problem for DD, as she gets to see cousins about her own age there, so there is a risk she'll be bored with just us old farts for company. What ideas do other people have?

Everhopeful Tue 30-Dec-14 22:59:46

Sorry, forgot to add that DD is Y8 (age 12), so it's that sort of age group I'm really interested in.

JustALittleBitLost Tue 30-Dec-14 23:00:57

I have an only child, and make sure we meet up with friends regularly to go for walks and play in the park. I think she enjoys the one-on-one time over the holidays too. I think we've both really had a great time this holiday (where we haven't seen family like we usually do) and it feels like it's brought us closer.

Davros Tue 30-Dec-14 23:55:36

My DD (12 in March) isn't an only child but she is like one as her older brother with severe ASD lives away from home. I feel that on Xmas day we have to make a sacrifice and do what she would enjoy most, i.e. Spend it at my sister's so she has a family gathering and can see her cousin. We also do this because my 87 year old DM is there and I can't let my DSis shoulder that burden alone! I dearly love my DSis so it's not such a sacrifice for me but DH isn't keen but had a very good time this year. The rest of the time, inc over Xmas, we do lots of stuff just the three of us - lunches, cinema, day trips etc - as well as seeing friends and family. DD is very good at amusing herself and loves doing things with just the three of us but I think Xmas day would be like many other days if we stayed at home on our own. I am thinking of going out or away somewhere next Xmas but not sure what I would do about my DSis

Unexpected Wed 31-Dec-14 15:51:04

I would suggest going away next Christmas or seeing if you have friends who you can invite to spend Christmas with you? Perhaps people whose own families live far away or who don't have enough time off work to travel to family? Or maybe eat out on Christmas Day at a nice restaurant? I presume it's just Christmas Day which is really in question because almost any other day you can arrange to meet up with friends to do things? And don't forget, your dd will very quickly start wanting to do things independently anyway with friends, go shopping, to parties etc.

Alternatively either you or your DH could remind them that just as you respect their non-belief and do not seek to convert them to religion, they could have equal respect for your beliefs!

marialuisa Wed 31-Dec-14 21:05:44

We had just the 3 of us for the first time this year and it was fab. We went out for supper on Christmas Eve and DD came with me to midnight mass. We all opened a present from under the tree before bed. The day itself seemed to fly by and we all enjoyed just relaxing and not having to stress about keeping people happy.

Everhopeful Thu 01-Jan-15 10:42:03

Thanks for your ideas, though I could use a few more! We are at quite a distance from MIL anyway, so only see her during holidays. The rest of the family are mostly a similar distance, both from us and from her, so the same applies to them. Whatever they may think of it, most of the main school hols in the UK revolve around what I would class as religious events, which gives a problem for Xmas and Easter.

Unexpected: I agree they need reminding, though am still gobsmacked at it - it's not like any of us is all that young. I quite like the idea of going away for Xmas (ie abroad) but DD wants snow and DH & I want sun! And neither alters the fact that DD wouldn't have company, so more needs to be done.

Davros: my lovely MIL is no kind of burden as a rule, though I'm worried about her being poorly - we managed to leave her with a stinking cold (that nearly always happens, unfortunately) and it's hitting her very hard this year. I'm thinking of cancelling our plans for this weekend and going back up actually, though I don't know if that will help much. TBH, this situation has been gradually escalating and I've always followed a policy of not having a fight in MIL's house, especially over Xmas. We go for her and to give DD time with her cousins, which she otherwise never gets. I wouldn't take this step lightly, so need to feel I have some sort of alternative plan to stop Xmas Day feeling like any other day. I agree that we don't have many years left with her not being independent anyway, one of the reasons I've simply chosen to ignore BIL's behaviour as much as possible. I may yet do it again - we'll see. It's just calming to see what others do, as I was very upset about it this year.

OK, I think the main focus is going to be growing/strengthening local links: they have tended to be swept aside because we spend most school hols up with MIL. If we're a bit more determined on ordinary weekends to meet up with people, we might find ourselves in a different position by the end of the year. Thanks again for your help flowers.

Everhopeful Thu 01-Jan-15 10:53:11

Sorry, just wanted to add that we did do one Xmas Eve+Day with DS and went to in-laws Boxing Day, to try and alleviate the problem of different beliefs. Cue accusing stares...can't win with these people, I reckon!

Davros Thu 01-Jan-15 21:10:28

Is it all your in-laws? Presumably your own family are even further away? What about your MIL coming to you next year? I would hesitate to take an only child away from family on Xmas day unless she really wouldn't mind. We go away after Xmas which is something to look forward to and is just the three of us, nowhere fancy, English seaside which is great at this time of year. What about staying in a hotel near MIL for Xmas so you've got a bolt hole, might be worth the expense.

Familyguyfan Thu 01-Jan-15 21:15:43

I am an only child and both my parents had issues with their parents so I never saw my cousins. No great loss. Anyway, we spent every christmas just the 3 of us and I loved it. I felt a bit put out when we saw friends as they were intruding on my family time.

I should stress I usually loved seeing my friends and was (and am) very sociable but christmas was my time at my house with my parents and I wouldn't have changed it for all the world.

Everhopeful Thu 01-Jan-15 22:53:36

MIL doesn't give us a hard time, Davros, but all the rest do, though one niece did have a brief go at sticking up for us a year or two back. Most of my family are outside this country and all have children considerably older than mine, nearly all with children of their own. MIL specifically extended her house to allow us all to stay at the same time and I don't know what she'd think about us staying in a hotel nearby. It wouldn't really work for me though, as it would be dull back at the hotel, especially for DD.

Familyguyfan: I'd love it if I felt DD was fine with just us, but even I think that will take a bit of work and I don't know if she'll go for it. My family Xmasses growing up had heaps of people in them (youngest of many) and almost none of our traditions work with an only child. Because we keep going away, we've never really worked out what "traditions" we should create, though I think that has to be the best way forward.

I don't know really: I have at least calmed down about the whole thing, if only because it will definitely be months before I see them again! I may yet do nothing as usual, though feel that will kill the big family get-together completely for us in the long run. Thanks for the discussion though.

UniS Fri 02-Jan-15 20:15:29

We got lots of bike rides in over christmas with our 8 year old bike mad only child.
The kind of rides he can't do with friends as none of his friends can keep up for long enough.

Hulababy Fri 02-Jan-15 20:21:01

DD is 12y and we always have Christmas Day at home, the three of us. Last couple of years we have called at a friends for an hour for lunchtime nibbles, but rest of day at home together.

We do have family round on Boxing Day. This year that included our 1y nephew and sometimes our 5y and 8y nieces are there, though not every year.

Christmas Eve we visit both sets of grandparents.

Rest of holidays we will see friends, who have children DD's age 9who are good friends of DD anyway) so she does have company during the holidays.

We love our Christmas Day the three of us.

meandjulio Fri 02-Jan-15 20:24:20

I would definitely say, host Christmas. Anyone who gives you a hard time for your beliefs in your own home can just be told not to be rude. Involve your dd in your traditions; might she join the church choir? I loved being in the choir at Christmas as a child of that age. She's surely old enough to come to midnight mass with you? On Boxing Day, invite families of local friends of hers to meet up for a kick about in the park and leftovers buffet.

lavendersun Fri 02-Jan-15 21:50:25

We have been completely on our own since school broke up - only child, new school and few friends locally. Product of a career induced transient life I suppose.

Family are too far away for a day visit and we have small and large animals which means that we are always at home on Christmas Day.

We have had a fantastic time - been to London twice, seen the ballet, ice skating, bike rides, long walks with the dog most days, the odd cream tea, lots of lego and crafts, family music nights (where we all have a go on various instruments, often badly) and just being at home.

I don't feel that we get enough time together at home anyway so this school holiday period is always lovely.

I do wish DD had some close friends to invite round/see, but she doesn't so we just get on with it. She seems very happy with it, hopefully she is.

Familyguyfan Sat 03-Jan-15 15:20:21

I should add that both my parents come from big families. We just did our own thing, enjoyed the things we liked rather than just following tradition and it was wonderful. I sometimes find that people who have happy experiences of whatever it may be struggle to think fun can be had in any way other than the way they remember or experience. You might be surprised.

Everhopeful Sun 04-Jan-15 15:11:49

Lavendersun, that sounds great and I have been looking into some of those possibilities. We don't have a dog, but I expect we could borrow next door's for a bit. It's the family music nights that have got my attention right now: we have a few genuine instruments around the place that seldom get played: I think I might set a challenge to the others to play something on them, or create an instrument (I'm thinking ye olde playing the spoons, etc) might be fun. Perhaps I do worry too much about her having other company on the day itself: meeting up with people on Boxing Day might be more of a goer. Certainly staying at home, without the need to worry about petfeeders, etc, has a lot of appeal even without all this argybargy

Familyguyfan, I agree: it can be difficult to focus on what is fun for you, especially if you're not particularly reflective (neither DH nor DD are), but I think the time has finally arrived where they will agree to give it a go with me.

Meandjulio - if I only thought they would come! Sorry, but I think that's a genuine case of hell freezing over: I can count the number of visits from that side on one hand over the past 20 years and it isn't a great deal better from my side tbh. I comfort myself with the thought that (for my side at any rate) it's because I was just born too late! Truthfully though, distance isn't on our side: I've only one DB left in this country and he's most unlikely to leave his flash new place (it is admittedly very nice) to come to mine.

Everhopeful Sun 04-Jan-15 15:14:59

Hulababy, I nearly forgot you! Sadly, the sole remaining grandparent is the lovely MIL. I would have loved to have my DPs around, but they had both gone before DD was born. That's why I'm not considering the idea of going it alone lightly.

I really do appreciate all your thoughts - they do help me a lot, thank you.

lavendersun Sun 04-Jan-15 22:24:47

You will have a fantastic time Ever. I am quite sad that it is all coming to an end tomorrow tbh.

DH works away and left almost a week ago so it has just been the two of us. Tomorrow will be a dog walk and tea at a nice hotel before school the next day.

Whatever you do will be lovely I am sure.

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