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How’s do you “do” Christmas when your family aren’t enthusiastic?

(16 Posts)
SheSparkles Tue 31-Oct-17 09:44:33

My kids are 15 and 20, eldest has moved out (moved in with boyfriend and is happy, and we’re happy for her) youngest is teenage boy who doesn’t want to engage in anything to do with family. Husband comes from a background where he was loved but Christmas was never a huge thing.

Dh and I were having a chat about Christmas finances etc (no big financial issues) when he blindsided me by saying we can pull it all back now that eldest has moved out....he then went on to say that because the kids are older we can have a smaller tree and not “go overboard. Dh wasn’t all “bah humbug” about it, just very matter of fact.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Mary Christmas, but I’ve always liked to make an effort to give the family a good time at Christmas, it’s never bothered me that Ive always done all the shopping, cooking etc- I work part time and it’s always worked for our dynamic.

If I make a big issue of it, he’d go along with it for a quiet life, but he’d do it without an iota of enthusiasm. I know that Christmas changes as children be older, and a bit of the “magic” is lost, but surely not to this level? How do other families manage with older kids? Right now I just feel like cancelling the whole thing as I can’t bear the thought of trying to get them on board with anything festive.

Jaffalong Tue 31-Oct-17 10:29:18

Book a holiday away somewhere hot and where Christmas isn't a big deal and then next year ask your family if they want to repeat the experience.

2014newme Tue 31-Oct-17 10:32:02

Have a big party. We do it every year it's brilliant
I do like the abroad idea but it costs thousands and I suspect it may be a bit late to book for this year

SheSparkles Tue 31-Oct-17 10:32:53

Unfortunately my work pattern rules that out or it would be a serious consideration

SheSparkles Tue 31-Oct-17 10:34:41

I mean the abroad thing is ruled out....I like the idea of a party, if I thought I could actually do it successfully....

autumnintheair Tue 31-Oct-17 10:41:24

Op I really feel for you. Xmas is most definalty what you put into it. I have relative who does nothing....and sits there with her DH bored trying to get through it all without spending a penny which is her real issue. Its beyond miserable

I would say scale back a little but essentially do the xmas you want life it too short!

2014newme Tue 31-Oct-17 10:44:29

Re the party, ask everyone to bring a cold dish to share, hire glasses it's free, get some booze in. Sorted.

BiddyPop Tue 31-Oct-17 11:46:08

Sparkles it is hard when your family have different expectations and desires for events than you do.

Sit down alone first, and think about what makes Christmas nice and meaningful for you? Is it the family gathering, or seeing friends and wider family, or going to church, or hearing festive music, or giving and receiving gifts, or having particular foods that are special for you, or the decorations, or the madness in the shops, or.......any of hundreds of other things that Christmas could mean to people?

Try to figure that part out first.

Then try to figure out (by thinking of what they have wanted to do in the past or by asking them) what makes Christmas special to your DH and DCs. (Will elder DC be home for Christmas or over the season, or not at all?)

Then see what you can do to take account of DH's views about "scaling back" but still keep the things that are meaningful to you and the family. So does DH not want to spend loads, but really wants turkey, or a particular seasonal special? Does younger DC have anything that they want to do?

Could DC set up a playlist for you all, including some music you love but also some things that they like? As a background to your day.

Do you want to change things now the DC are older? Would a party be a good idea? How could that work, when, who to invite, drinks and nibbles or a sit down meal? It can be quite cheap to do if you spend the time planning it well, in advance. And yes, hiring glasses can work well, some places will do boxes of (bottles of) wine for parties on "sale or return" basis so you can return anything not used etc.

How "scaled back" does DH want the decorations to be? Still have a tree? Accept a few things you do (that come out every year, not additional cost of new things), or just not do anything?

Would DH and DC like to play board games, or go for a walk, or do a Christmas Day Swim/Run/other mad event, as things change and the family celebration of Christmas evolves just as the family itself evolves and grows.

Would YOU like to go to a church service that you haven't been able to get to, or go out for a beer on Christmas morning with DH instead of worrying about the turkey?

Its as much about understanding each other's point of view and expectations of the season. And then finding a compromise between what you all would like and can afford to do (in terms of money, but also time and energy).

FinallyHere Tue 31-Oct-17 12:24:11

The thing that jumped out at me here was make an effort to give the family a good time at Christmas. With adults, isn't it more about everyone contributing and having a say in what gets done, rather than just consuming it as younger children to. If you have always done it that way, they may think you really enjoy doing all the work and think they are indulging you.

How about having a conversation about what makes Christmas special for each of you, maybe three things you each love and three you would be happy to never do again. Include preferences for what is eaten and drunk, as well as the timetable for the actual day.

It would probably make your DC feel very adult to be consulted. I know I felt pretty grown up when Christmas became something we all helped to plan and execute.

FinallyHere Tue 31-Oct-17 12:25:45

Ah, bit of a cross post there, BiddyPop, great minds...

RubyWinterstorm Tue 31-Oct-17 12:31:56

just do a Christmas that suits you and makes you happy.

No need for a massive tree maybe, but a tree and some decorations. Buy yourself a nice present if nobody else will, have a meal that is nice but not too much work.

Santawontbelong Tue 31-Oct-17 12:33:13

If he seriously suggested compromising on a proper size tree then ltb.
Nothing less will suffice.

ILookedintheWater Tue 31-Oct-17 12:35:19

What are your DCs doing for Christmas?
I'm pretty sure that 15YO wouldn't want Christmas cancelled just because his sister has moved out. Seems a bit harsh.
By all means change the dynamic so it suits your more mature kids but 15 is still a child and it would be awful to have Christmas completely changed all at once.
You may find that your DD and partner are expecting to see you over the holidays. Lots to find out before you make any decisions...except to throw a party of course, which is a positive addition!

SheSparkles Tue 31-Oct-17 14:38:29

Thank you very much to @Biddypop and @Finallyhere for stating the bleeding obvious that seriously just hadn’t occurred to me-asking the family what they want! I do genuinely mean that. Because I’ve always done it since the kids came on the scene and everyone’s been happy about it, I was just carrying on in the same vein, so thank you.

Time to have a chat with everyone and see what THEY would like Christmas to be about, and @Ilookedinthewater, you’re quite right about ds(15) not having Christmas cancelled because his sister’s moved out- I think that’s why I was so taken aback when dh suggested we scale everything down.

ohanabanana Tue 31-Oct-17 15:12:52

It might be worth speaking to your dh again and finding out exactly what he meant. Maybe he always thought you went a bit ott with Christmas- spending too much, too many decs, elaborate food, starting too early in December, too much work etc and is using this as a way of suggesting you pull it back a bit. By saying you could get a smaller tree is hardly demanding you cancel Christmas! I think however a party would probably go against his wishes as it would be more time, effort and expense.

Serin Tue 31-Oct-17 21:57:12

I get that some teens are awkward but it's a shame that DS doesn't want to engage with any adults. I would be looking at what I could do to engage with him.
Would he fancy a trip to the local ice rink/dry ski slope or snowdome?(with his mates if necessary).
Would he like the idea of a party?

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