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To think that families should get together at Christmas?

(46 Posts)
MamaVoo Sat 27-Nov-10 13:42:28

I've read so many threads lately with people moaning about having to get together with their parents/ILs for Christmas day, and they always seem to have the overwhelming response of 'how dare they want to be with you on Christmas day, you should just be your own little family unit'. Am I being unreasonable in thinking that this is quite a selfish attitude?

I'm not talking about situations where someone has just had a baby or there's genuine bad feeling. And I do understand the feeling of wanting to make everything easy and less stressful. My parents and MIL have nothing in common and it can be hard work getting them together, but I'll invite my mother in law because I think it's the right thing to do. It's just one day and it's not all about what I want. There are any number of days in the year when we can shut out the world and be on our own, doing what we want to do. It's sad that so many people see their families as an unwelcome nuisance on Christmas day.

fluffles Sat 27-Nov-10 13:46:10

it's all about apropriateness. to me it's not apropriate for ANYBODY to come and visit my home before 8am on any day of the year.
It's also not apropriate for guests to stay for 12hrs and expect to be waited on for all three meals (unless they've been invited overnight in which case i still don't wait on them, i invite them to 'make themselves at home').

The best family days are not endurance tests. Apropriately timed and lengthed visits avoid people getting tired and ratty and short with each other and also quietly resentful.

mummytoatribe Sat 27-Nov-10 13:50:03

I think you AB a bit U in that whilst you feel you want your family around you at Xmas that anyone who doesnt is selfish. Some people just prefer a quiet Xmas in the same way that some people prefer not to holiday with friends but others get bored on their own.

It is only one day a year, but it is a special day and I dont see why families should be pressured into having a houseful just because its "done" or expected. My DH only gets Xmas day off so why shouldnt he spend it as he wants to instead of having all the family here, or travelling somewhere else because someone else thinks we should? To turn your argument on its head, we have the rest of the year to see family, so why cant we have one day off?!

Btw, we are probably having my parents here for lunch then will go to theirs for tea, so I am not anti family! I just feel that each family should do whats right for them without being labelled as selfish!

MamaVoo Sat 27-Nov-10 13:50:46

Well of course it helps if visiting family have a sense of what's appropriate. I don't mind helping them along with heavy hints though if needs be.

LoudRowdyDuck Sat 27-Nov-10 13:51:00

How's about you get together with your family and leave the rest of us to do as we see fit?

MamaVoo Sat 27-Nov-10 13:52:39

OK, perhaps selfish was a bit harsh (though not for some of the threads I've seen). And it's not that it's my dearest wish to have all the family here on Christmas day, but I do feel that it's what's right.

LoudRowdyDuck Sat 27-Nov-10 13:56:32

I think the issue is that for some of us, what happens is that 3 or so generations get together who're all thinking, 'well, I don't really want to be here ... but it's what's right'.

If that's the case, it's probably better to agree to do separate Christmases and perhaps get together for something less stressful, like Boxing Day lunch or New Year.

pozzled Sat 27-Nov-10 13:58:34

My feeling is that most families should want to be together over Christmas, I do feel it's a family time and it's lovely to share it. However, that's very easy for me to say- both my family and DH's act like family, we love them, get on well with them and enjoy seeing them (apart from the odd minor irritation or quirk of course!). So of course we want to spend time with them.

OTOH, there are a lot of families out there who don't actually seem to love each other at all, constantly criticise, and have nothing in common. I read about them every day on MN- I don't see why others are selfish to exclude such families from what should be a special day. IMO blood is not automatically thicker than water- what counts is how people act.

MadamDeathstare Sat 27-Nov-10 14:00:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

thumbwitch Sat 27-Nov-10 14:00:13

Each to their own, I think.
You have qualified it by saying that some people have bad feeling in their families etc. but some people don't feel the need to gather up the clan at Christmas, and some do.

When my mum was alive, I always went to hers for Christmas Day lunch, taking any relevant partner with me (there were only 2 who counted!) - but I had no DC of my own then. Now I do - and I'm far more reluctant to go outside of my own home for Christmas. I am happy for MIL to come here for part of the day but do not want to be schlepping round to other relatives' houses just because they're DH's family (neither does he, tbf)

I would feel awkward not including MIL in any plans - but not remotely awkward about leaving DH's psycho brother out of any invitation - he's never setting foot in this house again, if I have my way.

Ragwort Sat 27-Nov-10 14:00:54

I agree with LoudRowdyDuck - my (quite elderly) parents have finally admitted that they really don't want to get together with all the grandchildren - different routines/noise levels/eating habits/awkward time of year to travel etc etc. So we are all having separate Christmases (we tend to go abroad) and meeting up for a meal when the weather is better.

WinkyWinkola Sat 27-Nov-10 14:01:12

I think it's really not easy for many people.

I have members of my family that I really like and others that I can't stand. Obviously, I'd really rather not see the folk I don't like ever again. But we do at Christmas because of family peace and not to upset my mother. When she's gone though, I don't think I'll bother with them.

Sad? Maybe but then they shouldn't be so bloody unpleasant then, should they?

MamaVoo Sat 27-Nov-10 14:04:18

Actually I hadn't thought of it like that RowdyDuck and I suppose that does happen. I'll have to think of a way to find out when my parents want to go home - I cann see them sitting here till all hours just to be polite.

I'm talking more of totally excluding family who have made clear that they'd like to come.

mummytoatribe Sat 27-Nov-10 14:05:33

How's about you get together with your family and leave the rest of us to do as we see fit?

WSS ^^^^^^^^

LoudRowdyDuck Sat 27-Nov-10 14:09:18

Yes, I guess that's a bit different Voo. Though, mind you, my mum will constantly insist we come to hers and tell us how much she loves a family Christmas - but on the quiet, she did admit last year (when two of the three of us couldn't make it), that it was really lovely to not have to make such a big fuss of it. She's never had a Christmas meal that's just her and my dad as they always resentfully went to in-laws or parents.

I think sometimes someone just has to be the first person to cut across the tradition and all the 'ooh, yes, you must come, it'll be lovely'.

Gissabreak Sat 27-Nov-10 14:12:42

Message withdrawn

thumbwitch Sat 27-Nov-10 14:13:41

One of my friend's Mum did just that, LoudRowdyDuck - she went on strike one Christmas and refused to go to her MIL's, as she had done for many years, since MIL became unable to travel. She sat at home on her own, had sandwiches and a bottle of wine, watched crap tv and enjoyed herself properly. She strongly resisted anyone's invitation to come over because "you can't be on your own at Christmas, that woudl be terrible!". She did it her way and felt much better.

LoudRowdyDuck Sat 27-Nov-10 14:14:06

That sounds lovely Gissa. smile

MamaVoo Sat 27-Nov-10 14:15:57

Of course I'm not saying that it's selfish not to travel hundreds of miles or not to want to spend time with toxic family. Why would you feel guilty if it involves a trip of 4000 miles - that's above and beyond the call of duty for anyone.

I shall humbly accept though that IABU.

Gissabreak Sat 27-Nov-10 14:16:25

Message withdrawn

MamaVoo Sat 27-Nov-10 14:19:15

It does sound lovely Gissa. And it's definitely what I hope me and DH will be doing once DS has a family of his own. He can have his ILs round and not have to worry about us grin

Gissabreak Sat 27-Nov-10 14:19:26

Message withdrawn

thumbwitch Sat 27-Nov-10 14:21:34

Gissa, she is indeed a top bird! grin

Ragwort Sat 27-Nov-10 14:26:01

I am looking forward to Christmasses on my own (with or without DH grin) - the best times I have had was helping at homeless shelters - ie: doing something really useful. Although at one there were far more volunteers than 'guests' - obviously everyone desperate to escape 'family' obligations grin.

BelleDameSansMerci Sat 27-Nov-10 14:40:45

Christmas, for many families, is the time when the tension that's been bubbling all year finally bursts forth. As a child, I could guarantee that Christmas or, more likely, Boxing Day would be the day of "the big row". If we were lucky, it wouldn't be between my parents (which would result in my mum being punched) but would be my dad and a member of his family. As I got older, it would often be between my dad and me as I would not tolerate his bullying and he didn't ever hit me (he threatend to once and I told him that I'd go straight to the police, etc).

I hated Christmas for years. It's only since having DD that I feel I am finally released from the tension and fear that I associate with this time of year.

I sincerely hope my experiences are not common place but I fear they are. I know this kind of scenario is worse than the threads you're referring to but please consider that, for many people, Christmas is a time of fear and the chance to get away from their families may be long wished for.

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