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Tales of Christmas woe. Have a little moan with me

(46 Posts)
Newyearnewbrain Sat 07-Oct-17 05:51:23

Now I know this is a very minor thing but I'm just going to have a little moan so please indulge me.

We've lived away since the DC were born 6 years ago and since that time have spent every Christmas in the UK with one set of inlaws or another.

It gets to this point in the year again and i realise we still have never had Christmas just us. We have zero traditions, unless you count finding stuff in the bottom of a suitcase!

I am hugely grateful for being put up by family and cooked for on Christmas Day and I hope we show our appreciation properly but isn't this just the downside of expat life?

We feel too guilty to refuse the invitation as we have elderly parents and the guilt fest laid on by other family and friends.

Time to pull up my reindeer themed big girl pants and get on with it I suppose.
Anyone else feel the same? Christmas puns welcome.

Chottie Sat 07-Oct-17 05:54:08

Why don't you stay at home this Christmas, but visit in the summer instead when the weather is better and expectations are much lower

Newyearnewbrain Sat 07-Oct-17 05:57:57

Mainly because DH is worried about his parents dying. They're fitter than we are but he carries this whole guilt about taking the DC away from them.

Trying to get the balance right is hard. Though I'd be more than happy to have a long break from motormouth MIL.

I think trying to balance your own needs and family 'duty' is pretty tough. It was def easier when we lived in Europe.

Laptopwieldingharpy Sat 07-Oct-17 08:46:47

confused chottie summer holiday expectations lower? Weeks and weeks of travelling up and down the country with no focus whatsoever? Nightmare

Newyearnewbrain Sat 07-Oct-17 11:33:41

There's probably no easy answer. Summer is just non-stop. At least at Christmas we get to wear I'll fitting reindeer jumpers and drink Snowballs.

Chottie Sat 07-Oct-17 12:15:45

I really don't know what to say....

Newyear surely without being unfeeling, your parents / ILs dying is part of the cycle of life? It's something that we all have to come to terms with and accept....

Regarding taking the DC away, there are lots of ways to keep in touch, messaging, phone, photos, Skype etc.

Laytop travelling up and down to see everyone sounds really exhausting. and it is your holiday as well

I did not realise what expectations and pressure some parents place on their DCs and DGCs until I read this. flowers for you all

pallisers Sat 07-Oct-17 12:20:07

could you afford to stay in your own place and maybe host it or at least have your own rented house to do your own traditions in?

Evelynismyspyname Sat 07-Oct-17 13:11:27

I think you just have to say no if you really hate it.

It actually sounds as if your DH being a bit spineless is the main problem.

Would the best solution be a 1 in 3 instead of 1 in 2 arrangement? So instead of alternating Christmas 1 year at your parents and one year at DH's parents, then back to yours ad infinitum you say one year at your home (this year as you've already been to theirs) one at your parents, one at his parents. You can have an open invitation to them to join you if it helps, although they probably won't think they should be the ones to give up their set traditions and brave travel over the festive period when travelling tends to be busy, fraught with delays and stressful, despite being fit enough to and expecting you to do it with kids in tow.

I am grateful to schools here for not breaking up until 23rd (or the closest weekday) every year - I said right from the start I am not travelling internationally with kids on Christmas eve, and its fairly easy to stick to that!

Newyearnewbrain Sat 07-Oct-17 13:27:58

Actually, having our own place would be the ideal solution. We do own a house between the two parents but we rent it out.

Nah DH isn't being spineless he just loves his parents and misses them more than I do!

Perhaps a full family set of matching Christmas Day pyjamas will put them off having is again

As PP has said though, next year I/we might just say no.

Want2bSupermum Sun 08-Oct-17 21:13:54

We alternate between here in the US and Denmark. All family are invited to join us.

Next year DH has said we are not going to Denmark for the summer. I've told him we are going but not staying with his parents and will spend a week in England.

Toomanypackingboxes Sun 08-Oct-17 22:41:23

Our MIL is coming out for Xmas with us, I am really not up for navigating long haul for less than two weeks with DC. I am happy to see her and knows she loves DC, we have way more space than her so it just makes sense. I think using the word no may be necessary in your case.

Want2bSupermum Sun 08-Oct-17 22:44:33

Also we benefit from short holidays over Christmas and Easter. They only get a week. They are allowed 10 days off school a year before action is taken. This has been communicated to the inlaws who wanted us coming for a month. With school aged DC I can't justify them missing three weeks.

elQuintoConyo Sun 08-Oct-17 22:54:17

I haven't spent Christmas in the UK since i got married in 2009. We are in Europe.

My mother ruined DS' first Christmas when he was 2 weeks old - well, ruined our first Christmas with our first child when i had a horrendous birth and newborn with terrible colic. She now visits my brother on another continent for 2 months over Christmas and rubs my nose in it. Water off a duck's back, ma.

My dad has invited us over this year, but we have a dog so as delightful as it would be (SM is a wonderful woman, host and cook), we couldn't bring the dog!

I love Christmas, but at the end of the day it is just a meal with crackers. I take photos of DS playing with gifts on the day or the days after (not while opening) and whatsapp them. Pics like 'here's DS asleep after lunch with his hand up his giraffe puppet', or here is DS on his bike wearing his new gloves and scarf - thanks Aunty F' etc.

RaininSummer Sun 08-Oct-17 22:57:46

I don't get the thing avout spending christmas in the little family group if you have extended family. In 54 years so far I have never done that. Traditions just evolve don't they rather than get planned.

echt Mon 09-Oct-17 09:12:23

I love Christmas, but at the end of the day it is just a meal with crackers

Words of wisdom, I like it elQuinto. smile

Deemail Mon 09-Oct-17 09:18:31

It's great your dh loves his parents but surely he also loves you and how you feel should also be a consideration.
He's choosing to overlook your desires in order to keep his parents happy. He's probably not actively doing so but that's what he, his parents and indeed yours are doing when they all think it's ok for your family never to spend Christmas in their own home.

Hakarl Mon 09-Oct-17 13:40:27

I prefer not being in charge of Christmas, to be honest. I also wouldn't want it to be just us because it's just us most of the rest of the year. I may come to change my mind though!

I sort of understand what you mean, though, because it does bother me that every single holiday seems to be taken up with family visits. We haven't yet had a proper holiday going away somewhere just us. It seems like especially with the bilingualism we have to take every opportunity we can get to get our daughter together with the English side of the family. But hopefully as the children get bigger (our younger one is only a tiny baby still) it will be easier to travel with them and we can do more.

I hope you get the small family Christmas you want, if not this year then next year!

LillianGish Mon 09-Oct-17 15:46:16

I agree that this is a downside of expat life. It’s hard enough matching expectations when everyone is in the same country. We were so lucky that when my dcs were little that we lived in Germany - possibly the most Christmasy place ever - in a huge house and MIL was fit enough to come over every year for four years. Every one of those Christmases was without doubt the best Christmas ever. Lots of traditions evolved which we stick to to this day wherever we are celebrating. Now we are in Paris which is much less Christmasy, MIL is dead and my mum is on her own we’ll be making the journey back to the UK. I think you probably do have traditions you may just not realise what they are yet (you’ll find out when the DCs start complaining “But we always do ....” Totally agree with the previous poster who said traditions just evolve they don’t get planned. You don’t say where you live, but you need to make sure Christmas starts on the journey home. My DCs are teenagers now, but I’m trying to think of some Christmasy treats for our Eurostar journey on the 23rd. MIL was the fittest of the fit, but she died quite suddenly in the end - so glad to have all the wonderful Christmasy memories with her - we didn’t think of it at the time, but she was part of our Christmas tradition and she lives on in various things we do. My dad’s also gone now so I feel it’s very important to spend. Christmas with Mum while we still can. It’s just a meal with crackers are some of the wisest words spoken on the subject.

Newyearnewbrain Tue 10-Oct-17 05:34:48

Absolutely a meal with crackers. Very good. We're in Singapore. It's a long flight but the DC are experts at the grand old ages of 6 and 4. Actually I think one of them will have their birthday in flight!
Excellent and interesting replies to this thread. I've found it fascinating to read about other's thoughts and experiences.
In general I think the positives of expat life outweigh the negatives but when you do encounter them, they can be very challenging.

Snipples Tue 10-Oct-17 05:47:28

Watching this with interest as we're currently living in Dubai and feel massive pressure to go home for Christmas every year. It's worse going to the inlaws as there is no room for us and it's just really manic. I'm pregnant this year so next year I know my mum will want us to spend the baby's first Christmas with her and I feel obliged to really as she's going to miss out on so much anyway being so far away.

That was a very long way of saying that I totally get the sense of obligation OP and it's just one of those annoying things about living abroad. There's a massive expectation that you must come home to see family as you moved away. Maybe 1 in 3 is the way to do it. Good luck.

Want2bSupermum Tue 10-Oct-17 13:16:51

It's also the expense of going home for Christmas. The flights are hard to get if not booked by now. Going to Denmark we have to rent a place and my goodness it's expensive, and a two bedroom 600sqft place which is a 3rd floor walk up. We end up spending a fortune and return home exhausted.

FunnysInLaJardin Tue 10-Oct-17 13:27:38

We haven't been home for Christmas since DS1 was born 12 years ago and its only an hours flight! We made a decision that we wanted to spend the time as a new family and have our own traditions etc Family sometimes come to us which is fine, but now we have made our position clear there is no pressure to go home.

Mind you for years we did have the guilt trip about my Dad in particular getting older. We moved 20 years ago and he is now 92!

pallisers Tue 10-Oct-17 14:42:55

We end up spending a fortune and return home exhausted.

I remember the year we came back after christmas, took an extra day's vacation, dropped the kids to daycare and went back to bed. It was the nicest day of our holiday.

I found it better when I stopped thinking of trips home as holidays. They are visits to family which are a different thing. Once I realised that I was able to see that we actually did need/deserve a holiday.

missyB1 Tue 10-Oct-17 14:49:45

Can’t family come to you instead?

Want2bSupermum Tue 10-Oct-17 15:05:51

pallisers Yes I totally agree with trips to visit family and not holidays. It's a bit frustrating on here and in RL when people think it's glam that you travel so much. It's not glam. It's bloody hard work and extremely expensive. It's done for everyone else's benefit apart from mine and DHs, ironic and we are the ones paying for the trips.

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