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Christmas: Family duty and feelings of guilt.

(80 Posts)
whostheJohnsonnow Tue 24-Nov-15 10:47:42

Just wondering what the other single women of mumsnet (meaning those with no children or DH/longer term DP are doing for Christmas?

I'm mainly asking because I'm feeling in a real turmoil about what to do about mine.

A bit of background...I'm 37 (on boxing day, argh!) Lived in London for nearly five years. Live on my own; although I do have a boyfriend of a years standing. Tbh Christmas these days mainly serves to highlight the fact I have no children or DH (would love to have both)

It's just automatically assumed by parents that I will come home every year for Christmas. This year I'm really not sure if I want to go. I would love to hear how the other single women here are balancing duty with their personal feelings. I'm feeling really stressed and unhappy over it all right now.

GastonsChestHair Tue 24-Nov-15 10:50:16

Get thee to a spa or posh hotel and treat yourself! You don't have to go home. And you don't have to feel guilty about it! fgrin

whostheJohnsonnow Tue 24-Nov-15 10:52:52

I would love too Gastons, but too poor for either option unfortunately grin

Would people really not feel guilty? My parents still have the ability to make me feel like a naughty ten year old!

Helloitsme15 Tue 24-Nov-15 10:57:01

Stay at home, put your feet up and do nothing all day.
I had a Xmas by myself one year because my parent's were being horrendous (in the middle of breaking up).
I loved it. Tuna butty for lunch (with melted cheese on top grin) and a complete overdose of TV. It was very liberating to be by myself and do what I wanted instead of being the dutiful daughter in the middle of their fighting. I would highly recommend you do it at least once.

hellsbellsmelons Tue 24-Nov-15 10:59:44

Don't you like spending Christmas with your family?
What don't you like about it?
I cannot imagine NOT spending Christmas with my family.
I'm not single though or childless.
Although my DD won't be joining the celebrations until later and I won't be spending Boxing day with my DP or my DD.

GastonsChestHair Tue 24-Nov-15 11:02:31

You know what, I'll tell you something. I'm married with 5 children. My mum is alone. For the last 5 years with my husband, we have spent Christmas day with her, but earlier this year, she acted like an absolute twat, behaviour totally out of order and we haven't really spoken since then.

I do feel bad that she'll be alone but I refuse to dwell on it.

We all have to do what makes us happy sometimes. Don't feel bad.

whostheJohnsonnow Tue 24-Nov-15 12:29:09

Helloitsme: That sounds glorious and extremely liberatingsmile What did your parents have to say about it? Were they annoyed?

Hellsbells: It's hard to say really. I suppose I feel like the spinster failure tbh. Plus my auntie has had a go at me over the dinner table two years running. I don't expect the red carpet, but they act as if I had just popped in from next door. Whereas I've come hundreds if miles and usually taken annual leave cos my company works over Christmas. Plus I always get accused of not looking "happy" enough on my birthday; which always pisses me off.

I'm sorry to hear about your mum Gaston. That must be hard to deal with.

GastonsChestHair Tue 24-Nov-15 12:37:24

Crikey no, don't be sorry! She can be a right old bag grin

Your Auntie sounds charming. And like the perfect reason to stay away!

I agree with Helloitsme, have some me time. You're nearly 37 for goodness sake, don't worry about whether they're annoyed with you, it's big girl pants time!

MyFavouriteClintonisGeorge Tue 24-Nov-15 12:43:43

Don't go if you don't want to. Why don't you and your DP book Christmas lunch somewhere posh, like the Goring Hotel? Then walk it off with a nice romantic walk around central London before putting your feet up at home.

whostheJohnsonnow Tue 24-Nov-15 13:08:15

Auntie is in her eighties, and seems quite bitter about life. It spills out at times like Christmas. I was called selfish last year. After agreeing to work the worst shifts ever new year and travelling 300 odd miles to see them all!!!!

The Goring would be delightful. Although my budget is more suited to the local Weather spoons!

Helloitsme15 Tue 24-Nov-15 13:25:11

I think my parents were annoyed but I had just had enough of being in the middle of their rows. I think they let it go because they knew they had crossed a line and pushing me further would only cause more damage.
I have no regrets. I look back on my Xmas by myself very fondly - proud I stood up to them, proud I actually enjoyed my day (Xmas by yourself is supposed to be bleak but it wasn't) and stronger for knowing I could do it.
It's all about your state of mind - view it as a positive choice and the day will be fine. View it evidence of your loneliness and it will be a sad day.

Viewofhedges Tue 24-Nov-15 13:38:32

Have Christmas on your own, it is a rite of passage. I've done it loads of times - Morocco one year on my own (I was single and 30 ), Australia (20s) another, and London on my own (32?) as well. I had a good time - started my tradition of coffee, bucks fizz and cinnamon bun for Christmas breakfast, and cycled 12 miles across the city to a friend's for supper, which was pretty amazing as there no buses running and it was a great day to cycle!

Don't go if your family make you feel crap. It's not worth it.

If I were you, I'd tell a little white lie and tell them that you can't get enough time off from work to make the journey. Go and see them on an non-Christmas weekend. Then spend the money you'd have spent on a train ticket on your favourite food, and work out one nice thing you can do in the pm - either seeing friends, or volunteering, and you'll have a good day. It will feel weird, it did when I did it, but it was a good thing to do. Don't stay in all day with the TV, but go out.

It also breaks the expectation that you will go every year, and remind them you are an adult with your own life.

Plan a selfish (in the best sense of the word) day and ENJOY IT. Then go and see them when you actually want to, and you'll all feel better for it. Father Christmas has told me you are officially allowed to grin)

FedUpWithJudgementalPeople Tue 24-Nov-15 13:41:25

I am in a similar sort of position. It does make you feel a bit inadequate, doesn't it? It makes me feel like I am still 20 or something because my Christmases haven't really progressed since then. There's no children or family of my own.

I do go to my parents as I am an only child and they would be gutted if I didn't. My Mum even insists on doing a stocking for me, even though I've asked her not to!

I've suggested they come to me, or we go to a hotel for a couple of nights just to mix things up a bit but they won't do that.

However I am just sucking it up a bit I'm afraid. Although this year I am going to my bfs family in the evening (been seeing him about a year also). Can you see your bf at some point or is it too far away? Or go out to a friend's at some point?

665TheNeighbourOfTheBeast Tue 24-Nov-15 14:14:25

Viewofhedges brilliant advice - I like your style !

whostheJohnsonnow Wed 25-Nov-15 00:17:01

Hello and View: I like both your styles 😊 They sound like the perfect, Xmas day celebrations.

Fed: I feel your pain. We are in very similar situations. My parents,also wouldn't area of coming to me. Even though they've both retired and are in good health. They've visited me once in the five years I've been in London. I've moved three times since the last time!

My bf is from down here, so he would have to come home with me. I'm really hankering after a Christmas with just the two of us tbh.

I've already told my mam I may have to work Xmas eve ( not actually a lie) The response Is can I not get train up afterwards? On Xmas Eve! From Kings Cross! I feel sick with stress just thinking about it!

They make me feel so guilty though. Like I am a terrible daughtersad

whostheJohnsonnow Wed 25-Nov-15 06:26:17

Then I got the "you have to come home for Xmas. Your mum will be devastated" lecture off my friend last night.

Urgh. Just urghsad

Justmuddlingalong Wed 25-Nov-15 06:35:43

The thought of telling them is so much worse than the liberating relief you'll feel once you have told them. Phone and let them know you'll be staying at home. Don't say 'just this year' or you'll be in the same quandary next year.

Inertia Wed 25-Nov-15 06:39:40

Sounds like it could be worth working to be honest - is it something like nursing where you could swap shifts so someone else could have the day off and you could have a time that suited you better?

ThisIsStillFolkGirl Wed 25-Nov-15 07:09:20

When I was 20, I spent my first Christmas away from home with my flatmate in a different city to my family. We had a lovely time.

I stopped spending Christmas with my mother/family outside of my (now ex) h and children when I was 25 (her choice).

It's just a day.

I hope that my children will have a good enough relationship with me, and respect me enough, that they won't force themselves to spend a day with me out of duty.

Tell your mum that no, you can't get a train up on christmas eve! There are other days. Do what you want.

ThisIsStillFolkGirl Wed 25-Nov-15 07:13:47

I want to be viewofhedges

Allgunsblazing Wed 25-Nov-15 07:15:29

I am a mum. I would be heartbroken if my DD would ask to spend christmas alone.
Big skying party, going abroad etc I would understand, but just moping about alone in a flat...no!
But then again, I would go where she is no problem.

TheSpectreOfMorningtonCrescent Wed 25-Nov-15 07:27:32

Your parents need to get over themselves. My Ds can't get home for Christmas Day, working Christmas Eve and Boxing Day, it won't be the same, but hey that's life. its such a shame that you have to work over Christmas wink

OldCrowMedicineShow Wed 25-Nov-15 07:32:31

The 'duty' part of your op saddened me, the thought of a long train journey just to take part in something you are reluctant to do - you have Christmas at your own home and please don't feel guilty.

The first free Christmas for me was just after my mum died and the rest of the family did not want to celebrate Christmas (understandably).
My son and I had the best Christmas Day, we had cheesy beans on toast and pigged out on chocolate, played with lego and watched tv. This became the norm for many Christmasses for years.
There were no hard and fast rules, no traditions, no stress family strops it was so laid back and enjoyable plus zero guilt.

Phone your mum and dad early on Christmas Day to wish them a lovely day then put guilt aside and relax.

Ragwort Wed 25-Nov-15 07:39:08

Allgun - but having Christmas alone does not necessarily mean moping about alone in a flat.

I am a mum and would be just as heartbroken if my DC felt 'duty bound' to visit me at Christmas.

The Op's mother is not on her own, she has a husband and other family - the Op should do what she wants, it sounds as though she has a busy, demanding job and racing across the country does not sound at all fun. Tell your parents you are volunteering for Crisis at Christmas (even if you aren't wink)

Jenijena Wed 25-Nov-15 07:53:47

My sister is 32 and lives abroad. she tends to fly in evening of 23rd, stay with us, and then travel on to my parents the 24th. My Dad works Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and tends to be knackered so Christmas chez my parents is lunch and then sleep. I don't go as my three year old and their dog are not compatible, and though they live close, the transport required to get to them does not run on Christmas Day.

Anyway, two years ago I suggested to my mum (as my sister was too scared to) that rather than my sister travelling 23rd, travelling 24th, Christmas chez parents, she stay with us for Christmas Day and we bring her over on Boxing Day where we can have another Christmas. My DH and son and I would be there for the day, my Dad wouldn't be knackered and working, and it would be more relaxed.

I got back -and my sister got even more - 'but Christmas won't be Christmas without DSis' clearly my absence isn't a problem and a list of reasons why 'your mother would be terribly upset'. So much so that my sister is too scared to suggest ever doing anything different. Given she lives abroad, and has no intention of ever returning to the uk, it is fairly likely that one day she will spend Christmas (maybe ever Christmas) with a partner over there. At which point presumably my parents will be heartbroken and refuse to celebrate anything festive.

It annoys me my sister refuses to stand up to them, and that they baby her, in a self perpetuating circle. So say no to your parents, let them make the effort, and do some white lies about working if you like.

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