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What arrangements do you have for Christmas?

(28 Posts)
eslteacher Sun 18-Sep-11 12:13:01

Coming up to my third Christmas as a step-parent, and as usual it all feels quite stressful and imposible to organise something that will please all parties. I was wondering how the rest of you managed Christmas, what is reasonable and what isn't.

I'm in a pretty complicated situation which involves

- family sprinkled over two countries (France and the UK)
- DP and I both being only children therefore feeling obligated to both be with our parents for Christmas
- the fact that in France the Christmas period is very short, as Boxing day doesn't exist, and if Christmas Day falls on a weekend, like this year, you don't get the Monday off as a bank holiday, you're expected to just go back to work.

DP and his ex (who lives very close to us) always used to share DSS over the Christmas period, alternating who had him on Christmas Day itself each year. This arrangement always worked really well and I know the ex is keen to keep it that way. There is no formal agreement between them, they just work everything out on an ad hoc basis, and have a good relationship still.

But now from my POV, it would be a lot easier if we just alternated who had DSS over the entire Christmas period each year, to enable us to sometimes spend it in the UK with my family (which includes my 93 year old grandmother who can't possibly travel to France but has no other family except my parents and I). Is this a reasonable thing to suggest, or do you think not?

Actually, a big part of me thinks not, that DSS should be able to see both his mum and dad over every Christmas period...and that it should be me who makes the sacrifice of either spending Christmas with my parents and grandmother OR with my DP and DSS and DP's parents. Having them all together is probably just a selfish dream, Sigh. I think just typing this out has made me realise this is one of those times when you just have to make a step-motherly sacrifice and put yourself last...

BOMBAYANDMJONICE Sun 18-Sep-11 13:52:57

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deemented Sun 18-Sep-11 14:00:52

Well, for the past three years, manshape has gone up to see his son on Christmas day and spent the afternoon with him.

This year, he's like to have him to stay at our house from the day before Christmas Eve, and then on Christmas day to deliver him home in time for dinner at his mums.

His mum is not keen and has insinuated that they may be 'going away' for Christmas this year to stop manshape having him

BOMBAYANDMJONICE Sun 18-Sep-11 14:02:58

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ladydeedy Sun 18-Sep-11 16:42:13

same here. We willl be having Christmas and New Year at home and DSS2 will be with us (he lives here). DSS1 is invited to come over whenever he likes during that period -he's within 5 minutes walking distance (i.e. whenever his mother permits him to which is likely to be for one meal during the whole of the 2 week school holiday). We used to alternate, one week with one parent, one week with the other which meant it was easy for us to go and visit relatives or go on holiday with both boys (or on our own during the week that both with their mother). Now it's changed as one boy lives with us but his mother doesnt want him to stay overnight with her at all and in fact last year told him she didnt want to see him at all over Christmas or New Year because she was only planning to see and give presents to people she cared about. Class.

eslteacher Sun 18-Sep-11 22:29:25

OK, this thread is really reminding me to count my blessings...I just can't believe the exes that some of you guys have to deal with...especiallyladydeedy - your poor DSS2. How old is he? What on earth happened to make his mother act like that with him?

lateatwork Mon 19-Sep-11 00:10:24

We have never ever had DSS for Christmas- but always had him for NY (hmmm wonder if that has anything to do with his mum wanting to go out....). This year, DSS gets to choose. Yes folks, that's right, a 7 year old gets to choose where he would like to go for christmas. I think its far far too much pressure to put on a child. He is bound to feel like he is disappointing the other parent- no matter what he does. Awful awful idea I think.

deemented Mon 19-Sep-11 07:35:05

Oh yes, that is awful. I'd be inclined to tell him that he didn't have to choose, that he could stay with his mum if he wanted to and thats ok, simply because it's take that pressure off him. Poor kid.

BOMBAYANDMJONICE Mon 19-Sep-11 09:14:16

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ladydeedy Mon 19-Sep-11 09:14:25

Hi Riverboat. Yes the ex is beyond belief sometimes. DSS2 is now 15. He was miserable living with her, she was punishing him over the slightest thing (and she'd hit him a couple of times) so he came to live with us. The funny thing is the ex would constantly threaten him by saying she'd send him to live with his dad! In the end he just walked out.
Now she just constantly berates him for the fact that her "income has been cut by 25%" - i.e. she doesnt receive child maintenance for him any more and also other benefits. So yes, pretty awful really. It's amazing that he's handled it all so well - he's a really good kid and he's flourishing now.

2blessed2bstressed Mon 19-Sep-11 16:45:52

I think we'll end up doing what we did last year. Dp's parents came to us for Christmas and he collected the dsds from his ex for a couple of hours on Christmas day. His ex has said "you'll never get the girls for Christmas" and so a couple of hours is a big deal.
His parents live a couple of hours away, so staying here is there only chance to see the grandchildren on Christmas day. Means that my kids and I won't be able to go South to visit my family, (similarly to the OP, they have work commitments that make it v difficult to come here, even if there was room!) but that's the way it is.

LtEveDallas Mon 19-Sep-11 16:58:26

Probably the same as every year. We will invite DSD to ours, mum will say no. We will then agree to travel to DSD town (7 hours drive) and ask DSD to join us at grams. DSD will want to come, mum will say no, then agree that she comes Xmas evening. We will re-arrange Xmas, then DSD won't come. We will find this out when she doesn't turn up, not before. We then don't see her at all.

We will then go and see my parents for a couple of days (5 hours drive) and come back home.

Whereupon we will get a sneery phonecall from DSD mum saying she (DSD) is devastated that she won't see us for NY, why won't we come back?

DSD then ignores us for a couple of weeks until she phones to ask if we left her Xmas presents at Grams.

...repeat ad infinitum

BOMBAYANDMJONICE Mon 19-Sep-11 17:02:57

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LtEveDallas Mon 19-Sep-11 19:08:18

Hi MJ. Every year we say we won't do it again (do you remember my angst last year?) but every year DH ends up feeling guilty and saying that we need to do the journey (actually mainly for MIL because without us she won't have Xmas - my mum has my brothers and sisters). Then every year we end up sniping at each other him because he's pissed of with DSD and taking it out on me, me because I'm pissed off with him falling for it again.

At least this year we already have NY planned - we are going away for a couple of days, and I'VE already paid for it, so we ARE bloody going!

BOMBAYANDMJONICE Mon 19-Sep-11 20:04:10

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LtEveDallas Tue 20-Sep-11 11:01:51

I'd love to do that MJ, in fact had suggested it last year ready for this year, but (as DH pointed out) my parents will go to my sisters very happily like they do most years and have a great time. If we don't go to MILs her and her partner wont celebrate at all (long story). Cant even invite MIL & FIL here as they cannot travel. I would love to do without all the stress though - it's so bloody wearing.

I think this time we wont tell her that DSD is coming though - she gets excited every year (as does DD) and then upset. If we tell her at the start that we aren't going to see then then it will be a miracle bonus if she turns up.

Next year we should be closer and in out own home for the first time ever - maybe things will change then?

TheBreadstick Tue 20-Sep-11 11:09:34

I reckon we'll get DSC for Boxing Day afternoon as usual sad

Petal02 Tue 20-Sep-11 11:32:32

Christmas is generally (touch wood) straight forward - the ex always insists that SS is with her on Christmas morning, so that he can see her two "new" children (the ones she's just had with her new husband) open their presents, and after that she's quite happy for him to come to us. So DH generally collects him around midday.

The ex is never bothered about having him back, so DH and I usually take him home on 27 December.

Readyisknitting Tue 20-Sep-11 11:41:23

We have dss alternate Christmas's and new years. This year is our turn for Christmas. Last year was very upside down as dp's xw was V ill (don't askshock). We have agreed for dss to go over with dsd Christmas eve. Dsd decided long ago before I was around that she was staying with her dad, end of. I like having her around, even though she drives me potty with some of her habits!

My 3 are supposed to see their father on Christmas eve. He is basically a wanker, so there's a chance he'll let them down. It wasn't planned, contact for him is as per the rota, and it happened to fall on Christmas eve. Next time he sees them will be 2 weeks later, as per, unless he decides to go to court again. Which is likely, as he likes wasting public money.

Tillyscoutsmum Tue 20-Sep-11 11:47:43

For the past 6 years, we have always had dsd for 4 or 5 days before Christmas and dropped her back to her mum on Christmas Eve afternoon. This gives us chance to spend time with the in laws (who are in Wales) and then we are home for Christmas day and either go to my parents or they come to us. We effectively have two Christmasses - one on the 23rd with DSD and her grandparents etc. and one actually on Christmas day.

DSD however will be 8 this year and mentioned last week that she would quite like to spend Christmas Day with us hmm. We would love to have her but I'm not sure its going to go down very well with her mum.

theredhen Tue 20-Sep-11 12:12:54

I always have DS every Christmas day and he normally goes to his Dad's on boxing day or the day after.

We also have DSC every Christmas day but either before 10.30am or after 10.30am. Meaning that one parent gets the early morning and the other gets the rest of the day. Neither presents are allowed in the others house, so they effectively get up at one house, open their presents then leave them all behind and get in car to go to other parent. confused Personally I think this suits the parents wants and needs more than those of the kids, but hey ho.

I am having a bit of a dilemma. This year we have the DSC from 10.30am meaning they will be with us for Christmas dinner. In previous years we have gone to DP's sister and she has cooked for all of us and her family too. I am feeling increasingly guilty because there are so many of us and I think it's wrong to expect her to cook for so many. However, if I invite all of DP's family it means I will be cooking for 15 people and the thought terrifies me, as well as having the dsc to look after get under my feet. I do have them all over for another day over Christmas and normally do curries and chilli's help yourself type meal, which is a lot easier than a full blown Christmas dinner. We normally buy and cook the turkey for DP's sister and take it with us and I should point out that I have no family of my own at all apart from DS who would be involved on Christmas day. It would be all DP's family.

I would be more than happy to stay at home, just the 7 of us, but DP doesn't want to do this.

fairystepmother Tue 20-Sep-11 12:39:12

While SS's mum was still on the scene, we alternated Christmas and New Year .

If it wasn't our year to have DSS, we would postpone Christmas until a few days later and treat 25th like any other day. We don't get too hung up on the date anymore to be honest - SS's mum used to have a habit of changing her mind at short notice and it was very emotional for OH. In the end we learned not to pin everything on one day of the year (plus it was impossible for her to attempt to ruin our Christmas when she had no idea when it was!)

I also occasionally have to work Christmas day so family are hard to accommodate. Which is why maybe we don't get too hung up on dates and just plan a special day to be with them. Sometimes it's close to Christmas, sometimes a week or two before or after. But the important thing is taking the time out to see them.

The step situation is often complicated and it's easy to get hung up on one day. But what about the 364 others? If you want to you can make one of them just a special. That's how we deal with it.

theredhen Tue 20-Sep-11 12:43:24

Well said FSM. I have suggested having DSC all day boxing day one year and all day Christmas day the next year instead of this half and half thing they do on Christmas day currently. DP won't hear of it as "Boxing day isnt' the same". I told him that Boxing day (or any other day) will be what you make it.

ladydeedy Tue 20-Sep-11 18:49:14

exactly. We had Christmas two weeks early in our house one year and it was great!! Another time, due to snow/delayed flights, we had frozen pizza for christmas dinner washed down with plenty of vino and was still great smile.

BOMBAYANDMJONICE Tue 20-Sep-11 20:07:11

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