This is a rant post.
My parents have always been really talented at guilt-tripping me. I’m an only child, and they treat me like we’re equals, not the traditional parent-child relationship. That means that they don’t seem to feel a particular parental imperative to give of themselves for me (now that I’m an adult), but they do expect me to give of myself to them.
Last Christmas I was pregnant (found out Christmas morning), and I gave a year’s advance notice that the following Christmas, since I’d have a small baby, I’d not be travelling and would instead like them to come to me for the first time. I live 2 hours from my mom, and my dad lives the next province over – a 2 day drive. He always stays with my mom over the holidays, but they are not a couple – just friends. I have never understood why he’d choose her place over mine as a home base.
When I reminded them that this year we’d like to host, my dad responded by saying “I guess I won’t get to see my granddaughter this year. I will have just driven 2 days to get to your mom’s and 2 hours more is too much”. My mom said “I don’t think I can get any time off this year, and it kills me to think I might not have a family Christmas with my new granddaughter”.
They were bluffing. Of course they’d come here if I didn’t give in. But I decided to give in, all because I couldn’t handle the guilt (and I want to set a good example for Avery of giving of yourself for family). So I explained that I had given it a lot of thought and, even though it was a long drive for Avery – who so far hates long drives, she would have to get used to it eventually. I also expressed that I hoped it would be easier on us in the long run to be hosted rather than to host. My mom replied by saying she might not have time to do the cooking.
W. T. F.
My wife and I have always brought a significant portion of the holiday meals to every holiday dinner over the years. We do this for my wife’s family too, which has meant hauling two turkeys, two side dishes, and two desserts all over southwestern Ontario every Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving. We are still doing this for my in-laws this year, who live and hour and a half away – they host because they have a huge immediate family and they would not fit in our house. I was really hoping that at least, if we are making the trip to my mom’s house, that she could take care of the food this year so we only have to prep and pack up one Christmas dinner. I think we might just put our foot down on this and if there’s no food, so be it. We’ll eat crackers and cheese.
This Christmas is NOT going to be an opportunity for my parents to hold the baby every second she is happy/sleeping while my wife and I slave away in the kitchen, and then pass the baby to me when she gets upset from the overstimulation of being held by all these different people. This Christmas is a special time for my wife and I. For us, it is first and foremost about our new little family of 3. My parents had their magical Christmases with their own baby for years. It’s our turn now. I really wish they could understand that.