We aren’t going home for Christmas this year.
Not only is it expensive to do every year, but PH couldn’t get Christmas Eve off of work, and since that’s when his family celebrates, it would be $4,000 for him to miss Christmas anyway.
So we aren’t going, even though I’m an only child and my parents will be spending Christmas alone together for the first time in 30 years. Even though PH’s brother just moved back to Nova Scotia, so it would be the first time his entire family would be together in one room since our wedding, and the first Christmas entirely together in… who knows how many years.
We aren’t going, even though my parents have decided that they can’t come here, either, which is what they did in 2008 when we were recovering from the costs of our honeymoon.
My Dad’s health is pretty good overall, considering his age and considering the fact that his two older siblings both died of cancer in the last five years. But he’s not up for travelling long distances any more. It’s too much hassle and he would rather spend a quiet Christmas at home. Even if Owl and I aren’t there.
My mother is depressed about it. Dad thinks it’s time that PH and I developed our own family traditions, had a private Christmas together, but my Mum would say “Eff that!” and come in a heartbeat if she didn’t think that leaving Dad and the diabetic cat alone for Christmas was probably wrong.
It’s hard to explain to someone with siblings how close-knit your family unit is when you are an only child. A friend of mine from Toronto happened to be in Vancouver one day so we went to lunch and we ended up talking about it – when you’re an only child, Christmases are quiet and intimate.
People talk about obligatory family spats and awkward moments at Christmas. My ex used to call me in tears on Christmas Day, after his traditional fight with his mother. In blog posts I hear people talk about a family disagreement as if it is as much a part of Christmas as cranberry sauce.
Yeah, I don’t know what that’s about. We have never had a Christmas argument in the history of ever.
In fact, my family’s Christmases are so idyllic that our yearly tree trimming always attracted a few of friends, who enjoyed watching the fire, sipping my Dad’s heavy-handed egg nog, and decorating our tree while Karen Carpenter sang about sleighs and snow.
For the next two weeks my parents would spend every evening sitting by the fire, listening to music, sipping wine and occasionally sighing “what a pretty tree!”
Christmas Eve we would go to the midnight mass and sing Silent Night by candlelight, and then my parents would send me to bed and Santa would come.
Yes, that’s right, long after I achieved adulthood my parents continued to do the Santa thing, because I was still in the place of the child.
Only last year did things begin to change. We got Owl to bed and I participated in stocking stuffing.
This year my parents will just have each other, and since my mother stuffs both sets of stockings, I know she’s going to be bummed right out.
It will be easier on me – I’ll have Owl to think about, and really children are what make Christmas fun.
He’s discovering Christmas, and I love it.
“Yook! Wismus yights!”
“Yook! Wismus tree!”
“Yook! A man a beard. Santa.”
He still doesn’t really understand, though, so we’ll be talking him through Christmas the way we did last year. He understands presents, that’s for sure.
We’re planning a Skype session – maybe if I set up my netbook or my itouch in the right spot, my parents (and maybe even PH’s parents) can watch Owl opening his gifts.
I suspect that won’t be quite the same, though.
Hopefully next year, we’ll be having a White Christmas again.
I get EVERYTHING you said about being an only child at Christmas!! Mine were always the same! Sub in screwdrivers made with fresh squeezed orange juice instead of the eggnog or wine and you have my parents. No arguements, fun times in front of the tree, calm, happy, awesome.
HOWEVER, when I lived in BC for 4 years, I never came home at Christmas. It was too expensive and I thought that the hassle of traveling that time of year plus having to deal with everyone’s assorted schedules while trying to visit when I was home would have made it just more hectic then I was willing to handle. The result? Four Christmases spent without my parents and them at home alone. I DREADED the first one like mad!!
But you know what? They were all great! It was kind of fun. Since Christmas had always BEEN so great, it just still was. I did fun things on my own and with friends, spent the day with my partner, went out for great meals, made my imitation of my parents Christmas in my own apartment complete with typical foods, etc. My parents sent out big boxes of presents and it was still fabulous.
I’m sure it will be different and weird and maybe not what you want. But on the other hand? You might end up enjoying little pieces of it that you never realized would be so great until you get to experience them. Good luck, and Merry Christmas!!
This will be my first Christmas in Fredericton as well so I know how you feel. I’m bummed but Tony couldn’t get the time off from work. Our Christmases are awesome too. Maybe family doesn’t fight at all. We get together with most of my aunts and uncles and cousins and their children. We play board games and do puzzles. The biggest arguments are teasing about music selection or who won the game. I’m so sad to miss it this year. It’s a pain to drive for 6 hours or more in questionable weather and find someone to look after the cats but I love it so much. It’s going to be a challenge to stay festive this year but I think it’ll be good for us to start our own traditions.
I’m sorry you can’t make it home this year. Work is stupid.
Grace Goldragon said:
I miss being home on Christmas eve, because I’ve got no one to watch It’s a Wonderful Life with me, which is a definitely a group activity, as I’ve learned. I also miss the week of visiting everyone after Christmas, we don’t really have anyone to visit here. Most of our friends are “from away,” like us, but they go home for Christmas. I don’t miss being home for Christmas on Christmas morning, however. The kids opening their presents under our tree more than makes up for it.
I think that’s why I mostly just feel bad for my parents, sitting at home with no one but themselves. Even though it was their choice not to come out. Well. Dad’s choice.
But why can’t you watch it’s a wonderful life with your kids? It’s pretty innocuous isn’t it?
Grace Goldragon said:
They’d find it boring. I know I did when I was their age.
Grace Goldragon said:
Not to mention, it’s not all that innocuous. It’s pretty dark, actually.
Yeah but I didn’t pick up on that stuff when I was small
It was somewhere in my twenties I realized that all along my mom had been stuffing her own stocking. I was horrified! Perhaps you could do a stocking for your mom and mail it to her in a box that says “do not open until 25th morning”.
The last couple years I have made a point of Putting something in her stocking. I think she uses stockings as an excuse to buy herself little things that she normally denies herself.
So sad you three won’t be making it home for Christmas!!
Hi, I'm Natalie. said:
If I can figure out a way to smuggle you to Alberta, maybe you can pretend to be me and attend my family’s Christmas. I think about 25 (or 30?) people are expected. I’m already getting twitchy at the thought of going. Sigh.
It’s funny – it’s tough to *really* understand quiet family Christmas when you come from a family with gazillions of aunts and uncles and cousins and LOUD. Steve comes from a small family and they had Christmases similar to yours – he’s baffled by my dislike of the season. (My favourite Christmases have been picnic lunch Christmases, on New Zealand beaches.)
*hugs* I hope you make many good memories at home this year, and make it out east soon!
Why not initiate your own small Christmas then? Say no to the massive family hooplah of you don’t enjoy it
Hi, I'm Natalie. said:
We do, sort of. Christmas DAY is just for us – we’ll probably have a nice breakfast before going skiing and/or sledding. But the expectation to go to other “Christmas” days is there (and it’s reasonable to expect us to show up if we can) – we have the huge get-together in Red Deer, my parents are nagging us about a day we can celebrate with them, and we’ll do Christmas Eve at Steve’s parents’ house. That’s on top of the couple of Christmas parties that are actually fun. For an introvert, it’s exhausting.
How wonderful that you have so many years of great Christmas memories!
I think the last “extended family” Christmas I really remember enjoying was when I was about 7 years old …. the last year we all lived in Italy. The year I turned 8 there was no Christmas because we’d just arrived in South Africa and there was no money (that was the year the “magic” of Christmas truly ended for me….until I re-discovered it after I had my own kids!) Shortly after that my aunts, uncles and parents all divorced within a few years of each other …. enough drama to make peaceful get-togethers virtually impossible. 😦
Fast forward to this year … my father and father-in-law are both dead. My mother chose to spend Christmas Eve with my step-dad’s family (we’re not invited because they don’t like us) and I was informed that she, my step-dad and step-brother would only go to my brother’s house on Christmas Day if my family and I DID NOT attend!!
So this year we’ll celebrate Xmas Eve at our own home with only my mom-in-law (she arrived on 1 December and is staying with us until 7 January). On Christmas Day I get to host my Grandmother as well (Christmas Eve she’s with my Aunt … but we’re again not invited to join them). 😦
I’m actually praying that one day, when I’m the grandmother, I can re-create the type of loving family get-togethers which make the holidays extra special. Meanwhile, I just do the best I can to (at least) keep them peaceful for my immediate family.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year, with love from my small family to yours!
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If you have kids, you have a great excuse not to go on family excursions. Have your own Christmas celebrations and let people come to you instead. It’s just me, the hubby and our cats, so making our own Christmas traditions is a little … well, pointless, I guess you could say. It’s just the two of us (+3) every other day of the year anyway, so nothing special. Making a big dinner just for the two of us? An awful lot of work. In fact, last year, because we spent Christmas in the UK (we alternate years, so one year it’s with his family, the next with mine) and we celebrate it on the 24th in Sweden, I made a Swedish Christmas dinner, like I normally do or it just won’t be Christmas for me. (Christmas food traditions between the countries are lightyears apart!) However, I decided to invite people over to share it with us. After all, if I’m making all that food anyway, I might as well make a little bit more and see if anyone else wants to share. Only three people could make it in the end, but it was lovely, especially since those three were from the same group of friends anyway. 🙂 I’ll probably do the same thing again next year. This year, I get my Christmas food fix back home!
My husband has three siblings and they all have kids, so it gets kind of big, even if everyone isn’t there, but it’s still just basically his mum and siblings with partners and offspring. My side of the family is smaller. I have two sisters, so they bring their partners, and none of us have any kids, so it’s always been small. When we were younger, it was just the five of us (i.e. parents + kids) and my mum’s parents. Nice and quiet. I’d still get terribly worked up and then terribly disappointed when the image of The Perfect Christmas in my head didn’t match reality, and there was never a sense of peace, as we had normally been up very late the night before to clean and prepare food and such. Being in a state of stress when the expectation was to have a nice and relaxing Christmas easily overwhelmed me and I’d retreat to my room and cry. And to think I didn’t have a clue why (= highly sensitive introversion) until fairly recently!
But yeah, my parents made their own Christmas traditions. I think they basically grew tired of having to go places on Christmas and finally put their foot down, saying that no, we’re staying home. If anyone wants to join us, fine, but we’re not going anywhere.
Such a shame your parents can’t make it. I agree with what people have said ^^, that it’s good to make your own traditions, and you have a child, so you can, but I can really sympathise with the disappointment of your parents not being able to make it over. That’s the problem with living far away from parents, especially as they get older, the trip is too much for them (or you) sometimes, both in terms of cost and exertion.
Sweden’s not THAT far from here (in the scale of things), but it’s still far enough. If one of them falls ill, I can’t just pop around of an afternoon and do the hoovering or something, because we’d need to get plane tickets, find a cat sitter, drive down to the airport and so on and be away for several days. It’s a major journey, not just hopping in the car and be back home in time for dinner. As my parents are getting older, the distance feels greater and greater, but if we moved to Sweden, my husband would have the exact same issue with HIS mum being too far away. 😦
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