I can’t believe that it is already Christmas Eve and Christmas is tomorrow! This is everyone’s favorite time of the year, and rightfully so. There is great food, the warmth of love and laughter, the hopes of getting a gift that you’ve wanted all year, and spending quality time with family and friends.
But what happens if your holiday season recalls a different picture? What happens if you don’t quite see eye to eye with your family? Or seeing your family involves travel expenses that you just don’t have? Or the food just plain sucks? That last part isn’t super important unless, of course, you are a big foodie like me!
I currently live in Seattle with my boyfriend and two dogs but we are from the Bay Area. All of my family is down in Northern California and his mom just recently relocated up here to be closer to her son.
This year due to work schedules and finances we couldn’t make it down for Christmas and on Thanksgiving, we didn’t go down either due to his mom’s sudden relocation. There was a bit of guilt involved that helped sway our decision to stay, considering that she did relocate – more or less against our wishes.
This past Thanksgiving was particularly challenging for me. I can confidently say that my boyfriend’s mom has zero regards for boundaries and personal space. So when he said we had early dinner reservations at three in the afternoon and it would be best for her to come to our place at one o’clock, and we got a knock on our door at eleven in the morning I wasn’t entirely surprised. Before I opened the door, I knew who it was.
As you can imagine, we were not at all prepared for hosting anyone at this time. We were sleepy messes, I’m talking, just rolled out of bed with drool, morning breath, and disheveled hair kind of messes.
I personally get really annoyed at pop-ups, I think it boils down to courtesy and respect. I would never show up at someone’s house three hours early without first calling to let them know that I’m on my way. So we were both a bit put off by her unexpected arrival.
Regrettably, I think that Thanksgiving also came during a very inconvenient time. My boyfriend was having a tough time at his job and it was causing some stress on his end. If I could have pushed Thanksgiving out to a better time, I would have. But alas, things don’t always line up the way we want them to.
Dinner that day was extremely uncomfortable. My boyfriend was completely anti-social and his mom was just glad to be in his presence and I was sitting there cringing and trying to make small talk while drinking my wine a little too fast for anyone’s comfort.
It was even more unfortunate that the dish that I ordered was not very good, it was actually pretty terrible and my stuffed shrimp tasted more like stuffed shrimp with globs of mayo. Such a pity. The only positive moment during dinner was the wine, the wine was very good.
After we got home from the restaurant and said goodbye to his mom, who had originally wanted to stay for the entire evening as well but ultimately picked up on the temperament of the day and decided it was best to leave. I was left exhausted and slightly tipsy with a boyfriend who was temporarily checked out, preoccupied with dealing with his own battles and a fridge full of pies that his mom left with us.
By the way, it took us a week and a half of eating pie every day and we still had to throw away half of one! I’m pretty good off pie for the remainder of this year. Thanks.
I ended that evening breaking down and crying. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because all you need are good people and good food, that’s all and I felt robbed of that happiness. Even more than that I felt sad that I couldn’t help my boyfriend work through his problems. My family and I are super close and although we sometimes fight, when we do get together it is always laughter, good food and lots of love. When I spent Thanksgiving with my boyfriend’s mom, it just felt really really cold.
I made the decision that until they could both work out their issues I could not be put in the middle and watch them struggle to agree to disagree. Especially during the holidays, which can be incredibly stressful when you are with people you actually enjoy being around. I don’t know when or if that moment will come for them, but I hope that for the health of their relationship that they do get a chance to communicate openly about their issues.
This time around, I said no to family. This year I would not spend Christmas forcing a conversation that no one wanted to have, I would not bite my tongue while my future step-mother criticized and judged me for the most mundane things. This year I refused to be uncomfortable. So I told my boyfriend how I felt and lovingly he supported that decision.
Instead, I will spend the holiday with my boyfriend whom I truly love, and our dogs, who are my furry babies. We will snuggle up on the sofa and watch old Christmas movies like Die Hard and possibly some new not so Christmasey movies like Harry Potter. We will cook together and eat when we want, as many times as we want. We will also do all of this without changing out of our pajamas. I’m already excited just thinking about it!
I realized that I have to protect my sanity even if that means I have to say no to people that are important to me, I think he feels the same for himself. As for his mom, we will see her for a late lunch and a movie on Christmas Eve, and I am all here for that!
How are you spending Christmas? Have you had to advocate for yourself this holiday? Let me know below!