In some ways coming from an insular (for lack of a better word) family we have been spared many of the issues I read about on the boards concerning families.
My sister and I are about the last ones in our family (plus her sons and their children) - we were never that close with cousins, aunts, uncles, etc and have pretty much marched to our own drummer.
We are close enough and honest enough with each other I think we can pretty much say what we think (without any ill intent) and not have a major problem. If I don't like something she makes, that's fine, we don't live for each others approval. So far, 60 years for me, so good. Perhaps having a dysfunctional early family life made us much more reliant on the other and to learn to take most things in this life with a grain of salt.
No question, no problem - I know we will be having all the family dynamics holiday postings and to let ya'll know ahead that I don't understand these family grudge matches that many holidays seem to be. So I thought I would get an honest discussion about the holidays and how we interact with our families.
I guess there are some good things about the boards not being actively moderated - we can do our own thing as long as we don't use any banned words.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Charming,
My siblings and I are getting old. It has been many years since we shared holidays with each other. We all have adult children and it is with them that we spend all such significant times.
Also we grew up in a town far distant from our parents siblings and barely knew them or their children (our cousins)
Since we have only one child we have always spent Christmas (but not always thanksgiving or Easter and never other holidays) with her family. It is not the way I would prefer Christmas to be but it is the way she likes to do it. I never say anything. The six of us are together and we have a good time even though we march to her drum.
When I was quite young and we had moved across state from my parents' families we always got in the car early on Christmas morning and headed to my grandparents. After my maternal grandmother died we started going to my paternal grandparents. Not exactly warm people and they didn't have much use for us. So one year Mother put her foot down. Her family was where we lived. If they wanted to visit us, then fine, the road goes both ways.
Now with DH's kids and their families living in another state we will go and visit them sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas. We have a wonderful time - just the kids and us. We celebrate Christmas and have a special time without all the distractions of the other side of the family. The grandkids love it - 2 Christmases! Then we are able to spend Christmas without all the stress of company.
I was raised in a clan where my DF side of the family gathered about once a month to celebrate a holiday &/or birthday. So I grew up with a close extended family and great relationships and memories of aunts, uncles & cousins until my grandparents died. By then many of the grandkids were married.
DM family was just us and her folks and that was fun in a different way with great memories as well. I was the only GD and had 3B.
When I married my expectations with DH family would be to spend each major holiday with them every other holiday or some such arrangement, and take my turn hosting them in our home for the kids' birthdays, as well.
Gosh, I quickly found out not everyone else was raised like I was.
I fought it for years, trying to recreate such memories with DH family. I have horror stories galore. It basically boiled down to the fact DH left his family's church first and so was quasi-ostracized from them (they aren't Amish!)
They ignored us, favored their other children's families, spent more time visiting out of state grandkids in a year than the times they could have come across town to see our kids.
I also think MIL is offended by my dishes, tablecloths, flatware and ability to cook and serve a nice meal. (Note: I did not say china, crystal, sterling, linens nor gourmet.)
F&MIL skipped our DSs college graduations &/or celebration meal.
She gave inappropriate gifts I thanked her for and made sure she saw me use.
(Like firstborn baby born in Nov. was given a newborn size shorts outfit! What am I suppose to do with that? I bought kneesocks & a sweater to go with it and had it on him once when we went over to visit.)
There were years we didn't get together with them for holidays at all. Then when their other sons moved back to the area, miraculously they wanted to start holiday gatherings again and I again was the hostess taking my turn.
After a few years, this wore itself out with various complaints and obvious failures in invitations being extended to us.
Our own children are old enough now that I feel it's more important for DH and I to get together with them, skip the paternal fiascos. Our kids begin very early to inquire about the maternal family gathering dates so they'll be ready and available to attend
I tried, gave it my best shot and quit beating myself up that I was the problem or cause. The realization is that I was hoping they'd enjoy these memory making events, MIL only wants to relive HER childhood & young motherhood memories of her family while she ignores the opportunity to enjoy her own family in front of her face.
Epilogue: For the past 2 years I went nearly every Sunday with DH to visit his parents because his DF was in frail health and died. A few weeks ago I asked his mother an inocuous question and she failed to answer it to my satisfaction. I pressed her until she said she didn't feel she needed to answer me. I retorted that yes she did owe me the answer and explanation. My DH and BrIL sat in the same room with their heads down and neither came to my defense!
When we got in the car and pulled away, I emphatically told my husband: "Well, your Dad's dead now, and from now on, we won't be going to visit your mother until we have been to visit my parents in the meantime. I don't appreciate being treated like this by her after 31 years of marriage; I feel like I should be part of her family. My own parents would never have responded to me like that and your DM isn't going to get away with this kind of behaviour with me either."
Sorry this is so long, oh the heartache.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Lurah,
Both of my parents have many brothers and sisters who have children and grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. Each side has a large holiday gathering that is attended by most all of that extended family with rare exceptions.
My ex was the oldest of ten children, and his father the youngest of nine. I have a large family of aunts, uncles, and cousins as well. I have fond memories of Christmas Eve when we spent the day going from one aunt to the next delivering presents, visiting, and imbibing. Christmas Eve night was always spent with my aunt who entertained our side of the family. Christmas Day was easy enough because my parents would come to us (my mother's hometown) and we'd spend the morning together and all go to his family for the rest of the day.
Lurah That is very similar to my father's side of the family. I remember our last visit to my Grandmother's at Christmas. We had driven all the way across state and while the local grandkids were showing off their gifts from Grandma and Grandpa, there was nothing under the tree for us. WOW! The things adults do.
I am sorry DH did not stand up for you. My mother would talk about how my grandmother would gather her boys around and start berating the wives, etc. She said my father would just turn around and walk away.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Charming,
Aren't families messy.
I am one of five sisters and we had one brother. In a recent discussion with his widow, for some reason we got talking about difficult mothers in law. I said my mother was not one of those. My sister in law, said "Oh, no she was wonderful!"
Even though I know from her many kindnesses to my mother that she felt positively about her, her saying so made my heart sing! Plus my Mom was a wonderful model for me as a mother in law. However not always so for my sisters!
I live within 30 miles of my 5 sisters, brother and my Dad, (my mom is deceased) and my husband's mother (his father is deceased) and his 2 brothers and 1 sister. For the most part we are a happy bunch, although honestly I am closer to my side of the family than to his. My husband's family are a bit more distant with each other, and don't get together as often as mine do, and my mother in law is a very difficult woman, so she can make things hard if she has a mind to.
As much as I love my extended family, what I really look forward to at the holidays is my children, their spouses and our grandchildren all being together. We are going to get a new little granddaughter just after the new year, and I am over the moon excited for that!
Anyway, back to your question Charming, I think my family is pretty functioning, and our relationships are pretty strong.
DH and I are still fortunate to have parents living on both sides and both moms like to still host the holiday dinners at their homes. Some animosity exists between some of the siblings but you just sort of overlook it.
I enjoy catching up with all my nieces and nephews nowadays and of course my 4 yr old granddaughter is the highlight of our holidays as well as every day
My mother died shortly before Thanksgiving, my sister, brother and my steptfather's son were living near each other so they celebrated Thanksgiving together.
Hilarious, after too many drinks, my stepbrother's wife declared she never liked her FIL's new wife and on and on. My sister was laughing as she relayed the whole experience to me. The talker didn't seem to know what a jerk she was!
What an interesting thread about family dynamics. We have a small family but I'm tired and done with hosting every holiday for the last 25 or so years. There is no one else to host either so I have decided we are going out for TG dinner.
In all those years there was only one comment when someone didn't like broccoli. Oh well...MD's is open down the road. LOL.
Once again, I am reminded that my in-laws were wonderful to me. They treated me as a daughter and were always gracious.
~Like sands through the hourglass
~So are the days of our lives
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