Post # 1
Have any of you struggled with adopting your in laws Christmas traditions since getting married? My husband and I alternate which family we spend Christmas with, since our families live 15 hours apart and every time we spend Christmas with my husband’s family I get sad.
To be clear, they are the sweetest people. I really lucked out there. I have no complaints about my relationship with either of them, they are very kind and drama free.
Their family tradition is to make a Christmas Eve meal and open presents afterwards, on Christmas Eve. It’s very fun and festive, usually it involves myMIL, Father-In-Law, SIL, Brother-In-Law, my husband and me. But Christmas Day has no activities at all. Everything is done on Christmas Eve. My SIL and her husband usually leave and spend time at her in laws house and my Father-In-Law and Mother-In-Law usually do their own thing in separate rooms, reading or watching TV.
It’s super quiet in the house and it always makes me sad. I come from one of those obnoxious over the top families. It is not uncommon for my parents to have 40 people over for dinner on Christmas Day, with festivities lasting well into the evening. When I call home to wish everyone a Merry Christmas I can hear cheers and merriment in the background and it makes me depressed.
To help merge my family traditions with my in laws I have been making Christmas morning breakfast for everyone, to make the day feel more special. Does anyone else struggle with feeling depressed at your in laws Christmas? Any suggestions to make the day feel more festive without overstepping?
Thanks and Merry Christmas Eve!
Post # 2
mm18 : Plan an activity for the two of you, so you don’t change their traditions, but also don’t spend Christmas Day feeling sad. Is there somewhere you can volunteer on Christmas Day? Serve meals at a shelter? Buy socks and gloves and give them to the homeless?
Plan ahead for the next time you are there.
Post # 3
Traditions have to start somewhere, and I think you volunteering to cook breakfast is a great start. Maybe suggest watching Christmas movies during the day and going to look at Christmas lights in the evening.
Post # 4
I think Christmas breakfast is a great first start. Next you can go for a Christmas walk together enjoying the weather (if applicable), or watch a movie you love (Home Alone and Scrooged are favoritse in our family), then have dinner and go look at some Christmas lights!
Post # 5
I can relate. My in-laws are fantastic but it’s always a little sad for me how much quieter Christmas is at their house vs my parents (which is very loud and a bit over the top lol).
My in-laws have been kind enough to let me incorporate some of my family’s traditions at their home. I also make Christmas breakfast for everyone when we are there.
You and your fiancé can maybe start some Christmas traditions of your own for when you’re at your in-laws that can add some extra merriment to the day.
Post # 6
I have the opposite problem. I’m used to a quiet Christmas, and the holidays with my inlaws can be really overwhelming for me.
One “quiet” thing my family does is every year we get a new boardgame, and play it as a family?
Post # 7
teacher-bee-in-the-sea : great ideas, thank you!
hikingbride: thanks, it’s nice to know I’m not alone in feeling this way. We also spend a few days here, because we live eight hours away and we want to make the trip worth our while, but the quietness does start to bum me out.
saratiara2: oh yeah, I can totally see that. My family is pretty stressful for my husband, and for me sometimes TBH. The good thing is, our families are just very nice kind people, so everyone gets along, just different in temperament.
Post # 8
Have you considered not doing alternate years for holidays? Growing up, my family didn’t split holidays like that, instead we always did Christmas with my dad’s side and then always did Thanksgiving with my mom’s side. Perhaps if you really miss your family’s Christmas you could switch to always doing Christmas with them and then Thanksgiving or a different holiday with your husband’s side?
Post # 9
We alternate Christmas’ because my sister shares her daughter’s holidays with her bio dad. On the years where we celebrate before or after the actual day we go out to the movies and go bowling.
Post # 10
I’ve never had a busy, noisy holiday. It sounds warm and cheery and I can understand why you would miss it. Try to spread some holiday cheer at your in-laws or go your own way on that day and as others suggested possibly volunteer? It’s just one of those things where the compromise means winning some and losing some. A quiet day doesn’t have to be depressing. You said you like your in-laws so try to pull them into some activities. Maybe talk to your husband and ask what he thinks they may be up for. Bring some movies and games with you.
Post # 11
Yeah same here, I have a huge 40 plus family and he has a tiny family. And it’s always kinda disappointing and off for me but I guess it’s what they are used to. I tend to really feel sad and nostalgic when I spend Christmas with them….I’m just looking forward to having kids and hearing laughter and little feet running around. That’s lovely that you’re creating your own traditions with breakfast, I might start doing that 🙂 merry Christmas
Post # 12
mm18 : Yes, my in laws do christmas very different then i ever have, they have three grown children, so im sure part of the reason is theyve done and spent enough to the point where they over it, completely understandable. However they have teenage grandkids who dictate every holiday now, which typically means plans get cancelled at the last minute and we end up doing nothing which kind of kills any holiday joy for me.
when i have our little one next year im probably going to be pretty presistant on doing christmas on christmas morning regardless if the rest of the family wants to partake, i am just not big on drawing out the holiday sitting and waiting all dang day for three teenagers to arrive which is what im currently sitting here doing.
Post # 13
Thank you everyone for your replies! Yesterday was hard for me, so it meant a lot to read your replies and feel less alone.
I did make breakfast and it was partly nice but partly odd. I felt like my SIL would have left earlier in the morning but hung around for breakfast to be polite. She was not rude at all, she’s very nice but something felt forced. Honestly it all just sorta felt forced.
For instance when everyone woke up they said Good Morning and I said good morning and Merry Christmas and I felt like I was being over the top. I had Christmas music playing on my IPAD but since no one had played any Christmas music since I arrived, and my Father-In-Law put on the news in the other room I felt like maybe I was overstepping. Later in the evening my husband and I took a Christmas walk as some people had suggested (which was very lovely!) to look at Christmas lights and in response to something I said he replied that I was ‘fanatic about Christmas.’
So after Breakfast Christmas was officially done. We ate reheated left overs for lunch and dinner and my Mother-In-Law played solitaire on her computer and did some work around the house. My Father-In-Law watched TV and took the dogs for a walk with my husband.
I feel like I’m living in a bizarro world where I’m the weird one for being into Christmas on Christmas freakin day. My in laws are just kinda done with Christmas by Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day may as well be Dec 28.
I FaceTimed my sister for about an hour and got to see my nieces and nephews playing with their new toys. My parents were there too, so I spoke with them as well. It was very Christmasy and sweet, and made me feel so much better. It was also a good reminder that Christmas there wasn’t perfect either, as I could tell there was some tension between my Mom and my sister, and one of my nieces had an absolute meltdown while I was on the phone. Perhaps Christmas as an adult is always a bit of a letdown?
Someone had suggested not alternating holidays and always doing Christmas with my family. At first that seemed like an unfair deal, but since it seems like no one here really gives a flip about Christmas maybe it’s the way to go?
Thanks guys for all of your kind replies! I hope you all had a good a Christmas!
Post # 14
I guess I am in the minority because I think you are being extremely selfish. I think it is rude as hell to try and change how other people choose to celebrate. Your in-laws celebrate Christmas but you seem to be stuck on them not choosing to do exactly like your family does.
Have you stopped to consider that during xmas with your family that your husband sucks it up and goes along with your families traditions instead of trying to change them?
And obviously your husband has noticed since he had a reaction on your walk. Have you stopped to think how you are making him feel. Honestly, if my husband made me feel like my families xmas wasn’t good enough well he would never be invited again.
My in-laws do xmas very differently to my family and guess what rather than bitch and moan about it I accept that every family does thing differently and that just because it is different does not make it bad or worse. You need an attitude adjustment. I feel sorry for your husband.
Post # 15
mm18 : I do see both sides of this and can understand a bit where j_jaye is saying.
I get that traditons have to start somewhere, but if his family is used to having a quiet Christmas day, it can be very overwhelming to be “forced” to do something different just because you want to. I want to follow by saying that making breakfast was very nice, but maybe the music was overstepping a bit since your Father-In-Law went to watch the news? Maybe they like quiet Christmas days – I know a lot of families that go out for one day but not both. My husband’s family is like this. They have a loud and crazy Christmas Eve, then on Christmas Day it is much more mellow – so much so it’s hard to believe that it’s the same family. I think they use Christmas Day itself to decompress from all the busyness leading up to the holidays because they all go back to work the day after Christmas. I also know people that get very overwhelmed when there’s a huge party; my Brother-In-Law is like that because his holidays growing up were very low key.
Marriage is about compromise and the holidays is a big one. Next time you spend Christmas with the in-laws, take that time to relax yourself. Don’t be sad, just accept that they do things differently than you do.