November 05, 2014

Why I'm Already Dreading the Holidays


I love holiday time. And let's face it, as soon as Halloween is over, it's holiday time. Everywhere you turn, it's all about Thanksgiving and Christmas. You go from thinking about digging out your old hoodies and sweatpants to figuring out when it is socially acceptable to put up your Christmas tree. It's a fun time right? Wrong.

I'm not trying to be all Scrooge here, but lately, I've come to dread the holidays. It's not that I don't enjoy Christmas carols and bottomless mugs of hot tea by a warm fire. I do. I actually love those things. I also love Christmas movies and family time and gift buying. I love all those things. So if I love holiday time so much, why am I a Scrooge?
Simple. Holidays also suck. 

First, who in their right mind would put the two biggest holidays of the year Thanksgiving & Christmas back to back? Seriously. Who did that? Tell me. I want to murder them. Everyone has this expectation that you should spend both holidays with your entire family and that expectation just looms over you. So, come November 1st, of course, everyone wants to coordinate schedules and travel plans.

Second, holidays suck because it is impossible to make everyone happy. What would make me happy is being able to stay home, sleep late, and spend each holiday surrounded by those I love. But you know what will actually happen? Not that.

Third, holidays suck because we all have this overwhelming need for perfection. If it doesn't measure up to the holidays of past we have in our heads or the unattainable picture we're sold via Home & Gardens then it is a complete failure. 

I've just reread up to this point and realize I sound a lot more "Scroogie" then I intended. Maybe it is because last year for Thanksgiving alone, Adam and I spent about 26 hours in the car traveling to see relatives. We then turned around and pretty much repeated the same trip a month later for Christmas By the end of it all, I hated the holidays.

This year, Adam and I are making a few changes. 

We're only visiting each side of the family once. We'll drive to Springdale to see Adam's family once. We'll drive to Texas to see my family once. And we'll drive to Louisiana to see my Grandmother once.  That isn't enough time with any of the three but it will just have to do. We also plan to again be home for Christmas Day and open our doors to any family that would like to be there. We plan on skipping large dinners and focus instead on quality time together -- and quality time with our families.

But even with these modifications, holidays are still stressful. We have to board the dogs. We have to drive. We have to somehow politely divulge that we're forgoing the whole "gift-giving" traditions this year. We have to drive. Did I mention that we have to drive?

I really wish this post could have a cheerful ending. I wish I could be positive and say something inspirational about how regardless of the stress, it is all worth it in the end. I mean, I do hope those things but I also know that life isn't always sunshine and rainbows. We could plan schedules down to the minute and things could still go wrong. People could still bicker and fight. Weather could prevent travel. Moods can sour.

But I guess I will say this -- I will do everything in my power to plan for a happy, joyful holidays season. I will remember that I cannot control others and that I cannot make everyone happy. I will seek happiness in each moment spent with family and friends and I will do my best to not carry my worries with me when I travel.

I will do my best. I will. And honestly, that's the most that this Scrooge can offer.

29 comments :

  1. We spend one holiday with each set of in-laws, too - that's the bonus when a Jewish American whose family celebrates Thanksgiving not Christmas marries an English Christian whose family celebrates Christmas not Thanksgiving! But I think your emphasis on quality time will really help, and I love this idea: "We also plan to again be home for Christmas Day and open our doors to any family that would like to be there." That way seeing you becomes a choice they either make or they don't make and it stops being a choice you guys make that inevitably makes SOMEONE unhappy, you know? the power for happiness is in their hands when they have to choose!

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  2. Yes yes yes! I feel the same way 100%. I am too afraid to say it though because anytime I start to 'complain' about the holiday season I get many so eye rolls. I love the holidays and spending it with family. I think it is such a magical time of year.. but often times that is forgotten because of the amount of stress that comes with it and every year it seems to get worse. It is such an expensive time of year regardless (snow tires, heating bills, etc) but then when you add on all the gifts, food, booze you feel obligated to buy.. you feel like crying looking at your bank account when January 2nd rolls around.

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  3. UGH I can so relate. M and I decided to spend Christmas at our new home last year for these reasons exactly and you know what, people came to us. I think we will start making that the norm, especially when we have kids! It's impossible to please everyone!

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  4. I don't have in laws yet, but I can only imagine. It's hard enough for me and boyfriend to carve out time for US without making one set of parents mad.

    Christmas expectations are huge for me. Like lately, since I'm in my own apartment and have to work right up until Christmas and immediately after, it makes it seem not as magical and it sucks. Christmas as a kid was way better.

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  5. Holidays are so stressful! I can only imagine when you have to divide your time between two families, or even more if parents are divorced. So sorry you're a Scroogie. I hope you find some little twinkle of joy amidst this chaotic season! I myself am stressing about what to buy people. I wanted to have learned how to knit so I could make scarves for the women in my family and my boyfriends family but alas it's November and that hasn't happened.

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  6. I agree 100%. This year we have decided not to visit the side of my family that we have to pretend to get along with. We are spending the weekend before each holiday with my parents and sisters and then the day of with his family. This is the first time in a long time that I am excited about the holidays. I am all about less stress.

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  7. I remember your holiday travels last year and that was so brutal, I really felt bad for you. I sure hope they're easier this go around! <3

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  8. This is our first holiday season being married, and so far we haven't spent any Christmas time with each other's families, OR each other! We decided right after planning our wedding that we were going to have our own time of the actual holiday - we'll see my family at the beginning of December, and his two weeks after that. But as for actual holiday dates? All us. Having been in a long distance relationship for nearly 3 years makes me realize how important it is for our little family to have this time. Good luck with all your plans this year and always remember that it's the most important for you and Adam to have your time!

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  9. Your very last paragraph resonates with me. It's perfect. I think we get ourselves so worked up and stressed with making everyone else happy that we lose sight of ourselves and our immediate families. We are so busy rushing here and there that we can't enjoy the true spirit of the holidays. I completely get that and fall into that trap at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. Its wonderful being blessed with big families but in the same breath it's hard to fit everyone in and not feel like you are offending a family.

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  10. My family and my partner's family are both pretty spread out, which means lots of road trips. But I'm lucky, because I enjoy the travel and all the bonding time in the car, AND, depending who we're visiting, we can occasionally bring the dog with us. This holiday season that's what I'm dreading the most - because I don't think we can and we're going to be gone for 2 whole weeks. What if he forgets us? What if he's sad and lonely and thinks we've abandoned him?!

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  11. New on your blog (via Kaelah Bee), I really love it, simply clever!

    Greatings from Spain, guys!

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  12. Preach!!!
    Family has made me & my hubs where we hate the holidays... its always us having to go everywhere & please everyone... we just wan to run & hide most holidays...
    its really turned me into a Scrooge

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  13. i feel you. i've never been one to care for this time of year. everyone gets too intense, people get extra fake, people get greedy, we all spend too much money, no matter what store you go into it's a fucking nightmare. it's just not what it's supposed to be. and i've always hated that. so much stress for no reason. aside from that... traveling sucks! we aren't driving distance from our families so we'd have to plan an all out full vacation. which is about 40 times more expensive during the holiday season because airlines are jerks. it's supposed to be a "happy" and "loving" time of year but every company on earth manages to make it the most miserable time of year. i could go on and on... i'm a total scrooge haha. but i do TRY to have a nice little holiday time with just my man and my cat lol :)

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  14. I appreciate this post. I'm desperately trying to adjust my attitude about the holidays, but I'm not sure it's working! I get so overwhelmed with needing to please so many family members and attempting to start our own family traditions and avoiding commercialism while also not seeming cheap/inconsiderate... UGH. I don't have a strategy yet, so if you figure one out, let me know!

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  15. I hear you! I just wrote a post yesterday about how different these holidays are going to be for me because of some, let's say, family drama that's transpired since last year. But even without all that, being a child of divorce (even at 25!), holidays are *tough.* I want to spend it all with everyone, but it's just not possible, and trying to make sure no one feels slighted (and I feel like I don't miss anyone I want to spend time with) makes the holiday season so stressful. Not to mention the fact that life and all its other demands and stresses doesn't just take a break for the holidays! Here's hoping for a cheerful and stress-free (somehow?) holiday season for all of us...

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  16. I completely understand how you feel. I love everything about the holidays, except trying to please everyone. While I don't have to travel near as far as you do, my parents are divorced so there goes two visits for my side, then my husbands grandmother does something separate from his parents, and everyone expects to see us ON the holiday and we cant be everywhere at once given that it is an hour drive between everyone. And by the end of the day we are so worn down and exhausted!

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  17. I completely agree with you! All the family, traveling, and it's all so rushed. And everything has to be just right. Don't forget friend's and work "Holiday" parties and potlucks too. It's overwhelming!

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  18. In this case, I think it's where people whose family is in different countries actually have an advantage. :) There is no complication when your parents are in Malaysia and his parents are an 18 hour drive away and he has to work Christmas Eve--your expectations and everyone else's are lowered! We did get to spend last Christmas with his family, I haven't spent Christmas with my family since I was 17. This is why I have a loose interpretation of holidays. Who ever said holidays had to be family time? Take family time when you can get it, enjoy it, and enjoy the holidays no matter what your situation is. This year we will see no family on or around Christmas, but we don't have to teach, either, they gave the American teachers the day off. I think that's really nice!

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  19. I'm stealing this post for my blog too. I hate the holidays as well. I have no family close by so we only see my husband's family. It's awful. Then once the holidays are over, I spend the rest of the stressing about what to get them for Christmas.

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  20. I totally understand you on the driving thing... Kind of. Tim and I are flipping Christmas and Thanksgiving between his family (up in NH) and my family (here in GA). This year, it's Thanksgiving in GA, and we're driving to NH for Christmas. I'm glad we get to go up there for a holiday, though. I imagine when we have kids we'll switch something up until they're old enough that being in the car for 19+ hours isn't so terribly awful.

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  21. I live for Thanksgiving, but I will say that all the holiday travel can become a huge nightmare. We are super lucky to have a majority of our family within a few hours of where we live (for now), so that's not much of a problem for us. I simply could not imagine being stuck in a car for that many hours!

    We do a huge family gathering at my in-laws every Thanksgiving, where both sides of the family come together, and it really does make it perfect in my book. Christmas we reserve for our parents & us, hosting a Christmas breakfast at our house. We really are so very lucky that our parents get along so well & like each other so much!

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  22. It's like you read my mind. We are planning our holiday trip back to Minnesota and no one's schedules match up and I was almost in tears today. They all make me feel guilty about the weekends we chose to come home. It makes me want to just stay here. Grrr. Hopefully we can get this figured out or I'll be celebrating the holiday season in my pi's at home. So many loved ones, such little time.

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  23. OMG girl, I totally get it and totally agree! The holidays always stress me out, to the point where they are't really that enjoyable. It shouldn't have to be like that. We also visit 3-4 houses on Thanksgiving and Christmas to try and please all of our family, but it's so hard. I feel like we don't have time to enjoy our visits because we are there for such a short time. I would way rather just be at home and relax...but I know that won't be happening any time soon.

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  24. <3 you always. But I also don't envy you. I know how stressful holidays can be because holidays = expectations of holiday spirit and damn it, sometimes I just don't got it! Sounds like you've got it all figured out though!

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  25. Great plan! I guess it makes it that much harder when everyone lives somewhere else! I like that you and Adam struck that balance so you get the time with family and also with each other :)

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  26. Holidays really do become so stressful. I decided to host Thanksgiving because having to run around was too much (and I wanted to play hostess). We invited everyone and now its on them to decide if they want to make the trip.

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  27. I remember all your car travel/escapades over the holidays last year. I don't think that you are being a scrooge in any way, shape, or form. You are merely trying to give your life some balance. Honestly, when I read about how Adam and yourself have to travel in three different directions over the holidays to spend time with family while still creating a nook of time for each other to celebrate I start to get anxious. That sounds way to overwhelming for this only child. I think adopting the open door approach on Christmas at your house is a terrific idea. The two of you can begin forming your own traditions while giving family members the option to join you in your happiness.
    I'm trying something different this year compared to years passed. I actually did a post recently how I hadn't celebrated my birthday or holidays for years, but made a promise to myself no matter I would start this year. I was successful in celebrating my birthday and I already have a frozen turkey breast in the freezer for Thanksgiving. If my finances allow it I am determined to get myself a little Christmas tree of some sorts this year to make my place look festive even if it is just for me. * Sarah Grace

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  28. Yeah, I totally understand about the traveling stuff. When I lived in Missouri it was SO hard because I was far away from family and I had duties over holidays at work which made traveling difficult. I'm back up in Illinois now so I'm much closer to all of my family members, but now my sister just got married and she has to split her time between our family and her husbands family. The holidays look FAR different than what I usually hope. But I still love them, and I think our family is slowly learning how to deal with it all.

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  29. I totally get it -- which is why I live on the other side of the country from everyone. They know that I'm so far, I probably won't come. Saves me a lot of pressure!

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