WWU, it's that time of year again. If the holiday season is tough due to family issues, how do we cope? How do we find joy? I'd love to hear everyone's plans or solutions.
If you've already celebrated your big holiday(s) this year, what worked? If it was a challenge, how would you improve your approach in the future? If your holidays are still ahead, and you had a tough go last year, what strategies will you use to give yourself comfort and joy this year?
My issues are personal as approach my 90th birthday. They are about my decreased and unreliable energy. What I am doing that is different is to look more closely at what will work best for me, which is to stay home, asking others to come to me and bring the food. When I don't use energy preparing and serving food and traveling, I have more for loving interactions. I also look at the guest list from the standpoint of what feels supportive...not what might be the most socially acceptable. Small groups, meaningful conversations, limited time periods. All pretty new perspectives but they're working!
While last year's holidays were extremely painful and confusing to me because I got left out of DS/DIL's plans in favor of DIL's clan, I have a much different take on it this year. I have processed enough emotionally since then to appreciate that I don't even WANT to be included by them this year. I find it really uncomfortable being with them, must walk on eggshells, face some sort of fabricated drama, and have my feelings disregarded--who needs that?!
Although my attitude is quite different this year facing the upcoming holidays, I think it's important to have something planned ahead of time, in case I get immobilized emotionally. I already know I will be celebrating Thanksgiving with a large community group, many people who also won't be celebrating with family for whatever reason. It's a happy supportive group. Looking forward to that! (BTW, I am a little sensitive about being a "pity" invite to other families' gatherings, but this community group is not like that--or we are ALL "pity" invites together and happy about it. :))
Christmas has less importance to me, but I know I will have church that day and maybe I will visit a friend afterwards. I have learned not to feel very festive around Christmas because family members have often ruined this holiday for me over the years. Maybe now that I am no longer expecting good cheer from people who won't give it to me, I will be freed up to enjoy it more. I hope.
One thought comes to mind: I have often had to cancel holiday plans with others because of illness (like a cold). My immunity could be low at these times because of stress and depression. I hope that changes, too, or at least that I can make the best of it regardless.
Thanks for that, M. Full of Gold Nuggets!
Holidays were easy when my kids were young. Now? not so much. dil and ds are hot and cold when it comes to us. can never predict what will be. last year i was told they would spend christmas with dil's mom because it's not fair to her that they come to us each year. her mom does not celebrate christmas, by the way. my response was that's fine, we will celebrate another day, just let us know what works for you.
miracle of miracles, last minute, they came to us to celebrate.
thanksgiving, my sister was to cook and host. 3 days before, she cancelled. couldn't do it, too busy.
this year i am planning both holidays at my house. whoever comes, comes. hope for all to be there - expect they will. but if not, life will continue. decision made -
The truth is, things change. We yearn for the comfort and joy of our traditions, but how can they be exactly the same from year to year even under the best of circumstances? We must adjust. I love everyone's ideas and thoughts so far.
This year has been tough, so I haven't really given any thought to the holidays! Out of the blue DS/DIL invited both sides of the family to their home for Thanksgiving. What a breakthrough! We're looking forward to it, and I'm relieved the pressure isn't on me to plan and do everything.
I'm not sure how I feel about Christmas yet. I guess I'd better do something, at least make a list. We've really simplified what was a pretty low-key celebration to begin with. When our issues w/DS & DIL started I was sad/jealous/angry/heartbroken about "losing" DS to his shiny new family and what felt like being left behind. Now I look forward to less work and more time lounging by the fire with a beverage in one hand and a book in the other. Maybe I'm just older and more tired, or maybe I am seeing the benefits of a simple holiday :-)
This made me smile, Pen :)
I'm happy you were invited to spend Thanksgiving with DS and DIL, and I'm sending out positive vibes that everything goes well. Things have gone well between me and DD and she had indicated she would be joining us as we head out of town for Thanksgiving, but now she said she'd rather stay in town so she can go shopping on Black Friday:( One step forward, one back. The same thing could happen at Christmas, when we head out of town a in different direction, and I have to steel myself for that possibility. Life will go on, as it has for the other holidays she has missed. One complication is she got a puppy, and neither traveling with or housing the puppy with our hosting relatives is really an option. These life choices are having real consequences.
I guess I will focus on being thankful that my relationship with DD is improving to the point where she calls or visits without expecting or needing anything, just cuz she is thinking of us, and let go of the disappointment of her not being with family at holiday time. And then count my many other blessings :) Happy Thanksgiving to you dear wise women!
I am spending Thanksgiving with my Mom and Dad. My brother, can't be bothered to come, like always. My Father is not doing well. He has pulmonary fibrosis and I've watched him deteriorate tremendously this year, so the fact my brother isn't taking this opportunity, infuriates me to no end! So me and hubby told them we would be there with bells on. It will just be the four of us and that's perfectly ok.
It's kind of ironic. For years I worried about myself and my own Son, and didn't pay much attention to the fact that my own brother does it to our parents. So I now concentrate my efforts on those that want us around and I find that I enjoy the holidays now even more that I know I'm making it special for them. It truly makes a huge difference to know that the people you are spending time with, want you there and enjoy having you.
So my advise is to surround yourself with people that enjoy you. It doesn't have to be family. By not dreading going, or worry about it, I now enjoy it again.
I'm doing my best to take care of myself, especially as the holidays are approaching. As I work on staying no contact with my DS and DIL, I have cut out checking their news and photos on social media. It is way too painful, and not where my thoughts and emotions need to be as I try to make a new life without them. I have managed to skirt questions about DS and DIL from people by vaguely stating that they are fine, but I haven't been in touch with them lately. That usually satisfies people. I have even told people we have had a falling out and I don't want to talk about it. Everyone so far has been respectful with that response. I have even had a couple of people sympathetically say they understand because they know of others who have had that experience.
What I wasn't prepared for was being asked specifics about my GC. Had GC started school? I had to say I didn't know. I got a very puzzled look, and I would have followed up with "we have had a falling out..." but our conversation was interrupted. Once alone, I felt this question hit my gut--I don't know if my GC has started school! What is my GC interested in, what can GC do athletically, etc. etc. I don't know. I have sweet memories of times spent with GC, but the GC are frozen in time for me. It hurts so much.
I know my focus needs to be on counting my blessings, during Thanksgiving, December and starting the New Year. I will pray for DS, DIL and GC that they--especially GC--will be safe, healthy and happy.
One day after posting my comments, I now realize why I was so unprepared and emotionally affected by being asked about my GC: It shows that I have been effective in disconnecting emotionally from my GC by stopping any thoughts about what my GC is doing these days. That question about my GC stunned me, hurt like heck, but I'm okay, and I will be better prepared to field any questions about family during Thanksgiving.
I have an issue with my DS and DIL. I say that I have a DS problem rather than a DIL problem as he allows her cruel borderline behavior to us. For the last four years, my DH and myself have been in therapy over this issue and I can't believe we have wasted hours and money discussing this BD DIL and our DS. Anyway, we have decided that even if it is just us staying home alone or one of us staying home alone, that we will no longer be hostage to our DIL and DS holding our GC (grandchild) as hostage to a holiday. I'd rather "batten down the hatches" and preserve my resources and dignity, than play their games. Peace to all and happy Thanksgiving. I never realized how strong we are all. :)
One day after, I'm glad I had something planned with a group for Thanksgiving. I ended up being supportive of an older woman who was going through some hard challenges (she was very appreciative). It was a pleasant gathering, in contrast to the stress/drama/rejection if I had spent the time with DS/DIL. I woke up this morning feeling emotionally stronger and am more hopeful about a good Christmas.
I'm so proud of us WWU! ;D
We had a lovely Thanksgiving with DS/DIL & her FOO and I felt we'd moved into a place of acceptance, maybe even friendship. However, after hearing of their plans to get together in the days to come, and having DIL tell us "See you at Christmas" on our way out the door, I'm a little less comfortable.
So I said in reply, "Maybe we'll see you sooner than that!" She looked a little confused.
I do not like to have my schedule set by DIL. Her statement triggered something in me, I guess. I remembered a few months ago when she was trying to justify our limited access by saying, "I feel we see you a lot - every holiday!" Grrr.
Pen, my guess is that after hearing about DIL and her FOO's plans in the coming days, you realize you don't have that give and take in the relationship. Too bad they can't be more discrete and sensitive to your feelings, especially DIL since she knows you would like to see DIL/DS more often. From your DIL's perspective, she probably does feel she sees you a lot (like, what more do you want?).
The last holiday I went to with DIL/DS and DIL's FOO (which was a rare occurrence), I was confused that hardly anyone spoke with me. My previous interactions with the FOO had been fairly friendly. In retrospect, I suspect DIL poisoned the well beforehand because DIL was not the one who extended the invitation to me and she resented my presence. I only recently found out what lies DIL is capable of and the hate she has towards me so it makes sense that DIL has said some foul things behind my back.
Your situation sounds different from mine in that there seems to be change in a positive direction and you may be able to continue to build on that. If you can overlook their lack of tact and insensitivity.
Awwww, Pen, I'm sorry to hear that. It's like you had the rug pulled out from under you! It is so hard to ride that roller coaster of emotions, isn't it? (hope, dashed hope...repeat) I confess that when I first read your message, I thought it was a positive that DIL said, "See you at Christmas." But I see how hearing DIL make plans for the near future with her parents would have been painful for you. A big hug to you!!
As a newbie, I hope I don't sound too presumptuous with my comments, but I relate to the slights and the pain in your interaction with DS/DIL. I want them to be nicer, kinder and loving to you. I'm pulling for you.
"hope, dashed hope...repeat" the dance of the left behind mil. after coming out of a visit the thought runs through the head that maybe we'd be better off without the visits. but then i think of seeing my grands and know that i need to suck it up for them. always drama, always hurt. my son cuts us off if we start to disagree with anything they say or do. but he and dil can say whatever they want and do whatever they want and we listen and shake our heads. all to not get cut off from the kids. certainly not what i wanted. such is life,huh?
Almost every day, I question myself if I did the right thing in cutting off DS/DIL. The answer is always yes, of course, it was abusive. I'm still grieving the loss and the holidays don't help. I'm finding I'm having trouble concentrating and being organized, and the house is messier. I am getting done what I absolutely have to, and I think that will just have to be enough for the time being. I am trying to get daily exercise for my physical and mental health.
My DS and I are at an impasse. He is just accepting the cut-off and being annoyed with me for it. He is choosing not to deal with it. But I had a new positive take on this today: Although I can't talk to DS, I am modeling a healthy response for him, which is not to accept abuse. That is the statement I am making by my absence.
(How many more days til Christmas?!?) :o
(((hugs))) to you all :-*
M, I love your new take on your situation. You're right, we need to teach them how we want to be treated. I don't want my future GC to watch me be treated as "less than," so I'll be assessing and correcting as we go along. (GC aren't yet on the horizon, but DIL is eager to get started!)
Regarding the "see you at Christmas" remark by DIL, her FOO gets a full week with them every year at Christmas (and other trips during the year.) We get Christmas Day every other year. Maybe that's part of my reaction, eh? ::)
I really wish we could go away for the holidays, but we have a disabled adult daughter whose schedule won't accommodate it and I hate to leave her alone at Christmas. She starts wearing bells and antlers the day after (USA) Thanksgiving :D
Regarding my comment about modeling not accepting abuse, my intention is to bring to DS's attention that abuse IS going on. I believe that DIL is generally abusive and that DS has normalized to it. DS used to have good healthy boundaries and the skills to work out differences, but now he just seems to want to avoid conflict and I am collateral damage. I left an abusive marriage when my DS was little because I did not want him to be raised the same as I was with an abusive parent and a "good" enabling parent. I chose not to be the enabling parent for my DS so it breaks my heart to see the abusive cycle continue in his marriage and with my GC.
Gratitude is something I need to practice daily. Thanks for the reminder, TG :)
Marina, thanks for clarifying. (((hugs)))
Now that the holidays are pretty much over (I'm grateful for that), I am wondering how everyone did with their strategies for getting through the holidays. What worked, what didn't?
For myself, actual Thanksgiving and Christmas were spent with gatherings of friends and acquaintances and it went very well. It was the time in between that got to me; I think I was depressed because I had trouble concentrating and being productive--I was in slow-mo. I feel much better this week, like a fresh start. I don't know what I would do differently and just hope next holiday season I will be in better shape emotionally overall.
I was born in the 1920s. All holidays were very special and always involved family we seldom saw. For me, not seeing anyone at all over the New Year's weekend was very hard. My son was coming up on New Years Eve Day but they got invited to be house guests of friends with a cabin up in the mountains. By Sunday night I was a real mess. He's coming tomorrow and I'm not laying a guilt trip on him. It's past and I'm OK.
Hope you have a wonderful visit, Luise.
Just realized I missed some important stuff in my assessment of my holiday experience. Because of my estrangement from DS/DIL/GC, I also missed family birthdays during this period. And I weathered contact from DS, which was upsetting but went nowhere. In hindsight, I see I was dealing with a lot more than just the holidays. I think I was in a fog because I was grieving.