Christmas Plans: which family to visit?
November 19, 2004 9:26 AM   Subscribe

Several months ago, it was agreed that we would visit my family for Christmas. Now the SO has said he'd like to see his daughter. [MI]

This will be the first Christmas in about 5 years that we'll travel to be with any relatives at all. The ex-wife has stated that only chance of seeing my step-daughter is by meeting at my mother-in-law's house. Husband is a procrastinator and hasn't yet started discussions to arrange any kind of meeting, and we each have a limited amount of time we can take off from work. With relatives on both sides spread across the country and money being a consideration, we can't visit both. Also, due to workloads, we have only seen his daughter once this year. Am I being a selfish brat for wanting to spend the holidays with my family as previously agreed? Should I just go with the flow and plan a visit to my folks another time?
posted by Miss Bitchy Pants to Human Relations (9 answers total)
Although you did get a raw deal, and although it sucks, in the interest of Christmas Spirit...
posted by banished at 9:38 AM on November 19, 2004

He has an absolute obligation to spend time with his child, period. Your family is made up of adults- they theoretically could travel to see you, but the child doesn't have the option of coming and going as she pleases.

However, there's nothing wrong with your husband staying home to spend time with his child while you go out to spend the holidays with your family. It may be a Hobson's Choice: spend the holidays with your husband and his child, or spend the holidays apart from your husband with your family, but it's still a choice.
posted by headspace at 9:41 AM on November 19, 2004

One of the only things me and my boyfriend fight about is this sort of "where will we be for the holidays?" issue. His parents would ask us in JUNE what we were doing for the holidays and since we had no plans at that point, we'd wind up getting sucked into making a plan with them. I like them a lot, but didn't appreciate having to make holiday plans so early, especially because my family makes them in November. Is it too late to work out a sort of Thanksgiving/Xmas split this year?

If it were me in this case, I'd basically say "Okay, you get one free pass to mess up our plans because it's important to see your daughter and your ex is being a bit controlling but in the future, we need to plan this in advance, when we're making holiday plans. Period" That way you can be the Santa figure, your husband gets to see his daughter, the ex get mollified and might actually loosen up for future visits, your adult parents will understand, and I think, in the end, it will work out okay. I dealt with several years of bad early holiday arrangements before I could put my foot down and say "okay, next year is ALL MINE to plan." The year in question was this year and I'm very happy to have holiday plans be a non-issue [we're staying locally, seeing no family, watching movies, eating Chinese food] and I think at some level my boyfriend is happy to not be on the hot seat with his family, and off the hook for planning on general.

So, no, I don't think you're being a spoiled brat at all and I think you would be completely within your rights to either say "no" or to go see your folks without him. However, I see it as an opportunity to be flexible, stress the importance of future planning, get a free pass for later, and maybe have an okay time in any case. If it's your husband's gig, too, you'll have to deal with his lack of planning perhaps, so just get ready to sit back and let him do it his way, even if it means some last-minute dealings. Good luck.
posted by jessamyn at 9:56 AM on November 19, 2004

I guess a lot of my thoughts would depend on your step-daughter's age. I don't think you're a spoiled brat at all, you should definitely have the right to spend time with your family. The main thing to me sounds like your husband has got to figure out some better way of connecting with his daughter, especially if she's young.

Trying to cram in a year's worth of relationship into one holiday kind of makes the holiday really stressful, because it's impossible to fit all that year into just a week.
posted by jasper411 at 10:01 AM on November 19, 2004

Your family is made up of adults-

I agree with headspace, kids come first. it sucks I know.
unless his daughter is like, 40, she comes first.
seeing one's daughter twice a year sounds better than seeing her once anyway.
posted by matteo at 10:57 AM on November 19, 2004

Agreed with everyone... kids come first.

Your next step, though, is to arrange next year's Christmas as soon as possible. He needs to put his foot down with the ex-wife, and say that he'd like to see his daughter for Christmas on his terms.

My parents were divorced when I was a kid. They had joint custody, and my sister and I would spend two weeks at one house, then switch on Friday to spend two weeks at the other. Christmas was handled very simply: one year (no matter whose house we were at in the cycle) we'd have Christmas Eve and Day at one set of parents, then leave the evening of the 25th to do it all over again at the other's. Can't remember what we did about New Year's.

Try and work out something similar with your stepdaughter, if you can. Perhaps she could visit you guys next year, and you could all go to your parents' place for the holidays.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:40 PM on November 19, 2004

jessamyn is spot-on, as usual.


It may be a Hobson's Choice: spend the holidays with your husband and his child, or spend the holidays apart from your husband with your family, but it's still a choice.

No, no, no! Hobson's choice is no choice at all.
posted by languagehat at 12:54 PM on November 19, 2004

She wants to visit her family with her husband- it ain't gonna happen this year. They're both going to stay home with the child, or she's going to go on her own to visit her family. Nowhere in there is the option she actually wants. She gets a black Ford or she gets no Ford at all. How is that not a Hobson's Choice? You still get to decide which crappy option you want.

And on that note, I'm going to go play elsewhere for a while before I bite your head off for being the unfortunate soul who most likely did not intend to piss me right the fuck off but managed to do so anyway.
posted by headspace at 1:22 PM on November 19, 2004

It's not a Hobson's Choice, because a Hobson's Choice does not necessarily exclude the option you want. You get two choices, and one of them is nothing. The choice that is not nothing may be exactly what you're looking for.
posted by bingo at 12:59 PM on November 20, 2004

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