Family Christmas
November 30, 2009 8:43 AM   Subscribe

Christmas with parents or with friends?

Wohoo. Long explanation.

Background: My parents have a very erratic relationship. When I feel snappy I describe them as two divorcees that live together. Since we moved to Spain and even before my mom has always seemed on the verge of leaving and the one thing, according to her, keeping her was the children and, after my brother left, me. After I too left she stayed then semi-left two years later, getting a flat in England. She has never spent more than two weeks in that flat before going back down to Spain to be with my Dad, then returning again and, having told me that she would be staying for good, going back down. Repeat cycle.

Not too long ago I met up with her while she was in England and she said that this Christmas would happen in the UK with my Dad coming up. She also said she wanted to try living by herself and she wouldn't be leaving England for a while. Next I get an email from my Dad saying that my Mom has come back down to Spain and will be spending Christmas there. I told my Dad I've already arranged to spend Christmas with some friends (which is true) because I thought Christmas would be in the UK. He said there's a ticket to Spain for me or they could come up.

Now my problem's twofold: I don't want to spend Christmas with my parents (I don't know what they're up to and I don't want to get involved) and I feel like a horrible human being (but Christmas is for the family!)

Other side info: my brother won't be with us on the 25th whatever happens so it will be me and my parents with no buffer zone.

Do I shallow my apprehensions and give my parents a nice Christmas?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (16 answers total)
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:46 AM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

You are not a horrible human being for choosing to spend a pleasant Christmas with friends instead of with your crazy parents. Please enjoy your pleasant Christmas with friends.
posted by not that girl at 8:49 AM on November 30, 2009 [4 favorites]

Do what makes you happy. You sound like you're past the age where you are obliged to do what your parents want; if you would rather spend Christmas with your friends, simply tell your parents (politely) that you have already made rather final plans and would prefer not to back out of them. Say you're sorry you can't accommodate them this time (since it sounds like you genuinely are sorry), and maybe, if you mean it and you feel it might help to assuage the guilt, offer a non-holiday visit as an alternative, once things are a little more settled (but only if you actually want to go!) I'm sure a phone call or a Skype/Gizmo videochat for half an hour or so on the day itself might also be appreciated.

Christmas is for the family, sure, but there are all kinds of definitions of "family," and the word is definitely big enough to include good friends, not just people biologically related to you.
posted by WidgetAlley at 8:49 AM on November 30, 2009

I vote no. You're an adult and living your own life, and your parents have to understand that you no longer have to put up with their ever-changing whims. (Your brother seems to have figured that out.) You made plans to be in the UK with friends already, so I say you should go through with those plans. If your parents insist on coming up, maybe you can spend the 26th with them, or something like that.
posted by cabingirl at 8:51 AM on November 30, 2009

It won't be a nice Christmas for them if you don't want to be there. You already made plans, it's not your fault they changed their minds. Enjoy Christmas with your friends. Visit your parents for Easter or something like that. They will be fine.
posted by amethysts at 8:51 AM on November 30, 2009


You'll spend 95% of your Christmases with family, anyway. Try something else.
posted by rokusan at 8:53 AM on November 30, 2009

Happy Holidays are a wonderful thing!
posted by MiffyCLB at 9:00 AM on November 30, 2009

Go where the love is.
posted by hermitosis at 9:14 AM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

You have the Metafilter permission to spend a peaceful Christmas with your *chosen* family (friends). Your biological family will probably change the location two or three more times by then anyway... who needs that kind of stress?
posted by MuChao at 9:17 AM on November 30, 2009

My fix is a morning appearance with insane family and an enjoyable dinner with friends in the evening, which doesn't really work for you. Would definitely not travel out of the country to be exclusively with insane family, never put yourself in a position where you are trapped and without escape route.
posted by The Straightener at 9:34 AM on November 30, 2009

Hey Dad,

Since Dearbrother won't be there anyway, and since I'm going to be fine spending Christmas with my dear friends Janine (she bakes the most wonderful chestnut baclava) and Kristov (who is cozy, nurturing, safe, and nonthreatening in a way complementary to Janine), why don't you and Mom spend Christmas somewhere romantic, just the two of you? Maybe Tenerife? I talked to Dearbrother, and he thinks that would be a great idea, and if the two of you could just be happy it would be the best gift you could possibly, ever, ever, give us.

You could go for long walks, stare at the ocean, maybe go deep-sea fishing, and Mom could finally take that kayak eco-tour she's always talking about. (I'll even help you out by finding some good restaurants for you to take her to, wherever you go. Maybe even a show. With my Internet friends, you know I'm clever like that).

[optional bonus section] Dearbro and I have taken the liberty of finding and arranging payment with a brilliant counselor near you, and it would make us extremely happy if you and Mom would meet with this person to help plan where you could vacation together.

What do you think? We'll all be together for Bean Day [note: January 6] as usual, even if we miss January 3rd's Festival of Sleep day. I know I'll be thinking about you both, and I promise to call Mom (and you) on Christmas morning!

Please consider this. It would mean the world to me, and to Dearbro.

posted by amtho at 9:48 AM on November 30, 2009 [6 favorites]

You are not a horrible human being for wanting to spend your Christmas with your friends. You are also not a horrible human being for wanting no part of the parental-drama-car-wreck. The fact that you're struggling with your decision should be enough to tell you that you're not horrible - if you were horrible, you would be all "Eff 'em, I'll do as I please".

My own opinion (and certainly NO judgement - I have some wacky family stuff, too) - I would let them come to you if you can come up with terms that work for you. "I already have plans on the 25th, but if you guys want to come up the week before/week after/whatever we can catch up". If you know in your heart-of-hearts that they won't respect your terms, or if you can't come up with any terms that don't make you cringe-y, then skip them this year. I've been in your shoes, and I personally would feel better if I tried to work out a compromise. Again, just me, no judgement, Merry Christmas.
posted by ersatzkat at 9:49 AM on November 30, 2009

posted by tristeza at 10:41 AM on November 30, 2009

Are you convinced yet?
posted by BostonTerrier at 11:06 AM on November 30, 2009

I too have spent Christmas with friends. My suggestion, spend it with friends.
posted by Climber at 11:26 AM on November 30, 2009


We spend every Thanksgiving with friends, and they are the nicest holidays I have ever had. A good holiday meal is always so much better when you can actually RELAX and enjoy your company.

If you feel like you want to incorporate them but you are sick of trying to figure out what they're doing and keeping your plans up in the air, an alternative is to plan to host Christmas at your place, invite friends, and invite your parents. Let them know they are welcome to come and work things out so they can be there, but if they can't make it for whatever reason, tough noogies. If they turn down the invite, then it's on their head that they ruined Christmas.
posted by dumbledore69 at 12:25 PM on November 30, 2009

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