Friday, December 14, 2018

Letting Me Do Me

Part of my holiday angst and time with my in-laws is the "rules" that seem to crop up by different individuals about how things are supposed to be. The TV isn't supposed to be on, even in a room no one else is occupying, after hours and hours of family togetherness, and perhaps someone just wants a few minute away. Listening to a few "oh so special" Christmas letters or readings must be met with utmost attention, no matter that many of us do not know said person nor agree with the specialness of the sentiment Presents must be unwrapped in a certain order, in a certain way, or if a game is being played, someone wants to decide who should/must be at the table. Christmas Day must not end too early. 

I'm getting better at ignoring  other people's unauthorized directives and doing my own thing, and encouraging my own  family to do theirs. We're not rude about it, but in the last two years, I have heard each of my kids say, "no thank you, I'd rather not play right now', or "I just need some time to myself". My kids even left at 6:00 last year (having been there since before noon), to go see the latest Star Wars movie, joyful film nerds that they are, but gave family members hugs (even though they are like me-not huggers) and warm wishes before departing. I have to say, my older nephew and nieces husband looked like they wished they would have joined them as the night lingered for several hours more. I finally told DH around 7:30, we were heading home.

My point in my once again rant about DH's family is to tell myself, it is OK, in fact it is good, to like what I like and not have to acquiesce to protocol or preference of others. Of course I am going to humor my mother-in-law and fit with her plans and preference, but other family members, only when it either suits us, or we don't really have a preference. Just because my SIL thinks going to a movie on Christmas would be an awful way to spend even part of the day, it works for mine and thousands of others if the box office numbers indicate anything. I'm also not going to allow myself or my families preferred activities, entertainment, or how we live to be critiqued. I hope I am living better by the motto, as long as no one is hurt and it's legal, do what makes you happy, like what you want to like. Part of my reason for blogging is to "do me", own my life, and if I get criticism, learning I am tough enough to stick to what works for me.

I've been listening to more podcasts lately, trying to  amuse my brain with more than just news and talk radio. I've grown fond of the series Deeply Curious, where a young couple, YouTubers, added a pod cast as they were finding while filming, they would start deep conversations about random things they were curious about understanding more. This particular one, which I've linked via YouTube resonated with me. I've spent way too much of my life trying to fit in, trying to like what others expect me to and going along with the loudest personality. My work life has really helped break some of this, but on a personal front, I still don't speak up as often as I should about what I want, what I like, and what I don't. Here is the podcast, Let People Enjoy Things. It is over an hour, so click while you are doing something else or listen by one of the other ways you can access the podcast. 



14 comments:

  1. I have to wonder if your in-laws, because you never have really spoken up after all these years, are under the impression that you enjoy "doing Christmas" the same old way? I don't know your situation, but if I was an MIL, I think I would believe that if my adult kids showed up year after year, it would be because they really enjoyed my style of observance. It would never dawn on me that they were coming because they felt they had no choice to do otherwise without hurting my feelings, and were suffering in silence. If I or my other kids then cause drama because, say, DD chooses to observe the holiday differently, by, maybe, staying in her own house with her own kids, that's really on me, isn't it?
    I get so sad when I see the words "Christmas" and "angst" used together.
    Yeah, it's hard to speak up, isn't it? I think, though, people are, if not happier, at least more comfortable in relationships when they know what they can and cannot reasonable expect from others. It takes away the stress of uncertainty. I also think it's kinder in the long run.

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    1. Just to be clear, I have spoken up from time to time, but the backlash, particularly when my father in law as still alive, was not worth it. Of course the reaction to me shaking things up, any drama caused is on them, but that doesn't mean it any easier to be on the receiving end of it.

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  2. Every year, my mom, sister & I recap the holidays & take notes of what worked, didn't work & what we'd like to change from previous years. Our goal is to make Christmas as relaxing & enjoyable as possible, and it's evolved quite a bit each year, as the kids get older, and the adults want to focus the holidays more on laughing & sharing a glass of wine vs focusing on gifts.

    I hope you're able to find a good blend between what works for you & what your in laws would like out of the holidays. For me personally, that would probably be less time.

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    1. What a mature and family focused way to ensure all enjoy the holiday! I could learn from you.

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    2. I'm lucky in that my family is all really closed & relatively aligned on what the holidays are about for us personally. I'm unlucky in that there are no inlaws to spend time with (ever, not just at the holidays), which is sad for my husband. I know that sometimes he has different preferences than I do, so I try to incorporate his feedback as well.

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    3. I can't imagine how it might be for him. I appreciate how much though you create a partnership with him, and as you describe, listen to what will make his holiday special as well.

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  3. My MIL has odd ideas of what's rude or polite. Drives me nuts... And to have her living here, I try to get a lot of alone time. My bedroom/craft room is the best haven!
    Enjoy your Christmas season and do you!

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    1. You seem to make it work with a four generation household. I bet you need to find hiding places.

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  4. You know it just takes a kind I am not doing that and in a few years they won't expect it. You are allowed to have your own traditions. I had to do the same thing with my inlaws. I don't discuss religion or politics period.

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    1. I think once one of us has Grandkids, it will be easier to transition. I'd like to move it form Christmas day to either the weekend before or after-when we were first married, it was just on a weeknight near Christmas, but then Christmas Day was at his Grandparents. It's always just been how my MIL wants it-when her parents left their house and moved t a retirement apartment, then it was the weekend before or after. For a moment, I thought we would get our Christmas day back, but then, she coopted that day. We no longer get together with DH's extended cousins since the grandparents passed away, so I think she feels like she gets Christmas.

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  5. I'm a visual learner and have never listened to a podcast- maybe I should try it. My maternal grandparents expected their 4 kids and families to spend Christmas with them- eve and the day- so I really never got to know my dad's family very well. As an adult, I've always lived quite a distance from family and never had a MIL or FIL so we made our own traditions. Now one sister and one brother are within an hour's drive so I always see them holidays but we're speedy folks and never stay much over 3 hours anywhere LOL. Two of my kids live across the country so I rarely see them holidays and my dauaghter in town shares with her inlaws. This year I'm making prime rib for everyone for Christmas- my gift since I need 2!

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    1. You've experienced to an extreme the holiday expectations. When both sets of DH's granparents were alive, we also had a four hour Christmas eve at my MIL-three Christmas gatherings!My family was Christmas eve night. My sister hosts a casual gathering for any one who wants to come. You'll be serving a feast!

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  6. When I first got married I had to put my MIL straight on who was going to be running my life - and it wasn't her! We used to get "on this day we'll do that and then we meet up with ...." so I had to put a stop to that immediately. I mean for flip's sake I emigrated to Switzerland at age 21 on my own so no way was my husband's mother going to start running my life! To be fair she backed off when she realized I wasn't one of her kids! My ex was just the same. Everything had to be his way or he went on a rant. Like blowing up screaming because I wanted to make MY hot chocolate with milk "when it said on the jar to use water". I mean, it's not like I was making HIS hot chocolate with milk. Heck you'd think I had committed murder. So now I'm single I do everything very much on my terms. Hell, I'm paying for everything anyway.

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  7. Christmas has to be the absolute most stressful time for most people whether it is due to other people or lack of family. I am so fortunate that we are now in a time in our life when we very rarely encounter having to try and do things for other people that we don't want to do. I am hoping one day soon that happens for you

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