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Another family Christmas conundrum- NOT a JAWM post, I really want opinions


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We always celebrate Christmas Eve with dh's family. They started doing this before we were married, when his sister had kids and wanted to have Christmas morning be just her family alone. It's always worked fine. We do a big dinner on Christmas Eve with his family (two sisters, one brother, four nieces/nephews), our family and my parents. We open presents then. Christmas morning then is our family and my parents at our house. Occasionally someone stops by later in the day (everyone lives in the area) and that's fine with me but the day is a nice long one at home. We open our presents slowly, kids play, we play games, etc. Dh and I sometimes go to a movie just the two of us. 

 

This year, we just found out that one adult niece and one adult nephew have to work until 6 on Christmas Eve. Not their fault (although I think it's their choice not to use vacation time that day, both could have done that) but it would have been nice if they had told us before now, knowing that it disrupts the usual plans (that have been the same for the past 20+ years). Dh's oldest sister does not have kids and it's really important to her for us all to celebrate together. She is an ER doctor and requested to work Christmas Day so that she could have Christmas Eve with family. 

 

We have said we will skip church Christmas Eve (which is something important to us) if it would work for everyone to get together then or we could get together Friday or Saturday after Christmas. I also made it clear that regardless, I'd like to celebrate with SIL (the ER doctor) and Dh's brother (also no kids) and anyone else who doesn't have to work on the afternoon of Christmas Eve. 

 

SIL (the ER doctor) has asked if we would all consider coming to her house on Christmas morning, before she goes to work. She wants to take a big family photo and wants to do it at her house. 

 

I really do not want to get together on Christmas Day. I also have to work Christmas Eve in the morning and the 26th and the weekend after and it's my one day to just relax. Plus, it's our family tradition to be home. And I know it will be a bummer for the kids to get up and have to get dressed in nice clothes and go take a family photo. I feel like it will kind of ruin Christmas for us. But maybe that's only if we let it, it could be ok. 

 

I feel like I'm being selfish. SIL is very good to us, she babysits a ton for us. She loves our kids dearly. She took my oldest on a special trip to Puerto Rico this year and will take the others on special trips when they are 10. I know how important family is to her and I know that she feels really sad that our usual gathering won't take place.

 

I can't decide if I should just suck it up for this one year and go over there on Christmas morning or if it's ok to just say I'm sorry but no. In general this time of year from about Thanksgiving to Christmas has me super stressed. I'm a huge introvert and it's just too much of everything and too much people and festivity. I feel like I'm trying to make everyone happy and doing a poor job of it. Very bah humug, I know. But I feel incapable of making decisions because I really can't tell if I'm just being unreasonably grumpy and inflexible. 

 

ETA: Since it's dh's family you might wonder what he would think. He would probably go on Christmas Day if left up to him alone. He's an extrovert and doesn't really like staying home and isn't someone who really cares about tradition. So he wouldn't see it as a big deal to change things up this year.  This sister is very close to him in particular, they are 9 years apart and in some ways she is kind of like a mother (his parents were older parents and he feels his sibs raised him and his mother passed away about 20 years ago).  However, he would also be willing to not go if I say I don't want to. So it is really my decision. 

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Why won't the usual gathering take place - why can't the adult niece and nephew who have to work until 6 simply join the celebration when they get off?  Do you mean your "dinner" is earlier in the day?

 

I'd go to the early church service (in our world, that's around 4-ish) and do dinner at 6.  The workers can eat whenever they arrive.

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Why won't the usual gathering take place - why can't the adult niece and nephew who have to work until 6 simply join the celebration when they get off?  Do you mean your "dinner" is earlier in the day?

 

I'd go to the early church service (in our world, that's around 4-ish) and do dinner at 6.  The workers can eat whenever they arrive.

 

 

:iagree:

 

Christmas Eve is evening. My dd is working till 6 ... we're having a traditional Polish Xmas Eve with my parents after that.  Traditionally the whole thing doesn't start until the first star is in the sky. Then the meal, small presents, midnight mass, carolling on the way home, (vodka to keep you warm) THEN come home & eat again....  LOL we don't do all that...

 

But back to your thing: just move everything back on the 24th, have everyone stay longer/later & have your working bees join you when they can.

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I agree with the other posters about still celebrating on Christmas Eve. However, if for some reason that won't work, I would suck it up and go on Christmas morning. It sounds like your SIL has gone above-and-beyond showing love and kindness to your family. One interrupted Christmas to show your love for her would be worth it.

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Why won't the usual gathering take place - why can't the adult niece and nephew who have to work until 6 simply join the celebration when they get off?  Do you mean your "dinner" is earlier in the day?

 

I'd go to the early church service (in our world, that's around 4-ish) and do dinner at 6.  The workers can eat whenever they arrive.

 

 

:iagree:

 

Christmas Eve is evening. My dd is working till 6 ... we're having a traditional Polish Xmas Eve with my parents after that.  Traditionally the whole thing doesn't start until the first star is in the sky. Then the meal, small presents, midnight mass, carolling on the way home, (vodka to keep you warm) THEN come home & eat again....  LOL we don't do all that...

 

But back to your thing: just move everything back on the 24th, have everyone stay longer/later & have your working bees join you when they can.

 

I didn't give all the info as I was trying to make an already long post shorter. 

 

We usually get together around 2ish and then everyone heads off to church around 5:30 or so. 

 

Our very small church service is only at 6 pm so we'd have to skip it to wait for the people who have to work. We're willing to do that. But others go to different churches, all of which have different services. I'm not sure if everyone is willing to skip church. Dh's brother is on staff at a church and may actually have responsibilities where he can't skip. 

 

Christmas Eve would be the best option, just not sure if it will work. 

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Why won't the usual gathering take place - why can't the adult niece and nephew who have to work until 6 simply join the celebration when they get off?  Do you mean your "dinner" is earlier in the day?

 

I'd go to the early church service (in our world, that's around 4-ish) and do dinner at 6.  The workers can eat whenever they arrive.

 

:iagree:  As well.  Unless there's something big I'm missing, like niece and nephew live way far away and will have to drive hours after they get off at 6?

 

Our main Christmas celebration is Christmas Eve.  That's when we get together with my side of the family and open presents (except the "Santa" presents, which now that the kids are older are only the stockings.  Db's family, though, does open their family's presents to each other on Christmas Day).  I don't give a hoot about Christmas Day, since growing up we also had just a stocking and dinner later. (Now we got to MIL around noon, and see my parents again in the evening for dessert).

 

But anyway, even with Christmas Eve being our 'real' Christmas, we don't start till church at 4 or 4:30 - sometimes parents and Db's family come, sometimes not, but the real party doesn't even get started till around 6 when we get back from church.  Can't niece and nephew just be a bit late?

 

At any rate, it sounds like maybe there needs to be a family discussion that Christmas Eve is not a day to work late in future, or this may not be a one-off...

 

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I didn't give all the info as I was trying to make an already long post shorter. 

 

We usually get together around 2ish and then everyone heads off to church around 5:30 or so. 

 

Our very small church service is only at 6 pm so we'd have to skip it to wait for the people who have to work. We're willing to do that. But others go to different churches, all of which have different services. I'm not sure if everyone is willing to skip church. Dh's brother is on staff at a church and may actually have responsibilities where he can't skip. 

 

Christmas Eve would be the best option, just not sure if it will work. 

 

How long is church service?  I'd say go to church at 6 per usual, then meet afterwards.  Only niece and nephew would have to skip church, and everyone would be there for gathering and presents.

 

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Not sure why the folks working don't just come when they can, either? I'm sure that's what would happen in our families.

 

I have my own issues this year, and really am in no position to give unbiased advice. I say we all just do what we want without worrying about other people and how they might potentially feel, and in return, not have any hurt feelings about other people's decisions.

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At our house, we wouldn't change our plans for a couple of nieces/nephews who had to work. Everyone who could get together gets together. The end. No Christmas morning.

 

Now, take that info from someone who doesn't get together with either side of the family on a regular basis for holidays due to either distance or apathy. It isn't a big deal to me or DH to spend holidays with extended family. DH will be working Christmas Eve night and we're okay with that. 

 

Agreeing with this:

At any rate, it sounds like maybe there needs to be a family discussion that Christmas Eve is not a day to work late in future, or this may not be a one-off...

 

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I didn't give all the info as I was trying to make an already long post shorter. 

 

We usually get together around 2ish and then everyone heads off to church around 5:30 or so. 

 

Our very small church service is only at 6 pm so we'd have to skip it to wait for the people who have to work. We're willing to do that. But others go to different churches, all of which have different services. I'm not sure if everyone is willing to skip church. Dh's brother is on staff at a church and may actually have responsibilities where he can't skip. 

 

Christmas Eve would be the best option, just not sure if it will work. 

 

I would get together as usual.

Everybody can go to church as usual.

Whoever wants to can get back together after church, when the people who need to work are free to join. If you don't want to have the Christmas even dinner after church, just do desert and/or drinks.

 

I see no reason to change everything just because two adults can't make it.

Or you could simply move the entire family celebration to AFTER church altogether (unless you have very small kids)

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You are offering several options of what you *can* do (so it's not like you are being dictatorial or unreasonable or not willing to compromise), and those options are either not convenient or working for the extended family. They have made a counter offer option. At this point it is perfectly fine to say kindly and gently that it is not only a very important and special family tradition to *your* family to do Christmas morning/day at your own home, but that it is also when/how you have arranged to do Christmas with *your* extended family, so, unfortunately, their counter offer is not an option for your family.

 

Re-offer what you can, and ask which of those options they would prefer, and be sure to offer sympathy: "I know! It sure is hard to figure out how to balance everyone's needs and wants, and the older the children get, the harder it is to work out a schedule that fits absolutely everyone. Let's look at the pros and cons of each of the options that are open to us both, and see which accommodates the most amount of people, and we'll just try to get together with those who can't make that time later in the holiday week." :)

 

 

Just my opinion, since you asked. :) BEST of luck, and hope you all will have a lovely Christmas celebration and holiday, however it all works out. Warmest regards, Lori D.

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SIL is very good to us, she babysits a ton for us. She loves our kids dearly. She took my oldest on a special trip to Puerto Rico this year and will take the others on special trips when they are 10. I know how important family is to her and I know that she feels really sad that our usual gathering won't take place.

 

 

 

 

Let me preface this by saying that since we don't celebrate Christmas, I'm coming at this from the perspective of someone has basically has absolutely nothing going on this time of year and will pretty much just be sitting around watching the grass turn brown for the next week or so, so feel free to disregard.  

 

However, for what it's worth, I think I would tell her yes, we will come to your house before you leave for work to take a photo.  Not because you have to, not because of any of your other relatives, not because SIL will be necessarily be upset if you don't, and not because the two other folks have messed up the Christmas Eve tradition.  I would go simply because your SIL asked you to, and obviously it means a lot to her.  And that's what I would tell the kids, too -- Christmas morning is going to be different this year because SIL, who loves you so much and is so good to our family, has asked us to do this one thing for her and so we are going to do it.  

 

But I would most definitely offload the kids on your folks in the afternoon to get a nap, that's for sure :)

 

Hope you have a great holiday, however it all works out!

 
 
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This year, we just found out that one adult niece and one adult nephew have to work until 6 on Christmas Eve. Not their fault (although I think it's their choice not to use vacation time that day, both could have done that) but it would have been nice if they had told us before now, knowing that it disrupts the usual plans (that have been the same for the past 20+ years). Dh's oldest sister does not have kids and it's really important to her for us all to celebrate together. She is an ER doctor and requested to work Christmas Day so that she could have Christmas Eve with family.

 

The thing is, unless you know specifics regading their employer and how time off is handled, you can't really say if it's their choice or not. Back in the day when I was working, it was a first come, first serve and only a certain number of people in my department could get the day off for things like Christmas Eve and the Friday after Thanksgiving. With dh's job, not only is is limited to two people off on any given day, but it's also based upon seniority meanng that for a very long time, asking for a holiday off was an impossibility.

 

Would I change my plans? Yes. I have in the past. I'm not always super jazzed about it, but in cases where my dh really wants to I do because it's important to him.

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I don't understand why the original plans don't still hold.  Niece and Nephew can come later or just not come.  No biggie.  All of the alternative plans sound a lot more difficult.

 

I would almost certainly say no to getting dressed up and getting somewhere for a photo on Christmas morning.  Most of my extended family would have a fit at such a suggestion.  If we did a group photo, it would not be publishable anyway.  :P

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Let me preface this by saying that since we don't celebrate Christmas, I'm coming at this from the perspective of someone has basically has absolutely nothing going on this time of year and will pretty much just be sitting around watching the grass turn brown for the next week or so, so feel free to disregard.  

 

However, for what it's worth, I think I would tell her yes, we will come to your house before you leave for work to take a photo.  Not because you have to, not because of any of your other relatives, not because SIL will be necessarily be upset if you don't, and not because the two other folks have messed up the Christmas Eve tradition.  I would go simply because your SIL asked you to, and obviously it means a lot to her.  And that's what I would tell the kids, too -- Christmas morning is going to be different this year because SIL, who loves you so much and is so good to our family, has asked us to do this one thing for her and so we are going to do it.  

 

But I would most definitely offload the kids on your folks in the afternoon to get a nap, that's for sure :)

 

Hope you have a great holiday, however it all works out!

 

 

I agree.  Is it convenient?  No.  But when one has kids nothing is convenient.  Sometimes we have to do things that we don't want to do because it would mean so much to the other person.  Apparently, she is not just someone you see once a year.  She means a lot to you and you (and family) mean a lot to her.

 

I hope your holiday is filled with joy and laughter.  :) 

 

 

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I just read your second post.  Christmas Eve is a normal working day.  There are going to be people unable or unwilling to take the whole afternoon off in the future.  It might be a good idea to consider a change to the tradition in future years when Christmas Eve falls on a weekday.  Maybe it's not too late to change it for this year, or maybe it is.  In either case, you may have to accept the fact that some people may be unable to make it this year.

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I would decline. A family picture does not have to be taken on Christmas Day.  It can be taken late Christmas Eve, on the weekend, on New Year’s Day or any other day convenient for all involved.

 

The problem with agreeing just once to alter your plans is that it opens to door to future requests.  You will face this problem repeatedly as the children age.  Newest employees get the holiday shifts. The children will meet significant others with their own traditions.  They will also want to start their own traditions. Next year, you might face the same request because one of the nieces or nephews has a significant other whose family celebrates on Christmas Eve.  If your celebration at home is important to you keep it non-negotiable.

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Another thought about the Christmas photo.  Why should everyone have to go to the SIL's house for a photo?  If there's going to be a group photo at an odd time like that, it should be at the home of the relative with the most young kids.

 

Possibly SIL does not realize how disrupting it is to bust up Christmas morning for a family with young kids.

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I would decline. A family picture does not have to be taken on Christmas Day.  It can be taken late Christmas Eve, on the weekend, on New Year’s Day or any other day convenient for all involved.

 

The problem with agreeing just once to alter your plans is that it opens to door to future requests.  You will face this problem repeatedly as the children age.  Newest employees get the holiday shifts. The children will meet significant others with their own traditions.  They will also want to start their own traditions. Next year, you might face the same request because one of the nieces or nephews has a significant other whose family celebrates on Christmas Eve.  If your celebration at home is important to you keep it non-negotiable.

 

:iagree: Totally agree. This is the reality for us now, as most of my relatives of my age now have young adult children. There just WILL come a year when there are too many people to try and accommodate with too many needs and wants and very different schedules where some relatives just will not be able or willing to come.

 

If the alternatives you have already offered do not work for others, then, gently, I'd say this is the year for everyone to start getting used to the idea that the traditions are now changing.

 

And for the group photo, schedule a time between Christmas and New Year's that works for everyone -- or better yet, do it in the summer when you're not all trying to do a million holiday things with everyone else. Make THAT the new tradition -- Christmas photo in Christmas clothes in July! :) It could be a super fun NEW tradition -- all get together, bake some Christmas cookies, play Christmas music, everyone make a Christmas tree ornament or play some family board games or whatever would be fun for all, and take the family photo!

 

Sympathy -- I know this will be esp. hard for SIL who is clearly trying to hold the tradition together for one more year; perhaps suggesting a fun family alternative might help ease the transition into new ways of thinking/doing family holidays…  :grouphug:

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The reality is, family traditions begin because they fulfill a specific purpose. If they no longer fulfill that purpose, it is time for change. When something becomes sacrosanct family drama and angst is sure to follow. (Spoken as the sibling of someone who holds every.single. "Well we've ALWAYS done it like this" as though it came etched in stone from God himself.)

 

I would try to find a way to keep the traditions most dear to you or a way to keep the spirit of those traditions.

 

Maybe this is the year that the Christmas Eve gathering moves to an after eight desert and presents affair.

 

Maybe this is the year that the niece and nephew miss and the entire family gets together before New Years.

 

I would definitely offer the options you are good with and, if the picture is super important to SIL, suggest doing it on a random day as a new tradition.

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Another thought about the Christmas photo.  Why should everyone have to go to the SIL's house for a photo?  If there's going to be a group photo at an odd time like that, it should be at the home of the relative with the most young kids.

 

Possibly SIL does not realize how disrupting it is to bust up Christmas morning for a family with young kids.

 

I agree.  ( I meant to say this before)  She may not know how it is to travel with younger kids.  Most people won't until they have kids. 

 

 

It's a tough decision.  I hope you find the right answer soon.   

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Thanks for all the suggestions and thoughts. I like the ideas of somehow making it positive...family photo another time as a new tradition. 

 

I think we are moving in the direction of not being able to have everyone there for everything. That's going to be really tough for SIL. I think the rest of us would be ok with celebrating without niece and nephew (or starting without them). It does turn out that BIL will be at church from 4 pm until midnight (he's on staff so it's his work and he can't miss). Or doing a big celebration and people come and go as they can. I'm ok if they do it at a time I have to work. It's just SIL is really tied to the idea of everyone together. I think she's going to have to give that up, but it just be hard this year as it's such a last minute change in expectations. 

 

I'm not sure what we'll do. I sent out an email earlier suggesting a bunch of other times. We'll see what works. Part of it is that my parents are here with us on Christmas morning and I know they are not going to want to go over to the house that day. I'm an only child and although they appreciate being included in dh's family celebration they see Christmas morning as the only time they get to be with me in a more quiet way. They are fine if dh's family comes over, but I know my Mom isn't going to want to go over to SIL's house that morning. If we do to make SIL happy, I end up making my Mom sad. I'm going to have to learn that everyone isn't going to be happy all the time. A hard lesson. 

 

 

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I think you are right that SIL is going to have to adapt to a new reality where everyone can't always get together, with nieces and nephews entering adulthood and moving into more complicated lives of their own.

 

Would family photos on another day be possible? Sunday, or New Year's Eve/New Year's Day?

 

I think the Christmas Eve celebration should go forward at the usual time, that is family tradition and I doubt another time will work better.

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It's hard, I have been married 20 years and for the last 15 or so my mom has worked retail.  She can't take off any time before Christmas, we have spent lots of Christmas days with IL and a few by ourselves.  We often get together with my family after New Years or in Feb.  It makes it nice in some ways because all the craziness is over.  Things will change as kids get over.  I wouldn't give up the time with your mom on Christmas morning yet.

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Having not read any replies, I'll just give my opinion.

 

I would just roll with it.  A long time ago I thought that I wanted to create 'Christmas traditions' with my family (as in DH and the kids and I).  I tried to create these ideals of what 'we' do.  Originally, 'we' did soup for dinner and movie night at home on Christmas Eve.  Until we started doing a small get together with one of DH's brothers and his family on Christmas Eve, just doing whatever with the kids - gingerbread houses, gifts, whatever.  Until we all got too busy with work and last year my family just went and ate Mexican and watched Frozen.  Originally, 'we' stayed home and opened gifts Christmas morning and then went over to the ILs with the rest of the family around noon.  Until DH worked on Christmas and we opened gifts on Christmas Eve, and didn't go to their house until dinnertime on Christmas day.  Until everyone couldn't even make it on Christmas day any more and I said, 'hey, we can do another day.  So when can we all get together?' and now it changes year to year, based on schedules and other family commitments.  

 

So yeah, life happens.  We don't really do 'Christmas traditions' that are hard and fast.  Or any holiday traditions, for that matter.  We just try to be flexible because people are busy and it's Christmas and we'd like to see everyone and people are working... etc.  

 

We don't take off work for family get togethers.  Family works around schedules for each other.  

 

So I would just do whatever works for the whole family and let it roll.  But I'm not a person who stresses about Christmas.  I honestly looked around the other day and asked my friends, 'What is it about Christmas that people say they have so much going on or so much to do?' because apparently none of us fall in that spectrum.  :D  And, like your DH, I'm an extrovert.  :)

 

Either way, have a great day!  

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I think it is fine to suck it up 'just this year' if you feel that would be the least problematic option, BUT if you do go that way, be sure to discuss the topic with all the relevant people so that next year doesn't end up stressful all over again. Whatever you do, don't inconvenience yourself, resent it in private but be too 'nice' to communicate your feelings with others.

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Wow, did they just spring this on you at the last moment? I'd be upset if that happened to me - I like things to be the way I expect them to be, and sudden changes in plans do NOT go over well. It'd be really hard for me to make a calm decision about this in your place, because of the panic mode that SUDDEN DEATH CHANGES bring to me! (After 30+ years my family now understands this, and rarely springs stuff on me. And after 30+ years, I now hardly ever collapse on the floor sobbing when they DO, so it's win-win for both sides.)

 

So before you make any decisions, you should take my advice. Go into the kitchen. Get a wineglass. Fill it with wine, or Ben and Jerry's, or hot cocoa, or really, whatever floats your boat. Mashed potatoes and shrimp for all I care! Enjoy it. Relax! Play some music and just chill.

 

Now, once you're calm and feeling rational, ask yourself this - Will Christmas really be ruined if we do things the way they suggest? The answer might be yes, and it might be no. I have no idea, and right now, I bet you don't either. You have your gut answer, not your calm answer. Once you have your calm answer, you'll be in a position to either a. go with their suggested plan or b. apologize and offer to take those pictures at another time, as well as to meet up with all family members when it is more convenient to them.

 

Whatever you pick, stick with it. You're not going to feel any better by second guessing yourself. Make your choice and move on from there.

 

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Alice

If I remember, you are a doctor, too, right? With a demanding schedule, working half day on the 24th and all day the 26th. I think you deserve the time on Christmas Day. But I do feel for your SIL. Does she want to the photo on the 25th, because the niece & nephew will miss Xmas Eve?

 

I am having a hard time following all the ins and outs, but in terms of prioritizing, I would put you at the top of the list, SIL a close second, and niece/ nephew last, because it sounds as though they could have changed their plans to accommodate.

 

Do niece/nephew really have to work to 6 pm Xmas Eve? If they are in a hospital, I'd get it, but if they are in a regular office, I'd be suspicious that they were at an office party. But maybe that's just me being snarky?

 

Is it possible that someone else will not be able to make the photo shoot on the 25th, so you won't be the fall guy?

 

Or what about meeting late on Xmas day/evening, when SIL is finished work? Afternoon tea, or eggnog and cookies?

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Do niece/nephew really have to work to 6 pm Xmas Eve? If they are in a hospital, I'd get it, but if they are in a regular office, I'd be suspicious that they were at an office party. But maybe that's just me being snarky?

 

 

It may well be an office party, but I have never worked at a company where the sponsored parties were truly optional. You were very much expected to be there. Skipping would put you in the boss's bad books and raise eyebrows all around. It was no different than a scheduled work meeting; you don't get to decide if you wish to attend. 

 

OP, I would not go over there on Christmas day just to take a holiday picture, unless she lived 5 minutes away. Eh, probably not even then, because you KNOW others will be late and want to talk, etc. I would work very hard to accommodate another day/time (which it sounds like you are doing). I would just say very honestly that it's my only true day off to relax for the holidays, and that the kids are expecting and anticipating the family day at home. 

 

Tell her that the picture sounds awesome, but it does NOT matter if it's taken a week or two later! 

 

I feel your pain, b/c my parents have really been struggling with the fact that it's practically impossible to have all the kids, grandkids, and GREAT grandkids together over the holidays. Yes, everyone is local, but everyone also has at least one other side of the family, some of whom aren't as local, some of whom are divorced and doubling the visits, and so on. And I completely sympathize with the younger families who don't want to traipse from one house to the next for two days. 

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Do niece/nephew really have to work to 6 pm Xmas Eve? If they are in a hospital, I'd get it, but if they are in a regular office, I'd be suspicious that they were at an office party. But maybe that's just me being snarky?

 

They could work retail. My brother works in a large box store & he has to work lots of extra hours during the holidays. There are a lot of jobs out there who don't get to leave early just because it is Christmas Eve. Gas station clerks, grocery store check out people, and the people who keep the lights on.

 

My BIL couldn't believe DH had to work both Thanksgiving & Christmas (Christmas Eve - night shift) this year since he's been at his employer for over 10 years. It is just the nature of DH's work and work environment that there is no such thing as "seniority" in terms of who gets holiday work. It just depends on where you are in the schedule. Some years you get lucky and some you don't. When I worked in manufacturing, all my (engineering) projects were going full-bore during the holidays because that's when the plant was shut down and the regular workers had time off. There was no way I was able to take time off to travel because I had to be there for installations and overhauls.  :rant:

 

It doesn't change my suggestion to not give up your Christmas morning, however. Sorry for the derail, OP. Carry on.  :blush:

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For the sake of disclosure I have 4 siblings on my mom's/step dad's side who we've celebrate with since 1976, my bio brother and I celebrated with my single father since 1975, and I've been celebrating with my in-laws  since 1993.  I've also been celebrating with my spouse since 1993 and our children since 1996. They're all local and always have been.  I'm veteran at big, complicated family gatherings. Christmas is usually 4 celebrations in 2 days most years. 

 

 

We always celebrate Christmas Eve with dh's family. They started doing this before we were married, when his sister had kids and wanted to have Christmas morning be just her family alone. It's always worked fine. We do a big dinner on Christmas Eve with his family (two sisters, one brother, four nieces/nephews), our family and my parents. We open presents then. Christmas morning then is our family and my parents at our house. Occasionally someone stops by later in the day (everyone lives in the area) and that's fine with me but the day is a nice long one at home. We open our presents slowly, kids play, we play games, etc. Dh and I sometimes go to a movie just the two of us. 

 

This year, we just found out that one adult niece and one adult nephew have to work until 6 on Christmas Eve. Not their fault (although I think it's their choice not to use vacation time that day, both could have done that)

 

Whoa. I don't think it's up to anyone else to decide when someone does or doesn't take vacation time unless you are married to them. You should have no opinion on this. 

 

but it would have been nice if they had told us before now, knowing that it disrupts the usual plans (that have been the same for the past 20+ years).

 

Whoa.  I don't think just because something has been the case for 20+ that it automatically stays that way regardless of current situations.  Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean that's how it is until the end of time. Times and circumstances change and there are times to change with them. It's no bid deal at all if come later for part of it.  It's also no big deal to move it to another time if that's what works for the majority of the group. 

 

Dh's oldest sister does not have kids and it's really important to her for us all to celebrate together. She is an ER doctor and requested to work Christmas Day so that she could have Christmas Eve with family.

 

I get that it's important to her.  I get that people should make an effort to accommodate that if it's realistic and works for the group.  I also think there will be years when it won't work out and everyone needs to be OK with that.  It's not all or nothing.

 

We have said we will skip church Christmas Eve (which is something important to us) if it would work for everyone to get together then or we could get together Friday or Saturday after Christmas. I also made it clear that regardless, I'd like to celebrate with SIL (the ER doctor) and Dh's brother (also no kids) and anyone else who doesn't have to work on the afternoon of Christmas Eve. 

 

Great.  You get to decide what you will do.  You don't get to decide what other people do. If you do that and it doesn't work for the majority of the group, then plan to do that without the group. They're not obligated to adapt to your plans if it doesn't work out for them.

 

SIL (the ER doctor) has asked if we would all consider coming to her house on Christmas morning, before she goes to work. She wants to take a big family photo and wants to do it at her house. 

 

I really do not want to get together on Christmas Day. I also have to work Christmas Eve in the morning and the 26th and the weekend after and it's my one day to just relax.

 

So it won't work out to go to the Dr.'s house on Christmas morning.  Oh well.  Maybe some other year.  Maybe for New Year's. Tell her thank you for the generous offer, but, with your schedule and other commitments, it won't work out this time.

 

Plus, it's our family tradition to be home.

 

I'm not one to put tradition over practicalities.  If the tradition is compatible with the group, fine,  if not, it goes out the window without a second thought.

 

And I know it will be a bummer for the kids to get up and have to get dressed in nice clothes and go take a family photo. I feel like it will kind of ruin Christmas for us. But maybe that's only if we let it, it could be ok. 

 

It won't be the end of the world if the Big Gathering doesn't include every single person or it doesn't happen on Christmas morning.  The vast majority of humanity has managed to get through the holidays without every single family member in the same room for the same photo.  It's nice if it works out that way, but if it doesn't it's not even noteworthy.

 

I feel like I'm being selfish. SIL is very good to us, she babysits a ton for us. She loves our kids dearly. She took my oldest on a special trip to Puerto Rico this year and will take the others on special trips when they are 10. I know how important family is to her and I know that she feels really sad that our usual gathering won't take place.

 

She's big girl.  I assume she doesn't suffer from any psychological disorders that would cause her to harm herself or others if everything isn't exactly as it was last year and the decades before.  You don't have to shelter people from uncomfortable emotions.  Actually, you shouldn't shelter people from unconformable emotions.  We all need to deal with our little disappointments regularly as practice so we have some sort of emotional foundation for when life inevitably brings us big disappointments.  

 

I can't decide if I should just suck it up for this one year and go over there on Christmas morning or if it's ok to just say I'm sorry but no.

 

It's always OK to say say, "Sorry, but no thank you." It's realistic and honest.  You can feel emotionally  uncomfortable about it and still be OK with it.  That's how life is sometimes. 

 

In general this time of year from about Thanksgiving to Christmas has me super stressed. I'm a huge introvert and it's just too much of everything and too much people and festivity. I feel like I'm trying to make everyone happy and doing a poor job of it.

 

No one can make everybody happy.  It's not possible and it's not desirable.  No one is entitled to be made happy all the time.  Jesus wasn't happy all the time. When people go out of their way to avoid every single emotional discomfort, they are less prepared for life.  They are less emotionally developed.  It's like never letting your children learn to read for themselves because you never want them to experience any negative emotion that come with frustration or challenge. 

 

Very bah humug, I know. But I feel incapable of making decisions because I really can't tell if I'm just being unreasonably grumpy and inflexible. 

 

No, you're being unrealistic. I do family get togethers  in high volume (Christmas 4 times in 2 days most years) on a large scale (20+ at one of those gatherings.) There is no way a growing family can expect to do the same thing every year with every single person forever.  Some years some of those people will have to work. My step-dad was a printer for a major newspaper and my biobrother works for Intel's chip fabrication factory that never ever shuts down. He shares joint custody with his son's mother too.  Then they get married and share time and kids between sets of in-laws. Those in-laws may be far far away and they'll spend some Christmases with them and some with you.  Some may have jobs that require them to work at time inconvenient fr your personal plans.   Each year we have to deal with the practical details at hand and find a way to make it work for the group-not every single individual. 

 

That means being willing to adjust times, activities, and locations to accommodate the majority of people and knowing we cannot accommodate everyone.   It means being perfectly OK with some people not being there at all or being there for only part of it. It means only concerning ourselves about when and where we go and being perfectly content and positive about extended relatives making different decisions for themselves.

 

ETA: Since it's dh's family you might wonder what he would think. He would probably go on Christmas Day if left up to him alone. He's an extrovert and doesn't really like staying home and isn't someone who really cares about tradition. So he wouldn't see it as a big deal to change things up this year.  This sister is very close to him in particular, they are 9 years apart and in some ways she is kind of like a mother (his parents were older parents and he feels his sibs raised him and his mother passed away about 20 years ago).  However, he would also be willing to not go if I say I don't want to. So it is really my decision. 

 

My large gathering on Christmas night at my mom/step-dad's side is down by 50% (10 people) this year.  They are traveling and seeing other sides of their families. Sometimes it happens. We'll be filling the void with low stakes gambling ($3 per person for a game of Left, Center, Right) and fireworks and Chinese food.  Not our usual, but we're at peace with it.

 

 

 

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Yes, retail is something you couldn't skip out on. And I had not thought of manufacturing.

 

Oh, office parties I used to go to started early and then there was a point when you could stay or leave graciously. Ymmv.

 

I guess I brought up a bit of a red herring. Sorry, OP!! (Not quoting because red herring.)

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So Alice, what has happened?

 

 

We figured out a plan that seems to work for everyone. We are going to have the normal Christmas Eve gathering at SIL's house without nephew and niece. I will get there late when I get off work. We will all go to our own respective church services and then regroup at BIL's church in between two of his services (in case you missed it, he is on staff at a church so has to be there from 4 pm until midnight for multiple services). Nephew and niece will join us at the church. We'll do the big photo there at the church and give presents to the two who missed the earlier gathering. No Christmas morning gathering. 

 

Thanks for all the suggestions. In the end I talked to my Mom to see if she would be ok with doing something Christmas morning with the rest of the family. She was ok with it so I let dh know it was ok. At that point we'd come up with alternative plan and decided to just leave it at that. Although my middle son had a stomach bug yesterday and now dh is sleeping in because he doesn't feel great...so who knows what will happen...

 

To address a few other comments...

 

* I probably shouldn't have made the comment about niece and nephew using or not using vacation time. I don't know if they could have done that and it is totally their choice to use it or not.

 

* Dh and I realized after discussing all of this that really the holiday get together has gone from 4 adults (he and his siblings) coordinating and planning to 8 adults (4 siblings plus 4 adult nieces and nephews) planning and coordinating. The family has been very lucky/blessed so far to be able to celebrate all together without much trouble. One SIL who has the kids was married (now divorced) but her ex-husband came from small family that lived far away and with who he was not at all close. So they never had to juggle his family into the planning. Other two siblings never married. Dh married me, an only child. My parents live fairly close (2 hours away) and are happy to travel here (they prefer it) and happy to join in the big celebration. 

 

*Yes, the fact that it's always been done the same way for 20+ years doesn't mean it has to be done that way. But it's the first year that it's not done the same way that is the hardest. You know? I think we have all realized that this is the beginning of a new way of doing things. It's going to be harder to get everyone together but that doesn't mean some of us can't be together. Nieces and nephews may marry and move away, my kids will eventually grow up and marry and move away. 

 

Merry Christmas everyone and thanks for helping me think it all through!

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*Yes, the fact that it's always been done the same way for 20+ years doesn't mean it has to be done that way. But it's the first year that it's not done the same way that is the hardest. You know? I think we have all realized that this is the beginning of a new way of doing things. It's going to be harder to get everyone together but that doesn't mean some of us can't be together. Nieces and nephews may marry and move away, my kids will eventually grow up and marry and move away. 

 

Merry Christmas everyone and thanks for helping me think it all through!

 

I think someone may actually need to say this OUT LOUD at Christmas.

 

"Wow. This was difficult to plan. In the future, we may not have EVERYONE here for Christmas. I guess we need to plan this stuff around Thanksgiving, and figure out the best possible time for the majority to make it. "

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