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As the years passed, I came to dread the holidays I had once loved.My husband and I would argue annually about how much time I could reasonably dedicate to my family for the holidays.We also have a meal with my extended family on a weekday.Since my birthday is the day after Christmas, my immediate family picks a day afterwards to celebrate both occasions, which I enjoy, since the festivities get to be extended.I did, however, love having Christmas Eve dinner with my parents and sisters. My mother-in-law has always been very cool with not getting “real” holidays, but I’m pretty sure her heart grew three sizes when I told her she could spend every Christmas with her son and grandson.I asked them if we could have our full family celebration on Christmas Eve, and they all agreed. This will be our second year of executing my “perfect holiday plan,” and having a blueprint for our holiday schedule has already made my life so much less stressful.It seemed a little heartless at first, but I realized that my parents don’t still have holidays with their aunts, uncles, and cousins.I felt a twinge of remorse knowing that the whole family was reveling without me, but I was so relieved to not have to cook another dish, drive an hour out of my way, and have my son miss his nap that any regrets I had quickly dissipated.
This meant that staying the night at my parents’ house on Christmas Eve was completely out of the question. Since my husband’s parents always have official holidays off work, it made more sense to celebrate with them on Christmas Day.
After the last dish had been washed and dried and we unbuttoned our pants, we looked at each other, exhausted from three Thanksgivings in one day.
So I began the heart-rending process of creating the “perfect holiday plan.” I knew that our immediate families were our priorities, so I gave myself permission to decline any invitations to extended family events.
I was certain that my mother-in-law secretly harbored resentment toward me for stealing her son away from her.
I felt helpless to change anything, though, so I carried on this way until I was a bona fide Scrooge.
That feeling isn’t exclusive to one day of the year, though, and rushing off to see another family after stuffing my face didn’t make me feel very thankful.