11/28/08

Calling the Holiday shots

This Thanksgiving I was struck with a startling thought. And then I even had an epiphany of sorts. I'm pretty sure it was divine intervention.

I've noticed something through the years.

It seems (and maybe this is just in my circles) that in most families, when it comes to holidays, the wives usually call the shots have the final say on where the family's time will be spent.

There's usually that whole "compromise" thing, wherein the wife says that the holidays will be spent with her husband's family the next year, but this often does not happen. She can't actually bear the idea of not seeing her side of the family when push comes to shove. And husbands are usually a little more...easy-going about these things. Or maybe they're...less emotional.

(Like I said, this is not true in all cases. But it seems that it is in a lot of cases. Or maybe it's just me. But I'm going to pretend I'm not the only one.)

Yes, in thinking this over, I had to admit that I have been doing this very thing. I hog pretty much every holiday, while Ryan's family waits to see us another time.

This is selfish, I realize that. So I should probably offer to have a fair system. You know, 50/50. Or at least 60/40. Out of the goodness of my heart.

O.K., maybe it's NOT out of the goodness of my heart, but rather it's because I realized something (the startling realization):

I have two boys.

And they keep growing, which means that one day they'll be adults.

And there's a pretty good chance they'll get married.

Then they'll have wives who will most likely...

Oh my...what goes around...

If I don't get my act together soon, Ryan and I are going to be sitting at home alone Christmas after Christmas while our daughter-in-law's families trump our side! Every year!

I won't see my sons and their (I'm assuming) beautiful wives, or the (I'm assuming) seven grandchildren they've given us, if I don't start sharing holiday time as soon as possible.

Or wait. I have an even better idea (the epiphany):

Instead of sharing holidays now, I could keep insisting asking that the majority of holiday time be spent with my side of the family, but I could also start some amazing holiday traditions that my boys will always look forward to, almost like an addiction. THEN when they're grown, they won't be able to stay away because their memories of home and hearth will be so full of wonder and joy, they just won't be able to bring themselves to go anywhere else! Ever.

Then they'll tell their wives all about the traditions we share, and these beautiful women will be so impressed that they'll want to be with US every year! Because our traditions will be way cooler than their family's traditions. Yes, that's it. Easy peasy.

Now I just have to start coming up with these really great traditions. This will take some time, but I'm up to the task!

(Oh, for blog sake, of course I'm kidding! Don't go thinking I'm this selfish and manipulative! I'm going to be a perfectly supportive and very easy-going mother-in-law, don't you worry!)

(I'm just joking around here.)

(Sort of.)

30 clicked right here to comment:

Kimberly said...

How's about we hook your boys and my girls up and we'll all get together for one big party every year? =P

Kristina P. said...

Yeah, it is sort of true. I completely agree!

LisAway said...

Funny, Heather. I love the assumptions about your boys wives and children. What if they're ugly and they don't have children. Think how bad you'll feel if they go back and read this. Thank goodness you can edit posts.

And for some odd reason Greg and I never have that whole "where to do Christmas" and certainly never wonder who to favor on Thanksgiving. I think it's because we're both so very selfless that there's no battle. And it's possible that there are other, logistical reasons as well.

Erin said...

I have two boys too! It is a bit scary to think about. But I agree with the whole tradition thing...what sort of awesome things can I come up with that will have my kids begging for more when they are adults? Oh, I shouldn't be kidding myself. I can't come up with very many awesome things. I'm going to have to think about this very seriously...

(Great post, by the way.)

Heidi Ashworth said...

My sister has five boys. When the third was born, she just broke down and cried because she knew then what you are figuring out now--and you are so on the money! She has worked really hard to be a great mother in law AND have wonderful traditions. She only has two married so far but both of her daughter in laws love her and they happily spend 50/50 time with their husband's family. That is probably about as good as it can possibly get because you are so right about husbands going the way of their wives family (I have six sisters so I know of which I speak). And you are so right about the example thing--you deff have to do for Ryan's fam what you want your boys to do for yours.

joolee said...

I know how it is. And I have 4 girls.....nanner nanner nanner!

K and/or K said...

Studies prove (really they do) that couples do spend more time with the wives family. My solution is that now you have 2 girls. Playmates for my future Vlachtourage and holiday companions for yourself. We all win. Notice how I took some of the burden and made this my problem too? I'm so giving like that! ;-)

The Three 22nds said...

I think about that too, with my boys. And I have often thought about starting some super cool, irresistable holiday traditions. And, because I am going to be the most amazing, self sacrificing MIL in the history of the world, my DIL's will be clamoring to be in my home for every holiday.

We do spend most holidays with my fam even though my husband is not one to give in on such matters. The deal is that my inlaws still head down to Iowa for every holiday to spend it with their parents and siblings. They of course want us to come too, but even Noah will admit that it is WAY less stressful to haul the kids 3 miles to my parents childproofed home then to take them to Iowa to a packed house that is not childproofed.

Tooj said...

I was having this exact thought and thinking I was very selfish just a couple of days ago...then I realized that half of hub's family lives in WA state and the other half he hasn't really associated with so I've been fortunate/lucky/spoiled that all our time has gone to my family. I've already got it worked out what I'll do though, when my boys ae older. I will change our holiday get-together to the weekend before or the weekend after to accomodate - there is no way they won't be able to come see me (oh, and their father) during holidays. (Plus, I'll get a full weekend and not just a day or half day!)

Octamom said...

Hee hee! Love the boy/mom/future daughter-in-law/holiday epiphany thing--and how in keeping with Christmas Tradition, the Epiphany thing and all!

I do also often think about the relationship I want to have with my future daughter-in-laws---wow. Sobering, exciting--and very much making me want to invest time and heart into our now!

Blessings!

Sara@ Butterville said...

That's MY plan. Traditions they'll need ME for! I love spending our time with Rob's family. WAY better then mine. So that's what we do. Besides they'll all welcoming and warm, mine are crabby scrooges that have naughty children. Can't wait to see you next SAT!!!!

Kazzy said...

Oh, man. I have FOUR boys. I am really in trouble. As a matter of fact, I have been so melancholy about my boys growing up these past couple of months that any thought like the ones you have expressed just make me cry. I was up early today but crawled back into bed and sobbed a bit about my kids growing up. This Thursday my second one turns 18. sniff sniff

Keyona said...

HA! I should be safe then. Having a girl, I'll be safe in knowing that she'll force...ahem...I mean ask her husband to spend the holidays with her mom!

But...just to be safe I better start working on some traditions myself. :o)

Sandy Toes said...

I sometimes think this too...my son will have a daughter in law...I am not sure how easy going of a mother in law I will be..I need to start praying now!
-sandy toes

Muthering Heights said...

OR, if you start working in it now, you could become the most AMAZING mother-in-law ever, so that the wives will love you and BEG to come to your house! It could work.

That didn't really work in my life, but I'm just saying. It could be great!

heather said...

I found your blog through my friend Rose's blog. Nice to meet you.

Enjoyed your thoughts on the holidays! Well I'm with you...My family always asks for the holiday on the exact day. Example: We have thanksgiving on Thanksgiving day. I always want this with my family...but not with in-laws. It just seems so stressful there. But yep, I have 2 boys and 2 girls So I have it comin to me. At least the girls will come home.

Kelly @ Love Well said...

OK. I'm going to buck the trend here.

In my family, holidays are pretty evenly split. There have been seasons of life where we spend more holidays with one set of parents than the other. For example, when we lived 10 minutes from my parents in California, we celebrated more often with them. Now that we live an hour from Corey's parents, we celebrate more with them.

But even when both sets of parents lived here in the Twin Cities, and we would come home from San Diego for Christmas, we always spent an even number of days staying at each set of parents house. And since the two families celebrated Christmas on different days (Corey's on Christmas Eve, mine on Christmas Day), we even managed to keep that equal.

So it CAN happen. And we do this even though my husband doesn't even want to spend time with his family. (Nor do I, most of the time.) But he knows it's important to his mom. So we do it anyway.

See? It can happen.

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

Or you could insist that your boys marry (lovely and unscathed) girls from dysfunctional families, so they don't like to spend time with them. You've got very logical thinking here.

Becky said...

Every time I tell someone what I'm about to tell you, I feel like a big fat loser. But here goes.

I love that we live far away from both sets of parents. (Holy smokes, the lightning was close that time!!)

My relationship with my parents is such that distance improves it. And my husband is the youngest of three boys, which means that I'm kind of the big bad daughter-in-law who stole him away and forced him at gunpoint to move to Alaska.

So, my point... oh, yes! I think I will be a good mother-in-law if only because I can understand these feelings. Sure, I'll be sad if the kids aren't there for the holidays, and I hope they will want to visit, but I totally get the need for space.

Now, having said that, and because this comment isn't quite long enough yet, I would say that you should definitely come up with those can't-live-without-'em traditions. I mean, you need to have some sort of ammunition, right? :)

Mama Kalila said...

We must be odd then... because all our holidays are w/ my husbands family. Of course my side is across teh state, so that is part of it. You can hope they marry someone from far away lol.

We're looking for traditions too... The only one we've decided on is the elf on a shelf idea (only we're coming up w/our own elf.. the boxed one was ugly). I want to try and keep most of them religious though.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

I think you are very smart. Several of my female relative with married sons are going through this very thing. My mother's sister (whom we visited for Thanksgiving this year) says that her oldest son spends every holiday with his inlaws and just a few days in early January with her. She's really understanding and doesn't give them a hard time about it - but I know it really hurts her feelings.

In my family, we do every other year with each set of inlaws for holidays. That seems fair - and I'm hoping that if my boys see this as "the way things are done" in their own childhood, that they'll demand equal time when they are married. I hope...

T and T Livesay said...

This post made me laugh ... as you know from our conversation :) I am just happy that five of seven of my kids will be with me on the holidays. The other two will be missed. ;) I will enjoy Asher very much, I promise. (And Lydia will too)

Growin' with it! said...

oh i sure do think about this A LOT as i'm raising 2 boys as well. although i love my MIL and think she has always done a fabulous job at letting her little boy be off somewhere else...i find myself saying statements like this: "honey, when i'm a MIL please remind me of this or that and to be loving to my DIL". no biggies, just things i wanna do differently. and like the cycle goes...my DIL will probably be saying the very same thing. and as long as my sons are married off someday and not living at home til they're 40, then i won't complain at having to share my time!

Jessica said...

Love this! Yes, isn't sharing holidays the worst! Good thinking on the traditions! We have to convince them now while they're young that mom's house is the ONLY place to be for the holidays :)

Carolyn said...

This is amusing to me because my husband is much much more possessive of the time we spend with his family than I am of the time spent with mine.

CC said...

Bwhahahaha!!!!!!

Now I don't want to throw a wrench in your plans, but what if they grow up and move far, far from home (as my sibs and I all did). Then what???

Okay. We won't go there.

Oh, and share these great traditions pleeeeeze?!

charrette said...

Great ephiphany. Reminds me of the one i had where I suddenly realized that the way I treated my children would likely be the way they treat MY grandchildren. Very eye-opening.

Peanut said...

My MIL has 5 boys and 6 girls (and yes, I'm overwhelmed). She says she always cries harder at the boys' weddings because she knows in a way that she is losing her son to his wife's family.
For us, it is really hard to work out the family holidays because my parents are divorced... so it's even less 50/50 than it should be.

radioactive girl said...

I am cracking up here because we spend every holiday except Thanksgiving with my husband's family. His family has more solid traditions and a bigger family so it makes more sense. Hopefully for you your sons will be the same, right? Otherwise you can do what I am planning, which is to lock my boys in the basement and never let them leave me.

a Tonggu Momma said...

Heather ~ I believe it takes an extremely gracious and gentle woman to be a good MIL to DILs. It's difficult to watch things done differently - the child-rearing, the homemaking, the everything. But if you are gracious and gentle about it, your daughters-in-law will love you for it. I truly believe you will do alright in this area because you are, well, you. But if do shockingly struggle to be gracious and gentle about it... well... then you might end up with a daughter-in-law like me. Which isn't all that bad, right? (And if you think I'm being terrible because of what I just wrote, you should hear what the husband has to say about his momma. LOL. Although I'm not really laughing. More like verging on insanity.)

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