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Bit of a dilemma

(60 Posts)
Nansnet Thu 04-Apr-19 08:26:27

Sorry, this is a long one! Quick background. My husband and I live a long way from both our son, DiL & GC, and also our daughter and her partner, but we live close to our DiL's parents. For years, myself and DiL's mum have taken turns to host Christmas for everyone. All has been good, until last Xmas when there was a bit of an 'issue' which created a bit of an atmosphere, although we did manage to sort it out in time, so as not to ruin the day! I know this seems all rather early to worry about, but as we all live so far away from each other, we need to book flights well in advance. Fast forward to this year, which is going to be the first Xmas ever that all my family won't be together. I knew this would happen one day, but it doesn't make it any easier! My son & DiL have decided, understandably, now that they have a child, they would like to have their 1st xmas in their own home, but both sets of grandparents would be invited. Whenever we visit our son & DiL, we always stay at their house. However, they only have one spare bedroom, so not enough room for us all to stay at their house at the same time. I personally don't like the idea of having to stay in a hotel, when the other set of grandparents would no doubt be staying with them. Stupid, I know, but it's the age-old paternal/maternal grandparent situation, and the idea of feeling 'left out/second best' kind of upsets me, and the 'issue' that we had last xmas doesn't make it any easier. It also happens to be the first xmas that our DD will not be coming to us, as she is with her partner, in their new home, and understandably doesn't want to be away from him again this xmas, plus he has work commitments, so unable to come over to us. However, she has also said she wants us to spend Xmas with them! I'm very close to both my son and daughter, so this is such a difficult situation to be in! I know my son will be disappointed if we don't spend xmas with them, as I think he automatically expects that we will, as we always have. But I also know that my daughter, who always very much looks forward to Xmas with family around, and is already excited at the prospect of hosting her 1st Xmas in her own home, will be very disappointed if we don't go to her. How do other parents/grandparents deal with this kind of situation, which inevitably must happen to most of us, at some point, as our children become adults, and get married? Part of me feels that because of the 'issue' we had last year, it'd be best if we went to my daughter's. But then we'd be missing out on seeing our GC, and I'd hate my son & DiL to think that we didn't want to spend xmas with them, which couldn't be further from the truth. Although, I do feel that the other GM would probably prefer it if we weren't there! The other part of me feels that I'd love to spend it with our daughter, who will also invite her own grandfather (my father, who lives close to her), who has often travelled to us for Xmas, but he's now quite elderly and not in the best of health, so I don't know how much longer he'll be around! So, what it boils down to is this:

1) I don't want to miss out on spending time with my GC.
2) I don't like the idea of spending Xmas in a hotel and feeling like I don't belong.
3) I know the other GM would prefer if we weren't there.
4) If we don't go I feel like I'm setting a precedent for coming years.
5) I hate disappointing either of my children.
6) My father would love for us to be at my daughter's.

I'm very new to this grandparent malarkey, and I'm really trying to do the right thing without causing havoc or upset! I know there are wise, experienced grandparents out there who can put their own spin on this kind of situation, I'd be very grateful for any advice! You can be as truthful and harsh as you like, I will take it onboard!

eazybee Thu 04-Apr-19 08:41:20

I seem to remember a post last year about a very similar situation, disagreements between in-laws over Christmas arrangements.
Go to your daughter; she has invited you and wants you and surely it is her turn. Set a new precedent.
Your children are grown up; you have to make the compromises; be thankful they both want to host Christmas and want to see you.

M0nica Thu 04-Apr-19 08:43:13

We too have loving children who both want us to be with them for Christmas, although only one is married, but our DS has a wife who is close to her parents as well.

Once grandchildren arrived, we started sharing. One year DS and family come to us for Christmas and go to her family for the New Year and the following year the pattern is reversed.

If I was you I would get ahead of the game by suggesting now that this be the pattern in future and be noble and offer to miss baby's first Christmas to stay with your daughter for Christmas this year. Babies at their first Christmas do not contribute much to the celebrations, bar sleepless nights, they are too small to take part and the presents mean nothing to them, whereas, by the second Christmas, they are the life and soul of the party. You also get the kudos for being generous and self sacrificing. It is a win/win. situation. You then visit for the New Year.

It then sets a pattern where neither child loses out, you will then be able to stay in your DS's spare bedroom.

Bathsheba Thu 04-Apr-19 08:51:04

Two things are clear:

1) You cannot split yourself in two;
2) One of your children will have to be disappointed.

Given those two immutable points, you should do what you want to do, and it seems to me that what you want is to be with your daughter and, particularly, to be able to spend Christmas with your father.

Things do change as our children grow, and we all have to make compromises. Your son will understand, and can have 'his turn' another year.

Eglantine21 Thu 04-Apr-19 08:51:37

I hope this doesn’t sound harsh, but I think there comes a time when “ our family” doesn’t really exist any more as a unit. Our children are now making their own family and we are periheral to those not central with them revolving around us.

From now on every Christmas will be different. If you can embrace that it will be fun!

Personally, in your circumstances, I would go to my daughter and then to my sons for New Year or before Christmas. It doesn’t have to be a precedent. Say something like “This year at Xs and next year we’ll come to you.”

Willow500 Thu 04-Apr-19 08:52:51

Life becomes much more complicated when adult children live away from home and have children of their own. I would let your daughter know that you will be going to them this year for the simple reason your elderly father will be there. As Monica says new babies are lovely but have no interest in Christmas. Could you arrange to go to see them at New Year or in between? If you are flying long distance you presumably will be here longer than a couple of days? Be the better parent and let the in-laws have the spare room (I'd far prefer to stay in a hotel than with them but that's my preference) and then you can tell them you'll swap over next year.

sodapop Thu 04-Apr-19 08:55:21

I really think you need to relax a little about all this, its only April and a lot can happen between now and Christmas.
MOnica has a good suggestion. You can't please all the people all of the time and so don't get stressed trying. This sort of thing happens with most families and we have to reach some sort of accomodation. Try not to get into competition with the other grandparents, you all love your children and grandchildren.

Grannyknot Thu 04-Apr-19 09:06:00

Hi Nansnet you say in your post that there was an issue this past Christmas that was able to be resolved so as not to spoil the day. Take the same approach to this year's issue ... don't make a "thing" out of your dilemma. Make your choices/decisions and then go with the flow. I believe that your attitude can influence how people respond.

Anyway, you are not responsible for the feelings of every other adult in your family or how they react to disappointing situations. I think that most people in a family understand the nuances and subtleties of situations and will probably be very understanding of your decision, and all the things that needed to be considered.

Lily65 Thu 04-Apr-19 09:26:38

I'm sorry, I'm sure you are a nice caring person and clearly you want to do the best for everybody. I acknowledge that I came from a damaged family and that colours my views......but.........I just don't get it.

If you are Christians I can see it is an important festival. If not, what on earth is it all about? Why out yourself through this stress?

Let the inlaws do their thing and see the family for a lovely spring break. Adult children aren't children, they are adults.

midgey Thu 04-Apr-19 09:33:34

I remember hating Christmas at one point as I knew there would be ‘issues’ over which parent was with us or not. One child has a family the other a partner, now is the time to say its time to new plans. Christmas in your own home and we will meet up all together at another time.

annodomini Thu 04-Apr-19 09:46:09

I agree with easybee.

Septimia Thu 04-Apr-19 09:50:47

It's always difficult to please all the bits of the family. In the early years of our marriage we lived close to my parents but 5 hours drive from my in-laws. Most years we spent Christmas Day with my parents and set off in the early hours of Boxing Day (DS asleep in car seat wrapped in duvet) to spend the rest of the holiday with DH's family.
DS now lives 5 hours away with his family and we've said that we're happy as long as we spend some of the Christmas period with them. Last Christmas we stayed with them for a few days at the beginning of the New Year and had a lovely time. I've already invited them to us for next Christmas but I expect them to leave Boxing Day or shortly thereafter to spend time with DiL's parents.
The last two Christmases have been the only ones in over 40 years that I haven't had to cook for the family. It's been a bit strange, but we've done things differently and just relaxed. As others have said, perhaps it's time to start a new pattern for the Christmas holiday. How about renting a holiday house near your son and share it with the in-laws if you all get on?

4allweknow Thu 04-Apr-19 10:23:55

Year about. Do though tell your DS and DiL that you are trying to be fair and that when you spend Christmas with them it will be totally with them, not staying in a hotel. They now have their own adult lives and you have to adjust.

sazz1 Thu 04-Apr-19 10:26:23

Why not have Xmas with your daughter then New Year abroad

Jane10 Thu 04-Apr-19 10:28:56

Go to your daughter and spend Christmas with her and, crucially, your own elderly father. That should be understandable to the others. Then you could visit your son and family after Christmas when you can actually stay in their house.

Nanny27 Thu 04-Apr-19 10:29:28

For a few years after my ac married and had children they alternated between us and in laws going to one for Christmas and the other for New year. Then they almost unanimously put their foot down about spending the entire season 'on the road' and announced that Christmas would be spent in their own homes. Phew! What a relief all round. DH and I do our own thing for Christmas then we all get together taking turns to host New Year.

anitamp1 Thu 04-Apr-19 10:33:09

Feel like you are over worrying about this a little. Clearly you can't satisfy all yours and your family's wishes. Im sure its a situation many families have to face. If your children are reasonable minded you need to discuss things with them all and come to some sort of compromise. They should be able to realise its impossible for you to please everyone. And unfortunately you can't have it all. Perhaps you could do Christmas at one house and have a 'second' Christmas on Boxing Day or NY depending on distances? Don't think it would be unreasonable to say to your son that you would like to see your GS on his first Christmas. But promise to alternate your Christmas visits bi-annually. Make a Skype call on the day. I think you are being over sensitive about staying at a hotel. It comes up regularly that DILs mother usually gets top billing. It's perfectly normal and understandable in my book. Hope you can find a way to keep everyone happy and enjoy Christmas. You are a lucky lady to be so wanted!

Jayelld Thu 04-Apr-19 10:50:33

I am my 4 GC's only grandparent and almost never see my D, SiL and GC over Christmas. This is for a number of reasons, mainly due to my SiL only having limited time off over that period and the 12yr olds hatred of being out of routine, (he's severely autistic but verbal). Plus I don't drive and they live an hour away so a nightmare trek.
I do my own thing, volunteer at a Christmas day dinner, on Christmas day then see my S & BiL, plus any who care to drop in on Boxing Day. I then visit my D and family on the 27th, (my younest gd birthday). It works for us and I have the best of all world's, great company, 2 Christmas dinners then my family before and after Christmas.
OP, I'd go to your daughters a Christmas and your sons afterwards, maybe for new year. Explain to him in advance, 1st Christmas, elderly father etc then suggest you go to him next year and your daughters on new year. The best of all world's, and quite possibly you'll get to babysit your new gc on new years eve.

lmm6 Thu 04-Apr-19 11:32:16

We love staying in a nearby hotel when we visit DS. We have our own bathroom and can be as grumpy as we like in the morning. I don't like lying in bed wondering what time to get up, wondering what's for breakfast and having to be chatty. Whereas DiL's parents always spend time staying with them. It's just the way it is with sons and they certainly don't mean any offence. Anybody else not like staying at someone else's house? I know I don't.

Bijou Thu 04-Apr-19 11:32:41

Christmas should be a happy time but there always seem to be arguments among famililies. Our family never made a fuss about it. We weren’t well off and thought the money would sooner be spent on summer holidays.
Christmas means a lot of work, expense and worry for the women while the men contribute very little.

Edithb Thu 04-Apr-19 11:54:55

We always have this exact problem at Christmas. DIL has to spend it with her mother and sister’s family. If we go we stay at local Premier Inn! I now accept it as we can never match up, but want to see our granddaughters. DH not so keen.

Anja Thu 04-Apr-19 12:05:31

Why not see if you can go to them alternate Christmases? Your daughter this year and your son next?

Franbern Thu 04-Apr-19 12:14:55

December 25th is just one day out of 365!! Cannot see why you are getting so upset. Go to your daughters, have a lovely time and arrange a separate time to visit your son, when you will be able to stay with them. Do not get fixated on calendar dates

Grammaretto Thu 04-Apr-19 12:17:24

Some wise words of advice on here as we've come to expect.
We always host C'mas as we still have very aged parents ourselves.
The DC and DGC either come to us or to their in-laws it hasn't become a problem yet.
Last year we had 25 for lunch including an uncle.
If we downsize it could be awkward.

DS has been scrupulously fair up till now but I don't expect them to always want to drag the children to the other end of the country esp as his inlaws live nearby .

Hazeld Thu 04-Apr-19 12:18:35

I can only say what I would prefer to do and that is: Stay with your daughter this year and go to your sons next year. Take it in turns with the other GM to stay in a hotel and let your son know that's what you intend to do so that he knows that you aren't leaving him out. Hopefully the other GM will also agree to this, you can't be expected to stay in a hotel every time you go. Good luck,these sort of events often cause problems and it's such a shame because they should be happy times for all of you.