It should be fairly obvious from all the advice out there that holidays make new and new-ish parents cringe. I am no exception.
My experience has been that even though my husband and I have been together over 5 years, we still did holidays mostly the way our parents wanted us to. It wasn’t a battle worth fighting, and we were comfortable in our traditions, even though we had to adopt some of the other family’s in order to make everything fit. I am slightly shamed to say that my parents made way more of an accommodation than my in-laws, but now that we’ll have a child for the Big Holidays (possibly Thanksgiving this year, though I’m due about 4 days after, and definitely Christmas) I am not willing to go with the status quo.
Until now, it’s been about doing what our families wanted and trying to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings. The result of this, of course, was that we never really had a good time. Extra complications arise due to my in-laws being divorced, so there are 3 sets of parents involved. Where’s the harm in this, you ask? So far, there hasn’t really been any harm aside from our feelings of stress when we try to make everyone happy and no one actually is happy.
But we haven’t had the chance to develop our own holiday traditions, or find our own holiday identity.
This Thanksgiving, no one is allowed to come down. That was a rule put in place by me, because I don’t want 9 people in my home either right before I have a baby, or right after, or (god forbid) during their visit. Christmas is likely going to be delayed, again at my instigation.
I have no problems with people coming down to see us – our family all live 8 hours away and I understand they’ll want to meet the newest family member. As my sister-in-law T. put it,”we’re not coming down to see you anyway – nobody cares about you! We just want to see the baby.” The visit is a double-edged sword since they live so far away: we get to see them, a rare thing, but they never come down just for a few days. It’s usually at least 5 days, and they stay with us. That can’t happen this year.
It’s about knowing yourself; I know I’m introverted and social situations drain me rather than energize me, and having them come while our child is barely 1 month old is too much on what will already be drained resources. I also know that having so many people staying with us before 12 weeks is ill-advised in terms of baby’s immune system. Our Christmas compromise is this: people must stay at a hotel instead of with us, and they must come in January, so we have the actual holiday to bond and spend as a family. I’m also not refereeing the non-amicable divorce between my in-laws, so they’ll have to either be cordial or work out with us when the other is coming so paths don’t cross.
I hope this all goes as smoothly in reality as I imagine it happening in my head…