A Letter to Santa: Christmas with Three Families

Happier times: Julian, Lauren and I amuse ourselves by making faces at the camera on Christmas night.

Dear Santa:

This year, can I just have a happy and calm Christmas? Maybe just ONE Christmas? Even two would be a picnic.

We had four Christmases last year. The recent Reese Witherspoon movie may make it look funny, but it’s really not.  It’s enough to make you fall ill.

Christmas used to be my favorite holiday. And just think — my brother and sister and I used to think that it was difficult just dealing with the extended family.  One year, we even launched a top-secret “Operation Buttercup” to campaign for a quiet Christmas at home.  Now, I’m married. My husband’s parents are divorced. Not only do we now have three families plus extended family, but they all live within 45 minutes of each other.  (That doesn’t even factor in my grandparents in Florida, whom I haven’t even seen my sister’s high school graduation.)  But we’re expected to be everywhere, every holiday. And I just don’t feel like I can do it.  It kinda makes me feel somewhat suicidal (or at least makes me cry at least three times every holiday season).

So, for Christmas, can you please make everyone agree and be happy with whatever Jonathan and I decide to do?  I know it’s asking a lot, but that’s what I want.

And if you can convince the Easter Bunny to help keep Easter from becoming World War III, that would be great too.



P.S. Any suggestions for coping with this would be greatly appreciated.  –CSE

About Charity

I have an inexcusable number of cookbooks (and like to experiment with them), have worked in architectural antiques, and have been sewing most of my life. I recently graduated with a Ph.D. in Apparel, Merchandising, & Design from Iowa State University. Doing household things (except for cleaning!) and hunting for antiques are my favorite pastimes.
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8 Responses to A Letter to Santa: Christmas with Three Families

  1. marilyn everett says:

    Which Christmasases would you like to leave out this year?

  2. David says:

    Hey! My mother told us when we first got married that, if we could fit them into the schedule, that would be wonderful; but, she also realized that we now were our own family. Today, you two guys take priority. When you have kids, then it becomes more difficult to run around. That may sound selfish, but you come first.
    As far as your mom and I are concerned, and you two guys know this, we will never pressure you to be on your holiday visit schedule because, frankly, we both know what hell it is. Not because you are with people you love, but the travel and intense fellowship is positively draining emotionally and physically. And throw in the politically liberal family members and it is worse. (Let’s keep the politics out!)
    All you guys have to do is to say we are doing one visit this year. We will do another next year. That way, you don’t have to drain yourselves on a day you should be relaxing. You just have to say it and stick with it. In the end, everybody will accept it.
    We have no problem at the Calvin house; and I know that you know that. We will never ask you to come but you already know that when you do, you both are loved and appreciated. Come when you want, leave when you’re tired. You and Jonathan both know how we stand, so it isn’t a problem. We would rather you stay home and rest when those holidays are so rare!
    Am I good or what?

  3. Ruth Calvin says:

    You really need to alternate holidays. Do what is good for you and don’t worry about the rest. I wish I could post the letter i sent to you via e-mail but that wouldn’t have been appropriate. Too personal.

    Holidays are NOT about one or two people. Start setting your own traditions. The sooner the better. YOU decide which hoildays you want to spend with whom. Do what is convenient for you and stress free. Be your own people and family. Because you and Jon are a family.

    Holidays should be enjoyed. Shouldn’t be so full of tension that you cry. I’ve been there, done that. That’s why I never demanded certain visitis out of my three children. I knew what it did to us for a while and didn’t want my kids and their spouses dreading HAVING to keep us happy. It can only tear apart a family and someone may lose an adult child if it continues.

    Blessings to you both and I pray you can have a PEACE filled holiday season.



  4. marilyn everett says:

    Do whatever you and Jonathan want to, but when I was a kid we always traveled from Louisville Ky. to Franklin,Tn to see daddys folks and then to Nashville, Tn to see Mama’s folks and we NEVER had Christmas on Christmas Day at our own house Ever.My parents always told us
    Santa came early because we weren’t going to be home on Christmas. Was it tiring? Maybe, but i don’t remember that as part of my memory at all. All I remember is the warmth of being around my loved ones and how great that feeling still is.I am now 55. Best memories I have are the holidays with my relatives.I grew up with that perspective. We were the only ones who traveled at all.Everybody else was local.My parents would have thought they were in heaven if they only had to drive 45 minutes.It was a 5 hour drive to Tn.(with 2 small kids in tow).

    Everything is how we perceive it.
    Love you,
    Mama Marilyn

  5. David says:

    Good point, Marilyn. Nobody is local anymore; and that is sad! There is just too much distance to be traveled to see everyone, however much they are missed! But most people aren’t as energetic and motivated like you! Wish I was! You are a rarity, as far as that is concerned. (You need to send me whatever it is you are taking!) I get up at 5 am and by 7, my body is over! America has changed. It would be great if we all lived in the same village where kids grew up near the grandparents. (My parents never saw my kids grow up.– Sad.) But, then again, I love being a home-body, hate crowds, like quietness, and detest party atmospheres. I don’t mind an event for maybe 1 hour, then leaving. That way I enjoy seeing everyone but can go home. Maybe it is because America is “peopled out”. For me, I try to figure out how I can avoid people! Not you and Steve, ’cause you are always fun; but the general crowd. We are so bombarded with noise, advertising, motion, crowds, etc.
    I love Jenny’s family dearly, but more than anybody, I love her mom and especially Jenny’s grandmother. If you came, you were appreciated, when you left, it was okay. Now, throw in Debbie and Paul, Jenny’s sister and bro-in law, and you get mayhem. Not in a bad way; but they are always on the go and many of us HATE being on the go. It always ends up being disorganized, people are late, the plans are foggy, plans change at the last second, and well, let me go home. People are yelling, hustling, wondering, lost, etc. I just have to leave early when stuff starts getting loud, crowded, unplanned. I just can’t do it. That is when a holiday becomes a “helladay”.

  6. AlyseW says:

    As a child we spent every Christmas morning pouting we couldn’t stay and play with our toys. We were rushed away from our gifts and whisked to my grandmother’s house for a lunch where everyone (whose children were much older than my brother and I) complained that we were late. I hated leaving home. My Aunt resented having to make her daughters do their family Christmas out of state. Years later, my grandmother confessed that the only reason we did Christmas lunch was because the year after my dad’s divorce (when he was 24, he married my mom when he was 28) he threw a fit when he wouldn’t have anywhere to go. So we spent the next 15 years in Christmas agony because of one year when he was young. My grandmother wished she would have thought to stop the madness but no one ever wanted to be the one to “destroy” family Christmas.

    We do Christmas morning at my in-law’s right now but the year before we have a baby will be the last year we do it. I can’t wait to do our little family Christmas in our p.j.’s, eating breakfast, playing with our presents, and watching The Year Without Santa Claus. I hope you and J can have the same kind of thing someday. 🙂

  7. AlyseW says:

    P.S. I have a saint of a mother who always asks what my MIL is doing and then does something different. Generally we do Christmas with my parents on Christmas Eve. An example is tomorrow, where since my MIL is doing a noon lunch my mom chose to do a 5pm supper. Bless my mom! She always tries to make things easier on me.

  8. Ruth Calvin says:

    Just want to comment on Marilyn’s post. We did house hoping when we were kids. When you are a kid it is an adventure but when I became an adult I found it no longer the fun it once was.

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