Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Christmas is coming and so are the relatives!

"What are you doing for Christmas?"

The question was innocent enough but coming from my mother meant ‘Can I spend it with you’?

"Would you like to come to us?"
"Ohh, that would be lovely, thank you so much dear."

She didn’t really need to ask. For as far back as I can remember I have had my mum and mother-in-law (MIL) to stay over the festive season.

This was our choice. With family spread over the country, and much of my husband’s in the far north, we have spent many Christmas holidays traversing the country. One year we clocked up over 1,000 miles in three days. It wouldn’t have been so bad if it had meant that everyone was happy and felt that they had been treated fairly but our families all complained that we hadn’t stayed for long enough, come on the right day etc.

When our eldest was born, having spent 12 gruelling hours in the car with a snuffly baby, in freezing conditions, trying to appease the grandparents, we decided that enough was enough.

"Next year we are staying put," we announced. "You can do what you want, we won’t be offended, come to us if you like."

And so they did, and have done every year for the past 15 years.

It would be lovely to have a Christmas day to ourselves. Just us and the kids, opening presents, eating what we want, when we want to. Instead, it will be the usual pantomime of my mother insisting on spending the day in the kitchen ‘helping’ whilst MIL takes up residence on the couch expecting everyone to wait on her.

And that is without the brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces that will all come and go at intervals throughout the festive season.

This year, there is the added complication of my daughter’s long term boyfriend (LTB). Of course they want to spend time together but at whose house and with which family?

I know it would be churlish to deny grandparents seeing the children at Christmas (if only they would behave a bit better (the grandparents, not the kids!). And I have no doubt that in years to come, we will cherish the times we all spent together as one big extended family.

But come 1 January, my husband and I find ourselves exhausted as we face the return to work, wondering where our ‘holiday’ went.

And in years to come, I wonder if my own children will ask me to stay with them for Christmas and what my reply might be?

"Sorry, darling, hope you don’t mind but we’re off to the Caribbean?

I’d like to think so, but I doubt it.

I am much more likely to say: "I thought you’d never ask."

Christmas is, after all, a time for families.


  1. Hiya

    I've come over to your blog from the Letters page in Writing Magazine - wish I'd thought of that one!

    I love what you've written so far. I too am a muminthemiddle - 40+, two boys aged 9 and 7 (so evening and weekend taxi driver), practically full time job and a husband with his own business who doesn't even know how to switch a computer on so guess who cops for all the paperwork?

    I especially loved what the doctor said abut "me time". What he doesn't understand (I presume it was a he?)is that even if you do get the me time, all the other jobs are still waiting for you, only you have less time to do them, ie more stress. I'm trying to tache my kids to do some housework - its very much a work in progress!

    When I typed in muminthemiddle into google it came up with websites for man in the middle. I checked my spelling but that was OK so my question is when did men take pecedence over mums? I think the answer might be since the beginning of time.

    Andyway I'm over on http://sowannabeawriter.blogspot.com if you want to follow - please do because I need all the followers I can get.

    Hope you manage to get a bit of time to yourself over the festive period. I'm looking forward to 6pm on Christmas night - a glass or three of Baileys and a box of chocs with my feet up on the sofa.

    Take care

  2. Hi and thanks for following.
    Glad that you have enjoyed the blog so far. I am now following your blog and look forward to reading future posts. I am always happy to connect with a fellow mum and writer.
    It is hard but keep going with the blog. The article in the last issue of WN was very timely and I was fortunate to be able to tie in with that. I also felt that it was informative and useful to would-be bloggers. Publicity is key so take every chance you can to let people know that you are there. I have another blog planned for the New Year so watch this space.
    Best of luck and keep writing.