Sharing is caring – dealing with in-laws over the holidays

xmasart_69I chose “sharing is caring” as a title to this post about sharing kids and grandkids at Christmas with in-laws because it’s a higher, nobler sentiment than what I’m really feeling, which is more like this paraphrase of what Charlton Heston’s character said in Planet of the Apes: “Get your filthy paws off my family, you damn dirty apes.”

Yes, it’s hard to smile and take a step back at Christmas when you have married children and grandchildren. You want to see them as much as possible, especially your adult children who’re visiting from out of town. And, naturally, their in-laws feel the same way – especially if you all live in the same area.

The eyes say it all

I remember when our boys were little and we could enjoy all the holiday festivities together with them. With their marriages (to wonderful women, I must add) things have changed. I understand that our sons have their own families now, and need private time with them. I also get that they have to accommodate their wives’ families, and I don’t want to make things difficult for them with competing claims on their time.

But why is it that the paternal grandparents seem to do most of the compromising? Is it because of the old adage, “a son is a son till he takes a wife, but a daughter is a daughter for all her life”?  I hope not – as a mother of boys, I’ve always found that saying to be quite demoralizing.

I was still struggling with these grim thoughts when I happened upon an old movie on Turner Classic Movies (New Morals for Old, 1932), which touched on the subject of mothers and grown sons. It didn’t help – it just encouraged me to brood even more.

The movie featured a mother (played by Laura Hope Crews) who went into a good old-fashioned decline when her son (Robert Young) left home to try to find himself as a painter in Paris. After years of absence and career disappointment, the son finally came home and rushed to his mother’s sickroom, where she was reclining, weak but still lovely, in a rocker near a lace-curtained window (which bathed her in a flattering light – she was no dummy). He promised to never leave her again. In response, she smiled sweetly and died. That showed him!


By Christmas night our granddaughter may be feeling like this . . .


. . . or like this.

If it wasn’t for good friends who’ve invited us over on Christmas Eve, I’d feel more bereft and probably sink further into an abyss of self-pity.

Which is stupid, I know. You don’t have to tell me.

We’re lucky. Too many grandparents don’t get to see their kids and grandkids at all over the holidays, either because of distance or estrangement. And I know when our sons were young we worked hard to establish traditions for our own little family without the pressure of big family gatherings. That didn’t create any problems in our extended family because neither set of grandparents made much of a push to see us at holiday time.

But flash forward to now, and that’s no longer the case. During the holidays our kids, and especially our granddaughter, are like rock stars on tour. Everybody wants a piece of them.

So, I’ve decided that if it’s our lot to host an end-of-day Christmas celebration, it’ll be a fun one. We’ll have Christmas crackers and games and a delicious holiday buffet. I’ll do my best to be generous and respect the needs of our in-laws and the juggling our sons and daughters-in-law have to do with their time. After all, the folks in some countries celebrate 12 whole days of Christmas. We don’t have to cram all the jollity in on Christmas Eve.

Doesn’t that sound mature? Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go punch a Santa Claus.


Images courtesy of Pixabay