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And this is why I hate the holidays

ChemFanatic25ChemFanatic25 member
500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 500 Comments Name Dropper
edited November 2014 in Not Engaged Yet
Sorry, this will be a long vent but I just want to get it out of my system because I don't want to upset my mom.

So I don't always enjoy the holidays especially since probably my last year of high school when I took on the responsibility of cooking. My dad was already in a decline and I didn't want the holidays ruined for everyone. My mom has always been one of those people who is "family comes first", "but we're family", etc. That's no big deal except she only quotes it when it's convenient for her. For example I wanted to come visit her for the weekend, something I never do, mostly because I hate traveling. She was excited but then had her girlfriend come over and almost completely ignored me the entire two days I was there. When her girlfriend wasn't there, she was on the phone texting her or talking to her and it really bothered me because when I went to leave (I left early - saw no reason to stay) she got upset and said something about "family coming first". That was the most recent incident so I have been less then tolerable of how I have been treated lately.

The past three holidays have been kind of stressful and I have been trying to put some space between me and her, just because I have always had the responsibility of giving gifts, providing the food, making sure everyone was happy. It also stresses my sister out because she is in college and has a decent part time job but feels obligated to purchase gifts because my mom constantly says that she can't get any gifts but then states what she wants. I have the higher paying job so I believe in my mom's mind it's my responsibility to take care of her and my siblings. 

Well this Thanksgiving I was going to back off, not really plan anything. I saw that my mom wasn't going to plan anything and all of my siblings were in college and to be honest, I didn't want my siblings to go without a holiday because I was being stubborn. I have now offered to make all of the food and I arranged for it to be on the weekend when none of my siblings or mom is working. I am trying to cut back on how much I spend this year because previous years I could easily spend between $1000-$5000 on my family and basically deplete my savings which isn't smart. I told my mom this, I would not be buying a huge turkey not going crazy on the food and she said that leftovers are good and that my brothers will eat her out of the house. Her words were "You're single ChemFanatic . . . you don't have your brothers living with you and it's only once awhile we get together." It makes me feel used. Maybe I'm overreacting but I'm going out of my way to provide a meal for my siblings and mom. To be honest, it hurts. I feel like every time I communicate with my mom it's because she wants me to fix some issue with my siblings, provide some kind of money (thankfully this isn't as often), some kind of problem that she will lay the guilt on heavy with my sister and I, or something about duty to family. 

I think for Christmas I will be avoiding hosting or at least cooking because I just don't want to go through a whole bunch of stress of feeling used and "duty to family" and spend a crap ton of money. I'm already upset about Thanksgiving and it's not even the weekend yet. 

So thanks for letting me vent. I didn't want to snark reply to my mom. That would really upset her and I don't really know how to reply so I'm not. If I am in the wrong please let me know. Maybe I'm just being selfish but I really just do not enjoy the holidays whatsoever.
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Re: And this is why I hate the holidays

  • I hope that soon you are able to find a healthy balance between keeping your family happy and keeping yourself happy. One thing I have found in life is that sometimes we think that things wont get done or done right unless we do it, when the reality is that if we truly just sit back and give people the chance they will step up. Maybe you and your siblings can share the burden of cooking. Me and my family split up the dishes and it helps make things so much easier. I'm in charge of the mac-n-cheese this year :-) 
  • I hope that soon you are able to find a healthy balance between keeping your family happy and keeping yourself happy. One thing I have found in life is that sometimes we think that things wont get done or done right unless we do it, when the reality is that if we truly just sit back and give people the chance they will step up. Maybe you and your siblings can share the burden of cooking. Me and my family split up the dishes and it helps make things so much easier. I'm in charge of the mac-n-cheese this year :-) 
    I would love to do that, just because it would ease the stress and responsibility on me. We're kind of doing that. My sister is bringing the drinks and my mom is bringing the dessert and silverware but I don't want to put my sister or brothers out because they have to travel a bit and work right before hand and I don't know if that would be fair to them . . . but know as I am typing that, I realize a lot of ladies have told others about how they are adults. They can make their own decisions, so I guess I'm being too controlling and should just sit back and let it happen, like you suggested.
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    lifeisajourney
  • *hugs* I am exhausted just reading your post! Your being more than generous, and I'm sure your siblings are grateful for your hard work and kindness, even if your mom doesn't seem to be. I don't think it would be unreasonable to ask every person to bring a side, or even just grab some ingredients on the way over. No single person should feel obligated to spend that much money on a family meal!
  • you should read "Boundaries" by Cloud and Townsend.  it seems like your family doesn't have any.  I hope you find it helpful and enlightening and are able to form your own boundaries, even if your mother won't.  I'm sorry you hate the holidays so much.
    KeptInStitches
  • ChemFanatic25ChemFanatic25 member
    500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 500 Comments Name Dropper
    edited November 2014
    *hugs* I am exhausted just reading your post! Your being more than generous, and I'm sure your siblings are grateful for your hard work and kindness, even if your mom doesn't seem to be. I don't think it would be unreasonable to ask every person to bring a side, or even just grab some ingredients on the way over. No single person should feel obligated to spend that much money on a family meal!
    Yeah, I feel really bad for my sister because she feels the "stress" of buying gifts and I wish she didn't have too. Same with my brother. I don't want him to buy me a gift at all but I know they feel this pressure from outside forces to buy everyone gifts, so when they ask what I would like I keep it as simple as possible. Nothing that would cost more than $25. I mean gifts don't represent how much a person loves someone. It's nice when you buy fancy gifts but at what expense? Same with family meals. It is nice to provide a lovely holiday meal but to the expense of my sanity? That doesn't seem very fair. I don't know how to respond to my mother though. My sister has responded and she asked if she could bring mashed potatoes. I am so glad she offered that so I said yes. But I still haven't said anything in response to my mom. Oh and just for background, my sister responded because we mass text each other so she has seen what my mom said.
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  • you should read "Boundaries" by Cloud and Townsend.  it seems like your family doesn't have any.  I hope you find it helpful and enlightening and are able to form your own boundaries, even if your mother won't.  I'm sorry you hate the holidays so much.
    I will check that out actually. Although I rarely see my mom I still feel stressed when she contacts me. I am seeing my therapist today so hopefully I can talk to her as well.

    And maybe one day, I won't hate the holidays so much. I'm actually looking forward to spending Christmas with my SO. We have plans to be lazy and I don't have to make two separate Christmas meals like last year, tons of sides, or spend a ton on Christmas gifts. So maybe this holiday will make me less of a grinch.
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  • Dignity100Dignity100 Northeastern Ohio member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Anniversary First Answer
    As far as the food and cooking goes; you probably could save money if you have like an Aldi or Walmart SuperCenter.  Nobody will know if you got your meal from a fancy store or from a "discount" store.  I'm not sure if you do that right now - I know my mom has started getting her Christmas ham from Aldi's and to be honest they're pretty good!

    For your siblings that have to travel - there are ways that they can help out.  If they cannot bring a dish, perhaps they could offer to pay for the ingredients for a dish - or bring the ingredients and make it at your place (if that's where the family meal will be occurring).  What if you had to travel and work right before, would you still be expected to cook and have everything ready on time? 

    As far as gifts go - why not do something more like you either pick names so you only have to buy 1 gift per person.  My H's family, we used to buy gift cards and do a gift card exchange (either drawing names or just picking a GC from a pile) but it got silly because everybody bought/wanted Amazon.com; so we decided we would go about things a different way.  What we do now is everybody buys 12 $1 scratch off lotto tickets and we play 4 rounds of a game called Left-Right-Center; winner gets the lotto tickets. Nobody has ever really won big on the lotto tickets, but it's a lot of fun.

    It isn't fair for you have to budget to do EVERYTHING.  If your family works, there is nothing stopping them from setting up a 'Christmas account' and putting $50+ a month aside for Christmas, even putting $25 a month aside would give them $300 to contribute.  You shouldn't have to put your dreams aside to take care of the family.  If you're expected to do the gifts this year and you WANT TO, I would just do something small.  If your siblings are in college a $25 gift card to Walmart/Target/Amazon I'm sure would be a great gift.  It sounds like your siblings are no longer children, I'm sure they'll understand that a dollar amount and gifts given do not equal love (and maybe you need to remind your mom of that too).


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    KeptInStitchesCLoGreenEyes
  • As far as the food and cooking goes; you probably could save money if you have like an Aldi or Walmart SuperCenter.  Nobody will know if you got your meal from a fancy store or from a "discount" store.  I'm not sure if you do that right now - I know my mom has started getting her Christmas ham from Aldi's and to be honest they're pretty good!

    For your siblings that have to travel - there are ways that they can help out.  If they cannot bring a dish, perhaps they could offer to pay for the ingredients for a dish - or bring the ingredients and make it at your place (if that's where the family meal will be occurring).  What if you had to travel and work right before, would you still be expected to cook and have everything ready on time? 

    As far as gifts go - why not do something more like you either pick names so you only have to buy 1 gift per person.  My H's family, we used to buy gift cards and do a gift card exchange (either drawing names or just picking a GC from a pile) but it got silly because everybody bought/wanted Amazon.com; so we decided we would go about things a different way.  What we do now is everybody buys 12 $1 scratch off lotto tickets and we play 4 rounds of a game called Left-Right-Center; winner gets the lotto tickets. Nobody has ever really won big on the lotto tickets, but it's a lot of fun.

    It isn't fair for you have to budget to do EVERYTHING.  If your family works, there is nothing stopping them from setting up a 'Christmas account' and putting $50+ a month aside for Christmas, even putting $25 a month aside would give them $300 to contribute.  You shouldn't have to put your dreams aside to take care of the family.  If you're expected to do the gifts this year and you WANT TO, I would just do something small.  If your siblings are in college a $25 gift card to Walmart/Target/Amazon I'm sure would be a great gift.  It sounds like your siblings are no longer children, I'm sure they'll understand that a dollar amount and gifts given do not equal love (and maybe you need to remind your mom of that too).
    My sister and I discussed the gift exchange actually. Doing one gift per person but that for some reason fell through. I think we felt guilty. So I told my siblings I was keeping things really simple this year, one thing purchased (like scrubs for my sister because she is going for nursing) and I will be making the remainder of gifts. My sister asked what I wanted and I told her to keep it really simple. She doesn't even have to get me anything and I would be more than happy. Same with my brother. So we kind of have gifts established. I think I was just venting because of last holiday season because my mom had a list of what she wanted and I really don't want to hear it this year. I know that sounds cold, but it made me feel used when she basically demanded what she wanted. Don't get me wrong, I love my mom. She tried really hard by us but she is not tactful when it comes to situations like these.

    I will check out aldi's for thanksgiving. I believe Wegman's is having a deal of $0.48/lb for turkey and that sounds like a really good deal to me so I'm going to check that out. I'm going to keep things simple so that I'm not so exhausted by the end of the first holiday of the holiday season. My sweet SO has offered to help since it's this weekend and not actually Thanksgiving.

    I will admit, I think this is partially my fault because I have taken responsibility for it all and I normally go above and beyond when I shouldn't. Now it's expected and I feel used, when I should have said no and stood up for myself. 

    Thankfully my siblings are understanding for the most part now and I have established a small budget this year for gifts (less than $500 for everyone including my SO and any outside friends). I just need to keep myself under control with my mom and not get upset at her. Maybe let her know her responses make me feel used and nothing more than a bank. Because that does really hurt. I don't like that and I don't know how to address that without upsetting her.
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  • Ugh, the gift thing sucks big time. I posted something similar to this a few weeks ago about my dad's birthday (although he had gotten better over the years). Everyone here reminded me that, no matter what your budget, no matter what you end up giving, the ONLY appropriate response is, "Thank you." Gifts are not a right, and it is just nice that you have helped arrange all of these holidays and tried to give thoughtful gifts at all.

    As for Christmas, it sounds like you all have it covered this year, but I loved what my family did last year, and it ended up being one of the best Christmases ever for us. Each person put together a stocking for the person above them in age (eg, I did my mom's, my younger brother did mine, etc.). Having only one person to concentrate on was easier and ultimately less expensive.

    Just remember to be firm with whatever limits you set with your mom. It was super nice of you to organize thanksgiving when originally you hadn't planned on it, but don't let her manipulate you into doing more than you're able! If she is unhappy with any facet of what you've planned (and really, she should just be appreciative), then she needs to offer her assistance, not just criticism.
    ChemFanatic25
  • Ugh, the gift thing sucks big time. I posted something similar to this a few weeks ago about my dad's birthday (although he had gotten better over the years). Everyone here reminded me that, no matter what your budget, no matter what you end up giving, the ONLY appropriate response is, "Thank you." Gifts are not a right, and it is just nice that you have helped arrange all of these holidays and tried to give thoughtful gifts at all. As for Christmas, it sounds like you all have it covered this year, but I loved what my family did last year, and it ended up being one of the best Christmases ever for us. Each person put together a stocking for the person above them in age (eg, I did my mom's, my younger brother did mine, etc.). Having only one person to concentrate on was easier and ultimately less expensive. Just remember to be firm with whatever limits you set with your mom. It was super nice of you to organize thanksgiving when originally you hadn't planned on it, but don't let her manipulate you into doing more than you're able! If she is unhappy with any facet of what you've planned (and really, she should just be appreciative), then she needs to offer her assistance, not just criticism.
    Yes I will try to stand my ground. I appreciate the support and responses everyone has provided. It does help a lot and I need to learn to say "no". Knowing that others don't think I'm crazy or disrespectful for the feelings towards my mom helps as well. 
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    CLoGreenEyes
  • Dignity100Dignity100 Northeastern Ohio member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Anniversary First Answer
    I would discuss doing an exchange with your whole family at Thanksgiving (if everybody is going to be there) or even at Christmas this year.  Maybe you felt guilty because it was just you and your sister discussing it for EVERYBODY.  If your siblings also buy gifts for everybody in the family, my guess is that they are also feeling the same stresses you are. 


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    Ollie08
  • I'm sorry you feel like you have to do so much for the holidays.  Talk to your siblings without involving your mom.  Ask them if they can each bring something (even if it is something small, it is one less thing you have to worry about).  

    As for gifts, my family does secret santa.  I have 3 siblings, and we each have a significant other, so we put all 8 names into a hat.  We put a cap of $30, so then anyone who doesn't have a lot of money will not feel stressed. We leave my mom out, but since your siblings feel so much pressure from your mom I would include her in the draw.  That way each person only has to get one gift and will only receive one gift. 

    I hope it all works out and you're able to enjoy the holidays :)
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    ChemFanatic25
  • eilis1228eilis1228 Southwest member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its Name Dropper
    Wow, that's pretty stressful. I got frustrated just reading that post. Like others have suggested, I'd explore a white elephant exchange or some sort of one-gift-only option. One side of my family pulls names out of a hat, and one side of FI's family does a white elephant gift exchange, which is always hilarious. 

    As for the food, I'd suggest exploring Walmart or a similar discount grocery store too. We shop at Walmart for groceries year-round, and their produce is actually really good. The meat can vary, but it's never awful. For some of the side dishes, you could always go to Boston Market or another restaurant that offers holiday meals. One year we got our Christmas dinner from Boston Market, and it was affordable and delicious. Getting a few pieces from them could save you some time and stress. You could also check out CostCo or Sam's for either premade stuff or ingredients. 


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    ChemFanatic25
  • So I just read through my post and I realized I made a mistake. When I said I spent between $1000-$5000, that is not just on the thanksgiving meal. That expenditure is on gifts and food. Sorry for the confusion if that caused any.
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  • So I just read through my post and I realized I made a mistake. When I said I spent between $1000-$5000, that is not just on the thanksgiving meal. That expenditure is on gifts and food. Sorry for the confusion if that caused any.

    Girl, I was gonna say, I want to hit up YOUR Thanksgiving this year, it sounds fancy!
    lifeisajourneyChemFanatic25WildMagelet
  • My mom is difficult too. I had an awful time figuring out it was her with the problem, and to just do my best to love and accept her. It's still a struggle, because I never got the emotional bond I feel I needed with her. It's getting better now that I'm older, but still difficult. Good luck to you, the only advice I'll say is this...
    You are not responsible for how a person acts. You can't control them. You can, however, control how you react to this person and how to act toward them.
    That's always helped me.
    ChemFanatic25
  • So I just read through my post and I realized I made a mistake. When I said I spent between $1000-$5000, that is not just on the thanksgiving meal. That expenditure is on gifts and food. Sorry for the confusion if that caused any.
    Girl, I was gonna say, I want to hit up YOUR Thanksgiving this year, it sounds fancy!
    Hahahaha yeah, I don't think I would even know how to cook a $1000 meal. I'd probably burn something or set the kitchen on fire. The more expensive the meal the more complicated :-P 
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    CLoGreenEyes
  • rn1989 said:
    My mom is difficult too. I had an awful time figuring out it was her with the problem, and to just do my best to love and accept her. It's still a struggle, because I never got the emotional bond I feel I needed with her. It's getting better now that I'm older, but still difficult. Good luck to you, the only advice I'll say is this... You are not responsible for how a person acts. You can't control them. You can, however, control how you react to this person and how to act toward them. That's always helped me.
    That's how it feels for me. I helped a lot with raising my siblings because my parents kind of just formed me into the role of a live-in baby sitter. I have never been close to my mom because I think she believed I was my father's favorite (which caused a lot of tension for my siblings and I as well - luckily we have gotten passed that). The problem is that she never moved out of that role of expecting me to take care of everything. Don't get me wrong, things have improved between her and I but we are not close at all, and I'm okay with that. I've come to terms with that for the most part but it's still stressful when the holidays roll around or something dramatic happens in the family.
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  • Um...is no one else going to say it?  NO.

    NO NO NO NO NO.  I don't care if you make $10/hour or 500k/year, this is not acceptable behavior.  This is not fair to you, and your mom WILL continue to walk all over you until you establish boundaries.  Saying "I'm going to avoid doing XYZ" is a nice sentiment, but isn't practical and you know it.  Didn't you "avoid" doing a big Thanksgiving this year?  And aren't you still the schmuck who's doing it?  YEP.

    You don't need to be a bitch, but you do need to establish HARD boundaries.  EITHER say, "Mom, I'm so flattered that you enjoy the holiday celebrations I've put together, but I need to start managing my money more carefully.  So I will not be hosting X this year."  OR say, "Mom, I'm so flattered that you enjoy the holiday celebrations I've put together, but I need to start managing my money more carefully, so I will be having a very modest celebration this year, with modest gifts.  If that is not ok with you, then you should really throw the celebration at YOUR house." 

    Make it a simple, non-emotional statement, the same way you would say, "I really like taco salad," and do NOT engage her or let her guilt you.  Say "I am doing X."  If she argues or throws a tantrum say, "I'm sorry you feel that way.  I am doing X."  Repeat ad nauseum.  She can only sucker you into hosting and paying for things as long as you let her.  So stop letting her.
    ChemFanatic25
  • Um...is no one else going to say it?  NO.

    NO NO NO NO NO.  I don't care if you make $10/hour or 500k/year, this is not acceptable behavior.  This is not fair to you, and your mom WILL continue to walk all over you until you establish boundaries.  Saying "I'm going to avoid doing XYZ" is a nice sentiment, but isn't practical and you know it.  Didn't you "avoid" doing a big Thanksgiving this year?  And aren't you still the schmuck who's doing it?  YEP.

    You don't need to be a bitch, but you do need to establish HARD boundaries.  EITHER say, "Mom, I'm so flattered that you enjoy the holiday celebrations I've put together, but I need to start managing my money more carefully.  So I will not be hosting X this year."  OR say, "Mom, I'm so flattered that you enjoy the holiday celebrations I've put together, but I need to start managing my money more carefully, so I will be having a very modest celebration this year, with modest gifts.  If that is not ok with you, then you should really throw the celebration at YOUR house." 

    Make it a simple, non-emotional statement, the same way you would say, "I really like taco salad," and do NOT engage her or let her guilt you.  Say "I am doing X."  If she argues or throws a tantrum say, "I'm sorry you feel that way.  I am doing X."  Repeat ad nauseum.  She can only sucker you into hosting and paying for things as long as you let her.  So stop letting her.
    Okay, I will try my best to do that. I'm not very good about standing up for myself. I wish I was but I hate causing conflict and I don't want to upset her but you are right. 
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  • @ChemFanatic25, I know you don't want to upset her, but know that she will be upset.  People who take advantage of others push back when they hear "no."  That's just how it goes, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't say no.

    Trust me.  Be very calm about it, but stick to your guns.  Someone has to look out for you, and since no one is, you need to look out for yourself.
    ChemFanatic25CLoGreenEyesspeakeasy14
  • @ChemFanatic25, I know you don't want to upset her, but know that she will be upset.  People who take advantage of others push back when they hear "no."  That's just how it goes, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't say no.

    Trust me.  Be very calm about it, but stick to your guns.  Someone has to look out for you, and since no one is, you need to look out for yourself.
    Will do. Thank you so much. I appreciate everyone's support and advice. I will keep it in mind and most definitely try to act on it because well let's face it. I've got 4 more days to go and with my family, it could all go bad within those 4 days. Just need to stand my ground and make it out alive and not too poor. lol
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