Holiday Power Struggles: A Loving Tug of War

“Only 15 Fridays until Christmas.” “Only 7 Thursdays until Thanksgiving.” Holiday memes like this have started to sneak into my Facebook feed already. And they are freaking me out!

I yearn for holidays that look like a Norman Rockwell painting, but end up with something more like Chevy Chase in the Christmas Vacation movie.

Thanksgiving Theatrics

One of the holiday traditions I dread has already begun. My mother just the other day called “dibs” on Thanksgiving dinner. Yes, my 68-year-old mother called dibs because she wants to have me, my husband and my son all locked up for Thanksgiving dinner.

She knows that my mother-in-law rarely does things with this much lead time and she wanted to beat her to the punch. So this year, we will be having Thanksgiving breakfast at my in-laws and dinner with my mother.

And that is just the beginning.

Christmas Gifts

My mother will start by asking my son what he wants for Christmas.

She will compile a list of things that either he has asked for or that she knows that he would want. These are all perfectly appropriate items, some educational but most just fun.

She makes sure I have no objections to the things on the list and then she goes shopping. Whatever she decides not to get is what I have left for suggestions for my in-laws. And this is all done by mid-November.

I will compile a list of suggestions for my mother-in-law right after Thanksgiving. I will text them to her. My husband gives them to her again a couple of weeks later with a reminder that some of the wildly inappropriate things she has in mind are NOT OK.

And invariably, when we show up to her house on Christmas Day, she will have bought nothing we suggested. Nothing even close to our suggestions. Our son will unwrap gifts that are either much too old for him or things he is just not interested in.  

Holiday Activities

This doesn’t even touch on the sticking points of which set of grandparents will get to go with us to see Santa. Or who will have Sammy for cookie making. Or who will be with us for the professional holiday pictures we get of Sammy.

For the entire holiday season, we are engaged in a crazy tug of war between the two families.

So please pardon me if I have a mixed response to the approaching holiday season. Yes, I know I need better boundaries with both families but that is easier said than done. But even with the power struggles, watching my son experience the holidays is still a magical time.

Perhaps it’s worth the extra wine I need to drink to get through it.

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