How To Have More In-Law Holiday Jolly

Ok look, I’m having trepidation about spending Christmas with my husband’s parents.  Overall, they are good people – they are nice, like to play games and don’t have a problem talking.  Hell, we’ve been married nine years, you’d think that I’d be used to hanging out with his family by now.  However, I always get a bit unsettled because I feel so ancillary to our family gatherings.   I’m never quite so sure if it’s an east coast-west coast thing or if it’s just the BIG love of my husband and the boys that leaves me out in the cold.

To add to it, Husband and I have been on rocky territory lately and I’m feeling even a bit more unsettled than usual.  We’re regularly going to counseling and it’s absolutely been making a difference for the two of us, but I’m concerned about this trip and that the general stress of the holidays is going to throw us into the deep end again.  I think I freaked out on him for buying a kid gift that I thought was crossed off the list.  However, he keeps insisting this it’s worth the cost, we’ll make space for it and the boys will love it. (I keep saying to myself, “Jen, let it go. Let it go.”)

And one more thing… we are travelling to Canada with Christmas presents galore, sweaters and snow gear out the kazoo (it’s 0 there and 75 here), and two little boys.  Let me just say, I feel defeated before even we even get to the airport.  And I cringe at the thought of the amount of crap presents that we’ll be bringing back.  Yes, I did send an email to all grandparents requesting restraint.  I doubt they can do it.

Needless to say, I have sought counsel with our therapist and close friends and basically it comes down to me.  CHOOSE.  Do I want to be a defeated Grinch bah-humbugging all the way? Or can I find the Christmas spirit in my heart and put my best holly hat forward?  Afterall, I haven’t been to his parents house in almost 3 years.  However they come down for quarterly visits.

Below is my strategy for a little more in-law holiday jolly.  I thought I’d put this on loud speaker; saying it ‘out loud’ will have it sink in more. Feel free to borrow whatever may help you get through the holidays with a little bit more cheer.

1. Put on happy face.  Stop complaining.  Sing more Christmas carols. You know…’tis the season and fa la la la.  With earnestness.

2. Be nice and thankful.  Appreciate that we have family that loves us so much.  Yes, I’m included even if it’s not the way that I know people express their love.

3. Don’t exclude myself.  Show up.  Help in the kitchen. I know how to cook and the kitchen can be our middle ground.  This is one way that I can participate and be included even though my feminist ideals are screaming.  I’m bringing a recipe for scalloped potatoes and green bean casserole to offer for the holiday meals.

4. Plan some activities outside of family events.  If I get some Me Time and Husband and I get some We Time (without kids), there will be balance and I likely won’t lose my mind.  Make this request early – often if necessary, make sure Husband is on board and communicate with the in-laws.

5. Drink wine and go with the flow.  Repeat after me, “Don’t take it personally.  It’s gonna be okay.  Think of the children.” Drink and repeat the mantra.

While this may not be the most evolved strategy, it’s what I need to get by.  Hopefully in this practice, I’ll focus on the good of the season and get outside my whiny head.

Peace be with you and yours this holiday season.  Do what you need to do, but do it with some jolly.  Happiest of holidays.  It’s up to you (and me) to choose the cheer.

by Expert Mommy, Jen Hibbits


  1. Jen, I totally *LOVE* this. =)

    #5 and plenty of it. Except…do you have a good substitute for #5 for the ‘with child’ ladies among us, ahem.