Home Marriage & Family Going Home For the Holidays Isn’t what It’s Cracked Up To Be

Going Home For the Holidays Isn’t what It’s Cracked Up To Be


I can’t believe I’m saying this out loud. It kind of makes me feel bad but the simple truth is I hate when we go home on leave. Despise it. It is the most stressful time for us. I know it isn’t this way for everyone and some people can’t relate but this is how it is for me.

My youngest daughter hates car rides and has since she was a newborn. She used to scream nonstop for the entire eight hour drive. Let me tell you, that was NOT fun. Now that she’s a bit older she does somewhat better, we’ve gotten her a DVD player that keeps her somewhat entertained for a while but about halfway she is done. The screaming and tantrums start. Not the best way to start or end leave for sure.

There never seems to be enough time for everyone. We rush from one place to the next, doing this and that, never fully stopping long enough to enjoy anything. One night spent here, one night at another parent’s house, then back to the first. No matter how we plan it to work out it always seems to be the same “Let’s pack all the fun in” kind of trip.

The kids get SO off schedule. I couldn’t really care less if my youngest daughters nap starts at 12 or 1. She cares though. A day or two with a shortened nap and a bedtime once or twice pushed back to accommodate a late dinner with someone and she’s gone from calm and collected to something out of a horror movie.

Something awful always happens. One time it was my husband and kids with what had to be the world’s worst virus. The next I fell and twisted my ankle so bad it was bruised for 6 months afterwards. I always feel anxious waiting for the other shoe to drop and something bad to rear its ugly head.

No one seems to understand that while we really would love to stay longer we can’t just extend our trip. At least once every time we go home the day or two before we leave everyone wants to know if we could just stay a few more days. The guilt is immense. I don’t know if they don’t understand how leave works for my husband or what but I hate explaining every time that we’ve stayed as long as we could.

Family and Mother in Law upset about being late for dinner and too many expectationsAll of the stress from trying to please everyone and make sure everyone gets enough time with us causes my husband and I to bicker over the smallest things. I seriously remember picking a fight with him because he got me a Mello Yellow instead of a Mountain Dew one day. It was like an out of body experience, I knew I was crazy! I couldn’t seem to help myself though I was so stressed out.

During holidays everyone expects us to be at their house at the same time. My parents are divorced. It never seems to fail that everyone seems to schedule things at the same time. One year it was Christmas lunch at one house at 11, followed by lunch at the next at 12, and then another at 1. I never wanted to see ham or turkey again.

Surely I can’t be the only one? Do they pass out instruction booklets for this sort of thing and I just missed it? I have tried everything I can think of to make it more relaxing and stress-free but nothing really seems to work. It has come to the point that I now dread it where I used to look forward to it. I would gladly welcome any tips or tricks you’ve picked up along the way to help out. You just might save Christmas!

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  1. You are not the only one that feels this way. We have been married for 17yrs in January and its been like that every single time we go home. My mom feels we spend too much time at my in-laws, at the in-laws I don’t feel welcome at all. In the summer the a/c gets turned off, winter we get suffocated with the heat. After the fiasco we had this summer going back home, I told my husband I am not going home until PCS/Retirement time. I can’t deal with it anymore! I can count on one hand the number of times we have had family come visit US in 17 years.

    • OMG I feel the exact same way. When we take a trip home I dread it all the time. It never fails we are always to his mom house 99% of the time and to my mom house 1% of the time.

  2. Before my husband passed, we spent one holiday with my family, the next with his. Then the next year the opposite. Our family was more understanding of military leave apparently. I believe if the family can’t understand, maybe they should come to your house instead of you going to their’s. They can of course stay in a hotel. Lol. That way you all can visit your children keep the schedule they are used to and you are not under as much stress. It might work.

  3. Yep! I can relate! It gets worse when my family likes things planned out (as do I) and my in-laws just want things done their way which tends to be staying with them and going with the flow (my husband’s way 😉 )They both try to be understanding but I always feel like we need to keep everyone happy. Having the only grandchild in both families makes things even more stressful. Each side wants us as much as possible. Then there are the friends who don’t get why you can’t spend enough time with them. Ohh I can feel the anxiety now! Ha. It definitely puts unnecessary stress on my husband and I’s relationship, but thankfully we choose to communicate as thoroughly as possible with each other before an eruption of emotions occur. All we want is to enjoy ourselves, see the people we love, and end the trip with overall happiness. Wish us luck! 😉

  4. I do feel so sorry for you. My parents (especially my Father) wanted all of his kids for Thanksgiving dinner and on Christmas day. When we all lived at home, my brothers could not go deer hunting on Thanksgiving until we had that BIG family dinner. After we got married we had to be at his table. We could go later to the in-laws, which wasn’t fair. We tried the every other year thing and it worked for a while. However, he died at age 61 and that was when the every other year thing begin to work better.
    Christmas was a mess too. Christmas eve at my in-laws, which was OK but not fair to them. Because that meant we could not go back to their house until late on Christmas Day.
    My son wanted to stay home and play with his new toys. My nieces and nephews wanted to do the same thing.
    Holidays are depressing and at the age of 75 they are still depressing. No gift exchange anymore. One person takes his gifts for his children and grandchildren and hands out while we sit and watch. Big gifts of money and a smaller gift. We do not even get the smaller gift. I wonder why we can’t have a box of Chocolate Charlie? Maybe, I should buy a small gift for him. Money is tight.
    Some years way back, we would pack up, get on the plane and go to Florida over the holidays or we would drive down. Sometimes we waited until after Christmas day so my son could take a friend with him.
    Oh I am so depressed this year. My car needs $4000. worth of repairs. That will be our Christmas present along with a bottle of our favorite cologne. Mine is White Diamonds. Theirs is Polo.
    I hear what the people above are saying and it is so true.
    If I don’t go this year, everyone will be upset. If I have to go, I will be upset.
    God Bless the little children and the children who are married and now going through the same thing we had to go through.
    Christmas is the season to be happy, but we can’t with all of the family rules, dinners, etc.


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