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How do you all handle holidays if you're disengaged?

Hesitant to try's picture

Hi all,

If you're disengaged (or otherwise unwilling to spend time with Skids), how do you handle big holidays? For us, it's Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays. Do you have separate celebrations... one with your spouse and then spouses go off and have separate celebrations with their own bio kids? We are in our mid 50s and our kids range from 18 - 23. Three in college, two post-college, out on thier own. Everyone is on an appropriate trajectory for their age. 4 of the 5 kids cause no issues for us.

My own 3 kids are accepting of our relationship and my boyfriend is welcome to join us and they usually want him along. Boyfriend's son is OK with us, but his daughter is not. Wondering what different scenarios work well for other step-families. We are not a legal stepfamily (not married) but we are in a committed relationship planning a future. I can't help but worry about the holidays. I enjoy my kids and my boyfriend does too. We'd prefer a family gathering for special ocassions but his daughter is likely to make him choose -- her or us. She's 20 and I expect he won't want to leave her alone on a holiday. Her BM died so he is her only parent. And honestly, unless her behaviour changes, she'd probably just ruin our gathering anyway. I'm thinking the only option for upcoming holidays is to handle them separately; him with his kids, me with mine. Not ideal for us as a couple, but maybe it's best??

What have others done? What has worked? What has been a disaster? And have things changed year to year?

Thanks everyone!


Aniki's picture

I am disengaged and the skids come to our home for Christmas. I do the following as gifts for my DH: cook finger foods for a light 'meal'. Wrap the presents for the grandskids. DH give the skids money so I wrap it up in cute little boxes. 

When the skids arrive, I am polite, but distant. IOW, I treat them like coworkers I do not like. I sit in my favorite recliner in the corner and sip a glass of wine or whiskey and let DH have this day.

Not sure how it will go with SD23, who is a mini BioHo and bloody unpleasant (she may not show up again). The SSs and I have a cordial relationship. SD26 and I have recently 'reconciled' and are getting along very well, so this Christmas will be... friendlier, I guess you could say.

ldvilen's picture

See ya!  I'm going to stay at home and enjoy a good book or a movie I've been wanting to see for a while or a nice bubble bath, etc.

piegirl's picture

We used to have all skids and kids together, even the midly unpleasant skids. Last year in November the skid world vs our blew up - so Christmas was a no go. One of the skids refused to even speak my DH, and he saw the other two another day. We are approaching fathers day, so I asked DH what time of the day he would be avaiable for my DD's and I to do something with him. He knows that it needs to be totally seperate from the skids who he can go out and see that day or another.

All families are different, I would say that (without knowing too much about your story) your partner should spend some time alone with SD (so you don't have to be upset by her attitiude on Christmas) and then the rest of the day he and you should spend time with the rest of the family who are happy enough to get along.

Good luck!

Cover1W's picture

I think it depends on families.

I can only tell you what I've done in relation to ours, having two young pre-teen SDs when I disengaged from holidays, and I continue to not do more stuff every year.

I do not:  Go out of my way to decorate because I don't like to, if DH wants more decor, he can do it.  Take loads of time off work; DH has SDs (well only YSD now since OSD refuses to come even for xmas) each xmas and we have Thanksgiving off each year. Help DH buy gifts but for giving him ideas via Amazon. Get more than one or two 'things' for YSD - most end up unused so why bother - I recommend gift certs.  I do not buy a thing for OSD, not even a card. Plan holiday outings. Cook the main meal. Make 'special' cookies for anyone but myself because no one wants to make cookies (or make them look nice - SDs never had a tradition of holiday cookies at BMs so they don't give a cr!p about how they look - I mean, really bad almost like they make them bad on purpose) or eat them but me. Buy special treats.

I do: Help with sides for dinner. Clean up the house a little. Make sure tree is set up/taken down properly (I've hidden my good ornaments as no one cares about being careful). Do stocking stuffers for YSD. Make sure my family knows what gift certs to get YSD if they want to. Put on good holiday music. Wrap things.

Other holidays, DH deals with, not me. I've had some bad experiences with undermining and OSD behaviors around holidays and I don't play that game any longer.

SacrificialLamb's picture

My OSD44 proclaimed after she had children that everyone was required to go to her home for Christmas now because she wanted her children to always have Christmas at home. I am not allowed in her home, so that stopped DH from going to OSD's. He visits the grandkids earlier in the month when they have another event, like a school Christmas concert.  YSD doesn't like that her sister has dictated what she should do for Christmas, so she doesn't go either.

DH enjoys cooking Christmas dinner and prefers to stay at home where we know the weather will be nice (no snow). YSD and my two bios are invited but no one gets upset if they have other plans - they all live far away. We also invite many friends and other relatives that live in the area, so we feel like we have a happy day regardless of what is going on with our own children.

I think OSD44 knows now she shot herself in the foot by excluding me from her family and her home. We continued on with life and made our own traditions that she is not part of. She now gets to entertain BM and her own DH's crazy family. 

sandye21's picture

SD is banned from our home because she was toxic for 20 years.  She had a meltdown in my home just before Christmas which gave DH a taste of what she had really been like when he wasn't present but he ran out the door to avoid confrontation. I gave him the choice of working on the marriage or leaving.  DH can go visit SD just about whenever he wants except the day of a holiday, birthday or anniversary.  I still don't want to see her.

Have to say though, that holidays are much better without all of the drama, nastiness and cheapness on her part.

Kes's picture

I am disengaged and see my SDs once or twice a year - they nearly always come over on Boxing Day (26th Dec).  I cook a big meal, greet them politely but not particularly warmly, ask them how things are going.  I rarely divulge any news about myself, ask them in depth about themselves, or otherwise engage.  A couple of years ago, we played "Game of Thrones" monopoly - SD22 was a complete pain in the butt being over-competitive, so I told DH last Xmas I wasn't doing that again.  

On the whole I treat them similarly to Aniki - ie like co-workers that I do not particularly like. I can make the effort for one day a year. 

2Tired4Drama's picture

I'm disengaged and thankfully, it's pretty easy to do since we now live a long distance from SD.  

But what happens when gskids arrive?  What do most people do?   

SD is due to deliver during the holiday time-frame.  I fully expect (and support) my SO's visit up there once the birth happens.  I also expect that as this gskid gets older, my SO will probably want to spend more time with him/her.  He is more than welcome to do so but I'll be damned if I will spend one minute of my time nor one cent of my money to visit SD and her family.  Typically, my SO and I split bills when we travel.  Not happening for a visit to SD's, that I can assure you.

So I imagine there will be holiday time periods where I will be on my own.  I'm figuring that this year Thanksgiving/Christmas will be the first of many such challenges since SD's baby will arrive.   I am already tentatively planning a trip somewhere on my own. 


SM12's picture

I try not to be around my OSS or MSS at all.  My BS dislikes them also.  Before they we’re PASd DH would invite them to anything going on with my family.  It would infuriate me.  They were rude and nasty and would ignore my family and make snotty comments to each other about them.  BS and I overheard and banned hem from future gatherings.  DH would go behind my back and invite them anyway.  The last time he did that I threw such a huge crap storm he never did it again.   That was a hill I was willing to die on.   

Now when it comes to activities at our home, I can’t control what DH does.   He invited oss to my sons graduation party without my knowledge. Bs and oss hate each other.  I was furious.   Christmas is no longer a problem because oss and MSS never come.  I’m hoping it stays like that.  If they ever decide to come around at the holidays, I will just leave and go spend the holidays with my BS who lives out of state.