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Be firm about putting husband, children first on Christmas Day

Be firm about putting husband, children first on Christmas Day

Q: I wish people would stop suggesting that spending a day other than Thanksgiving or Christmas Day with family is going to miraculously make everyone happy. If there is already an issue, then I seriously doubt that anyone concerned is going to be adult enough to spend the holiday on an alternate day and not be petty about it.

Sure, I can spend Christmas Eve with my mom and sister and then stay home with my two babies and husband Christmas Day (which I plan to do), but I'm never going to hear the end of it from Mom and Sis. They give me grief about this every single year.


A: Outrage is in the eye of the beholder, I guess; I interpret different-day suggestions as consolation prizes, not miracles.

But even if there were a way to make everyone happy, that might not be ideal. The annual mother-and-sister guilt display needs to be banished to the attic, and they won't do that if it keeps rewarding them with what they want: your presence, and if they can't have that, your validation. Just by getting worked up, you reassure them their rigid holiday expectations are legit.

Since the whole issue is your Christmas Day plan, you need to make clear it's not open to discussion. Your plans are with your husband and babies, this year and for the foreseeable future, yes?

Then say so. Then, let them know what you can offer: the Christmas Eve consolation prize.

Then, believe in your choice. Let Mom and Sis know you won't apologize for honoring your own priorities. "Since I can't be in both places, I've chosen what's best for my family." Repeat, verbatim, as needed — for you, mostly. You really can hear the end of it: "I love you, we're not discussing this, goodbye."

Plan for possibilities, but don't panic

Q: My husband works for a small company. Recently, the company hired a "work structure" consultant. I want him to polish his resume and start searching, just in case. But he said there is no layoff danger for him because he is given a lot of work to do and is very busy. How can I make him be prepared for the worst in this economy, or how can I stop being upset by his inaction?

Princeton, N.J.

A: You control your actions, he controls his. So when any question starts with "How can I make (someone) . . . ," that's your cue to ask a different question — especially when what you want to "make" someone do is panic.

To calm your own nerves, you can prepare for the worst. Look for wasteful expenses you can eliminate now, look for luxuries you can start trimming as the need arises, formulate the financial equivalent of a disaster evacuation plan. They're not only responsible steps for anyone — since even booming economies host worst-case scenarios — they're also far better for your psyche than doing nothing but wringing your hands.

One caveat: These steps can also come across as a lack of faith in your husband's judgment and value to his company. Don't go behind his back, of course, but do keep your efforts low-key — and make sure you let him know you're treating his company's pending reorganization as a reminder to be responsible, not as a promise of doom.

Be firm about putting husband, children first on Christmas Day 12/02/08 [Last modified: Thursday, November 4, 2010 10:48am]
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