Stream of Consciousness Sunday: Tis the Season…for Guilt


Now that we gave Thanksgiving its obligatory 15 minutes of fame, it’s time to turn our attention to Christmas.  We put up our tree today – it’s artificial (not my first choice but it’s grown on me over the years and is a pretty nice tree), and if we’re really lazy, it might stay up through Epiphany or Mardi Gras.  Probably not through Easter (I have family that did that one year.  I come from class).

Daniel is too little to help hang ornaments, but he watched us, and he was SO excited by the tree.  At 2.5, this is the first Christmas he really sort of understands that something big is happening.  Right now he loves the lights, but I’m sure he’ll want to touch the ornaments soon.  We showed him the special ornaments and told him the meaning behind them: the ornaments from our 2004 trip to Paris; the tiny stocking I bought at Biltmore House the December before he was born; all the other ornaments from various other annual trips to Biltmore House; the ornaments from the year he was born; and many others.   He loves the “Kiss-miss tee.”

This year we are spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day just the three of us.  I’m feeling conflicted about it because that’s what I do, but at the same time I’m wondering at what age am I finally allowed to be an adult and dictate how my family spends Christmas?  The answer, of course, is now.  10 years ago.  5 years ago.  I’m an adult.  My little family of three is allowed – nay, required- to build its own traditions.

Lately, the holidays bring out some seriously bad feelings.  Obligation warring with Self-Preservation.  Farce and Charade battling with my Motherly Fierceness.  I’m tired of providing opportunities for interaction with my sweet boy when he is ultimately ignored, yet I’m accused of keeping him away and not allowing participation in our lives.

I want to be acknowledged as an adult who is entitled to make decisions for her family, not resented for daring to grow up and move away. That won’t happen, so I will take the role of the bad guy.    That is what my son, my family needs.

Happy Holidays.  This is only the first instance of guilt; I’m sure it won’t be the last.  But along with that guilt comes bitterness and anger and a growing awareness that things must change.



  1. I relate to this so very, very much. There’s so much I could say, but you’ve said it so well. Thank you. It’s good to know that I’m not some horribly selfish person and that other people go through this, too. A thousand times thank you.

  2. My best childhood memories are of the Christmas Eves and Christmas mornings spent with just my parents and sisters. So, speaking from a child’s perspective, keep it warm and intimate. It’s called Christmas season for a reason — you can meet obligations on your own terms, such as the weekend before, on in my parents’ case, the day after.

  3. We went through this just this year. My husband wanted to visit his mother (I don’t blame him) but he said she wouldn’t be putting up a tree and that was fine with us. I quickly told him NO, it’s not okay! Christmas is for kids. And we’re staying home so Evan can enjoy his home and his tree and his stockings. And we’ve invited MIL to come and visit us!

Please Talk to Me: My Husband Can Tell When I Haven't Had Any Conversation All Day

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