Christmas seems to invade everything earlier and earlier each year- so much so that I am (admittedly, rather childishly) becoming bitter about my inability to enjoy the last vestiges of Pumpkin Spice everything before it’s packed away and forgotten for another year; the Christmas decorations in our town were put up before Halloween was over, and Christmas Carols began playing on the radio before we were halfway to Thanksgiving. To be blunt, I am feeling burnt out before the Holidays even begin!
The ironic (or sad) part about it is that- for political reasons- I don’t personally celebrate Thanksgiving. There’s a long list of reasons, but they all boil down to a simple truth: Lies; for religious reasons, I also don’t personally celebrate Christmas; I’ve celebrated neither in any legitimate capacity for almost 15 years now. As a result, the Holidays are always a stressful time for me with the societal and familial pressure to take part in events I washed my hands of over a decade ago.
You can imagine my surprise then, when as a newlywed my Mother-in-Law told us rather matter-of-factly that we were responsible for hosting Thanksgiving and / or Christmas this year- “who would host what” being a subject left up to My Husband and I, and my Brother-in-Law, to figure out amongst ourselves.
It was originally decided that my Husband and I would host Thanksgiving, and my Brother-in-Law would host Christmas. As Thanksgiving approaches, however, I fell the pressure more and more; this is my first holiday event and I will be cooking for a family who is not my own. Will I fail? Could I handle such a large failure- which will undoubtedly be cast more negatively because it is my first event as a person only freshly initiated into the family? Do I even want to host an event- be it Christmas Dinner or Thanksgiving Dinner?
The answer to all of that is no; no, no, and double no. I most certainly do not want to- not simply because I do not celebrate the Holidays, but for other reasons as well.
This month is a mess of milestones for my Husband and I individually and as a couple; in 3 days, my Husband and I celebrate 2 years together, 8 months of marriage, and 7 months of home ownership. I also personally celebrate almost 15 proud years as a Pagan (for lack of better terminology), and 5 months of having a full time job that keeps me moving constantly.
Between the full time job, the late night hours, the stress of bumbling my way through learning how to manage my first household, and more… I am exhausted, worn out, and my household and mental health are worse for wear at the moment. At this moment I cannot even fathom hosting such an event- let alone for something that I do not celebrate on principle.
Furthermore, it’s simply rude. I am not the only one that believes, so, either; most of the family is unhappy with this decision and think it’s rude to suddenly spring it on us without giving us any chance input ourselves. Especially since it’s our homes and our energy in the crosshairs. The opinion that strikes me most, though, is that of etiquette books; even a few of the etiquette books I’ve purchased on Kindle have recently made brief note of the impropriety of asking a Newlywed couple to host one of the family’s major holiday event until at least 1 to 2 years after the wedding.
Ultimately, on this point I would have to agree with the timeless etiquette masters for what I hope are relatively obvious reasons: A new household is simply not set up overnight. Logically and financially it’s a bit preposterous to expect a Newlywed couple to host a familial event of such importance as the Autumn and Winter holidays while they are also still in the process of establishing their own household. The fact that we were informed- not asked– before we had even moved into our home (with full knowledge that we had to take out a loan to do so, making our finances tight for the first year) makes it all the more rude in my eyes.
And so as a wife, as a Daughter-in-Law, and as the mistress of my own household I am deciding to put my foot down and skip straight to “Stage Two“; firmly, but respectfully, I am declining.
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