Holidays make me feel guilty and torn.

Started by

My father who has the spinal cord injury (10 years now) won't have anyone with him for thanksgiving. My mom (they are divorced) won't have anyone with her. My gma wants me to come claiming i spent it with my fiance' last year. My mom and gma have said do what's best for you but i also know feeling will be hurt. Next year we are going to try and have it at our home but my dad can't ever come b/c of his wheelchair and b/c he blames my mom for so many things that went wrong. I see my gma many time through the year. I see my mom lots through the year. I go out to my dads once a week at least. I'd rather be at work then deal with the holidays. No matter what i leave someone alone on a holiday and that makes me sad.

27 Comments

Foremost, you have to take care of yourself first. It sounds like you may have lost your own identity taking care of others. You need your space, time, peace and quiet too so as difficult as it may be, please give yourself what ever you need to restore balance in your life.
I feel so bad for you, holidays are a struggle on who to spend with in any circumstance, now you deal with this. Try to do what is best for you. Does the facility your dad is out have any special activities during holidays? My mom is in a nursing home, we are going to bring her to my home (which I shared with her for 8 years) for the day. Not everyone in the family agrees, in fact I am probably the only one, in addition to my adult son that thinks it's a good idea. As long as we can get her up 3 steps from the garage, we will be okay. My worry is that she will fall like she did on her only other visit home. I just can't leave her at the home that day and we will have lots of family here.

Try to sort out the best way for you to deal with this, but be honest with everyone, you don't need any more guilt on top of what you are going through.
Holidays are difficult for me too. I'm never sure of the right thing to do and it seems the elder people have no one and the young adults have far too many homes to visit with split families and remarriages. It's all a flurry... And this year my sweetheart and I may just have each other. We are still treading lightly and trying to figure out what works best and I'm hopeful that in time the answers will become clear...opening our arms and welcoming everyone.

Just thinking about your Dad and his feelings... Some times resentments, even though they may well be justified, isolate us. I think someone said that forgiveness is what you do for yourself. I hope some day he can find a way to let it go and live in peace, surrounded by love.

I guess when someone hurts you, it is wise to step away so you are not hurt again. That seems smart to me, but too much stepping away and personally, I find myself locked carefully away in a dark lonesome closet...I'm safe, but its no fun.

Best wishes to you for a very thankful Thanksgiving. I hope we can all figure out this complicated question. Thank you for asking it.
You are one person, any day can be made a holiday - really . Ask yourself what works for YOU first. Take care of yourself first, Its like having kids - you can't be a good parent unless you take care of your own physical and emotional needs.. If you are engaged or married now, that person is now or going to be your family and they should come first. This dosen't mean you don't love your family any less . It sounds like you are also taking on some of your Dads issues of the divorce . Make a plan of action ,make your own Holiday (whenever that maybe and when that works for YOU) with your Mom, Dad and Grma. Throw the guilt out the window. As far as the Divorce send that out the window with the guilt thats between your Mom and Dad NOT YOU. You don't have any control over how everyone feels or deals with their emotions. Its sounds like everyone gets to see you often and they should appreciate that no matter when it is . Guilt can eat you up if you let it . Perhaps you can suggest to your Grm,Dad or Mom to find a place to go to thats nearby so they won't be alone or maybe they may have friends . If they are resistant to that suggestion thats they're choice ,you can't make them do something they don't want to do. Relax ,stop worrying enjoy the Holidays when and how YOU want to and with whom you want to be with or not. Remember , any day can be if a Holiday. Its not the day, its how you spend it.
can't you see your dad for brunch maybe and your grandma and mom for dinner? i know that's maybe a lot of running around but maybe it's a way to please everyone. i make a full dinner and take it over to my grandparents' with my mom to eat at one, since they eat early, and then go to a full dinner at my bf's parents' house at five. i often end the night with desserts back at my house with my dad, who also can't be in the same room as my mom due to an ugly divorce. it's a lot of running but it usually works.
It took time for me to figure out what works best for me and my hodge podge family. My sil and I take turns hosting Thanksgiving. As for Christmas, we celebrate with part of the family on Christmas Eve, part on Christmas Day and the rest on the weekend before or after depending on how the holiday falls. That way, we fit everyone in usually and also avoid overtiring the elders. It keeps us caregivers from getting overstressed and overtired too. SIL and I are no longer spring chickens either.
This is a difficult situation.
Having famliy on the east coast while I consider the west coast-california home
its very diffcult to not visit with family and sometimes I am terribly homesick.
Funny thing is they are just fine!
At times I can reflect on holidays past other times the memory of those holiday meals, conversations are better not remembered. Strange realtions with famliy dont go away-thank god!!!
ALL & ALL make a decison and have no regrets-there will be another holiday and god willing more celebrations.
Just to see the white of the eyes is an expression Ive been told time and time again-and boy does the guilt get me too-and this passes with time.
Divorced families are a reality of modern times. Come to terms with the new family circumstances. Can you thrive inspite of not pleasing others this holiday season? When paying a visit because you truely dont want to but have to -to whom is the real benefit &/or pay off?

This is so difficult!
Harder, when one knows their parent units cannot get along, even for a dinner.
It shows their own limits.
Their limits prevail, when they hold events on their own turf.

How about you holding events on your own turf?
You are at liberty to invite whoever you wish.
You could invite not only family, but friends too, and do it as a potluck

It can be at your place, or neutral territory--some families rent a hall or other space for large dinners; sometimes churches allow a family to hold their larger dinner event at their social room, given enough lead-time making the date..
Some hold it in a group meeting room in a restaurant, or even at a public park.

Whoever comes, does.
Because others are present, behaviors are more controlled, usually.

Please do not hold up on inviting people to events, because of how they have behaved in the past. You might be pleasantly surprised--they may just then be allowed to be their "better selves".

As a child, I grew up with split families.
ALL of them said and did nasty stuff.
ALL of that programmed me to avoid family gatherings that involved all sides of all the divorces--I simply wanted to avoid conflict.
I wanted to avoid conflict so badly, I eloped, instead of having a wedding: I wanted everyone to come, or none.
It seemed "none" was the only rational answer.
On top of that, I was let to feel that I had already taken up too much of their collective resources, so I had no right to expect them to give us a wedding--if I had a wedding, my next sibling down the line might not get the wedding she wanted.
See how that goes?
45 years later....
I know that was a terribly dysfunctional thing I allowed dysfunctional family to program me with.
IF I had it to "do-over", knowing then what I know now, I would have a wedding....or at very least, somehow found the guts to tell family involved, how I felt & why I chose to elope, instead of having a wedding.

You may think those divisive relations cannot get along:
I am here telling you, MAYBE they can.
MAYBE it is your own inner sensitivity holding you back, based on pain felt from surviving past events, not their issues.

'Course, I could be wrong...there really are =some= family members who should NEVER ever come together in the same room!

Only you can choose whether or not to try doing a T-day event at a neutral spot, and invite all of them, as well as supportive friends.
Try looking on the possible outcomes from a perspective based on what things might look like 40 years from now.
Who might get hurt?
How?
Is it so big that it should ruin having a great dinner with some who show up?
If it worked well, would it make happy memories for YOU to live with, & let YOU know you did the best you could to make it great?

Pleeaase let us know how it comes out!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
We are trying to do the best we can, with our dysfunctional family, & friends who care about us. I am thankful we have the opportunity;
I do not want to miss any more of those, due to what I =think= others might say or do, but based on what I think I want from this Day..


Even without a divorce in the family you can't be everywhere and generally can't host everyone. Geography and schedules and other commitments get in the way. Do your best to enjoy the holiday and to share enjoyment with others, and then don't beat yourself up about what you can't do.

We are fortunate in our blended family that ex's remain civil. More than once I have hosted a family gathering attended by my ex and his 4th wife and well as my husband's ex, and all of our children. My husband's ex has come to all of our Christmas parties for the 39 years we've been married. Very obviously that would NOT be a good solution in many families, but it works for us.

Another thing we do is be flexible with the dates. This year our "thanksgiving" party is not on Thursday but on Sunday. If applicable, everyone can go to their in-laws on the actual holiday.

Also, we tend to make our own traditional events. We celebrate Chinese New Year -- decorations, Asian cuisine, music, the works. People have asked if we have some Chinese heritage. Nope. We just like parties! Mardi Gras and Cinco de Mayo are other events we've celebrated.

Often you cannot be with all the people you'd like to be with on a specific date. I don't let that spoil the celebrations I can have.
Do what you want to do and don't be fretting over it. It IS just another day. People knock themselves out, travel on the roads with bad drivers, just to make everybody happy. Do what is best for you.
My mothers birthday is on Christmas day and I don't even want to send her a card because she has emotionally and verbally abused me all my life, and I am now at the point of not caring at all anymore about her feelings.

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support