Carolyn Hax: A couple tired of the annual travel wants to quit family Christmas

Dear Carolyn: My spouse and I are facing a dilemma with how to handle holidays this year. We live quite a distance from both our families; it’s an eight-hour drive to my in-laws and a four-hour drive to my parents’ place. For six of the last seven years — 2020 being the exception — we have dedicated every bit of our personal time off and travel budget to attending family holidays. In addition to the direct costs of travel, we have also had to pay to board our dog each time, and have added significant mileage to our aging car.

We feel it’s unfair that we are the ones who consistently make the effort to attend family gatherings while others rarely travel to see us. This has left us feeling unbalanced, and we want to opt out of the family holidays this year.

How can we communicate our decision to our families without causing unnecessary hurt or misunderstanding? We value and love our family, but we feel it’s high time we prioritize our needs.

Unbalanced: The best argument for securing your own Christmas, and peace of mind, isn’t the punishing length of the drives. Or the number of years you’ve made them. Or your limited vacation-day allotments, or your inflexible budget, or the mileage on your car or dog.

It’s not fairness, or effort, or balance, or how much you do or don’t love your family, or how hurtfully misunderstood you are or aren’t in your campaign to stay home.

Your best argument is the one you prove you’ve embraced by not bothering to trot out any of these arguments or defenses, to anyone. (Certainly not to me.)

It’s your life. That’s your best argument. You stay home if you want to stay home.

This is how you say it to your families: “We’re having Christmas at home this year.”

That’s it. I swear. No apologies.

I’m not saying they won’t push back, flip out, rend garments or revise wills. I’m saying the moment you believe your holidays are yours to celebrate as you see fit, and start speaking like someone who can’t be guilt-tripped out of that belief by anyone, the matter is closed.

Though if they’re welcome to come celebrate with you, then cushion the blow by inviting them, of course.

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Dear Carolyn: My fiancé and I have hit a roadblock while planning our wedding. This will be my first marriage and his second.

I have a very clear vision about what I want the wedding to be like. My fiancé is fine with allowing me to take the lead, as he has already had one wedding.

I would like a small, sophisticated, adults-only wedding. The difficulty is that my fiancé has three elementary-age children. The kids mostly live with their mom, but I get along with them fine.

I thought “adults only” meant just that, but my fiancé thought it meant “adults only except for the kids.”

We’re really at a crossroads. We’ve put deposits down on places that are not kid-friendly at all. He is adamant that the kids be there. How do we move forward from here?

Snagged: You include the kids, and forfeit deposits as needed.

Oh, my goodness. “Roadblock.”

I’ve spent 26 years defending couples’ prerogative to have no-kid weddings, but apparently that’s only because no one has ever tried to exclude a groom’s own children against the groom’s own wishes.

If your view of what you want your marriage to be like is as fixed and rigid as your wedding vision, then please reconsider, for everyone’s sake. As Ferris warned us, life moves pretty fast.

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