DEAR AMY: I have siblings, divorced and remarried parents, extended family, in-laws and a baby on the way.
Holidays have unfortunately become an emotional wrestling match to see who can guilt us into spending actual Christmas Day with them. For many years, I have celebrated “Christmas” on random days in December and January to accommodate the family schedule. Some years we attend up to seven gatherings.
Our house is under a huge renovation right now; otherwise I would host a gathering, but still the responsibility seems to have fallen on my shoulders to nudge everyone into picking dates.
My mother is upset that my in-laws have asked us over for dinner Dec. 25. She is refusing to choose a date to get together.
Having and hosting one big dinner for everyone is not logistically possible, and my parents have each said they would prefer not to share the holiday with others.
Sometimes I feel our families are acting like children, and it’s getting exhausting. What’s your suggestion to create family peace and joy at Christmastime? -- Tired of December Drama
DEAR TIRED: You don’t “feel” your adult family members are acting like children; they are acting like children (this is not really debatable). And you are being a bad “mommy” to all of these disparate family members — trying to accommodate all of them — even as they rudely refuse to cooperate.
This sort of scenario is sadly typical of some families during the holidays, but it is fundamentally twisted, and in your case, things won’t change until you are brave enough to stake your claim and value your own happiness, health and holiday energy during an extremely stressful time.
Ask yourself, “What do I want?” And act accordingly. You and your husband should reorient yourselves toward your own immediate family. Others can function on their own behalf and arrange for a time to get together that is convenient for you. This also means managing their own disappointment if Santa doesn’t give them exactly what they want.
DEAR AMY: I have known my neighbor, “Brandy,” for 12 years. We’ve had a casual friendship from the start, but I notice that if she gets drunk she gets sexually aggressive toward me.
At first I chalked it up to the fact that some people just get crazy when they get drunk, and I’ve tried to accept this about her. The problem is that this behavior is mainly directed at me and not other men who are around.
At a recent party, she tried to drag me into the bedroom. She grabbed my hair, tried to kiss me and screamed, “I love you” (among other things) while drunk.
When confronted (while sober), she denied this happened and claimed she blacked out. She also said I had invited her to do this. I cannot drink alcohol for medical reasons and would never invite this.
Am I missing something here, or is this merely a case of someone’s drunken self not being on the same wavelength as her sober self? -- Sober
DEAR SOBER: “Brandy” has sexually assaulted you. She is obviously capable of violence (and harassment). Whether she is drunk or sober should be something for the police to determine after they arrest her.
Perhaps you don’t want to press charges at this time, but if this ever happens again, you should call the police. Warn her by telling her these advances are unwelcome and will not be reciprocated. She needs help; perhaps being arrested will give her an incentive to give sobriety a try.
DEAR AMY: “Sad After All These Years” has a story familiar to me. My parents were married for 25 years. My mother is an addict. She abused me, my father and my brother.
My brother and I watched my father forgive and try harder with each and every relapse and infidelity of my mother’s. As difficult as it is, “Sad” needs to create a new life for himself; otherwise this pattern will repeat itself. -- Grew Up Young
DEAR YOUNG: Sadly, I think you may be right.