The holidays are right around the corner, which means gift shopping, decorating the house and lots of cooking. But to many, it also means increased stress levels, conflicting plans and tension within the family.
One family has decided to put an end to the unnecessary conflict with a holiday tradition that protects their peace and allows the holiday season to be as merry as it’s meant to be.
The family spends Thanksgiving and Christmas with just each other instead of their extended families to avoid arguments and stress over conflicting plans.
Five years ago, Donald and Monica Bailey, who have three young children, decided that it would be best for their little family to spend holidays together with just the five of them, excluding their own parents and extended family from their celebrations.
Monica describes the decision as “one of the best” ones that she and her husband have ever made for their family.
“As much as we love those people and we love spending time with them, we’ve realized that it often brings a lot of stress, a lot of obligations, that people really don’t want,” she explained in a TikTok video. “It doesn’t really let you enjoy your holidays.”
Each Thanksgiving Monica and Donald consciously ask themselves the same important question: “What would make the best possible Thanksgiving for us?”
To their family, the ideal Thanksgiving consists of relaxing in the morning as a family, reflecting on all they were grateful for during the year and their hopes for the following year. Later in the day, the five of them enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner, cooked by Monica, in the comfort of their own home.
Photo: Drazen Zigic / Shutterstock.com
“It’s great because we never have to fight traffic, we never have to worry about, ‘Is it gonna be awkward?’ and ‘Are we gonna be late?’” Monica noted. “We’re not living our holidays for everybody else.”
She added that many other people may fall into the trap of believing that they are obligated to spend the holidays with their extended family, even if it is not what they truly want.
Their video received mixed opinions online, with some commending the couple and others calling them selfish.
Some people admired Monica and Donald for protecting their family’s happiness and starting a holiday tradition that was right for their family. “I respect your idea. Your own family happiness is so important,” one TikTok user commented.
“People shouldn’t feel obligated to tote their kids around to all these different places,” another user pointed out.
“We had so many Christmas days packing kids up, leaving the house, going to parents’ houses. I vowed NOT to do that to my kids!!!” a third user shared.
However, others believed that the decision was selfish and that the parents were robbing their children of memorable holiday experiences.
“So sad. My best memories are the crazy extended family Thanksgiving and Christmas. Your kids are missing out,” one user wrote.
“I can’t imagine my kids telling me that I am causing them stress because I want to spend a couple of hours with them on Christmas,” another user wrote.
While some people may believe that Monica and Donald’s children are missing out during the holidays, it is important to remember that not every family is functional and enjoys spending time together.
In the comments section, the couple clarified that they have toxic relationships with their parents, and have spent years in therapy trying to overcome their trauma. “I wish we had loving parents we wanted to see,” they wrote. “Our parents are very toxic and it’s a blessing to stay away.”
Donald also responded it one of these negative comments with a video. “This was a mutual decision that my wife and I made to protect ourselves and our kids from some significant dysfunction in our families,” he shared.
“Families can be great, but a lot of families can be hard,” he continued. “And this video was really a call out to people who have struggled with their families, especially around the times of holidays.”
As we all know, the holidays can be an especially stressful and exhausting time for many people, and tensions within families can reach dangerous levels. It only takes one passive-aggressive comment to divide a family.
One way to avoid all of the conflicts and enjoy an undisturbed holiday season is to simply remove yourself from the festivities and spend it with your immediate family — or even with friends.
Even if some family members may be hurt and confused by your decision, they do not have to understand it. There will be other times that you may choose to see your extended family, however, you are under no obligation to do so if it is only going to cause you further anxieties. Do what you feel is best for you and your immediate family.
As Donald put it, “It’s okay to step away from dysfunction, to draw a boundary and say, I’m not going to participate in this.”
Megan Quinn is a writer at YourTango who covers entertainment and news, self, love, and relationships.