We feel so much pressure to fulfill “traditions” around the holidays, but really, what good are they?
So many of us walk away from seeing our families feeling drained and disappointed because these visits prove to be more harm than good.
A young married couple may have figured this out and are forming their own path via an isolated cabin this winter, according to a post on the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Unfortunately, it seems Redditor mommagrams and her husband may have not received the memo.
The mother and Original Poster (OP) asked the sub:
“AITA for telling my daughter that her holiday plans are selfish?”
The OP described first the log cabin her daughter and husband recently purchased.
“My daughter is 24. She recently got married, she and her husband recently bought a log cabin on a small island in the middle of a lake. The lake is in the middle of nowhere and at least a good 6 hour drive from my house.”
But then the OP stressed how important holiday traditions were to her family.
“Her father and I invited them to our house for Christmas Eve dinner, which is a tradition in our family. However, my daughter told me that she and her husband are planning to spend December 14 to January 6 at their cabin, just the 2 of them and their dog.”
The OP assumed her daughter and husband were looking for a way to block the family out.
“Even though the lake will be frozen in the winter, they plan on getting there by snowmobile. This is just her way of making sure they won’t have an excuse to entertain guests. I told her that they can’t just shut themselves out from the world during the holidays.”
The OP and her husband also haven’t taken the news that well.
“I haven’t seen them since the spring. It’s breaking my heart that my own daughter would be so callous. My husband agreed and lectured her over the phone. Now my daughter isn’t returning our texts. AITA here?”
Fellow Redditors wrote in anonymously, rating the OP’s reaction on the following scale:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some suggested the OP do some self-reflecting, especially around the holidays.
“They are adults and can do whatever they want. Have you stopped to consider why they would rather be in a cabin in the middle of nowhere instead of at your Christmas Eve dinner? YTA” – Narkolleptika
“This… my mom never stopped to ask why I dodged her or family gatherings… that s**t sucked.” – GothSpite
“OP is definitely TA, her daughter is recently married so it’s likely her and her new husband want to spend their first Christmas as a married couple alone in a romantic winter cabin getaway. For OP to call her daughter callous is awful and OP is the one being selfish.” – Stowecroft85
“This was my thought exactly. They got married and it’s not like it’s a secret. Why is OP not encouraging them to make their own plans/traditions? Especially now with a pandemic? You’d think OP would be thinking about what’s best/safest for her loved ones when they’ll be traveling, no matter where they’re going for the holidays.”
“The daughter’s an adult, she can make her own decisions with her new family/husband. Also, this year seems perfect for them to be secluded alone and not traveling with crowds to your Christmas Eve dinner but gosh, she’s so callous and conniving it’s almost like she did this specifically to spite you. Maybe it just worked out perfectly that way…”
“YTA” – QuinnandI
Others agreed and cited how much better their holidays have been without the added pressure.
“My mom and I stopped going to my Aunt’s for Thanksgiving a few years back. Mom and I usually spend Thanksgiving ourselves with our own meals. OP is 100% TA here.” – Nikku187-2nd-acc
“I spend the holidays in bed, eating chocolate and reading English murder mysteries. Around 4 PM, I get up, put the Cornish hen and potato in the oven, and have dinner around 5PM (along with a green salad or steamed broccoli).”
“Best holidays ever.” – Arbor_Arabicae
“My husband and I go away every Christmas. Best decision we have ever made. We can’t this year due to covid, so I’m filling the fridge full of wine and we are locking the door.” – ConsciousCard
But most questioned how toxic the environment must be, based on the OP’s and husband’s reactions.
“THIS! She is 24 and married. She can do whatever the fk she wants with HER HOLIDAY time. Your husband lectured her over the phone? Congratulations on driving away your daughter.”
“Your job as parents was to raise your children with the tools to make informend independent decisions as adults. Once they are adults, you don’t get to tell them how to use those tools.”
“YTA” – Aussiealterego
“I’m hooked by the ‘this way she won’t have to entertain guests’ bit. Would she have to, otherwise? People are gonna come into the daughter’s house, if she doesn’t have a good ‘excuse,’ and a WORLDWIDE PANDEMIC is not excuse enough?” – RememberKoomValley
“Specifically, a cabin that it isn’t possible for OP to just pop in unexpectedly. I wonder why she’d do that?” – Barbed_Dildo
“Yep. The fact that ‘mom’ is using whatever emotional prybar she can fit to force her daughter to spend time with her is all the information I need. Imagine yourself in her shoes for a moment, going to these lengths to find a moment of happiness with her fellow. ‘Mom’ must be just marvelous.” – Void_Listener
One Redditor gave some pretty sound advice for what they think might be a deteriorating relationship between the OP and her daughter.
“I don’t think not wanting to see your family at all over the holidays as normal. I’m not saying this means the daughter is selfish, but instead that OP should consider why her daughter doesn’t care about seeing her. What is that relationship like?”
“[The OP wrote:] ‘This is just her way of making sure they won’t have an excuse to entertain guests. I told her that they can’t just shut themselves out from the world during the holidays.'”
“[The OP also wrote:] ‘I haven’t seen them since the spring. It’s breaking my heart that my own daughter would be so callous. My husband agreed and lectured her over the phone. Now my daughter isn’t returning our texts'”
“This does not sound like a relationship that is comfortable for OP’s daughter and likely feels good and supportive to her.”
“First, OP assumes that daughter and her husband’s vacation must just be an excuse not to see people and completely dismisses that they might enjoy time in the wilderness for itself.”
“Second, she is telling daughter [her] motives. Don’t do that. Only daughter knows daughter’s motives.”
“Third, she proceeds to tell her adult daughter what she can and can’t do with her vacation time. OP can’t dictate to an adult like that.”
“Fourth, OP’s husband then starts lecturing his daughter, which doesn’t even work to convince actual children of anything, let alone adults. And people don’t like being lectured on how wrong they are. No one does.”
“Now, sadly but unsurprisingly, OP”s daughter is not answering their texts and calls. Likely because she expects those texts and calls to be emotionally unpleasent for her, full of being dismissed, told her feelings, dictated to, and lectured.”
“A better way for OP to communicate is to validate her daughter’s feelings and then share her own feelings without judgment.”
“Something like ‘It sounds like you guys have some pretty nice plans to spend time together as a couple in the wilderness. I bet it will be really beautiful there in the winter. I’m really going to miss seeing you for Christmas though. It’s a family tradition and I haven’t seen you since spring.’ Then she can see what daughter says.”
“If daughter is [set] on her plans, don’t push or guilt. Instead say ‘It’s been a long time since we’ve seen each other and I’d really like to spend some time with my awesome daughter and her husband. How could we arrange that?'”
“Be clear it doesn’t have to be on Christmas, but you’d like to see her sometime. You can also add you’d like to do a gift exchange with them, if you would, and when can we do that?”
“In this case, you should apologize. Say you shouldn’t have judgmental and pushy you were hurt that they didn’t want to see you over the holidays but that’s also a wake up call. You’d like to work on having a better relationship. What can you do?” – TheHatOnTheCat
The subReddit seems pretty convinced of the couple’s YTA status. After all, the OP’s daughter is an adult, married, and not obligated to appear at everyone else’s festivities.
Also, all of this aside, the couple may have just needed a winter away. It is 2020 after all. Who knows what will happen next year?
If one holiday away is enough to hurt the family’s relationship, they have much bigger issues to work out.