Hi folks,

That time of year is on us again.  It's going to be harder than usual for me this year as it'll be the first year in all of my 58 years that I haven't spent Christmas with mum.  For the last 20 years, too, Christmas has just been me and mum.  I've usually gone to her place on Christmas Eve and stayed over until Boxing Day.  It's been our special time together.  My brother and his wife live just a few minutes away, but they've never invited her over in all of that time, and they always spend Christmas with my sister-in-law's family.  They usually called in on mum for a couple of hours on Christmas Eve... and then she wouldn't see them again until the new year (though my brother would always give mum a ring on Christmas morning).  For a few years now, I've had a standing joke that he should have taken her surname at marriage rather than the other way around!  I've spoken at length about her in other posts, so people will know how I feel.  She's a narcissist.  She's brainwashed my brother over the years, estranged him from his natural children, created difficulties for me... basically, caused a lot of emotional damage.  She's divisive and manipulative: a very toxic person anyway, but especially to someone like me.  For a long time now, I've kept friendly with them mainly for mum's sake.

Now that mum's no longer with us, there isn't really a need to keep that pretence up any longer.  So I've told my brother that I'm simply not going to do Christmas this year.  I don't especially feel like it, anyway - but mainly it's so that I don't need to have anything to do with them.  I'm not going to write Christmas cards or buy any gifts.  We only really gave token gifts, anyway.  There are some family members - a couple of aunts and cousins - that I could send cards to.  But my brother's in touch with them as well, and I'm sure he'd find out and would be upset.  So it's just easier to leave it altogether.  I think they'll all understand, anyway.

I can't help feeling mean about it all, though.  It's just a card, after all.  I sent my brother and his wife their birthday cards and gifts as normal in July (three months after mum's passing) because I would have felt awkward not doing it.  It was a token gesture on my part.  A bit of 'people-pleasing, too.  I need to break ties, though.  They don't really mean anything to me.  Also, I find it very hard to forgive some of the damage that she's done.  My brother's natural daughter, who's now over 40 and happily married and settled, still has tears over the 'loss' of her father.  I think, if I'm absolutely honest, he suffers because of it all and is torn up inside.  But nonetheless, he's made his life choices.  If anything happened to his wife - and her health is precarious - he would be totally lost.  Having said that, her family will take him in.  He spends more time with them than with any on my side.  He even holidays with them. And, as I said, he's always with them for Christmas.

Families!  I wonder how other people feel about my intentions - and how other people deal with these matters themselves at this time.  It's very difficult.

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  • I don't find it mean at all, I'd think at least this year a lot of people will understand why you don't want to do Christmas in any form, even if they don't actually fully understand it. If your brother would like to see more of you (for real, I mean, not just meaningless cards) then that's in his hands. If he tried to achieve that and you would block any attempt that way, that would be understandable but sad, but not sending a Christmas card that both of you know would just be done out of politeness can't possibly break his heart that much. I'd think this year you can do anything you want, maybe reassess things next year regarding your other relatives. Sorry if I'm wrong with this, it's not so easy to understand this British obsession with Christmas cards that actually mean nothing to either.

    I hope you'll be o.k. Somehow it's not really possible to not do Christmas, is it? Unless you have stocked up on food until January and lock yourself in, no radio, no TV... It has seemed very tempting to me to just stay in UK and not bother with it, but think it would have been rather awful really. You don't really have a choice though, you can't do Christmas as usual, so in case loneliness does start to creep in or the whole thing pulls you down a lot I hope you can find yourself some suitable company, even if it's just on this forum or so. Your needs are important too, not just those of everybody around you (while still quite far away)!

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