Nothing like the holidays to remind you how family-oriented you are not.
Last year, the Boston Globe reported that an increasing numbers of single adults are choosing to spend the holidays with their friends, rather than travel home to hang out with their actual family.
They cited the cost of travel, family conflict, work schedules and other reasons to skip family time. But no matter what the reason, they found that more than 40 percent of unmarried Americans say they’re just fine not visiting biological relatives during the holidays. According to a study in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, more people have supplanted their biological families with homemade families made up of friends and neighbors whom they hold dear. “Basically,” The Atlantic Wire writer Dashiell Bennet summarized, “We’d all rather be on Friends than The Cosby Show.”
To that I say, don’t leave us married chicks out!
I would love to spend Christmas at home with my husband just hanging out with our friends. These are the people I see on a regular basis, talk to all the time, hang out with and generally feel closer to than a bunch of random cousins I’ve never met.
It’s not that I don’t like my family. I love my immediate family. My mom and sister live pretty far away, but we’re extremely close and my sister’s kids are my heart. (Yes, I consider my nieces and nephews to be my immediate family). It’s my extended family that I am not close to at all and therefore wouldn’t mind skipping their gatherings around the holidays.
I blame my dad for this. His parents passed away a while ago and he had never been close to most of his siblings nor their kids. He was so much younger than his thirteen siblings, that his three oldest sisters had children before he was even born. As a result of his deliberate distance, growing up, I didn’t really know my aunts, uncles and cousins. My dad didn’t make it a priority for me to get to know them, so I didn’t.
Oddly, ever since my dad died a few years ago, it seems that nearly every member of my extended family has tried to forge a relationship with me – even if only to be comfortable enough to ask for money or for me to drop everything when they’re in town for a visit. The problem is that these people are virtual strangers to me and they don’t seem to realize that.
My mom tried to defend her ex-husband’s family saying that maybe they wanted to be in my life before my dad passed but he wouldn’t let them. Considering I’ve had the same phone number for at least ten years, it seems extremely suspect for all of them to suddenly find my number and Facebook page now. What’s the point?
To be fair, my annoyance with them is more my fault than their fault though. I’m cool with some of my cousins because I actually like them, but I don’t feel some special connection to others just because we’re relatives. I’m just not a family-oriented person like most people are.
My husband is the complete opposite. He comes from a very close-knit family and most of his immediate and extended family all live in one small town. When we spend Christmas in his hometown, it’s a huge all-family occasion whereas my idea of a great Christmas is taking a couples’ trip with just my husband. My mom and my stepdad take expensive just-the-two-of-them trips during Christmas all the time and that seems like so much fun! My mom doesn’t mind if we’re not at her house on the particular holiday – especially if we were going on a cruise or something instead, but I don’t know what would happen if I even suggested my husband and I skip Christmas Day with his family to go on a trip by ourselves. I’m sure his family would not go for that at all.
Honestly, it’s pretty cool how close his whole family is and maybe I will learn to be more family-oriented as time goes on. For now, I’m just bracing myself through the holidays and keeping my phone battery charged. Sure, I have to spend time with my family because that’s what holidays are for, but I will definitely be talking to my friends throughout because, to me, they’re family too.
What do you think? Would you (or have you) spent the holidays with friends instead of family? Are you family-oriented or “friends-oriented”?
Follow Alissa on Twitter @AlissaInPink