Hax: Any marching orders should be your own

The Washington PostSeptember 13, 2013 

Carolyn: I recently got engaged to my best friend, and we couldn't be happier.

However, we are facing a difficult decision for the holidays this year and in the future. We live in D.C., and every Christmas, we have gone back to the West Coast to celebrate with his family. He rarely sees his family, so I've gladly accompanied him. This year, my mom finally put her foot down and told me how she felt about my not spending the past four Christmases with my side of the family. I completely agree, and I promised I'd be here this year. She was elated, and even agreed to take me to the airport after we open presents, so I can see my in-laws as well.

The problem is, not having my fiance with me on Christmas would be awful. He's extremely torn, he's never missed a Christmas morning with his family, but he also doesn't want to be without me.

I've stressed my side of the situation (that we should be a team, and I deserve to have a Christmas morning with my family), and his family has stressed theirs (they see him only a few times per year). He hasn't made up his mind yet.

Am I right to feel as though my fiance should make this sacrifice this year?

BLUE CHRISTMAS

"Who's right?" is not the question to be asking as you stand on the brink of "forever."

Instead, I suggest: "What serves us both here, with Christmas and in general, this year and from now on?"

I don't think it serves you or your fiance, for Christmas or any other important event, for this year or in perpetuity, to keep treating yourselves primarily as your parents' children.

You are adults and as such you are centers of your own families now. So, start thinking and planning accordingly. If you want to see your parents, then see them - on mutually agreeable dates. If this or that holiday just belongs at Mom's, then get there - but don't march there on anyone's orders but your own.

"Your" here refers to you and your fiance collectively, which is something else to get straight; if I read your letter correctly, you promised yourself to Mom without first huddling with Fiance. That's another precedent not to be setting.

Email tellme@washpost.com. Chat online at 10 a.m. Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.

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