It’s Okay to Enjoy Other People’s Kids During the Holidays

Hanging out with cousin Francis and the offspring of my cousins Rob and Candace.

Dear friends,

I survived Thanksgiving. 1636 miles of driving. Four different motels. Some much-needed hugs and talks with loved ones, too much good food, and getting reacquainted with my niece, nephew, cousins, and six children ranging from five months to six years old, and two dogs. Exhausting but also wonderful. Three of the little ones were my brother’s grandchildren. The other three belong to my cousin. Thanks to Covid, the kids hadn’t seen me in two years. They weren’t quite sure who I was at first, but we worked that out. I have precious memories of playing in the sandbox, making pretend meals, snuggling, and talking. So sweet. So fun. So loud and messy. 🙂 And no, I didn’t feel bad about not having children. Maybe it’s my age, but I was able to just enjoy the children for the magical beings they are. 

Being an aunt rocks. I hope I don’t have to stay away so long next time. One of the little cousins has been video-chatting with me on Facebook messenger. It’s so fun to see her gap-toothed smile on the screen. I think I need to do more online visits. Aunt Sue is tired of driving. 

Will they come to Oregon to visit me? Maybe, maybe not. Young families are not as portable as single adults like me. Watching their struggles for a few days has opened my eyes to the challenges of parenthood that come between the cute baby phase and sending them off to college. I need to make the effort because they just don’t have the time or the energy right now. That may be true in your family, too. 

Only now that I’m back at home do I feel lonely and miss the company and the commotion. If you are finding the holidays very painful right now, believe me when I say that they will become easier as you pass menopause and move on to other possibilities. 

So, tell me. How did your Thanksgiving go? Are there things you did this year that you will not do next year? Did you try my suggestions from last week about speaking up when people say stupid things about you not having children? Please share in the comments. Thanksgiving was just the warmup. Hanukkah is happening now, and Christmas is coming at us like a runaway stagecoach. We need all the support we can get.

Hugs from Aunt Sue 

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3 thoughts on “It’s Okay to Enjoy Other People’s Kids During the Holidays

  1. Sue,

    My Thanksgiving was so so. My wife and I ate at Ruth’s Chris. Both of her son from her first marriage called and her grandsons came by. I feel so inadequate around them. I care for them, but I don’t unconditionally love them. They are my DNA and that matters to me. I’ve tried to be the doting grandfather to her grandsons. Sue, I just can’t do it. They aren’t mine and I really don’t care if I never see them. I know a lot of people will see this as an evil in me. And it’s their right.
    I will tell you that I’ve caught some grief about my feelings. They’re my feelings and I’m ok with them. If people don’t like it, so be it.

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  2. Sue, I love the title of this post. It IS okay to enjoy other people’s kids during the holidays. It doesn’t confirm or negate any feelings we might have about not having our own. And if it brings us joy, and them joy, then that’s a good thing. I love the idea of you video-chatting with one of the youngsters.

    And I do think it becomes easier when we are a bit older – because realistically, we couldn’t have a six-year-old, so there are no hauntings in that respect.

    I’ve done a conversion of miles to kms – you drove a LONG way (that’s like driving the length of NZ and half-way back again, very roughly)! I’m not surprised you wouldn’t want to do that too often.

    I’m very glad you had a lovely Thanksgiving.

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  3. I had a lovely Thanksgiving. My brother’s kids are older and so much fun. I do get a little jealous of my brother and his wife. I know that in the years to come they will continue to enjoy their children as they marry and provide grandchildren. My parents will be gone then and who knows how family gatherings will unfold in the future. I’m starting to understand that it’s not my brother’s (or anyone’s) responsibility to provide a place for me. I want to start moving towards a real understanding that it’s my own responsibility to make sure that my future is full of good people – be it family or friends.

    My in-laws all behaved themselves and my most problematic sister-in-law did not attend. I got to enjoy her children without her lurking ear listening to everything I say. Many of my nieces and nephews are teens now and there was a lot of cheerful chatter about mindless things which I was happy to participate in.

    In my area an older couple with 4 grown children had to endure an unthinkable loss when they recently lost all four of their grown children to a tragic accident. The spouses and young grandchildren survived. But the children they raised and sent out into the world are gone. All of them. Now they are in my shoes – wondering what their future holidays will look like. They probably always assumed that when they lost their spouse that they would be absorbed into the holiday party of one of their children. Now what? Especially when those spouses eventually remarry. What they earned, and once took for granted, is now unknown.

    Am I lucky to be spared the pain that they have even if my future might be a little sparse. Or are they luckier to have had those wonderful memories even if bittersweet. Unimaginable. So I’m trying hard this year to count my blessings and live in the moment.

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