My family and I are in the midst of booking our annual Christmas vacation, which has been a tradition for as long as I can remember.
What started out as a small gathering in my uncle’s cabin when we were kids has grown into a big deal – and this year we’re all heading off to Germany so that my mom can finally live out her dream of strolling through a real Christmas market.
There are 14 of us going in total which has made planning a bit crazy – particularly when it comes to budgeting, with some of the family wanting to scrimp while others want to splurge.
I don’t come from a wealthy family but I’m pretty successful now and have developed what I guess you’d call a taste for luxury. Put it like this: there’s no way I’m happily spending eight hours in coach, squashed between strangers with questionable hygiene.
Dear Jane, I want to fly myself in first class for my family vacation – my mom says it makes me look spoiled and is uninviting me from the trip
So when it came to booking our flights, I told everyone I’d pay for myself to fly first class. I work a really hard job and as far as I’m concerned the R&R portion of my vacation starts the moment I set foot in the lounge and order my first glass of wine.
Sadly, as far as my family is concerned, that’s not acceptable.
When I told my mom about my plans, she said I was ruining family time, and that we all had to fly together. She said my aunts would think I was superior if I flew by myself in first.
We ended up having a pretty awful fight, where she accused me of ‘hoity toity ways’, and said I should probably skip the whole trip.
I feel like I shouldn’t be the one backing down here but she won’t see sense or reason on this. Do I have to sacrifice my boundaries in order to make my family happy, just because they can’t afford the same luxuries I can?!
International best-selling author Jane Green offers sage advice on DailyMail.com readers’ most burning issues in her Dear Jane agony aunt column
Dear Plane Outraged,
On the one hand, you work hard, you clearly have the kind of disposable income that allows you to fly first class, and there should be no reason why you don’t treat yourself to the kind of vacation you feel you deserve.
However, this trip isn’t about you, but a family vacation, and an annual tradition.
I’m assuming you have flown in the back of the bus before, or this issue would have come up. Your vacation may start with a free glass of wine in the first class lounge, but unless your family joins you, you’re already separating yourself from your them, which is the issue here.
Family trips are never about us; they are about mucking in, accepting that we get to do what we want on our own vacations, but when we are travelling in a pack, we put our own needs aside to do what’s best for the group.
If your family are travelling together en masse, then perhaps their vacation also starts at the airport, all together. Removing yourself for the flight may feel to your family, as your mother is indicating, that you are removing yourself from the group.
If you are able to explain to your mother that you need some quiet ‘me time’ on the plane, but plan on doing everything else with the family as soon as you land, it may assuage her fears.
If not, book that seat in coach and slum it a little – who knows, given the close quarters you might even make some new friends… Buy yourself a good neck pillow, download some relaxing playlists on Spotify, and pick up an excellent book.
I got married in 12th grade and thought it would be the answer to all my problems.
My home life was never that great – I was the youngest of seven kids and my parents were really strict. In high school I was probably the only 16 year old not allowed to leave the front yard, even though I was never really in trouble.
I had no friends or birthday parties, or anything like that. My parents used to fight all the time and I would see my father physically abusing my mom as a child.
So marriage seemed like an escape.
Until it wasn’t.
Our relationship ended up being completely loveless and I had lost all hope until I eventually met my soulmate at work. We fell very quickly in love and I had planned to leave my husband for him.
But then I discovered that I was pregnant – and when I told him, he said he wasn’t ready to be a dad, and told me to get an abortion, which I couldn’t bear to do.
So I made the worst decision. I told my husband that the child was his and have kept that secret ever since.
Dear Jane’s Sunday Service
It is so easy to judge others, forgetting that in most cases we do not set out to hurt people, but we are all human, fallible, all make mistakes; most of us are doing the best we can with the knowledge that we have.
It is wise to remember this before jumping into judgment.
I’ve now been lying to him for 36 years, pretending this entire time that my baby girl is his daughter, despite knowing the awful truth.
As I have gotten older my feelings of shame and guilt have only grown. It’s now eating me up inside and I don’t know how much longer I can cope with it.
But surely it would break my husband’s heart to know the truth after all these years? Not to mention my daughter’s…
Dear Sordid Secret,
There is an old saying that secrets are sickness, and indeed, as you are discovering, bearing the weight of a secret such as this is a heavy burden indeed.
And the truth is, secrets like this are likely to come out, given how many DNA sites there are, how easy it is to do a test innocently thinking you might discover some interesting genealogy, only to discover that there are secrets far closer to home.
Your daughter is 36 and she deserves to know, as does your husband. I am presuming you are still together, and wondering whether you have learned to love him after all this time.
Certainly, it will be difficult to share this with both of them and no-one can predict their reaction. They may understand that you were very young at the time, emerging from a sheltered childhood, with little life experience, doing the best you could with the knowledge that you had.
I have watched people discover, through DNA sites, similar family secrets, and I have watched them emerge from the shock to realize that although their father is not their biological father, they are still, and will always be, their dad.
Similarly, when you have raised a child, attended their sports games, nursed their skinned knees, held them when they cry, they are still your child, whether you are tied by blood or not.
Whatever the outcome, I suspect you will be happier once freed from the burden of this secret. I wish you well.