Am I a Scrooge for skipping out?

Her new boss needs her in the office. Her boyfriend’s mom wants them home for the holidays.

Find out how our elder suggests honoring Christmases past, present, and yet to come.

Dear EWC:

My boyfriend and I recently moved to Vermont from Pennsylvania because he was offered a teaching job. We both still have strong ties, family, and friends, in Pennsylvania that we are maintaining, even though it is an 8-hour drive away.
Since moving to Vermont three months ago, I have not been able to find permanent work. I have been working for a staffing agency, but even so for the last five weeks I have been jobless and my personal bills have been piling up, and I have no means to pay them.
Recently, my staffing agency provided me with wonderful news. They found me a position with an AMAZING company. I’m assigned to work there for three months as a temp, and if they like me and I’m a good fit, the job will become permanent. The company offers the best benefits of any job I’ve seen, good pay, job security, and it’s precisely the type of job I was looking for. All in all it’s perfect for me. However, there is a catch.

Christmas Day and New Years Day are the only two days I would be allowed off for the holidays. If I couldn’t make that work, they would be forced to go with another candidate and I would lose the opportunity. I told them I would take the job anyway, because I am desperately in need of money.

This job is causing a major conflict between my boyfriend and me. Christmas means so much to him. He has never missed one and is incredibly homesick as it is. Because it is such a long drive, each way, if I take this job, it means not seeing any member of his family or mine for Christmas at all. My family is being very understanding, so that is not an issue.

My boyfriend and I have discussed this problem until we were both emotionally exhausted. He suggested I work up until the Friday before Christmas, so I could at least get five weeks in, then quit so we could go home as originally planned (for a whole week). He said that if I really wanted to stay with the company, and if I couldn’t find another suitable job, that he would reluctantly understand. I know that the logical thing to do would be to keep the job, and sadly miss Christmas, however…

My boyfriend’s mother will one day become my mother in law. I like her. She likes me. I do not want to destroy our relationship and make her hate (well, maybe not hate, but resent) me for keeping her son away from her and the rest of his family on Christmas. I overheard him talking to his mother today, and she was very angry, saying family was more important than a job.
I REALLY do not want to quit this job. I want this job very desperately. It’s beyond perfect. I might not find another one, and it’s highly unlikely I’ll find one this good. I’m financially desperate. But I also do not want to hurt the people I love. I have no idea what to do.

Pickles-Marie replies:

Holiday traditions will continue to change as your life and location change. You and your boyfriend need to start new holiday traditions of your own. While your families will always be important, your way of relating to them including your holiday traditions will continue to change. Your boyfriend’s mother may have cried because she saw that things were changing. Her ‘little boy’ won’t always share the same holiday traditions with her now that he’s grown, moved, and attached to you. You two shouldn’t allow his mother to tell you what to do. You are adults and need to decide what to do for yourselves.

Your boyfriend’s mother’s remark about family being more important than work wasn’t completely right. The two of you are a small family now. You both need work to ensure the welfare of your little family, right? I worry that your boyfriend has shown a bit of disregard for you. He is encouraging you to quit your job for the sake of his family holiday. He is viewing, perhaps, your job as unimportant and his family’s wishes as all-important. Not good!

While work shouldn’t be more important than family, employment is essential to life. You shouldn’t blow a job just to spend a few days with your respective families especially since you told your employer you would be there. Giving up the job to be home at Christmas would be foolish. It’s only a few days. Breaking your word with this employer would be irresponsible.

I think if the two of you are going to continue to live in Vermont, you are going to have to come up with holiday traditions that gel with your jobs. As a teacher, he’ll always have generous amounts of vacation; as a more traditional employee, your vacation time, even for unpaid leave, will always be limited. This year he could go to Pennsylvania by himself. He might be able to afford to fly if he was the only one traveling. And the two of you could celebrate your own private holiday before or after Christmas.


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