When this dad is upset with his son, he asks Reddit:
Ever since I can remember, our family has always gone on a hike the morning of Christmas. We did it all through my childhood, my husband’s family did it, my friend’s families are similar, though for some it’s just a walk, or some go into the city and do an easy 5 or 10k run.
My son Porter has been dating Emily for the past 6 months. I’m happy she’s going to join us.
They’re coming from the city about 3 hours away so they’ll be staying overnight. I’ve met Emily before and think she’s a great match for Porter. I know there’s all that hoopla about the MIL/DIL dynamic and I just have no time for any of that. If Porter likes her and she treats him with kindness, and he the same who am I to complain.
I skyped with them on Thanksgiving, just making plans for who’s bringing what for Christmas, gifts and such, and I mentioned that she should remember to bring her hiking boots but we’ll have plenty of yaktrax if the trails are icy.
She was visibly confused and asked what for, so I explained. She got quiet and asked if she had to. I said no, of course she doesn’t have to, but we’ve always done this and I was surprised Porter didn’t mention it.
The next day, Porter called, and explained that Emily is not in great shape and would struggle with keeping up, even on one of the easier trails nearby. He said that maybe we can just do a nice short family walk in the neighborhood this year so she feels more welcome.
I said that maybe the two of them can hang back and enjoy a nice quiet morning before the festivities begin while the rest of us go for the hike. I remember being young with Porter’s father and how special those early Christmas mornings always were.
Plus this will be her first time with the family and it’s going to be a LOT.
Porter got annoyed and said I’m not not hearing him. He said that he really thinks we need to cut the hike down or make different plans.
I told him in return that this is a family tradition that goes back for years, and changing it for one person isn’t fair to the rest of the family.
We’re at a stalemate. I even said that if they hang back for the morning, I’d be happy to go on a nice walk with Emily and Porter later in the day during a quiet moment. He said I’m still not hearing him.
AITA for not being willing to downgrade the hike to a little stroll around the neighborhood?
NTA. I 'hear' Porter and don't understand why he thinks his GF's abilities should dictate everyone else's plans and activities.
He’s free to do a shorter hike with her, too. While it would be nice for them to join the big hike, he can also take her on a shorter and much easier one.
ETA definitely NTA. It’s nice that he wants to accommodate her, but it shouldn’t be at everyone’s expense. They can have quiet couple time.
She’ll probably be grateful for it. If I could have skipped church and the in-law family walk back then just to have an hour or two alone, I would have been much happier.
Edsathlete counters with these points:
Honestly, NAH. Building off this comment because it really got me thinking.
As someone who has been the out of shape one and is not the disabled one, it's embarrassing as hell. There really is no win here. Change it, and she's going to feel like she's forcing you to change. \
Ask her to go, and it's going to highlight her shortcomings. Cancel it, and she's going to feel guilty. There really is no winner here. Nothing you do will make her not feel left out or that everyone is thinking about how out of shape she is. That's a conversation you might have to have with your son.
Also, speaking of which, maybe most importantly, does she know he's told you of this? That could change everything. If no, then you're really kind of stuck. He needs to talk to her first. Having someone speak for me and dictate my needs, especially about a sensitive subject like this, is at minimum embarrassing.
If yes, she knows about this conversation, then you do have options.
Option 1: I would recommend creating something for her that makes her feel important and included while also not having to do something she can't do. For example, does she like photography? Ask her to catch photos of everyone as they finish.
Even better option: You might be better having a conversation with her. Explain to her that you understand how singled out she feels and that you want to find a way to include her. Explain that the hike is important to you, but you want to find a way she can participate. Maybe she has an idea you haven't thought of.
Most importantly, no matter what you do, more than anything, don't placate or say 'maybe you'll be in better shape next year' or anything like that. Don't offer her fitness advice. Don't tell her, 'It's okay she looks pretty anyway.' None of that. That is the worst.