Holiday Issues

Updated on October 08, 2010
M.T. asks from Pflugerville, TX
5 answers

Maybe I'm thinking too much into this so let me know what you think. Our situation in a nut shell. Married so of course 2 sides of the family, husband's parents divorced (they don't speak much, actually not at all), I have a son from a previous relationship who i split holidays with and we now have another child. The way I've always done holidays by the scheduling around when I have my son. If I had him after the Christmas then we celebrated when he came home and opened gifts then. When we first got married we were living in a small house and were having to go to my MIL house when we didn't have my older son so that we could also celebrate with my famiy when he came home. We recently purchased a large home, big enough to fit roughly 40 ppl seated at tables eating and plenty of floor space for everyone to open gifts. I had made the comment to my husband that we need to start having holidays at our house so that both sides get to all celebrate together and our son will be there bc we could work around the schedule. Everyone was in agreement on both sides including his mother. Last night she called and asked if we were coming for one of the holidays and mentioned it's been a couple of months since we've been up there. Usually when we mention her coming down here she's not all that excited about it and tries to make deals with us. If we come there she'll come here or she'll do this, etc.
A little side note is that his family seems to be more interested in the gifts than the family time. Ex: one year we were heading to his GM house to have Christmas with his side of the family. We were running about 15 min late and his mom called and said they were all waiting on us and the kids were waiting to open gifts. So I'm thinking the kids haven't opened gifts yet bc we're late, I'm feeling horrible and telling him to hurry. We got there and everyone had already opened gifts they were just waiting for us to get there so they could open what we bought them. In addition she never buys food so we end up having to purchase several meals for everyone while there. Last time we were there I was able to find a small pack of fish sticks for the kids to eat but nothing to go with it. Not even milk. I'm was brought up that when you go to visit or have ppl visiting the house you are going to plans out meals and buys groceries for the house. If we would have to buy food anyway I'd rather be at my house where I have things to cook and cook with and I'm buying it from the store instead of a restaurant. Last time we were there for a holiday she bought from a company, not a bad thing, but only bought enough for 4 ppl, there were 13 of us there and nothing was warmed up. My family goes all out on food and even does a little bit of a potluck so not one person is buying everything but large variety and everything is cooked at home most from scratch.
In addition to all of that my father recently went into remission from a rare cancer and now my mother is fighting cancer and if she doesn't respond well to treatment she could pass within a couple of months. She's stage 4 and the average for her type of cancer is 8 months. Our house, not only is a short 10 min drive for my parents but also handicap accessible and she would most likely be able to participate in the holidays. My MIL is about 3 hour drive and there are 2 to 5 of them (sister in law and 2 kids plus FIL) My MIL has always been on the selfish side and always making sure someone else doesn't get something that she doesn't. She has even compared time that my parents have spent with our children verses what she has gotten to spend with them but not willing to come here. She's come to our house once so far and while she was here sat on the couch and read a book for an hour then left. When we go there most of our time is spent with her in her computer room, FIL on another computer, kids in the game, my husband and I watching TV in the living room.
OK sorry so long, all of that brings me to my question...Should I just suck it up and us go there without our oldest and just wait to celebrate with our older son when he comes home or should I remind her that we were going to do holidays at our house so everyone could participate? This would put us doing Christmas on the 26th this year instead of the 24 or 25th. Thoughts?

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answers from Austin on

Laurie A. pretty much said what I was going to say. Stick to your plan and remember that no matter how hard you try, YOU CANNOT PLEASE EVERYONE. So sorry to hear about your parents. IMO, their needs this Christmas are more dire than your in-laws'.

I can sympathize with you. In-law issues are a real source of strife in my family. My blood pressure went up when I read your question and thought about what I'm going to have to go through in a few months with my own in-laws!

Best of luck to you and your family,



answers from Austin on

What you have is a failure to communicate. You commented to your husband about having everyone at your new home. The comment may not have gone further than that, meaning he didn't say anything to anyone else because it was just a comment, not a plan. It would have helped if you had told MIL and everyone else in the family that since you now have a big enough house, you would like to host everyone for Christmas. It's not too late to do that now. Add the fact about your parents. With extended and blended families, everyone needs to compromise: one year here, another year elsewhere. Or you can celebrate Christmas Eve or Day with immediately family and visit everyone else before or after. There's no rule that everyone must get together on the exact date, especially when people live far away from each other. That was doable decades ago when everyone lived close by; not today. It's also good to have new traditions. Explain to MIL that because of your son, you have to be flexible. And you also have your parents to think about. Life situations change and so everyone has to adapt. Good luck.



answers from Austin on

Every other year we go to the in laws, every other year we stay home. Since you alternate with your son's dad, maybe you could do something similar. If your MIL chooses not to come and participate in the holidays at your house, then don't guilt yourself, that's her choice. Just remind her that she is invited to join you at your house. My parents are divorced, so we have to divide our time between 3 households as well, so years ago I decided I would only do that every other year and I could enjoy the holidays with just my husband and daughter. Also, sounds like someone other than MIL needs to plan the meals when you all get together there. I'd talk to her about it and just say you'd like to be more prepared with meals and then offer to bring several things and get the other families to contribute as well. Also, our in laws have Christmas on Christmas every other year, and then have it the following week every other year (New Year's week) due to married children who spend Christmas with their families every other year. Having it the week after Christmas is so much more relaxing to me, more time to prepare and buy gifts during the sales, etc. Maybe something like that would work for you on the years you don't have your son for Christmas. The bottom line is that you have to do what works for your family and not always giving in to what other people want to do, (but maybe every other year suck it up.) :) Best wishes.



answers from Austin on

We have always handled this issue by celebrating at multiple houses in multiple cities on multiple days -- sometimes with Christmas Eve one place, Christmas Day another, and sometimes a Christmas celebration with part of the family a few days away from the actual date. That way you can enjoy time with your parents at your house and time with your husband's family at theirs. I'm sorry to hear that your parents have been diagnosed with cancer, and know some of what that's like from experience with both of my parents. I know that makes the holidays and all of the time you have together more precious, and agree that it's important to make the holiday season a good one for them and for all who love them -- at your house or at theirs.


answers from Austin on

Stick to your plan of having Christmas in your home and inviting everyone..

Make it an organized event.Be very honest about what the plans are and what will be needed, and what will be provided.
Here are just some suggestions and ideas.

Explain if there is room for people to stay overnight or not.
Give a list of hotels or motels near by.
Explain that in your home, breakfast is usually at 8:00am and it is cereal , fruit and stuff for toast and you will have eggs, milk and coffee available..

Let people know you keep sandwich makings available so people can help themselves to that.

Set time goals.. We will eat Christmas lunch at 1:00. I will be providing a Turkey , Ham and mashed potatoes,, please let me know what sides you all would like to provide.

We will open Christmas gifts from Santa Christmas morning when the kids wake up, on Christmas eve we will gather at 5:00 plan on eating dinner around 6:00 and open family gifts after the meal and then have dessert after gifts have been opened.

We will be attempting to have the kids take naps at their regular times, so we will be working around them, but everyone else can go about their business and continue to visit.

You may feel like you sound bossy, but people will appreciate, knowing what is expected, what is provided and what they can do to help..

Do NOT get pulled into MIL issues.. Let you husband know he is in charge of his mother, and you will be polite, but you will be too busy to take care of her emotional needs. If she gets on your last nerve, just tell her. "mom" I am glad you are here. I am doing my best.

"Mom" Sorry if your feeling are hurt, I promise, I am not trying to hurt anyone's feelings I was just hoping everyone could get along and make this a good holiday.

"Mom" this Holiday gathering is for the children, I just want them to have good memories. Help me, stay organized by...

Keep her busy, make sure EVERYONE knows what a great help she is.. and just do your best..

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