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Old 12-29-2013, 11:06 PM
 
Location: Wisconsin
16,864 posts, read 17,174,204 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kibbiekat View Post
Going to a grandparent's house doesn't have to be the ultimate Christmas memory. Families have all kinds of different traditions. It is common to pass the torch to a younger generation (it has to happen eventually, right?). Some do it earlier than others. I never once had a Christmas at my maternal grand parent's house. The torch had been passed to my mom and her siblings before I was even born. Still, the whole family gathered every year.

I'm surprised the OP spends half of his Christmas day driving and hasn't complained about that. Sorry, but I wouldn't do that, especially not after having a kid. I would give more advice if I had a better idea of who all comes to this gathering and where they all live in relation to the OP and his in-laws.
When I was growing up the cousins on both sides of the family were extremely close yet we never had Christmas at a grandparents house. Possibly because their were 9 children on my father's side and 7 children on my mother's side but every family had Christmas with their own family in their own house. That was always the tradition. Sometimes you may visit other relatives around Christmas, or invite the grandparents to your house, but your family did your own traditions.

Now my siblings and I are extremely close, but again, we spend Christmas with our immediate families. As I have posted before we do have "Family Name Christmas" once a year, for the last 35 years, with every sibling & spouse and as many children and grandchildren and great grandchildren that can come (two years ago we had people from 8 or 9 states) but it is NEVER EVER on Christmas. It used to be in January and now typically held in the summer. Since we don't exchange gifts, we sometimes have several "Family Name Christmases" a year (also known as giant family reunions).
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Old 12-29-2013, 11:28 PM
 
Location: earth?
7,288 posts, read 10,804,553 times
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I don't think the gift thing is a big thing at all - although it is strange.

The larger issue is that you have a toddler and Christmases are precious for young children and "should" be spent in the comfort of your own home.

I would advise that you are now going to start your own tradition Christmas mornings, and that they are free to join you for dinner, should they choose to make the trip and stay in motel or whatever.

If not, Skype or something.

It sounds completely miserable the way you described it and you have already lost two precious year's of celebrating at home with your toddler.
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Old 12-29-2013, 11:37 PM
 
4,787 posts, read 9,241,053 times
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OP- You've got to figure out another way of doing this. Your MIL is overwhelmed. She's not getting any younger and she's working full time. Then she has a total of 12 people in her house for a couple of days with one bathroom !! And another 8 or so show up for Christmas Eve.

You leave for a long drive back home on Christmas Day. I imagine that means you all have dinner at a fairly early time in the afternoon. MIL doesn't even have time for a leisurely Christmas morning. She's up very early preparing a meal for a good sized group. It's a few days of non stop chaos for her - and everyone else involved.

First off, forget staying there ever again. Just get a motel room for a couple of nights. It's worth every penny. Forget about the Christmas gifts they give your child. He's barely a toddler, he doesn't need expensive gifts.

Sometime long before next Christmas, sit down in person with your in-laws and discuss Christmas. Try to find out if they are having this group stay at their house because they want to or because they feel they are expected to. Maybe they would like everyone to stay someplace else. Maybe they don't really want to host Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Maybe they are fed up to here with all of it but don't know how to stop. Let them know it's OK to try to arrange Christmas in some other manner. Christmas Eve dinner at a restaurant, etc. ( everyone pays their own way).

If they insist on hosting Christmas the way it has been, then you have to decide whether to keep going there or whether to start your own tradition of staying home on Christmas Day with your own little family. You could always visit your in-laws the weekend after Christmas when you could have some quality one on one time with them.
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Old 12-29-2013, 11:49 PM
 
2,575 posts, read 4,670,281 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaseMan View Post
I get it...he's only two years old, it doesn't matter. It's just...well, I think most grandparents do a bit more for their only grandchild.
My father died when my son was 2, and due to us living on different coasts, only met his only grandchild when my son was 6 months old. He barely paid any attention to him at all, never sent any kind of gift when he was born 10 days before Christmas, or at Christmas, nothing. While we were visiting, I commented that he didn't seem very interested in his grandson, and his reply was, "Why should I be? He's not a (our last name) baby." My son has his dad's last name, which I never adopted. I was astounded that the fact that my son had his father's last name made him a non-person in my father's eyes. I suppose if my brother had ever had any children, my father would have fawned over them.

So I certainly understand your feelings, but I don't think it's that unusual, unfortunately. I know one thing - if I ever have grandchildren while I'm alive, they're getting "grandma-spoiled."
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Old 12-30-2013, 03:21 AM
 
Location: Ostend,Belgium....
8,823 posts, read 6,344,076 times
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If your MIL is working fulltime and not able to get any extra time off at Christmas time, you may want to make it easier on her. The house sounds too small to accomodate everyone for a few days. Try the RV rental or having it someplace else? Try switching around every year maybe? Is the BIL not helping out as far as cleaning and cooking when there's a full house?
If there are financial problems, it may be better left to your wife to ask about them.
There's too much pressure on all things Christmas and having traditions that last. Sometimes it's just not feasable. Years ago, women stayed home and did household things and one income was enough. If their income stayed the same for years, life's also gotten more expensive so it makes sense they don't have enough anymore.
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Old 12-30-2013, 06:08 AM
 
Location: Wisconsin
7,215 posts, read 7,878,366 times
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Thanks for all the input folks. You've given me some things to think about.

I agree that my wife needs to be the one to bring it up. I don't intend to say a word about it personally until she does.

As far as driving home Christmas Day, that's just what we've done...we used to then do Christmas with my family very late in the day, but that got to be too big of a rush. Now we usually do it a couple days after Christmas, which is fine.

We did "Christmas morning" with our son, the day after Christmas. Kind of limited time, as I had to work later in the morning. Still, it was fine though.

The RV idea is an interesting one. We'd have to really talk about the feasibility and cost of it. As far as motels, the closest ones are 30-45 minutes away (my in-laws live pretty deep in the true "northwoods" of Wisconsin). I doubt the in-laws would be happy with us staying that far away.

MIL does work full time. FIL had a stroke several years ago. While he is doing fine now, he can no longer work and is on disability. They are both in their mid 60's.

re: BIL, he graduated in May and is still trying to find work. That's another whole story that I won't get into...but yeah, he probably could help out around the house more but isn't exactly the most motivated person in the world.

As far as relocating the annual gathering, it would be difficult. All the other relatives live nearby my in-laws, so it wouldn't make sense or be feasible for us to host everyone. A couple of the aunts have hoarder tendencies, and their houses simply aren't suitable to have company over, much less a family gathering.
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Old 12-30-2013, 06:44 AM
 
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We were in the same situation two thanksgivings ago; hubby wanted to go to his mom this time, but there was his sister coming too, and we have 3 kids...so it was going to be the 5 of us in one small room...also small house with two large dogs stinking and shedding like it's no tomorrow. Also up north where it was cold and dingy outside, so we couldn't be outside if we wanted to; too cold, and nothing to do.

I backed out; myself and our youngest stayed home. In no freakin way would I have gone, and cramped myself like that. Not to mention the cherry on top was that his sister which only has one child was going to take the biggest bedroom, and so the 5 of us would have had to sleep scattered around the living room! FU-NO Thanks! His sister is a b*tch and a half.

Usually I rather other people NOT buy anything for my kids; send a card, and maybe a gift card...other than that I rather they don't because it is usually something that will be donated as it is not something we would want them to have; small chocking parts etc.

I would suggest next time stay home. Make a new tradition for yourselves. Get up Christmas morning home, make some hot chocolate, watch the Disney Christmas Day parade, and open presents at your own pace! Nice calm, and relaxing! Why go to someone else only to get annoyed and aggravated!? and be subject to a "one bath" situation!?



Quote:
Originally Posted by MaseMan View Post
I was really debating if I should post about this, but here goes.

My wife and I have been married ten years. We have a son who is just over two years old. Our annual Christmas tradition is to drive to her parents on the 23rd, and drive back home on Christmas Day. That is just how it has always worked out. The trip is about four hours, one way.

Her mom started hosting the Christmas gatherings about twelve years ago, after her own mother's health declined and she was moved to a senior care home (before eventually passing away). They have a small three bedroom ranch home. We stay in one small bedroom with our son, and my sister-in-law and her husband stay in another bedroom. Their brother (who is living at home right now) relocates to a partially finished room in the basement, along with one of his cousins. Another aunt and uncle stay in the living room...yeah, it's pretty cramped, and there's only one bathroom.

Christmas Eve consists of over 20 people crammed into this house. I spent much of the evening on my feet, due to lack of chairs.

The trip this year really got to me. We got there, and the house wasn't clean or picked up at all. Now, my in-laws aren't much for house keeping, so this wasn't a shock. However, they now have two really nice dogs...who both shed a lot. I'm not just talking a bit of hair...they shed A LOT. Did I mention I have allergies? They did get around to vacuuming a bit, after we had already arrived.

Our room wasn't done up at all. Bed unmade, stuff piled up in one half of the road. I admit, I asked my wife a bit sarcastically "Where's our son going to sleep?"

Mother-in-law got home from work and exclaimed "We're not ready for Christmas!" I helped unload her car, which was full of groceries. No big deal at this point. There's wasn't much room in the kitchen to put all the stuff, though.

Christmas morning, we unwrapped gifts. My in-laws are not well off, but I'm starting to wonder if they're having some financial issues beyond the normal, though I'm not sure what it could be as they have the same income they've had for several years and their home is paid off.

The reason I bring this up is that they gave our son a stocking full of a few very meager gifts. This included some prepackaged store bought cookies and a couple other things. Now, don't get me wrong...I'm not expecting much. They don't have to do anything. I get it. But this is their only grandchild, and they gave him a few small items, and a couple of those "Brainquest" (age appropriate) flash card games. My mother-in-law told me beforehand, "We didn't do much for gifts this year," as if to caution me. I shrugged it off at the time.

I get it...he's only two years old, it doesn't matter. It's just...well, I think most grandparents do a bit more for their only grandchild.

I wonder if they're tired of hosting Christmas. I brought it up to my wife today, and told her maybe she should talk with them before next year comes around.

Any thoughts would be appreciated. Family and the holidays are such a delicate thing.
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Old 12-30-2013, 07:03 AM
 
Location: New Jersey
12,775 posts, read 7,785,933 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willow wind View Post
OP- You've got to figure out another way of doing this. Your MIL is overwhelmed. She's not getting any younger and she's working full time. Then she has a total of 12 people in her house for a couple of days with one bathroom !! And another 8 or so show up for Christmas Eve.

You leave for a long drive back home on Christmas Day. I imagine that means you all have dinner at a fairly early time in the afternoon. MIL doesn't even have time for a leisurely Christmas morning. She's up very early preparing a meal for a good sized group. It's a few days of non stop chaos for her - and everyone else involved.
I agree with this and would like to add: I am a grandmother and will be retiring at the end of next year. Every penny I can save is going into my savings account, so no more expensive gifts for anyone now. I'm not in financial distress or anything (OP mentioned his in-laws own their house, etc.) but it can be a little scary going from working and making a very good wage, to retirement.
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Old 12-30-2013, 07:18 AM
 
Location: The #1 sunshine state, Arizona.
12,172 posts, read 15,407,620 times
Reputation: 64029
A lot of times if you examine family traditions as an outsider, you realize they don't make sense. These holiday gatherings look more like a hostage taking, than a family event. My husband and I do what we can to get out of attending these over crowded get-togethers. Come on, I stopped crashing on living room floors in college.
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Old 12-30-2013, 08:03 AM
 
Location: Brentwood, Tennessee
42,606 posts, read 41,339,699 times
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Knowing that your FIL is on disability, I now can see what this is like from your MIL's point of view. WHat you have experienced is what happens when one overwhelmed person single-handedly provides "Christmas!!!" for an entire side of the family. I really feel for her.

My MIL used to get migraines on Christmas after prepping for an in-home holiday for 3 sons and their families. It is constant, nonstop work - planning, shopping, cooking, cleaning, lather, rinse, repeat. But she never told us about the headaches. My FIL FINALLY mentioned it to one of the sons. SO we changed the traditions the minute we found out.

Next year, even if you won't be there on the 25th, offer to provide the ham or turkey for them, already cooked. You can ship most anything nowadays. Rent the RV. Do something - anything - to lessen this burden for your MIL. It is too much, as you now know.
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