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MIL ruins Christmas again...and has set the stage for a terrible Christmas in 2020 as well.

strugglingSM's picture

My MIL (and the rest of DH’s family) manage to turn me into a Scrooge every year for Christmas.

Up until this year, DH had to split Christmas with BM, meaning he didn’t have his kids until 10am on Christmas Day.

In 2016, MIL insisted on having her family Christmas celebration on Christmas Eve (when DH’s kids weren’t around). Then told us we needed to drive down to BIL’s house on Christmas Day, so they could all see the kids. When we got there, BIL’s wife was annoyed to see us and after letting us stay briefly shuttled us out the door when her guests arrived. MIL then claimed she just misunderstood and BIL's wife thought that Christmas Eve was our family Christmas celebration. Despite all the misunderstandings, MIL insisted upon arranging an awkward gift exchange, where I didn't receive any gift because the person assigned to me (BIL's MIL) either forgot or didn't know they had me. I should also mention that this person had only briefly met me once, so maybe she just didn't get anything for me, because I'm basically a stranger to her.  

In 2017, MIL wanted us to bring the kids to her house after picking them up, instead of ours, because she wanted them to have breakfast with her. Fortunately, I convinced DH to say no, mostly because SSs need to know that DH is their parent, not MIL, but also from a logistical perspective it was good that I said no, because then MIL wasn’t even ready to do anything until noon. We then went back to BIL’s for an awkward Christmas where as part of MIL’s newly revamped gift exchange, we didn't pick names, but rather everyone was supposed to bring a gift. Only half of the people actually brought gifts and then SIL told her father which one to pick, so he would get her gift, so DH and I just ended up taking our own gifts home with one another. This white elephant gift exchange was completed with all the enthusiasm of an awkward, forced, office Christmas party. 

In 2018, we were supposed to host Christmas, but again, MIL made plans without us and expected us to also celebrate Christmas Eve (again without DH’s kids) with BIL’s in-laws (yes, my in-laws, in-laws, because dealing with your own in laws is not enough). When I suggested that maybe SIL’s family wanted to have their own celebration, MIL got upset with me and then got upset that DH and I didn’t go to Christmas Eve. Then BIL’s MIL didn’t come to our house because she was offended that we didn’t come to her house the night before. Because it was at my house, I included a note saying that there would be no adult gift exchange. 

This year, DH finally revised his agreement with BM - through a legally binding mediation - so he could alternate holidays  - meaning that he won’t have his kids at all on Christmas (and we can finally see my family!!), but will have them next year on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. He has been pushing for this since his divorce. BM agreed to this because she wanted more money and then immediately after the mediation told DH that she never intended to follow it anyway. DH told MIL and BIL about the agreement and asked them to support him in holding the line with BM. When MIL made some comments about Christmas he again reiterated that he would like her to stay out of it and not plan with his BM, who regularly uses MIL and BIL to try to force DH to do things that he has told her that he won't. Just last week, DH gets a long email from BM about how she’s planning with MIL for the kids to spend Christmas Day with her (because really she’s angling to demand the kids on Christmas Eve next year and also she couldn’t resist telling DH that MIL was going behind his back). DH texts MIL asking her to explain the email - she says “yes, I reached out. You’re going to be away, so I figured it wouldn’t matter.” Then he talks to MIL on the phone and at first she denies asking for the kids on Christmas Day, then later she kind of admits to it, but glosses over it. She also tells DH that he won't have to worry about next year, because he has an agreement with BM, so he will still be able to have SSs on Christmas Eve...why thanks for that observation MIL, will you be reminding BM that she (and her lawyer) signed a binding agreement stating that she and DH alternate Christmas holidays? Will you be the one telling SSs that they are now alternating Christmases, since they have already started crying to DH about "why are you trying to keep us from mom's family at Christmas next year?!" Yes, that's right, folks, BM has already started talking to SSs about Christmas Eve 2020. She has already threatened DH that she will make sure that SSs resent him for alternating Christmases. In her email to DH, she told him that she was planning with MIL for her to see SSs on Christmas Day in 2019, 2021, and 2023. When SS found out that DH and I were going to see my family for Christmas he wanted to come with us, so really, not sure he's really all that sad about missing time with BM's family. 

Mind you, we had already planned to have a family Christmas with her, BIL and family, and DH’s kids on December 22nd, but apparently that is not enough!!! You would think these people were all religious meaning the actual day of Christmas was important to them, but no, they are not. I think BIL and his wife are atheists. Also, if MIL is still going to see SSs on Christmas Day, why do I have to spend December 22nd celebrating Christmas with her?! Can't I alternate Christmases rather than allowing her lack of boundaries and judgment over what constitutes an "acceptable Christmas" to dampen my Christmas spirit, yet again. 

Yesterday, MIL sends out a group email to us, BIL and wife, SIL, BIL's in-laws (including wife's parents and brother and his wife) about the Christmas Gift Exchange. She tells everyone on the list that DH and I will be out of town, so we won't be participating, but wants to know what everyone else would like to do. Why couldn't we do a gift exchange on the 22nd, since MIL has said that will be our family Christmas?!! Just because BIL's in-laws won't be able to participate? I don't see her reaching out to my mom asking her if she wants to take part, so why do we have to include SIL's mom? To make matters worse, MIL is having surgery on December 19th and she told DH that she won't even be going to BIL's for Christmas, so why is she even trying to arrange a gift exchange that no one wants to participate in?! No one has replied and no one will reply. MIL regularly sends messages to which no one replies. I can't tell if she's just looking for attention, but really, if you repeatedly hear crickets in response to your inquiries, wouldn't you stop? She periodically will reach out to yell at DH about not replying (once she sent him a text saying, "didn't you see my emails?! Am I on your sh$t list?!" DH just replied, "No", because in all honestly, he had not seen her emails), even though his brother and sister don't reply, either. Since DH is divorced and has "brought shame upon the family" (according to MIL), she can pick on him apparently. 

I now understand why there are so many movies about people dreading holidays with their families because I dread Christmas with DH’s family. In addition to MIL, BIL is a total snake, BIL’s wife has spoken to me once in 5 years (MIL says she’s just a “bad communicator”), and DH’s sister is nearly 40, but gets treated like a pampered princess. In 2016, I had purchased Christmas Day evening movie tickets for me, DH, and his kids. MIL got mad at DH for not buying a ticket for his sister, so he gave up his ticket and I took his sister and his kids to the movies, while he pretended to be too tired to go (really, he just didn’t want to hear about it from MIL).


Gimlet's picture

 I'm stressed out reading this, what a passive aggressive and manipulative shitshow.

Your DH needs to set some boundaries, damn.  Your MIL is Toxic with a capital T.

strugglingSM's picture

Sort of in his defense, he has tried, but at this point he has given so much power away to MIL already that it's like screaming into the wind. 

After his mediation, he sent an email to MIL and BIL (who is also famous for meddling in DH's life to "protect the children") telling them that at the mediation, he and BM agreed to alternate Christmas and requested that they support him in this and not reach out to BM to schedule anything on Christmas Day. Then Christmas came up in conversation again with SSs. DH again calmly called MIL and asked her not to make plans with BM on Christmas Day and then told both SSs (who are teens, mind you, not toddlers) that they would be alternating Christmas this year, so he wouldn't see them this year, but next year, they would be with him for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. They accepted that. Then of course, BM ratted out MIL and her schemes (because as much as MIL can't resist to do things when asked to please not do them, BM can't resist telling DH about how his family conspires against him) and DH called his mother and told her that he wasn't happy and that his only other option was to cut her off. MIL responded by saying DH was just "at war with BM" and she (MIL) is forced to intervene because SSs "need to know that their family loves them." She then said that DH should see a counselor with her (I thought - great idea, because no counselor is going to tell MIL that her behavior is okay).

DH told me he's not saying anything else to his mother because she just ignores him, so he's just going to avoid MIL from now on, but not sure if that's what he really wants. 

He's gotten 100 times better at setting boundaries, but holding them is another story...especially because BM is always a willing participant in boundary-busting as well. 

I hope that when SSs are 18 and DH and I have moved out of state, leaving MIL alone without DH (who was her only dutiful child and the only one who ever did a thing for her) that she realizes that she did this to herself, but I know she won't...and I won't care, because she's pushed me so far over the edge. 

SM12's picture

I think at this point I would refuse all planned gatherings at MILs house.   Stop rearranging your schedule to accommodate BM and MIl.   

Have the kids when you are supposed to have them only, take the kids to see MIL when you have them and if BM wants to give up her tome for MIL then she can take them and pick them up without you or DH being there.   

strugglingSM's picture

I have started "having other plans" whenever DH's family plans anything. I was "busy" when BIL planned his "friends and family" barbecue this year (a annual event where I'm usually ignored or end up talking to whatever other random people are there), because in all honestly, I do not consider myself to be "friend or family" to BIL. BIL had a mini fit and told DH that I should change my plans, but I refused. This was before I even know that BIL meddled with BM. Now, BIL will get a perfunctory hello from me and that's it. 

This is challenging to do when they know I am around for holidays, but maybe I'll just start spending every Christmas with my family and DH can alternate his years (which he wouldn't like, because he actually really likes spending time with my family). 

I'm now going to be busy even when MIL wants to do something simple, because every time I agree to anything it becomes a problem. MIL is a judgy, guilt-trippy, blameshifter, so even brief interactions with her always end up in my feeling totally drained and angry for hours after. She is also terrible at planning anything, so usually gatherings are marred by one or more logistical snafu caused by her ineptitude, none of which she ever takes responsibility for. 

I should be nicer to DH about it, because it must feel just a little bad for your wife to tell you how much she dislikes your mother, but come on...also, I think he's always known how terrible his mother is. When I first met me, he told me that his sister lives in a foreign country because she wanted to get away from his mother. 

advice.only2's picture

Your MIL sounds like my mother, controlling and thinks they are the matriarch of the family and that when they snap their fingers everybody falls in line.

For years we were told we had to host Christmas at my house, and I had to do it my mother's way! The kids were not allowed to open anything until my parents and my uncle were there. Yeah try keeping the young eager kids away from presents when they have been up since 5 and it's now 7 and you are still telling them they have to wait.

Finally one year I snapped and told them to go ahead and open the gifts, when my parent's finally showed up the amount of crap I got for that was absurd! "Well I see we shouldn't have bothered coming over, the kids already opened their presents!" "I hope it's on video because now we will never have that memory!" Now years later my mother could care less and acts annoyed when we invite them over for Christmas.

strugglingSM's picture

Yeah, sounds like my MIL except that in additional to getting angry when she doesn't get her way, she also tries to Eeyore it up and pretend as if she's the unsuspecting victim whom everyone is always overlooking. 

advice.only2's picture

Yep my mom does that too, she plays like nobody loves her or cares about her, but when you try to show cocern or empathy she bites your head off.

Thisisnotus's picture

omg that makes me want to scream for you. Reading that is sort of like re living my past Christmas's. Ugh....

DH and BM have a detailed agreement.....with alternating Christmas each year...but it has NEVER happenend in 4 years. BM always ends up effing our plans and getting the kids.

So since the Step MIL and my FIL (dhs dad)  (the first 2 years) had BM and skids over for Christmas without ever telling DH. He found out from the kids. BM literally came to our house to get skids and said she had plans for them for Christmas....and then took skids to Step MIL and FIL's house. What??? If it were up to me.....DH and I would have never again not one time spoken to them again. DH did call his dad out on it....his dad claimed to not know that DH didn't know.....and apologized.

So the next 2 Christmases since step MIL could no longer (thanks to FIL) invite BM and skids over....she just skipped Christmas and pitched a fit saying how things are different and she doesn't know what to do. No tree, no gifts, no christmas.....uhhh okay.....OH wait....step MIL and FIL did come by to bring gifts to all the board games (they are LOADED)....but the next day went to BM's house and give the skids $500 each in cash......I guess that was so they didn't have to give my kids money.


strugglingSM's picture

I think that situation - with BM picking up the kids to take them to your DH's father's house - actually sounds worse than mine. I didn't know that was possible. 

Why are families so terrible to one another? Have they not heard of family loyalty? DH prides himself on being loyal, but man, his family loves to stab one another in the back...repeatedly...and then try to tell the person that they stabbed that they are not in fact bleeding and must be imagining things. 

Thisisnotus's picture

Oh, it was bad.

My Dh's family wasn't on his side at all during or after his divorce, even though the ex is pretty horrible. My family was also not on my side. I just can't imagine doing this to any of my children.

Thumper's picture

How old are the kids?

This is no joke,,,I would tell all of them to do what THEY want---you and dh will celebrate prior to Christmas on your own terms, at your own pace and at the date THEY will found out after the fact.

There is no way---my dh and I would play the games you and your dh does.

Our home, our holidays, our plans.

You guys need to grow up.


strugglingSM's picture

They are 13. Also, don't conflate MIL's game playing with my actions. I'm not playing games. I've been clear with MIL. I didn't go to Christmas Eve last year and I also called her out on causing a mess by not telling me that she was also planning Christmas Eve. This year, we are not going to Thanksgiving at her house - taking SSs to DH's cousin's house instead. MIL is having Thanksgiving at her home with her friend, because she didn't want to cancel on the friend and go to DH's cousin's house. She tried to convince DH to have dinner with her and dessert with his cousin, but he told her no. I also will likely skip December 22nd since all this madness happened. Maybe DH and I will go out with SSs on the 21st and call that our Christmas celebration and be done with it. Then he can take SSs to MIL's on December 22nd to satisfy her need to have a pretend Christmas with DH. I'll do my own thing next year and DH can decide on his own what he'll do. If he plans to fight with BM for the time that is rightfully his and spend it with SSs, he can do that, but on his own. If he'd prefer to have an alternate Christmas with me and SSs  before Christmas, then I will participate. 

lieutenant_dad's picture

Eff all of this. I'd give up Christmas to BM every year and celebrate on a different day. Then alternate every other year of going to my family and going to visit DH's family. If MIL even so much as hints at a hissy fit, I'd tell her in no uncertain terms that had she done as told to STAY OUT OF IT, then things would be different. But since she had to have it HER WAY, she can deal with the conniving witch of an XW and try to get her grandbabies.

I don't play these stupid games at the holidays. If my family wants to act like fools, they can do it alone. I can put up my own tree, buy my own presents, cook my own food, and get tanked on my own egg nog. I DON'T need my holidays to be stressful.

So, plan to host the SSs Christmas at your home every year on whatever day you all schedule. MIL can come to that if she wants to see the boys. You all will go to her BS Christmas shenanigans every other year on Christmas (Eve). On the other years, go visit your family. So long as the boys have Christmas with your DH and you get to see your family, don't worry or involve yourself in the rest. Take the reins on this and end these crazy games.

tog redux's picture

As the others said, that whole blog stressed me out and I'm totally lost. 

DH can't tell MIL not to make plans with BM, he should just give that up. She's going to do what she wants to do. And if they want to do the present exchange without you, go for it - one less stress for the holidays.

I too would let BM have the kids every year and celebrate another day.  Then you and he can go on vacation over Christmas and avoid his family entirely. 

strugglingSM's picture

Personally, I would love nothing more than to go away from everyone on Christmas and for DH to come with me, but I know he wants to see his children and he did fight for this. He gave a lot to BM (reduced time with one SS - at her demand, now that DH gave in, the child is back to the regular visitation schedule after 2 months of the new schedule; now pays her more child support than he actually owes - because she "didn't have" documentation for her annual shareholder payout income (which is 10s of thousands annually), agreed to a counselor that BM picked - now neither child goes to a counselor, because the counselor didn't say they should spend less time with DH, and he had to give up his rights to collect the $7000 in her tax debt that was taken in his pay after the divorce). The only thing left from their mediation is switching holidays, DH paying more child support, and sending all messages through Our Family Wizard - which now includes BM's rants that DH is selfish and immature and "robbing her family of Christmas" in 2020. 

I may reach out to a few childfree friends to see if they want to take a fun girls trip to someplace warm and sunny over the Christmas break. 

Cover1W's picture

No.  Just no.  Then turn off phones and devices and lock the door.  Better yet - go to your family, turn off your phones, devices, etc. and have a good time.  Why is MIL being ALLOWED to dictate this.  I started saying "no" to my own parents back in college about the crazy holidays.

ProbablyAlreadyInsane's picture

^ I'm literally going to be ALONE on Thanksgiving and still told my parents no.  The plan is to take my furbabies hiking... Things are FAR too exhausting to be traveling and then dealing with their crazy holiday schedules.

It's totally 100% OKAY to say no.

ntm's picture

You eliminate stress. These don't sound like celebrations, they sound like train wrecks. It's stressful just reading about it. Your mother-in-law sounds toxic, just stay away.