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Christmas trouble

ajl's picture

Hi everyone, 


I’m new and thanks for listening...I hope I picked the right topic to post this under. I’m a SM of a SS12M and my hubs and I have 2 bio children of our own (DS4M)and DF2F). I want to talk about something that I’m struggling to forgive and let go of. 

So, we get SS everyone other year for Christmas. This year was ours. Clearly at his age he doesn’t believe in Santa, but we have two littles who do and because of that, and the fact that I love Christmas, I go all out.

We cut down out tree. I have a massive village underneath that consists of my mom’s hand painted Department 56 houses, a tree, ice skaters, the works.  Customized stockings. Expensive Christmas china. Christmas music. I set out reindeer food and make “fake snow” for our mantle to indicate when Santa comes down the chimney. I say this not to brag, but for you to understand what goes in to this holiday for me. I love it, every moment. And that’s so secret to hubs.

I believe our littles have such little time to believe in the magic of Christmas, it’s important for me to make these years as special as possible because I know it will end soon.

At any rate, the problem: I stopped buying SS’s gifts and my hubs does it now. The reason being, I bought them in years past and he’s acted like a spoiled brat and complained about what I got him (well, termed “we” and the gifts were husband-approved, I just did the buying since I’m home). The last year or two my husband has done all the shopping for him since I refused, and most of the gifts still remain in their boxes from years ago, unless it’s a video game. 

Anyway, this year my hubs collaborated with his father and got SS12 some rollerblades and gear. Cool. But since the stuff was very expensive, he got less gifts than the 4 yr old and 2 yr old (clearly; we had a set budget for each child which was equal, so this was understood). SS12 loved them (finally!) so that was good. 

Heres where the trouble starts. SS12 decides he wants to go outside immediately to ride them (as soon as he opened them) and it was fine with all of us. The problem is, my husband decides to go out and watch him try them, leaving our littles waiting to open the rest of their gifts. 

And waiting.

and waiting.

and waiting. 

Finally hubs comes back for maybe 30 seconds to watch them open 1 gift and turns around to go back outside to watch again. 

So our kids wait. 

And wait. 

15 minutes later, still waiting. 

Mind you, my mother is there in the room as well as my brother and sister-in-law- now they are getting annoyed that my kids have to wait. 

Im having them wait because their father picked out special gifts for them and I wanted him to see their reaction, the Christmas magic that we have so little time with.

I got to the point where I felt so bad for these kiddos having to stare at their gifts and wait that I let them start opening, and then I went to the door to yell outside about him missing it, and he came back with like 2 gifts left. 

I know this sounds shitty, because I get he feels guilty about divorce, he’s not there all the time, etc., but I wouldn’t have cared if he went to watch him on the roller blades all day if he just gave 20 consistent minutes for our kids to see what Santa brought. SS12 could have went outside alone while hubs watched for that short time for our kids to open their gifts in front of the family, but he didn’t. 

I know this sounds maybe petty or whiny, but this truly broke my heart. Not only was I embarrassed in front of my family waiting that whole time (“where is he?!”)  but I just felt like our kids were depriortized and it didn’t matter what their reactions were when they opened the gifts they asked for. 

We had a fight about this about 2 weeks later because I had finally found the words to describe it (it took that long for me to speak rationally without yelling) but he got very defensive and it turned in to a fight). He then apologized and said it wouldn’t happen again. 

My problem now is that I truly am having a hard time letting it go and I need help. I have not brought it up again but it sometimes weighs on me. I just felt they were shoved aside, or I was also thinking that he may view it as “oh their mom is there giving them that attention so they don’t need me as much”, when clearly SS has a doting mother and father too. And, btw, I’m a divorced kid so I empathetize.

I need some help forgiving or something. It was helpful to even write this out. Thanks for listening. 


tog redux's picture

Since I'm not a Christmas lover, I'd have to say this was more about YOU than about your kids - they likely wouldn't have really cared if Daddy was sitting there when they opened their gifts - you were the one who made them wait and wanted him there.

BUT, he should be teaching SS12 to be respectful of others and not greedy and grabby. He could have waited to try out his roller blades (or just gone outside by himself).


ajl's picture

In my family, Christmas is a big deal, and they were asking for their father. It’s a tradition for us. I respect family holiday traditions for my hubs, so I expect the same in return. And yes I agree, SS could have went by himself and I would be fine with that. The problem is that hubs, for whatever reason (guilt?) went out to watch and was gone nearly the entire time. I think he felt bad that maybe SS12 didn’t have the same amount of gifts, but that’s absurd to me because 1) he’s 8 years older and my hubs should have explained that each kid gets the same amount spent on him so it’s fair. Oh, and not to mention he’s an only child at his mothers and gets lots of expensive gifts (phone, tv, iPad). 

MurphysLaw's picture

I totally understand what you’re saying …

SS could have waited till ALL presents were opened, that’s the respectful thing to do, instead this feels like this was “SSs Personal Christmas Day” and screw everyone else, YOUR HUSBAND DID THAT. It’s HIS job to teach SS manners.

 I don’t have any advice for you because I would not be able to let this go. Sorry 

SteppedOut's picture

Same. My formerSO did crap like this all the time - his "first family kids" were always put in a "more important position". 

This among other things eventually led to the demise of our relationship. I definately didn't want my son to stay around this kind of behavior. Now, he was a baby when I left and didn't notice then of course, but eventually he would. 

ajl's picture

Thank you for the validation. Yes I agree. Funny thing is, hubs has no problem teaching our kids manners. It’s him, that he parents like this. Guilt maybe?

Curious Georgetta's picture

Future than it is about  any of the kids. Your little kids did not likely have any expectations about who would or would not be watching them open their gifts and if not reminded won't care or remember.

Your step son was probably so excited about his gifts that he probably would not have cared if dad waited another 10 or 15 minutes before coming out to watch.

At the end of the day , none of the kids were damaged or advanced.

You expressed your feelings, and your husband apologized.  The real question is whether you are going to feed and water your anger as though it were  a hot house plant that requires nurturing or a fine wine that will improve with age.

The only real issue in play is what kind of person are you. If anger and animosity are to become the drivers in  your life then you can start the process of cataloging and categorizing the injuries and slights in your life .

A healthy approach would be to say that the  problem was articulated and discussed and an apology was offered - the end.


MurphysLaw's picture

The husband YELLED AT HER & they fought, he LATER apologized.


IF when she approached him to discuss the subject he would have been SORRY AND APOLOGIZED RIGHT OFF THE BAT Then that is easy to forgive, his TRUE FEELINGS came out first!

 I bet OPs brother & Mother look at the guy differently now too! 


ajl's picture

Agreed, I don’t blame SS. I blame hubs- SS would have been fine to go out and play alone, although I also agree it’s rude not to watch everyone open their gifts. But that’s the monster DH is creating, not me. When SS comes the following week every other year, our babies are required to sit and watch him open gifts. 

ajl's picture

I’m not angry, I’m hurt. My feelings are hurt

because I felt that our children were de-prioritized. And when I finally found the words to discuss it it was met with hostility and defensiveness. Yes eventually there was an apology, but it weighs on my mind because it was uncharacteristic of him and after all the loss I experienced in 2018 it was the last thing I expected. 

notasm3's picture

Your DH was rude and obnoxious.  There’s a difference if something is a one time thing or is just another manifestation of a pervasive character flaw.  Is he often oblivious to others?  Does he forget to  pay attention to what others might need or want?  Is he one of those people that just tromps thru life CS letting the chips fall where they may no matter who it hurts?

Not saying that your DH is any of those things based on one day’s bad behavior. But it’s something to pay attention to. 

ajl's picture

Not at all, but he’s permissive when it comes to SS, guilty parenting I suspect. 

Harry's picture

They both are rude and obnoxious,  DH was supposed to teach SS that you Waite until everyone opens there gifs, before you leave. Unfortunately DH never learned that. So how can he teach that.

Alien's picture

Ugh I understand how you feel.

from your post I’ve got an impression that you don’t ever want to iniciate a conflict, sometimes you will need to! It took you awhile even to say something about it and I think that’s why it got under your skin so much. It’s good you’re not a hestirical   crazy person lol but not saying what bothers us to the ones who are causing it will eventually make you feel resentful and negative towards that person, How I do it is just calmly discuss and kinda “share” what offended me with my dh. How I awfully felt at that moment.   Then when it hits his ears and hopefully brain lol I feel better. 


Right now the topic is no longer longer being discussed with your dh so I would just find a friend or sister or someone who will understand your troubles and just complain. It must help.  Good luck!


ps. You’re not petty or whiny!!! Don’t you even think like that! That’s simple thing you expect from your dh!

ajl's picture

I usually have little problem saying how I feel, but 2018 has been a very tough year for me and I have needed addition time to form words without becoming overly emotional. I lost a baby and I lost my beloved horse. It took that long for me to feel like I could discuss that issue that really hurt my feelings without crying the entire time. I really just want wanted a nice morning with my family and it didn’t turn out that way. 

fairyo's picture

I really understand where you are coming from- in my family Christmas is a shared experience where children learn at an early age that the opening of gifts is a shared thing. Children learn to be patient when opening their gifts, but learn that also watching and enjoying others opening theirs is part of the joy- other wise Christmas just becomes a selfish grab fest where you get what you want and don't care about anyone else- and I agree it has nothing to do with money.

Your SS should not have been allowed to leave until eveyone had opened their gifts- it is a well learned lesson that Christmas is more than just getting what you want, and maybe you feel DH didn't allow him to learn that. I get how you feel and that this will fester for you probably all year.

How you manage Christmas next year I don't know- but if SS isn't there it will be two years before it happens again.

Meanwhile you have to deal with these feelings about DH having his focus on SS and not on your joint children. This is part of the reality of steplife, dealing with those resentments that eat away at your spirit. And there really isn't much you can do about it because  the time has passed.  DH won't be carrrying the event with him in the same way that you are, and I really don't know the answer to this problem.



Rags's picture

Your DH is a ball-less wonder who lets his prior relationship spawn keep his testicles well in  hand.

No more waiting for Daddy IMHO.  Just go forward and when your kids start asking where daddy is, tell them.  "He doesn;t care enough to be here and would rather be out with your older brother. Lets have fun opening your gifts.  You can show them to daddy later... if he cares to see them."  Then let the littles swamp daddy with those questions and watch  him squirm.

This guy pisses me off and I am not the one married to him.  I am sorry you have to deal with this non man, non parent who lacks testicular fortitude and a brain.

notsobad's picture

I would make very sure that DH understands how much this matters to you. You don't need to explain why, he just needs to know that him being there for gift openings are special to you and you want him there for them.

Then set some rules. No one leaves until all the gifts are opened. Or SS opens his last. Again, it doesn't matter why. This is how you want it and it's your house, you are the adult and DH can and should stand beside you on this.

You also need to be prepared to give DH something that you might not understand or agree with. However, if it's not going to hurt anyone, it is just something that is important to DH, let him have it. It could be one evening alone with SS or a special lunch or treat, whatever. Just be open to DH wanting some tit for tat.

By the way, I completely agree with you. DH was very rude, he did push his other children aside, he did reinforce that SS is special and he did allow SS to be equally rude and he encouraged SS's sense of entitlement.

marblefawn's picture

How would you have felt if your husband had done the same thing with one of your bio kids? Your answer is probably telling -- if it wouldn't bother you if it happened with a bio kid, then it's a territory/step issue. If it would bother you just the same, what your husband did is akin to leaving the table halfway through the meal (that took a lot of time and effort to prepare) and leaving everyone else waiting for dessert.

I guess you'd mind this regardless of whether it was SS or a bio kid, so it's probably just that you went to a lot of work and he didn't act according to your plan. This is pretty minor, then -- he didn't think before he left.

I wouldn't like that he did that either. But if he apologized sincerely, it seems a small thing you should probably forgive by now. Maybe there's more to it than what you've stated? Maybe there's more to it and you don't realize there's more to it?

1wonder woman's picture

You can't live in the past it will rob you of the happiness that you could be having today... Let it go it's in the past... but learn from it and grow form it is what my momma would tell me. Trust me I am on your side here because you get no redo's on these Holidays. In the future if something like this were to ever happen down the road again do not wait to say something... no make sure you speak up right away and if you do not want your family to hear what you have to say pull your hubs into the other room if need be! Now if it were me I would of spoke up right then and right there and I would of told them both no could you two please wait to go out side until we all have finished opening up our gifts.  I've learned this lesson the hard way trust me the sooner you speak up the the better... Plus it was not fair to your kids to make them sit there and wait for their Dad and that made you unhappy and I am sure your kids too not to mention your guest. Happpppy wife = a Hpppppy life they say! You gotta teach your kids how to respect others and when your SS went outside with his Dad like he did it was disrespectful to say the least but as a parent one of you should of told him no... kids learn from their parents. Sounds like to me your SS and his dad were excited and those two were caught up in the moment and was not thinking about the other people in the room. I think it was a good thing that you were open and honest with your hubs... maybe it was a little too late but at least you got if off of your chest. Now he knows how his actions upset you and he did say he was sorry and he told you it will never happen again so that's a go thing.  Now hopefully he has learned from it and he will not repeat it down the road again. I know my man gets upset with me and all defensive too when I point out to him his actions have upset me and sure he will get all mad at me but he will get over it. Believe it or not our husbands do want to make us happy! Always be open and honest with your hubs the sooner the better... no matter what even if it does upset him. 

SayNoSkidsChitChat's picture

Thank God my DH doesn’t do this BS; it wouldn’t fly in my family! Everyone has to wait until the last gift is opened.

ajl's picture

I understand my take-away. I didn’t set the boundaries and limits in my expectations. That all changes now. I can’t assume he will just know what my expectations. I appreciate everyone’s perspective. I feel much better about future holidays .