Moving back to the UK after 5 years abroad - MIL Christmas tradition

(31 Posts)
dinosaurinmybelly Mon 03-Dec-12 19:02:45

Hello -
I know it is a bit early to be thinking of this, given we are just approaching this Christmas, but we have been away for the last 5 years and will be living in the UK next Christmas. Since we left the UK, we've had 3 children, and have spent our Christmas's abroad by ourselves which has been heavenly. My MIL has always bemoaned the fact that we are not in the UK for Christmas, but it has been easy to handle this given that our children are small and flying at Christmas can be crazy. Now she is already talking about next Christmas and how she can't wait to be there when they open their presents. I know people have different feelings on Christmas, but for me I find the moment when the little ones discover their presents from Santa a very personal experience that I'm not keen to share with someone I'm not that comfortable with (i.e MIL). She is very good at taking charge of situations however which is why I want to be prepared for next year - what tips do you have for sharing the day, but keeping a bit of the magic for yourselves? MIL lives 1.5 hours away, so I'm hoping to establish a tradition of inviting them over to share Christmas lunch with us, but leaving us the morning to ourselves.
Does anyone feel the same way as me who has come up with a plan that works?

mercibucket Mon 03-Dec-12 20:51:20

That sounds a good idea. Maybe you could open presents from you and dh after lunch? We started doing this (dh's family tradition) and I quite like it now.

mercibucket Mon 03-Dec-12 20:51:22

That sounds a good idea. Maybe you could open presents from you and dh after lunch? We started doing this (dh's family tradition) and I quite like it now.

ChristmasSALutations Mon 03-Dec-12 20:59:10

Jeez.

Tis the season to be Jolly .. and charitable. I think you've lost the Christmas spirit. Why would it hurt for her to see her grandchildren open their presents?

Horrible thread. Which I am hiding.

Piffpaffpoff Mon 03-Dec-12 21:07:32

I think it would be nice to let her do it once, the first year you are back, given that she's not seen her grandchildren at Christmas ever. Then start your lunch plan the year after.

Yama Mon 03-Dec-12 21:09:22

Well, I have a nice MIL so she gets to see her grandchildren open their presents. Is your mil really that bad?

BobbyMcGee Mon 03-Dec-12 21:15:53

Oh this has made me a bit sad. sad

For the last 2 years, we have had the PIL over for Christmas Day and seeing the joy on MIL's face as she watched the dc open their presents was as good as watching the dc open their presents.

This year we live abroad and we obviously won't have PIL here. That makes me as sad as it makes her tbh. I'll record it though so she can still see (it'll still be Christmas Eve in the uk when we open our presents on Christmas morning)

Is there any reason you feel like this? She's never seen her grandchildren at Christmas, she's probably so excited for next year that she (thinks) will get to see them open their presents and share the joy with you all.

I agree, it's a bit horrible actually.

BeaLola Mon 03-Dec-12 21:20:51

I would make a big deal of inviting her next year for Christmas "weekend" as you have 3 DC & she has never spent one Christmas with them & really spoil her - is she that bad ??? Christmas really is a special time & how many grandchildren does she have? As she will live near you & assuming she can afford it perhaps you could start the tradition that say the wekend before she takes her dgc to see a panto & whilst she is doing that you and your DH/DP can have a childfree lunch, cinema trip or whatever for yourselves.

I so wish my MIL was excited about spending Christmas with her DGS. If only my Mum was here we could do all these things & we would really enjoy it.

LemonBreeland Mon 03-Dec-12 21:30:49

I don't agree with the idea of allowing it next year because it sounds to me like she would be the type to take it as expected for every year from then on. After all she is already talking about next year despite not actually being invited yet.

If you invite ILs for lunch then they will get to see the DC opening presents that they have brought anyway. It seems a perfectly reasonable and workable solution.

Quite frankly I think you are being nice allowing them around for lunch every year anyway. I hate this feeling of having to spend every Christmas the same way with the same people.

Jenny70 Mon 03-Dec-12 21:32:48

I think having MIL there for stockings etc might be a bit much - basically that means staying christmas eve, when you probably have a lot of stuff to do and don't necessarily want visitors etc.

But presents, as in the presents from family yourselves, surely they can come over for that? She may just mean the presents from them, so seeing them open their own presents they are giving the grandchildren.

Milliways Mon 03-Dec-12 21:38:32

Ours opened stockings on our bed when they woke, then after breakfast they had a Santa present to open (designed to keep them busy for a bit). Then off to church, then all relatives arrive here for lunch and we have a massive present opening of relatives presents after lunch. Once the kids could read they had fun reading the labels and distributing the presents - keeping their own in a pile to dive into as soon as everyone had theirs.

I think it is a bit odd to consider it too personal to see your DC open their presents. I imagine they get excited and happy and she would like to share this. Unless you do it naked, I really can't see what is "personal" about it.

If, on the other hand, she would have to stay overnight to be able to see this in the morning and you don't want her staying due to the pressure or how personal it is to be seen in your pjs and the disruption to sorting out Christmas dinner, then fair enough. But I would make sure that she gets to watch them open the presents from her and that she has the opportunity to chat to them about what Father Christmas brought, how he got in etc.

BerthaTheBogBurglar Mon 03-Dec-12 22:03:50

We always open stockings on our bed so I don't have to get up too soon. Just little stockings with new toothbrushes and all that in, we do presents under the tree once we've all woken up properly. The first year MIL stayed over, she came in too. 6:30am, in my bedroom. That was too personal!

I think you need to do this first Christmas the way you mean to go on. So get in early, in June or so, and invite them to Christmas lunch. Print them a special invitation with the time on. With a note on the back saying the children will be opening presents after lunch and how you're looking forward to her being there with you for lunch and the afternoon.

Then you can do Santa presents in the morning and presents from other people after lunch.

Where are your parents?

BerthaTheBogBurglar Mon 03-Dec-12 22:05:47

Oh - and then as soon as Christmas is over start talking about next year and how you won't be seeing them on Christmas day itself because of xyz. Never ever do the same thing two years in a row - it causes tantrums when you want to change!

LadyWidmerpool Mon 03-Dec-12 22:15:16

My parents had a relative to stay every Christmas until she passed away when I was in my mid twenties. My parents weren't close to her and didn't get on particularly well but she didn't have any closer family and she was welcomed every year. Yes, it would have been nicer to have the time to ourselves but my parents would never have dreamed of excluding her and looking back I am really pleased we were able to give her all those family Christmases. That's kind of what it's all about after all.

dinosaurinmybelly Mon 03-Dec-12 22:41:39

Hello - thank you so much for the responses. I don't want to sound horrible or uncharitable, so I suppose I should clarify a bit. My MIL isn't a horrible person at all, quite the opposite, and I do appreciate how interested she is in her grandchildren. I do feel though that I don't get a chance to be their mother when she is around. My family are not around and I hate confrontation, so she pops up at what I always imagined would be my special moments for my DH and myself. She took over our wedding, including which dress I should wear. When I went into labour with first baby, she found out from my SIL who had happened to call as we were setting off to the hospital, then promptly arrived at the hospital, but thankfully the midwife asked her to wait outside. She then insisted in hanging around at our house for days waiting for the baby blues to arrive as she put it. She is overbearing with DH too, but he speaks frankly to her and upsets her at times. She isn't my mother so I can't be so straight with her. Us moving abroad saved our marriage to be honest, because I was at home with a young baby and I was bullied to do things I didn't want e.g have the Christening within 2 weeks of the birth etc. Since then, I tried to assert myself, telling her we didn't want anyone coming to stay when baby no.2 and baby no.3 arrived abroad, but she ignored us, saying we didn't understand as we were so young, then promptly arrived. She is always asking me personal questions (were the babies planned etc.) and making comments about my family. She is here for all the children's birthdays and I feel she gets to enjoy them more than me because I am rushed off my feet with the party etc. I just want to keep this one thing for myself. DH works crazy hours and I feel we need this time to really make memories for ourselves. I do have to set the tone the very first time or a pattern will form and pressures will develop. This is honestly my way of making sure expectations don't get ruffled and people get upset.

dinosaurinmybelly Mon 03-Dec-12 22:45:08

I do believe that she means well and I used to think it was sweet that she wanted to make up for the lack of attention from my own side of the family. However I do want some space to raise my family my own way. Life isn't easy with DH working so much and I'm quite a private person - so our marriage has been in trouble a couple of times because of MIL interference. I just don't know how to get my message across without upsetting her, whilst also not giving her an avenue to ignore what I'm saying IYSWIM. I need to think ahead, get DH on board and then stick to my guns..

That makes a lot of sense. I have no idea how you can handle it, but hopefully someone will come along with a good suggestion.

Could your MIL do some hosting? It sounds like you host (and do all of the work) and she gets to have fun.

And definitely avoid setting up patterns, mix it up every year. I remember as a child the year we went on holiday for Xmas, and I am certain that a lot of it was to do with breaking the patterns that had set up with my GPs.

Worley Mon 03-Dec-12 22:58:11

dinosaur- I understand. my mil used to turn up three hours earlier than she was invited for dinner. and make a bug thing about wanting to see ds open presents. I wanted to enjoy the morning with ds and do not her. I kind if think that she had the opportunity with her ds's so why can't she let me enjoy the time with mine. I've never had my parents round for Xmas dinner as she threw a strop and in fact last year wa the first time in 14 yrs they came to my house for Xmas tea and that was only because mil has now passed away and the now ex dp was working.
my parents had always been quite happy for us to visit them late afternoon on Xmas day and would never expect to be there when the dc woke up in the morning.

mercibucket Tue 04-Dec-12 00:00:01

God, mine open their presents from santa the minute they wake up ie 2 in the morning! You'd have to be an early bird to see that!

Mil sounds like she needs managing so good to plan ahead. I think present opening (family) after lunch sounds just the thing. And next year, go away for xmas.

mercibucket Tue 04-Dec-12 00:00:01

God, mine open their presents from santa the minute they wake up ie 2 in the morning! You'd have to be an early bird to see that!

Mil sounds like she needs managing so good to plan ahead. I think present opening (family) after lunch sounds just the thing. And next year, go away for xmas.

mumeeee Tue 04-Dec-12 00:10:08

In our damily it's always been the tradition to see MIL on Christmas eve and we have a big family party with my parents and siblings and families a few days after Christmas. Christmas day was just for us. It worked for us and as only stockings were from FC in our family it didn't matter if some presents from other people were opened after Christmas.

sleeplessinsuburbia Tue 04-Dec-12 00:13:42

Your second post sets the scene best, the first post made you seem a bit mean. It's good to be assertive with people like her. I would find the best approach to avoid discussion is an email that is light in tone. I'd say: DH and I have decided on a plan for Christmas Day, you and fil can come around 11:30-12:00 which will give us time to open the stockings and have a break before the children can open the rest of the presents. It would be great if you brought x,y and z. Can't wait, see you then.

Inform your DH so when they ring and say they want to come earlier he can say "no we've planned it already, we'll see you after 11:30, can't wait!"

Snazzyfeelingfestive Tue 04-Dec-12 00:29:32

So actually this is not really a Christmas thing as such, it's that in the context of all the other stuff this is the last straw for you. I think you need to work on your own assertiveness - I understand that you've said she pushes hard for her way but you need to work out an effective way of resisting that yourself. I really recommend a book by Anne Dickson called 'A Woman In Your Own Right - Assertiveness and You', and another of hers, 'Difficult Conversations'. Manuel Smith, 'When I Say No I Feel Guilty' is also good.

myBOYSareBONKERS Tue 04-Dec-12 08:20:57

I don't think you are being unreasonable.

I to like it to be just us on Christmas morning as that is what we do in OUR FAMILY. Your MIL may of had her parents round to watch your DH and siblings open their gifts when young - and that is fine as that is what they did in their family. HOWEVER you are allowed to have your own ways of doing things.

MIL isn't being excluded as she will be over later. I do think that you mustn't even allow it once to happen as she will expect it every year then

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