Ayone else putting off the 'where shall we go for Christmas?' chat?

(47 Posts)
2kidsintow Mon 01-Oct-12 23:08:16

DH is a bit of an arse a stick in the mud when it comes to fitting around other people. Some years we stay at home (not too bad now we have little ones of our own) and others we go to my parents for dinner. Then the children in the family (me and 3 sisters) take it in turn to host tea so the jobs are shared out.

2 years ago, we stayed at home for lunch as it was our turn to host tea. The DCs still got to see everybody and it was a happy day. DH was happy.

Last year, it was someone elses tea turn so we went to my parents for lunch. DH was a right pain. Moaned all morning (inc in front of the kids) about having to fit in with other people's schedules and refused to open gifts to each other on grounds that "there isn't time" despite having plenty of time to watch the kids open theirs, then have breakfast and a cuppa etc. He was polite and friendly to others at the christmas dinner, but hardly said anything to me. Upon getting home he loudly declared "well that's me done for the next 2 years" in essence saying that he had decided we are staying at home this Christmas.

It isn't our turn to do tea again and I'd love to go to my parent's again. Mostly I'm aware that the number of Christmases with them still around is limited. They are fit and well so that is a bit maudling to be fair.

I'm putting off the row discussion.

2kidsintow Mon 01-Oct-12 23:10:30

To give a bit more perspective, his family always go on holiday (not something I want to consider while the kids are still into the Father Christmas thing) and we don't see them until just before new year, so it isn't like he wants to spend time with his side of the family instead.

Even before they started holidaying at Christmas, they never did Christmas day and we always saw them on Boxing day instead.

3duracellbunnies Mon 01-Oct-12 23:56:10

Why don't you have your parents over for lunch and then go with them and the children to whoever is hosting, leaving the grump to watch the Queen on his own and fall asleep on the pile of wrapping paper?

I have the opposite problem with dh wanting to travel length and breadth of UK while I would quite like not to have to do Santa's sleigh duties all holiday.

Badvoc Tue 02-Oct-12 07:23:35

Go without your dh this year.
He sounds a real charmer.....

girlywhirly Tue 02-Oct-12 08:28:44

I'd do as duracell says this year, have your parents over for lunch and go to whichever sister is hosting tea later leaving him the clearing up to do. Hopefully he will realise what a pain he's being. Presumably you don't have to drive for hours to get there and he gets on with your family OK? He hasn't fallen out with anyone and is trying to avoid them? Or spend Christmas day at home without your parents and then go to your sister and see your parents there. Let him present his reasons for why he wants to be at home.

You can justify your decision as he will have had the majority of Christmas day in his own home, and so he shouldn't complain when you go to your sister for tea, and especially not if the DC want to go.

I can see his point of view as well as yours. I'm normally the advocate of having Christmas day at home. But his behaviour last year moaning and complaining in front of the DC like a spoilt DC himself was uncalled for and hardly a good example to them, and highly unlikely to make you want to do what he wants.

BiddyPop Tue 02-Oct-12 15:40:01

I'd ask him exactly what he wants to do and why, and be clear yourself about what you want, and why, before you have the discussion. Hopefully that will allow you both to have an open discussion and reach a compromise.

We are both considering going down to see our parents this year (they live 15 miles apart, and 160 miles from us). But while I can cope with staying in (usually his) house any other time of the year, I find that at Christmas, we actually need a space to retreat to away from family. And I WANT to relax at times. Whereas DH is now saying renting a place is too expensive (it isn't cheap I'll admit, but I'd found reasonable options he won't even entertain), but he doesn't think it will be too bad in his mum's "once Christmas lunch is over". But there's the lead up to that, and then when they have their quiet time, we have to go to my folks. I don't mind spending LOTS of time with family, just not ALL (I quite like having some quiet time with just MY family of DH and DD). And not having anywhere to retreat to if things are too hectic (for all of us but esp for ADHD/Aspie DD) and also not being able to have grown up time with our siblings out from under the watchful eyes of our parents.

TheAccidentalExhibitionist Tue 02-Oct-12 15:48:33

We please ourselves at Christmas.
I really can't be arsed with all the family politics so we stay at home and if people want to come to ours then they are welcome.
DH and I don't tend to argue about that but we do avoid / delay telling the in laws yet again that we won't be going to theirs on christmas day.
You will have to discuss it with him because people plan their Xmas very early..
Compromise I guess, not very helpful I know.

Badvoc Tue 02-Oct-12 15:59:04

Mu mil starts asking abut Xmas in July.
I have managed to put her off til last week when it old them we were staying here.
We will see them on Xmas eve and they are welcome to come over on Xmas day if they want to...
Same with my parents..they can come up whenever they like.
I might do supper in Xmas eve actually...

pigleychez Tue 02-Oct-12 16:32:59

My mum wanted all the family to go out for dinner this year. (10 of us including kids) Im not against this but she has picked her fav pub restaurant. She raves about it but DH and I seriously dont rate it though. Its a real old mans pub and if you arent a local you get lots of glares. Not in the tiniest bit family friendly (we have 4 under 5's!)
She loves the food despite it being nothing special and as bland as it comes.
The Xmas dinner menu is £16! which gives you a clue of the quality of the food. Im not a snob but theres no where else around that is even under £50 for xmas day.
Sadly, and im truely heartbroken by this... They are fully booked already! grin

Mum now reckons she is gonna book us up for next year's dinner there already! It gives me a year to think up a good excuse to get out of it!

mrsmplus3 Wed 03-Oct-12 21:22:45

Pigleychez, I would never want to take my wee ones to some pub for christmas dinner. Don't do it. Your kids will hate it. Invite your mum over instead.

OP, your hubby sounds a bit of a pain but he has a point. If he works hard all yr he should have a say in how to spend the day. Why don't you plan a Christmas you'll both be happy with and invite your parents along? Most importantly, what would your kids prefer to do? If they love it at granny's then you're going to have to give your dh a good talkin to.

zipzap Wed 03-Oct-12 21:33:12

pigleychez - go for a meal at dreadful pub during the year, 'get' food poisoning from it and say that's it, you're never setting foot in the place again...

Might need careful planning so you can take to your bed for a day or two or at least just stay at home (don't want to be caught out and about by your mum) but then you'll always be able to say 'No way - remember when...' whenever she tries to make you go there again!

imperialstateknickers Wed 03-Oct-12 21:39:46

zipzap I admire your Machiavellian cunning.

zipzap Wed 03-Oct-12 22:00:39

grin mwah ha haaaa grin

pigleychez Thu 04-Oct-12 08:07:54

Liking your idea Zip Zap. grin

Well mum has provisionally booked us all in for next year! However the price is now £65. Told DH last night who has categorically stated that there is no way on earth his is paying £65 to eat there!
Now to just break to gently to mum smile

This year is an issue now...We usually alternate between parents each year as we will miles away from either set. This year being my parents turn. They however have been invited to my sisters (we havent). Mum is now hinting at us to stay at home this year so that she can go to my sis. I dont mind if they want to go but the ball keeps getting thrown in my court when we cant decide till they do. Theres no point us saying we will go to theirs if they aren't going to be there!

Its the same drama every year! Its rather tiresome to be honest! [sigh]

girlywhirly Thu 04-Oct-12 10:03:48

Pigley, I'd stay at home if I were you this year, unless there is a family emergency that means you have to do something different. If you say what you've decided, they only have to sort themselves out and that should simplify things a bit. Basically, if they can't make up their minds they don't see you. See them another time

It would also set a precedent so that you can duck out of the meal next year! Unless your ILS have been invited too, as you would usually see them then.

TeaOneSugar Thu 04-Oct-12 10:32:13

I'd just like my PIL to make up their minds where they're going for Christmas Day lunch so I can start to plan menus.

Where they go for lunch impacts on who's going where Christmas Day evening, am I taking a contribution to a buffet to BIL/SIL's house, or will the PIL be coming to us, having been to BIL/SILs for lunch? In which case I'm doing a full buffet here.

If they're coming to us for Christmas Lunch that also impacts on Christmas Eve dinner, they won't come Christmas Eve night and Christmas Day Lunch (I don't think) so is it a light meal at the table with PIL or just us for a carpet picnic with some nice bread and cheese etc. in front of a film?

I need to know, it's October already and I don't have a list !!!

girlywhirly Thu 04-Oct-12 11:51:48

Tea, could you write up a few plans provisionally, to take into account all possibilities, then disregard those plans which you don't want to do? Having narrowed down to a shortlist, give the PIL a time limit by which you would like definite confirmation, on the grounds that you need to plan. Pin SIL/BIL down if you can to what's happening Christmas day evening, so that the PIL will know you will be there and you will know to take something.

If PIL don't decide inside the time limit, make it clear that you will continue with your own plans and not change to suit them, so if they do turn up at short notice they will just have to join in with the carpet picnic or something. It should concentrate their minds if they have to decide within a set time frame, and risk not getting the full buffet! I think it's quite rude to expect to be catered for when they haven't been gracious enough to make up their minds in a timely manner.

TeaOneSugar Thu 04-Oct-12 12:06:54

I have mentioned it a couple of times and have been promised a decision, I think MIL is kind of enjoying being "fought over" although I've said I don't mind either way, and BIL has said he really wants them to go to him.

I would really like them to go to BIL for lunch and them to come to us for tea, so we get the house to ourselves for most of the day, I only said they could come to us after MIL said she didn't want to go to BIL/SIL and would host at her house.

I'm cooking lunch at home this year, whatever anyone else does, and I'm not budging on that grin

If they haven't decided when I see them on Sunday I'll set a deadline, I'll need to order a turkey fairly soon.

girlywhirly Thu 04-Oct-12 12:23:06

If you're lucky, they might not come at all if they think they're getting a carpet picnic for tea! Why doesn't MIL want to go to BIL/SIL for lunch?

Well done for not pandering to MIL enjoying being 'fought over', and sticking to your plan to have Christmas lunch at home. The more people do that, the longer she will draw out her decision. Good plan to use the day you are ordering the turkey as a deadline.

TeaOneSugar Thu 04-Oct-12 12:36:17

BIL/SIL have invited about 16 people, MIL thinks it'll be too hectic and she'll end up helping with the cooking, washing up etc, in which case she might as well host at her house and take the credit - my interpretation obviously.

girlywhirly Thu 04-Oct-12 12:57:23

I read MIL thinking it will be too hectic as meaning "I will be a skivvy and not get enough attention." Realistically that means having lunch at yours or a quiet non-hectic one at her own home, because it sounds as though neither you or SIL are budging from yours.

TeaOneSugar Thu 04-Oct-12 14:52:08

MIL knows she won't have to lift a finger here.

DeckSwabber Fri 05-Oct-12 14:26:55

Thank you for this thread. I am dreading Christmas.

Fell out with my only sibling (brother, married with two young ones) quite badly this year so really don't want to spend time with him, but can't neglect my mother (now 80 and widowed 2 years). Would like to see nephews & Sil, though. I am SP with 3 teens. Every alternate year the boys go to their Dad and I volunteer with a charity - something that massively upsets my family for some reason. This year they are with me.

Options are:

- go to stay with elderly mum, but not much fun for my teens as there is nothing for them to do. And I can't really stop her inviting brother. I could just about get through this but there isn't enough room. She has already said she will book my family into a hotel and that will be our Christmas present hmm.

- invite her here, but then she would have to stay with my brother (who lives quite close) because she is allergic to my cats. Too far to go and get her/drive her home in one day. This would be ok if they all eat here - I can be busy and I like the cooking and stuff. Can avoid brother. However, the chances are my SiL will insist on having the main meal at hers - and I really don't want to go there. I know this sounds incredibly petty but we have had Christmas lunch there several times in the past, and I particularly don't want to accept his hospitaility because of the events that led to the row. However if I put my foot down I know there will be another awful row.

- go to friends. I have been invited. But can't really go if my mum will end up on her own.

- have lunch just me and my boys. But I think it would be hard to make that feel special for my boys or me.

Gumby Fri 05-Oct-12 14:33:23

Go to friends & take your mum if she's on her own

girlywhirly Fri 05-Oct-12 22:55:10

If your mum stayed at your brothers and had Christmas lunch there, could she take some anti-histamines and come to you for tea? Would she be prepared to travel down without someone having to fetch her?

Why wouldn't it be special just you and the boys, and they can do whatever they would normally do.

DeckSwabber Sat 06-Oct-12 10:00:18

Thanks for replying Gumby and Girlywhirly.

My mum can be with us for a few hours so I can do the meal, but I think it would be risky for her to stay the night.

I don't really want to be by myself (I suffer from depression and am very wobbly at the moment) but I find my family stressful. If I am with my family the best thing for me would be for me to cook the lunch because it would keep me busy and motivate me to get the house looking nice. I'll be honest and say I will enjoy cooking and being thanked for a lovely meal - I don't get many 'strokes' or opportunities to shine. We moved a couple of years ago and its the first time I have space to entertain so it makes sense. And its nice for my boys to see family.

But I don't think my SiL or brother would want me to host - her because she is very competitive, him because he knows how much I loathe him at the moment (which is fair enough - I can see that!). He is selfish, self-absorbed and a bully*. I am the only person in my family that stands up to him - everyone else colludes with it. He bullied my mother very badly last year and she is desperate to pretend it didn't happen. However, I do want to see my SiL and my nephews, who will love being with my boys.

I feel I'm being selfish making Christmas with the family conditional on me being the host, but my mums house is too small and I really, really don't want to go to my brothers.

I suppose the thing is to bite the bullet, get in first by inviting everyone for lunch, then its up to them. If they say no I can go to my friend.

*I'll give you a very mild example. Some years ago I suggested to him that we both took my mum out to lunch on her birthday. He agreed, a date was set and it was all arranged. Then a few days before I was at a different family do and my mum's husband told me by chance that my brother wasn't coming to the lunch because he had had a better offer. This left me to pick up the whole shebang - and I was very poor at the time (luckily mum's generous husband stepped in). Brother didn't say anything about it to me at all. At the time I thought it was a misunderstanding but there is a pattern of this kind of thing. He just does what he wants and never mind anyone else.

QuickLookBusy Sat 06-Oct-12 10:11:02

I think your DH behaved like a twit last year, however I think this year you should do what he wants to do. It's only fair after all it is his Christmas too.

We just tell everyone we are at home and everyone is welcome to come for lunch. We have 11 coming this year and I getting quite excited about it already.

girlywhirly Sat 06-Oct-12 15:21:39

Well DeckSwabber, looks like it's lunch at yours and Dmum will probably have to stay with SIL and B assuming they will have her and she won't be bullied by them.

I think that hostilities and rivalries are much worse at Christmas, so consider staying at home if SIL and B are going to your mums, and see her separately, and also SIL and kids on another day around Christmas, so that B can bugger off to a footy match or something and you won't have to see him. It also gets around the 'who makes the best Christmas lunch' competition.

girlywhirly Sat 06-Oct-12 15:25:51

2kidsintow and TeaOneSugar, any better idea of how you will resolve your dilemmas?

TeaOneSugar Sat 06-Oct-12 18:09:54

DH asked his DM today if she'd made a decision, and she's still wavering, I now know they definitely won't be coming on Christmas Eve as she's working that day, so it'll be nice cheeses and nibbles in front of a festive film, just the three of us.

Amazingly DH told her I needed to know because I want to plan the menu, order the right sized turkey etc. so at some point he has been listening to me. I think he probably wants them to come to us, however, as it stands my understanding of the conversation is that she's going reluctantly to BIL/SILs for lunch (where she will refuse to do any of the cooking or washing up as SIL never lifts a finger when she hosts - so lovely atmosphere there) and then coming to us for a light meal/buffet in the evening.

Again amazingly, when she mentioned about us going to BIL/SILs DH stood firm and said we wouldn't be going we are definitely eating at home this year.

This is the basis I'm working from, her last chance will come in two weeks time when I order the turkey.

She mentioned a few times about not wanting to upset/offend anyone, so I again made it clear that we really won't be offended, we don't mind either way, but we just want to know.

I'm not going to mention it again until the turkey deadline.

I used to live with an abusive man and Christmas was awful. In the years since we left me and dd have also been at my mums.

I would love for just me and dd to have a Christmas together but have not got the nerve to cause the upset that would follow.

I even booked somewhere last year and lost the payment.

Wiggy29 Sun 07-Oct-12 08:26:56

Our dilema- last year we spent morning at home (ds7) then had Christmas meal at my parents (with my bro, SIL, aunty and uncle). A lovely time had by all. They only ive five mins down the road so came home on the evening and morning of Boxing day we went to in-laws (who live over an hour away) and stayed over night. BIL was there with wife (they spend xmas morn apart at own parents then she travels up on evening).

This year, oh seems to feel it is right to do the opposite BUT I do not want ds to spend Christmas morning away from home, nor do I want to spend an hour travelling (esp when SIL wanted even be there, she'll be at her parents). Is it unreasonable to just repeat the same thing that happened last year?

I know we could invite pil to ours but just couldn't fit them and BIL/SIL etc all over. The only thing I can think of is just to casually assume we're doing the same thing and see what happens?

I think it gets awkward as families grow!

DeckSwabber Sun 07-Oct-12 10:03:22

Whistling, does your daughter feel the same?

And if you didn't go to your mums would she be on her own?

DeckSwabber Sun 07-Oct-12 10:21:35

Wiggy it seem reasonable that you arrange things so that you see your SiL.

Agree things can get awkward - it can be hard for people to adjust when children and other families traditions etc have to be taken into consideration.

No Deck, my mum has my dad, dd did want a christmas on our own hence I booked somewhere last year but she has been brainwashed persuaded that she must go to theres Christmas Day.

My parents would be heartbroken if we didn't.


We tend to sort it out straight after Christmas for the Next Year when the horror is still fresh in our minds

TeaOneSugar Mon 15-Oct-12 07:11:32

How are everyone's plans coming along?

I mentioned I was planning to order the turkey to MIL yesterday and she still doesn't know what she's doing.

She said "plan as if we're not coming, if it comes to it we can have ours at home" - this is after she's had two invitations to Chistmas lunch from two of her sons.

I told DH about it and he agreed it was unnecessary and her being over dramatic. Hopefully she'll mention it to DH when I'm not there and he'll be a bit firmer with her.

Anyway, I'm going to order a turkey big enough so if they end up coming so I'm not left in a last minute mess (I can always freeze some if there's loads left over) I'll be having a christmas eve food delivery so I can bump up the veg etc. at the last minute if necessary.

Is there something I'm missing here? should I be more sympathetic? is there some phychological trauma associated with losing long standing christmas hosting duties???

Arithmeticulous Mon 15-Oct-12 07:29:55

Tea you are just doing what she told you to do, planning as if she's playing her sons off against each other not going to be there. You are shrugging your shoulders in the face of her indecisiveness .

girlywhirly Mon 15-Oct-12 09:25:08

I agree, continue with your own plans Tea. Some MILS just like to play the martyr, and some find it genuinely hard to accept that others might actually be as good or better than themselves at cooking, hosting etc.

I would drop the subject altogether unless she raises it herself. I think that the more fuss there is trying to persuade MIL to come, the more she enjoys the attention and draws it out. When all said and done, if she ends up staying at home because she won't accept invitations to yours or BIL and SIL, who will she be able to show off to?

You're right in thinking that some matriarchs feel the loss of being the Christmas hostess, it makes them feel a bit redundant. I think it's good for the younger family members to take over before it gets to be hard work or expected of the parents or PIL year after year. I remember my cousins had to have the conversation with their mum after her hosting Christmas lunch for 45 years plus, because her health was declining and they decided to share it between themselves.

There are loads of options for using leftover turkey to make future meals to freeze. I used to make curry sauce or a red wine chasseur type sauce in advance that you can just stir all the bits of turkey into and then freeze. (A nice minimal effort meal for another time!)

BiddyPop Mon 15-Oct-12 10:12:29

I am having a nightmare with this. The parents on both sides are pretty much letting us decide (although both would lvoe to see us and I think MIL is quietly putting some guilt on DH). And I would be happy to go down to them - but staying somewhere not under their roofs. Cos both families are INTENSE at Christmas, while DD really needs routine and quiet. And I've had such a bad year that I also need space to retreat to.

The house my parents own between their own house and PILs was empty in Sept (between tenants) but they've since rented it again. So that's not an option.

Holiday houses are rare enough (it's not the tourist side of the couty), so we either pay a fortune for 1 in the grounds of a hotel (but the hotel is closed so pool etc are not usable) or get one privately not directly between both houses and not in great shape (they're 15 miles apart).

Or end up staying with PIL (where at least there are 2 bedrooms for us to use) or my parents (there may be enough room, but there may also be people sleeping on floors depending on how many are home). And dealing with the chaos of both houses 24/7 for however long we stay. And also not having anywhere we can host DD's birthday on Boxing Day (so whichever mother is having us hosts the birthday - and they don't get on so there'd be oneupmanship all over the joint!).

We may yet just decide to stay put in our house (we do it regularly enough) - although we don't have a guest room for visitors after Christmas Day because the au pair has that room (but she will be away until 30th, so I could ask her to let people stay for a couple of days).

I'd happily crawl under a rock and have my own little Christmas Dinner alone this year (I could cook a guinea fowl for 1!!) grin - wishful thinking....

TeaOneSugar Mon 15-Oct-12 17:17:12

Thanks for the advice, I'm going to order a turkey big enough for all possibilities and drop it.

I was really annoyed with the comment about having their lunch at home though, I think she's probably trying to guilt me into backing down and going to their house. TBH it's not like she even enjoys cooking, it's all pre prepared stuff from M&S so it's not like she spends time menu planning and preparing.

BiddyPop It sounds like staying at home is the best option, how old is your DD, won't she want some friends around on her birthday?

BiddyPop Tue 16-Oct-12 13:51:57

Tea, DD will be 7. Because it's Boxing Day, most friends are busy doing family stuff, so we have her friends party on the 1st Saturday back at school. But if we stay up, there are a few neighbours and some of my aunts who often call in.

If we go down, on the other hand, there would be at least 3 smaller cousins (possibly 5 depending if the overseas lot travel), lots of her aunts and uncles and all 4 grandparents. (But if we don't have an independent spot, I am depending on 1 of those Grandmas to host rather than me, and that is tricky for sooo many reasons).

I am going to take some quiet time to myself this week (DH gone back overseas today so I'll have unfettered access to laptop) and see what options there really are. And think carefully about whether I could do it under someone else's roof (and for how long). And then present DH with a fait accompli when he gets back.

girlywhirly Tue 16-Oct-12 15:26:28

Biddy, are your relatives really understanding DD's need for routine, quiet times etc, or do they see your wish to stay separately as trying to avoid them? I think it's a pity that you will have to spend a shedload to rent somewhere if you do go there. Will they also be aware that if you do have a party for DD's birthday there, someone will have to host at their home if you can't get somewhere else to stay, and would they then prioritise it? I don't think that I ever had relatives at any of my birthday parties, they were just for children, it's not essential for them to attend is it?

BiddyPop Tue 16-Oct-12 16:24:02

Girly, they are not that bad, but tend to forget in the mayhem of celebrations. And as 1 set of cousins live next door (but the kids think they own Granny's house as well), there can be little enough respite unless we physically go out at times. We have had DD's birthday in both Gran's houses in the past, but the year we hosted it ourselves in "neutral territory" was the best one (and the one that my siblings and DH's sister all stayed on afterwards at, so DD went to bed and we all relaxed like grown-ups together). It's more about having a cake to cut on the day with someone around, as the party for friends happens after school is back anyway.

girlywhirly Tue 16-Oct-12 17:11:34

I think then it's down to what you think you can manage.

Boxing day last year my dh slightly giddy on xmas invited the inlaws for this year for xmas because they always go to his sisters, i am seriously hoping they have forgotten. Were having a bit of a cross family get together this weekend and i just know my dad will say in front of everyone what are you doing noyouhavehadawee for xmas and i will want to go and hide. I want to stay at home with nobody to cook for but us. Miserable huh! grin

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