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AIBU to think that sometimes people try too hard at Christmas

(125 Posts)
randomchange Sun 20-Oct-13 10:24:47

Name-changed just in case. Some details changed to avoid outage.

My very good friend (F) has asked me to post this.

F and her DiL have always had a good and loving relationship and choose to spend time together without the son around. F is a kind and loving grandmother/babysitter to her 2yr old DGD and will be to the one that arrives in the new year. However, she has concerns that DiL has turned into <dramatic music> Christmaszilla. shock

DiL says that this is the first Christmas that DGD will know what's going on and is determined to run it like a military operation with all the extras. It has to be memorable and magical. There will be a Christmas Hamper, Elf on a shelf, homemade Advent Calendar with home made presents, decorations up the moment December arrives, outside lights and so much more. She's making noises about a trip to see Santa in Lapland - you get the picture. Every time they meet up DiL has another new idea from somewhere. <glares suspiciously at Christmas forum>

F is expected to help and do a lot because pregnant DiL "can't do it all!". F feels that most of it actually doesn't need doing. And suspects she may be expected to fund a lot of it. She's wriggling out of things as kindly as she can and is considering breaking an arm so as to have a better excuse.

We are both in our 60s and remember Christmas as a very magical time without all the stuff that people do these days. It was magical when our DCs were small without shelved elves etc. I'm all for family traditions at Christmas and we keep to all of ours and they make the magic - but forcing loads of new traditions which are tiring (and expensive) to execute on over-excited children seems crazy to us.

Are we being unreasonable old fogies?

YANBU at all.

grovel Sun 20-Oct-13 10:26:58

YANBU. At all.

Yama Sun 20-Oct-13 10:29:42

Yes, I suspect you are being unreasonable old fogies. I wonder if my mil feels this way about dh and I. I hope not.

We really enjoy all the planning that goes into Christmas. I am sure we get as much out of it as our children do.

If your friend doesn't want to help then she doesn't have to. Shame though.

NotYoMomma Sun 20-Oct-13 10:32:31

sounds lovely. I cant wait to go all out for Christmas once dd is aware and a bit bigger lol.

its one day a year!

my Christmas Pinterest board is ridiculous lol

There might be a very good reason why her DIL is doing all this? I think if she's expecting her second in the new year, the hormonal upset that makes you feel you're letting your first down and interrupting their perfect world, means she could be over compensating slightly. This is normal. I wouldn't be surprised if she doesn't think the perfect Christmas is something she can give her DD to assuage the guilt of having her second. I felt similarly torn about having dc2 and it manifests itself in different ways.

There may be other reasons too. Maybe she didn't enjoy her childhood Christmases. Maybe she adores Christmas and wants it to be a certain way. Who knows?

Certainly, your friend has every right to gently say I won't be financing or arranging things for you but sniping and calling her a Christmaszilla is unking and unfair.

If their relationship is otherwise good then this shouldn't be a problem. I'd be a little worried that she's focussing so exactly on this notion of perfection as it reeks of her struggling a bit but this should be met with kindness.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

All the things you describe can cost very, very little

I suggest if they start talking about expensive stuff you direct them to cheaper alternatives

And Christmas is a big deal here too. I spend a lot of time (not money) planning when and how we'll make decorations, things to do, little magic touches and stories etc. December is a wonderful month for me and we've started lots of little traditions over time.

MIL doesn't much like Christmas and only celebrates on the day, maybe a day either side and is a bit cranky about it all.

I'd be gutted to think she was being mean behind my back.

thegreylady Sun 20-Oct-13 10:36:43

YANBU at all. I am a big believer in Christmas magic for children. It is there in fairy lights in a dark room and a big decorated tree. Special stories and a visit to Santa and a look at shop windows etc. and a stocking to open on Christmas morning; the real magic is in the love that surrounds the children and that is free.
At 2 a child won't remember it anyway.

DaddyPigsMistress Sun 20-Oct-13 10:37:56

My mother didnt let us celebrate Christmas or birthdays. She was a misrable abusive drunk.
Im one of those who go all out at Christmas. I dont get into debt, my children enjoy it, we enjoy it too.

Sure its just me trying to get over my shitty childhood but really, wheres the harm?

silverten Sun 20-Oct-13 10:38:25

Blimey YANBU at all.

Don't quite know what to suggest for your friend to do, though. I guess, be politely 'that's nice' about some of the ideas, get involved with the less mad ones, and try to maintain a bit of distance from the impending meltdown (because I can't imagine that anything other than this is going to happen) and be there to pick up some of the pieces and console the DIL that actually, it's alright not to go to Lapland and DGD is having a lovely time playing with that box over there.

BrokenSunglasses Sun 20-Oct-13 10:38:30

The DIL is being cheeky if she's expecting someone else to fund all her Christmas ideas, but she's probably just excited about creating new traditions for her children to enjoy at Christmas and wants to involve her family. I'm sure all of us found the first Christmas where our PFBs were able to pay attention to it especially exciting. There's no need to be mean about it and piss all over her Christmas spirit.

silverten Sun 20-Oct-13 10:39:40

By the way, what is Elf on the Shelf? I'd never heard of it til I read mumsnet.

lastnightiwenttomanderleyagain Sun 20-Oct-13 10:41:07

For me as a child Christmas was magical simply for having everyone there around one big table enjoying themselves. Yes there were early morning presents and stockings, but truth be told I remember this mostly because video cameras had just come out so my dad filmed it all!

However...I wonder if the fact that she is DIL rather than D that makes the difference. Your F and family may have had some lovely.Christmas memories from the simple stuff but I wonder if DIL feels she lost out when she was a child and is overcompensating?

Preciousbane Sun 20-Oct-13 10:43:17

I guess if they can afford it then its harmless, I do worry about people getting in to debt because of Christmas and have known people that have.

I don't like a huge fuss myself and our traditions are quite low key, we don't even have a tin of quality street! So I do get where your coming from.

We have a lovely Christmas book with a mini story book that pops out for each day of advent. DS is nearly 13 so not sure how he will feel about it this year.

We have the traditional cat climbing up Christmas tree and me shouting at her to get down to look forward to smile

Nothing on that list seems ott to me - pretty normal for everyone I know actually blush

Tryharder Sun 20-Oct-13 10:45:49

The Lapland idea is mad for a pregnant woman and a 2 year old. Mad and stupidly expensive. I work at an airport and often deal with the Santa flights. It is a very, very long day and much too much for a toddler.

I am a bit of a Christmas Grinch really and do the bare minimum so I don't want to comment on the other stuff.

YANBU old fogies at all! I love Christmas, and I'm not an old fogy (at the grand age of 23), but I do hope that I can get away with giving DS the kind of Christmases that DP and I had as children.
What your friend's DIL has planned sounds a bit overwhelming for a young child, to be honest. There's nothing wrong with wanting to do some extra things for Christmas when the children are at that old-enough-to-understand but young-enough-to-think-it's-ace stage but there's no point in stressing about it or doing things that are beyond your means, or expecting others to have to do it for you, especially when so much of it is extra faff. If she can't do it all, she should only do what she CAN do and her daughter will still absolutely love it.

diddl Sun 20-Oct-13 10:49:07

I would say it's up to DIL what she does & it's equally up to F to not help/give money if she doesn't want to.

Is F somehow worried about being pushed out?

FortyDoorsToNowhere Sun 20-Oct-13 10:49:37

6 weeks today me, DH and the kids will decorate the house with christmassy things.

I love going all out for christmas < even though i will be working most of it>

I am going all out planning this year, the difference is though I am doing it and funding it. your friend is not unreasonable to say she doesn't want to get involved especially with financing it. Christmas is a very personal time, the reason I am so on up on Christmas this year is because I lost my mum shortly before last Christmas, and to be honest Christmas was horrible. my mum loved Christmas and this year I want create some better memories. not saying its a reason to spend epic amounts or rope people in but there are reasons some people do want to go all out certainly not fair to want people to help finance though!

coppertop Sun 20-Oct-13 10:51:27

I have no idea what an Elf on a shelf is, but the Lapland trip is the only one of those things that looks expensive.

If this is DIL's first child then she may well be going a little OTT in trying to start lots of new traditions at once. By next Christmas she will be able to see for herself what works and what doesn't.

This will also be her last Christmas with just one child (unless the new baby is due before then) so that will make it seem like even more of a special occasion for her.

What does F's son think about it all?

randomchange Sun 20-Oct-13 10:53:57

I don't think that Dil had unhappy Christmases as a child but that is something to think about, thanks.

I'm not against new traditions evolving it's the number of them that F is worried about. Christmas Day will be at F's house, Dil wants it so because F has a big fireplace and there will be a log fire. It's a big house so plenty of room for everyone and a big tree. F has always said she'd understand if DiL and DS wanted their own Christmas but they love going to hers.

She's never dressed the outside of the house, just thrown outside lights on a conifer near the front door but DiL wants them to make more effort. F's DH says he's too old to be climbing up ladders stringing lights around the eaves and is verging on grumpy, finding a lot of the ideas "too American". Decoration inside has been very traditionally English - think Victorian - and he'd rather keep it that way.

F loves DiL very much and is worried that it will be too much for all of them and that she's making herself ill in her drive for perfection.

ProfondoRosso Sun 20-Oct-13 10:54:03

YANBU. I'm probably a bit of a fogey when it comes to Christmas but I like it simple and as stress free as possible. And I'm 27!

My fondest childhood memories of Christmas are just decorating the tree with the same old deccies we'd had for years (still do), making a yule log out of a swiss roll, eating it on Christmas Eve, watching our 3 Christmas videos, then just going to mass, opening presents and having a nice dinner on Christmas Day. Maybe going for a walk in the park after dinner then playing Monopoly!

BIL goes he'll for leather with Christmas for his family, spends loads of money, like a military operation, traditions must be observed. I used to find this tiring, irritating and materialistic but now I understand why he does it. He and DH had an awful childhood and he wants his own children's to be perfect.

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