Mil and christmas traditions

(99 Posts)
Dylanlovesbaez Sun 03-Nov-13 10:06:35

I'm sure I'm going to sound totally unreasonable and ungrateful but there's a ridiculous amount of back story that would take days to explain.
Basically mil has told us she's not buying dd any presents, she's just giving us money as she's too busy and she doesn't know what dd has already got. Fair enough, sad for her not to have pleasure of choosing her presents but her choice.
I've been talking for ages about getting dd a special advent calendar with drawers, she will be 19 months this christmas so wanted to start it this year. I told her this and also made a joke about getting dd christmas knickers because I get new ones every year! Anyway, mil texts me yesterday to see what we had been up to, I told her I was looking online for the calendar I wanted and that me and dp were deciding which one to get.
She replies telling me oh I've already got little lady one and it's got pockets, I'm posting it next week.
Aibu to be mightily pissed off? Not only had I already said I was doing it but she's had her turn to make her christmas traditions with her children and she didn't bother. She never bothers with us or dd. she never asks how she is and I just feel she's done this to upset me. Also got raging pregnancy hormones so bit more sensitive.

FestiveEdition Wed 06-Nov-13 10:19:27

Ludwig - this is a conversation for another thread really, or we risk derailing this one, but personally I would choose to be nailed in a box before I would live with my children.
I adore them, there are no family rifts, but I would never inflict myself on them. My choice.
Each to their own but, again, it pays to avoid generalisations even over perceived cultural differences.

DontmindifIdo Wed 06-Nov-13 08:46:58

Ludvig - the problem lies in this case, not that the OP doesn't want her MIL involved in raising her DD, but that the MIL isn't interested in having a relationship and spending time/giving any thought to her DGD, yet wants the 'glory' of the presents.

I do believe that family traditions from both sides shouldn't be thrown away for new nuclear family traditions, which is why we've taken on MIL's tradition for Boxing day breakfast, we've blended the traditions from both sides as well as creating some new ones (our 'pockets' advent calendar has put my parents out who wanted to buy calendars for DS, but they won't accept I have the only child who hates chocolate odd boy so a pockets one meant I could give him mini gingerbread men - his favourite treat). However in this case, there wasn't a tradition around advent calendars before, the OP decided to start one, and knowing this, the MIL has tried to take it over, it's not something that's come from her.

It reads to me that this isn't about advent calendars, or even Christmas traditions, but feeling like the MIL isn't interested really in making DGD happy, more being seen as the one who buys the best gifts, it's spending money on the child not for the child's benefit, but for the grandparent's. I can see why that would grate.

WholeNutt Wed 06-Nov-13 03:35:16

I'd tell her you're buying something that you'd like but know you're not actually buying and as for the calendar when it arrives put it away. If she never visits anyway she'll never know.

Sounds like this is 1 of many things and this has been the catalyst.

LudvigVonBeatles Wed 06-Nov-13 02:21:52

Festive, you are right. That was a large sweep. I think that family and community spirit has eroded quite a lot and is not like it used to be in our parents generation. Some Asian families, even modern ones, have 5 generations under one roof. Whilst that would probably get on my nerves, it is not a bad thing if you are used to it. The oldies would be taken care of and have company.

I don't particularly get along that great with my MIL/ FIL but I have already decided that I will never let them live alone when they are older and can't get around. That's just crap.

Xmasbaby11 Tue 05-Nov-13 23:38:27

It wouldn't bother me. Wait and see - DD might love it. I think you're being a bit rigid, to be honest.

FestiveEdition Tue 05-Nov-13 23:35:56

There is no community or family spirit left in England, even in the immediate family

That is a very sweeping generalisation Ludwig.

Some families remain extremely close ...including with IL's
Community spirit is also alive, and well, and thriving in my neck of the woods. A recent thread on whether people felt safe living in rural areas seemed to indicate it was also thriving in a lot of other villages and small towns around the country.

LudvigVonBeatles Tue 05-Nov-13 23:30:14

Very true Colin. I actually do think that western women have been conditioned to think that they have to do everything for their kids and if they don't then they are failing as a mother. I think that we do try and control every small bit of our kids lives rather than accept anyone else's opinion or help. I do this myself! I often feel any gesture from my MIL or minor criticism from my own DF is a major attack on my mothering skills. In other situations I am so chilled out I am horizontal. There is something in my ID that is awakened whenever there is a millionth of a millimetre of a raised eyebrow or if someone looks over at me when I a doing something for my children.

In Asia there is the saying "it take a village to raise a child". Imagine how much easier our lives would be if we all helped each other out and cut each other some slack. There is no community or family spirit left in England, even in the immediate family. It's so sad. When did this happen and which government policy caused this?

My Dad has sent my kids 2 chocolate Advent calendars. I have already bought them a Lego one. I think he is trying to undermine me and show my kids that I have no taste in calendars. Thing is though I know his game and have already got some massive chocolate Santas to wave under their noses.

Colinbakergotfat Tue 05-Nov-13 19:55:50

But In-laws are family FFs. Why can't they have some input into family traditions? Having listened to the stuff about loneliness on radio 4 today I really despair about the way we are so desperate to create a nuclear family we discard our old people.

Who the fuck would want to be old hmm.

GobbolinoCat Mon 04-Nov-13 20:51:27

DOntmind

Agree on xmas traditions. we didnt have any in our house bar,get dressed up and watch the dp's arguing sad.

Agree that someone has to make the effort.

Its quite hard sometimes to try and create a special family xmas with in laws breathing down ones neck.

re the calender though, just have two. sell it next year

CrapBag Mon 04-Nov-13 20:21:12

"because it's very much a control thing for her."

This is exactly why she does it. She wants control. I bet she would never have thought of getting her a calendar if you hadn't told her. Don't tell her anything you are going to get, otherwise she'll do it all the time.

I know what you mean about the lack of interest though. My MIL bleats on about herself all the time to DH but doesn't even bother to ask how the kids are doing. Pisses me right off.

DontmindifIdo Mon 04-Nov-13 20:19:02

IME - most traditions are to some extent "forced" because someone has to take the decision to put the effort in to do it every year. If it doesn't prove a hit, then don't bother again, but you don't get many family traditions when noone bothers to do anything in the first place. The idea that traditions just 'evolve' is nonesense in many cases, because someone in the family has to decide to do something the first time then do it again the following year. There are some traditions that could evolve (like you all go for a walk on boxing day) if you don't have to plan them in advance then on the day it turns out to be a hit so you do it the following year and suddenly it's a tradition, but advent calendars, stockings, tree decorating, eating certain foods and most other Christmas traditions requires someone to make an effort to decide to do it and arrange it in advance of the day.

Dylanlovesbaez Mon 04-Nov-13 19:19:29

Also in terms of Christmas traditions, as much as I'd love for te calendar to become a Christmas tradition in our home, it won't be forced but obviously I need to get one and fill it, it's not a forced tradition and I guess anything else that becomes a tradition will just happen but an advent calendar can't just happen!

Dylanlovesbaez Mon 04-Nov-13 19:15:54

Some really great responses here and good to hear both sides of the argument.
I totally understand that I'm being a bit of a cow about it all. I'm really trying to take a step back in the relationship and not care but she's definitely one who likes to talk the talk. She gave us money for a coat last year and a pair of shoes to wear for her wedding which we are so grateful for, these things don't come cheap but she spent so much time telling everyone that she was the one that bought them that it became embarrassing!
I try not to text her for a while, no pics, no updates but I hear nothing and then I feel sad for dd, for dp and for mil. Does she really not care? Then I feel guilty because I contact my mum and fil with pics and updates and I just want her to be part of it all. I don't want dd to grow up with any negative thoughts about her from our side, she can make up her own mind about her and any other family member. Think this was just straw that broke camels back!

The dd isn't getting 2 advent calendars is she - the MIL isn't posting 24 things to put in the pockets. The dd is getting one advent calendar and one fabric hangy thing with empty pockets.

Nothavingagreatday - you're right. If you know your child's grandparent would throw themselves under a bus for your child you can put up with a lot from them. It's when you know they wouldn't walk two minutes for your child that things get difficult. Don'tmindifIdo is spot on about grandparents who like to talk the talk.

OP, maybe you should lower your expectations a bit? It sounds like MIL isn't going to be the loving involved grandparent that you'd like. Could you try investing the same amount of effort in the relationship as she does? Don't be the one to make all the phone calls or do all the travelling. If you don't send photos, and she wants to know her gd, she'll visit. If not, not. But relationships are meant to be two-way, and if she isn't that bothered, you'll find you get less angry about it if you can manage not to be that bothered either.

AbiRoad Mon 04-Nov-13 18:30:20

Thanks for explanations of how the drawers work. Sounds good, although mine are probably too old to start now. Also a bit dubious about ability of DH and I to remember every single night for 3 weeks or so!

thegreylady Mon 04-Nov-13 13:18:16

Abi my dgs have one with little drawers. My dd or her dh put the little sweets/gifts in after the dc have gone to bed so there is never anything to find except that morning's present.
The elves leave the presents when they pop in each evening to check that everyone is ok.
The dc also have a window advent calendar leading up to the 24 th when there is a big Nativity window and the dc are told the story of Christmas.

EldritchCleavage Mon 04-Nov-13 11:13:41

I wouldn't bother contacting her, in your shoes. It is hard for DILs to get it right too-perhaps she vacillates between being irritated at getting all this input from you and taking it for granted as it saves her from having to put in the effort.

It sounds as though she wants a different kind and level of contact from what you consider normal. So let her find it with your DH, and step out of the picture.

specialsubject Mon 04-Nov-13 11:13:27

no idea what the problem is here. Especially as your daughter is a baby and doesn't know Christmas from six weeks Sunday.

Tiggles Mon 04-Nov-13 11:04:58

smile As you are pg, it won't be long before having 2 reusable advent calendars will be really useful! I have 3 DSs, but only 2 reusable calendars - one I bought and one that DM made a couple of years later (I wasn't best impressed at the time, as we already had one, and she was making it and didn't actually finish it, so I had to do that too after she gave it to DS1, then I had to fill it!). However as soon as DS2 was there it made things a lot easier as they all rotate around opening the calendar for the day.

oscarwilde Mon 04-Nov-13 10:37:58
mrsjay Mon 04-Nov-13 09:33:37

I cringe at the controlling DILs that insist on creating contrived Christmas traditions "just for their little family". Just let things happen organically.

this is how all our christmas traditions happened over time and they just seemed to emerge I dont get this creating traditions but i suppose we are all different,

FestiveEdition Mon 04-Nov-13 07:11:05

To be fair to OP, the drip feed has been that the advent calendar is not an isolated incident but a pattern that has been repeated frequently so I do understand the frustration of 'she even has to do it over a bloody advent calendar'.

On the whole I concur fully with nothaving - and that type of give & take is the way that good family relations are made to work, but in this case I read that OP is not sure if her MIL does feel that way about her DGC?
I stick by my original post though, and think that there is no need to be confrontational about dealing with it.

Colinbakergotfat Mon 04-Nov-13 07:10:19

You say it is a control thing for her. Sounds very much like a control thing for you tbh. I despair for MiLs. And I cringe at the controlling DILs that insist on creating contrived Christmas traditions "just for their little family". Just let things happen organically. confused

ApocalypseThen Mon 04-Nov-13 06:37:32

There don't always have to be hidden messages. It's an advent calendar, not a kidnapping. She isn't trying to omg change Christmas by sending it.

nothavingagreatday Mon 04-Nov-13 01:50:03

When I have jaded thoughts about my MIL I ask myself who would I want to look after my kids if both me and DH died. The answer is her because at the end of the day when she has done my head in by nit picking how I change a nappy, buying a million advent calendars, buying enough pyjamas to kit out a whole school and feeding them with chocolate cake, she is their granny and I know that my MIL would throw herself under a bus for my children.

With that in mind I often remind myself to cut her massive amounts of slack. Sometimes I feel bad because I ask her not to buy them stuff and she looks a bit hurt. I actually ask her not to because she spends 20-30 quid on something they want and they play with it for 2 minutes then go back to the stick they found in the garden which creates hours of fun. She is wasting her money and she is not loaded. I say to my MIL, don't buy them things, do something with them, take them out. Kids won't remember what you bought them, but they will "remember the times we used to go fishing with Grandad, go to the museum with Granny, play Monopoly with them".

Honestly, your MIL is not a narcissist, you don't need to go no contact, you don't need to be mean to her. It's just an advent calendar.

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