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.

Dylanlovesbaez Sun 03-Nov-13 10:07:27

Sorry very long! Also, what would you reply to text? Dp annoyed and says we just refuse it but I think he needs to talk to her and explain.

YouTheCat Sun 03-Nov-13 10:10:06

Wait and see. It might be really nice. If it's not to your taste then get a different one.

It's not a huge thing in the grand scheme.

Floralnomad Sun 03-Nov-13 10:10:32

Just get your OH to call her and say thank you for the thought but it's not really the one you wanted so could she return it . Job done .

Lottiedoubtie Sun 03-Nov-13 10:11:01

Ok, firstly, calm down.

She's just sending a calendar. Your DD is 19 months, nothing to stop you not showing her it if you are that against it.

But it sounds like MiL can't win- either she just sends money (what a cow!!) or she sends a gift (what an interfering cow!!)

Personally... I'd do both calendars and let the traditions arrive a bit more organically over time.

Sirzy Sun 03-Nov-13 10:12:46

Let her have 2 advent calendars, its hardly something worth getting upset about is it?

Dylanlovesbaez Sun 03-Nov-13 10:14:01

I know what you mean by it seeming like she can't win, I don't want it to be like that but I can't even begin to explain! She's done this before, I've said I'm buying dp a coffee machine and she tells me she's already done it, same with presents for dd. she honestly never, ever bothers with us, every visit is a flying visit on her way to somewhere else.

WhoNickedMyName Sun 03-Nov-13 10:15:03

Your MIL can't win really, can she?


Sirzy Sun 03-Nov-13 10:15:16

So why do you tell her what you are buying then? Just don't mention it if its something which will upset you!

Dylanlovesbaez Sun 03-Nov-13 10:15:57

I definitely need to calm down and it's not a big deal in grand scheme of things, but I did say we were doing it! I get stupidly excited about Christmas and me and dp have our own little traditions and we want to pass them on. Reading it back after writing it down i can see I seem unreasonable and I know I am but is she too?

flipflopper Sun 03-Nov-13 10:16:47

I know exactly what you mean, as my MIL used to be interfering with things like this. One year she did dd a stocking to open at her house, and told her santa had been, which really upset me at the time.
She is a lot better now, as dd was the first grandchild, and she now has 7, and the novelty has worn off!
I felt exactly like you, and felt like she had her time when her chidren were small, and not it your turn.

Re the calendar, just don't use it if its not what you want, but from experience, I don't like the ones with pockets or drawers and small dc don't really understand them anyway.
Pick your battles...

flipflopper Sun 03-Nov-13 10:18:05

and you need to stop telling her what you are buying!!

fivefoottwowitheyesofblue Sun 03-Nov-13 10:18:14

Yes she is. What Floralnomad said is perfect.

Dylanlovesbaez Sun 03-Nov-13 10:19:14

Thanks for replies. She can win, a phonecall to see how we are every so often would be plenty.

Sirzy Sun 03-Nov-13 10:19:28

I must be missing something because I can't see a problem with a santa stocking at grandmas house either. Perhaps I am just too laid back but it seems to me sometimes parents want to keep control of christmas 'traditions' and not let anyone else have any of the enjoyment which seems quite sad really.

Gobbolinothewitchscat Sun 03-Nov-13 10:19:54

Just let her have two advent calendars.

I honestly think her intentions are good do focus on that

What would have me totally grinding my teeth is the use of "little lady". Yuck!

Dylanlovesbaez Sun 03-Nov-13 10:21:00

Will get him to do that today, he's crap at standing up to her and I can see why. She will take it all out of context and start screeching down the phone at him! Part of me feels it's not worth it but these little things are actually huge things because it's very much a control thing for her.

Dylanlovesbaez Sun 03-Nov-13 10:21:48

Sirzy, I would love her to have te enjoyment but she doesn't even want to shop for Christmas presents for her. Where's the fun in that?

Dylanlovesbaez Sun 03-Nov-13 10:22:09

Oh yes and little lady-cannot bear it.

Sirzy Sun 03-Nov-13 10:22:49

She is probably worried she will get in trouble for getting the wrong thing!

Nanny0gg Sun 03-Nov-13 10:23:00

If you know what she's like, why did you tell her?
And Fair enough, sad for her not to have pleasure of choosing her presents but her choice.

Not everyone finds it a pleasure...

LetsFaceTheMusicAndDance Sun 03-Nov-13 10:23:07

I agree with the poster above who says just stop telling her stuff if you know her subsequent actions will upset you. It's not difficult surely? If she asks you directly what you are getting DH, for example, just tell her it's a surprise or you haven't decided yet.

YABU for repeating the same pattern with her and expecting the outcome to be different.

flipflopper Sun 03-Nov-13 10:26:16

Sirzy, it upset me because it felt at the time like she was trying to do one better than me, it is totally OTT to have 2 sets of xmas prezzies, and she would always buy her a huge present, bigger than what we had bought.
Without the back story of controlling/ interfering maybe it doesn't sound so bad.

WhoNickedMyName Sun 03-Nov-13 10:26:49

No she really can't win.

A phone call every so often to see how we are would be plenty

But money for Christmas, a text to see what you'd been up to, and an advent calendar isn't enough.

ProphetOfDoom Sun 03-Nov-13 10:27:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ProphetOfDoom Sun 03-Nov-13 10:28:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

From your posts I would bet she hasn't actually got the calendar yet.

I say this because of the idea that she's going to post it next week. It's so similar to someone I know who tells her adult kids "I've already got you that" when told about an item that the wife/husband/partner of the adult DC is planning on buying for their partner. It's about nicking an idea and gaining some oneupmanship from it., when in reality you don't bother normally.

You say your MIL doesn't really bother but from your posts she's quick to jump in and say she's bought an item you plan to buy.

YouTheCat Sun 03-Nov-13 10:31:18

I agree with just not telling her stuff.

Or use it in reverse - tell her you're getting dd something (when you aren't but use it as an idea for Christmas). That way she buys something and feels like she has one over on you but she hasn't.

Delilahlilah Sun 03-Nov-13 10:31:18

So why not turn this around? For example you know DH needs/ wants X and Y for Xmas. You plan to buy Y, so tell MIL you plan to buy X. She buys X, you buy Y, the job is a good one! Apply the same for DD.

cece Sun 03-Nov-13 10:34:20

My MIL hates shopping. She sends us money every year and I buy her presents for the DC. This is absolutely no problem at all. DC get the presents they want, MIL doesn't have to shop and I can easily sort it with the aid of amazon.

My DM has also made my DC their own advent calendars, without checking with me first, and they now use them every year. Again absolutely no problem with this.

I think there is definitely more to this as from the OP it does not sound unreasonable at all.

Dylanlovesbaez Sun 03-Nov-13 10:35:36

I like the thinking! I agree, I don't think she's already bought it.
The text to see what we were up to was because I had asked her how her building work was going so majority of text was all about her, the end said what were we up to, no how are we, how's dd? How's morning sickness. I will definitely not be telling her again but I would like to involve her in dds Christmas so it's hard. I'm always in two minds about her. We won't see her at christmas unless we travel to her.

Dylanlovesbaez Sun 03-Nov-13 10:36:38

Also she loves shopping,which is why I cannot understand not shopping for dds christmas presents.

Mondayschild78 Sun 03-Nov-13 10:37:33

Maybe she is getting things you mention as she does not know what to get (hence the money) but is trying to be a bit involved.

You mentioned pregnancy hormones, could you accept her advent calendar gift and keep it for your second child? If you hardly see her she will never know! That's what I would do personally and my MIL also has form for similar things but I try not to sweat the small stuff.

Enjoy your advent calendar! I have also bought one for DS (2 years old) for the first time this year and looking forward to opening it with him each day, particularly as I will have a newborn too so it will be nice to do this 'special' thing with him.

fluffyraggies Sun 03-Nov-13 10:37:40

Anyone remember the thread last year at xmas about the MIL who, upon hearing that the OP was going to buy a dolls house for their DD, went out and bought the biggest one money could buy (bigger and grander than the OP could afford) to have at their house? angry I mean - why?

Dylanlovesbaez Sun 03-Nov-13 10:38:44

I do know I'm being unreasonable but not as unreasonable as it seems. She's quite a nasty and manipulative woman who has caused an awful lot of grief and upset but it really would take too long to go through it all. Just wanted to vent my frustration really!

Dylanlovesbaez Sun 03-Nov-13 10:41:17

Oh fluffyraggies, I could see that happening here! I will be keeping my mouth shut! I never dictate about birthday and christmas presents I really do think grandparents should have the pleasure of choosing themselves if they wish. She makes comments like she's missin out on so much of dds life and development but she has had so many opportunities to visit and be a part of her life but she chooses not to.

gemmal88 Sun 03-Nov-13 10:53:30

YABU, your daughter is too young to remember anyway this year. Just take it and then if it's crap get the one you wanted for her next year.

MIL's are a pain in the arse though so I do sympathise. With my daughter MIL asked what she could get for us and OH told her the Moses basket we were going to get, so she said she'd get it.

Then she rocks up with some cheap minging frilly thing because she said she just wasn't prepared to spend that money. Raging, she could just have got something else! But obviously I couldn't send it back so we were stuck with it. Will be buying our own this time round, although I doubt she'll even bother to visit to notice considering she hasn't seen our daughter in 2 years!

HSMMaCM Sun 03-Nov-13 11:12:46

DD loves the tradition that she has 2 advent calendars every year. One from us and one from Gran.

AbiRoad Sun 03-Nov-13 11:21:01

Can I ask about those advent calendars with drawers/pockets? I like the idea of them but what stops the DC just looking in all the drawers/ pockets i day 1?

ladyantigone Sun 03-Nov-13 11:28:50

On a practical note, bear in mind:
your dd is really little, so will not have a clue what is special and what isn't
you still get to buy her whatever you want to and make it special
your MIL is unlikely to ever know if the calendar gets seen once then put in the back of some cupboard somewhere

Grandparents all do this. The trick is to minimise what you don't like and introduce what you do. You can do this even when they are older.

(My mum has hideous taste, she means well, but I have practised the above quite a lot!)

Patilla Sun 03-Nov-13 11:33:25

If you want see her unless you visit then see if the calendar is any good and don't use it or mention it if it's not.

If MIL asks you can sill talk about what DD got. If pressed say you felt a bit awkward as had already ordered the wooden one but didn't want to offend so thought you would keep it for spare/dc2 etc?

And if I was in your situation I definitely wouldn't be sharing my plans in advance I'd be keeping them a secret.

Would she take well to suggestions? As much as the task frustrates me I do lists for each child and let grandparents look at it and yes looking at you PIL who should have waited a week rather than spend all your money on something unsuitable because you deem the end of October too late for me to send the list for a five year old who changes his mind three times a day

chocoluvva Sun 03-Nov-13 11:38:05

Yes - more than one advent calendar is fine - when the DCs are old enough they can take it in turns to open each one and will still get to have an advent calendar goodie every day. (not useful for teaching sharing admittedly) blush

We now have four advent calendars - a fabric christmas-tree shaped one with pockets containing a decoration for the (advent) Christmas tree that I splurged out on when DD was tiny, a wooden one with drawers bought by their GM, (as it gets nearer and nearer to Christmas the gifts get more and more rubbish usually, eg 27p in coppers,) a cardboard one made up of tiny books which the DCs hang in unsuitable places such as f door handles and an educational cardboard one with windows revealing the word 'hello' in different languages - usually this one remains closed as the DC can't be bothered!

We now have our family tradition of setting up the nativity - which consists of the baby Jesus in his manger made by DS when he was 2, a hideous scabby angel made by DD when she was 5 (which we laugh at), a cow and a pig made by both DC when they were little, a Christmas tree decoration wise-man, and no Mary or Joseph! Every year someone jokes about the baby Jesus being child-minded!

I hope you have lots and lots of happy Christmases with your family Dylan smile

Nanny0gg Sun 03-Nov-13 11:39:13

MIL's are a pain in the arse though so I do sympathise.


SupSlick Sun 03-Nov-13 11:46:13

Perhaps she thought you were hinting at what to buy your DD for Christmas?
I wouldn't say anything until next year, just a little comment like "but don't get DD so&so present I just mentioned, as I definitely want to get her that this year, & remember last year when you stole my idea with the advent calendar ha dee ha" (make it sound like you're joking whilst swearing under your breath)
Does DD have a doll she likes? Maybe let the doll have the spare advent calendar?

Icantstopeatinglol Sun 03-Nov-13 11:58:01

I know where you're coming from op, my mil wouldn't see us for months and she turned up one year in November with advent calendars for the kids. It might seem like a small thing but I'd already bought them and didn't want them having two so just didn't use them....then felt bad about not using them but I would never buy advent calendars for kids unless I knew the parents hadnt already. Long back story with our mil too and we don't see her anymore which is sad but it was just hassle everytime she came round and got us all down. She just doesn't bother anymore and my poor dh has had enough. Luckily my dp are great with the kids but still wish they had more than that.

nothavingagreatday Sun 03-Nov-13 12:06:16

My kids get about 6 advent calendars every year. I buy a lego one and another, my Dad buys them 2 chocolate ones and my MIL buys 2. My children are obviously very spoilt. Do I give a FF, no I don't.

Seriously, as far as MIL issues go, this is a non issue.

nothavingagreatday Sun 03-Nov-13 12:07:57

I also want to say that my MIL can be a pain in the butt with me, but I must give her one credit, she is absolutely brilliant with my children.

paxtecum Sun 03-Nov-13 12:11:58

OP: Contact works both ways.

Do you or DH ever ring her to ask how she is?

Please remember that you will all be MIL in the future.
Treat yours how you would like to be treated.

Two advent calenders sounds fine to me.

MrsOsbourne Sun 03-Nov-13 12:22:50

If you don't like it or prefer to use your own then either pop it away or regift- there is no law that says you must use it surely ?

FunkyFucker Sun 03-Nov-13 12:43:16

Tell her stuff that you want but can't afford...not stuff you are actually wanting to get yourself.

SarahBumBarer Sun 03-Nov-13 12:49:28

Abi - we only put something in the drawer for the following day the night before DC have gone to bed. Sometimes it is a sweet/chocolate or sometimes it is an event like going to choose the tree, having tea with Santa, meet the reindeer etc. We tell the DC that in the run up to Christmas the Elves come by at night to see if they are being good and to leave little surprises.

Nanny0gg Sun 03-Nov-13 14:38:13

And I hate to tell some of you with young DCs, but they'll probably be advent calendars at school too...

More than one is fine!

ZombieMojaveWonderer Sun 03-Nov-13 14:47:41

Let her send it and just leave it in a cupboard and use the one that you want. I don't see why you have to make a big deal of it to be honest.

2 advent calendars isn't the end of the world, but being in a similar situation myself, it is possibly the thin end of the wedge. DD2 got the same tea trolley for her birthday from both grandparents, DD3 got duplicate garage and cars, DD1 received 2 watches, etc, etc. It happens every year angry What is wrong with some people? The funniest one was when Mil bought the same gift for DD2 that she bought the previous year for another DC! When i am being charitable I wonder if she's losing the plot and only remembers certain parts of the conversation. Most of the time I think "bitch!"

SpockSmashesScissors Sun 03-Nov-13 15:14:28

Just don't use it then. DH doesn't need to phone her up and tell her off for buying a present confused

Does DH ever phone up to check how his mum is? Or does she always have to phone herself.

Twoandtwomakeschaos Sun 03-Nov-13 15:19:20

Just re-gift the calendar, if you don't want the aggro of standing up to her, and don't tell her about other stuff you intend to buy.

mrsjay Sun 03-Nov-13 15:23:09

maybe the advent calender planted the idea into her head maybe she is really rubbish at buying gifts and likes ideas, you need to unclecn a wee bit it is only an advent calender your dd can have 2 for 1 year and next year you can just put out one your dd wont know or care really, my MIl always used to buy the dds advent calenders <shrug> and maybe you could drop hints about gifts as well then she wont send money, oh and i think your mil wont be sad about chosing gifts if she has no idea what to get throw her some ideas

FrightNightcirCurse Sun 03-Nov-13 15:27:04

Maybe save it for the baby and get the one you want this time.
Or say your husband had ordered one and give it to someone else.
Or use it as a decoration but not as a calendar

mrsjay Sun 03-Nov-13 15:29:20

Or use it as a decoration but not as a calendar

^ ^ we have one we haul out every year I always forgot to fill it after a few years it happens to us all so I just use it as a christmas decoration, mil got it made and it is lovely

mrsjay Sun 03-Nov-13 15:33:09

Op what are you going to do with the gift if and when it arrives please dont be angsty about this the childrens granny is going to in their lives a long time yet and this is just something you need to let wash over you IME my Mil was the proverbial dragon I had to let her get on with it she did mellow and we got on great

BettyBotter Sun 03-Nov-13 15:45:38

Advent calendar, coffee machine - sounds like she genuinely doesn't know what you'd like. Then when you mention planning to buy something, she thinks ' Oooh they want a coffee machine/ advent calendar. I could get them that .'

My dm does that. It gets to the stage that I can't mention anything near Christmas in case she rushes out to buy it first. because she's trying to be kind. smile

NoThanksIAmBusy Sun 03-Nov-13 15:46:57

My mum just presented my 2 with chocolate advent calendars when I have repeatedly told her we have a fabric one and that I already have all the bits to go in it. V annoying particularly as they haven't shut up about the choc ones - why hand them over in fecking October?!!

I have told the kids they can start them next week and have then in the run up to advent, when they finish them it will be time to start the official advent.

In the grand scheme of things it's not a big deal but just a little frustrating not to be listened to. Maybe your mil will calm down a bit when dd gets a bit older?

mrsjay Sun 03-Nov-13 15:47:07

My mum will do this too although the dds are older now I go with her to chose but we had duplicate things over the years she says aww I thought it would get it to save you money,

TSSDNCOP Sun 03-Nov-13 15:52:58

You realise in creating all your Christmas traditions, it is likely that in 20 years time your DIL will be going all angry?

Play the game, tell her stuff you want her to get, not stuff you're already planning to get.

And you'll work out in about 60 odd days from now filling your own sodding advent calendar is a PITA and will be ordering a Playmobil sorting office next year grin

DontmindifIdo Sun 03-Nov-13 16:26:54

Agree that just tell her stuff you aren't actually going to get but would quite like. See what happens...

Re the calander, just stick it in a drawer and use the one you want. Yes, you might prefer it, but you are annoyed now and see it as being used to get one up on you, so don't, it'll annoy you every christmas.

alternatively, text back "oh no, just seen this message, we've just ordered the wooden one! Do you want to return yours or send it anyway? I'm sure it'll make a nice decoration." If others are right and she's not actually ordered it yet, then it'll stop her without you saying "I don't want it."

She sounds like a lot of people who "talk like good grandparents but aren't", there's a lot of them about, you have to remember that when they say they'd like to see more of your DCs, they are only saying that because they feel they are supposed to say it, don't presume it means they actually do want to see them more often or are actually interested. You can get yourself wound up trying to accomodate them or taking their comments that they don't see the DGC enough as a criticism of how hospitable you've been, but once you accept they are just saying it because they feel they should not because they mean it, you can relax, nod and smile and make sympathetic noises without thinking this is actually a problem you need to fix.

DontmindifIdo Sun 03-Nov-13 16:31:02

oh and re how you manage putting things in the pockets, Father Christmas' elves visit each night and put one in. It has the advantage of meaning for us we can put in mini-oat bars for our non-chocolate eating DS, or mini-gingerbread men. (goodies do some small gingerbread men.)

You do, however, find that mid-December, you'll have a couple of mornings when you've forgotten and one of you is stalling your DC upstairs while the other runs downstairs and fills the draw/pocket...

Dylanlovesbaez Sun 03-Nov-13 16:34:37

Thanks so much for responses, you are a very reasonable lot!
I've given her loads of ideas for Christmas and birthday last year and give her ideas throughout the year but don't want to dictate.
Me and dp do phone her, I also text her quite often with photos, videos etc, if it wasn't for this she would have no idea about dd. when dp phones she often doesn't answer despite us knowing she has her phone glued to her at all times. Dontmindifido, I like that reply to the message
It won't make her angry and cause any upset. I really do let most things go but felt this was a deliberate attempt to piss me off. Dont want to phone her just to moan so will use that reply. Thanks again, less wound up about it all now!

NoThanksIAmBusy Sun 03-Nov-13 16:43:48

I think this might be the most civilised AIBU I have ever seen grin

HolgerDanske Sun 03-Nov-13 18:47:34

I think it will be nice for your daughter to have two calendars. And all you need to do now is wait to see which one MIL got her, then make sure you get an even better one wink

One could be an activity calendar (possibly the one your MIL is sending as it has pockets and you could roll up a slip of paper for each day), and the other a gift calendar with little trinkets.

From now on, make sure you never, EVER tell your MIL what you're planning on getting! Have a decoy gift ready to mention for each occasion so she can go and get that and you will have the chance to get your own gift without her interference.

ems1910 Sun 03-Nov-13 19:33:48

My MIL used to ask what we were getting for our son and then go out and buy the same thing. When my ex used to ask why she would say she didn't remember and one year even bought the item (a small rocking horse) to our house and put it in his room unpackaged so we couldn't return it :/

When the ex went away on his submarine one year she asked me what I was sending him in his parcel one month, then she sent him exactly the same items. She had asked me if I was framing the photos I sent of our son and I said no (he couldn't store frames in his limited space and had nowhere to put them up), he said her 20 or so photos of ds all arrived in frames which he had to leave at port :/ At the time I went mad, called her all sorts of names to my friends, cried and generally went a little bit overboard. Now I just laugh about it with him. I am still not sure why she was like that.

My son always has 2 or 3 calendars as my mum and aunt buy him one each and no amount of telling them will stop it. I don't mind (I just tell him sharing is a lovely thing to do ;))

FestiveEdition Sun 03-Nov-13 19:48:09

OP, I would just not respond at all. Don't rise to the bait.
When it arrives in the post..... put it in a drawer.
Leave it there.
Say nothing.
Choose the calendar you and DP would like, and start using it on Dec 1st.
If MIL visits in December, and comments that she can;pt see it, then simply say you are really sorry but the two of you decided to use the one you had chosen, this year!

Cool. Calm. Non-aggressive, but totally non-compliant.
If you take this approach consistently....with everything she doubles up on.....then she will stop eventually.
You just have to get into the headset that its her money she is wasting whenever she does this, because she is dim enough to repeat YOUR purchase. She is not beating you to anything ...she is spending money to fill a unused drawer (or supply the local charity shop)
Which shouldn't need to annoy you at all smile

Thisvehicleisreversing Sun 03-Nov-13 19:56:22

My MIL winds me up with stuff like this too.

She openly loathes Christmas and spends it in bed with egg and chips yet has to be the one to buy the DC's their advent calendars. She knows I love Christmas and all the little traditions and every time I tell her she doesn't have to get them she ignores what I've said and turns up with them. She bought this year's 2 weeks ago to make sure she beat me.

When DS1 was little she did the wh

Thisvehicleisreversing Sun 03-Nov-13 20:03:52

Oops fat fingers.

She did the whole 'what are you buying him? We'll buy the same to play with at our house' thing.

We saved up ages to buy him his first little tricycle yet she had to go one better angry

Every past year PIL have spent a fortune on the DC's (mostly crap but kids have loved it) yet this year we asked if they'd help share the cost of an expensive present Ds2 has asked for as we can't afford it on our own. They've told us that this year they're cutting back on christmas spending so don't want to do that. Fair enough but I can guarantee that they'll spend just as much as normal and the only reason they've said no is because they don't want to 'share the glory' of a present.


Floggingmolly Sun 03-Nov-13 20:06:49

He doesn't need to "stand up to her" about the treachery of her having bought her grandaughter a bloody Advent calendar hmm
If you tell your MIL you're going to get something and she replies she's got it already, could this not be the simple truth rather than a deliberate campaign to undermine you??

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.

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.

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

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.

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,

oscarwilde Mon 04-Nov-13 10:37:58
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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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!

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!

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.

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.

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


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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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