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If you have agreed a xmas rota (one xmas at ILs, one at home, etc) when is it acceptable to change it?

(57 Posts)
Flyonthewindscreen Thu 04-Nov-10 21:15:49

Disclaimer - I actually get on fine with my ILs most of the year but there is something about Christmas that sets MIL off...

Until last year me and DH had spent 11 years in a row having Christmas at the ILs. It reached a head around this time last year as with our DC then 5 and 7 we were getting desperate to have a Christmas at home, done our own way. ILs took it very badly, lots of refusing to talk about it and sillyness from them (we invited them to come to us so it wasn't like we were excluding them). I posted on MN quite a bit about to let off steam grin. Eventually they agreed to come to us, compromise being that we would alternate years from then on. Me, DH and the DC had a great xmas, ILs seemed happy enough, although weirdly they did do a complete duplicate xmas day again when we visited them on Boxing Day biscuit...

Now its xmas planning time of year again and as yet nothing has been said. I wish we hadn't agreed to the rota idea as it doesn't seem fair that ILs get to host xmas for over 30 years, we get one year and then its their "turn" again and all the time the DC are growing up and we have only had one xmas of their childhood at home.

My question is having agreed a "rota", when is it acceptable to change it? I'm thinking that to refuse to go to theirs this year after making it part of last year's "deal" would be too confrontational but I am thinking of saying that it will be the last one and after that we will be at home (they are welcome to join us).

amothersplaceisinthewrong Thu 04-Nov-10 21:19:41

Just change it. Kids do want to be in their own home at Xmas. Can you suggest to MIL that as she has done Xmas for a zillion years she really deserves a rest and you would like to fuss over her.....

GruffalosGirl Thu 04-Nov-10 21:26:37

We had a rota from when DH and I got together 11 years ago so did one year with my family, the next with his. Last year DS was one and I just said this will be the last year. From now on we will have Christmas every year at home as little ones need to be near their pressies. We will invite parents on alternate years and visit in the morning the other set, so will always see both sets on Christmas day. We are lucky as all live close.

It sounds like they will be unhappy every alternate year anyway. I would follow your plan and still go this year but make it the last as I would feel guilty changing it when I'd already agreed to go but I'd definitely put your foot down after this. What's the worst they can do really apart from sulk. If they really want to stay at home they don't have to come to yours, they are lucky to have had you for this long.

taffetacat Thu 04-Nov-10 21:41:26

I think you need to get to the bottom of why its an issue. Does MIL for example like doing all the cooking/prepping? What is it that she likes about hosting and/or what is it that she dislikes about being the guest? Perhaps if you can get down to the details, then you can make their visits more pleasant for everyone.

My MIL for eg loves making Christmas pudding and I can't be arsed don't make it myself, so am happy for her to bring one along. She also likes to be involved in the last 30 minutes before serving - the manic time of gravy, sprouts etc, which is great as I have a good sized kitchen so help is welcome.

Its hard pleasing everyone.

reddaisy Thu 04-Nov-10 21:45:10

What does your DH think?

alfabetty Thu 04-Nov-10 21:47:00

I would just say - I know we'd planned to come to you this year, but we'd all really prefer to stay at home. You, please, come to us and we can all have a lovely day together.

Then stay firm - if they start arguing or getting upset, just say - I am sorry you feel like that, but the DCs want to be at home with their toys, and that is what we are going to do. And repeat.

People can only emotionally blackmail you if you let them.

RememberToPlaywiththeKids Thu 04-Nov-10 22:10:20

Put it this way - who comes first - your MIL or your kids?

It should be about what will give your kids their memories, your MIL has had her turn.

I too think you just say asap that you know what you agreed last year but you're going to have to back track and you're very sorry but from now on you're staying in your house.

If she gets arsy, just repeat and you can also add something like 'I'm sure you didn't want to got to your ILs with the kids every year and neither do we - we all want to wake up in our own beds, the kids want to play with their presents and want to have traditions that become their childhood memories. etc etc

XboxWidow30 Thu 04-Nov-10 22:21:14

Myself and my hubby have spent the last 10 years alternating each year between my parents and his parents. This year I would like to stay at home and he thinks I am doing it to be horrible to his parents as its their year to host.

I'm not, I have just got to the point where I am fed up of dragging 4 children out to someone elses house and away from all of the gifts they have just opened at home. Oh and the fact I would like for us all to spend the day on our pj's watching Xmas films etc...!!!

I would do what I want for mine and the kiddies sake.

whomovedmychocolate Thu 04-Nov-10 22:27:41

I have hit on a crafty wheeze - neither my parents, nor my inlaws get on particularly well. So we have invited them all to come for lunch on christmas day knowing they will bugger off within two hours of finishing dinner to prevent having to talk to each other. Then my christmas obligations are done entirely hurrah!

But to answer the OP, just say 'christmas is for the children, the children want to do X so that's what we are doing - sorry. You are welcome or we can visit on X day, have a think about it and let me know'.

And just repeat whatever she says back to her with a 'I can understand that you feel that...... <blah>....but this year we are staying home on Christmas day' etc. Ad nauseum. If you keep it up for long enough you'll miss christmas because you'll still be arguing and problem solved wink

onimolap Thu 04-Nov-10 22:35:58

Whatever you do, you need to make sure you DH agrees, otherwise you are starting a whole new set of difficulties.

If he wants the rota, and as you had agreed to it, you could easily find yourself on uncomfortably thin ice. Going back on you word has little to commend it, in general. Do you have any wiggle room - what happens with the rest of your family (as opposed to in-laws) in the Christmas visiting round?

cat64 Thu 04-Nov-10 22:49:28

Message withdrawn

Hassled Thu 04-Nov-10 22:53:11

Just sit down with MIL and be honest. Point out that you want what she's had - years of opportunity to establish your own family routines. And if she's still arsey, grit your teeth and ignore. You're being completely reasonable - stick to your guns.

pigleychez Thu 04-Nov-10 23:01:15

We have a similar issue. Alternative between my parents and the inlaws. Always a drama as both mums are quite competitive.
DD's are only 2 and 5mths so still abit little to really 'get' xmas but there will be a time when we want to be at home.

Both set live an hours drive away so the whole of xmas is always spent travelling and making sure we spend equal amounts of time at both parents houses as not to upset each. I love xmas but not the whole family politics of it all.

ClimberChick Thu 04-Nov-10 23:03:14

Your kids are old enough for you to reasonably have xmas at yours, with people visiting you on your schedule. Your DCs are the kids, not the ILs, don't let them reduce their behaviour to that of spoilt brats who get what they want by stamping their feet. You wouldn't let your children get away with it.

RememberToPlaywiththeKids Fri 05-Nov-10 08:57:04

I just don't get how (older) parents can possibly imagine that their (grown up) children actually want to do all that travelling. How can they not see that their kids are in a very akward position trying to please two sets of parents and not see that actually they would love to stay at home with their young family?

Is it that the parents are consumed with selfishness or is it sheer arrogance thinking that they can provide enough fun and relaxation that will completely wipe out the exhaustion they are willingly subjecting their children to by forcing them to travel in the only time that they have off work for months??

I just don't get it. At all. It actually makes me really cross.

idlingabout Fri 05-Nov-10 09:39:19

Completely agree with `remember..`
We do the laternate spending with each other`s family but the venue changes. I find though the expectation from both my parents and DP`s that it has to be everybody together totally unreasonable compared with what they did when bringing up their families. I can count on one hand the number of times as a child we either went to grand-parents ofr had them to stay. The most my mother ever had to host was 8 people. In my family, whoever has to host is faced with catering (and seating) 14. It is frankly too much and I am trying to find ways to get people to see that we don`t all have to be there just so longs as parents aren`t on own, I suppose ( but that grates because their parents were regularly on their own and didn`t seem to mind. I guess because we lived a considerable distance away). In our family, the hosting always involves people staying over as parents 4 hours from us and we are 2 hours from nearest sibling.

dinkystinky Fri 05-Nov-10 09:43:15

How far away do your ILs live? If close, cant you do xmas morning at your house, lunch at their house and back home in the evening - kids will be excited by prospect of more presents at ILs.

We do a rota - one year my parents, one year my MILs - and have done so for 7 years now. Kids still v young (1 and 4) so they dont care where xmas is as long as we've told Santa where we'll be and there's a fireplace there for him to come down. MIL and my parents both live a good couple of hours drive from ours. I quite like that someone else deals with all the cooking etc but from next year DH wants to introduce xmas at our house into the mix..

idlingabout Fri 05-Nov-10 09:44:45

Alternate not laternate !

piscesmoon Fri 05-Nov-10 09:50:01

Change it anytime you want. I would never have a rota in the first place!! As the DCs get older they like to be at home.

thedollshouse Fri 05-Nov-10 10:01:21

I think parents are very unfair when they expect adult children and their offspring to do it their way. I accept that the christmases we have with our children will change as they get older and want to do our own thing.

Years ago Dh and I went travelling and were away for Christmas. First Mil refused to recognise Christmas because we were not there, so we were having a fab time on a Thai beach whereas the rest of the family were expected to be miserable. hmm Then she finally relented and they had Christmas but without the tree and all the trimmings and when we returned we had to sit through the photos. Every single present being unwrapped was captured on film for our benefit and we had to look at photos of grown adults opening socks and bubble bath etc. It was the most tedious thing I have ever had to sit through. It was definitely a punishment for going off and doing our own thing.

Poogles Fri 05-Nov-10 10:02:02

We used to alternate Christmas between my family and DH family. Last year was our year to go to PIL but in December they told us that they were having BIL instead (we have 2 DS, he has longed for DD who MIL didn't see on Christmas day year before). I was a bit cross as I thought we might all go and have Christmas together but FIL said not enough room (untrue, and anyway you can squash in at Christmas!).

This year we are having my family over. MIL said a couple of weeks ago 'you are coming to us for Christmas. It's our turn to see the boys'. I pointed out that it wasn't actualy. Guilt trip ensued (BIL spending Christmas with his PIL).

I have told DH that next year we will invite PIL & BIl over to ours so we can have a family Christmas but I know MIL will say no as she doesn't like to not be in control of the kitchen!!

As far as I am concerned, they broke the rota not me so now I am going to do what is best for my boys!

whatagradeA Fri 05-Nov-10 10:09:21

I've almost made a point (since we've had the DC) of doing something different every year. ILs always did the same thing every year (at DH's Nan's) and I think MIL was quite relieved to be able to change that when we had DD. The first year my family came and had Xmas at Ils. Since then we've been to my mum's, then our house but ILs for Dinner and this year it's my mum coming here and we'll pop to ILs for a couple of hours on the day.

I'm keeping everyone on thier toes so noone ever expects anything and we can do what we like grin

We have started a lovely tradition of going to Sils on Xmas eve to see Santa - he visit thier village at tea-time!

lostinwails Fri 05-Nov-10 10:11:32

You have to be strong and put your own family first. For the first time in 15 years I have put my foot down and announced we won't be travelling around most of the country with our three ds' and we won't be cooking for 15 either, we just want to enjoy Chirstmas as family (ok I for once want to enjoy Christmas, not find it stressful starting in September).

I would be apologetic but firm and enjoy having two Christmas days if your Mil can't cope without cooking and doing the whole hog at some point. The more I think about it the more bemused I get at the fuss that is made over one day, it is the cause of so much argument, stress and family ruckus, and we are a largely secular society!

girlywhirly Fri 05-Nov-10 10:18:00

This whole mum/MIL thing wanting to do Christmas at their own home has deep psychological roots. It reminds them of when their own children were young, and they want to re-create that year after year. They have a real need to be the one who is feeding the family, as the matriarch, the one who is in charge. They love the praise when everyone tells them how lovely the lunch was etc. Some see it as a sort of failure if they have to give it up. And yes, sometimes there is direct competition with DIL as to who does it best.

When they spend Christmas at a DD/SIL/DS/DIL home, they have to abandon their own way of doing Christmas, and accept theirs. The routine of Christmas day may be different, with meals at different times, foods they wouldn't serve themselves, particular favourites left out. Some find they can't relax properly in others homes, perhaps not enough to just doze off if they feel like it, or make a cuppa when they fancy. There may be other guests, or a constant stream of visitors all day that they don't know, which can be a source of anxiety to some.

If you do decide to stay at home, either let MIL make or bring food to yours if she needs to be involved with the food side of things. Make sure everyone knows she made them and let her take compliments. Same if she helps in the kitchen.

Let PIL know in advance how the day is likely to pan out, whether you expect anyone to drop in.

Kamer, if PIL come or not on Christmas day, let MIL do her duplicate dinner on Boxing day, small price to pay for family harmony. Present your argument as a wish to celebrate in your family's own home, because when they hit teenage they will spend most of Christmas in their rooms or out with their mates, and might be the only chance GP get to see them. I guess they'll start to voice their own choices soon at 8 and 6 this year. You have a few childhood Christmases left to have at home. The PIL had the 11 years before last, your family's choice now. If they choose to make an argument of it that's their problem. But they can't expect to monopolise every Christmas day until your DC leave home.

BlackBag Fri 05-Nov-10 10:39:02

Lots of good posts.

I'm with whatagradeA whoose "keeping everyone on thier toes so no one ever expects anything and we can do what we like"

and starting our own family traditions as well as 'acknowledging' rather the 'replicating' past traditions.

In discussions I would n't us the word rota just confidently discuss how 'you, the grand parents and the children really enjoyed last year" done confidntly they won't be able to say anything rude.

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