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Inflexible in-laws in-laws...

(18 Posts)
alfabetty Mon 29-Nov-10 06:53:26

I have 4 brothers. They are all married with children. Eldest brother has offered to host Christmas. We will spend Boxing Day with ILs.

DH's family is one sister and his parents. It is his sister's 'turn' to go to her MiLs for lunch on Christmas Day. They have no children, her MiL is on her own, so no other siblings etc to take into account. So the MiL could just as easily go to SiL's house, where DHs parents could go too. But SiL has refused to do this saying her MiL 'won't like that'. SiL's MIL (if you are following) is quite inflexible and difficult. So my DH's parents are now alone for Christmas dinner.

So I can't see that happen (they are lovely) and so I'm missing my family Christmas to host them for lunch.

So I feel resentful that because the one person in the whole set-up, with whom I have no connection, with the least cause to be inflexible - the single MiL, with no grandchildren or other adult children to consider - won't budge from her 'turn' system, it means I'll miss my family get-together.

Don't know whether to suggest to SiL that she take a harder line with her MiL (and her DH) - 'I'm not leaving my parents alone or disrupting others' plans, so Xmas lunch is at my house and you are welcome, if you can't be flexible, you'll have to spend it alone rather than everyone else fitting to you whims'. But then I feel I'm intruding on their marriage and arrangements.

But leaving my ILs alone for lunch is just a non-starter - SiL's initial response was that they have friends they can go to so that's OK!

What to do?

thumbwitch Mon 29-Nov-10 06:57:59

Can you not take your DH's parents to your brother's for Christmas dinner? Or would they not want to do that?

Have you asked your PILs what they want to do? I would do that before you turn your own plans upside down.

My grandparents always had Christmas lunch just the two of them - we saw them in the evening, either at ours or theirs. They preferred it that way.

alfabetty Mon 29-Nov-10 07:03:53

The ILs are very unassuming so would go for the 'we'll be OK' approach (hence SiL's acceptance of that at face value) but they dote on the GC and are both from large families so would hate to be alone for Christmas lunch.

They can't really come to my brother's, as it is too far for them to get back for the evening (SiL is going to them in the evening as apparently her MiL likes them to be gone by 7....!).

Our only option is to head to my brother later in the day but not ideal as it is a long drive and our DCs are small.

Humph. Esp fed up as my family are pretty easy going about it all (as you have to be with so many of us!).

thumbwitch Mon 29-Nov-10 07:19:31

I agree that your SIL's MIL sounds like a PITA. But - if you go to your brother's later in the day, is there any chance you could stay over with them until Boxing Day?
After all, if you're seeing your PILs on Christmas Day, you won't need to see them for lunch on Boxing Day, will you - so you could have lunch with your bro on Boxing Day and head back in the afternoon.

alfabetty Mon 29-Nov-10 07:30:04

My bro has his ILs turning up on Boxing Day....!

Question really is whether I point out the difficulties to SiL and recommend she explain all this to her MiL (as I would) or just go along with it.

SiL is definitely of the mindset that she does what her Dh wants without question, and her DH is also quite rigid - if it's his mum's 'turn', that's then end of the thought process. So don't want to go stirring things up between them.

Just feel a bit grumbly - I tend to explain things like this to my family, and whether they like it or not, at least they understand!

PfftTheMagicDragon Mon 29-Nov-10 07:53:04

You either tell them all to sort it out themselves and have the christmas you planned....or mayb you can have your DH's parents for Christmas Eve?

girlywhirly Mon 29-Nov-10 08:25:11

Would it be so terrible for the ILS to have Christmas lunch on their own, and have SIL come over in the evening? Perhaps they could ask SIL to come earlier than 7, which will please the awkward MIL, and have a buffet supper?

I see what you're saying, in that you don't want them to be alone, but it will only be for part of the day and they'll see you all the next day. It would be very disruptive if you changed your own family plans, unless it was for a dire emergency.

I'd make sure your phone is charged up so that you can take time out at your brother's to phone the ILS on Christmas day. There is no ideal arrangement for Christmas that suits all, you just have to make the best of it. I always thought Christmas day could be celebrated at any convenient time, surely sharing a meal and presents together can be done whenever, and still be as fun. In fact spreading out the festivities over a few days can be good for everyone.

I wouldn't tackle SIL about this, DH could if he wanted to, as they are his parents, but unless the ILS are deeply upset I doubt you'd achieve anything. And if SIL is happy to go to her awkward MIL, that's her choice. But her DH sounds as bad as his DM, so a gentle word asking if she is planning on doing this every year from your DH might make her wonder, especially if her DH is controlling.

alfabetty Mon 29-Nov-10 11:59:02

Not sure Christmas Eve will work as DH will be at work most of the day and the DCs go to bed pretty early.

Is just very frustrating - I'm a bit surprised as SiL as she's usually more thoughtful. I feel awful, leaving the PiL to have Christmas lunch alone, when they have so much family nearby and with a very small amount of flexibility, there just wouldn't be a problem.

Decorhate Mon 29-Nov-10 13:11:10

Could your ILs come to you on Christmas Eve & stay over so they get to see your dcs open their presents, have a nice breakfast with them, etc. Then they would only have a few hours on their own till your SIL deigns to visit...

alfabetty Mon 29-Nov-10 13:16:55

Staying over's not really an option as we don't have a spare room and we're packing as we're moving just after Xmas (a long way from family - hence my brother's offer to host Christmas for us all this year).

I suspect they'll pop over during Christmas morning so in reality it will mean being on their own from say 11.30 until 7. But that's Christmas day pretty much done.

The solution seems to obvious to me - SiL hosts them and her MiL - but if SiL doesn't see it (or want to see it) what can I do?

girlywhirly Mon 29-Nov-10 14:08:38

alfa, why are you making it your problem to deal with? You say PIL are unassuming and would make the best of it, do you know for sure that they will be really upset, and will they not be guilty at you changing your plans to include them, thus spoiling your DB Christmas? You haven't said what DH thinks, if anyone has to say anything to SIL, it should be him.

Why can the PIL not plan something for themselves? Maybe they gave a mixed message to SIL, saying they had had an invitation from friends if they were at a loose end?
i don't think being unassuming is helping your PIL, if they don't stick up for what they would like.

It's only a day. They are seeing SIL in the evening. They are seeing you and your family the next day. Are you expecting SIL to be with/entertain her parents for the future Christmas days while you are at your various brothers, that is when you are not hosting?

alfabetty Mon 29-Nov-10 14:15:34

We usually stay at home and whoever wants to visit can come around (my or DH's family). It works well as no-one's ever been left on their own, and we can mix and match around the various ILs.

But it is unlikely we'll be around for the next few Christmases, because of DH's job and our move, so that's why my family are having a big get-together and then with ILs the next day.

DH is away at the moment, so I can't ask him to do anything about it. Not back for a couple of weeks by which time it is probably too late to change plans, really.

Turning it over in my mind. I know it isn't technically my problem, but it doesn't stop me feeling awful at the thought of ILs on their own for Xmas!

girlywhirly Mon 29-Nov-10 15:02:18

Ah, so you're moving. That puts a different perspective on things. However I can't see the awkward MIL changing her plans for someone she isn't related to and so if SIL still wants to go there on Christmas day there's not much you can do, especially with DH away.

But when you are a long way away, you will have to re-think all Christmas plans anyway, and the PIL will have to as well. Lets face it, if they wanted, they could ask SIL to come earlier than 7pm if they wanted!

ProfessorLaytonIsMyLoveSlave Mon 29-Nov-10 15:15:39

If you and your family aren't going to be around for the next few Christmases and your SIL operates a rigid "turn" system then your PILs are going to end up spending some Christmases on their own anyway.

I would stick with your plan and spend Christmas Day with your brother and Boxing Day with your ILs. They are seeing SIL in the evening of Christmas Day anyway.

ENormaSnob Mon 29-Nov-10 16:18:11

Maybe your sils mil has other people to accomodate on christmas day?

Personally, I would stick with the plan to go to your dbs. It is already arranged, and they may have already started to buy things ready for the day.

Actually, I think it would be quite unfair to cancel on your db.

starfishmummy Mon 29-Nov-10 16:22:52

So I'm not a MIL (yet) but I would LOVE it if we were on our own for xmas day.........

alfabetty Mon 29-Nov-10 18:41:19

ENorma, no, she doesn't speak to any of her own family! SiL explained that her MiL likes her own house, her own stuffing (!) and she (SIL) had tried hosting Christmas about 5 years ago and MiL decided she wasn't doing that again!

So there we are. I've discussed it with DH and he said we have to go to my family otherwise we won't see them. So PIL will be alone for much of Christmas day. Can't help but feel very put out about it - not much goodwill in evidence, unfortunately.

Leslaki Mon 29-Nov-10 19:29:47

well invite them to you to spend time with you and the DC on Xmas Eve regrdaless of whether or not your DH is working - they would probably love to see their DGC gettiong all excited about Xmas Eve! Then they could go after your dc have gone to bed and come round again in the morning if there is really no way they could saty over. You could do a lovely 'brunch' for them - smoaked salmon, Bucks Fizz etc etc before yougo to your bothers. Then they will have had some of the best bits of Xmas (excitement of Xmas Eve - espcially if you do the Xmas Eve pjs and a special film etc etc - maybe let them open 1 presnt from your ILs) especially as it might be the last one they'll see their DGC for for a while.

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