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How do you cope with splitting Christmas with in laws?

(38 Posts)
MotherOfBeagles Tue 10-Oct-17 00:11:43

Apologies for the long post but don't want to drip feed! Looking for some advice on wwyd and examples of how you handle Christmas and families!

So me and dh have been together five years. My MIL was only local for one of those and we did spend Christmas Day with her then and then went home to my parents where we were living at the time for the night. Since then she has lived 7/8 hours away and we haven't been to her for Christmas. Partly because of distance and partly because if we go to her we either can't take our dogs or would have to leave them in an outside run. Neither of which I've been prepared to do - judge me if you will but they are part of my family too.

Anyway what this has meant is that most years we have stayed in our own house in the morning then gone to my parents house for the day/night as they live within walking distance and usually have a house full of people, kids and dogs. Had Christmas dinner and drinks and games there. MIL has been invited to this every year, including somewhere to stay but has never even considered coming.

Now for me Christmas has always been loud with people and noise and games. So I hate the idea of just spending a Christmas Day alone with my dh, feels really lonely and not what Christmas is about for me. But unfortunately we live in a TEEEENY house and physically can't fit anyone else over for Christmas dinner etc. So going to my parents is the best option and dh is always happy to do so and enjoys it.

Problem we now have is we are due our first child within the next month and that is complicating things. My dh obviously misses his mum at Christmas and wants her to have Christmasses with her only gc. But she is not prepared to visit us at all - we have to go to her. Whether this year or next she wants us to split it equally between families. Which I understand but I have a few issues with.

1. We don't really get along and she is not nice to me when I am around her
2. We still can't take the dogs
3. It's all on her terms, there is no give and take
4. For me growing up Christmas was about staying at home and huddling up all together (grandparents always came to us) so kids could stay and play with their toys and enjoy the magic if we go to her the family is split and it would be a nightmare trying to cart all our stuff plus Christmas presents that distance (especially in the santa years)

I really don't know what I'm asking I suppose. I know I abu to refuse to ever go to her for Christmas but just don't know how to reconcile the issues I have in my head. Anyone have any advice/tips/experience/tough love words to get my head straight?

Also thanks if you've made it this far!

KC225 Tue 10-Oct-17 00:56:29

It is difficult. But your main obstacle is your MIL. Is she on her own? Why does she point blank refuse to visit? I think you need to stop over thinking about this yea.
You will have a new baby and a new life. You will.not be lacking in There is no way you will want to be travelling and staying somewhere with a new baby.

Who knows what will happen in the future, maybe your MIL will become so besotted with her grandchild she will change her mind. Perhaps you can suggest hiring a cottage half way for a few days. You can take the dogs and feel more on a equal footing, than descend on her.

I do understand that it's your DH feeling's at stake here but even he must question her move and her being so adamant about not budging. You could always go to hers a few days before or after. You are about to embark on your own family. Make your own Christmas traditions, don't be held to ransom by killjoys.

Butterymuffin Tue 10-Oct-17 01:17:19

Would she come to you if your DH went and drove her to your place and then took her home afterward? And yes, I know that would be extra hassle but it might be worth it.

BTW are you planning to move, given that you've already got dogs in your tiny house and will soon have a baby too? Then you might have more space for hosting. You might find that once you have a child you would rather be in your own house on Christmas anyway.

MotherOfBeagles Tue 10-Oct-17 03:28:28

She moved for work and now has a partner where she lives. She is also very much of the mind that as a parent she shouldn't have to be visiting us it's our duty to go to her. She's very difficult and extremely set in her own ways. My dh is fully aware of this which is why we haven't been to her for Christmas since she moved. But in the end she is still his Mum and it's Christmas so it holds sway.

I do like the idea of a cottage, that's one I'll keep in mind thank you!

We did try to sell our house last year but it just wasn't possible. After a year on the market and so many failed deals we had to stop. So we've made some changes to the way we live (garden office etc) and now will be able to stay here for another two years or so then we are in a better position financially. Honestly I can't wait to have a bigger house and host Christmas for our families!

Thanks for your replies, really helping me. I know it's early days and a lot will change when baby arrives but this is just one of those things I can't seem to figure out! Which drives me nuts blush

stolemyusername Tue 10-Oct-17 04:02:18

If she’s invited for Christmas but chooses not to come then that’s her problem. I certainly wouldn’t be dragging my baby/child hours away from home to keep her happy.

AuntieStella Tue 10-Oct-17 06:18:40

The usual ways of arranging things are to either alternate years or do a one-in-three, when the third year you spend with neither set.

And yes, if she won't travel and your DH misses her at Christmas, then it's going to need to be something like that. Both halves of the family matter.

Love51 Tue 10-Oct-17 06:28:29

I didn't get Auntie Stella's memo. We have one of us with two families of origin.
There was a day in the early days of our relationship when we decided what TIMES we were visiting our respective parents and had 2 Xmas dinners, but basically there isn't a law of Xmas. Personally I would invite mil if you could swing to 1 extra (2with her partner) or have a hotel. But if she declines you don't have to compensate for her decision.
The first 2 years of having kids we visited everybody. Then we had 2 kids, but mainly just wanted the bigger one to enjoy Xmas at her own home.
If you go to mil this year / next year, I'd be clear you are not signing up for this for every odd / even year forever, you can change things as kids get older.

AJPTaylor Tue 10-Oct-17 06:32:16

is she elderly or infirm? or just obstinate.
i am a great one for being flexible. i really loved my pil dearly and they came to us for xmas day until they confessed theyd rather have it on their own and come Boxing Day!
if i were you id do this year at yours/your mums (baby too young to travel) and find a really nice holiday cottage near your in laws that will take dogs for next year. you would have to book it now anyway. i think that is a reasonable compromise. then youve got the xmas after at yours and who knows?

Bananmanfan Tue 10-Oct-17 06:40:22

If she is thinking this year, she'll have to come to you. It is not safe or practical for a newborn to do a 7/8 hour car journey.

AuntieStella Tue 10-Oct-17 06:50:29

You're right, Love51, I did miss out the option of 'cram it all in somehow' option.

Possibly because, if the journies are long/awkward, it's often the one that's most exhausting/stressy. And if you're looking at where you spend Christmas Day itself, it means that a chunk of your day is gone travelling.

OP: it does sound as if you want everyone with your family every year (plus or minus inlaws). I think you may need to rethink that, if your DH is missing his family traditions.

EekThreek Tue 10-Oct-17 06:56:38

For years we spent the days around Christmas driving ourselves between my parents and the ILs to try and keep everyone happy, and we alternated between spending actual Christmas Day waking up with one set and travelling on the day to spend the rest with the others.

Three years ago I said no more! DS was due imminently, I was fed up of carting presents around, not being able to settle, dragging 4yo DD away from the excitement, etc.

We now have a get together a couple of days before xmas where I do a buffet, people bring drinks and we celebrate DS's birthday.

On Christmas morning, everyone is welcome back for a late breakfast/snack and DH does bacon butties and Buck's Fizz. Everyone then free to go to their own homes for the rest of Christmas Day. My parents see my brother, or other family in the afternoon, his parents spend time with friends in their village. They all buy into not dragging the kids around in the car on Christmas Day, but that doesn't sound like it's the case with your MIL.

MIL started off by suggesting that I do xmas lunch for everyone, but frankly that amount of cooking is my idea of hell! grin

It was hard at first, but I stood my ground and the dust is settling.

TheOnlyLivingBoyInNewCross Tue 10-Oct-17 07:00:26

Invite her to stay with you (I know you said your house was tiny, but does it only have one bedroom?) and the baby and the dogs.

If she declines, say, "Oh, that's a real shame that baby won't get to see grandma over Christmas, but as you will OBVIOUSLY understand, an eight hour journey is just not feasible with such a young baby. And as you can also understand, now we have a baby, we really want to base ourselves at home for Christmas so that we can start our own family traditions."

MamaOfTwos Tue 10-Oct-17 07:06:13

We've set the rules that Xmas day is always with my side of the family as divorced parents will only spend the day together if we're there, if we weren't we'd have 3 groups of my family splintered and someone on their own. We see PIL Boxing Day, sales shopping with MIL in the morning then lunch and presents. I flat out refuse to travel Xmas day with DD and this year I'll be 25wk pg. it's worked for us but if your mil isn't willing to visit then bollocks to her quite frankly!

SavoyCabbage Tue 10-Oct-17 07:18:46

I'd (or dh) say to her that you want her to come to you for Christmas, because that is what you want. Tell her what you can do for her with regards to staying at yours and tell her some local hotels and how much they cost.

cathyandclare Tue 10-Oct-17 07:24:54

We were on a three year rota, one with my folks, one with ILs, one with everyone at ours (all hours away from each other). We did that for 25 years, but now our kids are away at uni we've said no more, everyone can come to us (or not) as they prefer.

8 hours with a new baby is madness though.

Ledkr Tue 10-Oct-17 07:27:24

I never understand why people get so het up about this .
I've always preferred to be st home and with 5 dc I think that was best 😂 But now 2 of them have their own little families I'm happy for them as they wish to. We've been to them, them to us and also they have been to their pil while we have a quiet one.
My mil still hosts a big Xmas but we don't go as it's 100 miles away and my little ones still like to wake up in their own beds and open presents at home.
If people always feel obliged to go to parents or pil then when is it their turn to "do Christmas"

cantkeepawayforever Tue 10-Oct-17 07:31:45

As soon as we had our first child, we declared that we would have Christmas at home with our children. If others want to visit, that is fine (we've had anywhere from no visitors to 9). We also travel on Boxing Day or afterwards. But Christmas is for our own family, at home, with our own traditions.

MustBeThursday Tue 10-Oct-17 07:51:49

As a child we woke up at home then went to my DMs parents house. Boxing Day spent with my DF and his parents, alternate years we stayed there Christmas night. (Parents not together)

Now we have children we visit my DF on Christmas Eve as they have everyone on that side of the family round at theirs (big house). Christmas Day depends if DH is working or not - last year he was on nights so we spent Christmas Day with my parents and he joined us for dinner as they live 5min walk away. The year before (and this year) we wake up at home, see my parents for a bacon sandwich and go for dinner at my PILs, who host for DHs aunt, uncle and cousin. We physically couldn’t fit them in at ours if we wanted to feed them.

BertrandRussell Tue 10-Oct-17 07:54:47

Has your dh talked to his mum about why she won't visit?

NerrSnerr Tue 10-Oct-17 07:55:09

We have similar issues. My family live 5 hours away and are happy to see us anytime over the festive period but my inlaws who are 1.5 hours away expect us to go there, which is fine but we have a car seat hating baby so don't want 3 hours of screaming baby at Christmas. We suggested hosting about a month ago but she'd already done the m&s order.

ohanabanana Tue 10-Oct-17 07:57:29

You definitely can't take baby this year! In future years perhaps you could come to some arrangement - either go and stay with her for a long weekend before Christmas or over new year? Let her take her grandchild to see FC, a panto etc so that they can do some Christmassy together. Is there any way you could fly for some of the journey? We have a similar situation in our family and have reached a compromise where we have Christmas Day at home with my family and travel to dh's family on Boxing Day where we have a big get together with lots of his extended family. It's a chore to have to travel so far but all the dcs love it as they get some more presents, get lots of fuss made over them and it means that we can do some nice things in a different part of the country for a few days. It makes the post Christmas period fun when it can often be a bit flat.

Notonthestairs Tue 10-Oct-17 07:58:39

Nerr - she can cancel the food order!

We've alternated for the last 15 years. I hate it - don't do it!

NerrSnerr Tue 10-Oct-17 08:00:53

Noton I know- it's bonkers. She was also horrified that if we hosted we would do an M&S order and we'd just go to Tesco. How common!

NoWordForFluffy Tue 10-Oct-17 08:01:18

We always stay at home now we have children to consider.

For various reasons we stay in a hotel when we visit my parents, and I’m not doing that for Christmas, so it rules out going there anyway.

My in laws are happy to spend the day with us at home, so that’s good.

My parents would be more than welcome too, but they don’t travel, so it is what it is by circumstance as much as design really.

However, once kids are in the mix I think you have the ideal opportunity to say that they come first, and from now on you’ll do ‘x’, but the door will always be open for them to join you. Then it really is their own choice to not come.

We see my family as near to Christmas as possible and it all works out OK!

Ropsleybunny Tue 10-Oct-17 08:03:17

I think it's fair to alternate who you see at Christmas, in theory, although in our family we're pretty laid back. We try and see Christmas as lasting at least a week and MIL or my DM will put on a big day at some point over the festive time.

I think once you have a child you will want to start doing your own Christmas Day and invite family to you. By all means invite your MIL but if she says no, that's up to her. Do not be dictated to by anyone.

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