My husband and I still live near his parents, in our hometown. His siblings moved four hours away, about 20 years ago, and don’t try very hard to make it home for the holidays. They have a list of excuses a mile long. Since my parents also live nearby we have spent many years splitting the holiday so both sets of grandparents can see our children. We have always done our best to include everyone and give equal time to both sides.
One year, we decided to invite my husband’s parents over for Christmas Eve dinner since my mother-in-law was griping that she didn’t want to cook for us. We told her it wasn’t about the meal, that we would love to just visit with them, but she insisted a meal had to be involved. So, I bought a turkey and all the trimmings. I thawed that enormous bird and made plans to cook for my husband’s parents on December 24th. I should probably mention that because of our splitting the holiday with both grandparents over the years we had made Christmas Eve our own special night, with our children, so we could have our own family traditions. For us to let my husband’s parents be part of that was a big deal. It was going to cause a huge disruption to our normal routine for the evening, but we were willing to compromise just to make the mother in law happy. Leading up to the holiday my husband asked her several times if she planned on traveling to the town his siblings live in to visit them on Christmas day and we were assured they did not want to travel. He even said we’d be willing to go at the same time because it had been so long since he and his siblings were together with his parents for the holiday. Again, he was assured that they were not getting together with his siblings.
On December 23rd his parents called to announce they had changed their minds and were leaving that day to go to the other city where the siblings live. They were not coming for dinner, the next day, and they would not see us for Christmas. Our kids could just wait until after the holiday to get their presents. We felt like they got a “better offer” and bailed on us. When he asked if we could change our plans and go to his sister’s for Christmas as well, he was told “No, she doesn’t want guests.” My husband was so stunned he didn’t know what to say.
After the holidays we discussed the situation with my husband’s siblings and were told the mother had lied about our true plans and if they had known we were ditched they never would have offered to have Christmas with the parents and leave us out. “It will never happen again!” we were told. They seemed to understand how much this hurt my husband to be left out of his family’s celebration.
The following year, once again, we were making plans with his parents, only to have them disrupted at the last minute. I was forced to have my mother change her plans which in turn affected my sister and her husband’s extended family. All so they could rush to the sister’s house for Christmas day because she was going to be alone and they didn’t want her to be alone. (Her ex-husband had visitation, that day, so she was going to be alone.) We accepted the parents were doing this for her because they didn’t want her alone on the holiday and that is why we changed our plans at the last minute. We were told the brother and his family had plans with his wife’s family.
On Christmas morning my husband got a call from his sister and could hear a lot of commotion in the background. He thought that was strange considering it was just her and their parents. She informed him she had her child, their parents, the brother and his family all over for Christmas. He was devastated to realize he was again left out of the “family” celebration. It became clear to him that his parents don’t want all three of their children together for the holidays and they go out of their way to leave him out.
That was the day we vowed to never again allow his mother to change our plans at the last minute. The one year we made plans to go ahead and go to the brother’s house for Christmas day, the parents changed their plans, at the last minute, and didn’t go. It’s not like we are horrible people to be around. Our children are well behaved, we have fun, and the siblings have said we are wonderful guests.
Not long ago my husband had the opportunity to open up to his parents and tell them how much this behavior has hurt him over the years. They are unapologetic and blame me for everything. Thankfully my husband understands it’s not my fault this is happening. It’s his parents’ lack of acceptance, manners and compassion that cause them to act this way. They are full of hate, spite and shun him because he still loves me after all these years.
This year, we are doing our own thing and have been told by certain people it’s rude for us to leave them out of our plans.