On the subject of failed communications… the Good Ethnic Boy and I arrived at my mum and stepdad's place on Christmas Eve last year, started settling in and decorating the tree (which Mum always leaves for 'the kids' to do, including finding where all the ornaments got put away the year before and humping boxes down the stairs), and were very VERY surprised when my sister and her five children (ranging from 3 to 21yo) arrived. Because they live overseas, and Mum had forgotten to tell me
they were coming for Christmas for the first time in five years. Despite long planning times and many opportunities to bring it up, or heck, just mention "when V and the kids are here…"
So there was a frantic shopping trip, because we didn't have anything to give them. At 6pm, on Christmas Eve, in a small country town. And Mum was surprised we weren't sticking around to keep decorating the tree.
Ahem. Anyway. My hill to die on came a few years ago; namely, I am no longer my family's Chief Wrapping Elf.
This requires a bit of background explanation. It is tradition in my family (inviolable tradition!) that Everyone Gets A Christmas Stocking. These are no puny little stockings, either; we use pillowcases, and they tend to be pretty full. It used to also be tradition (inviolable!!!) that Everything In The Stockings Is Wrapped Individually Because That's More Fun… right down to the little mini candy bars and lollipops and so forth. Once my sister and I were old enough to really help with Christmas preparations, Mum gradually dumped more and more of them onto us, including handing me a bunch of money a few days before Christmas and telling me what to buy for the stockings, and giving me V's under-the-tree and stocking presents to wrap, giving V my under-the-tree and stocking presents to wrap, and getting one or both of us to wrap all Stepdad's stuff. Meanwhile, Stepdad was handing me a bunch of money and getting me to buy and wrap Mum's stocking presents.
As V started having kids, more and more of all this got pushed over onto me, culminating in the year where I went 'home' for Christmas two weeks before the day itself and was immediately presented with a pile of things to wrap, stuff to wrap it all in, and money to buy more stuff to wrap. I spent at least three hours a day, usually more like five, wrapping presents during those two weeks, in between shopping trips to buy more things. On Christmas Eve, I got up at 7am and wrapped ALL DAY, stopping only for meals, and finally finished at FOUR AM CHRISTMAS MORNING. The kids dragged me out of bed again at 6 for the traditional (inviolable tradition!!!!!) early-morning communal stocking unwrapping, which I zombied my way through, and I swore Never Again.
The next year, I put my foot down and only wrapped things it made sense to wrap - no more individually wrapped mini chocolate bars. Nobody complained. I also got my sister and her older children to share a lot more of the "wrap things for Mum/Grandma" chores, and used work as a (perfectly true) excuse as to why I couldn't come down early and do all that shopping. A couple of years after THAT, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, and politely refused to wrap a dang thing that wasn't a present FROM ME. Now that the arthritis is better controlled I do SOME wrapping for Mum and Stepdad, but it's never gotten up to ridiculous proportions again and I am well prepared to put my foot down again if I need to.