Author Topic: Oh, didn't we tell you? You're not hosting Christmas anymore! (long) UPDATE #18  (Read 11318 times)

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Slartibartfast

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Disclaimer: I will say that due to the excellent experience eHell has given me and my wonderful DH being willing to side with me even when he doesn't "get it," this is merely an etiquette near-miss instead of a frantic call for help.  Hope y'all can either learn from it or laugh at it, though  :P

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Background incident, which you are free to skip if you don't like long posts: we live in the same city as DH's family.  His grandmother is four hours away, my sister is three hours away, and the rest of my family lives halfway across the country.  We tend to plan Thanksgiving and Christmas a year or two ahead of time, alternating where we're going, but we almost always have Thanksgiving with DH's grandmother because she loves to cook.  Unfortunately, she's also 90-something and getting forgetful and her cooking is neither as tasty nor as safe to consume as it used to be, so this year we were planning to host Thanksgiving here and have my sister, DH's parents, his sisters, and DH's grandmother come join us for the meal.

Then about a month ago DH mentions to me, offhandedly, something about how we're going to be in NearbyCity for Thanksgiving.  What? ???  Oh, Grandma didn't want to come down and stay at the ILs, so MIL made reservations for us and Grandma and MIL and FIL at a very fancy hotel in NearbyCity which is known for their elaborate holiday decorations.  Never mind that I had already invited my sister to join us and she had already turned down other Thanksgiving invitations  >:(  I probably would have put up more of a fuss if I hadn't been having real issues with morning sickness - the concept of food, especially cooking a Thanksgiving dinner, made me queasy.  So I called my sister and apologized, she made other plans, and we did end up going to NearbyCity for Thanksgiving.  (And I was sick the whole time, so it was just as well I didn't plan to cook.)

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So we're sitting at the hotel this weekend, and Grandma asks DH how long we'll be visiting her for over Christmas.  Once again, this is news to me - we decided a year ago that we would do Christmas at home this year!  Babybartfast will be 3 1/2, so it's the first year she'll actually "get it," and it will be her first year in the church pageant.  We had specifically turned down Christmas with my parents, despite both my siblings being home this year (I never see my brother anymore!), because we felt it was important to be home.

As it turns out, Grandma decided a week or so ago that she didn't want to drive down to OurTown for Christmas.  (Or more specifically, she didn't want FIL to come up and get her - she wouldn't even have to drive.)  So instead of, yanno, ASKING, the decision was made - mostly by MIL but I suspect with DH's blessing - that we would be going up to Grandma's house for Christmas.  Four problems:

- I really want to be home this year
- I'm allergic to Grandma's cats and can't take antihistamines because I'm pregnant
- Babybartfast is at the stage where she needs to be watched every minute around Grandma's very breakable knick-knacks
- Grandma is no longer a safe cook.  She forgets whether things have been in the fridge, or if they have salt, etc.

Of course, nobody wants to tell Grandma no, so everyone was just nodding and going along with it until DH realized I was steaming.  I managed to surreptitiously drag him into the other room and point out exactly why I was so peeved that my holiday plans had seemingly been changed without anyone ever mentioning it to me.

The good news: even though DH doesn't see what the big deal is, he was willing to go to bat for me (FIL and Grandma won't listen to a word I say if I'm disagreeing with them) and come up with a compromise.  We're going to stay home for Christmas, and DH and Babybartfast are going to drive up Christmas evening and stay for a day or so while I get some peace and quiet at home.  It's not my ideal solution, but he's got the time off and I understand he does want to see his grandmother (and he'll be the one on the hook for watching Babybartfast 24/7!).  The ILs and Grandma weren't happy about it, but since it came from DH they are willing to accept the compromise.

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So crisis (more or less) averted - I think it would have been much messier if we hadn't addressed it right away.  Still . . . is there ever a good way to say "Why the hell didn't you think of ASKING me before changing the plans I thought were set in stone a year ago?"
« Last Edit: November 30, 2011, 12:45:58 PM by Slartibartfast »

Clareish

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Re: Oh, didn't we tell you? You're not hosting Christmas anymore! (long)
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2011, 10:59:42 PM »
Honestly, a year is a long time. Especially with the elderly and children. Plans sometimes do change. That being said, I also think it is inconsiderate not to check with you, the hostess (or even if you had simply been invited).

I would lay this all at the feet of your DH, however. His family, his issue. I would let my wishes be known to him, and then would expect him to go to bat for me, and our family. I think this is the real crux of the problem - he is not on YOUR side, necessarily, against the steamrolling of his family. I would have a chat with him and perhaps role-play, and explain why this is so very important.

TootsNYC

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Re: Oh, didn't we tell you? You're not hosting Christmas anymore! (long)
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2011, 11:04:12 PM »
I think you've got a good start, actually.

NOTHING says "don't boss me around" quite as effectively as refusing to go along with the plans other people make for you.

Your DH may need to sit down w/ his mom and dad and say, "It's time for the family to adjust how they think of us. We are not children anymore, for you to decide our schedule. I am married, and I am a father to two children. Therefore, you may not simply decide what *I* will do, or what *my family* will do. If you want us to be somewhere, you need to ask us if we are willing. And you need to be ready to hear that we will not be available to you.
   "My wife has a family or her own, and she and I have just as big an obligation to them as we do to you. You cannot claim us, and you cannot make decisions for us.
   "Please start rapping your head around this."

I've had to coach my enthusiastic and loving MIL through this with regard to my kids' becoming teenagers. She was used to simply saying, "Have the kids come spend the night," but the kids are BUSY, and they don't have time. It took her a while to get it, and we absolutely didn't bend, and we didn't apologize much or coddle her when she lamented. Sorry, just doesn't work out.

But I also decided that I needed to have the conversation with her, because I think it focused her on what was really happening.

O'Dell

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Re: Oh, didn't we tell you? You're not hosting Christmas anymore! (long)
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2011, 11:06:15 PM »
So instead of, yanno, ASKING, the decision was made - mostly by MIL but I suspect with DH's blessing - that we would be going up to Grandma's house for Christmas.

I think it's time for your husband to memorize and practice saying "I'll have to discuss this with Slartibartfast and get back to you" when plans start changing.
Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.
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MassachusettsMomx4

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Re: Oh, didn't we tell you? You're not hosting Christmas anymore! (long)
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2011, 11:07:25 PM »
It's perfectly reasonable for you to want to spend the holiday in your own home.  I was the youngest of four children and when I was younger I can remember when my mother would proclaim that when her children were grown and/or married that she did NOT want to see them on Christmas Day.  I thought it was kind of odd that a parent wouldn't want to see their children but Mom was adamant that everyone needed to start their own traditions.  And not be out on the road. 

JoyinVirginia

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Re: Oh, didn't we tell you? You're not hosting Christmas anymore! (long)
« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2011, 11:54:24 PM »
Oh no they dinnit! I am glad your DH came to the realization that he better fix things!
Of course, now that you will have two kids - sometimes you just need to say "THIS is what I am doing." And do not discuss further.

Danismom

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Re: Oh, didn't we tell you? You're not hosting Christmas anymore! (long)
« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2011, 12:10:22 AM »
It sounds to me like your DH hasn't fully made the mind-shift to "we" being you and DH instead of DH and his parents.  Where will WE be spending the holidays?  That is a Slarti and DH decision to make.  The ILs can give input and options but they don't make the decision for your family. 

Definitely DH needs to start telling his parents that the two of you need to discuss things before he makes commitments.  Frankly, I would probably stand up about the Christmas plans in a stronger way than you are planning even now. 

Slartibartfast

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Re: Oh, didn't we tell you? You're not hosting Christmas anymore! (long)
« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2011, 12:21:33 AM »
Honestly, it's not that DH is "on their side" as much as he just doesn't talk much.  MIL will make some pronouncement and DH will just not react - and then she interprets his silence as assent.  He doesn't bother to correct her unless/until we're actually at the point we have to act - so she'll say "I've decided I'm taking Babybartfast to the mall on Saturday" (or do the PA hinting equivalent) and he'll just not say anything to her.  Then we make our own plans for Saturday and half the time the topic of going to the mall will never come up again, and the other half MIL will make another mention of it later and DH will say "Oh, we have plans."

FIL and DH's grandmother do this too, but not as often as MIL does  :-\  Then I'm the bad guy because I actually speak up and MIL is all shocked and surprised we're not going along with what she had planned, because she assumed DH agreed with her.

VorFemme

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Re: Oh, didn't we tell you? You're not hosting Christmas anymore! (long)
« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2011, 12:32:46 AM »
I have also noted that sometimes the significant other seems to think that sleeping in the same bed will sync your memories - rather like various electronics gadgets  around the house will sync to the computer (if you have the right setup).

They don't always realize that humans need to use words to sync (written, spoken, or something).

Wonder if you need to remind people (DH, MIL, etc.) to  talk or write to you to check if plans need to be adapted?
« Last Edit: November 28, 2011, 12:34:50 AM by VorFemme »
Let sleeping dragons be.......morning breath......need I say more?

Danismom

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Re: Oh, didn't we tell you? You're not hosting Christmas anymore! (long)
« Reply #9 on: November 28, 2011, 12:33:47 AM »
I get what you are saying about DH just not talking.  But surely somehow he realizes that changing from you hosting Thanksgiving to traveling several hours to Grandma's is a big deal!  Still, he didn't speak up to them and never talked to you about it either.  You learned it as a side comment.  It seems like his approach has been "ignore and it will go away" when they make or change plans.  The problem is that this plan gives MIL the idea that her plans are accepted. 

They say the definition of neurotic is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  Perhaps it is time for DH to learn that he needs to change how he handles these things if he wants a different result.

JoyinVirginia

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Re: Oh, didn't we tell you? You're not hosting Christmas anymore! (long)
« Reply #10 on: November 28, 2011, 01:42:41 AM »
I'm the bad guy because I actually speak up and MIL is all shocked and surprised we're not going along with what she had planned, because she assumed DH agreed with her.
EMBRACE being "the bad guy".  Someone once told me I was acting like a female dog. I replied that "No, I am the CHIEF female dog, and doggone proud of it!" The someone was an overbearing BIL that no one called on his bad behavior or idiotic misconceptions. I think he is still a little scared of me. If standing up for yourself and doing what is best for you and your family means you are a female dog in someone's opinion - embrace it!

starry diadem

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Re: Oh, didn't we tell you? You're not hosting Christmas anymore! (long)
« Reply #11 on: November 28, 2011, 03:05:32 AM »
I think you've got a good start, actually.

NOTHING says "don't boss me around" quite as effectively as refusing to go along with the plans other people make for you.

Your DH may need to sit down w/ his mom and dad and say, "It's time for the family to adjust how they think of us. We are not children anymore, for you to decide our schedule. I am married, and I am a father to two children. Therefore, you may not simply decide what *I* will do, or what *my family* will do. If you want us to be somewhere, you need to ask us if we are willing. And you need to be ready to hear that we will not be available to you.
   "My wife has a family or her own, and she and I have just as big an obligation to them as we do to you. You cannot claim us, and you cannot make decisions for us.
  "Please start rapping your head around this."
<snipped>

Great advice, but the bolded line had me chuckling.  I have visions of Eminem or Snoop Dogg or Jay-Z rapping the OPs in-laws into a more considerate set of behaviours.
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SuperMartianRobotGirl

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Re: Oh, didn't we tell you? You're not hosting Christmas anymore! (long)
« Reply #12 on: November 28, 2011, 08:01:25 AM »
This general thing happens sometimes to me, too, and I always say something like, "Oh! I wish you would have asked first. I'm sorry but we aren't going to be able to make it. I hope we'll be able to get together at some point around the holidays." It can't be super effective though as some people still do it.

Kari

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Re: Oh, didn't we tell you? You're not hosting Christmas anymore! (long)
« Reply #13 on: November 28, 2011, 10:34:10 AM »
Frankly, I think that the OP's husband should be a little more concerned with the "my pregnant wife is allergic to Grandmom's cat-filled house" part. The fact that he "doesn't get" this, despite his willingness to say no to his family, indicates a modicum of self-absorbed cluelessness on his part. The man needs to turn the situation over in his head a few times: Why, honestly, would he want the woman carrying his child to be sick? I doubt he sincerely wishes her to be, so he just needs some perspective, stat.

Jaelle

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Re: Oh, didn't we tell you? You're not hosting Christmas anymore! (long)
« Reply #14 on: November 28, 2011, 01:17:37 PM »
Honestly, it's not that DH is "on their side" as much as he just doesn't talk much.  MIL will make some pronouncement and DH will just not react - and then she interprets his silence as assent.  He doesn't bother to correct her unless/until we're actually at the point we have to act - so she'll say "I've decided I'm taking Babybartfast to the mall on Saturday" (or do the PA hinting equivalent) and he'll just not say anything to her.  Then we make our own plans for Saturday and half the time the topic of going to the mall will never come up again, and the other half MIL will make another mention of it later and DH will say "Oh, we have plans."

FIL and DH's grandmother do this too, but not as often as MIL does  :-\  Then I'm the bad guy because I actually speak up and MIL is all shocked and surprised we're not going along with what she had planned, because she assumed DH agreed with her.

Oh, my, are our DHs brothers? :)  Mine is just like this with MIL. She's like a force of nature when she decides on something (for any member of the family), so I think it's just self-preservation on his part.

Of course, like you, I'm the one who speaks up ... so I'm the bad guy.  ::) 

(One time he did. She called him and told him that he WOULD be accompanying her to a funeral -- that night! -- for a family member he barely knew. He said, "Mom, I can't, I have to work tonight."
MIL: "No, you don't!"
 :o
He explained far more politely than I would have that he'd had this schedule for months now, that she'd been told about it and that he couldn't blow off work on that kind of notice. She didn't speak to him for a week.)
“She was already learning that if you ignore the rules people will, half the time, quietly rewrite them so that they don't apply to you.”
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