Author Topic: Who gets to "claim" the Santa gifts?  (Read 4993 times)

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weeblewobble

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Who gets to "claim" the Santa gifts?
« on: December 18, 2011, 03:18:22 PM »
My sister has run into a strange situation with her in-laws and I can kind of see both points.  I would love to see what you guys think.

BG: Sis's MIL has always had boundary issues with Sis and BIL.  The word "enmeshed" is very apt.  She was a single mom and her parents were very involved in her raising BIL. She really doesn't understand that Sis and BIL and their daughter, BabyDoll, are their own individual family unit.  She doesn't understand that she doesn't get a vote in how their household runs, how BabyDoll is parented, or whether Sis and BIL have another child. (She objected and said it was on behalf of Babydoll, because Babydoll deserved all of Sis and BIL's attention.  She also told Sis that mothers never love second children as much as they do the firstborn. As a second child, Sis found this pretty offensive.) She makes statements regarding how things should be and is shocked every time when Sis and BIL don't jump to do what she tells them.

BIL is usually very good about recognizing when MIL is over-stepping and making arrangements to keep her at a distance, but he has a hard time confronting her face-to-face. Two years ago, Sis and BIL had the opportunity to move closer to MIL and FIL, for a job (BIL's) that would have paid more.  But they decided against it, because they decided they need the two hours of driving distance between MIL and them.

End BG

Sis, BIL and Babydoll will spend Christmas Eve with MIL and FIL, then drive to our family Christmas celebration the the next morning. So Babydoll will be opening her Santa presents there on Christmas morning.  This is her third Christmas and she is just getting to the age where she understands Christmas and Santa and what's going on.  Sis and MIL were discussing Christmas on the phone and the following conversation ensued.

Sis: We're going to try to get Babydoll to bed around 8:00 and then we'll set up her Santa presents after we're sure she's down for the night.

MIL: Oh, we'll set our Santa presents then, too.

Sis: What?

MIL: Well, we're going to buy Babydoll extra presents and they're going to be from Santa, too.

Sis: (knowing that MIL goes way overboard on presents) So, Babydoll is going to be receiving twice as many presents from you, this year?

MIL (giggling) No, silly, they're from SANTA.

Sis: We're really not comfortable with that, MIL.  We'd prefer that you give Babydoll presents from you and that's it. 
 
MIL: Oh, but we want to make it special!

Sis: We're not comfortable with it.  Please just let us handle Santa presents.

MIL: Fine, we're just going to put out just a few extra, from us, and they'll be from Santa.  No big deal. OK?

Sis: We're not comfortable with it.  Please just let us handle Santa presents.
 
MIL: We'll just add a little something extra from Santa, so we can make it special. All right?

Sis: We're not comfortable with it.  Please just let us handle Santa presents.

MIL: I hear you. We'll just throw in a couple of stocking stuffers and goodies from Santa.  OK?

Sis: I'm not going to say it's OK. I've told you what we want.  You're just restating what you want in different ways.  It's clear you're not listening to me and you're going to do this whether I agree or not.  I need to get off the phone now.

On one hand, I see Sis's point. MIL can't be trusted to just participate in something, she has to take it over.  Sis just wants to provide Christmas for her daughter, not see it turned into the MIL Christmas Extravaganza.  And Sis knows that extra presents will extend the festivities at MIL's that much longer, meaning they will be late arriving at the celebrations for our side of the family. She also resents MIL's implication that Sis and BIL aren't providing enough for Babydoll, which they do.

She's also very tired of MIL's "listening style" which consists of restating her own point over and over in different ways until the other party gives up out of frustration and gives her what she wants. She knows she was a bit rude on the phone, but she wanted MIL to know that she was wise to what MIL was doing. BIL thinks Sis is over-reacting and won't talk to his mom about it.

On the other hand, I see MIL's point... which I would never admit to Sis... because she would go all honey-badger on me.  It's MIL's house and she wants to feel included in the fun kid aspects of Christmas, which she hasn't had since her kids grew up.  Even our mom gives the kids one or two Santa presents in addition to what she gives them for Christmas.  And since Sis generally agrees to what MIL wants in terms of holidays, I'm sure it was a bit of a shock when Sis objected.

I don't know what to tell Sis, other than to sympathize. Thoughts?

 

Bijou

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Re: Who gets to "claim" the Santa gifts?
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2011, 03:37:08 PM »
Do I understand you to say that your sister is allowing her mother to santa gift the child but forbidding her mother in law to do the same?  That being the case, you know where this is going.  It's a double standard favoring her own mother and is unfair to the MIL.  And her husband agrees that this is OK? 
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nrb80

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Re: Who gets to "claim" the Santa gifts?
« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2011, 03:37:20 PM »
Its irrelevant what anyone except the parents think.  However, since there is a very good chance if they go there will be other Santa presents there, they need to decide whether that risk is worth having Christmas morning with the inlaws or at home. 

I will say from my perspective as a parent with the mother who is the Queen of taking over and overstepping parenting boundaries, you have to pick your battles.  My kid gets Santa gifts at two houses - our house *first* followed by later gifts at the grandparents.  Its worth it to me to have her happy.  But she comes over at the crack of dawn to see him wake up to presents - that was non negotiable.  I let her semi host his birthday parties - her happiness is more important than having it at our house (its not very important to me).  With regard to parenting, I let her talk and anything I disagree with goes in one ear and out the other without comment or argument.  And she really does lack a brain / mouth filter many days :). Its not worth the mental space - I'm the parent, I make the decisions, end of story.

weeblewobble

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Re: Who gets to "claim" the Santa gifts?
« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2011, 03:46:44 PM »
Do I understand you to say that your sister is allowing her mother to santa gift the child but forbidding her mother in law to do the same?  That being the case, you know where this is going.  It's a double standard favoring her own mother and is unfair to the MIL.  And her husband agrees that this is OK?

Yeah, which is why I sort of see MIL's point.  Mom always gives the grandkids one or two small Santa presents, like a doll or a set of blocks.  (MIL doesn't know this.)  I think Sis's concern is more about MIL taking over and putting out two or three times the presents as Sis and BIL planned to give Babydoll. The presents she gives Babydoll are often loud and extravagant, so there's a chance she won't even notice what Sis and BIL give her.

And BIL doesn't care one way or the other.  He doesn't think it's a big deal that MIL wants to give Santa presents.

LadyL

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Re: Who gets to "claim" the Santa gifts?
« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2011, 04:03:19 PM »
Seems like it's not about "santa presents" but rather overall gift quantity. I don't think you can dictate how many gifts someone gives your child. I think etiquette states that you can politely accept them and then donate them, regift them, hide them in a closet until the child's birthday, whatever but you can't tell someone what to give your kid.


Ceallach

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Re: Who gets to "claim" the Santa gifts?
« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2011, 04:15:10 PM »
Seems like it's not about "santa presents" but rather overall gift quantity. I don't think you can dictate how many gifts someone gives your child. I think etiquette states that you can politely accept them and then donate them, regift them, hide them in a closet until the child's birthday, whatever but you can't tell someone what to give your kid.

I agree.   The parents can't force them *not* to give their child extra gifts.  Nor can they control what's written on the card. 

What they can do is separate their own gifts and give them to their daughter at a separate time, if they're concerned about MIL taking over and their gifts being less special.  If it were me, I would rethink the entire "staying at MILs" arrangement as it's clear there are serious differences in how the occasion should be run and I think there's bound to be friction if they can't agree on it beforehand. 
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gentlebutterfly

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Re: Who gets to "claim" the Santa gifts?
« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2011, 04:22:33 PM »
When I was growing up, my parents handled most of Santa's presents but there would always be one or two under the tree from "?". When we were kids, we assumed they were from Santa also, but when we got older we realized that it was my grandparents. I don't know if my parents ever had a problem with it, but it was usually just a small thing like a coloring book or bubbles.

Like the others have said, you can't really control the amount of presents nor what the "from" tag says. If your sister is concerned about the amount of stuff, she can try what we do with our kids. We have a few tupperware boxes of toys in our garage. Every 4-6 months (when our kids get bored with the toys that are out) we bring out one of the tupperwares. We put what's in there in their toy boxes and then go through their toys and throw out the ones that are broken, donate the ones they've outgrown, and put the toys that they're just bored with into the tupperware and back into the garage. This way every 4-6 months they're like new all over again.

TootsNYC

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Re: Who gets to "claim" the Santa gifts?
« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2011, 05:49:29 PM »
This is a real hot button for me.

Me and my DH are Santa, and I shut MIL down when she wanted to have a stocking at her house. Nope, I said, as nicely as possible. Here is how we're doing Santa, and I'm sorry to say that you're not part of it.

It's not my fault that she didn't "get" the whole Santa idea when her kids were little, shortly after she moved to the U.S.

I've been waiting my whole life to be Santa, and nobody else gets to.

I wouldn't allow my own mother to have stuff at her house as labeled "from Santa."

I do think that redirecting Grandma to some other thing would be smart, but I'd be absolutely rigid on this. I'd be up before the kid, and anything that showed up as being from Santa, but not being mine, would be carried into the other room and hidden. And if my DH couldn't do it, I'd be the one to say to her in the morning, "You are ignoring me, and I will not let you horn in on MY moments as the mommy." And I'd make my DH stand behind me and nod firmly.

I'd even be saying, "I am the mother. You are not. Do not interfere in my territory, or you will not see us for moments like this."

In fact, I might be completely revamping the Christmas plans, and saying to MIL, "Since we can't trust you to butt out of Santa, and leave our traditions alone, we will not be here on Christmas until late in the day."

LadyL

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Re: Who gets to "claim" the Santa gifts?
« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2011, 06:00:21 PM »
This is a real hot button for me.

Me and my DH are Santa, and I shut MIL down when she wanted to have a stocking at her house. Nope, I said, as nicely as possible. Here is how we're doing Santa, and I'm sorry to say that you're not part of it.

It's not my fault that she didn't "get" the whole Santa idea when her kids were little, shortly after she moved to the U.S.

I've been waiting my whole life to be Santa, and nobody else gets to.

I wouldn't allow my own mother to have stuff at her house as labeled "from Santa."

I do think that redirecting Grandma to some other thing would be smart, but I'd be absolutely rigid on this. I'd be up before the kid, and anything that showed up as being from Santa, but not being mine, would be carried into the other room and hidden. And if my DH couldn't do it, I'd be the one to say to her in the morning, "You are ignoring me, and I will not let you horn in on MY moments as the mommy." And I'd make my DH stand behind me and nod firmly.

I'd even be saying, "I am the mother. You are not. Do not interfere in my territory, or you will not see us for moments like this."

In fact, I might be completely revamping the Christmas plans, and saying to MIL, "Since we can't trust you to butt out of Santa, and leave our traditions alone, we will not be here on Christmas until late in the day."

Toots, totally your prerogative to die on whatever hill you choose, but from my perspective "Santa" is really about the spirit of giving. It's not a zero sum game - Santa supposedly visits every house, not just the ones with little children. Personally I don't think Santa leaving gifts at grandparents' houses detracts from the tradition - after all you may know you "are" Santa but the point is that your child does not. To them Santa is a magical wonder who leaves gifts where ever he deems appropriate, and if that includes grandma and grandpa's house, it is just more joy for them.

I understand setting boundaries all too well (see my numerous in-law threads) but holiday traditions, especially ones meant to be joyous, are one area where I am learning to let people have their happiness as long as no one is hurt. And in the case of making rules about where a child can receive Santa gifts, it's not hurting anyone to let them get them wherever - unless a parent is very invested in controlling what Santa gives. I guess I don't really understand the rationale of limiting where Santa "goes" because it's not like little kids have some limited reserve of joy that they can only spend in one place.

Ceallach

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Re: Who gets to "claim" the Santa gifts?
« Reply #9 on: December 18, 2011, 06:02:51 PM »
In fact, I might be completely revamping the Christmas plans, and saying to MIL, "Since we can't trust you to butt out of Santa, and leave our traditions alone, we will not be here on Christmas until late in the day."

This is exactly what I think is necessary.  IF it's a hill to die on for the parents, then they need to make it clear up front and change the plans accordingly.   I still don't think it's ok to reject gifts / hide gifts / get angry if they give gifts.  But they need to show respect for the parents wishes, and if they can't, the consequence will be that they don't get to see their granddaughter open her Santa gifts at all (e.g. parents will spend the night elsewhere).  So there needs to be a very serious discussion on the topic and consequences.   My family don't do santa gifts anyway, so it wouldn't be a big deal to me whose name was on the label.  But my MIL trying to take over Christmas would be a BIG deal.  I actually think that's more the issue here rather than the Santa thing.
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Bijou

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Re: Who gets to "claim" the Santa gifts?
« Reply #10 on: December 18, 2011, 06:43:50 PM »
Well, I hope it gets worked out so everyone can have a wonderful and happy time. 
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weeblewobble

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Re: Who gets to "claim" the Santa gifts?
« Reply #11 on: December 18, 2011, 07:51:17 PM »
Thanks for the input, everybody.  I will pass these points along to Sis.  Though I will probably wait until she brings it up again, because again... honey badger.

kareng57

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Re: Who gets to "claim" the Santa gifts?
« Reply #12 on: December 18, 2011, 08:32:26 PM »
This is a real hot button for me.

Me and my DH are Santa, and I shut MIL down when she wanted to have a stocking at her house. Nope, I said, as nicely as possible. Here is how we're doing Santa, and I'm sorry to say that you're not part of it.

It's not my fault that she didn't "get" the whole Santa idea when her kids were little, shortly after she moved to the U.S.

I've been waiting my whole life to be Santa, and nobody else gets to.

I wouldn't allow my own mother to have stuff at her house as labeled "from Santa."

I do think that redirecting Grandma to some other thing would be smart, but I'd be absolutely rigid on this. I'd be up before the kid, and anything that showed up as being from Santa, but not being mine, would be carried into the other room and hidden. And if my DH couldn't do it, I'd be the one to say to her in the morning, "You are ignoring me, and I will not let you horn in on MY moments as the mommy." And I'd make my DH stand behind me and nod firmly.

I'd even be saying, "I am the mother. You are not. Do not interfere in my territory, or you will not see us for moments like this."

In fact, I might be completely revamping the Christmas plans, and saying to MIL, "Since we can't trust you to butt out of Santa, and leave our traditions alone, we will not be here on Christmas until late in the day."


While I very much disagree with this mindset re Santa - I will agree that if parents are this hard-line then they do have to make it clear to the grandparents very far in advance of the giving-day, whether it's Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

O'Dell

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Re: Who gets to "claim" the Santa gifts?
« Reply #13 on: December 18, 2011, 08:52:35 PM »
2 mitigating factors to consider when reading my answer...I don't have kids and won't be having them (didn't want them) and I'm a "it takes a village" type person. Having said that, I *still* think this should be your sister's and BIL's hill to die on. Her MIL has a history of overstepping and wanting to parent their kid. Playing Santa is traditionally the role a parent takes. I can see why Sis doesn't want to give her MIL an inch when it comes to this issue as she'll try to take a mile.

And FWIW, I think your mom should stop giving Santa gifts too. Sounds like grandparents having a problem with passing the torch of parenting onto their kids and being unwilling to take on the new role of grandparents who have to step back a little. One other mitigating factor with me...my grandparents raised me as much as and at times more than my mother did yet they never did this sort of thing. They deferred to her in such matters. This is one of those situations where I think that etiquette and tradition are clear and for good reason.
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shhh its me

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Re: Who gets to "claim" the Santa gifts?
« Reply #14 on: December 18, 2011, 09:23:36 PM »
  Does MIL stick to a boundary once it has been set IE....

I'm getting babydoll a pony

NO no ponies

OK I'll get her riding lesson so she can ride a pony once a week ,but I will not buy a pony

NO no riding lessons

OK I'm taking babydoll to the barn so she can ride a pony today (only)

No no pony rides

OK I',m taking babydoll to the petting zoo so she can see a pony

No no petting the ponies

OK then I'm buying babydoll a toy pony

A toy pony is fine

Will MIL stick with a toy pony ? and assuming she would , would she also not say things to babydoll like " well I was going to buy you your very only pony but your mom wouldn't let me"? 

 IF she can stick to the rules once they are set and not make your SIL the bad guy then I would let her do something.  MIL isn't really repeating the same thing she is negotiating and trying to compromise and will take no for an answer but only after she makes sure there is not some form of "yes" available.  Eventhough she isn't saying " can I....." MIL is still asking , she presents her plan and waits for an explicit yes.  It might not work but SIL might try heading these negotiations off by stating what she will allow, " No, no live ponies in any form but you can get her one toy pony if you like " at the first exchange.

If once she gets yes to the toy pony she , starts negotiating back up "well I will give her the toy pony at the petting zoo " or toy pony becomes 100 toy some life sized , then I think sticking with no is appropriate.