Author Topic: Fake Christmas (Really, really long!)  (Read 6544 times)

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lemons

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Fake Christmas (Really, really long!)
« on: December 22, 2011, 10:43:20 AM »
Hey everyone long time lurker (been reading since the Delphooey days, finally need some help)!

Here's my problem:

My husband and I have changed how we do Christmas with both his family and my family a couple of years ago, from spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with his family (a 5+ hour drive away) to staying home and doing Christmas/present exchange either the weekend before or after Christmas or another day near to Christmas (the 27th this year) with his family.  Ever since we made that change, my MIL refers to the gathering with her as "Fake Christmas".  This really strikes a nerve with me and bothers me.  How can I politely and nicely ask her to not to refer to it as that?  The name came about because my nephew started calling it that a few years ago (probably the first year we changed) and I guess she thinks it's funny.  It really bothers me and I think it's because I feel like when she says it, she's highlighting / attempting to guilt trip me about how I changed everything.

For some background (I apologize in advance, this is going to be long!):
My husband is the youngest of 4 boys, Alvin, Bob, Chuck and Dan (I married Dan). Let's call them the Smith family.
  Alvin lives on the East Coast, married later (30+, late compared to the rest of the family), no kids.
  Bob lives near Major City, married, 2 kids in their early teens
  Chuck lives near Major City, married, 3 kids, 2 teens, one baby
  Dan and I live near Different City (5+ hours away from Bob and Chuck), married, one kid age 5

When Dan and I got married, we moved to Different City. Everyone else was living where they live now. MIL and FIL have a house near Major City, it's not their primary house but they have it because of its location to Bob and Chuck, it's a good gathering place for everyone.  So, for over 10 years, Dan and I drove to Major City for Christmas, spending the 24th, 25th and usually 5-7 additional days there.  I never saw my parents on the 24th or 25th.  The entire Smith family would have their Christmas gathering on the evening of the 24th.  Everyone would gather at the parent's house, exchange gifts, eat a big meal, etc.  At the end of the evening, Bob and Chuck would go home with their families.  Bob and Chuck would spend Christmas day either at their own home or with their in-laws.  This went on for many, many years.

Changes started happening when Alvin got married.  Since he lived across the country, he would fly home for Christmas, usually spending a week there like we did.  However, his lovely wife (and I really mean that, she's like a sister to me) has her own family on the east coast and didn't want to spend every holiday away from them.  So, like many couples, they started splitting holidays, one on the East Coast, one in Major City (a many hour plane ride away).  My MIL was not happy, but dealt with it.  They years Alvin and his wife didn't come for Christmas, they usually came for Thanksgiving.

Fast forward more years.  Dan and I have a baby.  I had always said that once we had a baby, Christmas (for us) was going to change.  I wanted our child to go to bed in her own bed on Christmas Eve and wake up in her own bed on Christmas morning, to see what Santa brought, etc.  This was my holiday hill to die on.  I had said this many times before we had a baby, before I was pregnant, etc, so this should not have been a surprise. 

For our baby's first Christmas, we were at my in-law's (baby was 6 months old).  The argument was that she wouldn't remember, the rest of the family hadn't met her, etc.  So I gave in.  The next year, however, I dug my feet in and we went up before Christmas for about a week and left on the 23rd to go home. I should mention, that by this time, my parents had moved from my home town to Different City (where Dan and I live).  So, for that second Christmas (and each one since), we have seen my parents on Christmas Eve and Christmas day, because my parents come over to my house.

Thus, the Christmas with the Smiths has been moved around and is no longer on the 24th, as it was for many years.  I don't think I'm unreasonable, in wanting my child to have what all the other kids in the family have had - Christmas in their own home.  Plus, since we always traveled, we never got to do Christmas at our own church.  Now that we stay home, our kid gets to be in the Christmas pagent each year, we see all of our chruch friends at the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day service, etc.  I feel like we are finally getting to set our own traditions and make Christmas be about our family. This year we are going to Major City from the 26th to the 1st (both Dan and I have to use a week of vacation to do this, as we do every year).

However, since we made the change, my MIL refers to the Smith gathering as "Fake Christmas".  I feel like when she says it, it should be "FAKE Christmas", like she's really emphasizing the FAKE part.  It bothers me greatly, it makes me feel like it's all my fault (which it basically is) and that everyone was perfectly happy before I came along and changed everything.  Except I wasn't happy - I didn't get to see my parents for over 10 years on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.  For a lot of years, my parents were completely alone on those two days, my brother (with whom I do not get along due to untreated mental illness on his part) wouldn't visit my parents, so they were totally alone. 

I feel like when my MIL says "FAKE Christmas", she's pointing out that it's different, it's not right and that if she keeps emphasizing it, that I'll change my mind and we'll go back to celebrating the way we used to.  It won't happen, not a chance in e-hell, but I think she keeps hoping.  I need to find a way to ask her to stop calling it "FAKE Christmas" that's nice, polite, but gets my point across that all it does is highlight take to focus off everyone getting together and celebrating.  It seems like she feels that if it can't be on the 24th, it doesn't count and everyone needs to know that.

The snarky part of me wants to say - "When we celebrated on the 24th, we should have called that FAKE Christmas as well, because it wasn't actually Christmas. Since we didn't do it then, can we stop doing it now?"  but I know that isn't the right way to handle it.

Anyone have a better way?

I should mention, that I really do get along well with my MIL.  For the most part, she's a lovely lady who really does love all her kids and their families.  I think she just gets hung up in doing things her way for so long that a change is really difficult for her - she tends to focus on what she's losing rather than how the change benefits other people.

P.S.  Thanks to anyone who read through all of this, you deserve cookies and cheesecake for it! :)

wyliefool

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Re: Fake Christmas (Really, really long!)
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2011, 10:52:16 AM »
'MIL, if you'd rather we didn't do christmas at all, please let us know. Otherwise, please stop w/ the snark. I'd hate for you to miss out on seeing Grandbaby because you keep trying to piss me off.'

OK, maybe skip the last line. It'd probably do more harm than good. You might try pointing out that after so many years it's now your parents' turn to see their family on the actual holiday.

I have no patience for ppl who have such control issues.

rashea

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Re: Fake Christmas (Really, really long!)
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2011, 11:18:40 AM »
This sounds more like a difference in humor than snark. My family often jokes about our "fake Christmas" since we rarely manage to all have the day off and be together on the 25th. You need to decide if this is a hill to die on. I think if you say something, I'd keep it soft.

"MIL, the term "Fake" is starting to rub wrong. Can we find something else to call it?"
"Manners change, principles don't. It's about treating people with consideration, respect and honesty." Peter Post

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Judah

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Re: Fake Christmas (Really, really long!)
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2011, 11:25:21 AM »
Does it really matter what she calls it?  I'm someone who believes that Christmas is on December 25th and no other day.  If we can't get together with our family on Christmas, but we can on another day, that other day is not Christmas, and in my family we'd probably come up with some silly name to call it.  You said she's "she's a lovely lady who really does love all her kids and their families", so at most I'd say, ""MIL, the term "Fake" is starting to rub wrong. Can we find something else to call it?" But I'd probably just learn to deal.
Ask for what you want. Let's be clear on this one:
Subtle hints don't work.
Strong hints don't work.
Really obvious hints don't work.
Just say it!

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MrTango

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Re: Fake Christmas (Really, really long!)
« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2011, 11:37:30 AM »
You could always point out that since there are twelve days of Christmas (at least according to that awful song...), that it's not "fake" at all to have a Christmas celebration as late as January 5.

Iris

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Re: Fake Christmas (Really, really long!)
« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2011, 03:57:03 PM »
Alternatively you could come up with your own 'joke' name and push that. Bonus points if you get DH and his siblings on board. When she says "Fake Christmas" say "Oh, MIL, it's not fake christmas, it's Christmapalooza / Christmas Ver 2.0 / lemonslastnamefest / Christmas:Now With Added Fibre / I Can't Believe It's Not Christmas / whatever your creative mind can come up with" and laugh. If it's a good name, chances are other people will pick up on it and it will become a 'thing'.
"Can't do anything with children, can you?" the woman said.

Poirot thought you could, but forebore to say so.

TootsNYC

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Re: Fake Christmas (Really, really long!)
« Reply #6 on: December 22, 2011, 05:03:06 PM »
Why don't you just talk to her?

Just say, "Oh, MIL, I think I need to share something with you. When you use the term 'Fake Christmas,' I feel like the emphasis on the 'fake' part is so strong, it makes me think I ought to feel guilty for the change DH and I have made in our Christmas schedules.
    "I've realized recently that I'm really resenting that name for it. I end up feeling blamed, and defensive. And then, of course, resentful, because I used to give my *my* family's company, and I had to leave them all alone on the holiday.
     "DH and I can't be in two places and once, and shifting the celebrations around was our best way to handle it. We're happy that everyone on his side is willing to accommodate us now, and we are grateful.
     "But the term 'Fake Christmas,' and the emphasis no the 'fake,' makes me think everone, you especially, sort of resents it."

Tell her how you are reacting, and that it makes you sad and defensive.

if she's a nice person, she'll tell you things that will make you feel better.

But she *does* need a name to refer to it. And she may think it's very funny. I would.

Deetee

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Re: Fake Christmas (Really, really long!)
« Reply #7 on: December 22, 2011, 05:06:01 PM »
This sounds more like a difference in humor than snark. My family often jokes about our "fake Christmas" since we rarely manage to all have the day off and be together on the 25th. You need to decide if this is a hill to die on. I think if you say something, I'd keep it soft.

"MIL, the term "Fake" is starting to rub wrong. Can we find something else to call it?"

My family too. We have second Christmas (and third and forth and this year, just for fun, we will have five Chritmasses)

Smitty

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Re: Fake Christmas (Really, really long!)
« Reply #8 on: December 22, 2011, 05:28:25 PM »
It's hard for me to tell from your description whether your MIL is intending it to be funny or guilt-inducing. If she's being funny I think you should let it go, because the guilt you are feeling is self-induced. I suggest you start calling it Festivus and prepare for the Feats of Strength!

If she's laying on a guilt trip then I think you should say something to her.

My family went through the same thing. A few years ago DH and I decided to stop travelling at Christmas. We don't have kids, and everyone just expected that we would be happy to spend our holidays hauling ourselves around the province. His mother and mine both told us that visits on any day except Christmas "don't count", and they kept track of how much time we spent at each family's get-togethers. Also, my parents are divorced, so that's a total of 3 sets of parents to see (but my dad is much more laid back). We put an end to the insanity a few years ago. We will visit before or after Christmas, but Christmas Day is for DH & I to spend together at home. There was some pouting, and some guilt-tripping and complaining, but after a few years everyone settled down. Stay strong!

lemons

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Re: Fake Christmas (Really, really long!)
« Reply #9 on: December 22, 2011, 05:47:17 PM »
I think you all have made some good points. 

It's hard for me to tell from your description whether your MIL is intending it to be funny or guilt-inducing. If she's being funny I think you should let it go, because the guilt you are feeling is self-induced. I suggest you start calling it Festivus and prepare for the Feats of Strength!

I'm in the same position - I can't tell if she thinks it's funny or if she trying to guilt-trip me. 

I had thought about calling it Festivus, though, so that made me smile. :)

Why don't you just talk to her?

Just say, "Oh, MIL, I think I need to share something with you. When you use the term 'Fake Christmas,' I feel like the emphasis on the 'fake' part is so strong, it makes me think I ought to feel guilty for the change DH and I have made in our Christmas schedules.
    "I've realized recently that I'm really resenting that name for it. I end up feeling blamed, and defensive. And then, of course, resentful, because I used to give my *my* family's company, and I had to leave them all alone on the holiday.
     "DH and I can't be in two places and once, and shifting the celebrations around was our best way to handle it. We're happy that everyone on his side is willing to accommodate us now, and we are grateful.
     "But the term 'Fake Christmas,' and the emphasis no the 'fake,' makes me think everone, you especially, sort of resents it."

Tell her how you are reacting, and that it makes you sad and defensive.

if she's a nice person, she'll tell you things that will make you feel better.

But she *does* need a name to refer to it. And she may think it's very funny. I would.

I agree that I should talk to her, and I think you have some really good ideas in here.  I'll probably wind up cherry picking bits and pieces out. As I said above, I can't tell if she thinks it's funny or not. I need to figure out when I'm going to say something.  I don't feel like it's something I can say over the phone and the actual day of celebration is the day we arrive up there and everyone will be at the house, so that doesn't seem like a good time to bring it up.

And there's the whole feeling of how she'll probably spin it - not meanly, but it will probably come out as "We can't call it Fake Christmas anymore, because it makes Lemons upset.  (implied - She's so sensitive.)"

But when I said she refers to it as "Fake Christmas" all the time, I mean it's in every conversation.  For example: she'll say "I still need some ideas for LemonsJr. for Fake Christmas" or "Do you have all the ideas you need for Chuck for Fake Christmas?" or "Did we order the CD for Bob for Fake Christmas or did you?"  It gets old fast, I don't see why she can't refer to it as just Christmas and if she needs a specific name for the gathering to exchange gifts, then call that the "Smith Christmas" or something.

On the plus side, I think everyone is waiting to open gifts until we get there this year.  Last year we went there before Christmas and everyone decided to not exchange / open gifts with us, they wanted to wait until the 24th when they were gathering again.  So there were 14ish people in one room, just watching the three of us open gifts.  We had drawn the names of Alvin and his wife and had sent their gifts to them, since they didn't come out to visit last year, so we only had gifts for the kids (1 each) and MIL and FIL.  That was *really* uncomfortable - I don't like being the center of attention on a good day and that was just really bad.

Roe

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Re: Fake Christmas (Really, really long!)
« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2011, 05:48:07 PM »
The Christmas season doesn't end until Jan 6th. 

I'd just ask her "Oh did you not want to celebrate with us?  If you'd rather not, I will understand."  Said with a smile.

It could've been something silly and funny in the beginning but I can understand how, after awhile, it would annoy you.  It's almost like she's not appreciaitive of the effort you and your DH are making in celebrating with them. 

lemons

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Re: Fake Christmas (Really, really long!)
« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2011, 05:57:42 PM »
-snip-

It's almost like she's not appreciaitive of the effort you and your DH are making in celebrating with them.

Yes, that's exactly it!  It's like, "if it isn't exactly like it's always been, then it's not good enough!"

DH and I take a week's vacation every year to go visit them (and Bob and Chuck and their families).  If we're lucky, we might see Bob and Chuck one or two additional times outside the Fake Christmas gathering.  Chuck is in an industry where he (and his wife) are off work during the time we are up there, so it's not that they're working while we are there.  I understand that they have lives to live as well, but I question why we are spending all this time and effort to go visit when it seems like no one (outside of MIL and FIL) make any time to see us.

Chuck (supposedly) asked via MIL if we would consider switching every other year.  One year do the 24th and 25th at home and then the next year do it at the in-law's.  I shot that down quickly by asking if that meant that Chuck and his family (and everyone else) would be willing to come to our house on the alternate years.  The response was, No, Chuck's wife's family was nearby and they had traditional plans with them on the evening of the 25th.  I pointed out that Chuck was asking us to give up our plans every other year but he was unwilling to do the same, so that got dropped quickly.

I feel the need to point out that DH and I have lived in Different City for 14 years.  Alvin and his wife have been to our house once (excusable since they live across the county), Bob and his wife have been here once and Chuck and his wife have been here twice. 

penelope2017

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Re: Fake Christmas (Really, really long!)
« Reply #12 on: December 22, 2011, 06:09:04 PM »
So, since this tradition has changed, by staying home at Christmas do you see your parents every Christmas and Christmas Eve?

lemons

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Re: Fake Christmas (Really, really long!)
« Reply #13 on: December 22, 2011, 06:54:16 PM »
So, since this tradition has changed, by staying home at Christmas do you see your parents every Christmas and Christmas Eve?

We do because they come over to our house. We see my parents briefly on Christmas Eve, sometimes go to church together (we go to different churches, but they go to ours to see the kid in the pageant, we go to theirs because the kid wants to spend extra time with the grandparents).  On Christmas day, they come over mid-morning, bring gifts and we hang out / eat lunch and they head home mid to late afternoon.

When we changed our travel plans / traditions, we made an open invitation to everyone in DH's family to come stay at our house (we have the space) and spend Christmas with us.  No one has taken us up on the offer, mainly because Bob and Chuck's wife's parents live near Major City (their home), and probably because they want to celebrate Christmas at home, much like we do.

I should add, my parents live in Different City, near us, but have only lived here for the last few years. When my dad retired, they decided to move closer to us so that in case one of them died, the other one would be near family / have someone close to check in on them. Plus, I'm sure the close proximity to a grandchild didn't hurt. If my parents didn't live near us, we wouldn't see them on Christmas eve or Christmas day, either.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2011, 06:57:14 PM by lemons »

JoyinVirginia

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Re: Fake Christmas (Really, really long!)
« Reply #14 on: December 22, 2011, 07:06:00 PM »
Mil has to realize kids grow up, have their own nuclear families, and have the right to decide to stay home on christmas, even if they live down the road. Op, like you, we decided to stay home on christmas day, and we live 30 min from most of dh family, and one hour from mine.
Either ignore mil, or call it something silly, like griswold christmas or festivus. Or tell her you won't visit at all next year so she will not have to worry about fake christmas