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!