I am so sorry for your loss. I'm also sorry you're faced with such difficult in-law behavior.
My go-to book is Susan Forward's Toxic Parents http://www.powells.com/biblio/95-9780307575326-0 She also wrote Toxic In-Laws. I found both of them really straightforward and compassionate.
I have seen those books recommended here before and I found "Toxic In-Laws" available as an eBook, I think I will be purchasing it today. I will read it, I am not sure if DH would appreciate "Toxic Parents" for Christmas...but if Toxic In-Laws is helpful to me, I might suggest he has a read of it himself.
Someone upthread asked who he would prefer be upset with him - you or his mom? Whom he chooses in that regard will be very telling.
I never wanted it to have to be a choice, I would not have liked to have to choose between DH and my mum - but if she had treated him the way his mum has treated me, I would definitely have put DH first - but I can say that knowing my mum never
would have treated DH badly. My mum also never treated me badly, as his mum does to him.
You also mentioned he dismisses the situation and his mother's actions by saying that is just the way she is. That is a cop out. He has to learn to put YOU, his WIFE first. This is a highly emotionally charged time for you. He needs to be there for YOU.
I completely agree, I find "that's just the way he/she is" is almost always used as an excuse to excuse otherwise inexcusable behaviour (did that make sense?) - people are the way they are because they choose to be that way. I am also aware that DH has been subjected to his mother's behaviour and this excuse for his mother all his life.
In every other situation, in every other way - he has put me first and he has been there for me, it has not been an easy year for him with his MIL being ill and dying and his wife grieving and other things that have happened, unrelated to this situation (financial problems, issues I have had with my work etc.).
I think the actions that he dismisses are actions against himself,at least partially. It also sound like he is aware of some but not all of what went down. While it is important that he be sensitive it sounds like some of these issues have not been directly addressed or discussed, at least in terms of Christmas and what OP wants/needs.
Yes, you are quite right - she has treated him as badly as she has treated me - and he has had to put up with it for a lot longer and deal with the threats, guilt and fallout for a long time. At the same time, I know he does have some good memories and experiences with his mother over 30+ years which I don't have and while I have told him what has happened after it has happened, he has not been present for a lot of it. I haven't really broached Christmas with him yet. I will get a discussion started tonight even if we don't resolve anything straight away it will give him some time to think about it. I just wanted to try and get some things sorted out myself before we try and resolve this together and the replies here have helped me a lot.
You two must be on the same page and dh needs to put you first.
A lot of people have said this and I would like us to be in agreement and I would like DH to put me first - I would also like to make it clear that I will put him first and we will take it from there. I don't think he really understands how I (or my sister) feel after losing mum and how this has affected us because he does not have with his parents what we had with our mother.
it sounds like you have a good man there
Just remember, compromise doesn't mean putting up with bad behavior. My family and I have finally found solid ground and have put the past behind us. It was a long road, and I had to hold my lonely ground for awhile, but eventually it got better.
He is a good man. I am glad you and your family were able to sort things out, I suspect with PIL, it will get worse before it gets better (and I am not convinced that it will get better).