General Etiquette > Family and Children

To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?

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My husband and I are torn about how to handle an upcoming get together with my MIL and my husbands 2 younger brothers. The issue mainly centers around the older BIL, his wife and their son.

Breif history:

Brother in law #1 has always been hard for people to talk to. A few years ago I actually stopped having meaningful conversations with him because he's always finding fault in things people says.

About 6 years ago, MIL and FIL seperated due to ongoing infidelity issues on the part of FIL. He went to a psychiatrist and was diagnosed as bi-polar, got meds, and they reconciled. Shortly after, FIL convinced BIL #1 that he had the same issues.  BIL1 went to his family dr and got same meds as FIL (which in my opinion has changed nothing), no psychiatrist was ever seen. He and his wife now use this as the reason that BIL1 acts like an bacon-fed knave all the time.

FIL was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in March 2011. BIL1's actions only got worse as he attempted to take over for the family business. He constantly threw the fact that we live 45 min away and that BIL2 was away at college in our faces and stated how all the pressure of the world was on him, and saw himself as his dad's only caretaker (my MIL is a nurse). Since FIL was sick we put up with this as much as possible, and were down at his parents every weekend. Toward the end my husband was also going down every Wed (taking off work).

FIL passes Aug 9. At the funeral dinner, in front of all the family and friends, I came out of the rest room to see BIL shaking my 4yo son and screaming at him in front of everyone.  His 7yo son and mine had been playing a nintendo DS and my nephew got bumped in the face with it.  I quickly picked up my son and told BIL he is not to lay hands on my son or scream in his face, and that all issues should be brought up to myself or my husband.

After this, my husband had a severe talk with my BIL that day, as it was a long time coming anyway (BIL1 was always stating that my kids were too rough with his child, and had scolded our kids in front of us many times before, which we had calmly handled up until now)

My husband tried for 2 months to smooth things over with BIL1. They both agreed that they needed to sit down and work all their issues out however BIL1 was consistently unavailable for 2 mos straight. Finally in mid Oct at a family event, BIL1 made a concerted effort to ignore all of us. Others noticed and it was embarassing especially to my MIL.  When we started toward the car, BIL1 yelled loudly "Have a Good Evening!"
The next day my husband called him and asked why he would not acknowledge him.  I'm not sure what all was said, but BIL1 sees all the issues as being because my sons are bullies!  We were shocked. No one (day care, school, other family members) have ever had an issue with my sons. They are pretty quiet actually. My now 5yo is a bit rambunctious but in no way bullies his 7yo son. In fact, most of the time when the kids are playing, my BIL and SIL are no where to be seen and my husband, myself or my 15yo daughter are watching the kids.  So I can only imagine that my nephew is telling them somehow that my kids are doing something to him.   Of course my husband got angry and they had a bit of a blow up over this. My husband felt bad after and tried to get back on track to working out their issues. BIL1 ignored all calls, texts and emails. Due to this we decided ot opt out of Thanksgiving at my in laws and we went out of town (we had a nice dinner a few nights prior with MIL and BIL2).
After we got back my husband has tried again to reach out to his brother.  He won't answer the phone, and most texts are ignored. When he does decide to respond he just says "you watch your kids and I'll watch mine". This last Sat that actually turned out to be boloney, as we went to a cousin's bday party and he had no idea where his son was the entire time (I was watching him in the basement along with other kids). At this event he ignored my husband again which was obvious.  So now in 20 days were supposed to spend Christmas eve together.  MY husband has sent a message asking them not to worry about gifts (it should be obvious but its not) and my BIL said they are still buying gifts for everyone. What????  Are we now required to purchase gifts for people that won't even acknowledge us? Not only that, but sit at a dinner table with them ignoring us, and worrying that anything my sons may do/say may set him off again?  It seems like everyone (cousins etc) have advised my husband to just let it go. How do we do that? I just don't know how we will sit at the dinner table knowing that BIL1 thinks my kids are evil incarnate. Should we just opt out of Christmas Eve, and not see my MIL? I would feel so horrible. I already feel horrible that her son's can't work things out (she refuses to intervene). 

This isn't even a question for me. Don't go. Stop trying to patch things up. See MIL some other time during the holidays and have a nice visit.

I'm voting for avoid. If you are dreading it already why should you ruin Xmas for the sake of pretending to be a happy family? How do your children feel about this? Your MIL will be hurt but your sons should come first.  Of course everyone else is advising your husband to let it go. It is easier for them if he does and it is not them having to take the brunt of his behaviour.

Can you just do a pop in visit to see MIL without having the full blown family meal?

This is a hard one, because MIL will miss out on seeing her grandchildren because of issues between her two sons.  I'm pretty sure the issue between the children is just a cover for a deeper resentment. Have the brothers always had issues or has this just come up since the children were born.   Does BIL1 have the same issues with BIL2.  Nevertheless he has absolutely no right to yell at or even touch your child and I wouldn't have waited for anyone else to intervene, I would have told him so in no uncertain terms myself.  Could your DH go to visit alone and try to talk to his brother before the event.

It sounds like your DH has tried to communicate with BIL1 many times and BIL1 is ignoring him. If there will be tons and tons of people there and your family can avoid BIL1 and his 7-year-old, and you still want to see the others and think you'll have a good time, then go.

But if you're dreading it, and it will ruin your holiday, your DH's and your kids', then don't go.

I actually applaud MIL for trying to stay out of the middle, except for the parts where BIL1 is rude and ignoring you under her roof.

--- Quote from: Lindee on December 04, 2012, 09:14:22 PM ---I'm voting for avoid. If you are dreading it already why should you ruin Xmas for the sake of pretending to be a happy family? How do your children feel about this? Your MIL will be hurt but your sons should come first.

--- End quote ---

POD, especially what I bolded.

I agree with PPs. There's some family history. BIL1 is causing more drama than there needs to be. Perhaps he would enjoy the holidays more without your DH around (my guess is he's jealous and/or resentful of your DH for something). And it seems like BIL1 would "win" if your family caved and didn't go. He'd get his mother's full attention for his own kids and he'd spend time with his whole extended family while you all were alienated. But if you foil his plans to edge you out and show up, will you truly be able to enjoy yourselves?

Bottom line, are you looking forward to this holiday gathering or not? Because, getting together for any event is about celebrating and having fun. It's not a job. It's not something you have to do like laundry or paying your mortgage. This is your free time. Does it have more positives than negatives? Or does the dread overshadow anything that might be gained by going?

My vote is for you to avoid drama. Stay home with DH and your kids and have a 100% fun time without the baggage.


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