General Etiquette > Family and Children

To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?

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A good compromise might be to skip the Christmas Eve family get together.  Explain to your MIL that you're sad about missing it, but given the tension between BIL and you guys, it would make for a very tense and awkward gathering, and you don't want to cause a fuss.  Then make arrangements to come over for the day a day or two before or after Christmas, to do gift exchanges, etc.


My understanding is that this is the first Christmas since your FIL died, right?  Given that, it might mean a lot to your MIL to have you all there - family holidays after a death can be really hard to handle. In that case, if your MIL is a reasonable person, then I'd ask her which she would find easiest - you guys showing up, even if it's awkward, or re-scheduling your time with her.

For one Christmas gathering, it could be worth it to suck it up if it helps your MIL handle the first Christmas after your FIL's death. However, I'd have an exit plan to leave a bit early if it gets hard on your kids.

I would go but keep your kids close to you and away from the nephew/BIL.  I'd also check in with MIL ahead of time explaining that you are uncomfortable coming, but want to see her.  Then you can let her know that you may be leaving if BIL does something again like laying hands on your kids.

While it might be a difficult XMAS for your MIL, your children deserve a peaceful happy XMAS and XMAS eve and they come first.

BIL acts like this ? Your children will be impacted.  Maybe your MIL should NOT invite Bil and invite you.  Yeah its bad that she's impacted - but you need to protect your children.  AND if someone had been SHAKING my child .... that would have been it.

I've had to make a similar decision re: toxic inlaw behavior and beleive me - we are the happier for it.

I would opt out of Christmas Eve and get together with MIL and BIL2 at another time, as you did with Thanksgiving.  Your dh has gone above and beyond to smooth things over with BIL1.  There is no way I would allow my children to be around BIL1 after he laid hands on one of them.  That is wrong on so many levels and not healthy for the boys to be put in that position.  FWIW, I cut off my father for a year for swatting one of my daughters with a newspaper when she was young.  Your MIL may be hurt by your refusal to attend Christmas Eve if BIL1 is there but that is the natural consequence of BIL1's actions.  I'm curious if MIL has said anything to BIL1 about his behavior?  I'm also wondering if BIL1 is trying to create some kind of a rift between your family and MIL. 

Just Lori:
I have two teen-aged girls, and BIL is throwing a hissy fit worthy of any 15-year-old.  Therefore, I'd give you the same advice I give my girls when one of their friends is wallowing in drama:  Don't reward the behavior.

The worst thing you can do to an attention seeker is ignore him or her.  Give a small, sympathetic smile and carry on what you're doing.  He's the annoying buzz that you can't get rid of so you've learned to live with.  Make a game of it with your husband.  Carry around a piece of paper in your pocket where you make a mark every time you're blatantly ignored or BIL makes a PA remark.  If he says something about you watching your kids, give a little chuckle and say, "Of course we are.  How about the bean dip?"  Do not lower yourself to his level.

This all assumes you're going to spend Christmas with them.  It sounds as though you enjoy the family gatherings enough to want to continue, but perhaps I'm misreading.


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