Author Topic: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?  (Read 15497 times)

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despedina

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To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
« on: December 04, 2012, 09:50:40 PM »
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). 

Deetee

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Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2012, 10:05:21 PM »
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.

Lindee

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Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2012, 10:14:22 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.  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?

Rusty

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Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2012, 11:38:42 PM »
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.

Danika

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Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2012, 02:00:35 AM »
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.

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.

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.

blarg314

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Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2012, 02:07:01 AM »

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.

However,

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.

NyaChan

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Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2012, 05:39:46 AM »
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.

POF

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Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2012, 05:42:17 AM »
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.

RubyCat

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Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2012, 07:01:18 AM »
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

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Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2012, 07:40:53 AM »
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.

cicero

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Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2012, 07:55:31 AM »
I would make two suggestions:
1. no, you should not go to any future gatherings if BIL is going to be there. if someone had shaken my four year old child (no matter *what* the child did, and i believe you that your child didn't do anything), and yelled at them, it would be a cold day in youknowhere before i would go to a family gathering that included that person. (unless and until that person apologized. *really( apologized)

2. your husband needs to stop, like yesterday, chasing after his brother. I can only assume (and forgive me if i am off) that the combo of a bi polar parent, an enabler parent, the "bad" son (BIL) - turned your husband into the "good" son, the forgiving, the need-to-please guy. but plesae go back and read what you wrote - your BIL assaulted your son, and your husband spends the next few months *trying to make amends*. trying to get BIL to ... what? to forgive you? to talk to you? this doesn't make any sense! instead of your BIL being the one to chase after YOU and ask for YOUR forgiveness for what he did, he ignores you, he blames your 4 YO son for his own behaivor, and he plays PA games.

you didn't go to thanksgiving dinner. so? did world war three start?

I say - have the holiday that you want. keep your children safe. if you want, invited your MIL and your nice BIL but otherwise, keep away from BIL 1


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Roe

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Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2012, 08:40:57 AM »
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.

Pod, esp to the bolded!  Your BIL is playing a game.  It's a power play.  And he's winning.  The fact that your DH continually tries to makeup with someone who enjoys being in charge is crazy!  It will drive your DH insane. You can't reason with an unreasonable person. 

And the fact that your BIL accuses your son is being a bully...project much?  IME, your BIL is the bully.  He's the one displaying bully behavior.

I wouldn't necessarily avoid all future family get-togethers, otherwise, the bully wins.  I would, however, skip the family Christmas.  It's more important to have a drama free celebration with your own family than walking on eggshells and trying not to upset BIL.

Margo

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Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2012, 09:09:43 AM »

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.

However,

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.

POD.

I also recommend that your H stop trying to 'reach out' to his brother. He has tried, and failed. Your BIL is determined to hold on to his grudge. Let him. agree with your H a simple explanation which you / he can give if any other family members comment (e.g. " BIL seems to have a problem with me/us at present. I have/H's name has reached out several times to BIL to find out why he is behaving this way, and to address any issues.   BIL hasn't responded. We remain more than willing to discuss it with him when he is ready to do so. Until then, we are here to enjoy spending time with MIL and the rest of the family. ")

Since he appears to have an issue with your children, have a strategy with your husband to ensure that your and his kids don't end up together. Since he has said he'll watch his kids, this could involve sending his kids back to him every time they approach your kids, politely declining to watch his kids, or even removing your kids from the room if his kids join them.

I would also suggest that you and your husband have a conversation with MIL in advance, to expalin that while you do not expect her to take sides, you do expect her to take account of the fact that it is not appropriate for BIL to be rude or aggressive to you or your kids under her roof, and that if it occurs again and she does not address it you will leave. You can make it very clear taht you want to spend time with her, and that you are more than happy to visit at a time BIL won't be there, or to host her and other family members in your home, but that you are not willing to put up with being abused or insulted, or having your child physically assaulted by an adult.

I got the impression from your original post that speaking to SIL is unlikely to be very helpful, but it might be worth raising with her the allegation of bullying, on the basis that BIL is ignoring you and you want to get to the bottom of what is alleged to have happened.  It may be that there is something such as your son not yet having learned about taking turns (for instance) and his cousin not yet being old enough to understand that a 5 year old isn't very subtle... If there was some incident which gave rise to the allegation of bullying, knowing what it was might help you make sure it doesn't arise again. If there wasn't, you can simply move on.

All that said, other than the possible need to support MIL in her first christmas as a widow, there is no reason why you have to go. Perhaps it would be possible to arrange something else which you are a family can do, so that you are only free to go to MIL's for a short period?


weeblewobble

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Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2012, 09:22:02 AM »
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.

Not really. MIL will still see her grankids, just not at the same time.

FoxPaws

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Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2012, 09:33:24 AM »
Don't go. Plan something else with MIL and BIL2, even if it means rearranging traditions (so Grandma can see the kids open their presents if that's important, for example).

BIL1 is playing all of you like a cheap violin; even the alleged gift giving is a power play (look at me!! I'm being magnanimous and keeping the Christmas spirit even though I despise the recipients!!). Bi-polar might explain the inclination, but it doesn't excuse the behavior.

Your husband needs to be helped to understand (perhaps with the aid of a grief counselor) that he is not responsible for fixing this situation. Every time he reaches out to his brother, it reaffirms BIL's belief that he's the wronged party and that his actions are correct and defensible.

I am so sorry this is happening to your family. I hope that you can come to a resolution that brings you a measure of peace and allows you to have a joyful Christmas with your husband and children.

I am so a lady. And if you say I'm not, I'll slug you. - Cindy Brady