We are gearing up for the annual battle over who owns XMAS in DH's family.
About 8- years ago my FIL passed and my MIL moved into assisted living. Prior to that XMAS was held XMAS Night at her house - it was dinner at 5:30, visiting, gifts merriment. We went home about 8:30 or really whenever we wanted to. We each brought one food item, usually an appetizer or a dessert. Dinner was prepared by MIL.
The next 2 years were hosted by Lakehouse Sally. It was not terribly "merry".
She assigned major pieces of the dinner to each of us - without our input.
Her grown children would fight and argue.
We were asked to come at 1:00, dinner would be served at 3:30 or so and then we could not leave until 6:00 or so.
This was hard with little ones who wanted to be home and play with their toys.
Hosting was marginal, one year there were no appropriate beverages - only alcohol and tap water, it got so that I had to bring so much food / drinks etc - that it would be easier for me to stay home.
There was a falling out in the family - so certain siblings will not go to Sally's house.
DH and I said enough is enough, its not how we want to celebrate - so we said we are staying home. We are eating at 5:30 - if you want to join us - GREAT - let me know by X date. But no pressure - just know you are welcome.
XMAS has been a great success at our house. Some years I've had 32 people ( inlcuding the 4 of us ) , last year it was just us and an elderly relative. I really am not concerned with what other people want to do - but they are welcome and can bring friends etc. uaully - I have 13 to 14 people. Sally's daughter Betty announced that she was hosting XMAS last year. I nicely said- thanks for the invite, but we stay home for XMAS - would you like to get together another day ( and we did ). Note that neice ended up with her entire extended family invited and it was apparently a zoo. Since I am hssting - I take care of all the food, but allow folks to bring something that they want to. My college age neice likes to bake - so she brings dessert etc. but Ido not assign anything.
It's September - way too early to get a XMAS count and Lakehouse Sally corners me at MIL's birthday this weekend and says - I am having everyone for XMAS. I want to have the entire family at my house. I said - Sally, thanks for the invite, but we stay home at XMAS - I'll be happy to get together another day if you want. NO she emphatically says - I want EVERYONE at my house and people would rather go to yours, so don't have dinner. I explained, that I will have my annual open house for anyone who wants to come.
Sally's children are grown, she has grandchildren and her children have significant others. It's not like she will not have a houseful, but DH and the boys and I like to be home on XMAS. We don't want to go and spend 6+ hours at someone elses house on XMAS. I am OK with them doing their own thing, we are doing our own thing.
Everyone else is OK with casual XMAS - dynamics change and families evolve. Plus - it is serious chaos at her house. it gets very tense and some old disagreements get aired.
At my house - everyone knows NOT to do that.
So - I guess I will keep saying no, I guess it will be rude to say - you can invite me not demand my presence. But I would appreciate any other ideas for deflecting this.