Oh, yes, some is speculation, but is rooted in reality.
One year she brought in a small box saying, "this was lying on a top shelf in the hall closet, if you do not want the junk inside, I will toss it."
And it had my original HS diploma plus several award certificates, and other mementos. Not much else. "Junk" she called it.
Another year she greeted me with, "I have been sorting my closet and I have a few things for you."
Well, she and I are not the same style, but I will wait and see...
And what she presented me was a fits a child inside sized box of tangled wire hangers. Nothing but wire hangers.
I left the box and the hangers there.
DH used to say, "lower your expectations."
A few years ago he changed it to," have NO expectations."
That way I will not be disappointed, and can kind of shrug off and laugh at the non-relationship
This is a long long story and I do not have to provide every jot and tittle of past details, but suffice it to say that mom has no interest in my family, and very little in my brothers' families. I do not even know who she is "saving face" for at this point.
Next year may be our last, since DD will be a senior.
As for the "chili," (or as DH called it, ground beef and beans soup) yes, the hostess can serve whatever she wants, but when Aunt T. and I ran to the store, we HAD to buy milk, fruit, yogurt, carrots, etc... because mom had not prepped anything for kids. Most of her food comes in cans. Mobility and money are not issues, but we have learned to do a grocery store run over the years, as Aunt T. caught on to hersolf a few years ago.
Sad maybe, but not my concern. We had a good time with my bothers and their families.
Joy, you may have nailed it. We disrupt her routine, though we do not know her routine- ex) had never been to Christmas Eve service with her since childhood, was now a Big Deal that we had to go, and be dressed appropriately.
May all of you have wonderful memories of your family at Christmastime. Mine will be of what I choose to remember, and to be pleasantly surprised as often as possible.