Shame-faced, infrequent poster here seeking some advice about how to do some Christmas damage control. I've seen threads about similar situations, so I'd love to hear how anyone else has handled something like this.
BG: When DH and I got married about 12 years ago, it was important to me to respect his family's traditions. I will note that there are religious differences in the family, and can elaborate if helpful. When he was a kid, his maternal relatives would get together for Christmas, but by the time he was in college they only got together every few Christmases. My MIL explained that they really only buy gifts for the children and that the adult gift-giving is low-key, or often that the adults simply exchange cards. She also explained that Thanksgiving is actually the Big Holiday for their family, because it's the day that everyone is able to make it due to various annual scheduling issues.
DH and I have only been able to make it to the Christmas celebration with his maternal relatives in person a few times (usually we do Thanksgiving with his family and Christmas break with mine), but we always sent cards, and for years would send gifts and/or giftcards to his two very young cousins. When we attended, I found that the gift-giving aspect of the gathering was very laid-back (to the point that many of the grown-ups slept through the present-opening). When about seven years had gone by with no acknowledgement of the cards or gifts that we were sending, and seeing just how much was purchased for the cousins by their own parents, DH eventually suggested that we move to just sending cards to everyone. We did that a few years ago around the time the cousins were older teenagers, and I believe other relatives have done the same. The transition felt very natural, and the holidays have continued to be both very lovely and increasingly low-key as everyone has gotten older.
This year, during Thanksgiving with DH's extended family there was a discussion of whether we could all get together sometime during the Christmas break, since this is the first time in years that we've all been in relatively the same area and in the same country. DH told everyone that, although we wanted to come, we might not be able to make it since we had already spent Thanksgiving with them and wanted to make sure we got to spend time with both of our families. We have a young daughter, and my family and his maternal family don't live in the same city, so running around and long drives are difficult. I'm not sure whether he was as clear about all that as he could have been, as I didn't witness the conversation.
So we didn't end up making it to see his family, in part because they were only all together in one place for two days. Today, his parents stopped by to see us on their drive back home, and we were shocked when they unloaded a trunk that was literally full of presents. Presents for our daughter, presents for us, presents from all of DH's extended maternal family members. We got them exactly nothing. Just sent our usual cards, as we've been doing for 12 years.
Obviously, I feel terrible that we didn't get them gifts, and also peeved that they changed the gift-giving expectations so dramatically with no communication or warning. At the same time, I'm worried that the discussion about getting everyone together may have had the flavor of "let's do this thing big this year!" and that DH didn't pick up on it.
So if you've read this novella, my question is this: What, if anything, should we do at this point? For various reasons, I'm not inclined to run off and spend hundreds of dollars on afterthought gifts. We've called family to thank them, and they all seemed thrilled that we liked everything and not at all upset about anything. However, to do nothing just feels . . . icky? embarrassing? I'm not sure.
Anyway, right now I'm thinking that I'll gather family pictures from the year and make everyone a nice calendar. I did that a few years ago and everyone seemed to like it. But other than that, I'm not sure if I should do anything else.