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Author Topic: How do I handle this? UPDATE PG 3, POST CHRISTMAS UPDATE PG 4  (Read 25055 times)

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Deetee

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Re: How do I handle this? UPDATE PG 3
« Reply #45 on: December 22, 2014, 09:57:39 PM »
As a family member, I'd be mad. OK, good, fine, you can't afford to give gifts; I get that. I'm behind it.
   And I'll even skip giving you something if that's necessary for you to feel comfortable; I'm down with the idea that uneven generosity can be rude, actually.

But...because I'm going to be exchanging gifts to the other 6 or 7 people who are there, you are completely bowing out?
  You are defining the family Christmas gathering as "a gift exchange, and a gift exchange only"; as "a gift exchange, and that's the most important thing about it"?

That would piss me off, to be frank. I'd lose a lot of respect for you. Especially if you think you should somehow get to dictate the gifting situation between me and -other- people?

if you don't want to go, don't go. But don't tell anybody it's because your grandparents and cousins are giving gifts to one another.

You seem to be describing a different situation than the one the OP is in. She isn't wanting to avoid this because other people are exchanging gifts, but because the hosts have made it quite clear they don'taccept her attending with no gifts.

JenJay

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Re: How do I handle this? UPDATE PG 3
« Reply #46 on: December 22, 2014, 10:45:09 PM »
I got the impression that OP would be perfectly fine to sit and visit while everyone else exchanged gifts with each other. What she is trying to avoid is having these other people all gifting her while she has nothing to give in return, compounded by the fact that her dad and step-mom will be grouching at her about it while it happens. I'd avoid that, too!

OP, don't go over. If you have gifts for your siblings and want to see them, ask if you and fiancÚ can stop by later, when you know everyone else will be gone. If anyone has left a gift for you and you hear flak for it, just say "I told everyone upfront that I couldn't afford gifts for anyone but (younger siblings). If they chose to give me something that was incredibly sweet and I'll make sure I thank them." If they won't drop it, leave. And don't make up an excuse, say "I can see that you're too upset about my lack of gift funds for us to visit so we'll go." Refuse to discuss it any further. You said no, you explained why in the hopes that they'd understand, they chose not to, it's done.

TurtleDove

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Re: How do I handle this? UPDATE PG 3
« Reply #47 on: December 23, 2014, 05:06:21 AM »
I don't think it is the OP who is defining this as a gift exchange only. That is something SM and F did.

JoieGirl7

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Re: How do I handle this? UPDATE PG 3
« Reply #48 on: December 23, 2014, 07:59:22 AM »
I don't think it is the OP who is defining this as a gift exchange only. That is something SM and F did.

Agreed. The OP tried in vain to decline the invitation and the dad called back demanding to know if they were going to be bringing gifts.

Kiwipinball

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Re: How do I handle this? UPDATE PG 3
« Reply #49 on: December 23, 2014, 08:13:44 AM »
As a family member, I'd be mad. OK, good, fine, you can't afford to give gifts; I get that. I'm behind it.
   And I'll even skip giving you something if that's necessary for you to feel comfortable; I'm down with the idea that uneven generosity can be rude, actually.

But...because I'm going to be exchanging gifts to the other 6 or 7 people who are there, you are completely bowing out?
  You are defining the family Christmas gathering as "a gift exchange, and a gift exchange only"; as "a gift exchange, and that's the most important thing about it"?

That would piss me off, to be frank. I'd lose a lot of respect for you. Especially if you think you should somehow get to dictate the gifting situation between me and -other- people?

if you don't want to go, don't go. But don't tell anybody it's because your grandparents and cousins are giving gifts to one another.

You seem to be describing a different situation than the one the OP is in. She isn't wanting to avoid this because other people are exchanging gifts, but because the hosts have made it quite clear they don'taccept her attending with no gifts.

I agree with you Toots, especially with the larger gatherings. My dad's side of the family we've switched over to a secret santa type thing (all draw names of one other person). My sister and BIL choose not to participate to save a little money. Some of my cousins participate, some don't. Everyone comes if they can. Granted, it's less awkward because if they choose not to buy, they don't receive either.

However, it sounds like OP is skipping a smaller get together with just parents (dad and step-mom) and step-siblings, not the larger gathering. In that case, if she doesn't really want to go anyway and it's going to be a smaller group of disapproving people, she should definitely skip it.

tash112194

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Re: How do I handle this? UPDATE PG 3
« Reply #50 on: December 23, 2014, 08:17:36 AM »
As a family member, I'd be mad. OK, good, fine, you can't afford to give gifts; I get that. I'm behind it.
   And I'll even skip giving you something if that's necessary for you to feel comfortable; I'm down with the idea that uneven generosity can be rude, actually.

But...because I'm going to be exchanging gifts to the other 6 or 7 people who are there, you are completely bowing out?
  You are defining the family Christmas gathering as "a gift exchange, and a gift exchange only"; as "a gift exchange, and that's the most important thing about it"?

That would piss me off, to be frank. I'd lose a lot of respect for you. Especially if you think you should somehow get to dictate the gifting situation between me and -other- people?

if you don't want to go, don't go. But don't tell anybody it's because your grandparents and cousins are giving gifts to one another.

OP here, in my family typically, there is gift exchange but we buy for the people we want to, and because we want to. We don't exchange gifts out of obligation, and no one keeps a tally on who gave what to who, some years my grandparents children (my father and his siblings) will go in together on a gift for their parents, some years the siblings exchange presents and some years they don't. My family has always been kindof "as long as we're all together who cares who gets what it's not about that, it's about family".
Which is why my fiance and I were able to make the decision to not do Christmas this year. His entire family, and the majority of my family all understand that we are saving for a wedding, and that we have had some financial struggles this year, that will continue into the new year, so we need to save all we can to afford our wedding.
Unfortunately this concept does not apply to my step mother. She heard our situation and decision, and decided to tell me what could fit into my schedule and budget and that it was "unacceptable" to not give something to everyone. She said "people bought you gifts, this is the right thing to do you have to do something" which I would typically agree with, if I hadn't made sure to tell everyone that we couldn't afford to do Christmas this year. The rest of my family accepted this graciously, with most of them saying "All we want is to make sure we see you over the holidays", and even my father accepted this when I told him, until step mother chewed his ear off about it and he called me to confront me about not bringing anything. And yes I do feel bad about showing up empty handed, but I also feel about about not going, because I feel it's rude to the family members who knew our situation and bought us gifts anyways. But at the same time, I feel that since my father and step mother clearly can't let it go that we can't afford it right now, they will try to bring it up publicly some way to embarrass us or try to call us out on it, which I am really not interested in dealing with at all, but especially not on Christmas. I don't want to bow out because there will be gift exchanges, I enjoy seeing my family open presents and share Christmas together, I want to bow out because I am afraid my step mother will turn it into a "LOOK they didn't bring presents, WHAT did you bring for everyone?? OH nothing?!?! tash brought nothing!!" situation.

------

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Re: How do I handle this? UPDATE PG 3
« Reply #51 on: December 23, 2014, 08:39:19 AM »
Wow - your stepmother sounds like a real piece of work.  Since you're sure she is going to gift shame you in front of others, I'm guessing that she's done similar things before? So the rest of the family would already have her number, then? I'm just suggesting that perhaps you're worrying yourself about her behavior that reflects badly on her, not on you, since the rest of the family seem to understand your current circumstances. 

In my family, I had a similar dynamic, only it was my brother who took joy in trying to shame me.  The more I reacted to it (angrily, or with frustration) and/or changed my plans to avoid his obnoxious behavior, the more criticism came my way.  Years later, I learned that if I ignore his outbursts/attempts at shaming me and react with soothing calmness (almost to the point of acting like I was talking to a crazy person, if that makes any sense) the more people began to see the situation for what it was - that he was the one who was completely irrational.

Might I suggest you try that? If you're truly not comfortable attending the event, I understand that; on the other hand, if you really want to see your family and trade the gifts you have, now might be a good time to start practicing not allowing an obnoxious, frustrated, angry, miserable (or whatever she is) person interfere with your plans.  Deny her the opportunity to see you rattled.  Go with your head held high and serenity in your heart.  If she tries to "call you out" for not bringing a food item, react as thought she's just nuts.  Smile indulgently and laugh with your fiance as though it is a private joke and what she did is very, very amusing.  Or, respond with "Stepmother, you and I already discussed this, and you were aware of my circumstances.  There's no point in bringing that up again," and then beandip and go have a good time with your siblings.  Let stepmother rant and rave all she likes - people will see her for the irrational banshee that she is.  ;)

Responding with serenity is the key to your happiness - because when you control YOUR reaction and don't allow yourself to be shamed/rattled or engage to the point where she escalates her shaming attempt into a frustrated/angry or defensive response from you, this is the opposite of what she is looking for.  She wants to irritate you into becoming defensive and then escalate into a scene so she can say "see, look how angry (or whatever insulting description she wants to use) OP is! She ruined our holiday with her attitude!" BUT if you ignore her attempt to draw you into a scene, and she rants by herself, she will look nuts.  Or, rather, she will reveal herself for what she truly is, and wind up embarrassing herself.  You will come off as sweet, calm, totally reasonable, and, frankly, a hero for your grace in dealing with such a lunatic.

That's if you think you can pull it off.  I know I couldn't 20 years ago, so if you think it will be too difficult right now, I understand.  Just putting that idea out there to consider, though.  May be good for future use later on. ;)
« Last Edit: December 23, 2014, 08:46:21 AM by mrkitty »

EllenS

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Re: How do I handle this? UPDATE PG 3
« Reply #52 on: December 23, 2014, 09:22:18 AM »
...snip...
That's if you think you can pull it off.  I know I couldn't 20 years ago, so if you think it will be too difficult right now, I understand.  Just putting that idea out there to consider, though.  May be good for future use later on. ;)

Good point, though from experience I would say that this sort of attitude is much easier to pull off in my own home, or in a "neutral corner" such as Grandma's house.

When the "shamer" is also the host/hostess, it's more difficult and awkward. Manners-wise, I think OP is fine to go or not go, but it will not be a relaxing morning for anyone if SM acts the way OP expects.

OP, do you think your other relatives are likely to stick up for you if SM starts in, ("Oh, it's all right, we knew all about it, we're just looking forward to the wedding..." etc.)  or are they more likely to leave you to twist in the wind?

Zizi-K

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Re: How do I handle this? UPDATE PG 3
« Reply #53 on: December 23, 2014, 09:32:15 AM »
As a family member, I'd be mad. OK, good, fine, you can't afford to give gifts; I get that. I'm behind it.
   And I'll even skip giving you something if that's necessary for you to feel comfortable; I'm down with the idea that uneven generosity can be rude, actually.

But...because I'm going to be exchanging gifts to the other 6 or 7 people who are there, you are completely bowing out?
  You are defining the family Christmas gathering as "a gift exchange, and a gift exchange only"; as "a gift exchange, and that's the most important thing about it"?

That would piss me off, to be frank. I'd lose a lot of respect for you. Especially if you think you should somehow get to dictate the gifting situation between me and -other- people?

if you don't want to go, don't go. But don't tell anybody it's because your grandparents and cousins are giving gifts to one another.

OP here, in my family typically, there is gift exchange but we buy for the people we want to, and because we want to. We don't exchange gifts out of obligation, and no one keeps a tally on who gave what to who, some years my grandparents children (my father and his siblings) will go in together on a gift for their parents, some years the siblings exchange presents and some years they don't. My family has always been kindof "as long as we're all together who cares who gets what it's not about that, it's about family".
Which is why my fiance and I were able to make the decision to not do Christmas this year. His entire family, and the majority of my family all understand that we are saving for a wedding, and that we have had some financial struggles this year, that will continue into the new year, so we need to save all we can to afford our wedding.
Unfortunately this concept does not apply to my step mother. She heard our situation and decision, and decided to tell me what could fit into my schedule and budget and that it was "unacceptable" to not give something to everyone. She said "people bought you gifts, this is the right thing to do you have to do something" which I would typically agree with, if I hadn't made sure to tell everyone that we couldn't afford to do Christmas this year. The rest of my family accepted this graciously, with most of them saying "All we want is to make sure we see you over the holidays", and even my father accepted this when I told him, until step mother chewed his ear off about it and he called me to confront me about not bringing anything. And yes I do feel bad about showing up empty handed, but I also feel about about not going, because I feel it's rude to the family members who knew our situation and bought us gifts anyways. But at the same time, I feel that since my father and step mother clearly can't let it go that we can't afford it right now, they will try to bring it up publicly some way to embarrass us or try to call us out on it, which I am really not interested in dealing with at all, but especially not on Christmas. I don't want to bow out because there will be gift exchanges, I enjoy seeing my family open presents and share Christmas together, I want to bow out because I am afraid my step mother will turn it into a "LOOK they didn't bring presents, WHAT did you bring for everyone?? OH nothing?!?! tash brought nothing!!" situation.

It sounds like you've got a good handle on the situation and the way that your father and SM are likely to act if you go. I might suggest inviting some of your other family over for coffee (maybe immediately following the family party, or some other time) just so you can see them and actually enjoy some family interaction during Xmas. But if that seems like too much, you are in the clear to skip it. It's not like bowing out of one holiday will cause everyone to forget you. I will echo something MrKitty mentioned -that I too wouldn't have been able to handle it with such grace when I was 20, so I think you can be really proud of yourself and go forward with your head held high this season. : )

tash112194

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Re: How do I handle this? UPDATE PG 3
« Reply #54 on: December 23, 2014, 10:28:49 AM »
...snip...
That's if you think you can pull it off.  I know I couldn't 20 years ago, so if you think it will be too difficult right now, I understand.  Just putting that idea out there to consider, though.  May be good for future use later on. ;)

Good point, though from experience I would say that this sort of attitude is much easier to pull off in my own home, or in a "neutral corner" such as Grandma's house.

When the "shamer" is also the host/hostess, it's more difficult and awkward. Manners-wise, I think OP is fine to go or not go, but it will not be a relaxing morning for anyone if SM acts the way OP expects.

OP, do you think your other relatives are likely to stick up for you if SM starts in, ("Oh, it's all right, we knew all about it, we're just looking forward to the wedding..." etc.)  or are they more likely to leave you to twist in the wind?

My family is very passive aggressively non-confrontational. They might say something quietly to me after an outburst (if there is one) or they might wait until I acknowledge it outside of this situation, like "She really hurt my feelings on Christmas", but they definitely wouldn't tell step monster to can it or anything, and I haven't explained step monsters/my dad's conversations with me to everyone in the family because just because she was rude doesn't mean that I need to gossip about it, (unless it's anonymously online of course lol). My family would most likely be confused and go "Baking? Oh you were going to bake? (That's what she meant by not being able to afford presents, she was going to bake instead of buy!) Well where are the baked goods?" - making it even more uncomfortable for me.
And I'm not sure if there will be a confrontation/outburst, I just feel like they probably wouldn't have tried to force me to do this multiple times if they weren't planning to use it against me somehow. You know, just waiting for the other shoe to drop kinda.
I know that if I don't go it will just give her opportunities to talk behind my back, she's tried before to get my family on her side and to get them to agree that I'm a Female Dog (on my birthday) so she does it with my side of the family, and her side of the family. Also I feel like I have to point out that she's been my step mother for 5 years, two of which I haven't lived at home, so there is a very large separation of her side/my side because I didn't grow up with her family. She usually does "her" christmas, and then my dad gets to have his family over separately, so I would only be going to the one with my family, if I decide to go although I'm leaning towards no lol.

Kiwipinball

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Re: How do I handle this? UPDATE PG 3
« Reply #55 on: December 23, 2014, 10:38:11 AM »
...snip...
That's if you think you can pull it off.  I know I couldn't 20 years ago, so if you think it will be too difficult right now, I understand.  Just putting that idea out there to consider, though.  May be good for future use later on. ;)

Good point, though from experience I would say that this sort of attitude is much easier to pull off in my own home, or in a "neutral corner" such as Grandma's house.

When the "shamer" is also the host/hostess, it's more difficult and awkward. Manners-wise, I think OP is fine to go or not go, but it will not be a relaxing morning for anyone if SM acts the way OP expects.

OP, do you think your other relatives are likely to stick up for you if SM starts in, ("Oh, it's all right, we knew all about it, we're just looking forward to the wedding..." etc.)  or are they more likely to leave you to twist in the wind?

My family is very passive aggressively non-confrontational. They might say something quietly to me after an outburst (if there is one) or they might wait until I acknowledge it outside of this situation, like "She really hurt my feelings on Christmas", but they definitely wouldn't tell step monster to can it or anything, and I haven't explained step monsters/my dad's conversations with me to everyone in the family because just because she was rude doesn't mean that I need to gossip about it, (unless it's anonymously online of course lol). My family would most likely be confused and go "Baking? Oh you were going to bake? (That's what she meant by not being able to afford presents, she was going to bake instead of buy!) Well where are the baked goods?" - making it even more uncomfortable for me.
And I'm not sure if there will be a confrontation/outburst, I just feel like they probably wouldn't have tried to force me to do this multiple times if they weren't planning to use it against me somehow. You know, just waiting for the other shoe to drop kinda.
I know that if I don't go it will just give her opportunities to talk behind my back, she's tried before to get my family on her side and to get them to agree that I'm a Female Dog (on my birthday) so she does it with my side of the family, and her side of the family. Also I feel like I have to point out that she's been my step mother for 5 years, two of which I haven't lived at home, so there is a very large separation of her side/my side because I didn't grow up with her family. She usually does "her" christmas, and then my dad gets to have his family over separately, so I would only be going to the one with my family, if I decide to go although I'm leaning towards no lol.

That might be the perfect time to reply with a confused "What are you talking about? I told you I wasn't able to do that so I'm not sure why you think I was going to bring baked goods." Put it back on her. Or avoid the drama all together if it's too much. Arrange smaller get-togethers with the family members you want to see. If you start that tradition now (seeing them w/o your parents) it will be easier to maintain the relationship if you eventually cut your parents off.

------

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Re: How do I handle this? UPDATE PG 3
« Reply #56 on: December 23, 2014, 10:44:28 AM »
...snip...
That's if you think you can pull it off.  I know I couldn't 20 years ago, so if you think it will be too difficult right now, I understand.  Just putting that idea out there to consider, though.  May be good for future use later on. ;)

Good point, though from experience I would say that this sort of attitude is much easier to pull off in my own home, or in a "neutral corner" such as Grandma's house.

When the "shamer" is also the host/hostess, it's more difficult and awkward. Manners-wise, I think OP is fine to go or not go, but it will not be a relaxing morning for anyone if SM acts the way OP expects.

OP, do you think your other relatives are likely to stick up for you if SM starts in, ("Oh, it's all right, we knew all about it, we're just looking forward to the wedding..." etc.)  or are they more likely to leave you to twist in the wind?

My family is very passive aggressively non-confrontational. They might say something quietly to me after an outburst (if there is one) or they might wait until I acknowledge it outside of this situation, like "She really hurt my feelings on Christmas", but they definitely wouldn't tell step monster to can it or anything, and I haven't explained step monsters/my dad's conversations with me to everyone in the family because just because she was rude doesn't mean that I need to gossip about it, (unless it's anonymously online of course lol). My family would most likely be confused and go "Baking? Oh you were going to bake? (That's what she meant by not being able to afford presents, she was going to bake instead of buy!) Well where are the baked goods?" - making it even more uncomfortable for me.
And I'm not sure if there will be a confrontation/outburst, I just feel like they probably wouldn't have tried to force me to do this multiple times if they weren't planning to use it against me somehow. You know, just waiting for the other shoe to drop kinda.
I know that if I don't go it will just give her opportunities to talk behind my back, she's tried before to get my family on her side and to get them to agree that I'm a Female Dog (on my birthday) so she does it with my side of the family, and her side of the family. Also I feel like I have to point out that she's been my step mother for 5 years, two of which I haven't lived at home, so there is a very large separation of her side/my side because I didn't grow up with her family. She usually does "her" christmas, and then my dad gets to have his family over separately, so I would only be going to the one with my family, if I decide to go although I'm leaning towards no lol.

That might be the perfect time to reply with a confused "What are you talking about? I told you I wasn't able to do that so I'm not sure why you think I was going to bring baked goods." Put it back on her. Or avoid the drama all together if it's too much. Arrange smaller get-togethers with the family members you want to see. If you start that tradition now (seeing them w/o your parents) it will be easier to maintain the relationship if you eventually cut your parents off.


Exactly.  This is the exact point I was trying to make.  This is how to handle it.  Be a little confused, a little bemused.  If you go at all, that is.  Personally, given the dynamics you discussed, I'm not sure I'd want to deal with all of that.  Life is too short for all that drama, stress and tension.  You're also planning your wedding, are you not? Why add more stress? Just don't engage.  Don't feed the crazy.  Just meet up or host your nice family members another time. 

If you were to go, and stepmother were to try to goad you into an argument, and you refuse to be drawn into it, SHE will look like the bad person, NOT you.  That is what I was trying to get at.  But, honestly, at this point, it sounds like you'd be a lot happier and stress free if you just avoid going in the first place. IMHO.

kckgirl

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Re: How do I handle this? UPDATE PG 3
« Reply #57 on: December 23, 2014, 10:51:39 AM »
I think you should do whatever will make you and your DF have the happiest Christmas that you can. Also, I wouldn't explain anything else about saving for the wedding, since it sounds like you can't really afford that either, or about any other expenses in the new year. Just say you've decided that this year only the younger children will get gifts from you because that's what fits your budget.
Maryland

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Re: How do I handle this? UPDATE PG 3
« Reply #58 on: December 25, 2014, 10:22:29 PM »
I hope you survived Christmas. My first wife was in the same boat as you, with her Dad remarrying and her becoming Cinderella for her Step-monster.

What I would beg you to do now is, go immediately to the County Welfare agency and see what benefits you might be eligible for. From your description, if in America, you certainly would be eligible for Medicaid for your health insurance/or a subsided rate under Obamacare, Food Stamps, Housing assistance or even Section 8 for your housing, possible a free Bus pass, possibly subsidized educational expenses.  Depending on where you live, it may be listed as Welfare, Social Services, the Dole. You can call the local county hospital, ask for the Social Services department and they can give you the numbers.

With these services in hand, you will have the upper hand and can decide if it is worthwhile to even pursue a relationship with your family. It will be on your terms, not theirs/hers.

tash112194

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Re: How do I handle this? UPDATE PG 3
« Reply #59 on: December 26, 2014, 07:25:25 AM »
So, I did end up caving and going to my parents house on Christmas. We planned to just run the clock out and say it was late/we were tired/just going home, but around # I started feeling bad about not seeing my family. It just felt very wrong to me, to not see my family on Christmas.
We went there and only my parents were home, so no drama because there was no audience. Shortly after my brothers and grandparents all came home, but spaced out enough that it didn't end up being all of us in a single room together and we got to go around and see everyone individually and spend time with them.
I did get some lovely gifts from my grandparents and parents and no one tried to make us feel bad about anything.
My dad even ended up hugging me and thanking me for coming, (I think he knew he almost drove me away).
And in the end I'm glad I went, and happy that I saw my family. And I discussed it with my fiance, and told him that while I can and will cut my family off if it becomes necessary, or if they become detrimental to my emotional well being, I don't want to have to. So I'll continue to do my part in trying to maintain a relationship with my family around my step monster, and I won't let her or them ruin my life, but everyone has some family drama and I ended up being so anxious over their reaction to my skipping Christmas that I was just as stressed as if I had gone, with none of the Christmas fun. And it turned out it was all for nothing lol. I'm sure this isn't the end of the drama or the guilt trips but I need to at least stay good with them until my wedding and then we'll see how it goes.  Thank you everyone for all the advice, I'm sure this won't be the last you'll hear of my step monster troubles.  ;)