Author Topic: S/O Family Gifts....Taking over the holiday  (Read 5732 times)

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mj

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Re: S/O Family Gifts....Taking over the holiday
« Reply #15 on: September 04, 2010, 05:13:25 PM »
Are any of the other siblings or siblings-in-law also frustrated with the 8 hour giftapalooza? Thinking of being able to present a united front on changes that are going to be happening.

Yes, there are. But past actions have shown that we actually can't rely on them to join a united front with this unfortunately.  

What do you think they could do? Perhaps write a joint letter, or participate in a joint family discussion? Back you up on one small portion? Participate in a planning discussion "and then if Grandma says *this*, we can say *that* - Abby, you say it that time, and Betty, you say it the next time"? Or cave, and then throw you to the wolves?

I don't really understand what you mean?

In the past, we have not been able to establish a united front with those who do agree with us -- for many reasons. 

Daffydilly

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Re: S/O Family Gifts....Taking over the holiday
« Reply #16 on: September 04, 2010, 05:15:22 PM »
I'd say "hold the horses" and go on a nice small family trip for those days. Take yourself totally out of the picture for the events this year. Spend Christmas next to the seashore or at a mountain resort. Make new traditions and keep things simple. Start each day with a time of thanksgiving for the small things and eat simply. Do something your family has never done before and make the time "I love you and appreciate you time".

The whole problem with family demanding things is you're going to worry about what they think and their reactions. So focus on YOUR family, husband and kids, no one else. If the major leaders in each side of the family complain, simply say "We're taking this time to make new memories. You know how important it is and we feel the past few Christmas's have been a blur."

Have a family discussion with hubby and the kids about what is important to all of you. And each person has one thing that they want to do for Christmas. Point out how important it is to have fun memories and it's not as much fun if you're rushing places to follow someone else's plans. Plan on have two special bought gifts from Santa each and then everyone gets to make things for the other family members. Hobby stores are great ideas to get ideas and materials.

Christmas day, have a nice meal somewhere special and try something new.


kudeebee

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Re: S/O Family Gifts....Taking over the holiday
« Reply #17 on: September 04, 2010, 08:12:25 PM »
How many people--without kids--and how many gifts are you talking about?  I can't imagine the number of gifts there must be to take that long.  Or do they have to be passed around, if someone goes to the restroom do you wait, do you break for meals???

Without kids there are 14 people.

Off the top of my head, I'd say there was 30 gifts to me.  I remember 27 right now.  DH says it was more like 40 per person when it was all said and done.  Sometimes there are 2 or more sweaters wrapped together and that sort of thing so the actual presents being opened could be around 30 and that's where DH is getting the 40 from.

Yes, there are breaks.  Normally we eat first, spend a few hours opening, eat again, spend a few more hours opening.  And often we have to come back the next day to start all over.  It dominates the holiday.

Holy smokes!  That is a ton of gifts per person.  I can understand why the kids just open, glance, and move on to the next if they get as many as you did!  I am surprised you get done in 8 hours!

Seems that the siblings and spouses should be drawing names. That way each person would get one gift--could be several items all together in one bag/box or one big one.  Everyone can get for the parents and the parents can get for everyone.  That would cut it down dramatically timewise plus giftwise.

How did it grow to get so big???

MsMarjorie

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Re: S/O Family Gifts....Taking over the holiday
« Reply #18 on: September 04, 2010, 08:31:43 PM »

I don't think that stopping the gift avalanche is an option from what you say, but you could try to limit how long you stay at it.

Would it be possible to say that you are spending christmas at home with the children this year but will be able to drop in on extended family for a couple of hours in the afternoon? 

mj

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Re: S/O Family Gifts....Taking over the holiday
« Reply #19 on: September 04, 2010, 09:09:41 PM »
How many people--without kids--and how many gifts are you talking about?  I can't imagine the number of gifts there must be to take that long.  Or do they have to be passed around, if someone goes to the restroom do you wait, do you break for meals???

Without kids there are 14 people.

Off the top of my head, I'd say there was 30 gifts to me.  I remember 27 right now.  DH says it was more like 40 per person when it was all said and done.  Sometimes there are 2 or more sweaters wrapped together and that sort of thing so the actual presents being opened could be around 30 and that's where DH is getting the 40 from.

Yes, there are breaks.  Normally we eat first, spend a few hours opening, eat again, spend a few more hours opening.  And often we have to come back the next day to start all over.  It dominates the holiday.

Holy smokes!  That is a ton of gifts per person.  I can understand why the kids just open, glance, and move on to the next if they get as many as you did!  I am surprised you get done in 8 hours!

Seems that the siblings and spouses should be drawing names. That way each person would get one gift--could be several items all together in one bag/box or one big one.  Everyone can get for the parents and the parents can get for everyone.  That would cut it down dramatically timewise plus giftwise.

How did it grow to get so big???

I actually don't know how many hours it took total, I know last year on Xmas day it was 8 hours and that did not include the eating breaks.  We did have to come back to open the rest the next day and I can't remember how long it took then, maybe 3 hours.  And it took 2 SUV full trips back and forth to get everything home.

We've tried suggesting drawing names, some absolutely won't go for it.  So even if we do get some people to go for it, it's not likely to limit the opening gift time so much which is our biggest concern. 

I don't know how this got started, it seems like it gets bigger and bigger every year though. 

Ok, so if we only stay for a couple of hours that means we'd have to come back at some point to open the rest.  I'm tired of this gift extravaganza dominating the holidays, we don't want to keep coming back over to open gifts.  It's not fun for DH or I and in fact, is a huge source of stress. Neither DH and I deal particularly well during the holidays and we are overwhelmed and to be honest, we don't like spending more than a couple of hours at his parents house at a time and spread out over some time period.  This seems like a way to keep making us come back again and again. 

Would it really be rude in this type of circumstance to limit gifts to us?  It outright dominates our time.

ShadesOfGrey

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Re: S/O Family Gifts....Taking over the holiday
« Reply #20 on: September 04, 2010, 09:15:35 PM »
Why would you have to go back to open the rest of the presents? You have several options:

Open yours all at once "Hey guys, we'll be opening up all of ours at once here, just to let you know."  (I wouldnt unwrap and go (ie "eat and run"), I'd stay a little longer, and then make polite noises and leave.

Open them at home and write TY notes/calls for them. 

Dont go to the gift exchange at all - pick up the presents another time.  The benefit to this is that your kids dont see others opening gifts, so even if this results in less gifts, it's ok!
Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning. - Maya Angelou

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. - Maya Angelou

mj

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Re: S/O Family Gifts....Taking over the holiday
« Reply #21 on: September 04, 2010, 09:22:22 PM »
I wish DigitalPumpkins.  The whole point is for MIL to watch everyone open their gifts, she loves that and often says that is her favorite part of the holiday. 

I read that to DH and he said she'd never let us take the gifts.

camlan

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Re: S/O Family Gifts....Taking over the holiday
« Reply #22 on: September 04, 2010, 09:44:38 PM »
I wish DigitalPumpkins.  The whole point is for MIL to watch everyone open their gifts, she loves that and often says that is her favorite part of the holiday. 

I read that to DH and he said she'd never let us take the gifts.

Then don't take them. Leave them. How would MIL react to that?

I really think, with the new information, that you've got two choices. Continue with things as they are. Or make a complete break and don't spend any part of Christmas with them at all.

Continuing with things as they are will make MIL happy. It will make you and your DH more stressed.

Breaking completely with tradition will make you and DH happy. It might upset MIL.

Which do you want?

I suspect that your DH will be reluctant to break with such a long standing tradition right away. Maybe you can work towards doing this in a year or two.

And if you do have to spend Christmas with his family again this year, make some unbreakable engagement for Dec. 26, so that you don't have to go back for a second day of gift opening. If your family lives nearby, you have to go and visit them. Or have them come to visit you. Or plan a special outing for your DD.

You're going to have to brace yourselves for MIL's displeasure. But she is keeping 14 adults under her thumb--what would happen if someone had to work on the 26th and couldn't come to the second day of opening? Seriously, someone needs to stand up to her. Because even with the large amount of gifts, it shouldn't take that long to open them all. Sounds like the opening of each gift is being dragged out and I suspect large amounts of thanks must be given--that isn't the spirit of Christmas; it's taking hostages.
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Lisbeth

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Re: S/O Family Gifts....Taking over the holiday
« Reply #23 on: September 04, 2010, 09:52:32 PM »
I'd tell your DH, "DH, I'm not willing to spend 8 hours sitting there watching people open gifts.  It takes too long, it doesn't leave time to do anything else, and people are getting into a "gimme" mode that is making me not enjoy the holiday.  I realize that your mother will be upset, but she's had it her way for many years now.  I'm sorry, but I am not willing to accompany you to this in the future.  Let's start finding other ways to celebrate the holiday that don't involve this."
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gramma dishes

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Re: S/O Family Gifts....Taking over the holiday
« Reply #24 on: September 04, 2010, 10:00:55 PM »
Would it be possible to say "We're just staying here Christmas morning and having our own little family celebration.  But we're really looking forward to stopping by for a couple of hours in the afternoon at your house.  Then we're coming back home and having a very special Christmas dinner, just us -- or even just the two of us, after DD goes to bed."

Open what you can in two hours.  Offer to take the 'left over' gifts with you (and be prepared to write Thank You notes until February), but if she protests, then just smile, shrug, wave good-bye and leave them there.  Don't be in any hurry to get back there to open the remaining gifts.  In a few months maybe you'll have time to go back to visit and have time to open a few more then. 

Maybe.  If you're not harassed to death.

ShadesOfGrey

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Re: S/O Family Gifts....Taking over the holiday
« Reply #25 on: September 04, 2010, 10:08:14 PM »
I wish DigitalPumpkins.  The whole point is for MIL to watch everyone open their gifts, she loves that and often says that is her favorite part of the holiday. 

I read that to DH and he said she'd never let us take the gifts.

Of course she's not going to "let" you.  That's why you just have to do it.  Maybe taking the gifts isnt the ideal solution, but I posted a couple others (not going, opening them all at once). 

You do have solutions here, the thing is, you have to decide what's best for *you,* since you cant really dictate what others do. 

It sounds like just opting out altogether is your best option. 

It stinks to be the odd ones out, but at some point it's tipped in the balance of that being the better option.  It sounds like you're at that point.  :) 
Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning. - Maya Angelou

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. - Maya Angelou

gramma dishes

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Re: S/O Family Gifts....Taking over the holiday
« Reply #26 on: September 04, 2010, 10:17:09 PM »
Would DH be brave enough to skip this fiasco all together?  And believe me, it WOULD take a heap of bravery to do that!!!!

kudeebee

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Re: S/O Family Gifts....Taking over the holiday
« Reply #27 on: September 04, 2010, 11:11:21 PM »
Does mil give each person all of their gifts at once, or hand them out one by one? Not that it really matters other than if it is one by one, it will be harder for you to take your gifts and leave.  If it is all at once, you can stay the amount of time you and dh agree on, then whip out garbage bags and pack up your other gifts and have dh start carting them to the car while you collect kids and their gifts.

Two suv loads? My, oh my.  I am curious as to what gifts you give each other that would be so big or do the big ones come from mil?  Either way, WOW! On a side not, where are all these gifts kept at mil's house--it would have to be in another room!

I agree with DPumpkin that you have options:
1.  Open yours all at once "Hey guys, we'll be opening up all of ours at once here, just to let you know."  This could be hard if mil parcels out the gifts one by one or throws a fit if you do so..
2.  Open them at home and write TY notes/calls for them. You would have to get them from mil and who knows how hard that would be.  Also would she let you take them  and why would you want to sit through everyone else opening theirs?.
3.  Don't go to the gift exchange at all - pick up the presents another time. You could open up just the ones from her while you are there.

or
4.  Go for a set number of hours so that you hit some gift opening and a break for chatting, then leave before the next round starts.  You will get to open some gifts but not all and will probably have to get the unopened ones later.
If you think that she will not take a break for a long time to keep you there, set your time limit and when it comes up, say your goodbyes and go.  Ignore their protests with smiles.

Also, I would start shopping now--use coupons and sales and find ONE nice item per person for their gift--or a collection of items that have a theme and fit in one box or bag.  They don't need to know how much you paid.  At least you can do that as your part to cut down on the enormous volume of gifts.

Nora

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Re: S/O Family Gifts....Taking over the holiday
« Reply #28 on: September 05, 2010, 07:23:18 AM »
My family does this, a smaller version, but still very like this. DH and I hate it. We do christmas at home now, and spend a day or two at my moms  house in the following week. The gimmie gimmie dance the kids do makes me nauseous.
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cicero

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Re: S/O Family Gifts....Taking over the holiday
« Reply #29 on: September 06, 2010, 04:29:51 AM »

We have already made one smallish change in that we spend Xmas morning at our house with the kids in our home, that caused a massive meltdown.  This is why we go with changing our hot button issues rather than everything we have a problem with.  And right now it's TIME and the day of celebrations.  Even though we have it clear now that we will spend Xmas morning in our own home, they will expect the rest of Xmas day devoted to the 8 hour gift exchange. 


well then you have decide what *your* values and priorities are and deal. you can continue to go along with the massive gift piles/8 hours plus of opening gifts/holiday focused on gimmegimmiegimmie and say nothing. or decide that you want to do things differently and ... well, just do things differently. in the end, it's up to you.

I *would* start early on in *telling* people that things are going to be different this year.

decide with your DH what you can live with and what you can't.

find some "other" thing to do on the day that will be more meaningful for *your* family - spend the day at home in your 'jammies watching movies/working at a homeless shelter/inviting the newly divorced neighbor and kids for lunch/going for a nature hike... and just do it.

no it's not going to be easy but it is doable.

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