Christmas family party/gift vent


#1

I am ready to cry :crying: - or tell someone just what I think.

My husbands family has a ton of parties each year at this time, between 4 - 8 this year so far there are 5 already scheduled - 5! and its only October 19th. I feel every year that we don't give my family any time because of all of them, and that we have no time for us and our kids. :( . More importantly I feel like God, and Mass is always the thing that just gets fit in. :mad:

Added this year is the fact that we have NO money, and my husbands family always wants to exchange gifts, I can't buy my own kids gifts but I am expected to buy a gift for other adults, I have expressed that we just can't afford it and I was told we could give homemade gifts like cookies or something. I'd rather we just not be a part of the exchange, and I am extremely frustrated that my in-laws wont help us by agreeing that it should be a choice to be in the exchange or not.

Sorry needed to vent MIL just emailed me about another party and gift exchange and to not forget our passing dish.


#2

Time to have a sit down with hubby and voice your concerns. If it was us, we'd definitely be taking a step back, not attending ALL the parties and either saying we can do one big Secret Santa exchange or we are just not able to participate as we have in other years. I think it would be one thing to have the parties and the potluck dishes and just enjoy the time together, but your inlaws sound like they are involved in some kind of competition where one has to out do the other relatives or something in giving parties. They sound like they've taken all the "joy" out of the season and its all about social obligations. I'd be simplifying the season for my own immediate family, taking a step back, participating here and there, but I'd need to refocus on what is truly being celebrated during Christmas and what is not.


#3

[quote="catholic79, post:1, topic:216682"]
I am ready to cry :crying: - or tell someone just what I think.

My husbands family has a ton of parties each year at this time, between 4 - 8 this year so far there are 5 already scheduled - 5! and its only October 19th. I feel every year that we don't give my family any time because of all of them, and that we have no time for us and our kids. :( . More importantly I feel like God, and Mass is always the thing that just gets fit in. :mad:

Added this year is the fact that we have NO money, and my husbands family always wants to exchange gifts, I can't buy my own kids gifts but I am expected to buy a gift for other adults, I have expressed that we just can't afford it and I was told we could give homemade gifts like cookies or something. I'd rather we just not be a part of the exchange, and I am extremely frustrated that my in-laws wont help us by agreeing that it should be a choice to be in the exchange or not.

Sorry needed to vent MIL just emailed me about another party and gift exchange and to not forget our passing dish.

[/quote]

What does your husband say?

Peace

Tim


#4

Patrice is right, this is an issue for you and your husband to resolve between you--how many parties, how many gifts, what is the cut-off, how much are you willing to spend, to travel etc.

It is part of budgeting which includes time as well as finances

you get your immediate family priorities in order first with both, then work from there

my daughters, because expectations of their in-laws are so high were forced to settle on once a month, and limit gift exchanges to one birthday and one christmas gift for each child from each family unit per year. They have one seasonal birthday party that covers everyone who is town. both families are huge and the communions, weddings and other events are endless so they had to pull the plug to survive. so each of their nephews gets only two gifts a year from each daughter's family. much more manageable for everyone, because most family members wanted a halt to random gifts being showered on kids on all occasions.


#5

Tim,

He agrees that there are to many parties and he is frustrated that they get upset that we are late to parties or leave early so that we can attend Mass.

He doesn't want to / knows we can't exchange gifts either, and I don't think he has seen the e-mail from today yet.

I tell my family that we can't do things all the time but telling his no, will mean a lot of frustration for him. If we don't go to something he will hear about it. They are very competitive and compare what we do with my family to what we do with them. I feel like if I just go to the party - I've given my husband a great gift. I really can't do it this year. To be fair my husband has no idea that I am so overwhelmed this year, I didn't know it till about an hour ago :) It has started very early this year, I mean we are only in October~!


#6

[quote="PatriceA, post:2, topic:216682"]
Time to have a sit down with hubby and voice your concerns.

[/quote]

I know, and I will - I just needed an immediate vent! :D


#7

If I were you, I would just go to one or two of the parties and take the advice to just give homemade gifts like cookies. There's no sense in letting your in-laws competition to have the best Christmas party ruin the season for you. 4-8 parties a year is pretty extreme, particularly if you have to travel to attend.


#8

[quote="Charlotte1776, post:7, topic:216682"]
particularly if you have to travel to attend.

[/quote]

And we will each party will mean 2 hours in the car, and 120 miles worth of gas.


#9

[quote="catholic79, post:6, topic:216682"]
I know, and I will - I just needed an immediate vent! :D

[/quote]

Vent away! I'm sure someone here has dealt with a similar experience. We were going down the same path you are on, maybe not quite to the same extent with THAT many parties but our bank account couldn't take it and I saw the effect it was starting to have on our daughter, that she only saw the amount of presents being exchanged and not WHY we were celebrating Christmas. We scaled back on family obligations and presents, even amongst our immediate family. I enjoy advent so much more now, and spending time with family and friends when it doesn't feel like a competition or obligation. We had to get off that merry go round.


#10

[quote="catholic79, post:5, topic:216682"]
To be fair my husband has no idea that I am so overwhelmed this year, I didn't know it till about an hour ago :) It has started very early this year, I mean we are only in October~!

[/quote]

He needs to know how overwhelmed you are and he needs to know now rather than later. He will have to choose between having a happy home life and pleasing his family. It should be an easy decision, but it won't be. That is the tough part of being an adult!

Peace

Tim


#11

Holy smokes. :frowning:

I’m with you - I’d only go to one of those in a season - not five, or eight.


#12

[quote="catholic79, post:8, topic:216682"]
And we will each party will mean 2 hours in the car, and 120 miles worth of gas.

[/quote]

Wow, that's just astounding - that you've even attempted to please his family by driving that far! I wouldn't drive that far for ANY party...well, maybe if the Pope himself was going to be there! LOL

Seriously, though - it's time for your family to start backing out of his family stuff. If all you've been doing is accommodating your in-laws, time to practice that wonderful, complete sentence, "Sorry, we just can't make it!" ;)

Christmas should be a time of joy and peace, for your family. If you have to get off the merry-go-round of social events with his family, DO IT! I hope your husband agrees. these issues are very difficult for some husbands, to "leave and cleave," as it's sometimes termed. They kind of keep one foot in each circle until really pressed to draw a line.

My in-laws live an ocean away, Thank Goodness! I mean, I love them dearly but I value our time as a family, especially at Christmas.


#13

Wow, 2 hours? I wouldn't go to anything! We drive a little less than that to visit my in-laws, and we go once for Christmas - we arrive on the 26th, and stay for a couple of nights. Whatever the family does while we're there, we participate in, as long as it is family friendly. My families don't really throw parties, and if they do, it's just the actual one family celebration. But if there were many, I'd probably just pick the one that I thought was most appropriate (the one that the largest number of important-to-see family members would be at) and attend that.

About the gifts: my siblings and I made a decision a few years ago that we didn't need to give each other gifts. Instead, we decided to all chip in on a charitable donation to a charity we can all agree on - in our case, Heifer International. We all pay whatever we feel moved to pay, and one person manages the donation.

My dh's siblings tried to start an exchange last year. Dh and I decided that we didn't like the system for a variety of reasons, and that we weren't willing to do that. So we just said no. We make it clear that we don't expect gifts for ourselves or for our children, and that our children understand that. And then we do what we feel is the right thing to do. For us, that is giving a gift of food to each of dh's siblings (6 of them), and giving actual gifts to dh's and my parents. Whether or not people don't like what we do is beside the point. Spending huge amounts of time (let alone money) choosing just the right gift for tons of people would eclipse the entire holiday season, and I refuse to miss Advent because of someone else's confusion about the meaning of Christmas and gifts.

It's true that if you buck the tradition, your dh will "hear about it" from his family. But I would say, bring it on. If you make your own traditions, they will eventually get used to it. They may never like it, but eventually, their expectations of you will change, and even if you have the reputation of scrooge, your life will be more peaceful. OTOH, if you maintain a pattern of giving in to their whims because of not wanting to make waves or not wanting to deal with the complaining, this will only get worse. The in-laws need to learn that your priority is your immediate family, and that they do not get to make the decisions for you. It might be a painful transition to get them to understand that, but it will be worth it.


#14

I think that is too many things as well, and it is not right that you are giving short shrift to your side of the family.

Family cultural differences can be one of the most awkward things I find. My MIL is a huge gift giver, and while she doesn't expect us to be, I actually find it burdensome.

I think your husband needs to explain to them that although you really want to see them all, you can't do the gifts, and you need to scale back to one trip. They will probably be upset, which is too bad.

Also, I wonder, is every member of his family of one mind on this? There might be others that dislike it as well. If so, it might be worthwhile to have a chat with them.


#15

Thanks everyone :wave:

We were able to talk last night and decided on 2 parties that we would definitely not be attending, that still leaves 3 not exactly what I was hoping for but its a good start. We also decided that any additional wouldn’t be attended. And we set aside some time for my family and decided that any Sunday parties regardless of what time they start will start for us when we get there. :smiley:

As for gifts, we decided to go with the cookie idea for one of the parties, although they have said we could just bring a homemade gift like cookies, I don’t think they really expect us too :rolleyes: I am going to e-mail a few of DH cousins and tell them that we really are just making cookies and see how they feel about not exchanging gifts at the other party. I think this is a show off competition for my in laws and their siblings, I don’t think anyone in 18-45 age group care if we give gifts or not.

Thanks for making me feel like I WASN"T crazy for thinking this was a lot!


#16

I wouldn’t drive that far for ANY party…well, maybe if the Pope himself was going to be there! LOL

Wow, 2 hours? I wouldn’t go to anything!

Really, you wouldn’t drive 2 hours to see family on important days?

I agree that the OP shouldn’t be expected to go to 5 to 8 parties, that’s insane, but 1 or 2 is reasonable, esp. if it’s her in-laws. I am sure the grandparents aunts and uncles want to see the family.

I live 4 1/2 hours away from my parents and entire extended families, and I am proud to say we make the trip a lot, for birthdays, baptisms, holidays, weddings, bridal showers, baby showers… In a pinch, I have been known to do a round trip in one day – for my cousin’s baby shower, I drove up, leaving at 7 am, went to the 1 pm shower, drove back at 5, landing home around 10! Why? Because I love her and I was NOT missing an important family event.

But a whole bunch of Christmas parties? I don’t know about that. It would depend who is hosting each one.


#17

[quote="StJudePray4Me, post:16, topic:216682"]
Really, you wouldn't drive 2 hours to see family on important days?

I agree that the OP shouldn't be expected to go to 5 to 8 parties, that's insane, but 1 or 2 is reasonable, esp. if it's her in-laws. I am sure the grandparents aunts and uncles want to see the family.

I live 4 1/2 hours away from my parents and entire extended families, and I am proud to say we make the trip a lot, for birthdays, baptisms, holidays, weddings, bridal showers, baby showers.... In a pinch, I have been known to do a round trip in one day -- for my cousin's baby shower, I drove up, leaving at 7 am, went to the 1 pm shower, drove back at 5, landing home around 10! Why? Because I love her and I was NOT missing an important family event.

But a whole bunch of Christmas parties? I don't know about that. It would depend who is hosting each one.

[/quote]

I would think nothing of driving 120 miles round trip for a family party, heck, this weekend we'll be making a 735-mile round trip just to have coffee at McDonalds with a few people.

But I don't have a family to feed and clothe and money is not an issue. For a family where the budget is tight, gas for a 120 mile trip may mean that they have to do without something else. If these parties are half as competitive as they sound I don't think I'd want to sacrifice anything to attend them.


#18

As I said, we do drive almost that far to celebrate Christmas with my in laws, and stay for a couple of days. But I wouldn’t make a separate trip during Advent for a Christmas party, knowing that I’d be there during the actual Christmas season. That is a tough time of year to travel out of town, and it would simply be too disruptive to our life to do for a mere party.

We drive to unique parties, like showers or landmark birthdays (like mil’s 70th this year). But with kids activities, dh’s work, and my responsibilities at home, we often can’t leave town at the same time as the littler events are planned. Activities that we believe are valuable for our kids would have to be abandoned if we were to attend all of those things, and life would be very stressful.

We each have to make these judgments - what amount of travel we can handle, what level of involvement in our home community we want, and how to balance the two. To each their own.


#19

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