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Christmas for the introvert
December 28, 2010 4:26 AM   Subscribe

How do I deal with multiple large family Christmas gatherings as an extreme introvert with some sensory thing about large groups of people, loud noises and too much happening? Complicating factors are as follows.

My family is somewhat large - only three of us siblings but all of us have partners now, I've got one child, my brother has two. Then there's my mother's four siblings with their partners, their children and my grandparents. My partner's immediate family is bigger (four siblings, all with partners, three with kids) but they don't have a whole lot of extended family. So Christmas usually ends up two gatherings (Christmas Day and Boxing Day) of 10+ people. My partner points out that this isn't actually a large gathering, but to me it is. It's overwhelming and chaotic. I can't handle it well at the best of times but Christmas has the added bonus rounds of gifting, shopping, travelling, planning meals and negotiating with family before we even get to the gathering. My ability to deal is usually bottoming out by the time we get to the gathering.

We also parent differently to his family - we do the cosleeping, extended breastfeeding, no smacking thing and they do the CIO, wean at one/push solids from 4 months, smacks and countdowns thing. I find it difficult sometimes (they will smack in front of baby anachronism who goes into hysterics each time because she's very unfamiliar with smacking and hates to see other kids cry) but I don't actually do anything other than remove baby anachronism if she's really upset. However they feel very comfortable asking when I'll start doing things their way, telling me that I'm doing it wrong and telling me that I'm screwing her up. They also feel comfortable using gifts to get the point across (I do not buy hypergendered stuff for my daughter so they bought her a hot pink leopard print pram for Christmas because it's 'funny' how I won't like it) (she already has a pram!). This leads to me not feeling comfortable around them and also policing my daughter's behaviour far more than usual.

This Christmas was a bit worse since both of my partner's parents were around and my mother in law has a tendency to attempt to be another parental/disciplinary figure so there was a bit more confusion for baby anachronism. She was really agitated and overtired so she got fairly fighty and while I understand that as a developmental inability to play with others and a lack of sleep I ended up just removing her from the situation after she pushed over both of her cousins (a 10 month old and a 2 and a half year old) (she's 1 and a half). The instant and repetitive 'oh she's so anti-social' and 'wow she hates kids doesn't she?' because of that fightiness/inability to play gets old and wearing. Once it was obvious she wasn't going to settle down and either parallel play or play nice, I got her out of there but apparently that's not enough? She's usually fine with other kids, but doesn't do well with the cousins.

I was saddled with the majority of baby wrangling as my partner was hanging out with his siblings playing cards (a game for the four of them only) which meant I got the brunt of the commentary as well as the brunt of angry, agitated and overtired toddler.

My family are less explicit in their disapproval but will make a big deal out of not making a big deal (i.e. my brother in law will say "oh, I'll just look over here so I don't look at you while you're feeding her" and they repeatedly said "it's okay that you left straight after lunch, we missed you and X was SO disappointed but it's okay you left but we were SO disappointed"). Also, they're 'dog people' so there's five rescue dogs roaming the place and NONE of them are even remotely childsafe (three have bitten children). Which means we're on edge for the whole visit making sure she doesn't get bitten. She started off terrified of them which actually made things easier but as my family have worked at getting her comfortable with the dogs, she has become bolder and now we're having to struggle with her approaching them.

We've discussed our options and while my partner has no problem with me skiving off for a bit of breathing space, he's unhappy with the amount of passive-aggressive 'concern' he gets about my absence. He acknowledges that the status quo of 'guys get to hang out, wimmins do the babywrangling/clearing up' isn't cool and neither is spending most of the time involved in an exclusive group activity. His birthday is Christmas Eve and it's a massive deal for him (as is spending Christmas with our families) so not being in town has been vetoed. It's honestly my first preference so I'm a little lost for other options. This Christmas was just so obnoxiously bad (it included a pitched comment across the table asking me about the self-harm scars on my arms) that I am reluctant to do it again.

The things I have decided to do are: donation gifts for everyone who isn't a child/my grandparent, writing up an action plan so I don't end up with no idea what is happening, making sure my partner deals with more of the preparation and making sure I have surefire escape routes open. We cope with the introversion/anxiety/sensory issues reasonably well at other times, but Christmas just tends toward a clusterfuck of bad shit that adversely impacts everything around us so I need to get this under control before next year.

The things I'm struggling with: how the hell can I make Christmas something fun for me and my daughter, dealing with obnoxious parenting stuff including the passive aggressive gifting, dealing with the dogs and dog 'parents' and how I can maybe negotiate more with my partner about minimising my involvement in Christmas?

Without making myself into some ridiculous Scrooge McGrinch type character. Or resorting to medicinal interference.
posted by geek anachronism to Human Relations (34 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
That sounds pretty miserable. I don't have a good over all suggestion on dealing with Christmas, but I think I have an idea on what to do about the hypergenderized gifts: ask them for the receipt so you can return it. You already have a pram, so this should be easy for them to accept. Do it as soon as you receive the present and laugh about it.

Christmas (and other large family holidays) are hard for a lot of people. You're not alone here. If the weather isn't prohibitive, try to get people outside or just out of the house for a while. Volunteer to go out shopping if there's a last minute need. Go to the movies.

When it isn't near Christmas, can you talk to individuals (like your parents one by one) about how you find it all overwhelming?
posted by sciencegeek at 4:42 AM on December 28, 2010


That was long. Donations as gifts for adults: totally. Kids don't quite understand that, but if an adult gets pissy about it, well, they look like a tosser for wanting some bit of fluff as present instead of making someone else's life better. Easy enough to guilt people into shutting up with that one.

The thing is, they're not going to stop their behaviour, because it's become the norm for them to pick on your choices re: children and all that, and you're probably 'eccentric' and weird in their eyes.

Passive aggressive gifting? Say to everyone beforehand--make it REALLY explicit, in say, family newsletters--that any presents given to you are going right to charity, and name some charity on saving children or animals. Especially if people are prone to giving you things you wouldn't use/like anyway. They can't complain about making children's lives better, as that's frowned upon. Suggest to them to donate to the charity in your name directly instead.

You can't be a Scrooge if you're trying to improve kids' lives ;)

No suggestions re: dogs, sorry. Maybe keep her inside and them outside. Dunno.

Regarding facetime, well. Make it really explicit to people that you don't deal well with being around people a lot of the time. Push the point home anxiety, whatever: lie, if needs be. They don't need to know reasons for why; nobody does, although people pry. Plug yourself into earphones for a while, to give yourself space, and listen to calming music. If people ask you why, refer to above "being around lots of people and lots of noise gives me anxiety" and it calms you down, etc.

This one is a very, very good put-down, and shuts most nosy people up right away:

"Thank you for sharing your opinion." Firm and politely, and a brief smile, before turning away.
posted by owlrigh at 4:45 AM on December 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Considering your opposite views (go vs. don't go), it would be very reasonable of you both to compromise by going only every 2 or 3 years and doing something that pleases you more on the years you don't go. Then you both get what you want sometimes, but you both do something you dislike in the name of your relationship at other times. Classic compromise.

But does he understand how much this grates on you? Besides his birthday being "a massive deal" and his vetoing not going, what are his specific reasons for having this experience if he knows how much you hate it? If he knows and still demands the experience, that sounds more like a relationship problem than a Christmas problem. If he doesn't know, you need to tell him. Show him this post for a conversation opener.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 4:47 AM on December 28, 2010


ask them for the receipt so you can return it
any presents given to you are going right to charity

No no no. The response to bad manners should not be more bad manners.

Just accept the pink schlock with good cheer; thank them effusively as you would for any gift, and fire the pink schlock at the local kiddie consignment store on Boxing Day. You can't ask for receipts or otherwise openly reject these things without giving them genuine reason to dislike you. Being antagonistic is not going to make things more pleasant.

There are some things here that are dreadful, and some things that would be best ignored/laughed at in privacy, and a leopard print pink pram is in these categories. Why get worked up over the bad gifts?

Stay confident vis-a-vis your parenting and let the snark just roll off you.

If your partner agrees that the status quo is: not cool, he should be amenable to doing stuff to minimise the upset. Perhaps you can be the family that blusters in late, breezes out early and cheerfully? Anachronism whirlwind flies in and out. 'So sorry we can only make it for dinner this year! But so happy to see you blah blah blah...' 'I can't believe we have to head out already! Oh, I know, I know, but unfortunately we absolutely have to'

You 'have to' because you dislike it, but would it help to line up other commitments? 'We have volunteered to sing in our local church tonight so we've got to be on the road immediately after dinner.' 'So sorry we had to be late -- we were serving the lunch sitting at the soup kitchen this year.' That sort of thing.
posted by kmennie at 4:59 AM on December 28, 2010 [13 favorites]


Your partner should be supporting your [plural] child rearing choices and running interference for you with his family. It isn't fair or supportive of him if he leaves you to deal with his family's intruding on your choices or their pressuring you. In your family, it will be more up to you but he should still be there in a supporting role, at least stepping in to protect your daughter. He is not acknowledging the "status quo ... isn't cool' if he's not lending direct support to changing it: he is still benefiting from it.
It's hard to stand up to in-laws, and even harder to do it alone, and I'm sorry you're having to do this. It's going take your combined efforts to protect your daughter - and you. He'll need to step up in his family, and you in yours, to prevent each others families' undermining your own family unit, and the other partner will need to be right there for support. And that needs to start with choices the two of you make together and carry out together.
posted by TruncatedTiller at 5:02 AM on December 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Family gatherings (aside from funerals) are supposed to be fun, as are holidays. This sounds like un-fun. This is the anti-joy. Tis the season to be passive-aggressive, fa la la, la la la, what happened to your arms. Filial piety is not a free pass to make you uncomfortable. Not okay.

While you can shop early, wrap early, and otherwise plan this down like brain surgery, that, too, is soul-killing, and won't alleviate the clear friction between parenting styles and other factors. It's good that you negotiated a more equitable child-watching scheme but that does not sound like enough.

Next year: stay at home. Plan your own traditions. Build your partner's birthday into it. Work with him to make a Christmas plan that is as much or as little as you please. You could stay home while he goes off to play cards. You could both stay home. Maybe at some point in the future you'd like to "stop by" for Christmas or Boxing Day, but not until you actually have the urge. Not the guilt or the sense of duty — the urge.

Christmas will not end if you are not there. Imagine, though, if it did. You do not come through the door at such-and-such time. Suddenly, the presents begin to turn to powder. The dogs howl. Songs die in the throats of carolers. Cocoa, worldwide, refuses to dissolve in hot milk. The needles fall off of the artificial tree even as the lights dim. Children wail. Snowmen dissolve. Chaos in the kitchen. Santa slides off an icy roof with a sickening crunch in the distance. Rudolph dashes to his aid but an enormous icicle, disturbed by his hooves, plummets from a gutter and impales him. Christmas died because you weren't there. Pretty silly, isn't it?

When you hear about everyone's gut-wrenching "concern" trolling, visualize their expressions as they open a strangely-shaped gift you have carefully wrapped — a bottle of Pepto-Bismol, with a little pink bow around it. And a handkerchief to dry their tears. Of course, they go unused because we both know that they aren't crying and that their stomachs are not upset due to your absence.

I hereby grant you permission: You do not have to go. You do not have to go. You do not have to go.
posted by adipocere at 5:03 AM on December 28, 2010 [26 favorites]


Three things:

1. Wow, do you deserve a hug and a stiff drink.

2. This is not really an "I'm introverted" issue. It's more of a "my partner's family are acting like jackasses, and even the most extroverted person in the damn world would find this situation intolerable." Don't blame yourself or your introverted tendencies for feeling this way.

3. My mother's family are like this - judge-y, tactless, deliberately-button-pushing-gift-givers. Not as bad as yours by the sound of it, but bad enough that eventually we just. stopped. visiting. This wasn't great for my mum (and she still has some weird passive-aggressive vibes towards my dad's family, who we see all the time because they're lovely, but I think she feels left out because it's not "her family"), but it means that nobody in our household dreads Christmas anymore.

I realise you've said that for your SO, spending the holidays with his family is a "massive deal" for him, but this is quite clearly making your life unpleasant and he needs to sort his priorities. Is he aware of everything you've told AskMe? The snarky comments about your scars, the bitey dogs, the pointed comments about your parenting choices: they just scream "TOTAL LACK OF RESPECT" and this is something he needs to acknowledge as a serious issue.

If he has vetoed your idea of heading out of town - did he suggest some other option? Because I agree that it's a great idea. Hell, tell them you won some non-transferrable holiday cruise if you have to (do you depend on them for anything/can you afford to piss his family off?) Could baby Anachronism come down with a sudden imaginary contagious illness? At the very least, maybe your parents could mind her for the day you have to spend with you partner's family, so she doesn't have to be exposed to the dogs and the cousins and the GRAR.

how the hell can I make Christmas something fun for me and my daughter, dealing with obnoxious parenting stuff including the passive aggressive gifting, dealing with the dogs and dog 'parents' and how I can maybe negotiate more with my partner about minimising my involvement in Christmas?

By limiting your exposure as much as possible! And choosing equally offensive gifts (my mum's been sending her little sister anti-ageing creams for years now. YMMV.) And honestly, if your partner truly can't understand why this behaviour is an issue, then it's time for the classic AskMe answer: THERAPY. Dude, seriously, this is not cool.

I'm sure other MeFites will pitch in soon with more constructive advice than DTMF-In-Laws!
posted by jaynewould at 5:06 AM on December 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's something of a cliché to suggest it in these types of posts, but I really recommend having your husband read your post. I think it states the problems you've encountered very clearly. You need him on your side, understanding exactly what's going on. It's one thing to hear you say one thing or another at different times, but I imagine it'd be entirely different to see it all gathered in one place, as it is. There's a clear problem to be dealt with and I think he'll agree.
posted by empyrean at 5:08 AM on December 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm sure other MeFites will pitch in soon with more constructive advice than DTMF-In-Laws!

Uh, which they did, while I was busy typing my essay. And their answers were all awesome. Especially adipocere.
posted by jaynewould at 5:09 AM on December 28, 2010


Take up smoking. Or at least, take up smoking breaks. A 5 minute breather, outside, by yourself, every hour or two does wonders during nasty social situations.
posted by unlapsing at 5:33 AM on December 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I know you said no medicinal interventions, but I use my Valerian Root at times like this.

You've got to get husband on board. If he wants you to continue to attend these events then he needs to make it easier on you. That means if you're having a rough time he doesn't disappear into a card game and leave you to deal with things alone. My husband and I actually have hand signals we use for when I'm getting overwhelmed.

I think you should start some of your own Christmas traditions away from your extended family. A lot of families go to the movies on Christmas day, that might work for you too. The way we did it was to open presents (really early usually), eat breakfast together (as a immediate family), then take a nap. Depending on what time the movie is we'd go visiting for a few hours before or after. In your case it might be best to go first, then you have the built in excuse to leave early ("Oh, we're so sorry we can't stay! We already bought the tickets.")

Your baby is old enough now that you can tell people that you want to start traditions for your own little family unit. If the movies aren't your thing you could also look into doing some kind of volunteering. Nobody can complain when you're making somebody else's life easier! I'll bet the local animal shelter still needs people to come walk and play with their dogs on Christmas day. Or if you really don't want to do any more animals there is always the homeless shelters who need volunteers. I knew one family that would make brown bag lunches (sandwiches, some kind of fruit, a cut up veggie, and a bottle of water) and would drive around their city passing them out to homeless people and panhandlers.

You can still compromise with your husband and go to these family things, but the visit is cut short. Instead of being there all day for two days straight you visit one family for a few hours on Christmas and the other family for a few hours on Boxing Day. Just agree on a departure time before you get there and have your exit strategy planned before you show up. Of course this will only work if your husband is on board and completely supportive.
posted by TooFewShoes at 5:35 AM on December 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Perfect time for a holiday abroad... My best Christmas as an adult was spent in a motor home next to a beautiful lake in a deserted forest camp site in New Zealand. Go see everyone individually before you leave, there'll be no hard feelings (or, at least, they'll live with it).

If you hate it, if it's not fun, don't go. Whatever Christmas is about, it's not about suffering.
posted by dickasso at 5:45 AM on December 28, 2010


Yeah, your partner needs to step up. He can't have it both ways. He can either have the family birthday/Christmas he wants, in which case he has to actively manage it so that it doesn't drive you and the baby crazy, or he can have the quiet, sane card game he seeks out, in which case you should stay home and play cards. If he agrees that the "women do all the work" thing is nonsense, he needs to refuse to participate in the nonsense. If he insists that you visit his family, he needs to take the lead on managing their interactions with you, and that means staying by your side for most or all of the visit. He can't simply pretend that everything is okay because he has a picture in his head of the perfect holiday and doesn't want it upset.

This is not about you being overly sensitive or introverted. The interactions you describe are either a clash of cultures (e.g., your baby getting upset at seeing different parenting styles in action) or family members being jerks (e.g., the passive aggressive gifts and rude comments). Absolutely none of this is your fault, and you are not doing anything wrong by not wanting to be around it.

That being said, he didn't ask us for advice, and it's not really productive for us to tell you what he needs to do. So here's what you can do: refuse to participate in this fake ritual he has set up. Let him know that you will not be going through another holiday like the one you just experienced, and lay out acceptable-to-you alternatives for him to choose from for next year. He needs to understand that this isn't a matter of you disliking his family or being overwhelmed by loud noises. Family members are being actively and persistently disrespectful of your family, and you shouldn't have to tolerate it, especially at a time of year that is supposed to be about peace and joy and all that good stuff. So, lay it out for him and ask him to help you figure out a solution that will work for both of you. But don't put yourself through this for another year thinking that you need to suck it up. You don't.
posted by decathecting at 5:54 AM on December 28, 2010 [11 favorites]


Have you considered a glass of wine? or 2.
But really anti-anxiety meds might be called for here. Don't poo poo meds so quickly. Maybe you can get away with taking them just around this time of year--I know folks who do that. Remember the object is for you to get through this hell with as few beatings as possible.
posted by sandra194 at 5:54 AM on December 28, 2010


I also am overwhelmed with family and especially so at the holidays.

I'm also in the crunchy parenting camp. Thankfully people keep their judging to when I'm not around.

For real, why the hell do you go to these gatherings? You have a perfect excuse. No one is required to attend this stuff as an adult. Make your own tradition at home. When asked why you're not coming feel free to tell the truth or say "We don't have a lot of days off/we don't have the money to travel this year/whatever."

In terms of general parenting stuff, I'd say to them "We do it our way, you do it your way. I don't make comments about your way, so don't make comments about our way."

WRT breastfeeding in front of family (and I am an extended breastfeeder... going on 27 months now), when child is an infant and s/he is on the boob for like 45 minutes at a time every few hours, boob it up in the living room, especially at your own home. Otherwise you're stuck in a bedroom for most of the day. But IMO, if you're only breastfeeding to put her to sleep or in between meals, I'd personally go to a different room because it isn't going to be productive for anyone in a busy room. My toddler is all over the place when we have to breastfeed in public (on a plane is the only public place nowadays.) Granted, I have no idea how you're breastfeeding, but that's what I'd do.

If people are like WTF are you doing breastfeeding a toddler, I'd fight 'em with science - better nutrition, bonding or whatever... or you can pull out the "this is what we're doing, it is none of your business" card.

Good luck. Try to step back from the situation and realize that you don't have to go.

Just because we're born related to people doesn't mean that they are our friends.
posted by k8t at 6:01 AM on December 28, 2010


re: anti-anxiety meds -- she's breastfeeding so this may be a factor.
posted by k8t at 6:01 AM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


WRT to gifts, I'd suggest a rule that no one over 18 exchanges gifts. And have a money limit for kids' gifts.
posted by k8t at 6:02 AM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, don't ask for receipts. Thank politely and donate to charity quietly and without fanfare later on. They're obviously doing it for a reaction. Do not give them a reaction other than how charmed and grateful you are. No matter WHAT kind of parent you are, no matter how mainstream, other people will buy your kid stupid stuff you don't want in the house. Another parent gave me a video intended to entertain newborns. I was like, "really?" Because, um, newborns need entertaining? Newborns can see more than 8 inches away? And what parent doesn't know that television exposure for under-twos is a very contentious issue, regardless of where you fall on it? I just thanked her, and when she asked about it later, I said, "You know, he never really seemed to get into it." I didn't say this was because it was still in the plastic wrap in my donation box in the basement. But "she never really seemed to get into it" is a great answer for all the horrors you've donated, because everyone knows kids (much like cats) are weird in their likes and dislikes.

Others have given you good support; I wanted to (very nicely) ask a couple of questions of you and your decisions, only because they may be other avenues to help you deal with this. (Not because I'm trying to be mean.)

First, are you very strident about your parenting choices? I'm semi-granola myself, but I have granola-parent friends who are low-key about it and great resources, and granola-parent (semi-)friends who never STFU about how their parenting choices are SO FUCKING AWESOME compared to my terrible, terrible choices and seriously say things like (direct quote!), "I am so tired of hearing that lie [that you could never homeschool]! If you loved your children, you would WANT to homeschool them, and you'd find a way to do it!" If you're spending a lot of time feeling and acting superior, or even just justifying your decisions, that is (unfortunately) going to be provoking a lot of their "must ... undermine ... anachronism ..." behavior. EVEN JUST JUSTIFYING. I really think the correct response to people getting up in your face about parenting decisions is a pleasant and friendly, "That's just the way we do it in our family." Not, "Well, let me tell you about the benefits of co-sleeping" or "Here's why we decided to extended breastfeed." No. Just "That's how we do it in our family" possibly with a follow-up of, "We've discussed it with our pediatrician and s/he is on board." (And really, I felt like your disdain for their clearly incorrect parenting choices came across, which is why I ask. Maybe that's just here, and just your frustration talking, but if it is coming across to them, that may be part of why they're striving for such heights of assholeitude -- they feel judged and found wanting.)

Second, how much of your anxiety is communicating to your child? If these are the only children she has trouble getting along with, and with what you're saying about her getting hysterical about the smacking -- that sounds to me like perhaps she's reading YOUR discomfort and is acting out because YOU are so tense. (Given how kids that age *playing* is like one giant festival o' crashing into things, hurting themselves, and then crying loudly, it's a little strange that Baby Anachronism is getting "hysterical" about seeing spankings -- or is she never around other children other than at family gatherings? It's certainly within the realm of normal, especially for sensitive kids, but when she sees a kid get hurt or (non-physically) reprimanded at a playground, does she get hysterical? Or just tense? Or curious? IOW, is this unique behavior to this situation?)

Finally, you guys need to draw some darn lines. Together. It's unclear how long these visits are and if you're staying away from home (if yes, GET A HOTEL), but if it were me, I would tell my family that the dogs had to be confined while the baby was there, and that in deference to the fact that its the dogs' house, we'd keep our visit short. With the MIL, I would get with my husband and together inform her that you are the parents and you value her grandparental relationship with your child (whether or not that's true), but that she needs to butt the fuck out and let you parent, and that the undermining of your parenting from the extended family needs to stop. This is not an easy conversation to have; I know because I've had it. And yeah, there was sulking. But everything was SO MUCH BETTER after we made that line clear. You don't have to be mean about it, and I'm perfectly fine with letting my in-law-in-question think that it's all my problem because I'm an anxious first-time parent and I'm overreacting -- whatever. But even if I'm overreacting, it's my child and I'm the parent and I'll make those decisions. Don't get drawn into side arguments about specifics or about past events. Just firmly make the point that they need to quit undermining your parenting.

I would also make the point, to both families, that this is your holiday too, and that the present situation means that it is impossible for you to enjoy yourselves. "I realize you're doing all this work to make fabulous family memories for everyone, but the way it's structured right now, it's just creating so much stress and unhappiness for me that I dread it rather than looking forward to it. More downtime for the baby, respecting her naps and bedtime, keeping the dogs away from her, letting Mr. Geek feel available to help me rather than obligated to play a game he can't leave -- those would all be good changes for us." (I'd probably be flexible and suck it up on his birthday, but thereafter make it 50/50.) One hopes that at least some of them really do want it to be a good holiday for you and are willing to be flexible to create more comfort for you.

And it sounds like next year, you and the baby will have a new family tradition of LONG WALKS TO LOOK FOR EVIDENCE OF SANTA AND REINDEER HAVING BEEN THERE. By yourselves. ;)

Wow, I was going to write such a short thing, and look at my novel. Sorry about that.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:11 AM on December 28, 2010 [11 favorites]


I'm going to play devil's advocate here. Feel free to ignore me. :)

It's only two days out of the year. Do you have to see them any other times during the year in similar large noisy gatherings? If not, rather than bothering with trying to change them, I would suck it up. I envy you that your husband's birthday is the same day as a major holiday - that's one less annoying family get-together!

FWIW, my parenting style is similar to yours, and my daughter had similar reactions as yours to big noisy get-togethers. I coped by laughing (on the inside) at the huge absurdity of it all. As your daughter gets older, it will be easier to explain to her that different families have different styles, and it won't make her so upset to see her cousins being treated differently by their parents.

I just rolled my eyes at my mother-in-law's passive-aggressive (and obviously clueless) attempts to buy my daughter "girly" presents, when she clearly favored other types of toys. Drop the pram off at a children's hospital or charity.

Writing up an action plan sounds like a great idea, as long as you remember not to get stressed when things don't go according to plan.

Get the same gift for everyone - fancy cookies, nice candles, a Christmas ornament, etc. - to cut down on your pre-holiday stress.

Ask for the dogs to be locked into a spare room when you and your daughter are visiting? That's really not too much to ask, and I have three dogs myself.

If you drink, a glass of wine might take the edge off your nerves.

In my family, whenever one of us gets overcome by the chaos of a family gathering, we retreat to the kitchen to wash dishes. And possibly drink more wine.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:14 AM on December 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Eyebrows McGee: "And it sounds like next year, you and the baby will have a new family tradition of LONG WALKS TO LOOK FOR EVIDENCE OF SANTA AND REINDEER HAVING BEEN THERE. By yourselves. ;)"

This is a great idea!!

Now I remember why my dad used to take us kids for walks on Christmas Day at my maternal grandmother's house. It wasn't for us to blow off steam, it was to keep his own sanity!
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:17 AM on December 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


ALL of the suggestions for you so far are terrific ones; from donating to charites in the fam's name (please, though, make it a secular charity) to kmennie's brilliant scenario of breezing in and out, a la Noel Coward comedy.
My mother-in-law was the dominatrix of passive-aggressive Xmas presents. That made-in-China junk went straight to Goodwill. I got my revenge on her evil ways by not attending her funeral. Ha!
get fucked in Hell, Betty.
But I'm alot meaner than you are, geek anachronism. Mean up, honey! And make your man step up, as suggested many times above. Now please come back on this board and tell us your game plan for next year, and how you'll implement. it.
Oh, and here's a suggestion: please don't use the cute euphemism "fighty" for bratty.
posted by BostonTerrier at 6:43 AM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think two things are key:

1. Generally, this is a matter to work out with your partner. Your families act like jerks and it bothers you. Attending these family gatherings is a choice that you and your partner are making, so reassess it. I'd suggest you work out with your partner:

a. What each of you enjoys about visiting family. (Are the big gatherings somehow important to him? Would smaller get-togethers meet his needs?)
b. What hopes you have for your daughter in terms of knowing and spending time with her extended family.
c. What each of you dislikes about current family traditions and family relationships, what the two of you can do to fix the issues, and what issues are just a matter of your families being themselves.
d. What role you want or expect holidays to play in your family life, and what traditions or customs matter most to each of you.

2. Your daughter should not be in the same house as those dogs. Period. I understand that you are being vigilent, but you cannot be vigilent enough around dogs that bite kids. And I'm a dog person. I'd start the conversation with something like, "Do you have a way to lock Murphy and Pluto in a yard, basement, or garage while we're at your house? I've been thinking about their history of biting children and I'd like to keep Baby Anachronism away from them until she's older."* You can explain that this isn't about not liking their dogs, or judging them for being dog people. This is about minimizing risk to your kid's safety. Some dogs can be safe and gentle around adults but dangerous and aggressive around kids, particularly toddlers. Even my little, friendly dachshund sometimes gets spooked by a toddler--even when the kid's mom is showing him how to gently pet the doggie. Little kids just tend to move and react in ways that can startle dogs, and usually that's ok but when a dog has a history of biting kids, you need to be extremely cautious.

If they won't lock the dogs in an area away from your kid, you cannot be at their house with her.

*I know this may seem foolish, but I think making it about the combination of little kid and dogs (rather than "Keep those filthy beasts away!") might make this easier for your relatives to hear without getting defensive.
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:09 AM on December 28, 2010


That is a stressful Christmas! And you will carry that stress all next year in anticipation of next Christmas being worse. You need some breathing space before you can cope and make sensible decisions together. Since the last two Holidays have been your husband's choice 2011 is your year to choose. Book a trip away right - less reversible than deciding to stay home. Knowing you won't have to deal with either family over Christmas will let you re-group before your husband and you decide what to do in future. Your husband needs to prioritise his immediate family over his own needs/his childhood family.
posted by saucysault at 8:26 AM on December 28, 2010


Pretty sure this is how the "mysterious 24-hour stomach flu" came into being.

As in, "My wife would love to be here, but she came down with a mysterious 24-hour stomach flu. She feels terrible about having to miss family dinner! It's very unfortunate. Who wants gravy?"
posted by ErikaB at 9:00 AM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wait, so the family gathering is SO goddamned important to your husband that he went and hid with his siblings for a card game? Leaving you to the wolves-in-law? Sorry, that's bullshit. Next year, give HIM a passive-aggressive present - a go-to-your-family-Xmas-without-me,-with-my-permission card.
posted by notsnot at 9:33 AM on December 28, 2010


Well, introverts need to recharge in order to deal with such things - so, what would recharge your energy? Walks? Washing dishes? A big hug from your husband in a quiet part of the house?

If it's the combination of noise, numbers and environment - there's only a few things you can do.
If it's "overwhelming and chaotic" and you "can't handle it well at the best of times" and "Christmas has the added bonus rounds of gifting, shopping, travelling, planning meals and negotiating with family before we even get to the gathering. My ability to deal is usually bottoming out by the time we get to the gathering" it sounds like your energy's spent before you even get there. I'd work on shoring yourself up well-beforehand. Shop earlier in the year, use something like Supperworks for meals and set your boundaries and delegate the negotiating to your husband (and then trust him). It sounds simple, but I have similar issues and this works for us. But then, I'm also willing to pop an Ativan. Things like booking more time for myself as "gifts" make a huge difference -- three hours of reading, lots of soups for dinners, extra dog walks, buying a fancy coffee and sitting and enjoying it in the shop instead of on the run -- they all add up to recharging and making a difference in my endurance.

Parenting "differently"is your thing, and when you make these choices, it can feel like you have to constantly defend them because while they're becoming more common, they're still not the norm and that too is draining. I have a mantra that I use around my family: "I do not let how others are be the measure of the person I want to be." So, you're already not smacking - but do you want to be a judgy, preachy, uncomfortable person who is infringing on your daughter's rights to be a hypergirly, upset toddler? Probably not that either It's tempting to use one's parenting preferences as a way to separate oneself, instead of including others, and if this is your first child, it's upsetting to learn how little control you have, actually. Situations like this really bring this to the forefront. So, you can only control yourself, and if you want to be an open, calm, respectful person there's nothing to stop that either.

A 1 1/2 year old behaing as baby anachronism did is not exhibiting a developmental inability to play - she's exhibiting being one, and maybe part of her personality. And while this is judgy from me, experience has taught me that removal doesn't teach coping. Kids that age aren't even parallel playing - it's all basically a free-for all, and having expectations of behaviour is only going to be a constant drain on your energy too. The constant power struggle was probably wearing her out too. Baby wrangling at those ages should be fun - unless there's blood, broken bones or brains on the floor, it's all about distraction and goofiness. I agree with those who've mentioned that your anxieties are likely contagious.

As for the dogs, asking for sequestering simply because they add to the chaos isn't a bad idea - because teaching a child to be more comfortable around biting dogs sounds like more of a disservice.

Yes, you need to find your breathing space. Yes, you need to come up with responses that you're comfortable with and a way to tolerate this. Even to the point of your scars - as I feel about mine, I put them there and I've had to explain them to my daughter and others enough times now that I'm not sensitive about the explanation. Because, the person I want to be accepts this part of my past and wants to be gracious to others who are asking about something obvious.


Consider it a gift to your husband to go and help him have a pleasant experience, especially on his birthday.

Lastly-ish:

It's better not to give donation gifts if not been discussed. Because those aren't gifts if they're passive-aggressive attempts to further your own agenda, and also because gifts are supposed to be about giving what people would like to receive, not just what you want to give. (It's like what I tell my daughter - "Help is doing what others really need you to do, not just what you want to do for them.") Just explain that you're feeling overwhelmed, and that you need to scale back. That said, make sure your shopping for the kids isn't for Plan Toys when they are hot pink leapord pink pram people. Personally, I do a huge amount of charitable giving, both in volunteer hours, items and monetarily and have strong preferences for what and how I have. As much as I love the idea of someone buying a goat on my behalf, I buy fresh fruit and vegetables for the lunches for the kids at the shelter two blocks away every week and would love some help with that - but I'd really love someone to buy me a book I'd like to read, because that would be thinking of ME, not themselves. I just declined to bring a can of soup to a soup exchange party, because I know that the food banks need gift cards more than a single can of the low-sodium organic vegetable stock I'd bring and that feel-good attempts like that don't take care of the real problem.

So what I'm saying is that the things you've mentioned you've decided to do are likely a normal reaction to a stressful season, and they make you feel better now, but they don't address the real problem: That you are a lovely introverted mom to a typical one year-old with crunchy preferences for whom the established way of celebrating the holiday isn't working any longer.

How can you make Christmas fun for you and your daughter? One way is to realize that you'll both be in different mental places next year. You have time to prepare and recharge and plan. You have a year to work on yourself, and time to think about what you truly want and what works for you. As others pointed out, you're parents now too, and not simply your parents' children - and it's time to move out of those roles during the year gradually and gracefully and not at the most stressful time of the year.

Is there any part of it that you can host? We learned it's better to host my parents for brunch on Christmas day, so we get at least one meal that we love under our belts; because they behave better on our turf; and because we can establish an end time ("We're meeting friends for skating at 1 - it's been lovely! See ya!"). Can you spend less time there? We find that the family parties that go from two pm to nine pm are insanely wearing. If we're due to eat dinner at five, we come for four and leave soon after dessert. More than three hours is a long time to expect any toddler to be happy somewhere, if it's not a comfortable place for them.

We also realize that for us, the dinners are not our Christmas. We focus on the morning when we hang out, the three of us, in pajamas with coffee and presents and each other. We "break" for the dinners.

Obnoxious parenting stuff is a part of your life now. Dealing with it means you be the parent you want to be, and letting your daughter be who she's meant to be, and let others fall where they may. They're not bad or wrong - they're making their own choices and their families make up the rest of the world, and your daughter will have to learn to deal with them eventually too. Respecting, or withdrawing your anxieties over their choices instead of resenting them will save you energy and not take anything away from what you want to do. But, if I may say, honestly, while removal is one policy, it teaches kids nothing about how to deal with conflict and when she gets to school or in classes, teachers won't be removing her from interacting with her classmates. Removal helps you more than it does her, and it's understandable in an introvert, and it should be one tool - not your whole arsenal. It takes energy to stay and deal with frustrating situations. But if it's a choice you make, then with that comes the flak you're getting as much as you're judging the smacking. And I just realized that I mean that for your adult situation as much as the one with the children.

For the passive-aggressive gift giving? Stop seeing it that way. Sure, it might be a dig at you, getting a reaction because they know it can - but truthfully, little girls (and some little boys) despite our attempts to evade social construct, often end up liking hot pink leopard pink prams. And they should be allowed to. You have strong preferences for your daughter's upbringing - but do you want squashing her enjoyment of gifts to be part of it? It's a teaching moment, not just in being grateful and thankful and polite - but it's also a chance to learn about her. For example, my near-seven year old did eventually find Barbies fascinating despite my swears up and down they'd never blonden our door. And thankfully, they're often played with as animal rescuers and teachers and doctors as much as princesses and such - and when she asked for the 1965 Astronaut repro Barbie as a partner for her dad's vintage GI Joe, we were proud and thrilled. But she also got her first Bratz doll from our neighbour for Christmas - and though I find them repulsive, it was a chance to talk about realism in people's bodies (using Barbie and vintage Skipper and other dolls as comparison points) - and sure enough, the stiletto boots are at the bottom of the toy bin; vintage Skipper is using Bratz's snowboard in the tub upstairs now with her dad GI Joe (which is how I have time to type all this); and the still-nameless Bratz is in a basket under the tree, completely ignored. She's not fun to my daughter because she's not "real'. We've all learned more from not banning and ignoring things, but by talking about them and working through them. It's, again, hard for an introvert. And it's easier to offer gift donations than it is to talk through values with people who are non-receptive to certain ideals to begin with - but it will only create more conflict instead of solving the problem.

And, it seems this post has inspired some to novels - but that again is part of the quilting circle of motherhood these days- but I'll say - you mentioned specifically about making it more fun for you and your daughter. I'm going to guess, as it was for me, that you want company in your introversion. Your daughter may be fine with all of this, and she may be reacting to the frustration and power struggle of having to meet your needs at these events. It needs to be fun for your family - and that includes your husband and his family and your family. It is not fun to have prickly introverts at parties. The "pretend to smile until you feel like smiling" trope might actually work here. And I know, because I am like this to an extent.

And here's the most lastest thing, I swear - if you happen indeed to be a ridiculous Scrooge McGrinch-type character, that's who you are. There is a point where as an adult you might actually just need to tell these people "You know what? This isn't working for me - I'm stressed, frustrated, not cut out for these things and I don't want to spoil your good time and it doesn't mean I love you any less. I'll see you at another time during the year/for a bit/soon, I've sent your gifts with my husband and child, and wish you all the very best. Mwah."

Best of luck, and I wish I could check back in next year to see how it goes for you! You've had a tough time, but I swear, it does get better. Kids and families are hard, and you're caught in between.
posted by peagood at 10:03 AM on December 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


My family moves holidays so that everyone can attend, so at the moment I'm reading this question, it is "Christmas Day.". My 20 month old is nursing and napping next to me in the hotel bed, a half mile away from my family home. We went over there from 10am to noon for presents, and after nap we'll head back for snacks and a few more presents (spacing them out so the tyke doesn't get overwhelmed). The price of two nights in a hotel is so very worth it. We also did Secret Santa-plus-wishlists (buy for only one person but choose from their list so they actually get something they want). That feels great too -- shopping is quick, and it's nice to open a gift of something you asked for.

These things don't solve the dogs, the smacking and crying, the card-playing chaos (nor the particular problems unique to my family), but taking the edge off really helps. I'm more equipped to manage, and so is my child.
posted by xo at 11:34 AM on December 28, 2010


Do bear in mind next year your child will be a year older. That will help a bit.

You have my sympathies. I had to watch my overcontrolling mom have a cow that my little grandson had been given a nerf gun because ohmylandhe'llshootthebabyandassoonasheisoldershoothimwitharealone. That and her telling my other daughter's boyfriend (a very nice and respectable fellow) that "she'd cut his water off if he ever hurt her."

I recommend deep breaths, a sense of humor, and if you drink, a glass of wine. A BIG one.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:21 PM on December 28, 2010


Thanks for the advice all - my partner is well aware of the issues, but this year was worse than any other. Usually I do get to recharge, or at least escape, and he'd told them that again this year but it just didn't pan out. But I am planning on a much bigger talk about exactly how we're going to approach it (he's already agreed that it was a douchy move to go play euchre). I'll probably sit down today and try work out something - we've got a big party coming up for New Year's to celebrate his birthday so we need to plan some more stuff on that anyway and we can trial some stuff there. I'm really going to push for either swapping year on year off, or hosting here at some point as well. So thank you!

The meds/drinks suggestions would be more suitable if I weren't an incipient alcoholic who had her slide arrested by pregnancy/breastfeeding. I have been considering valium type stuff though. I'll keep it in mind if next Christmas starts looking as bad.

adipocere: Christmas will not end if you are not there. Imagine, though, if it did. You do not come through the door at such-and-such time. Suddenly, the presents begin to turn to powder. The dogs howl. Songs die in the throats of carolers. Cocoa, worldwide, refuses to dissolve in hot milk. The needles fall off of the artificial tree even as the lights dim. Children wail. Snowmen dissolve. Chaos in the kitchen. Santa slides off an icy roof with a sickening crunch in the distance. Rudolph dashes to his aid but an enormous icicle, disturbed by his hooves, plummets from a gutter and impales him. Christmas died because you weren't there. Pretty silly, isn't it?

I think I may put this on a card to give them should they start again about me and the kid not being there for a couple of hours. It should at least make them laugh! Thank you.

k8t: But IMO, if you're only breastfeeding to put her to sleep or in between meals, I'd personally go to a different room because it isn't going to be productive for anyone in a busy room. My toddler is all over the place when we have to breastfeed in public (on a plane is the only public place nowadays.) Granted, I have no idea how you're breastfeeding, but that's what I'd do.

This is what I tend to do since she is very distractable but part of their parenting 'help' is being loud while I'm attempting to settle her. And asking every time we see them if she's still feeding and when am I going to wean (my partner has said something about that though, I think, because I didn't actually get asked that this Christmas). Last time they visited us they argued about our request they not slam the baby gates 'since she should get used to noise'. While my partner dealt with that particular bit of annoyance and they stopped, their instinct is to not be quiet, and to not have a more laid back area in the house for sleeping babies. My other sister in law takes her son for walks to get him down to sleep which would have been awesome except for the flooding rain we've currently got. It is most definitely my plan for next year, for both sleeping and escaping.

Eyebrows McGee: (And really, I felt like your disdain for their clearly incorrect parenting choices came across, which is why I ask. Maybe that's just here, and just your frustration talking, but if it is coming across to them, that may be part of why they're striving for such heights of assholeitude -- they feel judged and found wanting.)

I try desperately not to be. And even when I've been asked to defend my choices ("but WHY are you still sleeping with her?") I go for the "we want to, it's our choice" response. The last dust up with that was my partner's brother and my partner actually threw himself into the fray and tried a bit of the turn around thing (demanded his brother explain WHY they fed their kid solids the way they do) and it has completely stopped the commentary from that particular person. There tends to be a judgey feeling when you do things differently in this family anyway, and it's exacerbated by us doing many many things differently.

In other words, I probably am coming across judgey, but I am trying hard not to and I don't actually discuss my parenting choices all that much beyond "it's what works for us" and only when the conversation is started.

Eyebrows McGee: Second, how much of your anxiety is communicating to your child? If these are the only children she has trouble getting along with, and with what you're saying about her getting hysterical about the smacking -- that sounds to me like perhaps she's reading YOUR discomfort and is acting out because YOU are so tense. (Given how kids that age *playing* is like one giant festival o' crashing into things, hurting themselves, and then crying loudly, it's a little strange that Baby Anachronism is getting "hysterical" about seeing spankings -- or is she never around other children other than at family gatherings? It's certainly within the realm of normal, especially for sensitive kids, but when she sees a kid get hurt or (non-physically) reprimanded at a playground, does she get hysterical? Or just tense? Or curious? IOW, is this unique behavior to this situation?)

I absolutely know some of the anxiety rubs off. The hysterical over smacking was while I was at work though and it was apparently a reaction to the angry bit and the sound as well as her cousin's crying. She is very sensitive (if her baby cousin cries, she usually will start as well) and it's the same with playgroups etc. It is mostly that it doesn't come up a lot, even with our smacking friends. She gets upset if another kid hurts themselves (or in the case of my brother's kid with separation anxiety, is away from mama too long) but it isn't the hysteria we get with the smacking. It's not unique as much as moreso than usual.

Eyebrows McGee: For the passive-aggressive gift giving? Stop seeing it that way. Sure, it might be a dig at you, getting a reaction because they know it can - but truthfully, little girls (and some little boys) despite our attempts to evade social construct, often end up liking hot pink leopard pink prams. And they should be allowed to. You have strong preferences for your daughter's upbringing - but do you want squashing her enjoyment of gifts to be part of it?

I don't, but I also don't want her to grow up feeling like she has to perform gender so her family won't hate her (hi baggage!). Like I said, she's got a pram. She didn't need a second. She really didn't need one bigger than her toybox to try fit into the tiny townhouse we live in. The pram is living at my mother's house because my brother's kid is a BIG fan of pink and girly toys and it'll get played with there. My daughter was much more interested in her cousin's scooter but then I start thinking maybe she's reacting to my dislike of the pram and then I'm caught up in this stupid plate of beans. But I am aware of my principals about gender adversely impacting her as well.

BostonTerrier: Oh, and here's a suggestion: please don't use the cute euphemism "fighty" for bratty.

She's a toddler. She has no concept of playing, not in any real sense. But when she pushed over the two other kids, I figured it was time to get her out of there. I don't use bratty because it's not nearly as descriptive as fighty, particularly for the mood she was in. Which is why I went for removal over anything else - she was getting pushy and flailing and the ten month old is not up for it. Usually we sit with her and mimic/moderate play more than we were but not even that was helping. My mother in law sitting there making comments about it was part of my decision to get the kiddo out too.
posted by geek anachronism at 3:16 PM on December 28, 2010


Jesus I am verbose. Sorry.
posted by geek anachronism at 3:17 PM on December 28, 2010


The last comment attributed to me was someone else, although I do say RELAX, you're not asking her to perform gender and it sounds like you won't! Parents are allowed to dislike their kids' toys! (Even to remove and hide them.) Even if being a pretty pink princess (barf barf barf, I say) is the dream of her life, she'll be plenty old enough to TELL you that in a couple years, and you disliking overly-girly toys when she's a toddler is NOT going to scar her. (Frankly even if she does want to be a princess when she's four and she can tell you disapprove she won't care all that much as long as she still gets to be a princess!) I seem to recall a thread where many MeFites talked about their gender-neutral toys and how they grew up perfectly normal with a wide variety of gender-expression-choices. :)

One thing I did with my very noise-sensitive toddler was start taking him to a noisy, chaotic open gym for toddlers. He really wants to explore and play, so he was willing to brave the noise, although our first outings were barely 20 minutes before he was exhausted and ready to pack it in. Now he can last the whole two hours. He has such a quiet homelife that noise was very draining for him, and the first time I spoke sternly to him (didn't even yell! was just stern in tone!) he burst into tears because he'd never been spoken to even a little bit harshly. Anyway, at first some kid would speak to him and he'd cry. Six months later, he took a knee to the head (youch!) and got knocked flat by one of the big kids. Sat up. Thought about crying, face started to crumple, then decided he'd rather go play more. It's not that I wanted him to "toughen up" exactly, but to be a little more prepared for the rough-and-tumble of little kids and to not be so constantly startled by noise. Now he gets tense and interested/alert if another kid starts to cry (he used to tend to start to cry as well), but when he sees it's "just crying" or calm adults comforting the kid/baby, he calms down.

Anyway, may not work for your sprog, but something we did with our sensitive fellow so he could let more things roll off his back.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:42 PM on December 28, 2010


Eyebrows McGee: The last comment attributed to me was someone else, although I do say RELAX, you're not asking her to perform gender and it sounds like you won't! Parents are allowed to dislike their kids' toys! (Even to remove and hide them.)

Dang, sorry Eyebrows!

We've been working on the noise thing - she's totally fine with environmental noise (we've lived on main roads her whole life and she once fell asleep as the plane was taxiing for takeoff) but human noise/dog noise is a massive issue. Particularly accompanied by sudden movements. So we've been taking her to playgrounds and playgroup and things like that, and making a big effort to get her around her cousins more and more. I'm glad to hear a gradual method worked though!
posted by geek anachronism at 6:35 PM on December 28, 2010


It really helped me when I sat down and thought really hard about what *would* make me happy at the holidays. To a certain extent, it's possible to make that sort of stuff happen. So, if you like driving around and looking at Christmas lights, take a break with baby and do that for a couple hours. If you know what you actively want instead of just what you don't want, it's easier to have a goal to work towards. Good luck, the holidays are trying even without a jerky family setting out to drive you up the wall.
posted by stoneweaver at 3:11 PM on December 29, 2010


stoneweaver: It really helped me when I sat down and thought really hard about what *would* make me happy at the holidays. To a certain extent, it's possible to make that sort of stuff happen.

This is exactly what we've done!

So we had a talk and worked out a plan. We'll stick with seeing them for the lunches but either stay somewhere else or go home in between. We're going to get the planning and prep done the month before (so shop in November, that sort of thing). I'm going to pull back on the cooking thing as well, depending on where we are and what I'm making. And I'll KNOW where we are going to be staying and where we'll be spending the holidays WELL in advance as well. We'll also be doing some of the smaller things I like (advent calendar!) and I'll be trying to get my family to ramp back on presents. We should hopefully get some gift giving under control by mid-year since that's baby anachronism's birthday.

He's also going to have a chat to his sister's about the judgey stuff - it came up again at the NYE party except instead of biting my tongue and being polite, I lost my shit (they were talking shit about my other sister-in-law's parenting). Well, I threw what I was doing onto the table and walked off. Which was not constructive but seems to have finally triggered something in my partner's head. He still wants me to be the one to talk to them but I said it's his job. It will probably still come back to me but I want him to do the ground work.

So here's hoping this year is much better!
posted by geek anachronism at 8:15 PM on December 31, 2010


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