Merry Christmas to you, you, you, you, but not you
November 26, 2012 2:20 PM Subscribe
Please hope me. Christmas is important to my mother, but it over the last few years it has turned into something that she can’t stand. It has gotten to the point that she doesn’t even want to have the Traditional Family Christmas at their house anymore. She loves Christmas and this is breaking her heart. Our family needs the help of Metafilter. This is anonymous because there’s enough drama already. Christmassy flurries within.
posted by anonymous to human relations (41 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
My folks are in their mid-70’s. They have three kids – Brother, Sister, and me. Brother is married to Sister-in-law (SIL). They have two kids, who are the only grandkids on either side of their family. Sister is married to Brother-in-Law (BIL). Both Brother/SIL and Sister/BIL live in the same geographic area as my folks. I live further away but still come home for the holidays, etc. I bring along my partner, we have no kids. We are a small family but have traditions and enjoy spending time together. Brother and I are not close at all (differing political views, etc) but we are polite and get along well enough when we see each other 3-4 times a year at family get-togethers.
SIL’s family is from another country (we live in the US). For the last decade or so (since the first grandkid was born), SIL’s mother, father, brothers, and usually several cousins come to visit them for the holidays. They all stay at Brother/SIL’s house and, on Christmas, the whole crew comes over to my folk’s house. The first several years were fine. The more the merrier! It was also great for the kids because they had all of the grandparents, aunts and uncles in the same place at the same time. We bumbled over the language barrier (Brother/SIL and their kids are the only ones who speak both English and the language of SIL’s family, lots of translating going on) and introduced each other to our respective holiday traditions. It was clumsy, but overall it was a lot of fun.
The last few years have not been as much fun. SIL and Brother have been arguing a lot. SIL’s family is on “her side” and my family is on “my brother’s side”. I’m spared from a lot of the sparring because I live far away, but I sure get a healthy dose of drama updates from my sister and mother.
Two years ago the Christmas get-together was uncomfortable and strained because my brother and SIL had gotten into a fight, her family got involved, the kids got upset, and it put a huge damper on the festivities.
Last year the same thing happened – except that the arguing continued over at my folk’s house. It was horrible. Some of the relatives shouted, some sulked, some cried, the kids were upset, the English-only speakers in the house were confused (all of the shouting takes place in the language that we do not understand) and my mother was heartbroken and frustrated that this is what had happened at Christmas two years in a row. I'm going to add here that this is not just the way SIL's family interacts - not a cultural difference that we Stoic Midwesterners just don't understand. Perhaps the way they argue in front of us is different than what we would do (bury it deep within, smile, celebrate holidays, and the complain about it afterwards once we were driving away in our cars) but this is above and beyond. This is shouting and sobbing and cold-shouldering and last year it came close to blows between my brother and his mother-in-law. (seriously.)
Well. The holidays are upon us again. My SIL’s relatives are coming to town once again. The fighting continues over at Brother/SIL’s house, and my mother wants to cancel the Christmas get-together because she “just can’t take all of the fighting”. She’s crushed. She’s especially crushed because she and my niece/nephew are very close and not having Christmas with the kids just breaks her heart. I’m sad for her and want to help. I asked her if Brother/SIL could host Christmas at their house. Turns out she asked them but they will not host at their house because it is messy and full of mattresses on the floor in the common rooms for all of the relatives that have come to stay. Sister/BIL live in the same geographic area, but their house is small and the road they live on is not paved. Their Land Rover can navigate the road in the winter, Mom and Dad’s Buick probably could not. I am not in a position to call my brother and talk sense into him (seriously, we talk 3-4 times a year and that’s enough for both of us) and my house is way too far away to be convenient for a family gathering.
Does anyone have any ideas? I know that everyone’s got their own Family Dramaz around this time of year, so I’d be grateful for your thoughts about mine.