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saraha

Please help me interpret my feelings

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22 minutes ago, Seasider too said:

 

Make a list of ALL the tasks. When he gets home ask him which remaining jobs he’s going to do to make the entire holiday effort shared 50/50.

 

 

12 minutes ago, prairiewindmomma said:

This was a helpful tactic for me years ago. I made a list of ALL of the tasks with time estimates and a budget and we talked about what was essential and what wasn’t. “Christmas” was about 125 hours of additional work on top of my very full life at the time (lots of little kids, homeschooling, etc). It made it difficult for him to minimize my feelings/brush off all responsibility onto me when it was laid out there in black and white.

 

7 minutes ago, prairiewindmomma said:

I still come back to this.  

This current situation is just a snapshot of a much bigger, long standing (it seems) issue of him not truly hearing you, respecting your feelings, and acting in a way to help you. 

If you are the beast of burden carrying the cart full of the weight of Christmas responsibilities and you’ve broken a leg and a wheel has come off of the cart, the answer all of those years previously was not to keep demanding that you make delivery on time. His behavior was not loving or supportive or anything one should aspire to.

I do want to say that ITA with all these posts too

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I would assume the tears are for, he's still not respecting you by "hearing" you - he's just freaking because he's been forced to take on a big task (good for you for refusing to paly that game this year.) and wear a pair of your shoes this year.

it's also relief, this is something that has been so stressful. tears are cathartic.

I had this type of "argument'" with dh over thanksgiving.  he had some norman Rockwell idea in his head of what he wanted it to be.  I (and our oldest) came to loath thanksgiving.  I couldn't get through to him the reality versus his "dream".  I got him to agree to take one break, where dinner got moved to his sister's house.  he *finally* saw what we had been complaining about for years. we still had it with her one or two more times (but not at our house), and then that was it.  He was too angry at what was going on, and he couldn't deny it anymore.   never again.  It still took me five years to stop hating thanksgiving. (my stress for it would start rising in sep. every year.)

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12 minutes ago, ttt said:

Do you get to spend ANY time during the holidays with your family of origin?  

My mom is so undemanding. When we got married, she told me not to worry about coming to her house on Christmas day, that I needed to carve out that time for "my" family (boy if I had known then) so we travel an 1.5 hours to her house on Christmas Eve after he gets off work. A few years ago I talked her into taking us to her church service since we never got to attend our church's services because of being at the different family things. So we go to church, eat take out pizza or tacos or fried chicken and hang out for a while, then come home and send the kids to bed so that we can wrap presents. He loves to wrap presents so he puts in a movie and we go to work.

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5 minutes ago, saraha said:

My mom is so undemanding. When we got married, she told me not to worry about coming to her house on Christmas day, that I needed to carve out that time for "my" family (boy if I had known then) so we travel an 1.5 hours to her house on Christmas Eve after he gets off work. A few years ago I talked her into taking us to her church service since we never got to attend our church's services because of being at the different family things. So we go to church, eat take out pizza or tacos or fried chicken and hang out for a while, then come home and send the kids to bed so that we can wrap presents. He loves to wrap presents so he puts in a movie and we go to work.

 

That sounds like a really nice part of Christmas! Glad you get that time with your mom. 

I always hope to be like your mom when my kids are grown and established.

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3 hours ago, saraha said:

How do I get past this bitter part and just be happy he is more open to changing things?

Time.

3 hours ago, saraha said:

Yes! And that doesn't even touch the fact that now his parents are elderly, they don't want to shop anymore, they just want to give us money and have me shop for the kids, wrap and put under inlaws tree! Or the fact that they (until a few years ago when I put my foot down) expected us to be there at 12 on Christmas Day, then come back day after Christmas, then get together for New Years Eve, THEN come back New Years Day for bil's birthday!

 

amazon gift cards.  if you order ahead from amazon - they'll send nifty boxes to put them in.

I'd refuse to purchase, wrap, etc. something from the kids to open - unless it's something like a phone, tablet, laptop or similarly priced item because otherwise it's not. worth. my. time.

3 hours ago, saraha said:

I think you all are right. I want to be happy to finally be getting a crack at getting things my way, but I don't feel happy. And when he gets home. he will NOT understand why I am not excited that he "gets it" and I wish I had the words to explain it to him.

are you religious?  (or more  - is he religious?)'

 John 20:29  Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

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A few things from your posts have stuck out to me- you spend part of one day with your side, the majority of 4 days with his side, and your time with just your own kids is also very limited.  I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that this isn't just about the stress of gift giving, meal prep, ect. And has as much to do with how much of the holiday is dedicated to DHs traditions vs yours vs making traditions with your own children.  

Before we had kids I decided that Christmas morning was going to be spent at our home, playing with our kids.  Family is welcome- plenty of food- but my kids will spend Christmas day playing with their toys.  I also have worked hard to make traditions like cookie decorating with cousins, gift swap between my own kids, craft projects, decorating the tree together, and even watching a few Christmas movies together.   You never mentioned anything about your own traditions with your kids, and I wonder if maybe his family traditions are overshadowing the memories you want to make with your own kids.  Or maybe I'm projecting 😉

I do think it's great that your husband is finally getting a small taste of what you have shouldered for so many years.  I think most women have at least one holiday season freak out 😉

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4 hours ago, saraha said:

 

So, Christmas and ALL it's trappings has been my sole responsibility for my entire married life, 20 years. I married into a family that had some traditions, and expected a lot in the gift department. For the last 5 years I have been asking (some years begging) for a change in the way we do Christmas. I initially started out asking to just go away with our nuclear family and skip Christmas. At the time, I was burnt the heck out, and was grappling with depression and 6 kids under 15. This year, I started my yearly ask, he was open to "listening" before he shot me down (turns out he takes my hatred for Christmas very personally), then shot me down.

  20 years is quite a long time to have to do this, and begging too. I know I would have been burnt out and resentful, and rightly so.  You never did get to make Christmas traditions for your immediate family the way you would have liked, and your husband didn't care.  That is not right. You made do by going to see your mother on Christmas Eve, but you took what you could get.  Your husband didn't help make it work for all of you in a loving way. (And then there is the clean up, maybe writing thank-you's and finding a place for all those gifts your kids received.  I am pretty sure I know who ended up doing all of that...and it doesn't add to the joy of wanting to do it all over again the next year. BTDT)

 He did not take responsibility in caring for your needs when you were depressed or afterwards to make sure you didn't slip back into it. This was the worst part, and you have a right to be angry.  One who is depressed does not always think clearly. 

2 hours ago, saraha said:

I am also not feeling like you have communicated your feelings and thoughts all that well through the years.  I mean it seems like you discussed burn out and stress but it sounds like your only solution was to run away from it all by taking a vacation and skipping Christmas.  

It doesn’t seem like you ever asked for anything besides that.  

The above would be an example of how someone who has been depressed would typically act. You were in a fog!  If you didn't communicate thoughts and feelings well, do not blame yourself!  Being depressed, ruminating and doing the 'woulda, shoulda, coulda' thing makes communicating your thoughts very difficult!

To me, that means you may be feeling guilty for having those feelings over the years, when you should not have been feeling guilty.  By some of your responses above to some of the hive who agree with him, you are going pretty easy on him, IMO.  He is being imposed upon at this moment when he is purchasing the presents, but it should be a wake-up call to everything else that you have to do still.  I hope he is asking you if there is anything else you need help with...that would tell you where his heart is! 

I am not trying to start a debate here with the hive, just stating another side to why you are crying.  So many years of taking this on...you should let it out!  I am really curious as to what will happen next year, or will he 'forget' the hard part and just let it all fall back on you...for your sake, I hope you will be able to plan a trip for next year, soon. Please keep us posted!  Hugs....

 

 

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I just want to add something about "Christmas family vacation".

we grew up *always* going to my grandmother's on Christmas eve.  dh did it once, and said "never again".  Took awhile, but we came up with our own traditions.

my sister was grandmama's favorite - but my sister took matters into her own hands (a true act of rebellion), and she and her dh started going away for Christmas when their oldest was very small.  It started out as a way to avoid family drama and start their own tradition  - to becoming a true tradition that they miss since their girls have left home and married.   

at least in dh's case (with thanksgiving) - I believe he was trying to hold onto memories of what family life was like prior to his father's death.  that's why he was so insistent on spending the day with his family.  I did shut down spending the rest of Thanksgiving weekend with his family . . . . (his sister tried to impose things for the rest of the weekend.)

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I have read this entire thread, and one word has kept popping into my head: MAGIC

It seems, from your description, that your dh loves the magic of Christmas, and that he has remained childlike in his desire for it to just appear around him, recreated every year, just as it was when he was a little boy. 

I am surmising that your MIL made wonderful Christmas magic happen for your dh. She did everything, and never included him in the planning, cleaning, decorating, shopping. While he may have made some cookies, wrapped a few presents, and helped trim the tree, everything else just *appeared*, as if by magic.  He never saw what she put into it, even as he got old enough that he should have been involved in making it all happen. He just loved it as a little boy, and has never let go of that little boy feeling of Christmas. Basically, even though he may be an adult in every other way, he never grew up in his view of Christmas. He didn't want to see what went into creating that magic, and it never occurred to him that he should be part of making it happen. This shopping adventure has been a turning point for him. He's had the glitter and lights pulled back, as a curtain on a stage, and has gotten a glimpse behind the scenes. He may, on his own, come to realize that his expectations have been unreasonable. Perhaps he'll even decide it's time to create a different Christmas play, one that is centered on your nuclear family.

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I’ve been thinking of Magic, too, but in a different way.

I grew up going to my grandparents’ house every Christmas.  It was a huge, glorious gathering, involving family that was tangential, extended, direct, and church friends.  And SOs as well.  I would not want that to not exist for someone who is accustomed to it.  Rather, I would want it to go on and on; and I’d be willing to host it and work hard on it myself, but I would hope that at least the immediate and slightly extended family would be committed to it, because it is a rare and special thing.  These, and weddings, and funerals, are when the longstanding family stories get passed on, and when children get to know their roots and their cousins, and when adults can do the ‘many hands make light work’ thing.  

Failing to grow into being an adult is remedy-able.  The Magic is not easily replaced.

In our family now, Big Family Christmas is not as good as when I was a kid, but I am still very committed to it.  One thing I did when DD was young was create an Epiphany presents tradition in our nuclear family so that we could have our own celebration AND the large one also.  Since we were homeschooling, this worked out well—it might not have been so successful if everyone was back in school by then.  Thinking out side of the box like that was nice.

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5 hours ago, StellaM said:

Personally, I think it is not OK to lump a burned out, depressed loved one who is trying her best to communicate her needs with responsibility for ensuring your Christmas values are carried out, but that's just me.

Any of those years where he refused to even consider the OP's depression, burn out and need to be relieved of this burden, he could have taken it on himself, out of love and respect for his wife, and been responsible for creating the Christmas that was important to him and his family of origin. He chose not to do that, and continued to insist that OP carried the burden. That is not loving behaviour. Christmas traditions are irrelevant and meaningless in comparison to the health of one's marriage.

 

Not in any sense defending him, but I suspect that in his mind, a large part of the magic of this kind of Christmas is that it 'just happens'. If he has to do it, it's not magic any more. He is expecting the childhood experience, when mum did it all and it was golden.

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7 minutes ago, Laura Corin said:

Not in any sense defending him, but I suspect that in his mind, a large part of the magic of this kind of Christmas is that it 'just happens'. If he has to do it, it's not magic any more. He is expecting the childhood experience, when mum did it all and it was golden.

 

I can't relate!

I may have thought this way at 5, but by the time I was 15, I was well aware many of these festivities run on female labour! No magic involved.

It's sort of incredible that a grown man with childen of his own couldn't have made this mental leap before, idk, leaving home.

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19 minutes ago, StellaM said:

 

I can't relate!

I may have thought this way at 5, but by the time I was 15, I was well aware many of these festivities run on female labour! No magic involved.

It's sort of incredible that a grown man with childen of his own couldn't have made this mental leap before, idk, leaving home.

 

Oh, I'm sure he's made the mental leap.  He knows how all this works, but feels entitled to a Very Nice Christmas, so it doesn't matter if his wife is sobbing over the work load.  Did anyone else catch the bit where OP has to go over to the in-laws house to help clean before all these festivities, and also that she has to do the in-laws shopping, because MIL isn't up to the task anymore?!  This isn't OP feeling pouty because she doesn't want to make extra pies to share. She's taken on the holiday labor of *two* households!  And for a multi-day holiday celebration! That's nuts!  

Where's OP's Christmas Magic? How come everyone else gets Christmas Magic but her?! 

Edited to add: It's not just men that pull this crap, although it seems like men do this more often.  I have a sister that is just as guilty as my dad with her expectations of a Very Nice Christmas where she does zero work, receives gifts, eats great food, and cleans nothing.  She and dad have fought very hard to keep "The Magic of Christmas" alive, at the expense of my other sister. 

 

Edited by MissLemon
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2 hours ago, Suzanne in ABQ said:

I have read this entire thread, and one word has kept popping into my head: MAGIC

It seems, from your description, that your dh loves the magic of Christmas, and that he has remained childlike in his desire for it to just appear around him, recreated every year, just as it was when he was a little boy. 

I am surmising that your MIL made wonderful Christmas magic happen for your dh. She did everything, and never included him in the planning, cleaning, decorating, shopping. While he may have made some cookies, wrapped a few presents, and helped trim the tree, everything else just *appeared*, as if by magic.  He never saw what she put into it, even as he got old enough that he should have been involved in making it all happen. He just loved it as a little boy, and has never let go of that little boy feeling of Christmas. Basically, even though he may be an adult in every other way, he never grew up in his view of Christmas. He didn't want to see what went into creating that magic, and it never occurred to him that he should be part of making it happen. This shopping adventure has been a turning point for him. He's had the glitter and lights pulled back, as a curtain on a stage, and has gotten a glimpse behind the scenes. He may, on his own, come to realize that his expectations have been unreasonable. Perhaps he'll even decide it's time to create a different Christmas play, one that is centered on your nuclear family.

just wat to add.  it can also be tangentially related to the anxiety of being an adult, and so many things dependent upon your choices.  returning to that safety of childhood magic and wonderful memories can be an escape.

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oh - you could also order from amazon and have them "gift wrap" it.  it's really just a colorful bag, but still - you're only ordering. (you could even have it delivered to your mils house.)  if anyone complains about the additional cost to "wrap it", tell them they're free to wrap it themselves - but you don't have time.  (no need to justify what you are spending your time doing.)

Edited by gardenmom5
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OP,  I hear you.  I've been lucky in that when I've decided to change our family's holiday pattern so I don't get as exhausted,  DH has listened. I will admit to having been loud about it from time to time.  🙂

I wish I could make more deliberate changes,  but I usually have to get upset before I realize there's a problem.  I find myself worn out and angry, and then I make the changes that should have happened before.  Until I'm exhausted,  I just try harder. Maybe I'll grow into a better process.

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5 hours ago, MissLemon said:

....  Did anyone else catch the bit where OP has to go over to the in-laws house to help clean before all these festivities, and also that she has to do the in-laws shopping, because MIL isn't up to the task anymore?!  This isn't OP feeling pouty because she doesn't want to make extra pies to share. She's taken on the holiday labor of *two* households!  And for a multi-day holiday celebration! That's nuts!  

At least in my experience, today’s grandparents have more income than moms have time. Especially a homeschooling mom of six. The housecleaning needs to be hired out. 

As for shopping, does grandma have a computer? Can dh show her how to use Amazon? even if she can’t go physically shopping, it seems like she would get more joy from gift giving having perused Amazon, bought something to be wrapped and shipped to her, and given it to her grandchildren. 🤔

If these are not helpful thoughts, ignore. I realize this thread is more about navigating hurt feelings and relationships, less about the hive fixing Christmas for you.

Edited by SamanthaCarter
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Sometimes men are just dense.  If it makes you feel any better, when we had young kids, my husband took the kids to see his mom.  I had been complaining for years that she favored his sisters kids over ours, that my time at her house was stressful because I had to stay inside with her and the kids (like during nap time) while he went outside and had fun, went wherever with siblings, etc.....

When he had to take the kids alone, he FINALLY got it!  His mother would watch the sisters kids for days on end, but when left with our kids for 2 hours, texted him to come home and get them because she didn't have time for them, etc......

Sometimes they just don't get it unless they have to experience it.

Hugs.

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35 minutes ago, DawnM said:

Sometimes men are just dense.  If it makes you feel any better, when we had young kids, my husband took the kids to see his mom.  I had been complaining for years that she favored his sisters kids over ours, that my time at her house was stressful because I had to stay inside with her and the kids (like during nap time) while he went outside and had fun, went wherever with siblings, etc.....

When he had to take the kids alone, he FINALLY got it!  His mother would watch the sisters kids for days on end, but when left with our kids for 2 hours, texted him to come home and get them because she didn't have time for them, etc......

Sometimes they just don't get it unless they have to experience it.

Hugs.

So this relates back to being unsure about my feelings. If he really cant help it, then it is unfair of me to be angry and hurt, I am not angry and hurt when one of my kids doesn't "get"  something, I just educate and go on. But part of me says that when I got married, I did not sign on to also be his mom. I don't need him to be my dad (my handyman maybe) so it feels unfair to have to manipulate situations to help him understand. After reading this thread, I am seeing some correlations between some other behaviors that involve "magical thinking". Some how it was easier to think that it wasn't that he didn't listen/ understand, it was that he did listen/understand and we didn't agree. I don't know.

And the weird part of all of this, is that I LOVE his parents. I started taking the kids over to clean her house once a week because she was getting to where she can't do a lot of it and acts of service is my love language. She is very appreciative and even gives the kids pocket money for helping. For years, I would just get up and wash all the dishes because my dh is not alone in his idea that the kitchen magically cleans itself after holiday dinners because I didn't want his mom to have to do it herself after everyone left at midnight. Other than her expectations of everyone at Christmas she is such a super lady. My sil does help with dishes now since my mil mentioned in front of everyone a couple of years ago how much she appreciates me doing up all the dishes every dinner 😉 

But all of this aside, my problem right  now in the immediate is I just want to strangle this man and when we talk about it, whenever that will be, he is going to think I am all happy happy joy joy that he has had an epiphany and I am so not there. And I am ashamed of myself for not being there, you know, I am starting to get what I want. I can even hear him saying that, "Why are you unhappy now?!? Isn't this what you wanted?" So yeah. Feelings.

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I think it’s fine to tell him that you feel frustrated that you’ve been trying to communicate for years how much you disliked all the work that his family’s Christmas involved, and he’s only starting to understand it now that he has to do part of the work.  Whatever his reasons for not understanding, he is an adult and he is CAPABLE of understanding and choosing not to.  You should not feel at all guilty for asking your (adult) husband to consider your needs also, no matter how magical of a Christmas he desires.  (Also, if this is a recurring issue with other things throughout your marriage, you may want to look up over-functioning.  It sounds like either your H is pretty good at guilt-tripping you, or you naturally tend to be an over-functioning and feel guilty when you finally decide you’ve had enough and start saying no, or both.)

It sounds like you’ve done plenty of talking/trying to convince over the years, and the only thing that actually works is setting boundaries.  So next Christmas, instead of initiating “the Christmas talk” yet again, and most likely ending up frustrated again because he still doesn't really get it for the most part, decide what you are willing to do, and what you’re not willing to do, and just tell him that.  He can do the rest or it can go undone.  Now if HE initiated “the talk” next year, it might be worth having, but go into it with low expectations and be prepared to state those boundaries.

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55 minutes ago, saraha said:

So this relates back to being unsure about my feelings. If he really cant help it, then it is unfair of me to be angry and hurt, I am not angry and hurt when one of my kids doesn't "get"  something, I just educate and go on. But part of me says that when I got married, I did not sign on to also be his mom. I don't need him to be my dad (my handyman maybe) so it feels unfair to have to manipulate situations to help him understand. After reading this thread, I am seeing some correlations between some other behaviors that involve "magical thinking". Some how it was easier to think that it wasn't that he didn't listen/ understand, it was that he did listen/understand and we didn't agree. I don't know.

And the weird part of all of this, is that I LOVE his parents. I started taking the kids over to clean her house once a week because she was getting to where she can't do a lot of it and acts of service is my love language. She is very appreciative and even gives the kids pocket money for helping. For years, I would just get up and wash all the dishes because my dh is not alone in his idea that the kitchen magically cleans itself after holiday dinners because I didn't want his mom to have to do it herself after everyone left at midnight. Other than her expectations of everyone at Christmas she is such a super lady. My sil does help with dishes now since my mil mentioned in front of everyone a couple of years ago how much she appreciates me doing up all the dishes every dinner 😉 

But all of this aside, my problem right  now in the immediate is I just want to strangle this man and when we talk about it, whenever that will be, he is going to think I am all happy happy joy joy that he has had an epiphany and I am so not there. And I am ashamed of myself for not being there, you know, I am starting to get what I want. I can even hear him saying that, "Why are you unhappy now?!? Isn't this what you wanted?" So yeah. Feelings.

 

But he is an adult, and he should listen.  Not showing any empathy or understanding is really not mature, and, unless he has autism, he should be listening.  That was my frustration with my husband.  AND, the sheer dismissal of your feelings is not ok.  

So, there may be something in the middle.....you get to the point you don't want to strangle him and he gets too the point where he hears and listens for understanding.

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1 hour ago, saraha said:

So this relates back to being unsure about my feelings. If he really cant help it, then it is unfair of me to be angry and hurt, I

Your feelings are your feelings.  They’re not right or wrong.  They’ve been 20 years in the making and won’t go away in a day.  I would think HE would be the one who is so apologetic and sorry right now and willing to listen and understand and get why you are angry and frustrated.  He didn’t listen to you for yearsnornoffer to help out.  He wants to change because it was too much for him, not because it was too much for you.  Explain it.  YOU shouldn’t be the one worrying if your feelings are fair to him.  He should be tripping over himself with apologies for taking you for granted and not sharing Christmas as a family.

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2 hours ago, saraha said:

So this relates back to being unsure about my feelings. If he really cant help it, then it is unfair of me to be angry and hurt, I am not angry and hurt when one of my kids doesn't "get"  something, I just educate and go on. But part of me says that when I got married, I did not sign on to also be his mom. I don't need him to be my dad (my handyman maybe) so it feels unfair to have to manipulate situations to help him understand. After reading this thread, I am seeing some correlations between some other behaviors that involve "magical thinking". Some how it was easier to think that it wasn't that he didn't listen/ understand, it was that he did listen/understand and we didn't agree. I don't know.

And the weird part of all of this, is that I LOVE his parents. I started taking the kids over to clean her house once a week because she was getting to where she can't do a lot of it and acts of service is my love language. She is very appreciative and even gives the kids pocket money for helping. For years, I would just get up and wash all the dishes because my dh is not alone in his idea that the kitchen magically cleans itself after holiday dinners because I didn't want his mom to have to do it herself after everyone left at midnight. Other than her expectations of everyone at Christmas she is such a super lady. My sil does help with dishes now since my mil mentioned in front of everyone a couple of years ago how much she appreciates me doing up all the dishes every dinner 😉 

But all of this aside, my problem right  now in the immediate is I just want to strangle this man and when we talk about it, whenever that will be, he is going to think I am all happy happy joy joy that he has had an epiphany and I am so not there. And I am ashamed of myself for not being there, you know, I am starting to get what I want. I can even hear him saying that, "Why are you unhappy now?!? Isn't this what you wanted?" So yeah. Feelings.

 

The reason you’re more upset now than ever is possibly this (the emotional language and caps and exclamations points in the below represent your feelings that you might not be conscious of—this is what your feelings would say and how they’d say it if you could get them to talk, so it’s a little over the top.) :

Up until now, you might have wondered if you were being unreasonable.  Maaaybe you were being too emotional?  Maaaaaaybe you were ruining a good thing for everyone?  Maaaaybe (gasp) *you* were the bad guy?  

That has always held you back inside your own head.  Maybe you were being selfish for wanting something different?  Maybe you were hurting him?  Maybe you were in the wrong for wanting what you wanted?  There was so much doubt about your own motivations and demands.

And now...after yesterday...after him confirming it for you:  you realize that YOU WERE RIGHT.  YOU WERE RIGHT THE WHOLE TIME!!! 

But why the tears and anger, instead of relief??:  Because...

Either he’s been gaslighting you these whole years, purposely manipulating you and making you think YOU were the selfish one, OR you’ve been gaslighting yourself for years, secretly holding back because maybe suspected you were being selfish.  

But now?  

Now you know that all along things actually REALLY were bad and you are vindicated and now (here’s the key). ALL THOSE YEARS of holding back your anger to some degree have come crashing down.  You should have been angry all along!!!!  And that anger monster WILL NOT BE CONTAINED ANYMORE.  It held itself in check when it thought that maybe it was a bad monster and should stay in its corner, but now?  Now that anger monster knows that it was not a bad monster and that it should not have been told it was a bad monster for all these years.  And it’s double mad now.

And you might also be grieving your lost Christmases.  You cannot go back and get those lost Christmases back because your DH ruined them for you.  While you were busy trying not to ruin his, you can now see that he was actually ruining yours THE WHOLE TIME.  You might not have been sure that he really was ruining your Christmases in the past...but now you know he was!!!  It’s been confirmed by the man who messed everything up for you himself!

——-

Ok—I’m done with the emotional language.

From here forward...you need to think carefully about how you handle this.  It is tempting to unleash the anger monster on him. However, instead of letting the monster roar for herself, you might need to take on the role of defense attorney for your anger and keep it classy and advocate for your anger in a calm way...but certainly advocate for yourself.  If the above rings true for you, then explain it as your advocate for yourself and not as the raging monster.  

1.  I’m glad you now see why I’ve been upset.  Doing all these things is hard.  And you only did a small percentage of it, so I’m sure you get it now. 

2.  And while I’m glad, I am a human and we’re capable of feeling conflicting emotions at the same time.  So, I’m actually angry now to find out that my feelings were valid. 

3.  I’m angry because for all these years, I thought I was the bad guy, but now I find out I wasn’t and it makes me angry that you’ve heaped guilt on my head, wrongfully, for all this time.  My sense of fairness is reeeeaally angry right now.

4.  I’m also angry that you didn’t believe ME.  You only believed YOU once you’d experienced it.  That makes me feel like you don’t trust me as a person, as if you think I’m stupid or something.

5.  I love you.  I know I’ve done things that upset you too, in our marriage.  This isn’t about a power struggle where I try to play victim and “poor little me.”  It just happens that I’m the one upset today and I’ve now told you why.  Another day, the shoes will be on the opposite feet, so don’t think I think you’re a bad husband and I’m the good one across the board  We’re just working through this one thing today and tomorrow it’ll be something different.  (This is where arguments fall apart—-if he feels completely attacked, he will most likely knee-jerk react back at you and this will become a mess.  Make sure he knows that this is a single instance and is fixable and you don’t hate him forever because of it.)

6.  Going forward, there must be changes at Christmas.  We need to talk *together* about those changes.  Most likely, the biggest change will be that we divide the labor equally.  Let’s be a team.

 

 

 

Edited by Garga
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I hope you continue to move things over to your dh. Don't lose any ground you've gained. It sounds like you have gotten closer and closer to a livable balance over the years. I would keep the shopping on his plate for future Christmases and move something else over to him until you feel like it works for you.

As for the feelings, that's called resentment and it sounds like you both have been carrying it. That's why I suggested counseling.

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I had one thought I'd like to add as an addendum to Garga's wonderful post.

I would wonder if OP's DH might be a bit . . . shall we say . . . misogynistic and thinking he is of worth, and his wife is there to serve him - as opposed to being equal partners and of equal value in the relationship?  If he doesn't see her as an equal, why should he listen to her opinions or give them any weight?

 

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3 hours ago, Garga said:

 

The reason you’re more upset now than ever is possibly this (the emotional language and caps and exclamations points in the below represent your feelings that you might not be conscious of—this is what your feelings would say and how they’d say it if you could get them to talk, so it’s a little over the top.) :

Up until now, you might have wondered if you were being unreasonable.  Maaaybe you were being too emotional?  Maaaaaaybe you were ruining a good thing for everyone?  Maaaaybe (gasp) *you* were the bad guy?  

That has always held you back inside your own head.  Maybe you were being selfish for wanting something different?  Maybe you were hurting him?  Maybe you were in the wrong for wanting what you wanted?  There was so much doubt about your own motivations and demands.

And now...after yesterday...after him confirming it for you:  you realize that YOU WERE RIGHT.  YOU WERE RIGHT THE WHOLE TIME!!! 

But why the tears and anger, instead of relief??:  Because...

Either he’s been gaslighting you these whole years, purposely manipulating you and making you think YOU were the selfish one, OR you’ve been gaslighting yourself for years, secretly holding back because maybe suspected you were being selfish.  

But now?  

Now you know that all along things actually REALLY were bad and you are vindicated and now (here’s the key). ALL THOSE YEARS of holding back your anger to some degree have come crashing down.  You should have been angry all along!!!!  And that anger monster WILL NOT BE CONTAINED ANYMORE.  It held itself in check when it thought that maybe it was a bad monster and should stay in its corner, but now?  Now that anger monster knows that it was not a bad monster and that it should not have been told it was a bad monster for all these years.  And it’s double mad now.

And you might also be grieving your lost Christmases.  You cannot go back and get those lost Christmases back because your DH ruined them for you.  While you were busy trying not to ruin his, you can now see that he was actually ruining yours THE WHOLE TIME.  You might not have been sure that he really was ruining your Christmases in the past...but now you know he was!!!  It’s been confirmed by the man who messed everything up for you himself!

——-

Ok—I’m done with the emotional language.

From here forward...you need to think carefully about how you handle this.  It is tempting to unleash the anger monster on him. However, instead of letting the monster roar for herself, you might need to take on the role of defense attorney for your anger and keep it classy and advocate for your anger in a calm way...but certainly advocate for yourself.  If the above rings true for you, then explain it as your advocate for yourself and not as the raging monster.  

1.  I’m glad you now see why I’ve been upset.  Doing all these things is hard.  And you only did a small percentage of it, so I’m sure you get it now. 

2.  And while I’m glad, I am a human and we’re capable of feeling conflicting emotions at the same time.  So, I’m actually angry now to find out that my feelings were valid. 

3.  I’m angry because for all these years, I thought I was the bad guy, but now I find out I wasn’t and it makes me angry that you’ve heaped guilt on my head, wrongfully, for all this time.  My sense of fairness is reeeeaally angry right now.

4.  I’m also angry that you didn’t believe ME.  You only believed YOU once you’d experienced it.  That makes me feel like you don’t trust me as a person, as if you think I’m stupid or something.

5.  I love you.  I know I’ve done things that upset you too, in our marriage.  This isn’t about a power struggle where I try to play victim and “poor little me.”  It just happens that I’m the one upset today and I’ve now told you why.  Another day, the shoes will be on the opposite feet, so don’t think I think you’re a bad husband and I’m the good one across the board  We’re just working through this one thing today and tomorrow it’ll be something different.  (This is where arguments fall apart—-if he feels completely attacked, he will most likely knee-jerk react back at you and this will become a mess.  Make sure he knows that this is a single instance and is fixable and you don’t hate him forever because of it.)

6.  Going forward, there must be changes at Christmas.  We need to talk *together* about those changes.  Most likely, the biggest change will be that we divide the labor equally.  Let’s be a team.

 

 

 

 

Y’all. Best free therapy session on the web today. 

Garga, this is really insightful and the follow up recommendations are a great balance of truth and grace. Well said!

 

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17 hours ago, BusyMom5 said:

A few things from your posts have stuck out to me- you spend part of one day with your side, the majority of 4 days with his side, and your time with just your own kids is also very limited.  I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that this isn't just about the stress of gift giving, meal prep, ect. And has as much to do with how much of the holiday is dedicated to DHs traditions vs yours vs making traditions with your own children.  

Before we had kids I decided that Christmas morning was going to be spent at our home, playing with our kids.  Family is welcome- plenty of food- but my kids will spend Christmas day playing with their toys.  I also have worked hard to make traditions like cookie decorating with cousins, gift swap between my own kids, craft projects, decorating the tree together, and even watching a few Christmas movies together.   You never mentioned anything about your own traditions with your kids, and I wonder if maybe his family traditions are overshadowing the memories you want to make with your own kids.  Or maybe I'm projecting 😉

I do think it's great that your husband is finally getting a small taste of what you have shouldered for so many years.  I think most women have at least one holiday season freak out 😉

This is exactly what I have been wanting to post. OP, my heart hurts for you. I hope you and your dh can figure out what you want as a couple/family-not as a continuation of his Christmas ideas. It needs to be a partnership. No wonder you are bitter.

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((((OP))))

As a wife who loves her in-laws, but who has struggled communicating with DH about his holiday expectations, I just want to give you a big hug!  My MIL did a big beautiful Christmas when my DH was growing up.  She worked her tush off and coped with alcohol and antidepressants.  My husband is only just now, at 45, beginning to see that dynamic.  But for a very long time, he just didn't get it.  He still flounders on the topic.  It was all appearances, but as a kid, he just loved it.  

Every Christmas is getting better for me, communicating.  This year I was able to calmly say, "You're excited about Christmas.  But your suggestions about how I decorate are beginning to feel overwhelming for me.  If you want to do it, go for it!"  I've let go of the need to have him understand my core yearning for a simple at home Christmas.  The gravity of Christmas memory is too strong a force for him.  I'm getting better about letting him own the aesthetic he wants to experience.  Way to go on doing hte same!

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So we didn't even talk about it last night, he was home really late 😉. I had offered to take the kids to shop for each other and spend their grandparent money today, so we drove down to the city and shopped all day, had fun, didn't get it all done (because we were having fun) and when I called to update him on our progress said I was going to stop and pick up pizzas for dinner since I was tired and I still needed to make 8 pounds of meatballs for his Christmas party tomorrow. He said not to worry, he would pick up the pizzas and if I didn't feel up to making the meatballs, he would just think of something else. Then he thanked me for taking them shopping. I'm less mad today after that. It is amazing how feeling acknowledged can sweeten ones disposition a little.

And a big shout out to Garga and her post!

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It sounds like he might have had a real lightbulb moment, then!

Some people are really experience people, I think.  They don't really get things until they experience them for themselves, no matter how many times you tell them.  They have a really strong sense that there is a concrete correlation between how they perceive things and how they are.

Just a thought - your kids are old enough that you might be able to give them some of the tasks that need to be done, cooking for example, getting out the decorations, that sort of thing.  Washing up, for certain.  

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14 hours ago, SamanthaCarter said:

At least in my experience, today’s grandparents have more income than moms have time. Especially a homeschooling mom of six. The housecleaning needs to be hired out. 

As for shopping, does grandma have a computer? Can dh show her how to use Amazon? even if she can’t go physically shopping, it seems like she would get more joy from gift giving having perused Amazon, bought something to be wrapped and shipped to her, and given it to her grandchildren. 🤔

If these are not helpful thoughts, ignore. I realize this thread is more about navigating hurt feelings and relationships, less about the hive fixing Christmas for you.

 

Absolutely.  If the grandparents can't handle these tasks anymore, then they need to be hired out. Or other relatives need to step up and do their share if there is no money for this. The current arrangement is very unbalanced. 

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21 hours ago, Garga said:

5.  I love you.  I know I’ve done things that upset you too, in our marriage.  This isn’t about a power struggle where I try to play victim and “poor little me.”  It just happens that I’m the one upset today and I’ve now told you why.  Another day, the shoes will be on the opposite feet, so don’t think I think you’re a bad husband and I’m the good one across the board  We’re just working through this one thing today and tomorrow it’ll be something different.  (This is where arguments fall apart—-if he feels completely attacked, he will most likely knee-jerk react back at you and this will become a mess.  Make sure he knows that this is a single instance and is fixable and you don’t hate him forever because of it.)

I reread your post this morning, and THIS stands out powerfully. We don't fight. Never, and I think it is because neither one of us has ever formed this thought in our own heads like this. Because we love each other and don't want the other to feel like a bad person, which could happen when you vocalize your anger, we don't fight. At least for me anyway, and I am pretty sure that it is the same for him on some level.

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I think you were crying because you have been under so much stress all these years and not because he seems to be finally understanding. I also think it is absolutely ridiculous to expect you to come up with a replacement holiday that entertains him as much is what he did growing up he has never been concerned with coming up with a replacement holiday for you. It is not good for a marriage or a family or for children to see where one parent does all the giving in the work and the other parent does all the receiving and it seems like your husband has always gotten his way and it was always his way or the highway and you have never even been given a passing thought. Usually, the feelings of the family dog are given more consideration. I think you know this too. Your crying is a release of emotion, not a happiness that he gets it. And I don’t think he really gets it.  (((Hugs))) don’t worry, we all have to sort through our relationships and I think you are handling things well.  Just don’t feel guilty for self preservation. A family cannot really survive without balance and you are working toward that.

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On 12/19/2019 at 1:40 AM, Carol in Cal. said:

 

22 hours ago, saraha said:

I reread your post this morning, and THIS stands out powerfully. We don't fight. Never, and I think it is because neither one of us has ever formed this thought in our own heads like this. Because we love each other and don't want the other to feel like a bad person, which could happen when you vocalize your anger, we don't fight. At least for me anyway, and I am pretty sure that it is the same for him on some level.

Women are often socialized to not want to burden people with their feelings/emotions. But not being fully open about your thoughts/feelings is actually a form of dishonesty. It stifles a marriage. Mostly, it leads to resentment. Far better to face a problem together, as a couple, than to carry that burden on your own, silently resenting your spouse for not carrying it with you, until you break under the pressure. 

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12 hours ago, seekinghim45 said:

 

Way, way too harsh on the husband.  Did you catch the fact that they never fight. The other person doesn't want to hurt the other one. They think the best.  Yes, he probably should have known, but he didn't get it partly because she didn't express it as well for fear of hurting him and hurting his feelings.  Sort of like me.  I expressed it, but seemed overall happy.  So he thought it was ok, a minor annoyance for me.  Not serious.  Once he got it....it has been a 180.  Not all my fault.  Not all her fault.  But not all her husband's fault either. He doesn't think she is a dog.  He loves her. 

You think not fighting is a sign of a content balanced marriage and love? Because sometimes, it’s a sign that one person just puts up with everything and never argues back. And in this case they clearly have been fighting for years over Christmas they just haven’t been screaming or breaking things or throwing things. What has been going on has still been a fight.

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On 12/18/2019 at 9:11 PM, StellaM said:

 

Because decent people assume that other people are like them, decent, and that if the other person doesn't 'get it', the fault must be theirs. They'll explain better next time. Next year the conversation will go better, and he'll surely understand this time. Speaking only for myself, (I am sure the OP is not as dim as I am), it takes me many years to actually understand that sometimes people are not acting with your best interests in mind.

Same. I swear I was in my forties before I realized that some people are just sh!tty as a matter of course. 

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8 minutes ago, seekinghim45 said:

I guess I'm lucky.  No one has ever been particularly mean to me in real life...  On this board occasionally.  But people are nice to me. 

You are very lucky indeed.

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On 12/18/2019 at 7:33 PM, saraha said:

Warning: Long back story, question at the end 😉

So, Christmas and ALL it's trappings has been my sole responsibility for my entire married life, 20 years. I married into a family that had some traditions, and expected a lot in the gift department. For the last 5 years I have been asking (some years begging) for a change in the way we do Christmas. I initially started out asking to just go away with our nuclear family and skip Christmas. At the time, I was burnt the heck out, and was grappling with depression and 6 kids under 15. I got an immediate no, without even consideration even while I bawled in his face. Over the next 4 years I asked every year if we could go away. Some years he would ask why and I would explain it to him (the burnout, the impossible task of making our budget stretch to keep up with the inlaws, the complete lack of respect for my time and wishes, the ridiculous amounts of time expected to spend with inlaws, the recitals and costumes to be made for them, and more) which has only gotten worse over the years. Some years I got a straight up no, no discussion. This year, I started my yearly ask, he was open to "listening" before he shot me down (turns out he takes my hatred for Christmas very personally), then shot me down.

The next day I sent him a text that said I absolutely refuse to do any shopping/buying of gifts this year, and if he wants anyone to receive gifts he would have to do it all himself. I continue to plan our advent calendar and will make the food that is asked of me and all the activities the kids are involved in etc. but I was NOT buying any presents. ( I later relented to taking the kids shopping one day so they could shop for each other and their grandparents and the cousin names that he insisted they draw even though I had the family about talked into not doing that this year) This was met with anger and feelings of betrayal (Like I said he took it very personally) but finally said that he would do the shopping if I promise not to be a grump about Christmas and his refusal of a vacation and not to bring it up again this year. (I had brought it up multiple times because he wouldnt even talk to me about it and I did say during our conversation that I would compromise with just changing the way we do things and not necessarily going away, but he wasn't interested in that either) Fast forward a month and today I get a call that he is not coming home, he still has more shopping to do, and then he went on to vent frustration about shopping, buying gifts, trying to make everything even, keeping track of finances (which he has quit doing and we are putting stuff on credit!) and having to look for stuff to fill in because some are easier to buy for than others, basically a lot of the complaints I had explained to him. He said "I guess I heard you say all this, but now I understand where you are coming from and we can talk about doing something different next year."

Now, he has not even had to do all of the Christmas stuff, just the bulk of the shopping (which for so many is a huge task) and he is not even trying to stay in budget. And yet, he finally sees my point.

So here is my real question, why did I bust out into tears instead of be happy that I am getting somewhere? Instead of being happy that he finally sees my perspective, I just started crying and all I could think about was "Oh, NOW you get it, and it is now worthy of change!?! And even though it has been all day, I am still feeling like that?

I will say there was a victory 3 years ago when I got Christmas dinner changed from 12 on Christmas day 5. I really could go on and on about all of my complaints tied to this holiday, most of which are exacerbated by my feeling completely ignored and disrespected in this area. Ugh. Maybe I am answering my own question, maybe I can't be happy that he finally sees what I have been saying all along because I am too bitter. Bitter is a good word to describe how I feel.

Anyway, if you read all of this, or even if you skimmed, thanks

I think you're upset because it wasn't a problem until it was a problem for HIM.  Some people suck in the empathy department.  Honestly, you should have checked out YEARS ago.  He had it easy.  He says "no" and you do all the work his way? Oh heck no!  I can see where it can be perfectly valid to be both relieved that a change is on the horizon and angry that your feelings were ignored. 

Just don't cave and help.  You got out.  Stay out.

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26 minutes ago, seekinghim45 said:

I guess I'm lucky.  No one has ever been particularly mean to me in real life...  On this board occasionally.  But people are nice to me. 

People are usually nice to me, too. But some people are not. Some people are egocentric and self-serving. If they’re being nice to you, it’s for their own purposes. 

Believe me, I wasted years of time trying to understand why a certain person behaved a certain way because I was so sure there had to be a logical reason. I was slow to realize, “Oh! I see now! She’s a crazy nutjob! *That’s why!*” 

Some people, it turns out, just suck. They are sucky people with sucky motives who do sucky things for their own comfort. I wish I had realized that years ago, because I was always trying to fix me, thinking if something is wrong, it has to be me. But now I know it might not be me who needs fixin’. It might be the nutjob. 

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I do have two questions for the OP.

1. You don't ever get the chance to establish family Christmas traditions in your own home, what will your holidays look like when grandchildren arrive?  I'd start gradually making the transition to THAT scene now while your kids can attach fun memories to YOUR home.

and

2. Why hasn't someone pointed the non-shopping grandparents to online shopping with gift wrapping? Technology makes gift giving easier than it's every been.

 

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1 hour ago, KungFuPanda said:

I do have two questions for the OP.

1. You don't ever get the chance to establish family Christmas traditions in your own home, what will your holidays look like when grandchildren arrive?  I'd start gradually making the transition to THAT scene now while your kids can attach fun memories to YOUR home.

and

2. Why hasn't someone pointed the non-shopping grandparents to online shopping with gift wrapping? Technology makes gift giving easier than it's every been.

 

What would happen is what probably happened with her DH when he was little—his grandparents passed away or became unable to host, and for a while everyone stepped up to help them host, and then someone stepped up to host when they couldn’t anymore, and the beat goes on.  The expectation of the Big Family Gathering is established this way, and honestly, one risk if they bail on it is that this will free up their kids to bail on them someday.  That might be just fine with them all, but your post sort of implies a desire to have the GC over later on, but the action would tend to prevent that or at least make it less likely.
 

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1 hour ago, KungFuPanda said:

Why hasn't someone pointed the non-shopping grandparents to online shopping with gift wrapping? Technology makes gift giving easier than it's every been.

I have not had to shop for my in-laws, but they refused to shop online. 

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22 hours ago, KungFuPanda said:

I do have two questions for the OP.

1. You don't ever get the chance to establish family Christmas traditions in your own home, what will your holidays look like when grandchildren arrive?  I'd start gradually making the transition to THAT scene now while your kids can attach fun memories to YOUR home.

and

2. Why hasn't someone pointed the non-shopping grandparents to online shopping with gift wrapping? Technology makes gift giving easier than it's every been.

 

For 1. I told all of my kids a couple of years ago, that once they move out, they are not expected here on Christmas Day. They are welcome but not expected. And that I would love it if we could have our family Christmas on New Years Eve as an open house, no gift exchanges just a stocking from us to them and, that way, everyone shows up when they want, we eat snacks all day and if they have parties they want to attend in the evening, we can babysit. These are all of the things I wish we could have had.  Since deciding this, I got us out of the New Years Eve party and started having a "party" of our own. No guests, everyone gets to pick an appetizer that gets served, we stay up and play games, review the year and watch a movie. At midnight we run outside and bang pots and pans and make lots of noise, then bed.

2. My sil tried this and ended up having to sit with mil, help her navigate amazon, and it was a pretty much disappointing thing for them both with lots of stress. My mil is not capable at this point to learn to do things on the computer on her own.

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