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Slache

Solved: Toxic person X-Mas gifts. I don't want to play this year.

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Here's the game. Person asks in July what I want for Christmas. This turns into an argument about whether I really want that and why it's a bad idea. It doesn't matter how many ideas I offer up they're all stupid and fodder for future judgements. After several arguments she finally agrees but gets me something different and pretends it's what I asked for. Examples.

  • Last year I wanted a water bottle in my favorite color and she got me one in my least favorite color knowing full well that I don't like that color.
  • One year I asked for a chain to begin building a birthstone necklace and she got me an ornament, the meaning of which was a slap in the face.
  • Several years she's gotten me nothing but said I was ungrateful for not thanking her.
  • She will also often buy a knockoff and tell me it was way more expensive than what I asked for with the price tag still on it of $1.50 or whatnot.

I want to just skip the whole thing. If I say I don't want anything it's phone call after phone call about how I'm denying her the opportunity to show me how much she loves me and I don't have that right. I've asked her to make a donation to my favorite charity and she's refused. If I say pick something yourself it's a whole new level of drama that involves phone calls from several other family members about how difficult I am and I'm so unfair to her.

The game starts about July 15th. How do I get out of it?

Eta: Hubby said ok to laying down the law and doing kids only.

Edited by Slache
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1 minute ago, happysmileylady said:

What happens if you ask for money or gift cards?  I assume there's an argument against this, just wondering what it is.

Yes, she likes presents. I get that because I do too. Pretty boxes and opening Christmas morning and stuff.

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You could skip to the end of the line and say "I am not playing this game.  I am not giving you a list.  You can pout.  You can nag.  But I am not giving you a list.  Give me a present if you want.  Don't give me a present if you don't want."  But I'm old and crotchety and way too blunt. 

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Can you just say I don’t know, I’ll have to think about it, every time she asks? We’ll see who drives who nuts by September. 😂

Kidding aside, I’m sorry you have to deal with this, seems like I remember it from years past. 

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I would just make a short list of items of varying price within her range, expect nothing (or worse), say thank you, and re-gift as necessary.

I would try really, really hard not engage in an argument about whether or not you really want xyz.

 

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What if you said "surprise me" and then donated to the op shop.  

Or name something you know that charities in your area need, with the intention of donating whatever approximation you get. 

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7 minutes ago, Slache said:

Yes, she likes presents. I get that because I do too. Pretty boxes and opening Christmas morning and stuff.

Hmmm, ok

I am assuming this is a person where cutting off, and/or actually just straight backing out isn't really going to work due to long term and interconnected relationship things.

So, my suggestion is to give her a list of both wanted items and items that you might not want, but will satisfy whatever urge she has to be a butt.  And do so knowing that....whatever you get, you won't like, so you are just taking the path of least resistance.

 

OR, another idea that came to me as I was typing that, 

What about giving her a list of things that you don't want, but that you know you can absolutely regift?  So, say you know that you have a gift giving occasion coming up in January or February where the person you are giving the gift to has no contact with the person being a butt.  Ask for something that you can give to THAT person.  

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9 minutes ago, Seasider too said:

Can you just say I don’t know, I’ll have to think about it, every time she asks? We’ll see who drives who nuts by September. 😂

Kidding aside, I’m sorry you have to deal with this, seems like I remember it from years past. 

Oh! Oh! This is how we avoid visits! And if I do this I can be the difficult person she tells everyone I am! It's a win-win!

8 minutes ago, Junie said:

I would just make a short list of items of varying price within her range, expect nothing (or worse), say thank you, and re-gift as necessary.

I would try really, really hard not engage in an argument about whether or not you really want xyz.

I did and she bought all of it and complained that I expect too much.

7 minutes ago, Melissa in Australia said:

Could you just smile and say thank you, then give whatever to the opshop? 

 

I just want to avoid the game.

3 minutes ago, happysmileylady said:

Hmmm, ok

I am assuming this is a person where cutting off, and/or actually just straight backing out isn't really going to work due to long term and interconnected relationship things.

So, my suggestion is to give her a list of both wanted items and items that you might not want, but will satisfy whatever urge she has to be a butt.  And do so knowing that....whatever you get, you won't like, so you are just taking the path of least resistance.

 

OR, another idea that came to me as I was typing that, 

What about giving her a list of things that you don't want, but that you know you can absolutely regift?  So, say you know that you have a gift giving occasion coming up in January or February where the person you are giving the gift to has no contact with the person being a butt.  Ask for something that you can give to THAT person.  

Can... Can I regift it to her?

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Knowing this has gone on for some time, and assuming you've been as direct as you dare in the past, I might be tempted to try a martyr act when she argues.

Ask for a pair of wool socks. She says you don't want socks, or not those socks. "Oh, I know, it's fine if my feet are cold all winter..."

Ask for a fountain pen, but tell her you doubt she would be able to find the color you really like. "Black is fine..." And when she gets you cheap black ballpoint pens, you donate them.

Etc.

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8 minutes ago, Slache said:

Can... Can I regift it to her?

Well you could lol.  But I think that might accidentally qualify as "playing the game" lol

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Every time she asks, start singing. “I want a hippopotamus for Christmas, only...” if she tries to get more out of you just sing louder.  Repeat.  

At the end of the call say, “I really need new measuring cups. Gotta go!” And hang up before she can say anything else.

Edited by ikslo
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39 minutes ago, Junie said:

I would just make a short list of items of varying price within her range, expect nothing (or worse), say thank you, and re-gift as necessary.

I would try really, really hard not engage in an argument about whether or not you really want xyz.

 

This. Plus I'd suggest not adding the things you really, really want or need on her list. Give her things you feel neutral about.

I had a family member whose Christmas gifts to me usually reflected whether I was in their good graces or not. Sometimes gifts were very generous and other times it would be an ornament. Gifts are not a big deal to me so it was pretty easy to emotionally detach from it. 

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Does she already know what she’s getting you? My MIL always asks, but it doesn’t matter, because she’s already decided, and probably bought it. She used to get me pyjamas every year. One year I got rid of all my old pjs and said how much I was looking forward to new pyjamas. I’ve never received another pair. Next year I am going to ask for a new dressy scarf and a sweater. I don’t wear scarves and I have plenty of sweaters.

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15 minutes ago, arctic_bunny said:

Does she already know what she’s getting you? My MIL always asks, but it doesn’t matter, because she’s already decided, and probably bought it. She used to get me pyjamas every year. One year I got rid of all my old pjs and said how much I was looking forward to new pyjamas. I’ve never received another pair. Next year I am going to ask for a new dressy scarf and a sweater. I don’t wear scarves and I have plenty of sweaters.

Good for you for getting yourself to a place that takes her control away. 

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I've got one of these.  There is no gift...the game is to keep you thinking there is so you will give a gift and they get the gift of having a you as a victim to put you down and harrass from July to Christmas.  You will get a regift or a yard sale item.  

Get out by stop participating.  

Edited by HeighHo
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When we got to that point we just stopped the gift exchange. IIRC, she demands really expensive gifts that are well beyond what you provide to your own children. Just don’t play. She isn’t ever going to be happy, she’s abusive, there’s no reason to get looped into her crazy. 
 

—-from the person who just received dusty boring books from her MIL’s dead neighbor that neither the neighbor not my MIL nor I want. And now I get to dispose of them. 

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I mean... you can't reason with unreasonable people. I'd just answer once and sign off if the topic comes up again. But then this is the kind of person who I wouldn't be talking to, period. 

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ITA with the above point that likely the whole point of the nagging is the narcissistic payback for her. Expect a lot of drama about changing the situation, even if she has complained in the past about the expense and work of giving presents. She really doesn’t care about the gift giving part (if she did, she would send things that you want, even on a $5 budget). It’s the drama she craves.

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I'd be tempted to come up with really odd things to ask for. Like, a wig. Or those crazy costume pajamas. Or, a chia pet. 

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There's a lot of people in need right now. Ask her to pick a charity to donate to.

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You could experiment with just accepting the labels and/or gossip she creates for you. If you say you don't want anything, you get accused of denying her pleasure or being difficult, right?

You could say something like, "Yes, I can see that I'm denying you pleasure by not suggesting a gift. I'm sorry, but I just don't want a gift. There's nothing else I can tell you." Or to others, things like, "Yes, I suppose if wanting nothing is difficult for her to cope with, I'm sorry to hear that, but I still don't want anything. I don't know why she is going to such a bother to get you involved with whether or not she buys me something. It seems like making a mountain out of a mole hill, and it's not going to change my mind. I wonder how many people she will have call me about this. You're the (5th). Anyhow how are you? Enough about Christmas."

Edited by bolt.
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43 minutes ago, arctic_bunny said:

Does she already know what she’s getting you? My MIL always asks, but it doesn’t matter, because she’s already decided, and probably bought it. She used to get me pyjamas every year. One year I got rid of all my old pjs and said how much I was looking forward to new pyjamas. I’ve never received another pair. Next year I am going to ask for a new dressy scarf and a sweater. I don’t wear scarves and I have plenty of sweaters.

I think part of the game is figuring out what I don't want because she doesn't know me well enough to guess. If she sends you more Pjs send them my way.

18 minutes ago, HeighHo said:

I've got one of these.  There is no gift...the game is to keep you thinking there is so you will give a gift and they get the gift of having a you as a victim to put you down and harrass from July to Christmas.  You will get a regift or a yard sale item.  

Get out by stop participating.  

Exactly! I'm not sure how to not participate without the drama.

15 minutes ago, prairiewindmomma said:

IIRC, she demands really expensive gifts that are well beyond what you provide to your own children.

Oh gee. I wonder why you think that. We now say "I'm sorry, but that's out of our price range. We'll paypal you some money to go towards it." She went from like $80 to $150 over time. She asked for a $400 gift and got $30 and has gotten $30 every year since.

11 minutes ago, prairiewindmomma said:

ITA with the above point that likely the whole point of the nagging is the narcissistic payback for her. Expect a lot of drama about changing the situation, even if she has complained in the past about the expense and work of giving presents. She really doesn’t care about the gift giving part (if she did, she would send things that you want, even on a $5 budget). It’s the drama she craves.

I know. That's why I said I don't want to play.

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I'm doing the "I'm not sure, I'll just have to think about it" thing.

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7 minutes ago, bolt. said:

You could experiment with just accepting the labels and/or gossip she creates for you. If you say you don't want anything, you get accused of denying her pleasure or being difficult, right?

You could say something like, "Yes, I can see that I'm denying you pleasure by not suggesting a gift. I'm sorry, but I just don't want a gift. There's nothing else I can tell you." Or to others, things like, "Yes, I suppose if wanting nothing is difficult for her to cope with, I'm sorry to hear that, but I still don't want anything. I don't know why she is going to such a bother to get you involved with whether or not she buys me something. It seems like making a mountain out of a mole hill, and it's not going to change my mind. I wonder how many people she will have call me about this. You're the (5th). Anyhow how are you? Enough about Christmas."

I really like this. Someone (you?) in another thread said (paraphrasing) "She's going to think you're a selfish b*tch no matter what you do, so be a selfish bi*tch." It was kind of freeing.

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Did I miss what happens if you pick one very neutral thing - say, pyjamas, or a new robe - and stick with that?

 I mean, I guess she could make fun of you for wanting pyjamas. But that seem seems pretty painless to brush off for 6 months? I would also pay myself with a fancy coffee or ice cream every time she does.

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1 hour ago, whitehawk said:

Knowing this has gone on for some time, and assuming you've been as direct as you dare in the past, I might be tempted to try a martyr act when she argues.

Ask for a pair of wool socks. She says you don't want socks, or not those socks. "Oh, I know, it's fine if my feet are cold all winter..."

Ask for a fountain pen, but tell her you doubt she would be able to find the color you really like. "Black is fine..." And when she gets you cheap black ballpoint pens, you donate them.

Etc.

I was just going to post about socks als o.

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2 hours ago, Slache said:

Here's the game. Person asks in July what I want for Christmas. This turns into an argument about whether I really want that and why it's a bad idea. It doesn't matter how many ideas I offer up they're all stupid and fodder for future judgements. After several arguments she finally agrees but gets me something different and pretends it's what I asked for. Examples.

  • Last year I wanted a water bottle in my favorite color and she got me one in my least favorite color knowing full well that I don't like that color.
  • One year I asked for a chain to begin building a birthstone necklace and she got me an ornament, the meaning of which was a slap in the face.
  • Several years she's gotten me nothing but said I was ungrateful for not thanking her.
  • She will also often buy a knockoff and tell me it was way more expensive than what I asked for with the price tag still on it of $1.50 or whatnot.

I want to just skip the whole thing. If I say I don't want anything it's phone call after phone call about how I'm denying her the opportunity to show me how much she loves me and I don't have that right. I've asked her to make a donation to my favorite charity and she's refused. If I say pick something yourself it's a whole new level of drama that involves phone calls from several other family members about how difficult I am and I'm so unfair to her.

The game starts about July 15th. How do I get out of it?

Can you say you’re not doing gifts outside the immediate family this year?  Or at least not doing gifts to other adults?  If she insists that she needs to get you one, ask for a tub of popcorn or candy that you can share at Christmas. Find an exact brand and size package and leave it at that.

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2 minutes ago, arctic_bunny said:

Did I miss what happens if you pick one very neutral thing - say, pyjamas, or a new robe - and stick with that?

 I mean, I guess she could make fun of you for wanting pyjamas. But that seem seems pretty painless to brush off for 6 months? I would also pay myself with a fancy coffee or ice cream every time she does.

Which robe? No, I need to know exactly which one so you're not disappointed. Are you sure that one? That's not a good color on you...

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I personally like Jeans suggestion best.  Second best is the ‘let me think about it.’

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1 minute ago, Slache said:

I think part of the game is figuring out what I don't want because she doesn't know me well enough to guess. If she sends you more Pjs send them my way.

Exactly! I'm not sure how to not participate without the drama.

Oh gee. I wonder why you think that. We now say "I'm sorry, but that's out of our price range. We'll paypal you some money to go towards it." She went from like $80 to $150 over time. She asked for a $400 gift and got $30 and has gotten $30 every year since.

I know. That's why I said I don't want to play.

 

Her goal is money. She wants something she can return for cash, and she is conning you.

What you do when the drama gets going is wish her a nice day and hang up.Or tell her that at her age, people will think she has dementia if she keeps it up.

One year i asked for a three dollar item. I stuck to it each phone call.  it could be obtained easily at a nearby shop. The manipulative stuff got going pretty good after Turkey Day. By then, it was amusing. Knew it was coming, let the 'who do you think you are asking for such an expensive gift' come out, and told her if three dollars was too much, then don't get me anything ever.  As a family, we ended the gift exchange shortly thereafter...ten years later we still get junk.  Last year she paid for a stamp to mail my dc an expired gift card while asking for an iphone.   If you've never heard Bing Crosby sing "....if you haven't got a little bit, may God bless you...." you should.  Its my Christmas Song to play whenever the con job attempts begin. 

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1 minute ago, matrips said:

Can you say you’re not doing gifts outside the immediate family this year?  Or at least not doing gifts to other adults?  If she insists that she needs to get you one, ask for a tub of popcorn or candy that you can share at Christmas. Find an exact brand and size package and leave it at that.

I actually just brought up kids only as the next generation is fully began. I like that a lot. DH is thinking on it.

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Find a charity that you'd love to give to, or give more to,, if you had more resources, and she probably wouldn't.   Something like an organization that helps asylum seekers resettle into your area. 

Get a wish list from them.  Then ask for very specific gifts in the categories on the list.  So, if it says "pots and pans", ask for a very specific Dutch oven.  Then when she says no, just move down the list.  Or if she gets you something related, who cares?  Donate whatever it is.  

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Just say no. Tell her you are focusing on the love and meaning of the season and going with the no gift route. When she starts to argue, grab a phone call you need and walk away.

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1. Pleasantly tell her you don't know what you want and that you'll be content with whatever she gives you.  Which is how normal people are about presents, by the way. They smile and say thank you, then later they do with the gift whatever they want and it's none of the giver's business.

2. Say nothing other than that. That's the script, don't diverge from it no matter what you think she's going to say to others about it and no matter what those others will do about it. If you give a crap what obnoxious people are going to think or say about you then you will forever be enslaved to their crap. They will continue to crap all over you because that's what crappy people do. They know this about you and they use it to control you. They live for that crap. Only you can end their control of you by no longer caring what jackasses like them say, think, or do.  If you want out, stop needing their approval.  If pressed, repeat yourself ONE time with the exact same script. Do not engage further.  Engaging further is choosing to participate in and perpetuate it.

3. If they don't politely accept your answer then end the conversation on the phone by saying you have to go, don't wait for her to respond to that, say good bye and then hang up.  If she calls back that day or week or month, don't answer, let it go to voicemail. Do not be tempted to respond to the voicemail by calling her back and correcting her, explaining yourself to her, pleading with her, reasoning with her, listening to her, etc.  Do.not. engage.  If you have intense emotions about it, fine.  Feel them, think about them, cry, yell, eat a bowl of ice cream, go jogging, use a wiffleball bat to wail on a cardboard box, shoot cans, whatever, but do not allow those emotions to control you in a way that makes you engage with the toxic person. Do.not.engage.

4. If she calls next month, don't answer any questions about why you didn't answer or call back. How is her rheumatism or her dog or the weather or whatever. You make normal people chit chat, she starts with nonsense about a Christmas gift list, you say you already had this conversation, you don't know what you want and you'll be content with whatever she gives you. If she doesn't politely accept your answer you say you have to go and hang up.  If she brings up something else uncomfortable, change the subject to polite chit chat. If she continues to be difficult tell her you have to go, say goodbye, and hang up. All of her calls can go to voicemail for the next month. Don't call her back or engage in any way.  Remind yourself she'd talking crap about you with the relatives and be OK with that.  She can say whatever she wants.  It's not your job to correct every misconception or lie about you. Do whatever you have to with your feelings, just don't let them con you into engaging with the toxic person.  Giving into your feelings of needing to be approved of or understood by them is a trap.  Don't fall for the trap.

5. When the relatives call you answer the phone and make normal people polite conversation. If they bring up what you said to the toxic person about gifts or not calling toxic person back or whatever, you tell them you don't discuss interpersonal situations you're having with someone with anyone else because it's immoral to gossip about others, (because it is-normal people know this) if they don't drop it, you say you have to go, then hang up. All relative calls go to voicemail for the next month. Do.not engage. They'll tell all the other relatives whatever they're going to tell them and you choose not to let it manipulate you because you can't control other people. If your emotions start to con you into engaging you remind yourself that engaging is what's feeding this monster, and you choose to take responsibility for not being complicit in feeding monsters.   Then you get on with your life. 

6.  Keep it going this way.  If you actually decide to go to Christmas with this nutty bunch, which you're under absolutely no obligation to do and I would advise against doing, then you have a plan beforehand with your spouse and kids about what exactly you're going to do if someone starts up with the rude behavior.  As soon as they start up with rudeness, you say you have to go, then you leave. Even if you just walked in 5 minutes earlier. You don't engage with whatever they say to you when you're headed out the door.

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BTW - after my MIL gave 3 year old daughter a hooker costume (complete with tiny fishnet stockings) for her birthday, I stopped letting my kids open any gifts from her.  Dh and I would open them in private and then give the kids any appropriate gifts later.  If they were inappropriate or dangerous (which happened more than once) we would quietly replace them.  This was for the benefit of the kids, not for MIL's sake but we felt it important that they have good memories of grandparents. 

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5 minutes ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

BTW - after my MIL gave 3 year old daughter a hooker costume (complete with tiny fishnet stockings) for her birthday, I stopped letting my kids open any gifts from her.  Dh and I would open them in private and then give the kids any appropriate gifts later.  If they were inappropriate or dangerous (which happened more than once) we would quietly replace them.  This was for the benefit of the kids, not for MIL's sake but we felt it important that they have good memories of grandparents. 

We did this for a number of years. 

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9 minutes ago, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:

1. Pleasantly tell her you don't know what you want and that you'll be content with whatever she gives you.  Which is how normal people are about presents, by the way. They smile and say thank you, then later they do with the gift whatever they want and it's none of the giver's business.

2. Say nothing other than that. That's the script, don't diverge from it no matter what you think she's going to say to others about it and no matter what those others will do about it. If you give a crap what obnoxious people are going to think or say about you then you will forever be enslaved to their crap. They will continue to crap all over you because that's what crappy people do. They know this about you and they use it to control you. They live for that crap. Only you can end their control of you by no longer caring what jackasses like them say, think, or do.  If you want out, stop needing their approval.  If pressed, repeat yourself ONE time with the exact same script. Do not engage further.  Engaging further is choosing to participate in and perpetuate it.

3. If they don't politely accept your answer then end the conversation on the phone by saying you have to go, don't wait for her to respond to that, say good bye and then hang up.  If she calls back that day or week or month, don't answer, let it go to voicemail. Do not be tempted to respond to the voicemail by calling her back and correcting her, explaining yourself to her, pleading with her, reasoning with her, listening to her, etc.  Do.not. engage.  If you have intense emotions about it, fine.  Feel them, think about them, cry, yell, eat a bowl of ice cream, go jogging, use a wiffleball bat to wail on a cardboard box, shoot cans, whatever, but do not allow those emotions to control you in a way that makes you engage with the toxic person. Do.not.engage.

4. If she calls next month, don't answer any questions about why you didn't answer or call back. How is her rheumatism or her dog or the weather or whatever. You make normal people chit chat, she starts with nonsense about a Christmas gift list, you say you already had this conversation, you don't know what you want and you'll be content with whatever she gives you. If she doesn't politely accept your answer you say you have to go and hang up.  If she brings up something else uncomfortable, change the subject to polite chit chat. If she continues to be difficult tell her you have to go, say goodbye, and hang up. All of her calls can go to voicemail for the next month. Don't call her back or engage in any way.  Remind yourself she'd talking crap about you with the relatives and be OK with that.  She can say whatever she wants.  It's not your job to correct every misconception or lie about you. Do whatever you have to with your feelings, just don't let them con you into engaging with the toxic person.  Giving into your feelings of needing to be approved of or understood by them is a trap.  Don't fall for the trap.

5. When the relatives call you answer the phone and make normal people polite conversation. If they bring up what you said to the toxic person about gifts or not calling toxic person back or whatever, you tell them you don't discuss interpersonal situations you're having with someone with anyone else because it's immoral to gossip about others, (because it is-normal people know this) if they don't drop it, you say you have to go, then hang up. All relative calls go to voicemail for the next month. Do.not engage. They'll tell all the other relatives whatever they're going to tell them and you choose not to let it manipulate you because you can't control other people. If your emotions start to con you into engaging you remind yourself that engaging is what's feeding this monster, and you choose to take responsibility for not being complicit in feeding monsters.   Then you get on with your life. 

6.  Keep it going this way.  If you actually decide to go to Christmas with this nutty bunch, which you're under absolutely no obligation to do and I would advise against doing, then you have a plan beforehand with your spouse and kids about what exactly you're going to do if someone starts up with the rude behavior.  As soon as they start up with rudeness, you say you have to go, then you leave. Even if you just walked in 5 minutes earlier. You don't engage with whatever they say to you when you're headed out the door.

I've been doing this. She's just better at playing than I am. If it were up to me this person would not be in my life.

We no longer do Christmas together. Christmas was my one beloved holiday and I got sick of sacrificing it.

7 minutes ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

BTW - after my MIL gave 3 year old daughter a hooker costume (complete with tiny fishnet stockings) for her birthday, I stopped letting my kids open any gifts from her.  Dh and I would open them in private and then give the kids any appropriate gifts later.  If they were inappropriate or dangerous (which happened more than once) we would quietly replace them.  This was for the benefit of the kids, not for MIL's sake but we felt it important that they have good memories of grandparents. 

As part of our punishment for living so far away she has decided that gifts will be sent directly to us and I have to wrap them myself. I am so distraught.

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13 minutes ago, Slache said:

As part of our punishment for living so far away she has decided that gifts will be sent directly to us and I have to wrap them myself. I am so distraught.

 

You really don't.

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2 minutes ago, Slache said:

I've been doing this. She's just better at playing than I am. If it were up to me this person would not be in my life.

What does that mean?  In the original post you said it turns into an argument about whether or not you really want it and why it's a bad idea.  I suggested not arguing about it. Do not engage is exactly the opposite of turning it into an argument. An argument requires 2 people.  If 1 person chooses not to engage then the argument is over.  So it doesn't seem to me that's what you've been doing. It seems to me you've been doing the opposite of what I suggested.
 
Of course it's up to you if someone is in your life or not. You can always choose not to interact with them at all. You can choose to never answer their call and to never be around them in person by not answering their calls and by not being in the same location as them.

If she sends you a gift directly in the mail throw it away without opening it. When you freely choose to wrap it (Toxic person wasn't holding a knife, gun, deadly snake, or blowtorch to your spouse or child were they?) and play along you're choosing to participate in the crazy and perpetuate it.  You need to start taking issue with yourself and stop taking issue with the toxic person.  The toxic person only has power over you because you freely choose to give it to her.

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I’d give her a list of places that I like near me that sell gift cards, and say that I want something from there.   I wouldn’t ask for a gift card, I’d just say “Something from xxxxx”.  Then if she called to complain that I wasn’t specific enough I’d say that since I wasn’t able to visit there recently due to COVID, a gift card for later use would be awesome.

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2 hours ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

You could skip to the end of the line and say "I am not playing this game.  I am not giving you a list.  You can pout.  You can nag.  But I am not giving you a list.  Give me a present if you want.  Don't give me a present if you don't want."  But I'm old and crotchety and way too blunt. 

This will not work if there is NPD involved. To them, this will be like waving a red flag in front of a bull, "How dare you hurt my feelings by rejecting my loving gift?". "You are mean and I got an anxiety attack, migraine, high bp episode, a stroke etc because of the way you talked back to me in a phone call". "All I ever wanted was to give you a gift and all I ever get is disrespect". This, and the ensuing smear campaign will go on until July of next year. The person does that because they are seeking narcissistic supply.

Best way to deal with this is to go VLC (very low contact). If you really cannot avoid her, ask for food (chocolate?) and give it away or throw it if it is not to your liking.

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1 minute ago, mathnerd said:

If you really cannot avoid her, ask for food (chocolate?) and give it away or throw it if it is not to your liking.

Exactly what I was going to suggest. Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. Any kind, as long as it's chocolate. The end.

image.png.5ea1cf3f6b82688b06029efb333c57b8.png

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1 minute ago, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:

What does that mean?  In the original post you said it turns into an argument about whether or not you really want it and why it's a bad idea.  I suggested not arguing about it. Do not engage is exactly the opposite of turning it into an argument. An argument requires 2 people.  If 1 person chooses not to engage then the argument is over.  So it doesn't seem to me that's what you've been doing. It seems to me you've been doing the opposite of what I suggested.
 
Of course it's up to you if someone is in your life or not. You can always choose not to interact with them at all. You can choose to never answer their call and to never be around them in person by not answering their calls and by not being in the same location as them.

If she sends you a gift directly in the mail throw it away without opening it. When you freely choose to wrap it (Toxic person wasn't holding a knife, gun, deadly snake, or blowtorch to your spouse or child were they?) and play along you're choosing to participate in the crazy and perpetuate it.  You need to start taking issue with yourself and stop taking issue with the toxic person.  The toxic person only has power over you because you freely choose to give it to her.

No matter what method of non involvement I choose there is lots and lots of drama. I'll run through your list.

Accept whatever she gives. It's not about the gift, it's about the game. If I say I don't know she will begin yelling. If I hang up I will get phone calls from multiple people daily until it's sorted and I will be reminded every conversation, of which there are not many, of how difficult I am to ensure I don't do it again next Christmas.

I don't care what they think. I just don't want to deal with them.

I don't have voicemail because of her but if we do not engage enough we are told we are no longer allowed to speak to the rest of the family. My husband loves his family and after we told her something she didn't like he didn't get to speak to his dad for nearly 6 months. We have to balance it.

If we do not engage with her flying monkeys the flying monkeys pay the price, so we choose to balance that as well.

I understand that this my choice, but if I got what I wanted (no contact) my husband would have no family, so I don't feel like it's my choice to make alone, and my husband does not agree with me.

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16 minutes ago, mathnerd said:

This will not work if there is NPD involved. To them, this will be like waving a red flag in front of a bull, "How dare you hurt my feelings by rejecting my loving gift?". "You are mean and I got an anxiety attack, migraine, high bp episode, a stroke etc because of the way you talked back to me in a phone call". "All I ever wanted was to give you a gift and all I ever get is disrespect". This, and the ensuing smear campaign will go on until July of next year. The person does that because they are seeking narcissistic supply.

Best way to deal with this is to go VLC (very low contact). If you really cannot avoid her, ask for food (chocolate?) and give it away or throw it if it is not to your liking.

Exactly this. So no matter what I say it gets turned into an argument because the argument is the entire point.

But "I'll get back to you" is fairly benign. There is no argument there. I think...

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Hubby said ok to laying down the law and doing kids only. This means less stress, but also more money for the ones who really enjoy it.

This is exciting!

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6 minutes ago, Slache said:

No matter what method of non involvement I choose there is lots and lots of drama. I'll run through your list.

Accept whatever she gives. It's not about the gift, it's about the game. If I say I don't know she will begin yelling.

Then hang up and don't answer any future calls from her. 

If I hang up I will get phone calls from multiple people daily until it's sorted and I will be reminded every conversation, of which there are not many, of how difficult I am to ensure I don't do it again next Christmas.

Then set all your calls to voicemail, don't listen to the voicemails, don't call back, and block their calls. You are never obligated to answer a phone call. Why on earth would you answer phone calls from people butting into your relationship with her? 

I don't care what they think. I just don't want to deal with them.

Then don't deal with them.  Don't talk to them on the phone or be around them. You cannot have it both ways-interacting with them and not wanting to deal with them.  If you pick one you reject the other and vice versa.

I don't have voicemail because of her but if we do not engage enough we are told we are no longer allowed to speak to the rest of the family.My husband loves his family and after we told her something she didn't like he didn't get to speak to his dad for nearly 6 months. We have to balance it.

How does she affect you having voicemail? What's stopping your husband's father from calling his son? Is he frail and dependent and denied phone privileges by his wife?  Call elder social services and report it. How is it even possible that she controls other family members?  She doesn't.  Any adult can receive any phone call they choose to from anyone they choose to.  If they choose not to, that's on them, not on her. If they choose to hand their power to her then they're responsible for that.

If we do not engage with her flying monkeys the flying monkeys pay the price, so we choose to balance that as well.

Nothing about this situation is balanced.

I understand that this my choice, but if I got what I wanted (no contact) my husband would have no family, so I don't feel like it's my choice to make alone, and my husband does not agree with me.

You are free to tell your husband you will not be interacting with his relatives who behave this way.  He can if he chooses to, but you can choose not to.  It IS your choice to continue this.  You're not willing to pay the price, everyone knows it, including you, and that's how you hand your power to them on a silver platter with a bow on top. 

Your husband's unreasonable expectation that you participate in the toxic mess instead of him protecting you from it by insisting you and the children not be exposed to abuse is a matter that urgently needs addressing by a marriage therapist and a psychiatrist.  I hope you both get the mental health help you both desperately need because you are creating hell for yourselves and any other family members you continue to subject to her nonsense.  If your children are exposed to this they need mental health support because this is a damaging example to them.

 

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18 minutes ago, Slache said:

Exactly this. So no matter what I say it gets turned into an argument because the argument is the entire point.

But "I'll get back to you" is fairly benign. There is no argument there. I think...

Glad you went with the law lay down!

Because there is definitely argument to be had with "I'll get back to you." It's not coherent argument, but coherence has never been a pre-requisite in any argument I've had yet lol

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I couldn’t do this. There is no way anyone is going to turn the winter holidays into a 7 month ordeal for me. “I can’t possible think about Christmas until winter” is all they’d get, on repeat until they got bored. I don’t need or want ANY gift enough to start talking about Christmas in June. If I was feeling really punchy I’d tell them the greatest gift they could get me is to not have that conversation. I LOVE having a non-gifting pact with people. It’s so freeing. 

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