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Christmas Day family dilemma! (Long)

This is pretty long.
Since DH and I met we've always had to 'share' Christmas Day, and especially after having DS (I'm sure this is something most parents have to do) we'll go to DH families for breakfast, get DS to open all their gifts, then go to my families and have dinner and do the same there.
This year dh's mother has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and it's unlikely she'll be here next Christmas. So we decided to have both families come to us, less stress on the inlaws and for one year we won't have to worry about watching the clock and trying to be at a certain place by a certain time.
We literally decided this in September and everyone seemed happy with the plan.
But last night mother in law decided she wanted to go spend Christmas with her sister. DH was a bit disappointed but understood. Now this morning she's decided she'd like DH, myself and DS there too.
Our problem is this. DH had his heart set on doing dinner ourselves. The turkey has already been ordered and paid for, and we've bought a new dining table to allow everyone to be seated, we've spent a lot of money basically and Christmas was pretty much ready! DH now feels torn about what to do.
I've told him I'll go with whatever he decides to do, and reassured him that people will understand if he cancelled Christmas here.
I just wish mother in law had decided this sooner! Christmas is only 3 weeks away. What do you ladies think?


Asked by kylie_bob at 5:30 AM on Dec. 4, 2013 in Relationships

Level 22 (14,066 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (19)
  • I'd say sorry I can't do that to my family who would now have to change their plans, it's not fair to them. And it's not fair to you at this point either... In fact it's kind of rude of her to do this to you.

    Answer by Crafty26 at 6:02 AM on Dec. 4, 2013

  • My first suggestion would be to see if his aunt is willing to come (with her family) and just expand Christmas to include her - that way, MIL gets what she wants in spending Christmas with her sister, while you all still get what you planned by spending it at your house with everyone. If that doesn't work, then I would probably ask MIL why the sudden change in plans for her. For myself, I can't imagine not spending what might be my last Christmas away from my children/grandchildren, but she might feel differently. She might have some specific ideas in mind for getting time with all of her various family and friends over however much time she has left.

    To be honest, though, even though I certainly feel sympathy for her situation, the plan was made months ago for Christmas at your house. Too many people are planning on it, and I'm not sure I would be willing to change that at this point.

    Answer by wendythewriter at 7:17 AM on Dec. 4, 2013

  • Maybe I am the softie, I assume that she knows it most likely will be her last Christmas, and wants to spend it with her entire family? I would put aside my feeling, and go with her as she wants, you could make Christmas on another day with your family. This isn't for the rest of your life, it is one day for the grandmother of your kids to have before she passes.
    Your family should understand the reason behind changing. Please don't make an issue over this, let her have her wish.

    Answer by 2kids2dogs2cats at 11:59 AM on Dec. 4, 2013

  • Is there anyway he could go to his aunts for an hour or so in the morning then come home for the rest of the day? If mom is ill she won't feel up to an all day celebration.

    Answer by Nimue930 at 6:03 AM on Dec. 4, 2013

  • Oh, that is such a tough position! My heart goes out to you guys.

    Reading your question, I was wondering about the logistics of "going" to spend Christmas with her sister. How far away does her sister live?

    Another logistics question (And I know a lot of this depends on circumstances such as location, size of HER family, traditions/expectations of hers--whether his aunt has kids & grandkids, and typically hosts a big Christmas celebration, or not) is would it be possible to include his mother's sister in the celebration at your house? Not that you "should," or need to, just wondering what is possible.

    My first thought was that maybe your MIL is "going away" by spending Christmas with her sister (although it sounds like not far enough to require a plane trip since you all are considering changing plans this late.) It still could be a bit of a trek by car and might not work to just drop by for pie later on in the day, etc.

    Answer by girlwithC at 6:32 AM on Dec. 4, 2013

  • Bottom line, I think you are right to reassure him that people will be understanding & that he's truly free to sort out what he actually wants in this "imperfect" situation, given all the variables.
    All the mixed feelings make sense. I think this is a time to recognize ALL of those (that he has been very invested in hosting Christmas & doing the dinner, that this seemed like a great "solution," that it's disappointing & upsetting to have changes, that you've put money into it & really want to be home, that he wants to be with his mom, that he wants his mom to have what she wants, that he would be disappointed & sad about not spending "Christmas" with her, that he might feel regrets about that, etc.)
    Having ALL your feelings can help sort out what you truly want, bottom line. There are compassionate, caring ways to handle any of the possible scenarios & acknowledge the resulting feelings of any family members involved.

    Answer by girlwithC at 6:39 AM on Dec. 4, 2013

  • It sounds to me as if she would like to spend her last Xmas only with her nearest and dearest (i.e. without your family).

    IMO, it's too late to expect everyone to make other plans and you have already invested far too much to just cancel what had originally been agreed on. I suggest you take your MIL aside and explain that youi're going to go ahead with your original plans (because you wouldn't be the only ones inconvenienced) and that you'd really, really like her to be there but that if she decides otherwise that you won't be offended. And leave it at that.

    Answer by goldpandora at 9:05 AM on Dec. 4, 2013

  • I don't think she wants to spend her Christmas without your family, I think she's under a lot of stress, and knows she probably doesn't have another Christmas. Normally I don't like last minute changes, but this is probably one I would make. Your husband may not get another Christmas with his mother. Definitely I would leave it his call.

    As for having everyone over on Christmas day and the money spent. We lost my father in law a few years ago, the money won't matter a dining set is something you always have, none of the money is truly wasted, and you could host Christmas Eve, or another day and then host Christmas Day another year.

    My heart and prayers are with you and your husband, best wishes.

    Answer by ohwrite at 9:40 AM on Dec. 4, 2013

  • I'm guessing that goldpandora's "without your family" comment doesn't mean the OP's immediate family, but rather the OP's parents, the other set of grandparents. (Obviously, MIL is hoping that her son & his family will join her at her sister's place.)

    I do think the thing will sort itself out internally if you go through all the feelings. Yes, the dining table is a long-term investment, the turkey can be used a day later/earlier, or even let go, and being "out" that money likely won't matter to you/him long-term. But that's the kind of conclusion you come to personally, simply by having all your feelings as they are, and then noticing what really matters to you & what doesn't. (I don't think there's one right answer to that, either.) The prospect of last minute change is pulling uncomfortably, and that's valid!

    I also think it's OK to talk to MIL, just exploring what things mean to her, what she's seeking.

    Answer by girlwithC at 11:08 AM on Dec. 4, 2013

  • I do not know. I do know that people with a terminal illness often feel an urgency to finish up what they need to do before they die. His mother wanting to see her sister and spend a last holiday with her seems normal to me.
    Here is my thought,
    This may well be her last Christmas, maybe her last holiday. She would like you to be there for this last celebration. How will your husband feel if he does not go and then she dies. Will he regret not being there with her? This is not an easy question and the solution is not easy either.
    I understand the disappointment, you have gone to a lot of trouble and expense, but the furniture will be there long after his mother has passed. The turkey might be able to be delayed or gotten early and frozen. That last memory and that last gift to her, you will only have the one opportunity. But you are right , it is his choice.

    Answer by Dardenella at 12:00 PM on Dec. 4, 2013