Tuesday, December 30, 2008

what will it take?

I too am flummoxed by the unwrapping of the gifts, only to return them. What, if they were really good, they would have kept them? Did the gifts themselves not measure up? Inexplicable. But then again, the whole thing is inexplicable.

So, my husband says every time something happens with them, it's like a punch in the gut. And this was a wallop. He semi-expected it, though, but that doesn't make it any easier.

But, he's not done. Against all logic and reason, he's still trying to figure out what the next step is. I pressed him hard, asking what it would take to realize they won't change and stepping away is the best for now. He countered we stepped away for a year, but that didn't help, and there's got to be something..........

There's nothing. I know there's nothing, except complete capitulation to their way of thinking, that will resolve this with them. But my husband can't walk away. He says he can't fathom they don't want to have anything to do with our son. That no one in his immediate family is willing to welcome him in any way.

I don't know what to say to that. But, then again, once the year turns and things get relatively back to normal, real life will kick in and it won't be the holidays and time will just pass. Part of the problem is I am done. I mean, come on, what else do they have to do to demonstrate how awful they are? But it's not my family.

So, he wants to send the box back. Write that Christmas is a time of giving and we give these gifts freely to them because we want to, and please don't send them back. And that he notes for the second year in a row they've failed to acknowledge their granddaughter, and now grandson, on the holidays.

I semi-joked I wanted to send them a postcard that simply said, I'm sure your grand-daughter will understand your petty sentiments.

I was going to do a post this week about my pettiness. The thing is, I miss their gifts. They are absolutely the worst money managers in the world - already gone through bankruptcy 10 years ago - and part of their problem is they spend extravagantly. Not wildly extravagantly like giving Coach bags or designer this or that, but fairly nice stuff. My parents aren't well off, so Christmas with them is always modest. But it was nice to get a $50 gift card to Ann Taylor or whatever, on top of a nice assortment of knick-knacks and stuff. I'll admit it, I liked it. And of course the overload for our daughter. And I find I am actually resentful there were no gifts last year and now this year. I have to remind myself every extravagance they spend now is just one step closer to running out of money in their retirement and their pending need to be cared for in their old age. And believe me, they're not living in my house when that day comes.

Though there is the first year we were married. We went to my parents house for Christmas, and so made it to the inlaws after the New Year (something they bring up now - we've had to celebrate the holidays with you in January!). We were swept into the living room, where there was a stack of presents. I unwrapped the two for me. You know those quilted boxes that you store china in? Yep - one present of the box for tea cups, the other present was the boxes for dinner plates and salad plates. I still use those boxes, actually, the six sets of wedding china we got are carefully stored in the basement right now. But my husband had about, no lie, 25 presents to unwrap. I sat there as he unwrapped Ralph Lauren shirts, and pants, golf shirts, t-shirts, underwear (yes, my MIL gave him underwear our first year of marriage!), socks - a whole wardrobe of 3 or 4 outfits, plus golf balls and gloves and various other things. About half way through I excused myself and let the dog out back and shed a few pity tears for myself. The next year my husband's brother was married (to someone more suitable, natch) and the gift giving evened out.

But those quilted boxes! What a message that sent in year one. So tell me, what messages have you received over the years in your stocking? Coal comes in many shapes and sizes.


Anonymous said...

I did hear last night about some friends of a friend who really did put coal in their young daughter's christmas stocking because she had been naughty. I was shocked at that.
Regarding your returned gifts, I vote you should keep them and send the same ones to them next year!

Which Box said...

Hmm, the only problem is they opened them, and so they know what they are. Though maybe that sends the right message!

Laura said...

When you ignored them in the past didn't it drive them nuts even if they didn't say anything? Weren't they jealous that you visited your husband's siblings and not them and didn't reciprocate their cards, etc? Now that you initiate contact, it seems they feed off of it twist it into more opportunities to hurt you. A classic damned if you do/don't paradigm. Although you probably could come up with 101 delicious ideas for how you can jab at them (and oh, what fun it would be!) I still vote for having your husband ask his therapist for suggestions on how to send them the clear message that you are done with their ASSinine mind games. When/if they are ready to act like decent adults, then you can talk again. If its clear the ball is in their court, you don't have to keep reaching out only to get slapped down again.

Dang, this sucks. You shouldn't have to deal with all the stress of being a new mom, the holidays AND them too.

Tash said...

I'm at a loss. I kinda vote for the upper hand mentality, but there's no way I'd continue to watch my husband get ignored (did that, been there).

Oh, and just so you know, I'm waiting for the card addressed to your daughter from them -- that you, of course, will have to read to her. Sneaky passive aggressive bastards, I've seen it all.

I guess I never minded my throw-away gifts because I always thought Christmas was about the kids anyway. So even when we didn't have any, things were often subdued. (Wow, flashback to Bella's first xmas: My IL's are divorced, and MIL knew FIL would be there -- so the gift haul was un.real.) I never really cared that I got a $10 ginzu or whatever . . . until this year. And I actually decided it would've hurt *worse* this year to get a small something than nothing at all. Because I know, by giving me nothing, she wants a response. She wants indignation so she can throw it right back and make some point. And I'm not going to give her that opportunity.

Julie said...

So speaking of non-gifts, my mother is the queen of the non-gift. Last year, my husband got a can of soup amongst his trinkets. This year (baby's first), a fortune cookie from the Chinese take-out was with baby's gifts. ???
I would also like to post a picture of the metallic-green balsa wood earrings my stepmother gave to me, our first Xmas together when I was 12 or so. Stay tuned.

CLC said...

As the single aunt in my 20s, I used to buy all the nieces and nephews presents. In return, their parents (my siblings) were supposed to buy me presents as I had no kids to shower presents on. One year my brother and SIL got my equally single brother a gift and gave me nothing. I don't know why. I asked my brother about it 3 months later, and he pleaded ignorance and didn't know why I didn't get a gift as SIL was the one who does the shopping. I guess SIL doesn't like me? I dunno, sometimes she is real hot and other times real cold.

I can see how it would be hard for your husband to just give up on them completely, even if they are gigantic asses. I have no advice, just sympathy that you both have to deal with this.

Molly said...

I feel for your husband. But, really. I can't foresee your in-laws suddenly changing their act once the gifts are sent a second time. Poor guy.

Antigone said...

Last Christmas, I got a tea towel and a nasty note. This year: nothing and I'm much happier for it.

Maybe he, your children, and you are all better off without them.

Wabi said...

One year I got a duck-shaped ceramic ashtray from my evil Oma. It was covered in dusty grime, obviously freshly plucked from her attic. I generally like old gifts ... except in this case, given that I was about 17 years old, and so smoking was illegal for me. There is also the fact I have always been allergic to smoke and absolutely hate being around anyone who does it. Hard not to go "WTF?" over that one! (Especially when my brothers got brand-new, expensive gifts that year.)

I really hope your husband keeps going to therapy to work on idea that he has absolutely no control over what his parents do or think.

Wishing you guys a calm and peaceful new year!

Lisse said...

Every time I read about something your MIL has done, the word narcissist come to mind. I hope that he will come to understand that even though he is hurting, the best thing he can do is to protect his own kids from the manipulations of this nasty person. And he'll be protecting himself to boot.

I believe that the smartest thing that he could do right now is concentrate on being the best father and husband he can be; restore a little confidence in himself that he can be the adult, take the high road, and realize that his mother's behavior is her own problem - he needs to stop allowing it to be his.

If it were me, I'd write her off, but I realize that's not so easy to do.