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Santa-In-Law

Dec03

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Hi Amy,

I never, ever thought I would be in the position where I would need outside advice, being intensely private, even though I love reading advice columns, but I have hit a wall with my husband and in-laws, and I need a dose of outside perspective. I have been reading the Advice Smackdown for a looooong time, and I appreciate the sensible advice you and your readers give, so I figured I’d give it a whirl.

My issue is this: my husband and I have two children, almost 3 and almost 5, and we all go to his family’s house on Christmas Eve for the whole Christmas shebang. We then host my family on Christmas Day, after having presents and breakfast with just the four of us. No issue with the logistics; this arrangement works swimmingly for all involved. The issue comes with opening presents on Christmas Eve. My mother-in-law insists on having presents from Santa under the tree–for everyone, not just the children, which was fine when my daughter was little, but now that she’s 4.5 and inclined to question everything, it seems to be taking away from the whole Santa myth to have to explain that he comes to Granny’s house a whole day early.

My husband agrees with me, so I thought talking to his mother about it wouldn’t be a problem . . . until he didn’t. He just kept putting it off and putting it off until I started to feel a little panicked and gently (so gently, and wishy-washily because I’m super conflict-averse) mentioned to her that it might be confusing for the children. Well, she cried, and I felt awful, AWFUL. So I again asked my husband to talk to her and make sure she was okay with it and smooth ruffled feathers, etc. And he still hasn’t.

My question is this: do I drop it because in the grand scheme of things it isn’t a big deal and I’m lucky to have a MIL with whom I get along, generally, even though she tends to overstep sometimes (this isn’t the only example)? Or do I pursue it because, after all, she had her chance to play Santa with her own children, and I want mine, dammit?

Gah. I feel ridiculous even making an issue of this, but I can’t help it! HALP!

There are times with generally oversteppy in-laws where I think you kinda have to separate out specific problems from the general oversteppiness. Yes, some problems work well as a Symbolic Line In The Sand, so you put your foot down and hope that the territory lesson will bleed over into other areas where they need to step back and let you be the parent. But sometimes WE are the ones who need to step back and take a deep breath and figure out if WE’RE the ones seeing a specific problem as part of a Big Overarching Pattern when really, it’s just an innocent difference of opinion that can be worked through without a lot of Putting Feet Down and Ultimatums and My Parenting Way Or The Highway.

And I usually find that holiday traditions tend to fall in that second category an awful lot.

In other words, I don’t think your mother-in-law is overstepping here (though of COURSE I believe you that she does in other areas; show me a MIL who doesn’t), and while I also don’t think you were 100% in the wrong to voice your concerns…I’m not sure what you honestly expected to accomplish. That she would suddenly abandon her cherished yearly tradition for both her grandchildren and adult children, no big deal? That she wouldn’t take your words to mean you thought she was RUINING Santa and CONFUSING the poor children all these years when she probably just thought she was being cute and kind of fun by writing “Santa” on the gift tags?

(I’m not saying that’s what you said AT ALL, by the way. I’m just playing the part of the sensitive MIL for devil’s advocate purposes here.)

I think the better approach here, instead of trying to preemptively predict what your daughter will question and what she will not (and bend the world around those predictions), is to simply get creative. Bend your Santa story, not your mother-in-law.

The best thing about the Santa myth is that it’s just that: A myth. A tradition that takes on many, many different forms and can be personalized for every family. Your husband’s family is now part of yours, so embrace it. Weave their traditions into your new family tapestry, blah blah blah. (And consider the alternative: rapidly anti-Santa in-laws who refuse to indulge in even the slightest talk of magic for whatever reason.) Improvise. Make up a story. Make it rich and magical and fun.

Child: Mommy, why does Santa leave gifts at Grandma’s on Christmas Eve?

Parent: When Santa knows that families celebrate Christmas on different days, he has the elves deliver presents early! Because Christmas isn’t just about Christmas morning with lots of presents, it’s about being with your family and people you love. Santa will always make it Christmas when families get together to celebrate.

Or weave a tall tale about Grandma being one of Santa’s special helpers, a bedtime story about a secret underground network of grandparents who help deliver Christmas presents even though Santa gets all the credit, and how all children who believe in Santa can one day work for him when they are old and help make Christmas for their grandchildren and nieces and nephews and little neighbor children next door, etc. (That one has the makings of a holiday TV special, if you ask me.)

Or — if there aren’t other children’s beliefs in jeopardy — just be honest and tell her that Grandma is “playing” Santa, because it makes Grandma happy. And that’s what really matters.

There are a LOT of things that are confusing about the Santa myth, frankly. By embracing the idea of Santa and Christmas magic, you are all but signing on for potential confusion down the road. (Not to mention the risk of a premature “shocking” discovery rather than the slow fade of belief as your child grows.) It’s a fanciful bit of make-believe that will routinely bump up against logic and the real world, and kids know it. So you never know when you’ll need to have a good answer to a tough question immediately ready: Why is Santa at the mall and not at the North Pole making toys? Why is there ANOTHER Santa ringing a bell at the street corner?  Why did so-and-so say Santa wasn’t real? Why don’t my Jewish friends get presents from Santa? Why are we putting toys in the bin for poor children? Won’t Santa bring the poor children toys, as long as they’re good?

Oy. As questions go, “Why do we get presents at Grandma’s on Christmas eve?” is a pretty easy one to tackle.

As for your husband…that’s almost a topic for a whole separate column. He sounds like he wants nothing more than to simply keep the peace and despises confrontation, even if it means agreeing with everybody and/or taking sides even when he really has no desire to take sides. He agreed with you that the presents were confusing, but maybe didn’t think it really was THAT big of a deal, and thus kept putting off talking to his mom, while hoping you’d drop it. Now the family peace HAS been disrupted and feelings are hurt, and he’s gone even more into ostrich-head-in-the-sand mode.

At some point, yeah, he’s going to need to pick a side and stand up for that side. Grow a pair, as the kids today like to say. At THIS point, though…since you’re the one who accidentally hurt your mother-in-law’s feelings, it’s probably best for YOU to be the one to go apologize and smooth things over. Yeah, I know. But it’s probably going to be better coming from you than him, especially since he’s making it pretty clear that he feels stuck in the middle and wants NOTHING to do with this particular holiday kerfluffle.

I have ABSOLUTELY said things to my MIL that I regretted, or wished I could take back. Oh my God, I’m sure soooo many of us have, so no judgment here. And it’s usually because I’ve gotten too focused on a bigger pattern of behavior and sort of…lose the forest for the trees, so to speak, and think some one-off thing is a bigger deal than it really is.

So, hypothetically speaking, if I ever accidentally made my MIL cry over the name on the holiday gift tags a few weeks before Christmas, I’d probably go into full pride-swallowing mode and backtrack pretty far. OF COURSE she can keep playing Santa if it makes her happy. OF COURSE. I didn’t mean to suggest that she should stop. In fact, we ended up coming up with an AWESOME bedtime story about the Christmas Grandparent Elves instead and it was great and I am sorry. Please let me know what we can bring this Christmas Eve, thank you so much for hosting, etc.

(Slightly unrelated, but Noah is seven now — a mere two and a half years older than your daughter — and I can tell he already KNOWS logically that Santa isn’t really real, but is instead choosing to believe and play along this year. Whaaat? Ugh. It happens SO FAST.)

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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32 Responses to “Santa-In-Law”

  1. Becky Dec 03 at 12:10 pm Reply Reply

    As I’m not married, I don’t have any advice re: in-laws and those sticky relationships. But I just wanted to say that Amalah’s advice about the story of Santa being a creative one is dead-on.

    Growing up, my family opened all our Christmas presents on Christmas Eve and then did stockings Christmas morning. And since we had the added hiccup of traveling 2 hours away to spend the holidays with grandparents, there were many times when there were presents under the tree a week early with Santa’s name on them. My parents just said that Santa couldn’t possibly make it all around the world in a single night, and so he dropped off some of them early. Sure this was different than the stories that other families had, but that’s the beauty of the Santa story – it’s flexible. If your child truly wants to believe in Santa – they’re going to believe what story you weave. (And if a child is over it and doesn’t believe, it doesn’t matter what you do, you’re probably not going to convince him/her.)

  2. Jimmy Dec 03 at 12:40 pm Reply Reply

    Agree wholeheartedly that this was a pretty non-issue to begin with, and that attempting to preemptively control for possible kid questions down the road is just too much to worry about, bordering on helicoptery, quite honestly.  

    That said, the MIL crying is way over-the-top, even taking into account sensitive MIL overreactions as a given.  

    I can feel for the husband in this situation.  Sometimes you dont want to get involved, especially when you think the initial complaint is nit-picking.  Also, if he didn’t feel the same as his wife, then he just becomes the messenger of her complaint, not her advocate.  

    Plus, the guaranteed response from this MIL if the son had come to her instead of you: well why didn’t *she* bring this to me? And then the fragility of your bond/trust with the MIL is the problem, not what to do about Santa Claus.  It was better that you brought it up, even if it went poorly.      

  3. MR Dec 03 at 12:59 pm Reply Reply

    Definitely bend the Santa myth! My mom is of Germanic descent and celebrated on Christmas Eve. My dad celebrated Christmas morning. They compromised to do gifts Christmas Eve, and stockings Christmas morning. When I was your daughter’s age, I remember asking why we got gifts Christmas Eve and everyone else had to wait until the morning. My siblings came up with an explanation that made perfect sense to me. Our last name started with A, so they told me Santa went alphabetically, but that it wouldn’t be fair for us to get EVERYTHING earlier than others, so he did our stockings on his way back to the North Pole. I totally bought it, and still think it was a super cute explanation.

  4. SarahB Dec 03 at 1:28 pm Reply Reply

    My child isn’t old enough for this to be an issue (yet), but I can’t see how this was such a big deal.

    DH (or DIL, but, really, DH): “Hey, MIL, we’re trying to preserve our children’s belief in Santa.  Is there any way you could just put your name on the tag instead of using Santa?”

    MIL: either “Oh, sure, I didn’t realize it bothered you, ok.” OR “Oh, gosh, actually, it means a lot to me to be part of the Santa tradition.  Can we come up with a story to tell the kids?”  The whole meltdown seems out of line.

  5. Km Dec 03 at 1:53 pm Reply Reply

    This might be the first smack down I disagree with, and generally I’m not disagreeable! We had a similar issue a couple years ago with my husbands ex wife. We get very little time with the kids in the years we actually have them for Christmas so Christmas morning is a big deal to us to see their faces in the morning after Santa has come. On the first year we got them for Christmas morning the ex wife chose to “have Santa come early”… By the time Christmas came they had 3 Christmases all ready and were spent (they were little). They weren’t excited anymore like they wouldn’t have been and my husband was crushed. It takes the magic out sometimes. I would gently tell her this.  

  6. Olivia Dec 03 at 3:42 pm Reply Reply

    I like Amy’s advice and the future kid questions is a big part of why we don’t really do Santa much. I can’t really remember believing in Santa and I think by the time I was 6 I understood it was a story and not a real thing. But since my parents kept it low key I wasn’t really disappointed, just “in” on the joke.

  7. Jennifer Dec 03 at 4:36 pm Reply Reply

    My mother’s family has always gotten together on Christmas Eve, and they’ve had a Santa come hand out presents to the kids since I was young.  I never questioned why Santa game to Grandma’s house on Christmas Eve, it was just something he did.  Believing in Santa just seems to be something that kids can do regardless of logical explanations, its just the magic of Santa.  I also agree that coming up with your own explanation/stories is fun.  I’m the oldest of 4 kids, and I remember one of my sisters asking me how every mall can have a Santa, he can’t be at all of them at the same time, and I told her that they weren’t the real Santa, they were all specially trained helper Santa’s that reported back to the real one, so each kid could get a chance to tell him their Christmas wish.  It made perfect sense to her, and I was proud of myself for coming up with  a great explanation on my own. :)

  8. JenVegas Dec 03 at 4:40 pm Reply Reply

    Uh yeah, the Santa story is suuuuper easy to bend/play around with. For the distinctly short period of time that this story is important to the kids in question all the grown-ups should probably try to find a way to  compromise and work together to make the magic happen! Maybe incorporate that Elf on a Shelf thing or something.

  9. Lesley Dec 03 at 7:09 pm Reply Reply

    My grandma did Santa gifts on Christmas Eve, too. I remember my sister asking why Santa went there early, and my mother told us “because grandma’s house is special.” Since we already agreed with that, it was enough said.
    Also, my grandma used to wrap gifts in a spare room we weren’t allowed in and called it “Santa’s Workshop” even as we got older. It’s one of my favorite Christmas memories from childhood. Don’t worry too much, if at all, kids just want to believe in the magic part everywhere, they don’t really care about it all adding up.

  10. Autumn Dec 04 at 12:43 am Reply Reply

    My MIL is a passive agressive wonder, who still writes “Santa” on half of our Christmas gifts, and her youngest is 28.  First grand baby (my darling spunky sassy toddler) is 15 months, so she’s too little to get it, but we are going to minimize the whole santa thing.  We generally do Christmas eve with my parents and open gifts then, and Christmas morning with my in laws.  With more of my sibling in laws getting married and having to accommodate other families, we won’t always be opening gifts Christmas morning.  So we are going to do something about Santa will always find her. . .And then about baby Jesus and his gifts cause that’s really what I want her to learn about

  11. IrishCream Dec 04 at 8:23 am Reply Reply

    While I agree with Amy that this is probably not the best issue about which to draw that line in the sand, I can empathize with you. I totally get that sometimes it’s necessary because of divorce or other complications, but by in large I think that having Santa come more than once, whether on Christmas Eve or the next morning, takes some of the magic away. Invariably, the kids are always a little blase or burned out by Santa’s second visit, so I don’t think your disappointment here is unreasonable.

    Given that your oldest probably remembers last Xmas, it might be more complicated to change things up now, in terms of keeping the Santa story straight, but if it’s worth it to you to push back, could you invite your in-laws to come over on Xmas morning to watch the kids get their Santa presents? This wouldn’t replace their family celebration the night before, but maybe then your MIL could give up labeling those gifts as being from Santa as well. Good luck!

  12. VG Dec 04 at 10:25 am Reply Reply

    Ok, let’s think about this from the child’s perspective: If Santa was leaving presents at Granny’s house AND leaving me more at my house for the next day, I would be happier than a pig in the mud!

  13. MAG Dec 04 at 11:24 am Reply Reply

    This might be the first time I’ve ever disagreed with Amalah’s advice, but I do. I definitely emphasize with you. She did have her chance to play Santa, when her kids were little, and her reaction to your gentle suggestion was totally over-the-top. I can see her being disappointed, or sad, or even coming back with some other ideas, like the ones Amalah suggested, but the crying seems a little manipulative to me. (Though obviously I wasn’t there, and I don’t know your MIL, and maybe she’s just a crier.) In terms of what to do now? Given your husband’s refusal to engage, it doesn’t seem like you have a lot of options except to work with the Santa myth like Amalah suggested. But I don’t think you need to bend over backwards to smooth things over or apologize anymore. You made a suggestion for a change, she didn’t like it, she won. I feel like smoothing things over more would just reward this sort of behavior for getting what she wants (or maybe I am just thinking of my own MIL….) :)

  14. Cheryl S. Dec 04 at 12:57 pm Reply Reply

    I’m with Amy on this one. Just tell her Santa knew she’d be there on Xmas eve so he dropped the presents off early.l

    This is what we told my 5 y/o when we were leaving for NYC Xmas morning. We came home from whereever on Christmas Eve and the presents were there! Santa must have known we’d be out of town tomorrow and he wouldn’t want you to miss Xmas! Just find a way for Santa to do it early. DEFINITELY not something to ruin your relationship with your IL’s over.

  15. Erica Dec 04 at 4:22 pm Reply Reply

    Hi, Friend! When I was a kid, we had the EXACT same arrangement, but it was Mom’s family on Christmas Eve. The Swedish ones. And Santa WALKED IN THE DOOR to deliver the gifts (often played by my Dad’s brothers). We had an expanded Santa story, after all, how else is he going to deliver ALL the gifts to ALL the kids if he doesn’t start early? And 4 1/2 is not too early to start talking about time zones and how Santa has to go for 24 hours to get the kids in Japan (there are expats there. I was one.) who need their gifts. To complicate things, we had presents with the Swedish relatives Christmas Eve, presents at the same house Christmas morning to honor my Scottish grandfather’s traditions, and THEN we went over to the other side of the family for brunch and MORE PRESENTS! And you know what? It was the best Christmas arrangement ever and it was awesome. So, do sheepishly apologize to your MIL for being so worried about the confusion and beg her to understand that you were just having a snafoo in trying to sort it all out. Your kids will be fine, she will be fine, and so will you.

  16. Tracy Dec 05 at 12:40 pm Reply Reply

    This sounds like one of those things that shouldn’t be a big deal at all. As SarahB said above, ask her nicely, she says okay, no harm done. The fact that she went into full blown drama queen mode (over something that is no big deal, but YOU AS THE PARENT get to decide) makes me suspect that she might just be a boundary-stomping, wannabe parent in other matters as well. So, if you let her take Santa, be prepared for her to take lots of other things that should be yours. First bike, etc. 

  17. Kat Dec 05 at 1:10 pm Reply Reply

    Interesting. I agree with Amalah, there are things to put your foot down on and there are things that you work around with your kid’s best interest in mind (and sometimes, keeping the peace with MILs who don’t always respect the “my family, my rules” bit). So: I guess you have to ask yourself this: Is this really about “don’t confuse the kids” or is it more about “my house, I play Santa”. At some point the kids are going to ask questions about Santa even if you have it timed perfectly (and I think you probably know that). Check out your own motives, and maybe be honest with your MIL (she had a MIL too, I bet, and probably will remember the dramaz if you ask her). I don’t always see eye to eye with my MIL, but I know that at the end of the day the more the merrier for our son (even when that means toes get stepped on every once in awhile)

  18. Madeleine Dec 05 at 2:08 pm Reply Reply

    I really and truly LOVE the idea of the underground network of grandparents helping Santa and that your daughter could be one of these one day!

  19. Jenniphyr Dec 05 at 2:27 pm Reply Reply

    I don’t understand why the OP is so concerned that her daughter is “losing faith” in Santa. It happens! It’s a GOOD THING! It means that she’s starting to develop critical thinking skills & will realize that no, there might not be some magic man who lives in the North Pole who delivers presents to everyone, but that instead she has a family & friends who care deeply about her.

    Instead of trying to continue to force the Santa myth down her daughter’s throat, maybe this mother should instead embrace the questions and encourage her daughter to practice her critical thinking by saying “Well, some people think that maybe Santa comes to Grandma’s house a day early, because he knows when you’ll be there to open your presents. What do you think?”

  20. Lauren Dec 05 at 2:46 pm Reply Reply

    I can understand the OP feeling like some of her thunder was stolen by having Santa start at someone else’s house. However, it sounds like they have a smooth arrangement (Christmas Eve – ILs, Christmas morning – just them, Christmas dinner – her family). Does she really want to change that arrangement and start including the ILs at their little family Christmas the next morning? I would rather bend the story than give up that private family-memory-making time.

    If the plan wasn’t to change the schedule, was the outsome supposed to be her MIL stopped doing Santa for EVERYONE (other grand kids who are there too)? Because it causes the same questions, and even some big hurt feelings, if some grand kids get presents from Santa and her kids don’t. And even bigger issues if other people’s kids are upset because Santa stopped coming for them at Grandma’s place. That makes Grandma (and Santa) look bad. I can understand her MIL crying over it. She probably gets a lot of enjoyment out of her big family Christmas with the grandkids, especially since she doesn’t even see them Christmas Day. I wouldn’t want that taken away either.

    I guess to sum it up – I vote to either A) Say that you thought about it more and decided to just move forward as things have been, or B) they change their family schedule and start inviting the in laws over for the big Christmas morning Santa surprise (and explain why Santa doesn’t leave them gifts at Grandmas even though all the other kids get them)….good luck with option B.

    Another question – does Santa send presents along with her parents, but that is “ok” because they are there on Christmas Day? If so, it is especially important to keep it fair between grandmas. Either they both get to do it or neither of them can. I have a bad relationship with my MIL, but I still make sure to keep it fair.

    I’m not trying to put the OP down, but it does seem like she isn’t thinking about the overall family in this instance.

  21. Jennifer Dec 05 at 5:02 pm Reply Reply

    Ya know, I understand the question and the advice given- but I think that overall some points were missing in both. 

    The mother in law crying over this makes me feel uneasy. I feel like this is exactly why the husband didnt want to ask. It’s a mother who uses her feelings to manipulate the situation. I really hope and pray that this family gets ahold of the book “boundries” by cloud and Townsend. If I knew them, I’d give them my copy because this this Question  sounds so much like my problems with my inlaws that eventually became a much bigger deal because of our passive behavior and their “small” requests and diaproval that became too much – growing into a very awkward relationship. I wish I read that book years ago. And now it’s helped me patch back up my boundries within my life and I hope it can do the same for this family. 

  22. Vanessa Dec 05 at 6:04 pm Reply Reply

    I believed in Santa until the 4th grade when I heard a kid at school talking about how it was really just your parents – and even then I waited until I saw my mom’s handwriting on all the gifts from Santa until I really truly stopped believing. 

    Now that I think about it was only a few months later (still in the 4th grade) that my mom first had the sex & puberty talk with me…. so that was a weird year. 

  23. Brooke Dec 05 at 6:53 pm Reply Reply

    Santa came in person to deliver presents on Xmas Eve, then I got a stocking the next morning, often at the exact same house. Then when we saw our other grandparents at New Year’s, there was another stocking waiting for us there. Never was confused. I mean, you’re already talking about a magical fat man who can fit down chimneys and go around the world in a single night being flown in a sleigh pulled by reindeer. Why WOULDN’T I get more than one stocking/gift from him?

  24. Susan Dec 05 at 11:21 pm Reply Reply

    I see Amy’s point, but I agree with the people who are commenting on this not really being about the logistics of Santa and Christmas. I can’t imagine why a grown woman would cry over something as simple as someone questioning a tradition. Even if it hurt her feelings. It definitely seems like an overreaction and I don’t think husband staying out of it is because he agrees with his mom. His not standing up to either party makes me think he may have learned this lesson from his mom before. Also, the writer stated that this is not an isolated incident. No advice here, just hoping to give a little validation that often times manipulative people tend to make you feel crazy and like you’ve done something wrong. That’s usually how they get their way…

  25. J Dec 06 at 10:53 pm Reply Reply

    I don’t really understand the problem, honestly. In our house, both for me when I was little and now for my own children — Santa brings presents to our house on Christmas Day, and other people also buy our kids gifts because they want to celebrate Christmas and love our kids.

    Our son has never questioned it (my daughter is to young to). I never questioned it as a kid. Santa came, and family bought me (and each other) gifts. He certainly never gave presents to the adults!

  26. Marnie Dec 07 at 3:02 pm Reply Reply

    I agree that the larger issue here is what Amy already pointed out – you need to decide what’s worth standing your ground on, and this should not have been one of those things. If there haven’t been issues already, there will be PLENTY of other opportunities as your kids get older that are truly put-your-foot-down type issues, not just philosophical or tradition type issues. You cannot control all the information or experiences that come at your kids, so being honest and sometims very creative and even just being accepting will be important. (I still remember when my daughter was given her first Barbie for a birthday present after I’d avoided it for SO LONG. Oy.)

    That said, the MIL crying is a little extreme. Does she always cry that easily? Or, only when she thinks she might be able to get what she wants? Sounds a little over the top / borderline manipulative to me. But, even if she is trying to be manipulative in this instance, I don’t think this is the one you want to try to “win” just to show you can.

  27. Lindsey Dec 12 at 4:42 pm Reply Reply

    I agree with the comments that there is a bigger issue here than Santa gifts. What if the original poster wanted to start her own traditions? She is always trumped by her MIL’s traditions? And she really cried over that?!? Yeah, you can make up a different Santa story to conform to what your MIL wants, but this is YOUR KID, you get to make traditions and such as your own nuclear family. If this is important to you, say something. If you don’t mind changing your views of Santa, let it be. Don’t be a doormat though just so you don’t ruffle feathers.

  28. Autumn Dec 15 at 1:24 am Reply Reply

    I understand how these little things can be much bigger in our heads.  This year will be the first year my hubby’s siblings aren’t all together for Christmas due to work/their in-laws/etc.  So we are having the whole family shindig at my SIL’s the weekend after Christmas.  Fine. life’s good (except her house is the most toddler unfriendly place ever but I just visit)

    So as high school sweethearts we will be in our hometown staying with my parents, but were planning on Christmas day with the in laws so the 15 month old could have some grand parent time.  When MIL announced she was inviting all her friends over for dinner who’s kids aren’t coming home this year.  And of course we aren’t opening any gifts on Christmas.  Have to wait for SIL’s gathering later. 

    Way to say you love your grand baby.  Think I have plans next year.  Only reason we are traveling this year is practice for going to Cancun in February.

  29. Megan A Jan 03 at 10:50 am Reply Reply

    Why can’t the presents from the in-laws JUST be from the in-laws? Why write Santa on the tag and pretend he visited the kids twice? I agree, they shouldn’t steal Santa’s thunder. It seems like these in-laws are well-intentioned but have already lived their playing Santa glory days. Time to let the parents continue the tradition and step aside. 

  30. Rachel Aug 24 at 11:27 am Reply Reply

    Other then grandparents refusing to realize their place as the grand parent- not the parent- I’m not sure why this Santa topic is even a conversation.  I think it is rude & selfish of grandparents to assume that they can be Santa or provide stockings for their grandchildren; they ought to honor their children’s’ new family units and seasons of life and adjust their traditions accordingly.  It seems many people have lost sight of the notion of “leave & cleave” and try to perpetuate traditions way past a reasonable time.

  31. TDanielle Nov 19 at 9:31 am Reply Reply

    You missed the mark on this one HUGE…when the parents are in the picture, grandparents need to step back. Not her kids, not her right. Yes, its bendable… But its a stepping stone to the next boundary.

  32. Lindsay Dec 17 at 10:09 pm Reply Reply

    I found this article because I needed this advice. But I feel, too, as though some insights were missed. 

    My MIL is a wonderful woman and watches our kids once each week. My daughter adores her — and I adore that. 

    But for me, Santa is something that I have looked forward to in my role as my kids’ parent. My MIL has stockings hung at her house, where we celebrate together and open gifts Christmas Eve, and my in-laws are over the top elaborate with the amount they gift to all of us. It’s so immense that it can sometimes be embarassing when we are at birthdays where they are so generous that my daughter has just flat out stopped opening any presents because she is so over it. 

    My MIL has the best interests of my kids at heart. I know this. 

    Tonight, I called and just told her that this was about me, about me having my heart broken when my three year old told me that Santa didn’t need to come to our house, he goes to Grandma’s house. For me, it’s about the magic. 

    It may certainly be selfish, but I want those moment and memories with my kids. 

    I think I will ‘bend’ the Santa story a bit if my MIL doesn’t respect that I asked her to just help me let her know that Santa comes to our house. 

    Her response was that Santa goes to EVERY house. Santa sure does – but not for my kid at every house. If Santa comes to her house, then Santa would go everywhere and I just want people to get credit for their love and generosity to my children and let us have Santa for the short window of time that we get it. 

    It may certainly seem small to some, but I think that speaking up and making it about me as the Mom, not about her and not about my kids was the best way I could handle it. 

    Sorry for the ramble, but I just dealt with this! 

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