How do you handle the holidays with the Grinch living in your home?


MIL has never liked the holidays, and has never been a gift giver. The most I remember her giving is a can of coffee. She is also not a graceful gift receiver. Nothing is ever to her liking. That was ok because we did not see her on Christmas. Now that she is living with us, she has voiced several times her disdain at decorating, trees, etc. . . We plan to have a big meal with friends coming over. How do we have a happy Christmas without her sucking the fun out of it?

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Jeanne-It is funny you mention decorating her room. In what is now her room, I had framed pictures of our children on the dresser. On one of the walls, I had hung a photo collage of pictures from my husband and his siblings from when they were young. When she came, I left them. Day 1, she asked for them all to be removed. There are no decorations in her room. She is a very sad woman. We are totally doing our thing, she can complain and make her disgusted face all she wants. But, it is driving our grown children to not want to come, and it is sucking the life out of our teen's home. I know that at her age being around lots of people is difficult, but I am tempted to go over the top and make it a big ole party. Also, she is very anti-religion and not at all respectful of other's views. We have been invited to go to a friend's home for dinner. She will not go. This happened at Thanksgiving. Then we are made to feel bad because we didn't spend the day with her. We cannot win, so I am leaning towards everyone at our house. It will annoy her to no end, but I am not sure that is a bad thing. She needs her own place (which she can well afford). Ugggh.
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One of my sons -- the one who is living with me -- is a real bah-humbugger when it comes to Christmas decorations. Every year he mutters and complains as he puts up the lights. "I hate this!, I hate it" he proclaims. "Yes. But you love your mother so go on out there and put these up for me," I tell him. And somehow we get through the holidays without warfare. (Maybe it helps that he does definitely approve of holiday foods, and we always have plenty of that.)

I suggest you go about your decorating, trees, etc. It is your house. Tell her you wouldn't dream of telling her she must decorate her room. Perhaps there is one other area you could leave "plain" for her comfort. Don't get mad, and don't let her suck the fun out of it for you. Give her choices. "We do our gift exchange on Christmas Eve. You are very welcome to participate, but if you prefer not to, that is OK, too." "Our friends are coming over for a big holiday meal on Christmas Day. Would you like to be included, or do you want to make other plans?"

If I took my son's grumbling to heart, it would suck the fun out of my holiday. It may annoy me for the few minutes he is doing it, but I don't let it get me down. He is entitled to his own attitudes, but my decisions prevail in my house.
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