Help - Christmas Dilemma

kaelkriverDecember 19, 2012

My husband and I have been together for almost 20 years. He has 2 boys (w/5 grandchildren) and I have 3 girls (w/6 grandchildren). None of our children have ever lived with us. Thank God.

First Situation
SS#1, who is 35, has recently moved in with a woman he met on-line 3 months ago. She has 3 children (8,14,18). He has one son (6) who does not live with him, from a prior relationship. He�s been in and out of relationships ever since I�ve known him.

We have Christmas day at our house every year. SS#1 hasn�t been to our house for Christmas since before his son was born. Though we give gifts to each of them every year, there has been no reciprocation. And that�s fine; it�s just the way it is.

Guess what, this year he�s coming for Christmas, and bringing his "new family". We have not met this woman or her children, and to be honest, I�m not looking forward to it.

But here�s a question. What�s the proper protocol with a situation like this, as it pertains to gift giving? We currently spend around $75 dollars per grandchild and $50 dollars per adult. Are we expected to do this?

Second Situation
SS#2 is 33. He has had 3 jobs in 5 years, due to drinking. It�s also why he is divorced. He hasn�t had his children (15, 12, 8, 6) since Father�s Day. He refuses to take a breathalyzer test, which is a requirement of visitation. He pays no child support because he has no job. He has no $ for gifts for his children.

This year my husband is proposing to go pick him up (he has no driver�s license) on Christmas day, which is 160 miles round trip, so he can see the kids. It will be conditional that he doesn�t drink. I know better, he will. He will start before he gets picked up and will probably carry a flask. He was hammered at his son�s 8th grade graduation ceremony, at church.

But here�s my question. I told my husband this is a bad idea, I really don�t want him here, but he�s not going to listen to me. Am I wrong in thinking the way I do?

I�ve never written something like this before. I look over what I wrote and think what a freaking nightmare. Any words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated. This is beginning to come between my husband and me.

Thank you so much for letting me vent. I am just so sick inside.

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Hi K, I think since its Christmas, I d err on the side of letting your DH pick up the son so he can see his kids and hope for the best on the drinking ( With a REALLY good lecture on what you expect out of him )..Its really kind of your DH to do so much driving to do a good deed..As far as the gift giving to SS s girlfriend and family, I would give the GF a box of candy, the 8 year old a 5 dollar busy gift, paint set or something and the 2 teens box of cookies or something....No need to spend big money on them, but I think something small would be nice.I have 2 of DH s in laws coming , they will come empty handed for sure, I will get them coffee mugs or something small, its just awkward when everyone has something to open and they dont...If you can afford it..Who knows, they may bring you a gift, and you d feel better if you had something to give them, I m sure...

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 11:14AM
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Yeah, I'd do something for SS#1 and his guests. It does not have to be a lot. Example; Bath n Body has been running their buy 3 get 3 free and there is a $10 off of $30 coupon (store has been stuffing bags with them when one makes a purchase or coupons can also be found online)...if teenage children are girls you could divide them up (six shower gels for like $20 in different scents split between the females would be both adult and female teen friendly). Candy towers are being slashed pre-Christmas in many stores and might also be a nice 'family' gesture type gift. Most kids of all ages enjoy even popcorn tins. If you've done baking for the holidays be sure to send a festive plate home. It's really a gesture of 'welcome, nice to have had you join us'.

I would try hard to have an open mind towards SS#1's new girlfriend and her children. If it's the first time he's come home for Christmas and is bringing this new part of him, he really might feel you will actually like and approve of them. Give them a chance. If it's a nightmare visit, just don't repeat the invite.

SS#2 is a different story. I don't know if you usually serve adult drinks at get-togethers, but if so, I'd omit any of those this year. If I were husband, I'd be tempted to pretell son that car will not be bringing him if he's smashed upon pick-up. I feel for your husband and doing so would be a tough road, but no one (especially children and other invited guest) deserve a drunk on the holiday dinner table. If you really think it might be a problem, perhaps husband could make arrangements for SS#2 to come for dinner the weekend after to see the kids and Dad.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 11:58AM
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Thanks to both of you for the advice and the helpful suggestions. Christmas shouldn't make a person feel so stressed out, but it does me. I will try to be more opened minded, but I have to admit it's hard.

Once again, thank you.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 2:00PM
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K, I sure didnt mean to imply that Christmas is not stress times ten!!!I dont think we ve ever had a stress free holiday since we ve been married..I stay awake nights and my blood pressure skyrockets when I even think about Christmas!! SK would start asking what visit did I want, Eve or day, then he d say, NO my mom wants that day..So I started not mentioning it and when he asked ,I d say, well what are your plans, to take away her power to screw up my plans.ALL my gifts were not allowed to be used or worn, I even got some of them back 2 YEARS later, SK saying Mom said give this to your father(too late to return)..One year home made candy turned up tagged to DAD, dad doesnt eat candy, he suspected it was tampered with and made me throw it out. SK 2 has been estranged from me for years, DH will be going to "The gift sling" as I call it..He gets a shirt, no offer of food or drink and is expected to leave after an hour or two,this is normally on a weekday before Christmas, as to not mess up their weekend I suspect. Me, I buy all the gifts, nice and lots of them, I get nothing..But I do this for DH, he s no shopper and I do like to shop...Its easy to say what someone else should do, but really, all you can do is grit you teeth and hope the 26th comes mercifully quick.LOL..Good luck with your holiday, with a little luck, aspirin and wine, it ll be over soon enough :)

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 6:26PM
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As far as SS#1 and new girlfriend is concerned, I would follow the advice given and prepare some appropriate but inexpensive gifts. Who knows? They may change their minds at the last minute and not even show up.

I would be thinking about the kids. It's awkward and difficult for them, being in a stranger's home at Christmas, and whatever you can do to make them feel welcome is a benefit. I know not all kids are appreciative, but I'd still want to go for the kindest option. Chances are they're caught in this situation just as you are.

As far as SS#2 is concerned, I would consider the feelings of his children. Do they want to see their dad or are they cringing at the prospect of another drunken fiasco messing up one more special holiday? Children of alcoholics carry a lot of burdens and Christmas is tough enough already, so I hope your husband puts what's best for them at the top of his list.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 6:52PM
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Thanks for the additional support and advice. I will do as suggested and remember each guest. I�ll just suck in all my resentment.

I�m sorry Dotz that you have had such a hard time. I hope this year is better. Let�s all try hard to enjoy the day.

Again, thanks.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 3:06PM
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Thanks for the additional support and advice. I will do as suggested and remember each guest. I�ll just suck in all my resentment.

I�m sorry Dotz that you have had such a hard time. I hope this year is better. Let�s all try hard to enjoy the day.

Again, thanks.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 4:27PM
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Hope your Christmas went well.

There is No way to talk an alcoholic out of drinking. He has a disease that doesn't permit him to stop - until he wants to stop - and then he'll need specific support to stay sober. Since his drinking does affect you, have you considered going to Al-anon? It helps.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 12:05PM
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