I just need to commiserate or vent or something with someone that gets where I'm coming from. No one around me grasps this one. I either get told I should just cut contact with xh's family or "it'll be fine."
It WILL be fine. That doesn't change how much I completely dread Thanksgiving. When we were married, xh's family ranged from mostly ignoring me to argumentative/mean (depending on the person). The only exception is xh's father. He kept the bridges in good repair and the whole family should be so greatful to him for it now. He would privately pull me aside and tell me how great a wife and mother I was and how thankful he was to have me in his son and grandchildren's lives. When xh left, his family essentially cut off the kids. They wouldn't even return phone calls or emails. Xh referred to them as my children, not his or ours anymore, and they seemed to follow suit. They just disappeared. Except xh's dad. Xh's dad would send anonymous presents for any holiday he could think of. He always knew just what the kids were into (xh certainly didn't, so i can't imagine the effort it took for him to keep tabs on the kids online for that info), always got clothes the right size or just 1 size too big. It would have caused a huge stink in their family if anyone knew, so it was always anonymous, but not untrackable when I made the effort to varify where things came from. A few years ago, xh's dad went into the hospital for complications related to diabetes. They were certain he would not make it back out of the hospital. Xh made a fuss to the kids about how the one member of his family that they had any real bond with was dying this very discriptively painful death. =/ I tracked down the hospital he was in and had the kids call when I knew his wife would be at work. It meant the world to him, and the rest of the family took a step back and stowed any negativity they might normally have had, considering the circumstances. Well, ds was on the phone with his grandfather at LEAST once a day the whole time he was in the hospital. He made a sudden, miraculous recovery that started just a few days after ds started calling him. Everyone, doctors included, were stunned and completely attribute it to ds's love and attention. He was released from the hospital and is still alive today. He and ds are the best of friends and spend tons of time on the phone together all the time. Xh's dad is confined to his bed, with nursing care in his home. Ds is homeschooled so is available to "keep him company" a lot more than the other grandkids or family members. They will sit together on the phone for hours sometimes, watching TV together and just hanging out.
Xh passed away shortly after his dad was released from the hospital. The kids and I currently live about 6 hours from Xh's parents. These people are the kids' family, whether I want anything to do with them or not. Since xh's death, they've really bent over backward to make nice with me and be involved in the kids' lives. Suddenly, they realize that they can't afford to play games anymore if they want the kids in their lives. I've taken the olive branches and absolutely encourage the kids' relationship with them. It is always a stress on me to deal with them, though, even though they're totally behaving kindly anymore. Since xh passed, we have a tradition of spending Thanksgiving with the Ex-InLaws. This serves multiple purposes. It's a really possitive thing for the kids to do the big holiday with all the extended family and cousins and what not. It also knocks out spending some time with them all in a couple days, so I'm not dealing with different members of the family throughout the year. (though one of xh's brothers, and his 4 kids, try to come visit us for a bit in the summer, and last time xh's mom *yikes* came with). Anyway! I'm extra dreading it this time around. I've recently remarried, and they've invited dh to come with. The kids are SUPER excited about the idea, so we're braving it. It's such a loaded situation!
I know, logically, that it will all be ok. Everyone will be on best behavior, for fear of damaging their relationship with the kids. It's been almost 3 years now, that they've been nice like this. I absolutely think they'll stick with it. It will be SO tense (while we all pretend to be relaxed and friendly), though. I dread Thanksgiving with the Ex In Laws!!