Are you all familiar with Unplug the Christmas Machine? If not, quick look at the link will give you the gist of what it's about. I still haven't read it, but maybe it would have helped this year. Because the Christmas Machine attacked me today.
Before Thanksgiving, when MIL was pouring through all of the Black Friday ads and making her shopping plan, I told her that we were striving for a simple, minimalist Christmas. This is due largely to our parenting philosophy, spiritual beliefs, and--most pragmatically--our lack of space.
I went shopping for special and thoughtful--yet amazing frugal!--gifts. For example, I found DH an autographed photo of his favorite athlete.
Fast forward to last week, when the ILs came to town with box loads of Christmas presents. I should have said something right then. But what?
Now fast forward to today. I seriously felt trapped in a nightmare. Present after present. Toy after toy. Box after box. Plastic crap after plastic crap. It just. Wouldn't. End. I mean, seriously! Shouldn't there be some point when the kids run off and play with their new stash, and Mom and Dad pull up a pile of gift wrap and enjoy a glass of wine? It was just too much. This was the first Christmas I've broken down crying in front of the Christmas tree.
What's more is that for every gift that I got, MIL bought a flashier version. (I got DS a single Thomas the Tank Engine car, she got the whole train set).
Granted, nobody was forcing us to continue with the unwrapping. We did take a huge break (this was before we'd even opened half of them!!) We came back to them later in the afternoon, but the kids got bored after 10 minutes (they're 3 years old and 1, for heaven's sake!!! Do you blame them???) So DH and I just ended up unwrapping everything else.
Then I pulled out a garbage bag and started loading it with the presents that didn't seem to interest DD and DS. They are brand spanking new, but there are no gift receipts. So on Monday, I'm hauling them into the local consignment store, and I'll either pocket the cash or use the store credit to get them some spring clothes. I'm not even worried about what I'll say to them. I can't think that far ahead. I just want the %#$^$%^ stuff out of my house!!!!
If it's any consolation, they live 5 hours away and visit 2-3 times per year. MIL is a compulsive shopper, despite their limited means, and she constantly forgets what she got people.
I know, I know. I should be more tolerant. My MIL has a good heart and good intentions. I know all of that. So please, no flames! She's a dear, dear woman. But I also don't think I'm in the wrong for feeling frustrated.
But when I told her that I wanted a simple Christmas, I wasn't being coy; I was being serious. And she chose to ignore me. Maybe with all of her people-pleasing tendencies, she forgot to listen to people.
Because this involves so many personal and MIL-related issues, this post may not belong in this thread. But I thought maybe I could reach out to some like-minded mamas for some empathy and advice.
Namely, how do you unplug the Machine.....when somebody keeps plugging it back in and attacking you with it??