I am so sick of the family drama already this Christmas season. My mom is calling me every day trying to figure out about presents for everyone. She’s having a real problem getting presents for M, and she’s worried he’ll be disappointed when we do our Christmas with them on Saturday. Of course, if she remembered the kind of crap (because that’s really what it is) that his mom gets him every year, she’ll know that even one personal gift is light-years better than what he’s come to expect.
The reason she’s so worried about disappointing people is that last year she feels like she disappointed my newest SIL, who returned every single one of the presents my mom got her. Suddenly after that, my mom feels some huge pressure to please everyone, now that she sees it isn’t necessarily a given. And it’s become my job to keep her grounded. I have to keep reminding her that Christmas is about family. We’re all grown-ups; we won’t cry if we don’t get what we asked Santa for.
But already she has had to scrap her best ideas for presents for my brother and SIL (yes, the ones I don’t like much right now) at the last minute because somebody else bought them the same thing. They are also the only ones she had to mail, so she didn’t have time to replace the big gifts and sent checks instead. So she’s sure they will be disappointed. I don’t want to tell her that they’d probably be disappointed even if she bought them each a new car. It wouldn’t be the same car they would have chosen for themselves. (No, I’m not bitter. Why do you ask?)
The same brother and SIL are also causing other problems this year. My parents got a calendar several years ago with pictures of the family on it, and my mom loved it so much that she left it up this year even though it was out of date. So of course I wanted to make her a new one this year. I e-mailed my siblings to see if I could get some pictures from them too, to make it more balanced with pictures of all of us, and so that we could make it a family gift to them. Nobody offered to help. The only response I got was from my little brother who said that he was already planning to make them a calendar. This was two or three weeks ago. Yesterday he e-mailed asking me M’s birthday for the calendar. He hasn’t even shipped my parents’ gift yet.
I’m irritated because I know my brother was not planning to make a calendar for my parents, and it will not be representative of the whole family. He stole my idea–the idea I was going to share with everyone anyway–to use it for himself. I wanted to make a calendar for them anyway but didn’t want it to be focused on my boys, so I had to scrap the idea when I didn’t get any help. I had to settle for a second-best gift, and it irritates me.
The worst thing is that all I can do is inwardly seethe about it all. I can’t call out my brother for his selfishness, and I can’t mention it to my parents. Our family simply doesn’t talk about stuff like that. So there will be this undercurrent of dissatisfaction around Christmas this year, and it all filters back to my brother and SIL. I can’t exactly say I love what my SIL has brought to our family.