Monday, December 28, 2009

One Upping At Christmas


Christmas and Grandparents - a combination that just screams "SPOILED CHILD"

It's kind of cool to see the grandparents go gaga over the kids, to give to the grandchildren things they weren't able to do for their own kids. It also makes it easier for us wallet-strapped parents as we know we can get away with just buying practical and cheap stuff like underwear without totally screwing our kids out of an awesome Christmas experience. It's all fun and games until grandparent rivalry kicks in.

What your parents and in-laws co-exist without any such rivalry?



Here's how it rolls, my father-in-law (FIL) is allllllll about Christmas. He must have suffered one too many underwear-only holidays and goes way overboard. His house, I'm sorry, mobile home, is a tribute to ol' Saint Nick in the highest degree. His artificial tree comes out of storage as the Thanksgiving Turkey is cleared from the table. It's lit up with antique ornaments and his house is draped in garland from room to room. The presents gush out from under his lush tree filling his tiny living room. He answers the phone in a HO HO HO merriment from Thanksgiving to New Years.

Then there's my mother. She is the shopping queen finding everything on sale in February and stockpiles her load. It would be a total shame if one of the other grandparents gave more gifts to her adorable grandchildren. So the race is on. Christmas lists are requested by late summer and she has shiftily taken note of what and how much was spent on the kids the year before.

One year, after a few spousal fights over the excessive back and forth trips between four or five households over Christmas we thought we could bring together my mother and his father for Christmas Eve festivities. You know killing two birds with one stone? I mean the two are friends for crying outloud, this is a no brainer! We were smacking ourselves on the forehead for not thinking of it sooner!


Take a close look at my livingroom. It's a large enough space, especially compared to father-in-law's place
There were presents from end to end, most from "santa" - some in my mom's handwriting, other's in FIL's handwriting, a bare minimum in my handwriting. Totally insane.

To add to the fiasco, my sister-in-law (SIL) and her two kids attended the soiree. She and my mom do NOT get along in the least, but were at least civil for the evening.

After hours of ripping open presents - oh, you know one present at a time was distributed and everyone had to sit and wait for it to be opened before someone else could open one - further extending the exhaustion of the evening. So as we neared the end, the big, cool presents were saved for last. And this is where the rivalry really showed. There was near armwrestling as to which grandparent got to have the grand finale. My mom relented and allowed FIL to go last. It was, in fact, a grand present... so grand I forgot what all it was.

OH but we weren't done! Oh no. That's right, my mom got in the last word after all and asked my spousal unit to go get the large items out of the back of her car. WHAT?

This grand finale I DO remember because it was so underhanded, so lame, and the gifts, so underwhelming. She bought the kids SHELVES. OOOOOOOHHHH bigass bookshelves.

That was the one and only time we combined Christmases between the grandparents. SIL insisted that she would never do it again because she felt like the whole emphasis was on my kids - it was. As we assured her, we wouldn't ever make that mistake ever again. It was so stupid and so exhausting. NEVER again.


  1. My mother has always gone completely crazy at Christmas. She also starts buying stuff crazy early, and always has. Now, with 4 grandkids, she has to make 2 trips to my sister's house with all the packages, one a couple days before the big day and then the day of as well. The hard part with her is she tends to steal ideas for the kids, and buy stuff before you get a chance to go out and get it for them yourself.

  2. My husband is one of two brothers. My MIL is extremely generous with ME at Christmas, I think because she knows I'll be changing her diapers one day. That's okay; I'm liking the gifts! :)