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Do I accept or decline the Christmas invite??

Started by ruthann, December 17, 2011, 07:30:27 am

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I have posted on another subject but need a little help with this problem.
My DH has two adult daughters and one adult son from a previous marriage.
They are all in their 50's.  My DH gets along fine with his daughters but it's a strained relationship with his son.  DH would go to visit his son at his office (he's self-employed) to say, "Hi" and ask how business is going.  He did this every month or two.  He never stayed long because he didn't want to interfere with his job. He loves his son very much but it is not recipricated.   About six months ago when DH visited, he told his DS that he should come to visit him.  Distance is not involved much.  I know my DH spoke to him in an agitated tone, so his DS told him to get out, which he did.  My DH is getting close to 80 years old.   I would have a hard time accepting him coming to the funeral home if he couldn't come to see him while he's alive.
We all got together at Thanksgiving and my DH went over to talk to DS and all seemed to go fairly well.  DS even came over to sit next to him at the dinner table even.  All went well. This took place at one of the daughter's homes. 
Yesterday, was DH's birthday.  All of his daughters ( we have one from our marriage) called him to give him best wishes.  His son did not.  He's hurt that he wouldn't give him a short call in the evening.  There were no extenuating circumstances that would've kept him from it.  My step DIL is very sweet, a good mother to their five children.  DS is a good provider and a good husband and father.  DS seems to have such animosity toward his dad and no one has ever found out why.  DS doesn't like confrontation and would not want to discuss it.  I know from talking to his sisters that nothing happened while growing up. 
Here's my question:  We are invited over to DH's son's house once a year at Christmas for dinner and exchange gifts.  They live 15 miles from us.  We are getting tired of going over to their house one time a year to exchange gifts.  The grandchildren range in age from 26-16 and all still live at home. We had them at our house last Jan. for dinner and gift exchange. 
I just feel so awkward accepting their invitation when DIL calls when her own husband won't call his dad on his birthday.  It's very sad.  Yet, we don't want to hurt the grandkids.  Of course, they are not little anymore.  I sometimes wonder what they all think about this. 
So to all the WW ---should I just accept the invitation and put on a happy face or decline?  If we do decline, should we just mail the packages to them?  To me, it's getting worse with every year.  I think DS shows no respect for his dad.  Even if he doesn't much care for him, he should give him the respect he deserves.  To go over to their house for gift exchange would be such a farce.  How can we tactfully handle this situation? 


Hey Ruthann-

I would call and say that you weren't able to come this year but thanks so much for the invitation.  If pressured just pull the age card - 'we're just not up to it this year...'  Say 'we have gifts for everyone if someone would like to come by and get them'.    If no one comes, then put them away for next year or return them or whatever you feel like doing.

One thing I'd like to mention: I've been in a position with a step-mother telling me that I didn't do enough for my dad.  I always just nodded and didn't get into it, but I had decades more experience with my dad than she did and in a different capacity.  I didn't want to make him look bad to her so I kept my considerations to myself but that helped to develop a further distance.   

I really don't think you should decide whether your DH's son is welcome at his funeral.  He has known your DH longer than you have and has his own relationship with him, something that the 2 of them have developed.  It's between them.  I hope you won't deny him any final closure he might get at  a funeral.

Keys Girl

Quote from: ruthann on December 17, 2011, 07:30:27 am
DS seems to have such animosity toward his dad and no one has ever found out why.  DS doesn't like confrontation and would not want to discuss it.  I know from talking to his sisters that nothing happened while growing up. 

If DS has such animosity towards his dad there is a reason but nobody knows it.  Just because his sisters think that nothing happened while growing up doesn't mean anything. 

If he doesn't call his father for his birthday, that's unfortunate but not the end of the world to me.  No grandkids have been held as hostages, his wife has been cordial, and frankly I don't think the office of someone self-employed is a good place for his father to visit to keep in touch.

If you are already thinking of baring him from the funeral, that's unfortunate.  I don't think you or anyone else has all the pieces of the puzzle, but I think you are fortunate that your husband's son has kept whatever is bothering him to himself and not used his children as pawns.  If you bar him from the funeral, you'll be punishing him for not making a phone call for reasons you don't even know, that likely are only between him and his dad.  You are also assuming that your husband will die first which may not be the case.

I would suggest a new tradition, pick a restaurant half way between both houses, and pick a date that is after Christmas when all the hoopla is over and there is a letdown.  Have a lovely dinner with everyone (invite all family members) and exchange the gifts then.  That gives everyone a date to look forward to and the restaurant can do the cooking and everyone can relax and enjoy the event.  You could pick Jan. 6 which is the day the Wise Men came to town with gifts.   
"Today I will be as happy as a seagull with a french fry." Author Unknown


Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


Quote from: ruthann on December 17, 2011, 07:30:27 am

  Yet, we don't want to hurt the grandkids.  Of course, they are not little anymore.  I sometimes wonder what they all think about this. 

Ruthann - my response is not about the invitation - but a little broader.  The GKs are not little anymore.  Your DH does not need to go THROUGH his DS to have a relationship with them.  He can have a direct relationship with them, without his son's involvement.  Your DH is nearly 80, presumably retired, with plenty of time on his hands.  Perhaps he could take one grandchild to lunch every Saturday - just the 2 of them - alternating which GK it is.  That way, he connects with the GKs without requiring his son to be the intermediary.  My own parents had a direct relationship with my 3 children from the time they were little.   I really benefit from it now, because I don't always have enough time to be the intermediary, and my folks can have the interaction and social connection without the responsibility always falling on me.

As for your specific question - Keys, Doe and Pen all have good points.  I always have a lot of respect for their perspective.

Good luck


Sometimes the parent/child just isn't a good match, Ruthann.  This may or may not be the case with your DH/DS.   That doesn't mean junk didn't happen, it may mean that neither party had the skill to read and understand each other's needs and resolve issues in a way that was effective.  Sometimes people just rub each other the wrong way.  I think it was probably a gender issue also, but the bottom line is the son has to decide if his father is 'worth' trying to have a relationship with.  I think it would be best left between the two of them.


Gift exchange and dinner...hmmm...what the heck.  I think I would go to see the grandkids, etc.  I wouldn't stay long if I felt I was being treated poorly.  It sounds like they have little tiffs or something when no one else is around.  Maybe that's the key.  In any event, I agree with all.  It is between dh and ds and let them work it out.


Do what makes you comfortable and what works for you. My own take would be to let go of DH not getting a birthday call. We trip over our expectations and our own sense of justice at times. Yes, we're right...but do we really want to stand on that and end relationships based on being wronged? That's how DS is...there's not much to be gained by wishing he were otherwise. I would go and enjoy the rest of the family.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Thanks to each of you for your words of wisdom.  My dear DIL called to wish my DH a happy birthday.  The GK's wrote a message on Facebook to him.
I think that it is great that DIL calls but not a word from DS to his dad.
DIL said she will give me a call again when they have plans worked out for Christmas.  I'm pretty sure she will invite us over for dinner and gift exchange.   I'm all for going over for the GK's sake, but I feel I'm putting up a big false front.  To me, it is hypocritical.  And I'm not sure if DH will want to go since his own DS won't come to visit him during the year.  Why should he go out of his way for his  DS when DS won't go out of his way for his own dad?  DH has had a lot of medical issues in the past.  He had a seizure a month ago, was hosptialized, etc.  Not one call from DS to see how he was doing.  His daughters called and came to visit.  Yet, we are supposed to go out of our way for DS. 


Then my question would be, does DH want to go?  I think your answer is not in what you want to do, but what he wants to do?  If he doesn't want to go, then don't.  Thank them for the invite and tell them they can stop by and get the gifts, or call the GK and tell them to stop by anytime for the gifts.

If he wants to go, then you go and play nice because DIL and the GK's are not at fault.  You don't have to put on a false front.  Be happy in getting to see the GK's and DIL and have a good time with them. Let DH deal with DS.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell

Keys Girl

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"Today I will be as happy as a seagull with a french fry." Author Unknown