Christmas Meltdown- How to bounce back?

posted 3 years ago in Emotional
Post # 3
772 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

@grinchyholidayhelp:  Only you are responsible for your feelings. If you are feeling insecure over your finances, there’s no one who can change that or take the blame for it except yourself. Secure people don’t worry about what those about them are doing- they focus on their own actions.


If you don’t want to spend future holidays around your ILs because you can’t handle it, don’t. Alternately, you can prioritize gifts for you and your husband, and contribute whatever you feel comfortable contributing to their gift games. The last few years I’ve been actively trying to avoid consumerism- I’ve done a lot of gift shopping at thrift stores and made a lot of homemade gifts. 

Post # 5
772 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

@grinchyholidayhelp:  Who cares if people scoff? Just give whatever you feel like and if it’s really that shitty, they’ll stop asking you.

Post # 6
9949 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2013

You do not have to partipate in stupid games like “gambling for presents” and “secret santa pajamas”.  In our family, there are people who “opt out” of Christmas — my husband’s older brother, for example, always says he can’t afford to give gifts.  So, we don’t get him and his wife anything, and they don’t get us anything.  Their parents get them things, of course, but it takes the pressure off of them.  Everyone gets things for the kids.

As for the other issue, which is not seeing your son at Christmas…that must have been really hard, and I am so sorry.  This was the first Christmas I spent without my parents and I was very emotional, especially last night.  If anyone had been slightly mean to me, I would have been unable to control myself!  Luckily everyone was great.  Are you and your child’s father going to alternate holidays?  

Finally…how do you know that your husband’s family won’t accept your son?  Have they said something?

Post # 7
855 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: March 2008

I think some of the advice you got on reddit was spot on. Your issues with your Christmases as a child are not their problem. Your choices in life, your decision to have a child with someone you didn’t maintain a relationship with, your finances, etc., are not their problem. Someone said it right. They weren’t thinking of you when they were out buying their Christmas gifts to their SOs and kids. I know this can’t be correct, but I hope you don’t think they should limit the amount or quality of gifts they give each other because you can’t afford it. You have another option… DON’T GO! YOU seen this as a competition. No one was thinking about you. Seriously.

Going forward you can teach your son one of 2 lessons. There are people in this world who are always going to do better than you are in life, and the things they buy aren’t always the things that you can buy and that shouldn’t make you feel bad at all. He should graciously and politely accept anything that is given to him because that means that even in some form, someone thought about him. Or, you can shield him from everyone who has the ability to do better than him in life and see how that works out.

People in this world aren’t going to cater to your insecurities, so stop expecting them to do so.

Post # 8
3668 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

Go back and apologize. Opening one Mike’s Hard Lemonade should not ground you at your house for the whole night. Drink a glass of water, wait 20 minutes, and drive back to your in-laws. In the future, they can’t force you to participate in a gift exchange you can’t afford. If you can’t afford it, don’t do it. You might suggest that families open up gifts on their own and only open up the Secret Santa gifts together.

Post # 9
748 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

Growing up I watched lots of my cousins unwrap gifts at my grandma’s house while I got nothing. I didn’t care then nor do I care now. I’m struggling to understand. 

Post # 10
7936 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2015

You are working through a lot of emotional stuff. Forgive yourself for that and get to a better place in time for next year. Just tell your FI- I’m sorry but I was having a hard time. He’ll be sympathetic. 

Post # 11
1234 posts
Bumble bee

@grinchyholidayhelp:  First off, you do not need to participate in anything you don’t want to. Buy what you are comfortable buying. Let them scoff, let them laugh. What is this, high school where everyone’s opinions are the most important thing ever? If they can’t be grateful for what you do give them, then that’s their problem and they need to reevaluate their priorities. I was always taught that no matter what someone gives you, be grateful; it’s not your problem if they were raised to be ungrateful and materialistic. No one is holding a gun to your head; this issue is only as important as you let it be. Next Christmas, give everyone a tin of ccookies or something. 

Second, it is not their fault you have issues with Christmas. Next year, like I said, give everyone a bag of cookies or a gift card from yiu and your SO, then you and your SO go balls-out with presents to each other. 

Finally, how to bounce back? Go apologize. It’s that simple. Then discuss with your SO how to keep these feelings from resurfacing in the future. 

Honestly, I won’t tell you you’re wrong for feeling the way you do.  Emotions are not always rational. But it is up to you how you handle your feelings and how you handle gift giving. No one can reach in your pocket and pull out that gift minimum; you need to realize the only person to blame for that is you for letting yourself get too caught up in someone else’s opinion of an ITEM because that’s all it is- you not wanting them to turn their nose up at the gift you hand them, so you let yourself spend too much- notice I said you let yourself, not they made you. 

But I will also say that I kind of understand. I’m much younger than my siblings; they left the house and I used to get all kinds of neat stuff for Christmas, but now grandkids have come in the picture and I am slowly being pushed aside. Now all the gifts under the tree have my niece’s and nephew’s names on them; it’s a hard transition to get used to, and I admit I sometimes feel less loved, especially  because I’m my dad’s only child; these kids are of no relation to him but he’s buying them all of these awesome gifts while I get whatever he could scrounge up last-minute. But no one controls how I react to it but me; I think that’s what you need to understand. 

Post # 12
3344 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: January 2000

@grinchyholidayhelp:  At first I thought that your son had died. But I see not.

You are unhappy because other adults got more presents than you did? ok. I guess I don’t have words of wisdom I am willing to offer up to that sentiment.


Post # 13
876 posts
Busy bee

I agree with the answers you got on reddit. You seem really determined to feel sorry for yourself and look on the dull side when the cold hard fact is, you’ve got first-world problems and sound rather spoiled yourself.

Lots of people didn’t have great childhoods or christmases heaped with presents. So what? You clearly stated that you were loved by your parents so you had it a lot better than some. I kind of think you are looking on the dull side in regards to your childhood too. Making somewhat exaggerated blanket statements like*no one else ever got you anything*. Really? No one? Ever? I had a horrific childhood, yet I remember a couple of different instances where I got presents from non-family members. But you seem pretty determined to be self-pitying, so you likely don’t want to really think about it and accept that it maybe wasn’t as bad as you’re in the habit of making it out to be.

And it’s interesting that you keep characterizing the in-laws as materialistic when you are the one who seems really present-driven and kind of *bean-count*y. Your in-laws do what they do and maybe some of them start in January squirreling stuff away for the next christmas. i think if you really put your mind to it, you could come up with some cool, inexpensive ways to participate in the family traditions. But, again, seems like you don’t want to do that. Seems like you’d rather feel hard-done-by and pouty than find an actual, workable solution that doesn’t involve walking out on his entire family on christmas day in a fit of petulance.

I understand it can be difficult to be away from family – especially your son – on christmas but that is the way of the world. You have family that loves you and you can call them and talk to them on christmas day from the warmth and comfort of a home. How fortunate. 

Presents aren’t everything. Read back through both of your posts and maybe you’ll see how it sounds from an outside perspective. Make an effort to do the best you can do given your individual circumstances and then sit back and enjoy the results. Or don’t. It’s totally up to you. 

Post # 14
5793 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: October 2014

In my family, I’m the one with the money. I’m lucky I’ve had my career fall into place, and my Fi also is bringing home a nice paycheck. I don’t give generous gifts because I expect something of similar value in return; I give generous gifts because I absolutely enjoy doing nice things for the people I love. Every Christmas I spend about 4-5 times on my sister, what she spends on me. So what! I know her finances— she’s a social worker, so she’s not exactly in the 1%— if she can’t return the same level of generosity, it doesn’t make me feel slighted, superior, or anything other than fortunate to have a great sister. 

if you can’t afford to be as lavish as the rest of the family, then don’t be as lavish as the rest of the family. No one will remember that you wore the same pajamas two years in a row. They will remember when you threw a fit and caused a fuss — and no matter how discreet you think you were when you left, it’s almost certain to have been noticed, along with your reasons for leaving.

you owe everyone an apology, especially your husband, and you may need to have a serious think on why you feel the way you do.

Post # 15
679 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: March 2013

As a child my dad grabbed a plastic bag and went door to door in his neighborhood to ask for food. The neighbors would dump their left overs from their plates in it. He would then come home and dump out a bag of what looked like throw up on the table. His mom would then make little piles of rice, potato, or anything else she could salvage to heat up and eat.

He never got ONE Christmas present from anyone.

I say all that to say, your story could be so much worse and so could his.

He worked his behind off and set goals for himself. He did something about it.

What are you doing to change the circumstances in your life? What goals do you have for yourself? Are you actively seeking change, passionately pursuing a goal, on daily basis? Are you sweating, tired, maybe uncomfrotable from working so hard and diligently on it?

P.s: Christmas is about way more than gifts. You scorn at his family for being “materialistic” but yet you’re acting just as “materialistic” as they are.

Post # 16
687 posts
Busy bee

I think people are being a little harsh. 

I agree that walking out in tears was annoying and melodramatic, and that she is unfairly projecting a lot of her negative childhood issues onto her in-laws.

But I don’t think she’s just pouting because other people got more presents, like some people have accused her of. It seems like her in-laws have been pretty rude and insensitive about her financial situation– participation in these gift grabs is “mandatory” but they will not lower the price even though she’s explained she can’t afford it… and then the cheaper gifts she gives are shamed. And her husband will not back her up on this. That’s shitty. She’s not “just as materialistic as them,” and she doesn’t want to be, but they are twisting her arm. 

These things are tradition in his family and I would not expect the husband or his family to stop doing them on her account. What they SHOULD do is lower their expectations regarding the gifts. There are ways of being more sensitive to those who can’t afford to keep up WITHOUT sacrificing tradition and fun. In my family, we do a yankee swap. It’s fun, but sometimes people can’t afford it, so instead of canceling it (and making the broke person feel like they’ve ruined it for everybody), we lower the price limit to something everyone is comfortable with. And participation is never “mandatory.” With the way his family is handling this, it seems like the show of money spent is more important than the tradition.

Since you got each other for the pajama swap this year, you should have wrapped up pajamas that you already own and like instead of buying new ones! Can you return the ones you got this year? And it’s unfortunate that you had a meltdown because next year if your husband decides to stand up for you guys, it’s going to look like it’s all you. 

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