Oh, I hear you loud and clear, Sasha. Your last paragraph pretty much sums up a lot of the family dynamics – “if we ignore the bad things we did, others will to and it’s like they never happened!”
My DH is very clear on how he handles the religious pressure from his mother and her family: he ignores it completely. Thankfully, since he’s gotten married and moved away, it’s subsided a bit. But he is still DEEPLY scarred from his life with them. His mother used to write grocery lists:
milk, bread, cheese, and baby, I really want you to get baptised because Jesus loves you and I love you and I don’t want to you to go to hell!! Please get baptised for Mommy!
For a grown-man, it is beyond inappropriate but it is WITHIN the scope of acceptable behavior at their church. Their brand of Christianity is particularly intense and as I mentioned, they live their lives at their church.
After a lot of thought, I have determined that this is a consuming thought for her. If her son were addicted to heroin, every conversation would be about getting him clean and begging him to stop using. She would feel constant heartache and that seems to be how she feels about him not being baptised. His siblings feel the same and also would pressure him.
He is the only one out of a family of 16-17 who is not baptised and that’s huge.
ANYWAYS, all of that relates back to the gifts because when they send gifts, they involve us in their Christmas and that is their way of ignoring our faith. It’s the way they handle all conflict in their family – pretend it’s not there and it’s not.
Pretend everyone is Christian.
Pretend everyone loves each other in this family. Pretend nothing is wrong and no one is unhappy and if anyone speaks out – they’re lying.
They are crazy unhealthy in that respect.
We will see. He will talk to them about it and make clear that we will not reciprocate at this time, and we’ll see what happens. This is our first holiday season away from them – maybe things will really be different now that we’re married. Maybe they have finally gotten the message – we just have to wait and see.