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Inconsiderate People During The Holidays

As we all know, the holidays are extremely difficult for us - regardless of if it has been 1 day, 1 month, 1 year or 1 decade....or more.  I find myself considering other's feelings and the appropriateness of my actions frequently around this time.  I would never intentionally hurt anyone's feelings.  Let me rephrase that... I would never intentionally hurt another's feelings for no reason.  I certainly wouldn't disrespect them.  I try to be considerate of others regardless of the difficulty I have in managing this new journey I find myself on.

Our family is steeped in tradition.  Christmas Eve and Christmas day have always been "done" the same way with my in-laws. The focus was family and sharing time together.  An informal affair with good food and good company.  However; this Christmas has delivered a surprise that I certainly wasn't expecting.  My step-daughter is bringing her mother to the "festivities".  So my question to you would be, do you find that inconsiderate?  Inappropriate?  Disrespectful?  I truly am interested in your opinion.

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Comment by EmptyChair on December 19, 2015 at 4:32pm

Everything is fine.  I talked to my in-laws and we're just making other plans together.  They understand.  I don't want to be too sensitive and too touchy, but I think its for the best all the way around.  It has saddened the family in general, but we'll just make the best of it.  I'm taking one night next week for a "we" day,  Just me and our memories.  After all the "celebrating", I'll light his memory candle and write him a letter .  Maybe have a glass of wine.  Wrap myself up in one of his shirts, get a big box of Kleenex and celebrate the gift of him by going through our Christmas pictures.  I'll try to be grateful for the birth of two sons this Christmas instead of focusing on the loss.  Big talk?  Maybe.  But I'm sure I'll get out of bed, so that's a start.  I hope you all have a peaceful Christmas surrounded by family, friends and love.

Comment by laurajay on December 18, 2015 at 6:13pm

Emptychair...I had responded to your blog and then to your response  BUT  I had no idea of the background of the situation...sorry I spoke way out of line.  I wrote this yesterday and posted it but it was full of errors so I deleted it .  No way you should have to any longer spend any holiday time with your husband's ex wife!  Enough that birthdays of his children or such must be shared   BUT you should not have to bite your tongue any longer---you are the widow.  She is the divorcee!  Perhaps you could arrange to have time/dinner out   with your inlaws alone? I would never be able to tolerate an ex anything--after all  you were his choice at the end of his life---she was out of the picture.  I see the awkwardness and feel for you.  I  do not believe you  need to open arms and let her take on a role that is no longer hers to take!  Tell your in laws you want time alone with them as their son's widow.  I think they will understand  and hopefully accommodate you .   I look at this totally ignorant  but I see no way multiple marriages can not leave someone hurt  especially around the holidays.  This will pass.   Concentrate on the love you shared and keep your affection for your stepchild  ad your husband's parents.  Blessings         hugs   lj

Comment by Callie2 on December 18, 2015 at 4:22pm
I have to say sorry I did not read your first response before I offered my suggestions. I did not understand the history from your original blog but your subsequent explanation made it quite clear. Your feelings are more than justified! Believe me, I do understand as my own situation was quite similar. I understand when you say your tongue is sore, mine has been also on a number of occasions. It would be nice if another family member could get this situation straightened out. I can't imagine why this women would want to attend all family functions, I mean there are some unavoidable times such as graduations, weddings, births and such but a Christmas gathering seems a little over the top. I don't think I would want to spend Christmas with my exes family. Your chosing not to go, I think, will speak for itself, however, if asked, I think I would give an answer. It sounds like your in-laws are sensitive and supporting of you so hopefully, they will deal with this women. Obviously, it doesn't conflict with her family's plans so why can't her daughter attend there?

Again, I am sorry I misunderstood your situation. I think I would be hurt too. I hope this doesn't spoil your holidays. It is insensitive for sure but at least you won't be forced into feeling uncomfortable. Peace to you.
Comment by EmptyChair on December 18, 2015 at 3:28pm

Thank you all for the input.  I truly am trying to look at things from different perspectives and make sure I'm not being overly sensitive.  If this were the first time something like this had happened, I would just look the other way and be gracious.  To make it a bit more clear, she wasn't invited by my in laws.  My step daughter has just said she's bringing her.  This happened at every holiday last year.  I'm extremely uncomfortable as is the rest of the family.  Although, I believe they are uncomfortable in part because they feel it is inappropriate and are worried about how it makes me feel.  I can and do get along with her, but my tongue is sore from biting it the past several months.  I feel its disrespectful to me...I can handle that... but I also feel its disrespectful to my husband because it is something he would not want happening at all..if for no other reason than the upset it causes to his parents. Granted, I think they will be okay with it if I simply don't go.  I've decided to not go to dinner and I'll just make arrangements to see them at another time.  It does upset me that we (his parents and I) had plans outside of the dinner that now are going to have to be changed too because the ex plans on being there at that time as well.  But, ultimately I do not want my in-laws to be in a position as to have to "choose".  Their grandchild is all they have left of my husband.  And I understand that.  My husband had been divorced for 20 years.  We were together 15.  So this has come out of the blue in a way.  Although I will say she always tried to keep her toe in.  I understood that.  She was still part of the family.  And that was fine.  But she was not my husband's wife any longer.  Now it seems she is trying to eradicate her past actions and lessen what he and I were. 

I have been as welcoming as I know how to be.... even when the best I could do was sit in silence.  At the hospital, funeral, family events. I'm really afraid I wouldn't be able to hold my tongue anymore and I don't want to put my in-laws in that position nor do I want to stoop to that level.  I really do appreciate everyone listening to me spew.  I'm sure it will work out, it is after all, just two days which will be over soon. 

Comment by Gary'swife on December 17, 2015 at 9:52pm

@ EmptyChair - your comment about the ex assuming the "widows seat" hit home and I just had to express my sympathies.  I experienced some similar issues after my first husband died.   Do what feels right to you, and take care of yourself.



Comment by Callie2 on December 17, 2015 at 6:05pm
Depends. Is this someone you do not get along with? Could you possibly tolerate being in her company for a while? It would seem a bit odd if this is the first time she is invited but maybe the in-laws would like to see her too if they all got along in the past. Inconsiderate? Only if everyone knows you two cannot be in each other's company. Inappropriate? Well, she may no longer be a part of the family directly, but she still is the mother of your stepdaughter. She's known by the family. Disrespectful? To you? If they know there is animosity between the two of you and you feel there was no consideration given to you, then maybe. I want to add, if you feel you can tolerate the situation, go put in an appearance and see how things go. You can always have an excuse to leave early. My husband was married before and his ex was always invited to things. We weren't best buddies but we could be polite. She asked me if she could attend his funeral with her sons and I said yes. It wasn't that I liked her, I said yes for the kids sake. These were their parents. Today, it is not uncommon to have these situations. Not always comfortable, but if you decide to go, show class. Let them all know you may have to leave early so you have a planned exit strategy. I really hope it works out for everyone so you can enjoy the holiday.
Comment by EmptyChair on December 17, 2015 at 10:48am

Actually, no - she wouldn't be alone and has an extended family whom she usually spends Christmas with.  I'm sure she will go to their dinner as well.  She's also my age - 50.  I do understand what you're saying, but I feel like I have welcomed her so many times in the past year and she continues to try and assume the "widow''s" seat....for lack of a better way of putting it.  She has no idea what a terrible seat that actually is.  This happened at Thanksgiving as well.  And both holidays last year, although those holidays were hit and miss.  We were still reeling and I simply accepted what ever would work best for the family.... and repeated over and over to myself and others that were upset about the ex being there that she needs her mother now.  The interactions between my husband and his ex were contentious at best but that's a whole history lesson.  Although I do not hate the lady, I despise the way she treated my husband.  I believe this year I will simply skip dinner.  I want to be able to be more "open armed" about it... but to be honest, my arms are tired.  It is so much more than just the one day... one event.  I am trying to create new traditions, because as you say the old ones are really not possible anymore, but I think those traditions will have to not include the festivities as my mother in laws.  I will of course visit with them at some point, but just not at the same time, etc. as before.  Thank you for your insight and I'll try and re-evaluate how I'm seeing this. 

Comment by laurajay on December 16, 2015 at 3:27pm

Oh my,  that's an easy one for me to give an opinion on...welcome the woman with opened arms and genuine caring.  Your step daughter I assume wants to be with her mother who  I also assume would be alone if she did not attend the festivities with her daughter.  If that's true don't you see that you would be offering to help with an older person's loneliness at the holidays.  Nothing is worse than being alone or without your family at Christmas. You are blessed with the chance to offer fellowship and nourishment to another person from your extended family!  Be grateful for the change in tradition  because it involves sharing your love---and Christmas is all about love.  God's love in giving us his son!  If you feel put out or disrespected because you were told and not asked about this extra the bigger person and look at the opportunity to show  better yet  be a living example of what Christmas love is truly about!   If you take one moment  to consider the feeling's of your step-daughter's mother   you will drop your irritation like a hot potato.   You are widowed which breaks tradition somewhat too.  I think our deep feelings of loss really get to us and I think you are feeling hurt and annoyed at another change which draws attention to the fact that things have changed and are changing all the more.   Lighten up.  Let your love run free.  Your spouse is gone.  You hurt.  It's an awful time to try to act considerate  but if you stand back and try stepping into the shoes of this self-invited will feel wonderful that she is coming to the festivities.  I would wager your kindness will outweigh all the wrapped presents you give to others.  Enjoy your tradition  but remember  how important it was then and is now  to have " room in the inn"  for one more.     You gave me a great opportunity to reflect on the meaning of this holiday and I am grateful to  you.   Hugs and Christmas love to you , EmptyChair!     lj                lj

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