Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Letter to my SIL

When I wrote about the Christmas debacle of 2009, Michelle wisely suggested that I write out an email (and not send it) as a therapeutic exercise. I think it's a fabulous idea, so here goes.

Dear Sasha, (and MIL, and Fiona would be cc'd because they would get it forwarded to them anyway),

I am writing to share with you my feelings of frustration over the turn of events surrounding Christmas. I genuinely feel like you did not listen to Sweets' voiced concerns, and I would like to lay out our/my feelings on the subject. As all of you know, I am a straight forward person and while I have bit my tongue in the past, I feel like I need to get this out so that we are all on the same page.

In August, I sent an email asking you to pick a place for Christmas specifically to avoid this current scenario. As all of you know, traveling for long distances is hard on my back since I injured it working 4 years ago. Turning around to drive for at least three hours within 24 hours of flying across the country is difficult, and I was trying to avoid this. I knew that this was a possibility because we have routinely been forced to change our plans when we come to visit because of your change of plans, hence the email.

This is not to say that I do not understand your reason for wanting to meet at your house. I COMPLETELY get it. You have three kids, and it's difficult to travel with them. But NONE of this is new information from when we booked our tickets three months ago. NONE of it. I understand that your schedule had not been figured out, but a simple "I don't know my schedule. If I have time off, I'd like to do Xmas here, and if not, it would make sense for you to go to Mom's house" would have allowed us to make the decision to NOT travel for the holidays, and try again next year.

Quite frankly, it is incredibly selfish of you to do this to us time and time again. You suit yourself in absolutely every circumstance, and I am truly sick of it.

As Sweets hinted at on the phone with you, we do not want to spend a number of days crammed in a house with your children, who will be getting up at what would equal 3 or 4 am in the morning for us. We had this all decided at MIL's house, and had a cheap hotel room to go to. Now, we will be forced to spend 200+ dollars a night to stay in a hotel.

During your phone conversation with Sweets, you stated over and over again that this is the best way for everyone, and this was going to make for a better Christmas for all. Don't kid yourself. This makes for a better Christmas for YOU, and that's why you are rearranging everything this way. So own up to it.

Calling someone and asking them to change their plans NICELY, and ACKNOWLEDGING that you have screwed up is the way to handle a situation like this. It's common sense that you don't call them and tell them that this will be better for them, and try to convince them that you are right. You apologize, and ask nicely if they would consider rearranging all of their own plans. After all, you are the one imposing when you have already previously signed off on the plans. (OR in your case, ignored the email that I sent you and do whatever you want, which is what you always do.)

You have not once put yourself out to see us when we've come into town, and you certainly wouldn't travel to come and see us (though you don't mind making the cross country trip to your brother in law's house). For heaven's sake, you couldn't even make it to our wedding, bridal shower or stay for the entirety of our east coast reception.

After this holiday, we will no longer put ourselves out to accommodate you.

In addition, I have absolutely no desire to ride around with you on Christmas Eve to run errands and take your children to see Santa Claus. What would make you think that we would WANT to do that? We have no children, and this would be torture. I will be fine hanging out in our hotel room if that doesn't not work with your schedule.

Also, we will not be getting up at 6 am to watch your children open presents. As I have mentioned before, that's 3 am for us. I don't expect the kids to wait to open their gifts, but we don't need to be there for it. We can exchange with the family later in the morning.

I'm very sorry that it has come to this, but this was really the last straw for me.




If I was actually going to send this, I wouldn't have worded it quite so harshly. (I might be tactless, but I'm not stupid. :)) Actually, maybe the first half would stay the same.

I am teetering on whether or not to send the email or say something when we actually get there. I think that they need to know that this behavior is why we won't be traveling to see them for a holiday EVER again. I could just be passive aggressive like them and not mention it, and never bother to go, though.



  1. So glad you decided to write the letter. I Love the P.S. :) I think whatever you decide to do, email the letter, in person or not.. you should do what will make you and Sweets feel better. What an insensitive bitch.

  2. I have an overly fertile sister that seems to think that everything has to be about her and her troop of children, she does things like this and get all shocked and shaken when I don't show up to functions. I vented in a much nicer way than I could. LOL kudos to you!

  3. Depends on you and how you handle things. I think if you not saying anything (email or in person) means you will harbor all this resentment forever (and well deserved!), then you should say something. Easier to say than to do, I know. I hope you decide what is best for you. As far as in email or in person... there are pros and cons to both. In writing is easiest to make sure you get out what you want to say without forgetting anything or being interrupted; but it can also be used against you to have the exact words you said in black and white for everyone to read and be distributed (like you anticipate). In person your words can be twisted and mis-remembered, but you can relay your meaning better with tone and body language as well... I dunno. Whatever you decide! If you tell them off, enjoy it! :)

  4. I think you could send a version of the email. If your goal is to share with her your POV (which clearly she is completely unable to figure out on her own...), I think stating facts and explanations can be helpful.

    My specific "teacherish" opinion, to maximize her understanding and minimize her defensiveness:

    -First two paragraphs are good.

    -I also like the third paragraph, but without the caps on your words of emphasis. (less aggressive)

    -You make lots of important points throughout the rest of the email, but as you stated some of it is "harsh". :) Some things I'd want to leave in, though maybe tone down or reword:

    -"During your phone conversation with Sweets, you stated over and over again that this is the best way for everyone, and this was going to make for a better Christmas for all." + something saying "unfortunately, it is not something that is more convenient for us."

    -This paragraph: "Calling someone and asking them to change their plans..." I think is important, but you could reword it so that it is something along the lines of "I would have felt less upset if you had instead..." or something.

    -Then definitely mention that you will be unable to arrive at 6am, but will look forward to exchanging family gifts later on.

    Sorry if that's too long and specific and preachy. I've written lots of touchy emails and letters, between my personal and professional life (those teacher emails to parents can be ROUGH), and those are just things I have discovered in my experience. Feel free to ignore all or any of it. :-) LOL

    Good luck! Family issues like this is what makes the holidays tough, especially on us infertile. :-/

  5. Ha ha, It's funny, because I started out writing this letter as one that I might actually send, and as I got into it, decided that I should just vent. I think that's the difference between the first and last halves of the letter.

    Just Me- Thanks much for the advice, I appreciate the help. Written word is touchy because as Nicole said, the words are there for anyone to see and hold against you.

    I don't think that I'll send the letter, but I do think that I'll say something while at Christmas. I am a TOTAL grudge holder, and I would really like to just clear the air once an for all about this. That way, I think I'll be able to get over it.