Navigating the holidays with the in-laws can be dangerous even under the best of circumstances. But what happens when things get so bad that there is no other option than to avoid contact all together? It happens more often than you might think.
Here are some of the craziest stories about people who no longer celebrate the holidays, or anything for that matter, with their in-laws. From mothers-in-laws with no boundaries, to ignorant relatives making everything about themselves, these stories will make some laugh and even cry over the ridiculous behavior their family members exhibited.
Content has been edited for clarity.
Her Sister-In-Law Made Sure She’d Never Return
“Last year, my now sister-in-law threw an epic tantrum for our Christmas day meal. Picture a 40-year-old woman screaming and crying and swearing louder than my child has ever done in another room for the entire neighborhood to hear for 1 hour and 32 minutes.
Why, you ask? Well, I’m joining the family and one day she said I might call HER MOM, ‘Mom.’ I have a mom and I had no intention of doing this. The in-laws asked that I apologize to her which only made everything even more awkward.
Throughout the holidays and beyond her epic meltdowns continued. Then, my mom passed away days before my birthday. I was pretty devastated. During my birthday bbq at the in-laws, she decided to throw another one of her tantrums, ignore me the whole time (silent treatment) and demanded that the cake be a Memorial Day cake, not a birthday cake.
Of course, the in-laws thought that was perfectly reasonable. It was so hurtful especially coming right after the death of my mom, that I told my husband I’ll no longer go to his family’s home- not only for the holidays but pretty much ever. He can go all he wants but this is my boundary I’ve set. NO! I’m totally fine and super stoked for a stress-free holiday this year.”
Family Traditions Are Stressful
“My mother-in-law gets so stressed out by Christmas preparations. Everything has to be exactly perfect and exactly according to family tradition, of course. It got so bad few years back she put herself in the ER with atrial fibrillation. Christmas dinner that year was Subway and Jack in the Box (because naturally, not everybody could agree) around a hospital bed.
My wife and I have since figured out that if we stonewall on Christmas itself and wander up a month early or late ‘just to see them,’ she doesn’t shoulder nearly the same amount of anxiety because it isn’t Christmas, so it doesn’t have to be perfect. We can just have dinner like normal people, next to an aseasonal indoor tree that happens to still be set up and has a bunch of presents under it.
So we stopped going home for the holidays to keep my mother-in-law alive.”
Narcissists In-Laws Ruin Everything
“My brother-in-law and his wife are both narcissists.
I’ll call them J and K. J and K live with my mother and father-in-law and treat them like servants. They tell all of their friends that they are living at home to ‘help the in-laws with their underwater mortgage,’ but really they just bleed them dry and use them for childcare.
My mother-in-law absolutely refuses to address this and allows them to walk all over herself and my father-in-law. She gets upset when I confront J and K, so she essentially forces me to allow them to walk all over my family. We moved far away from the family.
One Christmas, while we were visiting, J and K left very early Christmas morning to see her parents. My mother-in-law would not let anyone open presents until everyone was back. My 7 and 9-year-old kids had to wait until like 3 o’clock Christmas afternoon because these idiots kept saying, ‘Okay, we’re leaving in 15’ all day, over and over.
I flipped out and called them on their nonsense. Everyone got mad at me, which is fine, I know when I’m being a prick. The next Christmas, they invited us over and I said, ‘That’s fine, but we’re opening presents when we wake up, no matter who decides to sleep in or visit other family members.’
They tried to pull the exact same thing, so we left and went to my parents’ house. I told them to call us when J and K got back.
We will never Christmas there again.”
Passive Aggression Ruins Dinner
“We went over on Christmas Eve for dinner. I had been really anxious all week because my mother-in-law always ruins special events. She was being icy cold, but still civil. Anytime I would begin to talk about my life, she would promptly interrupt me; like when I began to talk about my newborn niece and how she is a very pretty baby, she stopped me mid-sentence to say that one of my husband’s friends new baby is so cute and she follows his every move on FB.
Then dinner happened.
First of all, she always makes appetizers and has us sit around eating them for hours before dinner. So, by the time it is dinner time you’re not even that hungry. Then, my mother-in-law always makes enough for an army even though there are only four of us at the table. She made me a thing of pasta the size of a mixing bowl. Toward the end of dinner, she decided I didn’t eat enough and starts to go off on me to the point my husband and father-in-law told her to stop and brought up the fact that she always cooks way too much. During this argument, though, I got angry because she talks about me in front of me like I’m not even there. ‘I just don’t understand why SHE hates my cooking.’ That’s when I told her that I was right here and to knock it off. Sidenote, I have a problem with weight and have talked to her about her doing this before. I am average size and have no problem working out, but food is my kryptonite and I have to be very careful. I have told her I have nothing against her cooking, but if someone tells me to keep eating I will and then I gain a lot of weight. We have gone over this multiple times in the last two years and I have constantly asked her to stop doing it. She did not appreciate the fact that it was 3 to 1 and was sulky and moody the rest of the night.
We were supposed to go over Christmas Day but that morning my father-in-law called to say they were both ‘too sick’ and wanted to cancel. Last year, my mother-in-law complained that we didn’t spend the night and that it was the first time ever my husband, who was still my fiance at the time, had not slept over Christmas Eve. I didn’t want to see them anyway, but this obviously really hurt my husband because it’s clear they were faking it and I hate seeing him in distress. I told him after Christmas Eve I wanted to no more contact ever again with her, but I know by making myself happy it only hurts him, so I am at a loss. If the witch wanted to cancel Christmas, I would have loved a little more notice because I could have either made plans with others or bought food for dinner. We had Chinese and watched Die Hard, so the day wasn’t a total loss but you know she is probably whining to her friends about how everything is my fault.
I really never want to deal with any of it again.”
Why We Have Thanksgiving In Maui
“Two years ago, my wife and I decided we were going to forgo our usual Thanksgiving tradition of having to be at 12 places at once. It was decided that we would do Thanksgiving at our house and people could come see us for once.
As expected, my family said too bad, see you next year. And her entire family, including distant cousins who my wife had never met, all agreed. The numbers were staggering, to the point where there was no way I was going to pay for all of it. Some quick thinking and it was decided I would do the turkeys and they would hold a drawing for everything else. Basically my wife put items on paper and put them in a hat and had everyone draw. Some people got stuffing, some drinks or snacks, all the way down to napkins.
I have to admit, I was pretty excited. I went to my butcher and got 6 huge Turkeys – 2 to smoke, 2 to roast, and 2 to Fry. It was going to be epic.
So, the big day rolls around an all her family starts showing up, but she was mortified. She knew her brothers were hicks, but had no idea how far down the food chain some of her Aunts, Uncles, and cousins fell. Her Aunt brought 2 bottles of Boone’s Farm, the people that got stuffing brought a (Yes ‘a’ as in One) box on instant stuffing. Someone, I have no idea who the heck they were, brought egg salad that smelled as if it had been stored in a dead street floozy’s butt. In total, there was a case of brews, and I can’t tell you how many of them didn’t bring anything.
There were 100 to 150 of the most messed up melon heads there. A full-grown guy, I mean in his early 30s, peed in my freaking flowerbed!
My wife was a mess, she looked at me with so much shame in her eyes that I instinctively went into ‘save the freaking day or suffer for a year’ mode.
Walmart, here I come! It was about to get real. I cleared the shelves of every Country Crock mashed potatoes they had. The deli had stuffing, I told them I’d take it all. Bags of salad, yeah I got 20 of them! I stuffed that cart with twice the recommended load. The tab was just under $500.00 and I was just getting warmed up. Next stop, the spirits store! I ended up buying enough drinks to get half of Eastern Asia messed up. There were two gosh darn kegs, two cases of assorted spirits, and 4 boxes of Franzia. I rush back home, credit card smoke trailing behind my car.
As I walk through the door I am greeted by my wife, eyes swollen, bottom lip quivering. I take her in my arms, kiss her lightly on the forehead and whisper ‘Relax, I got this under control’ She looks up at me, tears flowing with more consistency by the second. She says she is sorry, then hits me with it, ‘They got into your dads bottle.’
Years before, my dad had given me a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle from the original Weller distillery, It was the first real gift he had ever given me and I planned on drinking it with my son on his 21st birthday. Get off me, I’m a very sentimental guy.
Anyway, some of my relatives were pouring it in soda! One of the most epic bottles of single-malt ever made and the idiots are pouring it in pop!
For the next 3 hours I cooked, head down and emotionless. I fed the masses my tears that day. No other time in history had $300.00 worth of Turkey been served with no thanks given. They ate it all, and what they didn’t drink, they stole. My wife cried for days. We have not seen a single member of her family since. In 2010, we went back to the stress of hitting four different places in four hours time. All we heard the entire time is how my family was so upset last year that we ‘didn’t care’ to see them.
Now, we go to Maui for Thanksgiving.”
A Very Fractured Relationship
“My wife and her parents have been going at it for years. They’re very controlling and do all these passive aggressive things which have driven her away. They’ve even attempted to sabotage relationships with other members of the family, including her dying grandparents. It’s been tough for her, but she started cutting them out of her life and ultimately has not seen or really even talked to them in quite a few years.
Her mom would get upset and send her nasty messages like: ‘You’re not my daughter anymore, don’t you dare even think of getting me anything for Mother’s Day. I’m not your mother anymore,’ sort of messages. Followed by her dad lecturing my wife for not even saying, ‘Happy Mother’s Day.’ Real dumb and petty stuff.
Well, my wife hasn’t come home for the holidays in quite a few years and her dad constantly texts her things and said: ‘I sent you a package, let me know when you get it.’ My wife thought maybe after all these years they were willing to maybe start making amends and he wrote a letter or something to start the healing process, but no, it was some gift cards. So my wife said thanks for the gift but that she would not be coming home to see them for the holidays. So her dad threw a tantrum and insisted she sends back the gift cards and went on about how awful of a daughter she is. My wife obliged but was heartbroken.
The worst part is her dad will text her with just small talk, ‘How about that football game?’ or ‘Dang, those Yankees,’ which she ignores and isn’t above using anything to try and guilt her into responding back. The latest was a truck attack in NYC. He sends some heartfelt message about ‘days like today it would be nice to hear from you’ but otherwise won’t take any responsibility to try and actually mend the relationship.
Shame, if it keeps up they may never get to meet their grandchild or have a relationship with their daughter. Oh well, I prefer to keep things low-key for the holidays and negative forces in your life aren’t worth it.”
A Nasty Woman Drives Her Daughter-In-Law Away
“My mother-in-law is pretty much off her rocker. She can’t stand the fact her son dared to move 13 hours away for college and, eventually, got married (the nerve!). She constantly nags at me, which is normal as far as in-laws go, but to a point where her siblings have to intervene and tell her to knock it off. She’s unnaturally attached to her son, she even told me she sprays his cologne whenever she misses him. When we announced we were getting married, she said: ‘Well, I see what the pecking order is now!’ He is 30 and I’m 27.
What finally sealed the deal for me never going back was last Thanksgiving. Her sister had lost her son a year prior to an overdose. He was 22. She intentionally did not invite her sister to dinner so, and I quote, she ‘wouldn’t have to listen to her sister gripe and moan about her dead son all night.’ This coming from the woman who can’t handle her son moving to another state and starting a family.
She’s insufferable and I won’t subject myself or my children to her verbal abuse anymore.”
Sure, NOW They Like The Baby
“I’m not sure if I’m going to the in-laws for Christmas this year.
Last year we told them we were expecting a baby and they angrily said, ‘Oh no! Not another one!’ We only had one other child. Then they went on to talk about how we’re too old (we’re in our 30s).
Now that they met the baby, they probably think I’ll show up and they can criticize me somehow. But no, I’ll remind them how last Christmas, I left thinking they wanted me to get an abortion so, no thanks, I’ll hold the baby. The entire time. Yes, I sound resentful but I have been so nice to them and they’ve been rude too many times.
I plan to eat and then get out. They’re mean, old snakes, but they can cook.”
A Mother-In-Law Makes Up Her Own Rules
“Our first daughter turned 1 shortly before Christmas ’95. At that time, my in-laws lived in a town that was approximately a 2-hour drive from us. My mother-in-law asked if we’d be staying at their place on Christmas Eve, and we said ‘No – it’s kind of difficult with a baby. We’ll drive out to join you on Christmas Day.’
She wasn’t happy, but she said ‘Fine, but you have to be here by 10 am. That’s when we’ll be opening presents.’
So, we got up bright and early on Christmas morning, gulped down breakfast, got the baby ready, and got on the road by 6:30 am. Driving was a bit slow due to some snow and ice, but we arrived at the in-laws’ house at 9:50 am. We grinned at each other with relief – we’d done it!
We entered the house – only to stare in dismay and consternation. There was torn wrapping paper everywhere. They’d all opened their gifts without us.
My husband isn’t one for confrontations normally, but he couldn’t help it this time. He cornered his mother in the kitchen and said angrily ‘Why didn’t you wait for us? We got here on time!’
She said sweetly ‘Oh, the kids didn’t want to wait.’ Said ‘kids’ were my husband’s younger sister and brother, who were 26 and 21 at the time.
To this day, I’m convinced that she decided not to wait because she was punishing us for not staying overnight on Christmas Eve. Whatever. That told us how much we mattered to her and after a couple more similar experiences, we put our collective feet down and have been celebrating Christmas Day in our own house ever since.
After we’d been doing the ‘celebrate in our own house’ thing for a couple of years, my mother-in-law called on Christmas Day and berated my husband, calling him a ‘bad son’ who’d ‘turned his back on his family.’ She made him cry. I’ll never forgive her for that.”
The In-Laws Made Out Like Bandits
“We had just bought our first car together, a used Subaru, and the mother-in-law invited us out east for the holidays. We were both students working part-time jobs, so money and hours missed was an issue, but we were told they’d go half-sies on travels.
We made the two-day drive (with our dogs) and once we got there, we realized that we were seemingly forgotten. The fridge was never stocked and the food was never cooked, so we found ourselves going out to spend our own money on food for ourselves.
My mother-in-law also enjoys partying, like, more so than I did in my 20’s, so when we did go to the store with them, they bought a crazy amount of brews, and would stay up drinking and banging, LOUDLY.
On our way back home, the car we bought blew a rod in North Dakota at 2 in the morning.
They didn’t go half-sies with us.”
Shunned By Most Of Her Partner’s Family
“My partner is fully accepting of me being transgender. He’s known me for three years and we’ve been dating for two. We moved in together after one year of dating. He introduced me to his family (mother, father, stepfather, brother, and his mother’s family) as who I am. After three years, all but one refuse to use my correct pronouns, and the one who does is a hardcore religious follower, his father. He doesn’t understand it but accepts I make his son happy and therefore accepts me, to some extent; just a mutual agreement, I suppose.
My partner’s mother’s family has made up many rumors about me and despite every explanation possible, they refuse to accept or even try to use the correct pronouns. The only thing they got down is that my dead name is long gone except to my birth parents, siblings and the man my mother is married to. I don’t really speak to any of them except my mother bi-monthly and my father every few days. Everybody else from there is cut out.
So, I don’t want to spend Christmas with either my birth family or partner’s family (except for the father but he remarried and has four kids to look after), and I’m aiming to move with my partner back to my hometown for many reasons, his family isn’t one of the reasons but more of a good side effect.
Give me some chocolate and a laptop with WiFi, then I’m content with my Christmas.”
A Horrid Father-In-Law Isn’t Worth Any Time At All
“I was told never to come to my in-law’s house again because I made a post about Nazis being bad on Facebook.
Truly, it was a relief. My husband’s father is a white supremacist and he told my husband to divorce me because I’m unemployed. He also lied and told all of his son’s friends that I left his house a mess when I meticulously cleaned the spare room.
This is only the tip of the iceberg, okay? He treats his wife like she’s a dumb animal, always telling her to shut up when she has an opinion that differs from his.
He got angry because I stayed in the spare room instead of coming out to hang with them on our last visit. Why did I? Because I was finishing my mother’s last Christmas gift, letters to tell her how much she means to me. The month before, the doctors found cancer in her pancreas, her liver, and her GI tract.
The last straw for both of us was when he publicly called me a nasty name and threatened to murder me. He sent my husband messages warning him to ‘shut that girl up before I do.'”
A Black Hole Of Negativity
“My mother-in-law has ‘learned helplessness.’ She was an abuse victim and she became so dependent on other people’s help after she left the relationship that she is incapable of taking care of herself anymore. She refuses to get help for this.
She also spends money like it’s on fire. Every year we get weepy calls for heating oil money right after emails of vacation pictures.
Her entire relationship with me is asking me for money. She has never done anything for me without the ulterior motive of later using that kindness to demand money. Two Thanksgivings ago I just walked out and have not looked back since. I don’t miss someone who brings nothing but negativity into my life.”
A Terrible Sister
“My sister-in-law threw the mother of all tantrums (she is a highly skilled narcissist, somehow it wasn’t her fault).
She stormed out of her parent’s house stating, ‘Whatever! I can do this on my own,’ it will just be her kid and her. She then called the house and threatened her dad by saying she would never let him see his grandchild again. I have never heard a grown man cry as loud as he did.
She came back to the house later and told her brother (my husband) that we are terrible parents and everyone treats her child badly while spoiling my kids.
Oh, I forgot to mention, her dad pays for her house and car while doing nothing for us. We agreed no more Christmases at his parents’ house if his sister is involved.”
A Entire Mess Of A Family On Both Sides
“My parents divorced when I was a teen. Dad ran off back to Kansas and ended up killing himself. My mom still occasionally use speed, still surrounds herself the fellow users. She has had a couple strokes, is housebound and can no longer drive. While I still try to call her and talk and ask how’s she’s doing and if she’s getting any better, she does not return the same curiosity to me.
But the in-laws- oh my! My mother-in-law is a ‘always-the-victim, everything has to be about her,’ slothful, gluttonous, tweaker narcissist. So many horror stories.
My father-in-law is dead. He had kidney failure and was on dialysis for years. He literally just waited his way into a new kidney, with no actual lifestyle changes ever made. He still did speed and coke as well, apparently. It’s what attributed to his major stroke and the mother-in-law not calling 911 right away, either. That couldn’t have helped.
And that’s why we don’t particularly enjoy the holidays.”