My mother-in-law could ruin Christmas
beneath proceedings. It’s good that your daughter has voiced her threats; better to have advanced warning rather than be ambushed on the day.
Slamming the door on your mother-in-law or issuing ultimatums might temporarily solve your Christmas lunch dilemma, but it doesn’t solve this problem in the long-term. And nor does it help your daughter learn how to deal with tricky people in life. I think part of the answer lies in your opening sentence: my elderly mother-in-law is not kind to my daughter. This is the one thing your daughter can most learn: kindness.
Some people think kindness is weakness but it’s not. It takes guts to be kind in the face of spite, ignorance, or misguided advice.
Being elderly can be fraught too. Your mother-in-law comes from a generation where manners and hard work ruled and she is probably criticising out of love. Another thing that might help would be a chat with your daughter about the ageing process. Some elderly people, certainly not all, lose perspective and filters as they age. They don’t realise the hurt they are causing when they criticise — or how loudly they are criticising.
Why don’t you enlist your daughter’s help for part of the meal? She could search online and find something she’d like to cook, or some table setting she could make. It would give you both something positive to focus on.
A ‘no device’ curfew for a chunk of Christmas Day would be another way of not antagonising her grandmother, (that rule would have to apply to every age group).
If your daughter boycotts Christmas dinner it will just reinforce your mother-in-law’s opinions.
Good luck on this one, it’s no fun being the referee when everyone else is playing. Hopefully you won’t need your whistle.
Without turning the tables or being mean to the old lady, you could have a password up your collective family sleeve that you bring out if generation warfare erupts.
Some people lose perspective and filters as they age, and don’t realise the hurt they are causing when they criticise.