My mother-in-law is a nice lady. She means well. She is 78 years old with 6 adult children. She loves having everyone over for Christmas Eve dinner & present opening. My father-in-law has had some health issues this year & doesn't have all of his strength back.
This is the way it typically plays out: Mother & Father-in-law slaving away in the kitchen, bickering about timers & gravy, etc. Father-in-law usually loses his temper about something, due to the stressful nature of cooking for such a large crowd. We don't see them until dinner & then mother-in-law won't sit down, for fretting about forgetting something and then 'polices' everyone's plates--"Why aren't you eating that?"
Mother-in-law asked today if we would like to come this year. I said "Yes, but I don't want you killing yourself to make it happen. We all want to help. I think you should consider a different logistical set-up, instead of a formal sit-down dinner. Perhaps heavy hors d'oeurves, buffet style?" Of course, she would not hear of it.
I have three young kids--age 7, 4 and 8 months. I want them to remember Christmas at Grandma & Grandpa's fondly, not with the two of them hiding in the kitchen & stressing out, not at the celebration.
All of us (the adult children & spouses) have discussed this at length and are in agreement that it is really unpleasant. Is there any way to handle this or do I just suck it up?