Navigating relationships with in-laws can be a challenge under regular circumstances and the holidays can easily exacerbate the tension. For people who aren’t particularly close with their partner’s family, Christmas is often an especially stressful time.
Doing our best to be gracious is usually the best way forward, but as one woman discovered, some in-laws disregard any attempt to be kind.
A woman gave her mother-in-law a thoughtful Christmas gift, but she refused to open it.
Sydney Brushwood, who describes herself as an artist in her TikTok bio, spent Christmas with her husband’s family.
She shared a post that seemed to capture the dynamics of her brittle relationship with her mother-in-law, despite her efforts to embody the spirit of the holiday.
Brushwood showed the living room, complete with a brightly lit tree and festive decorations, and one lone gift bag sitting on a table.
“I got my mother-in-law a Christmas present and when she saw it, she scowled at me and said, ‘I’m not a child,’ and left it there,” the woman revealed. “Three hours after opening gifts, it’s still sitting there.”
“Why do I even bother?” she wrote in the caption.
Photo: Thirdman / Pexels
People in the comments wondered the same thing. Some questioned where her partner was during the exchange: “What does your spouse say to her? Do they step up or stand back and endorse it? You don’t deserve that.”
The woman shared that “he wasn’t in the room when this happened but he basically said, ‘I told you so.’ He had told me before that anything I get her wouldn’t be appreciated.”
The mother-in-law’s response to getting a gift from her daughter-in-law wasn’t exactly polite or grateful.
Standing on the outside looking in, it would be easy to cast judgment on the mother-in-law for not being appreciative of her daughter-in-law’s efforts to be warm and giving.
Photo: cottonbro studio / Pexels
Yet no one outside of their family can fully understand how they operate. It seems like the woman went out on a limb to get her mother-in-law a gift. She took an emotional risk that didn’t quite pay off the way she expected it to, but at least she tried.
Brushwood posted a follow-up video, responding to a follower wondering what the discarded gift was.
“I crocheted her a mini wreath and got her an evil eye jewelry box and necklace because she’s obsessed with the evil eye,” she explained. “I thought she would really like it.”
Her gift was personal and thoughtful; it’s understandable why she felt hurt when her mother-in-law refused to receive it.
Many people commented on the power of the gift, itself, noting that the evil eye symbol had worked its protective magic. Dating back 5,000 years, the symbol of the evil eye is rooted in various cultures. Wearing the symbol is a form of protection against bad luck or ill intent.
Brushwood shared an update to her gifting saga in the comments section, revealing that, in the end, her mother-in-law accepted the gift, with some gentle prompting.
Photo: Karolina Grabowska / Pexels
“I gave it to her again this morning and she opened it and seemed like she really liked it,” she said. “When I gave it to her, I said I could return it if she didn’t really want it. I’m not good at sass, but I tried.”
Brushwood’s experience with her mother-in-law is a prime example that we can’t control other people’s reactions to our actions. All we can do is lead with compassion as we move through the world, and hope that those around us are open enough to receive it.
Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango’s news and entertainment team. She covers relationships, pop culture analysis, and all things to do with the entertainment industry.