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Mom Refuses To Attend Christmas Unless Mother-In-Law Hangs A Stocking For Stepgrandson

Woman hanging Christmas stockings
Reptile8488/Getty Images

When we think of families coming together for the holidays, we tend to imagine beautiful scenes, laughter, and wonderful new memories being made.

But there can be a much darker truth to it sometimes, admitted the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor Throwra53456 didn’t see what all the fuss was about when his mother wasn’t comfortable with hanging a Christmas stocking for his stepson among all the stockings for her biological grandchildren.

When his wife didn’t want to attend in order to save her son’s feelings, the Original Poster (OP) questioned his wife’s concerns.

He asked the sub:

“AITA for calling my wife ridiculous for saying that she won’t attend my family’s Christmas over some stockings?”

The OP’s mother had a Christmas tradition for all of her grandchildren.

“My mom has a tradition for every Christmas, and that is to get custom stockings of her grandchildren’s names (Cody, Mia, Sammy, Alaina, etc.) and hang those stockings near the fireplace.”

“My wife and I have been together for three years. She has a son, my stepkid (age 9), from her former marriage.”

Or at least, biological grandchildren.

“When she found out about the tradition my mom has, she said she expects my stepson to get his own custom stocking to be hanged along with the other kids’ stockings.”

“I asked my mom, and she said that she loves her stepgrandchild but does not feel comfortable yet to have a stocking of his name and hang it in her home.”

“Apparently, my wife refused to drop it and chose it as a hill to die on and even told me she would not be attending the Christmas party if mom doesn’t do it.”

This led to a serious argument.

“We argued about it for days. I finally blew up and told her it was not reasonable for me or her to dictate how my mom decorates her home and what stockings she hangs.”

“She started crying and called me ‘blind’ for not seeing how my family was treating my stepson.”

“I said they love him and some stocking isn’t going to prove anything.”

The situation impacted the couple’s relationship.

“She said she wouldn’t go then.”

“I called her ridiculous for deciding not to go over something so trivial.”

“We have been in conflict about it since then, and she’s refusing to even speak to me.”

“AITA for saying that it was ridiculous for her to decide not to go over some stockings?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some were disgusted the OP had clearly taken sides with his mom over his wife.

“YTA to the staaaars! You are a grown-a** adult, married with a stepchild, and I refuse to believe that you actually think this is about your mom’s decorating choices and not about your mom wielding family traditions like a hammer to insult and exclude your family.”

“Your mom is clearly and loudly stating that she doesn’t respect you or your wife and that she doesn’t view your family as legitimate. And also that she’s perfectly happy to take out her ire on a child, who is also the only person in this scenario who has no choices about their family.”

“It sounds like you also need a refresher on how boundaries work. It’s certainly your mother’s right to refuse to hang a stocking with her stepson’s name on it, however small-minded and mean it is. It’s also your wife’s right, and responsibility, to protect her son from adults who think he’s less than.”

“What’s actually happening here is that your MOTHER is choosing to die on the hill of being aggressively d**kish to a child, and your WIFE is exercising her responsibility to protect her son from being insulted and excluded. Your wife is correct.”

“Your choice is to pick a side: your mother or your wife and stepson. You have the power to fix this by informing your mother that if she’s too ‘uncomfortable’ to include your family in holiday traditions, you will not be attending, and then follow through.”

“If you’re not up to the task of standing up for your wife and stepson, then yeah, if I were your wife, I’d be crying too, because I’d be facing up to the fact that my husband is attempting to force me to choose between my son and my husband, and my son will win every single time. This is the kind of stuff that breaks marriages.” – Dazzling_Suspect_239

“You’re the AH. You are married. Her child is a part of the family now. I can understand if you were just dating, but married for three years? I wouldn’t go anywhere to celebrate Christmas where my child would be left out like that and not treated like family.” – OddNastySatisfaction

“YTA. So is your Mom.”

“I’m a stepchild. My parents got married when I was 11. His family took me in like their own without batting an eyelash, and my grandparents on his side would do anything for me. I can’t imagine my life without their love and acceptance.”

“I feel really badly for your wife and her kid. You’ve been married to her for THREE YEARS, and your mother doesn’t feel comfortable accepting him as her grandchild? Imagine how that feels to YOUR wife and child.”

“The fact that you have to even ask if you’re the a**hole here tells me that you don’t make much effort to set boundaries with your mother and stand up for your family, your wife, and son.” – Shot-Affect4963

“YTA. Your stepson is going to show up on Christmas and be the only one without a custom stocking. How do you think that’s going to make him feel? It really sounds like your wife is the only person that cares about this kid.”

“If the stocking isn’t that big of a deal, why doesn’t your mother just make one?” – TattooPuddle

“YTA. How is this even a question? Imagine how miserable this kid would be going to your family Christmas after three years of being in your family and seeing that he was purposely excluded.”

“‘This is her hill to die on,’ yeah, because she’s a mother and it’s absolutely the right thing to do, and honestly, it makes me feel like you should be questioning your skills as a parent if you don’t understand that you should be the first to stand up for your child.” – Mauraonamission1

Others pointed out how the mother-in-law should be handling the situation.


“That’s a quick way to make this child feel alienated and make it clear they are different. Imagine being a child and seeing stockings with everyone else’s name on it but yours. Seeing all the other kids open theirs up and you sit there just watching. That breaks my heart.”

“This is not your girlfriend. This is your wife. Her child is now your child and should be treated as such. She has every right to protect her child from that kind of embarrassment and pain. That could cause trauma that lasts for years and forever impacts that child’s relationship with you and your family.”

“I have grabbed extra stockings for my children’s friends and girlfriends. If they’re at my house when stockings are being opened, they get a stocking.”

“No one will feel left out on Christmas under my watch. You can get them from the dollar store, and fill them with dollar store items. Cost is not an issue, so what is it then besides an intentional act to show one child is not welcomed the same as the others?”

“Sheesh, this makes me angry.” – ascrummer

“My uncle and aunt used to foster children. You never knew who’d get home visits or who would be coming with them to our house. Prior to Christmas, my mom would buy a bunch of small gifts for different ages and would wrap them with note cards attached that said what age (and gender if relevant) they were for.”

“When my uncle showed up, she’d get everyone’s names and ages and say, ‘I have to go upstairs to get all the gifts,’ and then she’d make tags for them. My uncle’s family’s gifts were up there too. She’d bring down the basket and ask one of the foster kids if they’d like to pass out the gifts.”

“I can’t tell you how many kids cried when there was a gift for them. One kid wouldn’t stop thanking her. All. Day. I remember the toy too, some little cardboard-backed pinball game, less than five dollars and it made the child feel like a million bucks.”

“It’s not that hard to love and include people.” – YinzerChick70

“Many years ago my brother walked in at Christmas with a woman we weren’t sure we liked and a three-year-old stepson in tow. We hugged her and thrust a pile of wrapped gifts upon this little boy. His eyes lit up and he went from scared to happy in a matter of seconds.”

“This was over 35 years ago, they are still together, and that little boy was never NOT a part of our family.” – alady12

“OP’s mom needs to meet my mom. A cousin is bringing his girlfriend we’ve never met for Christmas? Guarantee she is getting some gifts. The other cousin is bringing her new boyfriend and his kid over? D**n right they are both getting presents!”

“Sometimes that’s the one and only time we’ll ever see them again, but my mom will be d**ned if they aren’t at least getting a cheapy bath gift set to open with everyone else!” – vervenna101

“Three years! I’ve been more welcoming to random kids my kids met on the playground five minutes earlier. I can not even imagine intentionally excluding a child that is part of the family from a family Christmas tradition.”

“These people suck, and I sincerely hope OP’s wife makes sure her lawyer includes the therapy bills as part of the divorce settlement.”

“If there is a child in my house, they’re being included. I don’t care who they belong to, I don’t care if I know them or have even met them before; if they are in my house, they are included to the same extent as everyone else.”

“They will be fed, they will get hugs, they will get a d**ned stocking and presents, even if it means pulling out my craft s**t and making them something on the spot.”

“I cannot fathom not completely welcoming a child into my home and family traditions. They could only be there for an hour, but for that hour, they’re family.” – Jenipherocious

The subReddit was absolutely infuriated and heartbroken on the stepson’s behalf, as well as his mother’s, who was clearly having some realizations about her husband and in-laws after this most recent argument.

The holidays are a time for inclusion and love, no matter how close everyone is with each other throughout the rest of the year. To not include a child, especially over something that was not their doing in any way, is simply inexcusable.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit