When this married couple is annoyed with their SIL, she asks Reddit:
This happened last year but it came up today during our xmas zoom call with my in-laws.
My wife’s family has a holiday tradition of giving silly “joke” gifts typically found at the dollar store. Basically each person fills a small box with items and wraps it up. Everyone selects a box at random and we spend an hour or so laughing at the dumb things we got.
Two years ago my SIL got married and her husband suggested modifying the tradition to include a riddle about the best item in the box.
The idea was that if you were clever enough to solve the riddles, you would have an advantage in choosing your gift. My wife and I thought it was an annoying addition and unnecessary work, but participated because we wanted him to feel included.
However, the following year SIL insisted that we do it again and I gently pushed back saying it should be optional because it was actually quite a hassle to do. And honestly, it's a bit stupid.
SIL got upset and said it was now family tradition and that the we should basically just suck it up and do it. My wife and I tell her firmly that we’re not going to do it and that it’s unfair to make it mandatory.
Xmas day rolls along and, as promised, we don’t do the riddle on our boxes. My other SIL/BIL don’t do it either because they thought it was optional. SIL is furious and accuses us of ruining xmas and pretty much fumes about it all through the day.
MIL/FIL pulled us aside after and asked us to just do it the following year to maintain peace, but I refused because I thought it was dumb to let SIL dictate what the family had to do. Wife agreed with me in front of my in laws, but privately told me that we should just do it to avoid the drama.
Fortunately due to world events this ended up not being an issue since we’re all social distancing. My SIL brought it up during our zoom call so please settle this for us Reddit: was I TA for how I acted?
NTA. Doing something once doesn't make it a tradition. It seems like you tried it to be polite but didn't enjoy it, not did your other SIL and BIL. It seems like the new tradition just added homework for you. But I hate riddles so I may be biased!
I love riddles and I think this is stupid as hell. By that I mean I wouldn't mind participating in something like that, but only if everyone is enthusiastic about it.
You don't get to suck the fun out of it for everyone else because you think it could suit your preferences better (like your SIL's husband did).
My family had a white elephant gift exchange last year and it was competitive, silly and filled with strategy, swaps, and laughter.
When we did a white elephant exchange with my husband's family, it was exciting because everyone that put a gift in the pot selected a thoughtful gift for the exchange and there were no swaps because everyone was happy.
You have to read the room sometimes and figure out what is appropriate for each crowd. Your SIL's husband's sounds like someone who thinks everything needs to be an 'I am smarter' competition which is stupid and annoying.
I love a good riddle when I'm in the mood for it but if I pulled into my driveway to find a Sphinx in front of my door asking me to answer a riddle in order to enter my home I'd get back in my truck and find somewhere else to live leaving everything in my house right where it is.
NTA. Riddle-people are a wing of board-game people, specifically the kind that don’t understand that what is fun for them might be frustrating or boring for other people. So they think their coerced game-playing is them generously sharing their ability to have a good time with the world.
They need to be reigned in with equal force.