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At Least My Christmas Card is Ordered

4 years ago

1792 words

Photo: There was a time when making the Christmas Card was just so easy. But as the boys grow older (yet no less cute), it is hard to get them to be cool in the studio and get it done. We didn’t really have the $200 required to do the studio thing this year anyway. My good friend, Shelly, took perfect pictures of the boys this year. I’ll share closer to Christmas.

Indeed, at the very least, I can sit here and write with a small sense of accomplishment: My Christmas card has been designed and ordered.

My husband came home with a cough and a sniffle, he then spent large chunks of time on both Saturday and Sunday at the house so I couldn’t get away, I wrote very little fiction and spent a lot of time cleaning, but…

At least my Christmas Card is ordered.

God, supposedly, laughs at plans. He must have found my personal plan for the weekend to be particularly hilarious.

And I’m sure that He knows how tight my week is. Because, no, I’m not going to just buy those two pies that I need for Thursday. Oh no, this fool is going to be baking pies all day on Wednesday. But I need to make the crust tomorrow. I also need to go to the grocery store and Whole Foods tomorrow. And did you know that Tuesday travel in Massachusetts is usually even more busy than Wednesday travel, so the roads are probably going to be awful?

Mmmhmm…

And I have a little bear upstairs, after being up since 6:30 and having a very active playgroup session, who is kicking the wall and not napping. So I don’t really know how long my toddler-free window is going to be today.

I know that I can’t be angry at my husband for coming home with a cold, but I can be annoyed, right? I spent a lot of my weekend wondering if he was coughing all over everything (yes, my husband is that asshole who doesn’t cover his mouth…at least at home… when he coughs) and praying that none of the rest of us get sick. And then, of course, I sent him over to the house for what I thought would be a brief visit of measuring and looking over things on Saturday–2 1/2 hours later, he comes back all apologetic after being delayed. I got no time to myself at all. On Sunday, his boss had a few things he wanted to give us for the house (including a new refrigerator, which I was very grateful to receive), but that took another 2ish hours to do. 2 hours in Mom-time can be practically an entire day, especially when it comes to free time and there is always an excuse to not take time for yourself. So when it’s 1:30 in the afternoon, I look at the clock and say “I could go out, but then I’d only be able to do something for an hour, then I’ll have to come back and make dinner, so… might as well stay here and knock out that laundry.”

That’s totally my fault. Not his fault. Still annoying, though.

There is some good news to report: Someone is moving in to our current place, so I don’t have to worry about that at least. I have spent a lot of time trying to keep this place “show ready” and Thursday was particularly annoying as a person wanted a same-day showing, cancelled that showing, and then decided he wanted to see it after all. All of my trouble paid off, though, as he put in his application for this place the very next day. I’m pleased that we don’t have to reschedule movers or anything to make it happen, and it looks like we won’t need to pay rent for January (maybe just a few prorated days). So I will start the new year in my own house and I won’t have to pay rent and a mortgage! Wooo hoo!!

The universe is in balance, right? I have a lot of packing to do, and I can’t get that started until Sunday because my brother- and sister-in-law are coming for a visit on Friday. And I told my husband that I will be disappearing on Saturday for a while to write. It will be the last day of NaNo and I really want to finish up strong. So on Sunday, we get it started and then next week, hopefully, I’ll be printing out my Christmas letter and addressing envelops so I can get this stuff in the mail and off to the various corners of the country.

And did I mention that I am planning a brunch with my mother-in-law?

Yeah… I’m doing that…

Why am I doing that?

Because I’m a great fool. Such a fool.

We never do Christmas dinner with The Husband’s extended family because we’re always with mine. I feel bad about that, because we usually end up getting together later in the week, when everyone is always all Christmas’ed out and no longer in the mood for holiday cheer. I suggested to my mother-in-law that we host a brunch a few days before Christmas so as to get everyone together and get them in a festive mood. She thought that was a great idea. Of course, I’m doing all of the heavy lifting when it comes to menu planning and, eventually, cooking. Awesome.

But that isn’t why I mention this.

My mother-in-law sent us some advent candles for our wreath this year. I don’t know if other Christian sects do this, but Lutherans celebrate advent by lighting a candle in an advent wreath every night. My in-laws gave us a gorgeous advent wreath a few years ago, crafted at the National Cathedral, and it is one of my favorite things to display during this time of year. Unfortunately, we’re not going to do Christmas decorations this year because we’re packing to move and it will be just another thing that we need to deal with. So when the candles came in the mail, I thanked her for them and told her I’d put them in a safe place.

This was her reply:

You can actually light the Advent candles even if it’s too much trouble to dig out your wreath. You can put them in any old candleholders.

For us, an Advent wreath is more an aid to worship than a decoration. Lighting the candle for each week, remembering the wreath at church, helps me get into a worshipful mindset and find that tiny ray of joy and peace that is part of the worship experience.” 

Now some of you probably read that and don’t see what the big deal is, but I don’t really appreciate it. I very politely told this woman that we’re moving and that we just can’t do this this year. What I don’t appreciate about this is that she implies that I don’t know what the meaning of the wreath and this time is all about. It also peeves me that she should presume to tell me what to do in my own home. I know that I don’t write about my faith that often, and I’ve written about how private my faith is, but it does not mean that my faith is not strong or rich or thoughtful. My in-laws, who attend church every Sunday and uphold all of the traditions, often look at me as if I’m a lesser Christian than they are because I don’t go through the rigamaroll with the same fervor that they do. It really makes me angry that, after 11 years of being with her son, this woman doesn’t realize that we share the same values (for the most part) and want the same things for her son and these children that we created.

So I wrote a very polite reply:

“The traditions that you and [father-in-law] keep in Maryland are wonderful. [Husband] and I will look forward to carrying on our own once we’ve settled into the house, and have had the opportunity to build a worshipful space within our home. We look forward to sharing that with you when the time comes. In the meantime, I’ll make sure that the candles are in a safe space. I’m pretty sure that we still have candles left over from last year. Either way, it will be lovely to take out the beautiful wreath that you gave us for Christmas a few years ago and setting it in a prominent spot at the house…”

In other words, “please kindly butt out. I done told you that we’re doing this next year.”

And here is her reply:

I surely deserved to be put in my place for trying to tell you what you should do in your own home, I apologize for that, I hope you will forgive me.

The plus side of me blurting out my ideas is that maybe we will come to understand one another a little better  *thinks positive thoughts*”
Yo. Words matter, ya’ll.
Her reply is interesting from multiple standpoints–first, my mother-in-law plays the innocent very well, but she does it under the assumption that other people think that she’s stupid. But a stupid person wouldn’t have read my reply and understood that I was telling her to butt out. So when she says that she is “blurting out her ideas” as if she doesn’t know what she is saying, I know better. Also, she isn’t “blurting out” her ideas, she’s writing an e-mail, which I assume that she reads over before she presses the “send” button. She knew exactly what she was doing when she decided to write that email. Furthermore, whenever she says something stupid and I rebuff her, my mother-in-law goes to the “I hope we can get to know each other a little better.” I’ve been with The Husband since 2002. 2002. One must wonder if it’s really about “getting to know you” or if it’s about something else. I’d much prefer that my mother-in-law find a way to respect me as a person, not even as the wife of her son, but as a person on a basic level. Let’s start with that and then we’ll delve deeper. Maybe. But after these 11 years, I’m kinda at the point where I’m perfectly cool with not being friends with my mother-in-law. I don’t have a lot of friends anyway, I’m perfectly happy to hang out in my own head rather than have to deal with whatever this is.
Wednesday is probably going to be abbreviated or late, as I’ll be spending my naptime baking a lemon meringue pie. Maybe there will be pictures. Maybe there will be crying over acute failure. We’ll see!

8 Replies to “At Least My Christmas Card is Ordered”

  1. My husband left his family home at age 18 to go to university. Sure, he went back regularly, but when he bought his own house, aged 22, he was no longer going ‘home’. Next year we will (God willing) celebrate 22 years of marriage. I wonder if I will then feel okay about thinking, actually, I now know your son better than you do. Why does that make me feel guilty? His mom loves him and so do I. It is such a shame when we can’t seem to find common ground in which to coexist.

    Keep going with that NaNo!

    1. Wow, 22 years married! Congrats!!

      I understand, as a mother, that it’s hard to let go. I realize that the little bears will always be my babies. But at some point, we have to realize that the point of having these children and doing this hard work is that we RELEASE them into the world! That woman should be GRATEFUL that there is another woman in the universe who wants to wash her son’s underwear and cook his freaking meals.

      …. and other stuff… you know… love and yadda yadda…

      I don’t know what it is about her, but she just can’t seem to look at us and say “yes, you two are competent adults.” We’re really not doing a bad job over here. We’ve kinda got it together. I wish she would acknowledge that through her actions, you know??

  2. Good times! Your mother in law sounds a little bit like a family member of mine….not naming names. 🙂 I guess family (especially in laws) is what keeps the holidays interesting at least! SO glad you got your Christmas cards ordered. I had a member of my in law family told me the picture I was going to use made my skin look an unhealthy color. sigh.

    1. OHHHHHH the rudeness!!! I hope you had a good comeback like “Oh, don’t we both use the same moisturizer?” or “congratulations, when is the baby due?” (if not pregnant) or “I’m so glad that you were able to cover up that spot in the middle of your head. That style really works so much better.”

      I’m sorta evil.

      I don’t know why the in-law thing has to be so freaking hard. What is up with that!?

        1. See, you are a better person than I am. 🙂

          Seriously though, in-laws kill me. It just seems like a few key people who just can’t seem to keep their mouths shut or are otherwise passive aggressive.

          I totally get that mother-in-law wasn’t expecting me to walk through the door when my husband brought me home the first time. But here we are and I’m really not doing a bad job. I really wish she’d get over herself!

          I hope you can find some peace with your people… this really shouldn’t be so difficult!

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