In-laws. It’s like opening a Pandora box. You don’t really know what you’ll get, and once you do, you may want to run away very, very far. They’re technically your family now. By law. Certainly not by choice. They’re the extra accessory that comes with the main package – your wife or your husband, whom you love dearly.
For those who’ll claim that they have no issues with their in-laws, well, good for you. For the others who’ll recognize themselves in those words, I simply give them all my support. I had the opportunity to experience the cherishing joy of having in-laws who seemed more than excited to show me their affection through everything they did, said, and mostly, gave me.
It’s awfully odd to deal with strangers who suddenly call you their son, daughter, brother or sister just because you’re the new addition. You didn’t grow up with these people, and you have no idea how insanely nice or mean they are. It’s already hard enough to handle your own mum and dad. I still have trouble understanding them, and it’s been 28 years that we’ve been together. My brother and sister remain enigmas to me, and we don’t talk because honestly, why bother? It’s simply too much work with a hypothetical result that doesn’t give me any hope that my life will be better after (re)connecting with them.
Let’s just say it how it is. I’m not the typical chick who’s thrilled by big families. My family is big, one side’s Jewish, the other side’s German, and they don’t really like each other that much, you know. The only relatives I knew were my grandmas, a few uncles and aunts, and then my parents. The rest, well, stayed in the dark.
There are three people in the whole wide world who know me so well they can predict what I like and make me the happiest woman on earth every time they give me something: my mother, my father, and my best friend, who all still live in France. Everybody else has no effing clue what to do to please me, and this, my friends, is pathetic. I’m not difficult. I really am not. The only thing I ask is for you to think before you buy me something, if you buy me something, of course. Discarding your closet remains might not be the best idea, but it could also work if you understand my personality.
Now, let me ask you this. How hard is it to think twice before you give somebody something that you believe will make them happy? Huh? How much time does it require to forget about your selfish needs, and focus on somebody else for once? And by “forget about your selfish needs”, I don’t mean blindly imposing your will on everybody around just because your career as a despot didn’t work out for you. Well, apparently, this is the hardest thing in the world.
This I learned as a child already. How many times have I gotten crap I ended up giving away to cousins or goodwill? A million. This behavior certainly didn’t encourage me into trusting people’s ability to use their brain. A robot might have done a better job. I just gave up on receiving great little gifts – or big gifts – I don’t really care. The size and the price don’t matter.
Now… why am I talking about gifts? Love can be expressed in many ways, of course, but a gift will truly show you what the person thinks of you and how much effort they put into pleasing you. A gift shows care. And no, the intention is nice, but when it misses the mark, it can really go to the trash. I have nice intentions all the time, does it make me Mother Theresa? Nope. Sorry. So people who pretext they intended to make you happy but plainly failed because they were too lazy to move their ass and shake their dusty brain cells, move along, and try again, without collecting your $200 when you pass “Go”.
I already talked about my painful experience when I received a snuggie for Christmas. This wonderful present came from my sister in law, who even told me when she gave it to me that she just didn’t feel like thinking of anything else. Well, that’s nice. Does it give me the authorization to slap you now?
Another memorable gift came from my mother in law. I mentioned above that my in-laws worked their asses off to show me how much they cared for me. I had married their son, and they seemed fairly happy about his choice. They always joked about how American I was for a French girl. Yeah yeah. Lots of talking never really does the job when no action follows.
My in-laws had implemented this “tradition” that drove me absolutely crazy. I couldn’t merely ask for gift cards, because “it has to be wrapped and under the tree, otherwise, it’s not fun” (my mother in law’s own words). I’m not 5 anymore. I work, and I earn my own money, so when I need something, I don’t ask mum and dad to get it for me. I go get it myself. Forcing me to ask for stuff I don’t need doesn’t feel like fun to me, especially after celebrating two weddings (one civil and one religious), and getting tons of it through registries. We were set, and we didn’t need more “useful” things to pile up in our 1 bedroom apartment. But no…. According to “Mum”, Christmas WAS fun when a mountain of gifts lied under the tree and you spent 5 hours opening all the packages to find out that 95% of them were pure junk. But yeah, you left with 55 different gizmos that all ended up in the trash on your return from this delightful vacation. I never liked mountains of gifts under the tree because every time this happened, I ended up with crap. I’d rather get one nice gift, or plenty of gift cards. Anyway…
Christmas, the burden, has arrived, and so has the crap. I sigh of despair, wondering why you can’t call in sick with such obscure and moronic family traditions. The snuggie already hit me hard for Christmas 2009, and I really thought nothing could beat that, but I was so wrong. Christmas 2010, a new bomb is dropped. As my two sisters in law and I each unwrap a BIG box full of socks (apparently we all needed socks), I hear my mother in law say in the background: “Ya know, ya always need socks. So I thought, why not give ‘em socks and make it a Christmas present? That was such a good idea, riiiiight? They’re cashmere. Keeps you warm in the winter. They had this sale at…..” I stopped listening. I didn’t get socks as a “gift” since I was 15. I buy my own, and now, I certainly don’t consider giving socks to be a very thoughtful idea. Cashmere or gold, they’re socks for Godsake! It’s as if my mother in law had bought me underwear, you know…. Wait… Among the socks, I find two little things tightly rolled, and when I read the label, I see “Hankypanky”. “What is that?” I ask, cutting her off and showing her the pink and purple objects. “Oh thaaaaat? They’re G-strings. I thought ya might need ‘em too. Y’all need ‘em you gals, don’t cha? I thought it might be a nice touch among the socks to give ya some extra underwear….”
I stare at her in complete disbelief. She even repeated she had been “thinking” a lot. My sister in law is jumping up and down, yay, G-strings, and my other sister in law is also quite satisfied with her thongs, so I wonder: am I the weirdo here? First of all, I don’t wear G-strings. Second, why does my mother in law buy me that shit, and for Christmas???? Third, can I grab my brother in law’s newly unwrapped shotgun and slaughter everybody on the spot??
I’m no prude. I’m European. Heck, I’m French. We watch naked people on television and we know about sex when we’re 10. We curse, we drink, we eat stinky cheese, brains and frog legs, and we’re proud of it. But this… It just floored me for the rest of my life. I don’t want your bloody G-strings, and I especially don’t want YOU to buy me that stuff, knowing afterwards that I’m gonna be the one wearing it! WTF! Do I still have my privacy here? Or do you wanna be in my vagina too and get me tampons at the store? I mean seriously, how far can you go? You’re not my mother, for Godsake! If you actually were, you’d know better.
On that note, now you all know what not to give me for Christmas: snuggies and G-strings. Once I think of something else I really hate, I’ll send an update. In-laws, I’m telling you. They sometimes come from weird places and do weird things I’ll never understand. And this, my friends, is the scariest thing in the world. Forget about baby zombies and mighty Godzillas. The snuggie and G-string threat is the latest pandemic, and it’s deadly. Be safe, and remember: too much of this bullshit can really kill a relationship. THINK for real next time or just give nothing. A good hug can mean much more than all of this junk.