My in-laws are good people. Sure, I find them odd and occasionally annoying, but they are honest, hardworking, salt-of-the-earth people and for the most part, I like them.
That said, I have a couple “what the hell” things from the holiday to share with you.
All the women bring slippers. Everyone came to my house on Christmas Eve and every woman pulled off her boots, produced a pair of slippers from the bowels of her purse, and slipped them on. Every woman, that is, except for my mother, who watched with her mouth open in astonishment. At first I thought maybe my mother-in-law had been telling people I keep my house cool, but the next afternoon at an aunt’s house, I watched all the women repeat the slipper performance. Is there a memo somewhere that I missed?
The mister and I engage in good-natured ribbing. We give each other hard times and poke fun at each other. But we don’t expose our real marital discord for public viewing. The mister’s family, not so private. Within a few seconds of asking the question “How was your Christmas morning?” at an aunt’s house, I was regaled with stories of nagging wives, irresponsible husbands, naughty children, and how big the fights they had that morning were.
They gossip. Now, admittedly, my family does this too, but because we’re so spread out (seriously, other than my parents and brothers, my closest relative is 9 hours away), the gossip tends to be more in the form of big news updates. “So-and-so is getting married.” The mister’s family, perhaps because they’re all in each other’s business and lives all the time, gossips like they mean it. “He got a serious talking-to about his drinking because, you know, last year he tried to hit on Mary at church, and, well, she’s just too young for him!” The he in question is usually on the other side of the same room.
Napping is strictly forbidden unless one is pregnant. And believe me, by the time 11:00 p.m. rolled around on Christmas Day, I was ready to lie and say I was pregnant just to get five minutes of rest. My family, again, probably because we’re relatively isolated and don’t usually have dozens of people over, opens presents, eats something, snoozes, eats something, plays with presents, snoozes, and wakes up to eat again. We’re all about the “watching a movie with our eyes closed.” The members of the mister’s family take any sign of exhaustion, from a smothered yawn to accidentally dozing off while sitting on the floor because there are no damned chairs, as a serious personal affront. One must be engaged in conversation or child-wrangling the entire time one is in attendance. Seriously, folks, I didn’t mean to be rude, but I was running on 7 hours of sleep for two days and after a couple glasses of wine, I just really wanted my bed!
They pry. Good Lord, they pry. “When are you two having kids?” “How much weight have you lost?” “Are you trying for kids yet?” “Well, how much does being a first year lawyer pay?” “I love being an uncle, are you going to make me an uncle again anytime soon?” “How much do you weigh now?” “What’s your mortgage payment?” This is actually stuff I don’t mind talking about with most people, but most people acknowledge that it is inherently private information and don’t ASK for it, they allow me to bring it up on my own. Something about the interrogation technique makes me uncomfortable.
They are weird about thank you notes. I send thank-yous after someone has me over to their house or after they do something nice for me, like give me a gift. Heck, my mom used to make us sit down immediately after opening presents to get cracking on the thank you notes. The habit is ingrained at this point. But his family seems to find this little habit of mine antiquated, unnecessary, and a tiny bit odd. This seems backwards to me. People should be annoyed when you DON’T send a thank you, not when you do, right?