Wednesday, November 1, 2006

How the In-Laws Stole Christmas

My husband’s family is fairly large. There are five grandchildren so far with no
end in sight. Long before the grandkids
ever came along, gift giving in the family got completely out of hand. The last Christmas that we all bought gifts
for each other there was a fairly sizable fire in the living room. We could have roasted marshmallows over the
flaming pile of wrapping paper and bows. The excitement only grew when, just seconds before someone stomped out
the fire, the cat jumped out from under the pile with an ear-splitting
screech. After that Christmas we
decided that it would probably be best to draw names and limit the chaos on
Christmas morning. My husband and I
always get screwed in this process.

A classic case of middle-child syndrome, my husband is the
only child in his family that does not live within a 20-mile radius of his
parents. We moved a couple hours from
his home-town two weeks after we got married and have not looked back since. We both love his family desperately but
neither one of us cares for the Midwest. Every year my husband’s family gets together a couple of weeks before
Thanksgiving and draws names for Christmas gifts. Every year we are absent and every year we get the shaft. This year was no different. My Father In Law just informed me that in
our absence, he took it upon himself to draw for us and I got my new
Grandmother-In-Law (who neither myself or my husband has met) and my husband
got his Mother. The latter is not a
problem but the former presents quite a little quandary.

How am I going to buy a $50-$75 present for an elderly woman
that I have never met? Should I buy her
a nice pair of mauve polyester pants and a sweatshirt with a loose-fitting
waistband and an embroidered picture of birds? Should I get her a recipe book and a nice platter? Should I buy her a gift certificate to
Wal-Mart? How about a nice framed
picture of the step-great-grandchildren that she has yet to meet? In the end, I think the perfect gift would
be a T-shirt that says, “Who are these people and why are they giving me
Christmas gifts?”


  1. I feel your pain. While, my angst isn't as a result of name drawing for people I've never met, it's due to my husband's apparent disinterest in purchasing gifts...period! He always waits until the last minute to spring on me that he's purchased NOTHING for the several members of his family that we end up buying for. So, I'm always at the mall on Christmas Eve trying not to lose my mind between the droves of people and finding that perfect gift for all of these in-laws that I have to buy for. And so this year, I've decided everyone is getting homemade gifts. It's a cost cutting measure and hopefully a way for my husband's family to politely tell us that we don't have to exchange gifts with the adults anymore. Although, I'm always interested in seeing what creative and creepy gift my mother-in-law comes up with for me each December. Two years ago it was a brass urn. At least she made it easy for my descendents to follow through with my cremation request.

  2. You can do like we do and just not associate with the spouses family, which presents a slight problem since you all like each other. I am sure they will get over the intial (sp) shock of you avoiding them and just think how much you will save each year! If you need some tips on "How to avoid family members" just give me a call I am a pro!
    All joking aside just get her a nice sweater or the gift card and she will be fine. Is that really the amount of money you guys spend when you draw names? Wow! I am in the wrong gift giving drawing!!
    Sean's mom or dad if you read this my name is melinda and I would love to be a part of your family around xmas time so I can be included in the drawing!!Thanks in advance!

  3. Angie-
    My husband is not a good gift-buyer either. I have taken on that role as long as we have been together. It's just the way it is. I like to shop, though, so it feeds my need to spend money :)
    Cracking up that your MIL gave you an urn! How random and cryptic.

  4. Melinda-
    Compared to the amount of $$ we spent on ALL of the family members, $50 is a bargain. That way everyone gets a nice gift and we aren't all opening 15 gifts each on Christmas morning, except the kiddos of course.

  5. Thanks for the trip down memory lane, that was probablly the 1st and only time anyone had Hot-cats instead of Hot-dogs for a 'Cook-in'. For everyone out there reading this besides my ungrateful Tennessee In-laws and my soon to be disowned Son: I SWEAR TO GOD, IT WAS A FAIR DRAWING, (we had to draw names twice before we got the final results, how could it have been any fairer?) Now I know how Rodney dangerfield must feel. (Julianne, did you give Melinda our address? we may be taking applications for future openings)

  6. Awesome! Just let me know when you have disowned them and I am in! Now there will still be the problem of us living in tennesse. I hope that does not affect my application.

  7. Aaa the act giving gifts, such a fun time!! At least you don't have an aunt that pulls out gifts from her closet to give as gifts. Not as a joke either. I will admit I have done this, gotten something I didn't like or use, and gave it to someone who lived way away, ha. But seriously Aunt C- I gave this to you 3 years ago, haha. Nuts!!
    My husband's family has gone to the Chinese ways (is it really chinese?). ANyway, each male buys a gift and a female gift about $45. We draw numbers and play the game. Pretty fun!
    As far as your Step Grandmother in law, Bingo, a bottle of scotch, and some leg warmers should do it!
    Ok Angie, that is nuts!! A brass Urn??

  8. Papa Dale-
    I was waiting for you to respond and crossing my fingers that our new Grandma does NOT have internet access :) I'm worried she'll be insulted by the polyester pants comment!
    I *guess* I believe it was fair. It just seems ironic that we get at least one Grandparent EVERY year!

  9. Melinda-
    We've been on our way to being disowned for a long time! It shouldn't be long.

  10. Kathleen-
    I like those alternative gift exchanges. They definitely add a little flare to the holidays.

  11. Top Ten Perfect gift ideas for new step-grandma -
    1) new wig
    2) eyeglasses without large black frames from 1973
    3) no pork products as she has mentioned that she will not eat pork (I am assuming gout here - not Judaism - since she attends the Baptist church.)
    4) earplugs (she does live with R. P., remember?)
    5) big jug of Metamucil
    6) ceramic goose with seasonally appropriate outfits
    7) Jean Nate (sp?) Body Splash (do they even still make it? Who knows!)
    8) fabric 2007 wall calendar with sequins sewed onto the dates of our birthdays
    9) sensible orthopedic shoes in tan
    10) colorful assortment of rain bonnets (this could be combined with #1’s gift.)

  12. logging in for the 2nd time, Becky's top ten list was just mean and wrong. (I still haven't stopped laughing) We had neglected to describe Grams to you, we were saving it for the next visit home.

  13. Aunt Becky-
    Man, you and I are REALLY going to be in the doghouse if our new Grandma has internet access. Thank you so much. I now know exactly what to get her: some metamucil, a new wig, and a ceramic duck. Perfect!
    Cracking me UP!

  14. numbers 6 and 8 are my favorite!

  15. Aunt Becky-
    Just thought of something. The orthopedic shoes might be a no-go. Grandpa has two or three perfectly good, brand new pairs in his closet and he needs nothing more than a can of spray paint to fix Grandma's right up!

  16. LOL at the painted shoes commented. Funny you should mention that - - R. P. was here last night (Aleita's Adoption Day celebration) and he had on his painted black shoes.
    Chris says to mention that the drawing is fair and that you have no right to complain. He says that in the past few years, we have only stuck the grandparent's names back a couple times after drawing them.
    Speaking of drawing - - Chris drew Sean's name. (which means I will be shopping for Sean's Christmas present.) What does he want? (If Chris is shopping, it will be a new video game. Much better to have me do the shopping here.)

  17. I love it: "a nice pair of mauve polyester pants and a sweatshirt with a loose-fitting waistband and an embroidered picture of birds"!!!!! Also, I just love the T-shirt idea!
    And, how in the world do you get a new "Grandmother-in-Law"? Are those Hales still gettin married and makin' whoopy in their grandparenting years? Impressive!

  18. Oh the name drawing. My family has a really stupid way of doing that. Every one puts their name in. Then you grab a name. If you get a brother, sister, parnet or child, you need to draw again(Who does that leave?). Sure enough every year the last person to draw gets one of the off limets people and every one has to draw again. It is crazy. Finally after hours and hours of "Wait a second, I have mom. Do over" We get so no one has an brother, sister, parent or child. The limit is set, $10.00 to $50.00. The first year we did this, my parents, brothers and I spent about $40.00 per gift. Every one else spent a max of $15.00. So next year we wised up and only spent About $20.00 each. This is the third year that we are doing it. I have no idea how it will end up, I'm scared

  19. Spaz-
    Those In-Laws are crazy like that. They're very virile!

  20. Linda-
    That sounds very complicated and nuts. Why can't anyone have any sister, brother, parent, or child? I hope there is some drinking involved when you draw names. It sounds like you need it!

  21. RP got married again?? Wow!@! You go, Boy! Call me when you get back into the TN Swing again.