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Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

Posted by running_mom (My Page) on
Thu, Dec 6, 12 at 21:14

Ok...so kitchen is done and I couldn't be more pleased. Now I am dreading the first visit from my MIL. Let me just say, After 20+ years together I love her son like its nobody's business and have come to appreciate that she's the one who gave him life. Also, my kids love their crazy nana and I would never get in the way of that. I have even forgiven that after a few cocktails she gave away his big plans to propose to me (I never told him), or her uninvited visit into the delivery room....you get the picture.

But... After 20 years she doesn't get that we have polar opposite tastes. She's all glitter, fake gold and sparkles. I am more.... Not. I hired a designer to help make this space a reflection of the people who live here and together I think we did a great job. It's really great.

So what do I do when she comes in with the most dreadful, wrong decoration for me to display prominently for the world to see? Please don't say maybe she won't, because she will. That's a promise I can keep.

Am I being childish???


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

If it comes with a return receipt thank her profusely and exchange it after she leaves. If not, thank her profusely and either stash it away or put it out while she is there, then donate it afterwards. I have several ugly items that only come out when the gift giver comes. It's ok because I love them and it makes them happy. I don't see them very often and in a quirky way those items make me happy because of their givers.


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

Put the dreadful, wrong decoration up while she is there and then store it away when she leaves.

The only promise you should be keeping is to be thankful her grandkids love her and it sounds like she loves them and you and your husband. AND she wants to spend time with you all.

Yeah, you are being childish...


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

Well, looks like there's hope for me in another 8 years, lol! Still working on forgiving a massively inappropriate hijacking of my wedding reception and a debacle where MIL forced my mom to pick a different outfit for the wedding.

Don't "accidentally break it" later, you risk getting a replacement. Maybe tell her you'll have to check with the designer? After all it is the designer's work at least initially that will be seen, which may affect referrals. Takes the decision out of your hands.


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

you nicely thank her and set it around somewhere. while she is there. After she leaves you'll need to 'protect' it from daily life by putting it on a closet shelf. If she comes by frequently haul it out a time or 2. Eventually you will drop it (hopefully it is breakable) and you will be so sad... if it isn't breakable you could end up spilling oil or something on it. make it bacon grease cause that will not take long to start to stink the place up. Then you will have to toss it in the trash. For me it would start to stink in about 30 seconds. It might even have been imaginary bacon grease. But since I wouldn't want to lie to my dh or my kids - it'd probably be a drop or 2 of real grease.

or could the dog 'eat' it?

yes, I am a MIL - don't live by my kids and I don't buy things like that for them anyway. My MIL was a jewel - I was very blessed.


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

My MIL had alzheimers when I met her, so I never got to find out if I would have loved her or not. :(

Put out the decoration. Something about her managed to produce your DH, you're correct to look at it that way.


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

What have you done the last 20 years?

I think every situation is different, so it is hard to give advice on this. Can DH convince her to not bring a gift (and does he also dislike mom's taste?)

If not, can you just leave it in the closet indefinitely? I mean.... is she going to put you on the spot if the item isn't displayed? If she is forward enough to ask, then I suppose you can kindly say you couldn't find am appropriate place to put it in the new decor.


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

Careful....In 9 years, you could have to LIVE with her!! Welcome to my world!!

Nancy


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

Just remember "And this too shall pass".

Make the best of it, put it out when she comes, then stash it away.

Don't angst over what you cannot change, just accept it, and keep yourself in balance.


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

Bring on the grace! Add to your Karma..Smile.. "Look honey, look kids.. Look at what Nana got... THANK you so much.. " Put it in a prominent place to display.. Like the earlier posters suggested bring it out whenever she comes.. It's fine you can do it.. Your future daughter/ sons-in-law will genuinely love you and adore you and take care of you in your old age.


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

I've been in your shoes and feel your frustration. My best advice is to take the gift, thank her, display it while she is there, then store it. No good will come from confronting her. The fact that she cares enough to bring you a gift says a lot about her feelings for you. While it sounds like she is larger than life, it also sounds like she isn't the MIL from he$$.


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

Why not just break out of the 20 year pattern and do it differently this time/ Tell her what it is that you want and ask her to give it to you. IOW, I'm thinking you can ask for a cookbook, or plant, or some kind of item that is neither terribly expensive nor easily likely to be brought to you in the form of something "glittery, fake gold with sparkles." Maybe you can say something like: "I know you are going to want to bring a gift of something when you come visit. First of all, you know you needn't do that! Just come and love our kitchen with us. That's more than enough. But.. . . if you're going to insist on bringing us something, how about (insert item here)? That's something we've been saying we really (need/want/love) to help put the finishing touches on this kitchen."

Who knows, she might get a tad offended at being told what to give. But, after 20 years of getting it wrong, maybe what she's been needing has been more direct instructions all along! Best outcome could be that she brings you exactly what you want. So-so result is that she gets a bit offended by your bold move, but she brings you something non sparkly, not great but certainly useable. Worst? She gets offended, refuses to change gears and ends up bringing you something like a rhinestone encrusted salad bowl and server set. In that case, take the next best advice: accept it, flaunt it while she's there and then either stash it or arrange to have it lifted by a home invader after she leaves.:-) Good luck!


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

Love all the ideas thank you- especially arranging the home invader. That's a gem.


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

What about if your husband calls her and suggests a gift for her to bring that he knows you want?


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

Would she be happy bringing some sort of kitchen tool or appliance instead of a decorative object? Maybe your husband could call her and say, "she's really desperate for a new Le Creuset in the blue color to go with her new kitchen!".

If that doesn't work, put it on display while she's there and hide it after she leaves. Then hope your daughter-in-law is as kind to you someday...


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

I'm getting really tired and resentful of all the storage space my MIL's gifts take up in my house, especially now as I re-organize and plan new storage for the house now that we've reno'd it. I've pared down kids toys, puzzles, kitchen gear, serving pieces, books, deco items, etc, but somehow have to keep the junk my MIL gives me. Why? Just because she's DH's Mom? That means I have to devote my precious little storage space to carp I don't want, need, or that doesn't work with my aesthetic. The advice of "just store it" is a sore subject for me right now, obviously. :)

I second the idea of you asking MIL, or asking through DH, for something you WILL like and can happily use.

DH and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary this week.


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

Breezygirl ... pull them all out of storage and take the ones that aren't actually useful to the local thrift store.

Just do it.


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

Good luck getting rid of things from your MIL. Our house is cluttered with her stuff, and she passed away 10 years ago. That being said- I miss her, and would put up with twice the clutter to have another day with her!


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

I'm also blessed with a MIL who likes to give tacky gifts. Fortunately her tacky gifts are also very inexpensive. I've perfected the art of the sincere thank-you (it IS the thought that counts), then I wait a decent interval and toss the gift.

Trust me, even thrift shops wouldn't want most of the stuff. A short list:

- obviously flawed pottery, from the Seconds or Thirds table - I'm talking large smears or visible thumbprints in the painted pattern

- a papier-mache plant holder - sort of a nonstarter, since it couldn't hold a plant that needed water because it was made of...papier-mache. Did I mention it looked like an exploded basketball, all orange and scorched black?

- a fertility doll

- (my last birthday gift) a necklace on a black leather cord. The necklace consists of a large plastic disk depicting a brown ladybug.

MILs, gotta love 'em...


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

Perhaps you could ask her to go shopping with you for the last few items you need for the kitchen. "The kitchen is almost perfect - I don't want anything to clutter it but I did want a piece or two of Le Creuset or Fiestaware, etc... Our tastes are so different but I'd love it if you could lend me an eye." She'll probably be delighted to spend time with you, and get an insight into what you want. It could help.

OR

When you accept the gift, you could say "Thank you so much - oh I think this would be perfect in (yellow, orange, whatever). You don't mind if I exchange this for another color do you?" In the exchange process you can tell her you found something you needed more.


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

Really, what is more important, your relationship with your (sounds like) loving if error prone MIL or your perfect kitchen decor?
If she cares enough to go to the trouble to get you a gift, even if you don't like it, accept it with good grace and try to appreciate it the thought that is, at least!

This is another good opportunity to model polite, gracious and loving behavior for your children, too.

I am sorry if she is the type who will check to see if her gift is displayed... I don't agree with that, but really, when people do, isn't that just seeking confirmation that they are connecting with you?

From Rae, whose MIL never ever once called her by her actual name


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

I think asking DH to ask his mother to conspire with him to help make the kitchen perfect is a winner! She'll feel like she's helping her son, hopefully. And I'm sure the genuine reaction to whatever it is will show her she was right to listen to him. Even something like towels or pot holders in a coordinating color would be lovely and inexpensive. Or a plant. If she usually spends more on this sparkly crap then make suggestions accordingly. How can she not be thrilled to hear " it's perfect! Just what the kitchen needed. It's like you read my mind" and know she has made h son very happy too?

We have stuff stashed too. Including a huge handmade quilt she had made for our wedding, even though I saw her best friend give one to her daughter and hinted heavily that we didn't want one. I was thrilled to make it through the shower quilt-less. Then I show up at the reception and there it is, hung on a wall in the middle of the hall. It was covered in pictures transferred onto cloth and made into the quilt. Including several of me when I was young covered in dirt while playing, and not fully dressed. Hung up at my wedding. She loved them because I'm so neat now. But while I like those memories, they are not what I wanted displayed at my wedding, or draped on a bed in my house. I still don't know what to do with it. Still upset about that, it really sucked the fun out of that party.


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

handle it the way you hope your kids spouses will handle you when you give them something they hate.

Since the sparkly gene is in the family, it may show up in future generations...lol

We also have no more MILs who give bad gifts as both of our moms have passed while we've been married. BTW - they both gave bad gifts. Things that were useful would be retained and pulled out for the occasional use. things that weren't useful were donated. i smile now when i think of that stuff i miss them both and wish that my kids had grandmas......


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

I also have a MIL (30+ years) who gives gifts I've no use for. Not that they are tacky, we have so different tastes. And she thinks that since we live in the country - we must want to decorate "country" which I really don't care for. I also love vintage, and she thinks that means "old and junky".

BTW- my MIL spelled my name wrong for 25 years - funny thing is that my dd has the same first name, and MIL never spelled her's wrong (both spelled with a C not a K) I think around that time she realized I may some day be taking care of her (DH is only child) in her old age, and being underhanded to me all those years might come back to haunt her.

Side note - the person she really ticked off all those years was her own son, not me.

Grandkids are adults now, and since she's retired she is much better - less money to spend so it works out great for all of us.


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

I cannot wait to see what you get.

Hopefully it will be fragile, if you know what I mean...


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

My MIL also gave gifts that were not my taste and cluttered my space. I quickly started telling her I didn't need stuff, had enough stuff, etc. She finally got the idea and now for my birthday, xmas, etc she donates to a battered womens shelter (in her town) in my name. She feels really good about it and I'm happy too.


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

Chispa, that is what we did, too. One thing that made it go down easier is that we do the same for them, to their charity of choice.


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

We've never gotten a gift from DH's MIL. She's on a fixed income, so we don't expect anything, really. But she's never even sent a card. Doesn't call DH on his birthday. Very detached. Her world is very small, revolving around the kids, grandkids and great grandkids who live closest to her. And we're farther away. So when DH calls her, she just talks about what the nearby relatives have been doing, and doesn't really ask about DH or his kids or grands. It hurts his feelings sometimes, but he understands how she is. Sometimes I think if she were to get us a gold lame scarecrow meant for display on the kitchen counter, he would burst with pride.

All that to say that every situation is different.I know you'll find the solution that works best for you.


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

My favorite alternative to the serenity prayer:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the people I cannot change,
the courage to change the one I can,
and the wisdom to know it's me.

It's only stuff, no matter the intention behind it. It'll be okay. Hang in there.


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

"Eventually you will drop it (hopefully it is breakable) and you will be so sad.."

A friend of mine gives gifts that she clearly put thought and effort into, yet inevitably they either do not suit my taste or raise the question, "What am I going to do with THAT?!!!" My primary strategy has been to aggessively re-gift (or donate). HOWEVER, she once gave me a hugely oversized wine glass that she pesonalized for me during her glass-painting craft phase. It had pictures representing my favorite hobbies and my name around the base. Completely undermined the whole regifting strategy--where was I going to find another Cawaps who bellydanced and sang in a choir? So I decided that I would use that wine glass whenever I drank wine, figuring the more I used it the sooner it would suffer an accident and I would be rid of it. Weeeellll, I did have accidents (and not on purpose) but the darn thing must be made out of Pyrex. It has fallen off the counter or drain rack and into the sink twice and is still intact. I think I just need to accept that I am stuck with it. Either that or pretend that it did actually break and throw it out.

Regarding zeebee's receipt of a fertility doll and in-law issues in general, here's a conversation I had with my step-FIL when my daugher was one or two years old.

FIL: "So, when are you going to have another baby?"
Me: "Oh, well, you know...we'll have one when we decide we're ready."
FIL: "No, seriously, when are you going to have another?"
Me: "Seriously, Larry, it's none of your business."

Apparently that was not the right response, because it came back to me through the family grapevine (MIL told her sister told my SIL who brought it up with me) how rude I had been to FIL (although my SIL laughed and supported me when she heard the whole story).


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

My mother constantly buys me "treasures". She means well but it drives me nuts. The outdoor stuff I put in the backyard, the indoor stuff I "display seasonally" and often forget to bring back out, and a lot of the other stuff is honestly so junky that it just falls apart or breaks on its own.

I do find it very frustrating. For me it's just wasteful. Wasteful of our resources (junk in landfills) and wasteful of her money (which she never has enough of).

I have a really hard time getting rid of items that have been given to me as gifts, but lately I've been pushing myself to do it more and more. I am especially reminded of this after the holidays. I try to model the behavior I wish for by giving consumable gifts or plants/flowers.

So yes, I'd probably suck it up and display/use whatever she gives you. At least for a small amount of time. Imagine if your 3 year old proudly made you the most hideous art project and wanted it displayed in the kitchen- my guess is that you'd do it for him.


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

Wish I could help. Since childhood, I have had the strange ability to instill overwhelming terror in hapless gift-givers, a nameless dread that their carefully-chosen selections will be met with pursed lips and an arched eyebrow. I have no idea how this happened, since we were all taught from a very young age to bestow polite thanks and kisses no matter the gift. By the time I was in junior high people simply asked me what I wanted, and they still do. I do miss the surprise sometimes. On the other hand, my house is mercifully free of spinning crystal angel music boxes.


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

Believe it or not, I used to be the monitor for the Women.com's In-laws board. This used to be one of THE most frustrating topics!

So...
Having been a DIL twice with ridiculous MILs, and that board's experience, I'm willing to bet that having DH "talk" to her isn't going to happen after all these years. The idea of going into cahoots with her, though, might work for both of them.

You could also use the "check with your decorator" because obviously, you don't have any taste at all if you don't have a place for that rhinestone encrusted salad bowl. Had you taste, this wouldn't be an issue. (Get that!?!?) But of course, you wasted your $$ on a decorator that ... has no taste.

I only got my MILs out of the habit of trying to dress me when 1) we divorced, and then 2) that one died. Even my family doesn't try to dress me. They mercifully have similar, clean line taste in household stuff so presents are usually perfect. Can you imagine!? They also know I don't like knick-knacks.

Steele yourself.
You know what's coming.
Don't expect something different from the same person. That's following the insanity path.
Just smile, nod, turn it upside down and around, shake it up next to your ear, try to put it on your head like a hat, then finally, quizzically, ask "it's lovely, but .. what is it?" Even if you can darned well see it's a rhinestone encrusted salad bowl -- to some, it might be a Sunday-go-to-meetin' hat. Hmmm.... my cat likes to sleep in boxes and bowls.... OH! A Dog bowl!

Sorry. Someone stop me.


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

Here is the problem with 'putting it away and displaying later."

This will not decrease the sheer amount of junk she will bring and bring and bring and bring and continue to bring...

But there is a bigger issue here ppl...to all those saying, put up with it, be nice, etc...this behavior is all about control. Playing along is enabling her and not helping to heal the strife that causes her to act this way.

Listen, this is about control. For some reason she feels the need to exert her power, influence, what have you. The only way is to not display, tell her why, and suffer her complaints. Otherwise, you are enabling her. The root of the problem, why she wants to have a **visible** presence in your space, is the real problem, so it is best to be honest and try to figure out what the real issue is.

This post was edited by heidia on Fri, Dec 7, 12 at 15:56


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

Or you could politely say "thank you, that's so kind of you to do that", and once she's gone give to Goodwill. Once a gift has been given, it's yours to do what you like with. No need to feel guilt.

If she's tactless enough to ask where it is, you could just be honest and say "you know, it really just didn't go with the rest of the decor so I passed it on to someone who can appreciate it".

Or, if that will hurt her feelings, you could just express amazement: "you know, that's a good point: where IS it? It must have been moved!" (all of which is true). Then offer her a coffee and change the subject.

(My MIL gives cash "to buy something you like, because I don't know everyone's tastes" which is perfect. She gave me a Williams Sonoma gift certificate when the kitchen was finished. Have I said how lovely my MIL is?)


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

Right, Heidia. Although I don't know enough to conclude that Running Mom's MIL is behaving as a control freak, I'm with you 100% in seeing that this relationship is at least somewhat out of balance. That's why I was suggesting she change up the dynamic in a very obvious way by just telling MIL what it is that she wants. Agreed, that's a rather over-the-top, perhaps even "tacky" maneuver which should not be applied to most gift-giving situations. At the same time, we know that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. So if, after 20 years of getting gifts she does not want, Running Mom gets real, and simply asserts her personal preferences (firmly and politely of course), I'm thinking such an act is likely to force mutual acknowledgement of the elephant that is in the room. It might be uncomfortable for all at first but it will definitely change the status quo -- which is currently uncomfortable only for Running Mom.


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

Baby Marcolo with a pursed lip and an arched eyebrow!! Now that's a character for a TV show:)
"Pink Barbie rolling pin with rhinestone handles..um..srsly! "


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

Ahem. Marcolo is a male. Everyone knew GI Joe was the preferred offering.

Since we don't know the MIL in question, I just want to point out that there can be non-nefarious reasons to want a "visible presence" in the OP's space. Like maybe she loves them. So I like the idea of mixing it up and suggesting a gift, but I'd go for something to be displayed in the kitchen, whether it's a KitchenAid or a pendant or some fancy fruit bowl of the OP's choosing. Maybe even ask for one non-heinous item that's already in the MIL's kitchen as a remembrance? Flattery plus disaster avoidance in one fell swoop.


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

Maybe even ask for one non-heinous item that's already in the MIL's kitchen as a remembrance? Flattery plus disaster avoidance in one fell swoop.

Genius!


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

running mom, I love my dil. I'm happy when she's happy. I want to show it. How? Well buying gifts is one way. I want her to like the gift I give her BUT I'm self-centered , I 'm buying a gift to connect with her and her joy. I know my gifts (taste) are tacky, I can't help it. As a matter of fact, I fight against my tackiness urge. I like glitter and gold. Maybe we get stuck in certain areas. I do the best I can in picking out a nice gift but I probably strike out most of the time. Anyway, when I give the gift the other person is free to do with it as they wish. My feelings are not hurt if they don't like it. The important thing it the other person knows I care. So just acknowledge whatever she brings, more importantly acknowledge her. The physical thing is irrelevant.


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

Well. I for one am envious.

At least you just have a bowl to set on your counter for the afternoon. My MIL got it into her head that I should play some Christmas carols for her 50th anniversary party. I haven't practiced in a year. There appears to be no getting out of it. She is happy, full of life and everyone loves her. She can talk the crankiest clerk or waitress into whatever we need.

She is not musical. She is sure everyone (100 people??) will think it's fabulous. If you want to trade, I'm in!


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

After coming back to this thread a second time, I am wondering if she keeps giving these gifts because she wants something to do? It could give her a focus.
I used to work with someone who gave his mother the "job" of buying socks for the whole family. She learned what everyone liked and the family appreciated not having to shop for this one item.
I am wondering too, if her own house is filled with odd purchases?
It is mind boggling. My husband has an aunt that gives the cheapest and most inappropriate gifts. They are wealthy people! Once, she explained that she often buys things and saves them for that special occasion. That would be fine, however how do you justify a half painted ceramic piece that was from a pottery class, a butterfly pin that is rusty on the back, a wallet or scarf that is from 30 years ago? Or my favorite a huge,and I mean huge ceramic piggy bank that she gave to my then two year old?
Since we don't see her often, all of it went into the trash.
What is interesting is that this aunt honestly believes she is giving an appropriate gift.


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

I have received items from my own mother and my MIL and while I may not have liked them I kept them and made sure to display or have the kids wear the item when we saw either of the two. The funny thing is when I mentioned " this is the dress you bought her" She would say "oh,I don't remember that or seem confused". I realized they don't really remember what they bought anymore so if I want to get rid of something I do. My parents and in-laws are in their 80's so there is hope out there for those whose in-laws are getting older that you can get rid of those gifts since the memory does unfortunately fade.


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RE: Politically incorrect Mother-in-law question (ugh)

I's "20+ years". To me that says enough. You either do what you want with it and if she has a problem with that dear hubby needs to speak up and tell his mom this is your home and you will decorate it as you please. What's she going to do disown you, shrivel up and die? No, she'll get over it!


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