At this time of year, more than any other we actually put ourselves out for others, and make the effort to do things for and with people we don’t always have the time for the rest of the year. I’m not saying we don’t do it all the time because we can’t be bothered, but life tends to get in the way of doing other things. Work and school, and other classes and activities fill our lives most of the year, but at Christmas, we make the effort however hard it might be. Whether it be out of loyalty or out of guilt we do think of others.
Sometimes that effort can just be in the form of a card or an email. It is a perfect way of touching base with people who have been important in your life, be it family or friends. It is nice to say to people you own a little bit of my heart even if I don’t tell you constantly.
Sometimes that effort can be spending time with people we might otherwise choose not to. For me, this means being cooped up with not just one old person but two. In my own home though, I can always busy myself with things that need doing, like making constant cups of coffee for said old people. I do insist on Christmas at home, although Hubbys Mum is constantly saying we should go to hers one year. On a practical level, the boys need their own space around them when life is so confusing as it is on Christmas day, and to move their presents over to hers just to bring back again seems totally ridiculous! On a purely selfish level, I would totally hate it!
The reason I say that with such confidence, is that every New Years Day, we have to go to the MIL’s house for lunch. Last year I really wasn’t well, and she made me feel so guilty for not going over, although everyone else went. If I hadn’t been unwell, I think the guilt trip put upon me would have made me feel terrible.
Hubby will take the boys over to her house, about 10 miles away, a few times each month on a Sunday afternoon, but I rarely go because I am made to feel so unwelcome there, and why put yourself in that situation?
Yesterday though I was doing my duty. I told Hubby that I intended to sit and doing nothing all afternoon, as I am leading by her example of how to behave at someone elses home! So as soon as we arrived I found my position on the sofa. Hubby was told to go to the kitchen and carve the meat, and put the food to the table – not asked but told! She had made roast lamb. It did smell lovely. M was sitting next to me at the table, and he kept asking why the potatoes and Yorkshire’s were so hard – they were a little well fired or burnt!!! Luckily she is so hard of hearing, I don’t think she heard him! He didn’t want carrots, as they were batons and he only like shillings – also they were so over salted I could only eat two! He did eat the meat which, while slightly over cooked was a beautiful joint – she had bought it on the way home from ours on Saturday, from the shop at the abattoir in the town, so it was definitely fresh with only a few food miles on it! Pudding was strawberry cheesecake. Now, M hates cheese with a passion, so when we have the little pots of cheesecake at home, we call the strawberry creamy desserts, and he loves them. Luckily he chooses not to actually read the label so doesn’t see the word cheese or he wouldn’t touch it again! MIL though never knows when to be quiet despite being told 100 times. She kept correcting strawberry creamy dessert for cheesecake, until M was getting suspicious. After a little creative thinking about it being a name rather than actually made with cheese, he happily ate it – sometimes a lie is worth it! D then cleared the table, while she sat and watched him – yes, she sat and let a 6-year-old wait on her. She then told Old person she was helping her do the washing up. I just can’t imagine doing this to a visitor in my house. I used to volunteer to help with the washing up when over there, but her attitude when at our house soon knocked that out of me!
I returned to my position on the sofa!
Almost as soon as the meal was finished, D was complaining about being bored. He was soon joined by M in this thought. There are no toys or games for them to use when at her house, and she expects them to either take their own stuff or just watch telly. M will now vocalise that he could be doing that at home surrounded by his own things. We were therefore home before tea time!
Sometimes I wish we had a larger family to spread the burden of the Old people, but Hubbys brother lives in Saudi, and is only home a few times a year, while I’m not even sure where my brother now lives, although he does text his Mother.
Christmas time, is definitely a time for doing our duty that we feel obliged to do, but I think we should make the effort not to tick the box to say its done and leave it there. I might feel unwelcome at my MILs house, but that doesn’t stop me keep trying to get accepted by her – although I often say never again, I still keep going back for more!