Friday, June 27, 2008

In laws - out laws (a short story)

The Highly coveted Christmas pudding

Let’s be honest, for many people there’s a lot of ‘not in the true spirit’, stresses around Christmas time. Sure, hovering somewhere in the background is the true Spirit (love, joy, peace, promise of salvation etc), unfortunately, for far too many of us (even though we make a promise it will never happen again) we approach Christmas festivities whilst side-stepping either a straight jacket, bankruptcy or, dare I say it, the in-law family.

As from about July as we enter the shops (just trying to mind our own business and get the weekly groceries) we are bombarded by the booming ‘commercialism supreme’ loud speakers and advertising. We are told that Christmas is at its best whilst burning out our credit cards, shopping, shopping and more shopping. “Look!’ It screams. “Is your tree as big as this tree?”........ “Are you sure your child will not suffer permanent emotional trauma if they don’t get one million presents?”.......... “How about a ‘get away from the rat race holiday?.........“Don’t worry, you can lay by your goods and pick up just before Christmas. And as an extra incentive, we won’t ask for a deposit - can’t get any fairer than that!” And of course here in South Australia we have the almost out of control ‘competitive’ yet ‘magnificent’ neighborhood lights (we manage to celebrate this at the same time as promoting energy efficient anti global warming practices). Let’s not forget there’s always the added pressure of the turkey - or shall we have prawns?

I make it sound like sounds like gloom and doom. Thankfully, Spirit offers some glitter of hope. All will be well so long as a certain something 'special' happens. My something 'special' was the Christmas pudding.

Let me explain.

For twenty years, I endured (I mean shared), Christmas with my husband’s family. You have to understand, that amounted to twenty years of the in-laws ‘My way or the highway’, philosophy.

I don’t want to sound mean or ungrateful (nor dare I say, bitter), after all we had the massive tree and the charitable present handing out ceremony (husband was the only boy,with lots of sisters, and he never took advantage of his right to be heir!). We had the food in plenty and alcohol drinks for those who drank (self being the only non drinker). We had the turkey (always cooked by favorite son in law) and Great aunty-in-law’s asparagus. And of course there was the famous, and highly coveted, mother-in-law Christmas pudding. I’ll be honest, that pudding was worth every insufferable moment of the 'in-law Christmas extravaganzas'. Year after year I stoically endured the competitive Christmas’s as long as I got a piece of ‘That pudding’!

'That pudding' is the best. It is worth making sacrifices for. They know it, I knew it.

Twenty years of Christmas with the in laws (like I said before, as if there isn’t enough stress at Christmas) and then......... I separated from their son.

Christmas twenty two was going to be different. Christmas twenty two was going to be (come hell or high water) me and the kids doing it (as Aretha Franklin so powerfully exclaimed) ‘......MY WAY!’.

Actually, Christmas twenty two was me and the kids and the ex and his mum. How it actually came to be is still a bit of a blur (guilt, most likely). Anyhow, the saving grace from this shock was the reassurance that by way of compensation m-in-law was bringing along that famous pudding.

So, Christmas day arrives. The tree is up and dressed, the presents wrapped and the turkey is cooking to perfection. All is well.

Ex arrives with his mum who discreetly hands over the highly coveted offering. My mouth is watering. Nothing else matters. Let the turkey burn for all I care. Twenty years of insufferable Christmas past is all forgiven. I open up the bag and reverently slip the famous pudding into the fridge.

“Oh cry a little cry for me”. This can’t be happening. It’s another joke, surely? For there, sitting on my refrigerator shelf, looking as proud as proud could be is a ‘Big Sister’ Christmas pudding.

Oh well there is always Christmas twenty three.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

missing in action

My computer has been doing some wild and crazy things as of late. I have written posts - head down, creative juices flowing, eyes glued to the keypad (not really good at touch type). Feeling quite satisfied that I had expressed myself appropriately I looked to the screen to do some editing. The only thing staring back at me was a frozen arrow. All that wasted creativity. Arghhh!!!!!

I am absolutely surprised at this stage that the computer has not frozen yet. Maybe it is because I have my eyes glued to the screen. I am going to dare this piece of technology to rumble with me.

I came across a new word on the weekend - schadenfraude. It means when you take pleasure or delight in some other's misfortune or failings. I was going to blog about my experiences in this. I was, but I'm not. I just cant get my head around a decent post. I know it is in me somewhere.

The screen has not frozen yet! Think Mary, Think. What can you blog about?

I think I will share a little story I wrote about one of my first bumps with the in-laws.


There I was, a new bride, melding my life with this new family. We’d sit and chat and share stories of family nuances. No contest really. My biological family was dysfunctional and damn proud of it. Hubby’s family, on the other hand, had no idea just how dysfunctional they really were.

Let me explain.

One day the new bride is sitting with her new family when we hit the topic of inheritances. Hubby’s grandmother had passed on some time earlier and the sisters had scooped in and made claims to the earthly treasures. One got this; the other snatched that etc etc etc.

Hubby must have been invisible, shy, retarded or all three. As the sisters made their grabs hubby moved not a muscle. Apparently, this wasn’t his scene. He wasn’t concerned about antique furniture or crockery. He had no use for those gold dripping necklaces and sparkling rings.

Fortunately M-in-law was watching out for son and sneaked a bit of this and bit of that which would be appointed to son when he took himself a wife and had himself his own little family. M-In-law was determined those greedy daughters were not going to deprive son of his share.

Over coffee I heard the story and was beginning to feel a little excited. It was a bit unfortunate that earlier, in a moment of weakness, I had viewed my opinions about greedy ‘Will snatches’ (quite disdainful really). Still, a little inheritance to help set up home would be acceptable surely?

M-In-law disappears to get the jewels. Armed with a rather large bundle of crisp brown paper M-in-law passed on what she had rescued for son. This was a moment - unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. This was me melding with my new family. I was the new In-law daughter. What was his was mine (I mean ours) and it was time for me to receive it.

Using my best manners I reverently un-wrapped the goods.

Metre upon metre, of stiff....starched.... calico. Brand new, still on the roll, calico.

No smile broke out. No hint of mischief.

Best in-law joke ever.

To this day I am not sure whether it was meant as a joke but with all the excitement they somehow forgot they never actually passed on the real goodies, or, maybe my humble reaction convinced them I was truly impressed with calico. Who wouldn’t be? There is the little story about the coveted marble table that may hold some of the secret. Who knows? If by any chance in-law ever reads this, please don’t be offended. I am completely over it now and have nothing but admiration for your ability to remain in complete denial of your dysfunctional status. I salute you.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

what to say

This is a post to let who ever reads it know that I have not much to say at the moment worth blogging about. Same old same oh!

Well actually there is the fact that we are without an oven at the moment.

Add on: Oven man has just come and it's all back to working nicely.