Releasing the past in order to find myself

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Card

I got a Christmas card from my MIL last night.  And I was annoyed.  Big time.  It seems so stupid.  So insignificant.  I'll bet I'm reading into the thing too much.  But something about it just pissed me off.

It was a gold card.   Very "old ladyish".  Very religious. The kind with some artistic rendition of The Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus.   I think it was one of those cards, that when purchased, some money goes to some charity.

Inside, she included two pictures.  One of the family, posed for a "family reunion picture" at a family funeral.  Taking the picture was a minefield of chaos.  Lots of chickens with their heads cut off.  MIL shouting "just take the picture!  Keep snapping."  No one was arranged.  The lighting was horrible.  Plus, it was a really difficult day.  As they organized the photo, I was pounding a Chardonnay at the bar.   MIL's sister, the photographer, says, "don't you want to be in the photo?".   I knew there was tons of time to make it out, as the chickens hadn't run around enough yet to settle into picture mode.  In most of the pictures, me and my family are squished in the back.  You can hardly see us.  But MIL is grinning wildly in the front.  In a blazing white dress, surrounded by "her family."  The second photo is a shot of her and FIL, cuddled up.

Not an unusual card.  If it came from anyone else, I wouldn't think twice.  But the thing is, I recieved this Christmas card as a follow up.  As in, she received my card, complete with a bunch of pictures of the kids (I sent them to all the grandparents.  Few of them take pictures of my kids.).  So, she got my card, dug some card out and sent me a card with her pictures in it (she referenced my pictures in her card, so I know she got ours first).  It just felt phony.  And, hell, I don't know what the right word would be.  I just felt wrong.  She sent the card purely because I sent her a card.  For no other reason. She added the photos because she has to mimic me.  She's done this to me before.  It feels so "tit for tat".  OH, Jessie did this, maybe if I do it too, she'll look favorably on me.  She'll have to like me!  She'll think I'm nice/kind/thoughtful.  It didn't feel genuine or authentic or something she wanted to do.  Most years she states "Thanks for your card, Jessie!  I didn't send out cards.  I was busy.  I just didn't have time."   Which, as I write it doesn't sound bad, but is so classic her.  She can't give me a compliment without somehow also negating it or justifying and excusing herself.  Can't she just say "thanks for the Christmas card." and leave it at that?  Why does she have to be in every conversation?  (That's rhetorical, I know the answer).

It irritates me too that she can't just let anything be mine.  It's almost like when she quit trying to "convert" me to her, she changed tactics and thought she'd pretend to be me.   This mirroring and mimicking she does of me, drives me nuts.  I can't just have anything be mine.  If I send pictures, she sends pictures.  If I say I don't like to bake,  she suddenly remarks how she no longer bakes, sort of kind of.  I get lots of praise for how pretty my Christmas packages look, so she somehow figures out how to wrap a gift so it doesn't look like a monkey did it (I know it's petty, it's not about the gifts, it's about her suddenly changing to be more like me.  It's creepy to me.).   She changes her hobbies, eating style, extracurricular activities to "fit in".  And it annoys me that she thinks I'm so stupid that I'll think better of her because she wraps a few gifts (still not well, I might add, just to be bitchy because I'm feeling that way) or sends me a photo of her snuggled up to her husband in the picture perfect picture of "true love".

She wrote in the card how she "can't wait to see you!".  A visit she finagled (she can't manage to get us gifts during the TWO other times-sometimes three-that she sees us during the holidays.  She has to have a 'special time' to drop them off.)  She shows up tomorrow.  I'm trying to not be annoyed.  I wish I could change my attitude.  I wish I could be more gracious.  I wish I wasn't already dreading her.  But I am.  Fuck.

17 comments:

  1. Jessie - wow. I'm hoping Jonsi sees this, she is our resident expert on de constructing stuff like this. BUT, for me:

    White dress at a funeral? check. Front and center at funeral picture? check. Gabillion copies and she sends one out that has her smiling, made sure THAT happened? check. Scrambled to make sure she did what you did with cards/pictures? check.

    She IS creepy. And I love that you're feeling bitchy about her. Her gifts probably DO look like they were wrapped by monkeys on crack. She's an asshole.

    It's almost over, ALMOST OVER, keep breathing...

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    1. Aw, Gladys, I love you. I'm an asthmatic as well as an ACoN, and I've often thought of tattooing "Just Breathe" on my wrist. :)

      Funny thing about the white dress, MY NM pointed out how inappropriate that was. And when I made a video for our wedding showing pictures of us growing up, NMIL made sure to bitch (during the presentation) that she didn't like one of the pictures. I wanted to say "well, that's what you look like. Too bad."

      Thanks for your support!

      And I'm sure my girl Jonsi will check this out for me. She and I are tight like that ;). Bitchy DILs unite!

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    2. Hahaha - you guys are so funny. I'm here, taking a peek at the madness. More in a second.

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  2. It sounds phony.

    I dunno if you watch Dexter, but in the last episode, they showed a bunch of the ones he received hanging on the front door. The guys I watch the show with said it was the hot nanny who got the cards and did the decorating.

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    1. I don't watch Dexter. Just because I'm too cheap to pay for the "extra channels". But I've heard it's a good show. I have bad habits of getting sucked into good shows and being a bit obsessive. I imagine I'd be the same with Dexter.

      Anywhoo, glad it sounds phony to you too. Sometimes I need a reality check.

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  3. Everything is so methodical and thought-out: "I think it was one of those cards, that when purchased, some money goes to some charity."

    What a saint, right? There's so much oneupmanship here, from the get. I mean, no one would sit here and say that it's a bad thing to donate to a charity, right? But when you fit that little bit of information into the bigger picture, it really just reads like some sort of phony show - which is, of course, what your NMIL is all about. Not only did she decide to send out Christmas cards this year, but it's a RELIGIOUS one, and it was one of those charity ones. Oooh, aren't we all just so fucking impressed?

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    1. Yeah, but the thing is, I'm guessing, and it's a pretty good guess, that she sent this card to like me and her mom. She didn't "do Christmas cards". She sent out cards in reciprocation. She sent out cards to those she thought would give a shit.

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  4. "MIL's sister, the photographer, says, "don't you want to be in the photo?"."

    Depending on where DH had been at the the time, if this exact scenario had happened to us, I would have said, "No thank you." It's tacky and rude and insensitive for NMIL to have been organizing and taking fucking family photos at a funeral. And then to use THAT same inappropriate photo in a fucking Christmas card? She had already crossed the line, taking the photo in the first place. But for her to ignore the obvious lack of tact and include it in the card is even more obnoxious and insensitive.

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    1. I thought so! In fact, she had made a big deal to my NM (by the way, I have to post about the relationship between NMIL and NM. That is fucking INTERESTING). So, we were "warned" in advance of the "family photo" (by MY NM). I happened be standing next to my best friend who ignores me because I confront him with the truth and hadn't talked to in months. We were "bonding". MIL's sister was, probably not intentionally, pushing the family agenda.

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  5. And who the hell wants to see a picture of NMIL and her husband all cozied up together? Personally, I find it kind of odd for an middle-aged couple to be including photos of themselves in a Christmas card. Young, newly married couples and couples with small children? No problem there. But a picture of a middle aged woman all cozy cozy with her husband? Not necessary and kind of a little bit gross. Was the post inappropriate at least, or did you need eye-bleach afterwards?

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    1. Nope. Eye bleach quality. Look up my MIL on FB. You'll find her easily. Her profile pict is of similar quality. If you can't find it, I'll send you a scan. I even have some better ones. I agree. I'm down with couples on a card. Or couples who are newly married. Or any reasonably explanation. Not randomly because we needed to throw in a picture. In fact, once her parents gave us a picture of her and FIL on their anniversary cruise as a gift. MIL stated it was weird to get that as a gift. But it didn't stop her from doing it twice.

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  6. Gladys already said it but I've got to point it out again: It's more than just a fashion faux-pas to wear white to a funeral. Wearing white to a funeral is as much a no-no as wearing white to another woman's wedding. It's disrespectful, at best. If the funeral had been set-up as a sort of "celebration" of the person's life, (we had something like that when my grandfather passed away, but he was cremated so there was no funeral and we just essentially had a party to celebrate his life, which was what he had wanted) than I MIGHT say it wouldn't matter what the mourners were wearing. There's no rule saying that everyone has to wear all-black to a funeral. But there IS a rule, damn it, that says you should have respect for the deceased and, perhaps more importantly, the still-living family members of the deceased. And wearing white to a funeral is just about as cold-hearted as you can get. A funeral is not a fucking celebration.

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    1. This woman complained a lot about her MIL. At the same time she complained that said MIL was much maligned by her SIL who ignored MIL. For what it's worth, I loved MIL (my grandmother-in-law). She was sassy, a bit memory-deficient, but kind. I loved her.
      Anyway, MIL was not particularly sad that day. She seemed...relieved. She rarely stood by her husband the whole day (he sat separate from her at the funeral, and I and the grand kids stood beside him at the funeral.) Everyone, seriously everyone, knew this woman's favorite color was blue. Without any guidance, me and my kids and my husband dressed in blue. We knew the drill. The ushers were in blue. Her daughter was in blue. We all knew what to wear. White was tacky. Again, look it up, Jonsi dear. You'll see it.

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  7. "or sends me a photo of her snuggled up to her husband in the picture perfect picture of "true love"."

    I can't help but feel that this is a slap at your marriage; the union you have formed with "her son." As in, if your marriage doesn't look like HERS, than it's somehow "less than." Which creeps me out because the target of her attention is not just at you, but it's at her own son - which feels sort of gross and incestuous to me - like she's somehow judging you and DH by comparing the two of you to her and her husband. I don't know if that makes any sense, but I feel like her judgements don't just stop at how tidy your house is or how well you wrap your damn Christmas presents. It goes deeper than that too.

    And beyond that, I still find it odd that a middle-aged woman would include a picture of herself and her husband in the card. That's weird. I don't know anyone who does that.

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    1. She wants to be "the best" at everything.

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  8. My mon and dad had a professional photo done when they were middle-aged. Like, a sitting and everything. It turned out nice, they were smiling. (TOO BAD THEY ARE EVIL AND BAT CRAP CRAZY) - they sent a 5x7 copy to each of us. My sisters framed it. I didn't because I didn't want it. I didn't find it all that weird, except why would they think I wanted a picture, they hated me. But they weren't cozy - it was one of those 'both facing the same directon in soft lighting' things. NOW it sounds weird, lol.

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    1. I agree, that in the right situation, your parents sending a photo to you wouldn't be weird and would be welcomed.

      The thing is, it seemed like this photo was just lying around and she threw it in. And it's not like we have this kind of relationship. She doesn't send lots of photos to me. This is probably the third one she's given me (two of which have been of her.) She NEVER takes photos of me. EVER.
      And I guess I would feel weird just sending pictures of myself randomly. I mean, if she'd sent it in all her Christmas cards. Or it was a special occasion. I don't know. it just felt weird.

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