Friday, December 12, 2008

Surviving the Holidays with your In-Laws

Some of you out there have fabulous in-laws. You know the kinds: the ones who don’t intrude, who encourage both of you and treat you both as their children, who buy thoughtful presents, who understand that you need to spend time with the other set of parents…you know, your parents. ;)

Just kidding.

For the majority of us, though, as Christmas looms closer and closer, we pull out the big guns: a desktop calendar with lots of white space so you can organize every family function, plan every meal and gift, and divide your time equally between both sets of parents.

So what’s a blushing bride to do? Get the camo gear out and prepare!

What to do when you are asked to make a side dish you’ve never made before
Especially if this is one of your first holiday family get-togethers with his side, this problem can be a real pain in the rear. Make a soufflé what? Use a what kind of baking dish? Dip what into what?? Never fear, ideas are here!

1. Practice makes perfect. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again! And use to figure out what the heck you’re supposed to be making in the first place.

2. Pay your BFF, who happens to be an outstanding chef, to make the dish for you. She likes cooking anyway…

3. And, if all else fails, make something that you know you cook well and pretend that you forgot what you were supposed to bring. And then learn to make that item before next Christmas.

What to do when bad relatives come
There’s always at least one, er, “troublesome” relative that will no doubt bring loads of unwelcome present for the holidays. Whether it’s a bitter spouse or a cold cousin or that a-little-too-friendly uncle, these relatives spell T-R-O-U-B-L-E.

1. There’s only one rule to follow here: STAY BY YOUR HUBBY. Make sure he knows never ever to leave your side (unless you feel comfortable enough to hang out with his siblings or cousins). That way if a fist fight breaks out or your MIL gets you in her sights, you have a safe place.

What to do when you just don’t want to go
My Sunday school teacher, a very wise woman, has said that for really troublesome in-laws, we should “love them at a distance.” But…what about Christmas dinner?

1. This depends on how quarrelsome you expect Christmas dinner to become. Do you restrain from throwing a knife at your MIL when she makes a rude comment? Do you watch “Forensic Files” on a regular basis to learn how to commit the perfect crime? Maybe this year you should skip the holiday meal and just go visit…briefly.

2. Maybe you and your in-laws have such a bad history together that you don’t want to ever see them again – and they don’t want to see you, either. How about a compromise? Hubby goes to briefly visit – and you stay behind and catch up on those great Christmas movies. It’s win-win.

3. But are you unlucky enough that you have to go visit – and eat with and spend the night with – your in-laws? My sympathy’s to you, BUT we have to look at the glass as half-full. I’m dying to write a book about dealing with insane in-laws – when yours’ turn the Christmas holly jolli-days into Christmas chaos, just remember: it’s material for a book.

The Grinch vs. Santa Claus
Are your in-laws more like the Grinch when it comes to gift-giving or like Santa Claus? AND, even more important, who do they expect YOU to be like?

1. The easiest way: Make your husband buy your in-laws the gifts. He knows them better, so why shouldn’t he buy them (or at least tell you what to buy)?

2. If there’s no way in this world he’s going to go shopping: Try to go for something a little better than generic but a little less than extravagant. Is your FIL a sports fan? What team does he like? What about a shirt with that team’s emblem? Academy has some great deals. What about your MIL? Does she read? Is she a flower person? Does your BIL enjoy outdoor activities such as hunting or fishing? Just try to work with what you know and go from there.

When the worst happens
So there was a fist fight. Or biting words were said. Or someone stormed out. Or the cops got called. What now?

1. If arrests are made and placed in the paper, just point out to colleagues or co-workers who are rude enough ask, “Oh, that’s the other Jones family. Not mine.”

2. So your cheesy chicken casserole was a casualty of the in-law war and got dumped on your BIL’s pants. Just casually mention, “That color of cheese really goes with your sweater.”

3. Make sure to bring a notebook to record snatches of conversation. They can be used as your defense at trial. ;)

4. (BTW, saying you “blacked out” and woke up with blood on the ground is NOT a defense.)

It’s Dec. 12. Whatever happens this month with your in-laws, just try your best to grin and bear it. And remember – it’s the most wonderful time of the year.


Brooke said...

lol! :)

my inlaws are intrusive, yet very generous. so i feel like i'm the one that's scrooge when i don't have time for them to come down for a visit.

Rach@In His Hands said...

I'm just dying of laughter here! Seriously funny.
I have really fantastic in-laws...I think it helps that they live 15+ hours away. If we lived may be a different story!
Thanks for the smile today. :-)

Sara@ Butterville said...

Oh goodness! I always tell Hubby he got the short end of the family is *a-hem* rude, greedy and bitter. That's putting it nicely. His parents are fabulous, his one brother and wife live out state, thank goodness. She hated me from hello...long story. His other brother I do like but HIS wife doesn't seem to need anymore friends, which is a nice way of saying she only talks to me if NO one else is in the room. The extended bunch, well now that is a circus...SO WE host Christmas Eve. Hosting makes it so that you are SO busy putting food out and delegating and deciding when to open gifts that you really DON'T get a chance to talk to people and they can't get mad at you because your "hosting" and doing hostessing duties, which no one else can do because well they are no the host!

CR said...

OMG, too funny. I'm glad I read this before next weekend for the in-law Christmas.

Sarah M. said...

Even if I wasn't at the best place I have ever been with my in laws, your post would make them look like angels!!

Our sides of the family are kinda on opposit sides of the spectrum personality wise. I've found there is some to take from each side and some things better left to die with that generation.

Beth said...

very cute and even helpful post!
makes me thankful for my amazing in laws! Really!

Growin' with it! said...

i remember our first holiday dinner with my hubby's family. i was so proud to bring a side dish to the table that was a family tradition from MY side of the marriage (the dinner was at my own house mind you) and not one person tried it. well, except for my husband who was loving on his wife cuz he felt sorry for her. i gave up a long time ago. and at this point, though i truly do love my inlaws, i know just to stick w/ their plan and smile anyways! this was a funny one!!!

misti said...

"Love them from a distance" -- LOVE it! Hahah

Becoming Me said...

You are a trip! Very funny and some good tips. :-)