Have Yourself A Morbid Little Christmas

by admin on December 13, 2010

A few years ago I met a wonderful man after many years of being divorced. FH and I dated for a bit and at this time I had the “pleasure” of meeting his dear mother who was visiting from overseas. It was a very quick introduction and she seemed like a very sweet elderly lady. I could not understand why FH always made excuses not to talk to her when she phoned and why he tried to keep out of her way when she did visit.

About a year after we met we became engaged. FH called his parents overseas to let them know. Everyone was very excited as FH had also been through quite an ugly divorce and his friends and family were happy that he was moving on.

We got engaged in the November and FMIL decided to come and visit the following January. It was going to be a little after Christmas, but we decided that we would make a special day when they were over to celebrate Christmas as a family, especially for the children’s sake.

I was so excited for FMIL to come and visit, and went to all kinds of trouble (not really trouble as I do enjoy spoiling people and Christmas is one of my favourite holidays) to make sure that they would have an extra special stay with us. She called regularly and I became suspicious as to how sweet she really was when she made a few comments.

First she was not happy that I had made up the spare room for her and FFIL together and especially NOT a double bed – I thought the reason they used single beds on the previous visit was because they had chosen to sleep in the smaller guest room – together mind you. Fair enough, they are elderly and may need space. Then she demanded we buy brand new beds for them. When I told her that we still had the new ones FH had bought for their last visit about 2 years previously she balked at that and complained that she had no idea who may have slept on them in the interim (????). Not only did we have to buy new beds, she insisted on brand new bedding as well and wanted me to keep the slips. FMIL has plenty of money but I did not expect her to pay for any of this, but her insistence that I keep the slips made me think that she was going to offer when she got over to us , it wasn’t that but rather to check that I had in fact done as she asked.

Well now to the real tacky part. Christmas tree is kept up especially for their arrival, specially wrapped gifts under the tree all ready for FMIL, FFIL, and some extras for the kids to open on our extra special Christmas celebration. FMIL arrives at our home and is naturally exhausted so we all spend a quiet evening and early to bed for our big day the next day. Next morning I am up starting to get the trimming ready for our family celebration and FMIL asks me to go and fetch the gifts she placed for me under the tree. I am confused as we are all going to open them later??? She insists, so off I go and I fetch them and she eagerly watches as I open them. Inside is body lotion and a perfume, but I have no idea of the make as we don’t have it where I live. She asks me if I know it and I say that I don’t. She then begins to tell how expensive it is and how popular it is where she lives. She goes on and tells me that just the body lotion alone had cost a small, and that I would never be able to even afford the perfume for myself. Well I am quite taken back and feel rather embarrassed. I tell her that although I really appreciate the lovely gift and am very happy to have it, she really did not need to spend that kind of money on me. She then turns to me and smiles and says, “Oh no, I never spent a cent. A friend of mine died the other day and I went to help clear out her cupboards and found this and I thought you would like it.”

Well knock me down with a feather. Thankfully FH walked in moments later as I was still sitting there with my jaw hanging open.

I have since come to accept that MIL is quite a different person and fully understand DH wanting to spend as little time as possible with her – it just combats many arguments. I try and keep an open mind and a sense of humour when dealing with her. 0726-10

Weeell. That certainly takes “regifting” to a whole, new level previously thought too gauche for anyone to actually try.

{ 67 comments… read them below or add one }

Typo Tat December 13, 2010 at 5:37 am

Oh wow, that’s just so creepy.

This is a person who needs brand new sheets to sleep on, but she’ll pass on a dead woman’s perfume and think it a wonderful gift? Eeek.

I’m not sure I would have had the OP’s restraint in this situation.

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jenna December 13, 2010 at 6:10 am

OP – you didn’t have to buy new beds. That was an unreasonable request and your fiance (seeing as they’re his parents – his job to take the lead in communicating with them) would have been within reason to say no, and apologize with nothing more than “I’m sorry you feel that way” if she complains. It is completely unreasonable to demand that anyone buy a bed just for your visit, especially if you know they bought beds two years previously. Is this mother-in-law going to insist that you buy her a new bed every few years when she comes?

You could have also politely declined to open her gift immediately. That is a bit trickier though – the new beds thing, however, is quite simple.

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Jan74 December 13, 2010 at 6:15 am

I thought the same thing as Typo Tat – needs a new mattress and bed frame, she can’t even sleep on the same frame she slept on 2 years ago, but will gift dead person’s perfume and lotion.

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karma December 13, 2010 at 6:57 am

I’d have declined to buy new beds or sheets on general principle. That’s just too demanding. She’d have been welcome to bring her own if she were truly concerned.

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josie December 13, 2010 at 7:00 am

You might mention that the next time a friend dies and she gets to help clean house, you’d prefer jewelry :)

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Mechtilde December 13, 2010 at 7:19 am

Whilst I don’t have a problem with using food, clothes, toiletries or whatever after someone has died; I’m not at all sure that I would give them as gifts. (naturally this doesn’t include sharing out items to the friends and family of the deceased)

That said, I think that the demands about the bed and bedding were far far more rude.

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samihami December 13, 2010 at 8:50 am

I’m with the other posters…she didn’t “make” you buy new beds. She whined and you gave in. That’s completely different. Personally, I would have assumed she was joking and would have laughed at the request. If she simply couldn’t sleep on the beds you already had, you could have offered to make a convenient hotel reservation for her (although who knows how many people have slept on the hotel bed, right?).

Or you could have offered to go to Wal Mart and buy an air mattress for her to sleep on.

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Goldie December 13, 2010 at 8:56 am

Buying new beds for house guests each time they visit?? What in the world… I cannot afford new beds for my own family. At least the FMIL didn’t make the OP buy a new house for her visit. After all, she had no idea who may have used the house in the interim!

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bookworm December 13, 2010 at 9:21 am

Well, those are two relatives that you never have to invite into your home ever again.

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livvy December 13, 2010 at 9:31 am

yes, I can’t believe the demand for new beds!! I would have told her that no one else had slept on them since, and that she was welcome to bring her own bedding, if she was uncomfortable with sheets slept on by other people.

I can’t even imagine about the other – ransacking a dead friend’s house? Not only horribly tacky, but in my opinion, probably theft, unless she were the beneficiary of said friend’s will.

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JS December 13, 2010 at 9:35 am

OP, if I may ask, why in the world did you buy new beds and bedding for your FMIL?

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Wheelchair Bling December 13, 2010 at 9:47 am

I hope you and DH can team up and tell her next time she demands new beds, “Well, I’m sorry you won’t be able to stay with us this year! Maybe next year!”

She’ll doubtless come up with some elaborately nasty revenge, but if you two stick together, you can weather it. (I bet it’s worth inquiring, diplomatically, what role she played in DH’s former marriage, and if she contributed any to the nastiness of the divorce. It may help you plan strategy!)

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Freda December 13, 2010 at 10:03 am

Sometimes things are so bad they are funny. Thanks for sharing. I’ll pass that on to my own MIL when I see her today, and she’ll have a good laugh.

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Elizabeth Bunting December 13, 2010 at 10:06 am

Eccentric would be my description of the FMILFEH!

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Harley Granny December 13, 2010 at 10:09 am

LOL Josie, I like the way you think.

I understand the need to make a good impression on a FMIL but no way would I do the new beds and bedding bidding.

Keep you sense of humor intact…it looks like you’re really going to need it!

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gramma dishes December 13, 2010 at 10:11 am

josie ~~ I LOVE your comment! ;-)

Yes, the gift is creepy and bizarre. But . . .

I can’t believe they actually acquiesced to the ridiculous demands for brand new beds and bedding (with “proof” receipts, no less)! I would have thought that at least one of these two adults would have had the spine to just say no!

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Xtina December 13, 2010 at 10:24 am

OP, you have far, far more restraint than I. So considering that she wouldn’t sleep in the same NEW beds that were bought for her visit two years ago, I presume this means that every time they want to visit, you will get a demand that a new bed/bedding be bought? What is her problem? I can see why your husband tries to avoid her simply to avoid arguments, but this issue WILL rear its ugly head again, and your husband should be the one to explain to her why you won’t be buying more new beds and bedding for her. You two should not be expected to acquiesce to such a ridiculous demand. If she wants a new bed, she can buy it herself, or you can kindly offer her the number of a local hotel (whose beds will be far “dirtier and used” than any that you would have).

Yeah, I have to agree–it’s a little weird to re-gift a dead woman’s toiletries to someone and to tell it in this manner as well. Even more annoying to me is to go on and on about how expensive something is, and to make assumptions about a person’s financial status to declare that they “couldn’t afford it”.

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Meegs December 13, 2010 at 10:43 am

I literally cannot fathom why the OP actaully went out and bought new beds.

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Patti December 13, 2010 at 10:57 am

Although I can’t quite figure out the logistics, maybe disposable beds/bedding might be the wave of the future. I’m thinking cardboard and rice paper.

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Shiksagoddess December 13, 2010 at 11:04 am

OP, I have got to wonder … was part of the reason for your FH’s divorce his mother? I mean, she didn’t just suddenly become nasty for you, did she?

– the shiksagoddess

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Gemma December 13, 2010 at 11:12 am

I agree, that is really creepy! My skin is crawling just thinking about it.

As for the bed incident, I’d mention that maybe they’d be happier in a hotel, since our accommodations aren’t to her satisfaction. If she balks, then mention that you already have beds bought especially for them 2 years ago, but if she’d like to bring her own sheets, she’s welcome to do so. If you are a guest in someone’s home, you do not demand such things.

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phoenix December 13, 2010 at 11:49 am

Wow. I often ask myself “what were they thinking?” but I’ve never meant it as literally as I do now. How did the FMIL come to act this way?

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Kat December 13, 2010 at 11:51 am

I wouldn’t have bought the beds. I’d have given her the phone number of a Motel 6.

If I were you, OP, I’d find out from my fiance if you’re going to be expected to make a major purchase every time his mother comes to town. Nip this one in the bud now.

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Margaret December 13, 2010 at 11:52 am

Appalled about the bed demand. The gift thing is so awful it’s kind of funny, and good for the OP for keeping a sense of humour about it. But what sticks in my mind is that if this perfume and lotion are SO expensive and SO desireable, was the MIL really supposed to be helping herself from the deceased’s cupboards? I just get this picture in my mind of the MIL snooping around and helping herself uninvited.

Bet the OP is glad her inlaws live overseas!

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Elizabeth December 13, 2010 at 11:58 am

I am honestly surprised you bought the new beds. I would have said no.

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Louise December 13, 2010 at 12:18 pm

@josie — lol!

I would never buy a new bed or bedding just because a guest told me to. Not even my parents. Nor would I let a guest bring his or her own bed into our guest room. If they want to bring a sleeping bag or something, fine, but a new bed? Not happening.

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LeeLee88 December 13, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Well, unless MIL had the world’s longest handgun, and was holding it to their heads from overseas, I fail to see why LW and her fiance felt so pressured to buy two new beds. I would have offered to reserve a hotel room for MIL and FIL if they felt our offerings of bedding were so deeply inadequate. I like how MIL acts as though her son and FDIL have been running a flop house out of the guest room since she was last there :-P

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KimberlyRose December 13, 2010 at 1:46 pm

I think FMIL needed to keep her mouth shut about where the perfume and lotion came from, unless it was a power play. It would have just been a generic nice present if she hadn’t said anything.

The bed… why, exactly, did they think they *had* to buy a new bed and bedding? I’m seriously not getting why they felt they had to indulge that particular demand. (Also makes me think the whole visit was about establishing her as the dominant member of the family.)

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Chelsey December 13, 2010 at 1:48 pm

I generally would keep the toiletries from a deceased person for the family members. Like a daughter who wants to remember what her mother smelled like or something. If there are no family members, I’d probably just give it to Good Will (there’s just something wrong to me about knowingly taking the deceased’s toiletries if you’re not related to them–though I guess if you’re OK with it, then that’s fine, I just personally wouldn’t). You don’t re-gift it, and you ESPECIALLY don’t tell the receiver that you did so. Wow. For having so much money, you’d think she could afford some class.

About the presents, I think a simple, “I was really hoping we could wait until we were all together and ready to open gifts. Let’s save this for a little later.” And then smile and go back to what you were doing. If she still insists, tell her to go ask everyone else if they think it’s OK that you all open gifts at that moment (or you can do it yourself).

As for the conversation about the bed, I think I would have let DH handle that. And possibly insisted that MIL and FIL reimburse me.

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Allie December 13, 2010 at 1:51 pm

I would not have bought the new stuff, but would have made up some fake receipts and told her I did. I know, passive-aggressive much? But I hate confrontation and am also stubborn, so not many alternatives. I guess just count yourself lucky that she lives far away.

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Sarah December 13, 2010 at 2:39 pm

What Jenna said: you didn’t HAVE to buy new beds. That’s completely insane. And what did the husband have to say about it?

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Simone December 13, 2010 at 3:07 pm

The perfume is quite creepy. Also the not *buying* you a Christmas present at all when you bought NEW BEDS is a bit much I think. I am fully aware that no-one is ever entitled to a gift, but she wanted a NEW BED (I may be a bit stuck on that).

Also she said this friend died “a few days ago”. Was she intending to give the OP nothing and this “happy” chance meant that she got a present after all? Add the whole insistence on opening the presents away from everyone else and this woman is making my crazy meter go haywire.

I’m so happy for you that she lives in another country. I would let FH deal with her from now on.

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Ali December 13, 2010 at 3:26 pm

I can see accommodating new sheets for someone who is extremely OCD, but beds? That has to be pushing $1000! I thought it was polite to provide 2 sets of clean sheets and 2 sets of clean towels (depending on the length of the stay).

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Twik December 13, 2010 at 3:27 pm

I’m still astonished that the write agreed to buy *two whole new beds*. I’m not sure what the brand of perfume was, but if she can afford two beds (which would be in my area at least a thousand dollars) at the whim of a guest, I strongly suspect she could pick up a little perfume.

While I’m sure the toiletries were not affected by formerly belonging to the deceased, it’s truly rude to give any present with the comment “Guess what! I got this free, so you can have it!”.

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MOB December 13, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Morbid is right! Yuck.

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Angie December 13, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Well, this lady seems like she doesn’t like spending her own money but has no qualms about asking others to spend lots on her. I have never heard of anyone being expected to buy new bedding, let alone a brand new bed every time someone comes to visit them.

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HonorH December 13, 2010 at 5:22 pm

I agree with the others–the new-beds request would’ve been met with a polite, “I’m afraid that’s not possible.” Yes, the gift was incredibly morbid and in bad taste, but the OP had no control over that. Buying new beds to avoid arguments is borrowing trouble, and I’ll bet it comes home to roost. In fresh bedding, of course.

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Sharon December 13, 2010 at 5:36 pm

How on earth the OP kept from laughing in FMIL’s face when she was told the true origins of her gift! OH WOW!!!!!!!!! I would just lose it… that was such a shock just to read!!!! It made me laugh!

I agree with those who are surprised at her sensitivity to the very idea of sleeping in a “used” bed, while she has no sensitivity at all to telling her FDIL that she ransacked a dead friends possessions to provide gifts to other people.

Be thankful that DH avoids these folks. Think how sad it would be if he wanted them around all the time!

Josie, you gave me agiggle, too!

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Rebecca December 13, 2010 at 6:53 pm

No way would I have bought new beds. “Sorry, that won’t be possible. We already have beds here that are as good as new.” They can always get a hotel if they don’t like it. (As if the hotel’s going to have new beds!!)

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Kescat December 13, 2010 at 7:14 pm

I never would have gone for the new bed thing. The OP needed to grow a backbone on that one. MIL can buy a new bed if she is so concerned.

As for the re-gifted perfume, it’s not because it’s re-gifted that it bothers me. No, it’s the specifically pointing out that it is a re-gift AND she can’t afford it. It doesn’t matter that it was from a dead person. MIL is a piece of work. I am glad I don’t have one like that.

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RP December 13, 2010 at 7:55 pm

FMIL has plenty of money but I did not expect her to pay for any of this, but her insistence that I keep the slips made me think that she was going to offer when she got over to us…

OK, the second half of that would sort-of explain why they went ahead and bought new stuff; they thought they were going to be reimbursed. But she initially thought FMIL wasn’t going to pay so…*shrug*

What bothers me about the gift is that it isn’t clear that FMIL had permission to take it. There have been other stories on this site where people have felt entitled to simply waltz off with people’s things after they’ve died and I’d worry that I had been given stolen property. (Don’t worry, the hypocrisy wasn’t lost on me. It’s just that you all covered that already.) Before I got to the part where FMIL explained where she got it I thought maybe she was going on about the price to drop the hint that this was to make up for them buying new beds but boy was I wrong.

She’ll doubtless come up with some elaborately nasty revenge, but if you two stick together, you can weather it.

@Wheelchair Bling – Are they still together? I thought FH stood for either “First Husband”, as in the story occurred during her first marriage, or “Former Husband” as in this second marriage didn’t work out. OP: Was “FH” a typo?

As for the conversation about the bed, I think I would have let DH handle that.

@Chelsey – But would that have worked with the husband going out of his way to avoid his mother? The result probably would have been the same.

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Shoebox December 13, 2010 at 9:18 pm

OK, let’s see if I’ve got this straight here:

FH is clearly aware that his mother is something of a case. So when Mother proves it — if not actual mental illness, at the same time — by demanding hundreds of dollars in brand new beds and bedding for a yearly visit (!!), insists on inspecting the sales slips for proof (!!!) , FH… gives in.

Yeah, getting a lot of unintentional insight into FH’s previous marriage and nasty divorce here…

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Cooler Becky December 13, 2010 at 9:37 pm

What a horrid woman! I wonder what goes through her head.

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gramma dishes December 13, 2010 at 9:42 pm

RP ~~ I may be wrong, but since apparently the OP and her husband were not married yet when this event took place I assumed FH meant Future Husband. She calls him DH in the last line of the story as they are (presumably) now married.

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Me December 13, 2010 at 10:19 pm

Of course the OP didn’t HAVE to buy a new bed. She’s not saying that she HAD to, merely that the MIL asked and suggested that she would reimburse them. I’m sure that next time, if MIL makes a similar demand, she will say no.

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b-rock December 13, 2010 at 10:49 pm

@RP: I believe FH is “future husband,” as in, “we weren’t married at the time, but were soon to be.” both were divorced from previous marriages, and then met each other and the story ensued.

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The Cat Whisperer December 14, 2010 at 1:40 am

Wow. Just…wow.

I’m kinda surprised that OP’s future husband didn’t try, in some way, to prepare her about FMIL.

Amazing. And, as others have observed, kinda creepy.

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Katie December 14, 2010 at 2:43 am

I’m with Wheelchair Bling as to what you should say next time she wants to visit.

Suddenly I feel better about my mother! I know that if this had happened with any of my former BF’s mothers I would have laughed hysterically and said ‘That’s a funny joke you just made!’ OP, I can’t believe your husband went along with it. I can actually understand you wanting to please his mother and not make waves, after all you’re going to be connected to them forever after marrying into the family so I get that you don’t want to start off on the wrong foot. But surely he should have said no!

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PrincessSimmi December 14, 2010 at 3:00 am

Your MIL is a twit.

I read a good quote the other day. It went along the lines of:
E=mc2. Everyone in my family is crazy, squared. This seems to apply here.

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DGS December 14, 2010 at 10:11 am

Bizarre…the MIL sounds disturbed. I certainly wouldn’t have agreed to the demand of purchasing new beds/bedding; if the bedding down arrangements that I can provide aren’t good enough, I would be more than happy to provide a list of local hotels. From this post, it sounds like MIL might demand a new bed every time she visits. And passing on the toiletries of a deceased is also pretty weird/morbid and oddly personal – as one of the PP’s had said, it’s one thing to let a grieving daughter keep her mother’s body lotion; it’s a whole another to take that lotion and offer it to some other random person as a morbid and creepy gift. It’s great that OP can keep a sense of humor about it; I’d be hard-pressed to do so!

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