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The Christmas Guests That Never Leave

This is about my husband’s brother and sister-in-law.  Just as I think they couldn’t possibly be as bad as I think they are and I am simply being uncharitable, something else comes up which reaffirms my view of them.

They live in a small town about 2 hours away, and we live in a larger city, so they enjoy coming here for shopping, baseball games, etc. but they treat us like we are a free hotel.  My first real experience with them was just after we moved into our house.  Like literally 3 days after we moved in.  They moved in with us, or so it felt at the time. They came over on Friday and spent the night, which was fine, their plan was to spend one night with us and then go to a hotel for the next night or two. We all went to the mall on Saturday and next thing I know, DH is saying,  “They spent all their motel money and want to know if it’s OK if they stay with us again tonite.” What was I supposed to say? Then my BIL found out he didn’t have to work on Monday so they invited themselves to stay Sunday night as well. It just went on and on and on, kinda like the Titanic song except without the Uillean pipes. Having people around kinda stresses me out, especially when we were still living out of boxes.

What’s next?  Must be this past summer, when they asked us to watch their 4-year-old daughter so they could go to a baseball game. We took her to Chuck E. Cheese and had a great time. But the next day they didn’t leave…again. I ended up entertaining our niece while they played games on our computers.  It was finally about 9pm on Sunday night when DH had to go to his brother and basically kick them out. I think they were hoping we’d just give up and let them stay again or something. That’s the night they left the gate open (twice) and our dog got out and nearly got hit by a car (twice).

This past Christmas, we hosted my mom, sister & BIL for Christmas day dinner and we were planning to go visit DH’s parents the following day.  His parents live in the same town as DH’s brother and SIL, who were catching a redeye flight on Christmas night to visit her parents for a week.  DH’s brother & SIL had arranged to come to our house Christmas night so my husband could drive them to the airport.  Fine, no biggie, we just asked them to come down later in the evening so we had plenty of time with my family.  About 4pm, as we were sitting down to open presents, the phone rings and it’s my SIL.  They had already left home and were on their way, and oh by the way, could we watch their dog while they’re gone?  I repeat, they had ALREADY LEFT.  I thought of several answers, none of which I wanted my own family to hear, so I handed the phone to my DH (who really is a dear, and in general a much more patient person than I).  He reminded them that we were coming to their town the following day, and when she argued back, DH pointed out that our male dog was not fixed and he didn’t want to take the chance of unplanned puppies.  She responded with, “But our dog’s not in heat!”  I’m not sure what he said to finally convince her, but they ended up turning around and taking the dog back to stay with someone during their absence.

Rumor has it that BIL & SIL are moving to Virginia soon.  I’ll miss our niece.  🙂 0428-10


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  • Deb December 9, 2010, 4:58 pm

    My dad had the BEST way of telling guests it was time to go home.

    He would look at my mother and say, “Honey, let’s go to bed so these fine people can go home.”

    It was funny, to the point and classy, and no one ever challenged it.

    • admin December 9, 2010, 6:44 pm

      Deb, My husband has used that phrase for decades! Fortunately, most of our friends are now “trained” so he hasn’t had to use it in the past few years.

  • Michelle December 9, 2010, 6:57 pm

    I love the advice on the posts and the OP’s story, good for them for finally saying no. I was constantly being asked to watch my sister’s new baby (screamed the whole time) and finally just said no and stopped doing it. Worked like a charm.

  • Elizabeth December 9, 2010, 8:22 pm

    @Deb- I love it!

  • UK Helen December 10, 2010, 10:06 am

    Deb, I love it! I used to have a phrase like that for the awkward moment while househunting, when someone had shown us over their house and DH and I didn’t like it but the owner was standing there looking hopeful. Rather than say, “No,” I used to say, “Thanks for showing us the house. We’ll go away now and [glance at spouse] argue about it.” Cue general laughter and we would leave them with the impression that at least one of us liked it.

  • AS December 10, 2010, 11:46 am

    Good of you, OP, to say “No”. One can take only so much even in the name of family!

    This reminds me of an incident involving one of my father’s cousins. When I was young, we used to stay in a city with a very famous eye hospital. Every so often, some one or the other had to visit the hospital, and would come and stay with us. Note – our house was about 40 minutes away from the hospital, and hence most cases, people would take a hotel for the few days after a surgery or something. Now, there is this one relative, who apparently had some eye condition (nothing serious and he has had it from childhood). The doctor said that if he wants he can visit the hospital, but it is not necessary as it is a very common condition and can be rectified without surgery. But he decided that he will visit anyways, with his whole family (including two small children), as he can stay at our house. Now, this was a time when my mother had just recovered from a very serious illness and was still not allowed to do heavy work. I was just finishing up my high school and had to take up exams that would determine my future. We are a 3-people household, and my father was doing most of the house-hold work, as well as catching up with his own job as he had taken days off during mom’s illness. Dad’s cousin knew all these. It is hard to say “no” to someone when they have a medical condition. My parents tried suggesting other times, like when my exams would be over, etc. But nothing suited them. After a lot of talk, my parents finally found out that their main idea was to have a vacation, and consult a physician at the eye hospital given that they are around. Parents were extremely appalled, and told them not to come. We got bad mouthed, but we have often been kind of a black sheep amongst some family members anyways, so it didn’t matter much.

  • AS December 10, 2010, 11:47 am

    @Asha – I agree with Bint and Kat. Etiquette challenged people are everywhere, not just amongst in-laws.

  • Michelle December 10, 2010, 12:38 pm

    @UK Helen:

    Fabulous! Wonderfully tactful way to “escape,” without hurting feelings. 🙂

  • Enna December 11, 2010, 10:51 am

    Join a book club or something and whenever they suggest to come round say “oh got book club then” or “we hosting a book club”. It’s important to be firm with people like that.

  • karma December 11, 2010, 8:34 pm

    Whew! What a frustrating story. I always think, “How could someone let this go on for so long?”, and then I remember that we all have something like this that has happened to us. At the time it seemed weird and stressful, but we just didn’t realize how weird it truly was until years later.

    Right about the time I’m tempted to tell an OP that it served them right for being a silly doormat, I remember some of the things I have had people do to me in my younger years. I’d never even let myself be in those situations now, but back then who knew what to do!?

    For me, there are a few non-negotiable deal breakers thanks to my years in a college town:

    1. Guests may NOT bring animals. Ever. Board the dog. Board the cat.
    2. Guests may not smoke in my house. If you are old enough to smoke, you are grown enough to stand or sit on the porch. Take a blanket if you are cold, grandma.
    3. Don’t bring bad kids to my house. I raised a great kid without behavior issues because I stayed dilligent 24-7. If you don’t control your child, I’ll control your child, hurt your feelings in the process, and you will never be invited back. It’s a respect thing.
    4. Don’t be mean to any of my family members. The cats are family members too.
    5. Don’t inconvenience my neighbors. They live here. You don’t.

    Hang in there OP. I had to turn 30 to figure some of that out!