Etiquette School is in session! > "I'm afraid that won't be possible."

Should have put my foot down

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My Mother-in-Law is a sweet, generous lady and I really respect her.  Unfortunately, she's a bit of a Thrift-Shopaholic and often brings over large, odd stuff for us that we can't refuse, no matter how hard we try.  She's also a little too forceful with her old stuff that we simply "must have".  When we tell her "no thank you" she just brings it over anyway.  I'm pretty minimalist and positively hate "stuff".  I have enough clutter without adding to it unnecessarily, but I can appreciate the sentiment, and the local Goodwill practically knows me by name now. 
When we bought our home several years ago we casually mentioned that one day we'd install some built-in bookcases in our den.  We didn't really need bookcases, but, having just bought a house we were daydreaming about what we could do with all the new space.

Last year my Mother-in-Law was renovating her kitchen.  She called us to tell us we could have her old kitchen cabinets for our den.  Our house is our biggest investment.  If we make improvements, we want them done professionally and with the proper materials.  Who wants kitchen cabinets in their den, no matter how casual?  We told her all the reasons why it just wasn't what we were looking for, but she was relentless.  Eventually, she let the subject drop (or so we thought).

About a month later she started harping on us to come and pick up the cabinets (in the next town).  She was storing them "for us" and needed the space.  We tried again to explain that it "wouldn't be possible" but she was insistent.

Finally, my husband and I had heard enough about it.  We called the local dump to make sure they would take them, and headed out to pick the darn things up.  We spent our Saturday going to get them.  Fortunately, on the way to the dump, we passed a charity that accepted donations of large items, such as building materials (and cabinets).  We turned around, dropped them off, saved the gas mileage on a trip to the dump and went home feeling relieved that the "Cabinet Fiasco" was finally over.

Well, last week, she called to tell us that her friend had a handyman who could install the cabinets for us.  Would we like her to set it up for us?  Crap!  We put her off for now, but she's expecting us to put them to good use soon.

Now we have to figure out a way to explain what happened to the cabinets and why we were so ungrateful as to donate them.  If I'd only put my foot down a little harder in the beginning…

Any suggestions on how to handle this when it inevitably blows up?

"They didn't work for us, so we donated them to a facility where they'll be put to good use."


--- Quote from: AmyJ on February 29, 2008, 09:50:05 AM ---Any suggestions on how to handle this when it inevitably blows up?

--- End quote ---

Go on the offensive. When people are obviously not participating in your reality my advice runs thus:
1. Politely refuse to participate
2. Ignore them
3. Counter attack
4. Deny all knowledge.

Works for toxic people of all kinds!

But the previous poster was more polite.

You have to be honest with her.  And extremely direct, apparently.  Sit her down, look her right in the eye (to make sure you've really got her attention) and then tell her everything you've told us here.  Make sure she acknowledges what you've said.

I wouldn't worry too much about hurting her feelings.  She doesn't seem to care much how YOU feel.

What's done is done but I think your dilemma points out how important saying no can be.   The situation is going to blow up.  You should be prepared for her to be hurt and angry because you gave away the cabinets.  I'm not saying she should be.  She was wrong to foist the cabinets off on you and she should have  respected your reasons for not wanting them.  The fact remains that she evidently thought she was giving you a valuable gift and she's going to be upset when she finds out the truth.  Just be ready for it and don't let it upset you.  One positive here is that maybe once she finds out about the cabinets she won't bring you any more junk.  In any event, you and your DH have to present a united front against MIL "gifts"  from now on. 


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