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Gifts From The Grave

My husband is the only child of my late mother-in-law. This woman was quite a piece of work. Just for reference, my husband and I eloped, and my MIL and her husband threw a party in our honor the following weekend. At this party, one of the first things MIL made a point of telling me was that she would “always love Sally” — my husband’s ex-wife whom he had divorced 7 years before (no children).

I had already met Sally once and liked her, and since these people were my new in-laws, I took the high road and said I didn’t blame MIL at all for liking Sally so much. But the comment stung and even though it WAS her party, I thought it unnecessary and unkind of her to say such a thing to me first off.

After our 3 children were born, we had a tradition of visiting MIL and her husband on Christmas Day, and MIL’s hubby always prepared a nice little brunch. Their home was always nicely decorated, and a sprinkling of gifts under a beautiful Christmas tree. MIL always gave her son and each of our 3 children Christmas cards containing a generous amount of cash, and the children usually also received a gift from under the tree.

Our gift to MIL was always nicely framed current portraits of each child, plus a couple of pretty jars of brandied cherries or peaches that I canned myself (we were quite broke in those days).

Her gift to me was always in a gift box printed with a high-end department store’s name and a store gift-wrap bow. Inside the box was either a sweater or a homemade item (and she was definitely NOT the knit-crochet type) that she had obviously re-gifted. MIL was blonde and blue-eyed – I’m a brunette with dark eyes, and the gifted item invariably had no tags, was more suited to her coloring, usually with slightly pilled-up area at the shoulder where you might carry your bag. Another year, it was a kind of ugly homemade crochet vest made of brightly-colored granny squares just like the ones in the afghan on my grandmother’s sofa.

I always thanked her for the beautiful sweater (or whatever) and wore it the rest of the time we were there. Then I would make a point of wearing it the next time I knew we would see her/them. Actually, the granny-square vest paired with a white turtle neck and black skirt didn’t look half-bad — at least that particular gift looked new.

The sweet kicker is that MIL finally passed away in 2010, and left a train carload of money to her only child! Yeah, now every year is a Merry Christmas!! 0101-16


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Rebecca December 20, 2016, 2:34 am

    I’m sorry, but I was waiting for more of an ending than “she died and left a decent amount of money.” So she cheaped out of gifts over the years, which you accepted perfectly graciously, no etiquette blunder there on your part. The part about her leaving a good sum for her son’s inheritance seems totally unrelated in importance to this story.

    • Mal December 20, 2016, 7:42 am

      While the “I always loved Ex-wife” comment was really tacky, OP comes off as a bit entitled in the rest of the entry and the last line is downright hateful. A few years of not-so-nice gift-giving isn’t grounds for rejoicing in someone’s death. I seriously hope there’s a rest of the story we didn’t get to read because if that’s all, OP, I think you have some issues.

    • Kate December 20, 2016, 12:47 pm

      I think the point is that MIL treated her DIL like trash every year at Christmas, while treating her Son and Grandkids nicely. Now that MIL has died OP gets to use her evil MIL’s money to give herself AND her family a nice Christmas every year.

  • Just4Kicks December 20, 2016, 2:45 am

    As a member of the “My MIL hated me” club, I sympathize with you.
    It’s really hard to let awful remarks and actions to roll off your back, year after year.
    And while I do realize that my husband was caught between a rock and a hard place, he and I have had many fights while his mom was still alive that he should stick up for ME once in awhile.
    I’m very sorry my husband no longer has his mom around, but I can’t deny that life without her has made my life easier in many ways….God forgive me for saying so.

    • Cleosia December 20, 2016, 8:39 am

      Sometimes the hard truth is not what we want it to be. Unfortunately, in cases like this, other people have a hand in how it plays out.

      I also had a Monster-In-Law but in my case it wasn’t difficult to ease my husband away from his toxic family since she wouldn’t call us because “she might pick up” and when he called her, she always gave him a knot in his stomach that would last for days. I finally said, “Why do you call?” He couldn’t think of a good reason so he stopped and she didn’t, so that was that for a long time. Didn’t hear from the family until she was dying of cancer. But that’s another story.

      • Just4Kicks December 22, 2016, 8:47 am

        Ah…another member of the club.
        I’m sorry you went through that, it’s very draining.
        I gave my husband the nickname “Norman Bates” after one day being VERY pregnant with one of our kids, dear mil calls me to tell me all the beautiful, THIN ladies who were eyeing up my husband when he took her to breakfast.
        I was pissed, and even more so when my husband just laughed it off, and oh my, did you lose your sense of humor when you got pregnant?!?

  • Saucygirl December 20, 2016, 6:50 am

    I’m sorry, but no. Mil may have been out of line, but celebrating her death cause you don’t like your Xmas gifts is horrible. You need more then one line given it a party that she threw in your honor, because right now you just seem very materilistic

  • at work December 20, 2016, 8:06 am

    Does “Gifts From The Grave” refer to the money from the inheritance continuing to provide Christmas gifts? That’s a different way of looking at it. I kinda like it. We had a garage built with my inheritance. I will be thinking “it’s a gift from the grave” when I pull in today. As for the OP, it sounds like she was able to act sincerely thankful for the gifts she unwrapped in front of MIL.

  • Mustard December 20, 2016, 8:43 am

    You had my sympathy right until your final paragraph.

  • pennywit December 20, 2016, 9:29 am

    From the headline and most of the story, I thought we were going to find out that MiL’s will said something like “send a secondhand sweater to my daughter-in-law every Christmas” or “My son will lose his inheritance if his wife ever throws out a single sweater that I’ve regifted her over the years.” This is underwhelming, and even a little disconcerting. “My mother-in-law was a you-know-what to me my whole life, and I got the last laugh because we inherited all her money!” just seems kind of mean-spirited.

  • stacey December 20, 2016, 9:40 am

    Your punch line is over the top. There was a window of opportunity to address her behavior (during her lifetime). She was doubtless a difficult person. But there isn’t any sympathy left for your experience of her unkind essential due to the shockingredients lack of charity in your remarks about her death and its benefit to your family. I feel some sorrow for your spouse, who lost a parent and who might have received less support than could be desired from you, since you take no pains to soften your glee in the inheritance in this forum.

  • Dawn December 20, 2016, 10:02 am

    What perverse pleasure do these women get out of insulting the woman their son loves? My first gift from soon to be MIL was a bag of junk. Opened package of paper doilies, pieces of tissue paper, snippets of ribbon- some only two inches long. It was literally garbage!

    • dee nile December 20, 2016, 2:56 pm

      “Thank you, MiL! This is a gift I *never* would have bought for myself!!”

    • Vrinda December 20, 2016, 4:44 pm

      I would have handed it back to her and said, “It looks like you accidentally gave me your garbage instead.” 😉

    • NostalgicGal December 21, 2016, 7:04 am

      I would have found the white paste and blunt scissors and sat right down there and done some crafting in my finest preschool style. And see what happened when I showed absolute delight and did something positive with the gift. Channel the best of when I was four and five….

      • Just4Kicks December 22, 2016, 8:50 am

        Mine is a toss up between a reindeer with an antler broken off that mil BRAGGED she only paid fifty cents for because it was broken….
        A set of very mis-matched cookware some with old food still stuck on them.

  • Pat December 20, 2016, 10:20 am

    OP, now that MIL is gone, you should have no regrets about how you behaved toward her. Yes, she was inconsiderate (at best), but you reacted with self restraint and class and did not escalate the situation into outright hostility. In doing so, you prevented poisoning the relationship between your husband and his mother and between your children and their grandmother. Your husband was not put in the middle of two feuding women because you we’re able to shrug off her slights with good humor. You are going to make an awesome MIL!

  • Michelle December 20, 2016, 10:24 am

    I have never understood why some in-laws go out of their way to insult their children’s new spouses. Then to make sure they know they are not “really” family or that they don’t really approve of them, they will give a present that is obviously “less” than what they give their own children. OP can be glad that at least MIL treated the grandchildren well.

    My MIL and I get along fine. We are not warm and fuzzy BFF’s, but we don’t dislike each other. We’ve only had 1 disagreement that I can remember and even then, we did not insult each other.

  • DGS December 20, 2016, 11:05 am

    What an awful entry! The MIL sounds like she wasn’t always the most pleasant and was quite quirky – what with re-gifting the gift boxes and her awkward homemade presents, but she did prepare a gift for the OP, was generous with her son and grandchildren and always prepared a nice brunch and welcomed them into her home! She also threw OP and her husband a wedding reception – which is another thoughtful and loving thing to do. What was she supposed to give for the holidays – diamond-encrusted salad forks? A handbag that costs as much as a mortgage? It is possible that she was after all, a kind and generous soul who practically and pragmatically saved her money to then pass on a sizable inheritance to her son’s family, which is a lot more thoughtful and kind than buying overpriced doo-dads. OP sounds spoiled, entitled and callous in this post and comes across as quite petty, as in, “ding dong, the old bag is dead”! Perhaps, this time of year is a good time to reflect on your late mother-in-law’s generosity, OP, and to be thankful that she had left money to your family, so that you can always have a nice holiday.

    • Annon December 20, 2016, 2:37 pm

      I didn’t like the way the OP ended the story either – but come on……really, you think the MIL sounded nice and that she was quirky and the fact she prepared a gift was enough?? The gifts she was given were not even an afterthought – they were a ” I feel like I MUST get something for her, so let me give something that I don’t use, or would look awful on her just because.” That isn’t exactly “preparing a gift.” That is just downright rude. Don’t give anything at all if you can’t be something nice or from the heart.
      To throw a reception was nice, yes, but she seemed to do it for her own benefit, not for that of new DIL – evidenced by saying “I will always love Sally (first wife)”. I’m surprised that the entry didn’t include that Sally was invited to said reception.
      This woman sounds mean spirited and the OP did the right thing in being pleasant and not making waves for the husband, or children. But to be so blatantly disrespected by MIL is just outright rude on MIL’s part.
      Should the OP have ended the story differently, yeah, I think we can all agree on that, but you shouldn’t go so far to say the MIL sounded quirky and but pleasant at times. I mean, come on! OP doesn’t sound spoiled, but sounds like she definitely put up with a lot from MIL for her husband and children’s sake – and like someone said – Karma came around! Now with the inheritance, she can enjoy a nice Christmas every year!

      • Michelle December 20, 2016, 3:13 pm

        Well, said, Annon. I totally agree with you.

      • DGS December 20, 2016, 3:56 pm

        I respectfully disagree. While I do not think highly of the MIL’s gift-giving, I would encourage the OP to focus on the fact that her MIL treated her husband and children with kindness and generosity and ultimately, left them all quite a bequest, which was also very generous. She was no saint, but to paint her as a horrid MIL is excessive when OP is the one acting petty. Also, where was OP’s husband? Did he not notice the discrepancy? Why not stand up to his mother and tell her that it was not OK to re-gift thoughtless gifts? I’d be more concerned with the husband tacitly putting up with discrepant treatment over the years.

      • Lomita Momcat December 21, 2016, 7:22 pm

        I agree with a lot of what you said, but one point I want to make:

        OP loves her husband. Well, his mom, her MIL, had a very large part in making her son into the man OP chose to love. Maybe in a negative sense, that her son chose not to be like his mom, maybe in a more positive sense; but you can’t get around it: MIL helped make OP’s husband the man OP loves.

  • Lemon Zinger December 20, 2016, 11:12 am

    While your MIL sounds awful, the ending of this story was disappointing. Why did you feel the need to mention it, and in such a crass way?

  • Dee December 20, 2016, 11:14 am

    I’m not getting why MIL was so terrible. Maybe she didn’t like OP and made it clear, but OP hasn’t showed that in any other way than in the one reference at the party. And it’s actually okay to mention first wives at parties where the second wife is, if it’s done tastefully. MIL regarded Sally as her daughter for 7+ years (and may never have stopped) so it’s possible she was simply saying that OP wasn’t replacing Sally in her heart, just adding to it. Or maybe she said it cruelly. But that example is really the only one that OP gives us as proof of her bad MIL.

    The money the son received in his cards may have been meant for the couple. It’s old-fashioned but some people still do it that way. Or maybe it was meant maliciously. But, really, this MIL doesn’t sound all that bad. And that last sentence doesn’t make the OP sound good, either.

    • LadyV December 20, 2016, 3:41 pm

      Mentioning the first wife at a party the second wife is attending might be marginally acceptable. Saying “I’ll always love first wife” at a party which is essentially a WEDDING RECEPTION for son and new wife is beyond the pale.

    • Kate December 20, 2016, 6:40 pm

      The OP was given really old sweaters the MIL wanted to get rid of every year for Christmas, while the Son and Grandchildren were given nice presents by the MIL.

      • Dee December 20, 2016, 9:06 pm

        If someone I don’t know well and am not close to gives me a used gift as an insult why would I care? It’s not like I’ve got any attachment or expectations of that person. And if the same person told me they will always love the woman who came before me then again, why would I care? It’s as if OP expected/hoped to be close to her MIL, to have her MIL love her. That doesn’t make sense. We are not obligated to love and care for the spouses of our friends and loved ones. We are only required to be polite. And if the biggest beef OP has are the gifts and one hurtful comment then she is quite spoiled in her expectations and will be equally disappointed in the future when her kids marry someone who treats OP only with polite indifference.

    • rindlrad December 20, 2016, 7:26 pm


      How exactly does a new MIL mention how much she loves her son’s ex wife to a new bride at a party celebrating the new couple’s wedding “tastefully”? I can’t see how it would be anything other than completely inappropriate and hurtful to the new member of the family.

      • Semperviren December 21, 2016, 10:30 am

        Exactly. That remark set the tone for the rest of the relationship.

    • Ergala December 20, 2016, 7:30 pm

      I am currently in the middle of a divorce that is going to be drawn out due to my soon to be ex husband. If my mother said to my boyfriend whom I love dearly that she would always love my ex (after 12 years of marriage AND 2 children) I would be incredibly angry on behalf of my boyfriend. It is fine to think that to yourself, something else entirely to vocalize it, especially to the new love. I know if my boyfriend’s mother told me she would always love his ex girlfriend with whom he shares a child (thankfully that is absolutely NOT the case) my insecurities would peak and I would be wondering if there was something I was not fully aware of. It is just not okay to say it!

      • Just4Kicks December 23, 2016, 3:39 am

        My late MIL came into the ladies room at my wedding reception to blow her nose because she was crying.
        Another guest said “Oh, how sweet….you must be so happy!!!”
        MIL spat out “HAPPY?!? You think these are HAPPY TEARS?!? My son has just RUINED his life….He could’ve done SO MUCH better!!!”
        What she didn’t know was that MY mom was in one of the stalls and overheard the whole thing.
        My mom said she has never in her life wanted to “deck” someone so badly.

  • Donna December 20, 2016, 11:24 am

    From your story, I take it that you’re feeling grateful that although your MIL made her dislike of you perfectly clear, she’s died and left her son a bunch of money. I would keep in mind while I’m smugly spending it on many Merry Christmas’s to come, the money was most likely not intended for you. 😉

    • Vrinda December 20, 2016, 4:39 pm

      But the mother-in-law can’t control how her son spends the money or to whom he gives some of it, since it was a gift to him in her will.

  • BillSmugs December 20, 2016, 11:27 am

    The final paragraph made me dislike the author of this more than her MIL.

    • iwadasn December 27, 2016, 6:30 pm

      I agree. Giving used Christmas gifts is much more forgivable than gleefully celebrating someone’s death.

  • NostalgicGal December 20, 2016, 12:13 pm

    I think the issue the OP wanted to point out was that despite her MIL being poorly to her, she persevered for sake of family (her DH and the kids to have a relationship with MIL, their grandmother) and in the end, karma actually went their way for persevering.

  • Kirsten December 20, 2016, 12:20 pm

    I don’t like this story. Yeah, the mother in law sounds unpleasant, but gloating because she died is mean.

  • stacey December 20, 2016, 12:21 pm

    Sorry… “shocking” and “unkindness”….

  • Cat December 20, 2016, 12:36 pm

    I have always been fascinated by the folks who give you gifts that say, “I don’t like you very much but, well, here’s a gift for you”. Uh, thank you; I think.
    I recall an office Christmas party with a Secret Santa gift exchange in which I received a dirty Strawberry Shortcake mug meant for a young child. I was in my thirties at the time.
    I never knew who gave it to me, but I do think he/she could have washed it after bringing it home from Goodwill.
    Memories can never be replaced. At least MIL left you something-your husband and her money.

  • Vrinda December 20, 2016, 12:50 pm

    I would said thank you for the gift, but done nothing more beyond that. I wouldn’t have worn them even once. You’re not obligated to do so just to be polite. I’ve been given gifts which I was certain were not given in the spirit of kindness and I could tell the first time I saw them. The feeling that someone thinks so little of you that they give you some old and worn item hits you instantly, and it’s hard not to feel angry. They might even know how you will feel and will take satisfaction in seeing you get upset, so wearing that item at all only adds to it.

  • Lisa H. December 20, 2016, 1:03 pm

    I must give a shout out about my MIL; she is an amazing woman. Unfortunately she is in the UK and we are in America, but we always have a wonderful time together and she’s always treated me with nothing but love and respect. And an honorable mention to my first MIL (divorce), who while was quite reserved, was also polite, kind and respectful.

  • JD December 20, 2016, 1:52 pm

    My mother-in-law died of Alzheimer’s when I’d been married to her son only four years. She had him as an “oops” child in her 40’s and she started signs of Alzheimer’s in her late 60’s, so I really didn’t have any kind of relationship with her to speak of. She was a widow, never remarried. What I had to contend with was the oldest of my husband’s siblings, who was 21 years my senior and the self-appointed matriarch. She did and said some very unkind things to me, although to be fair, she could be pleasant to me, too. I realized my husband, who’d never had a chance to have a real sibling relationship with this sister until he was grown, and who’d lost his parents while still so young, needed to have this family relationship, so I dealt with her on my own. I never told him of my problems with her until after she died, and he was shocked. He always assumed we got along well. It was hard sometimes, but I don’t regret the way I handled it; he and she became close and were close until the day she died, and I call that my gift to him. OP was gracious and now gets to enjoy the financial benefits of having stayed polite and not forcing a break in the family– I say, good for her!

    • Michelle December 20, 2016, 3:19 pm

      I agree with this also. Sure, OP could have been just as ugly and unkind as her MIL but she did not and by remaining polite, her husband and children were able to have a decent relationship with MIL. I think we can all agree that some DIL’s would not have been as polite and would have basically forced husband to choose her or his mom or cause drama every single time they family was together.

  • ultrapongo December 20, 2016, 2:36 pm

    What’s the fuss, tell me what’s a’happening?
    MIL was reasonable polite (at least), and OP did’nt behave badly either. I guess MIL just had a slip of her tounge telling OP that she loved Sally.
    OP”s gift to MIL was not (as we say in Swedish) not much to hang in the Christmas tree. But that’s okay concidering the economical situation.
    In my opinion both OP and MIL handled the situation without to many errors. Once upon a time, I read that on the Internet, you should be conservative when you write, and liberal when you read. Applicable also IRL…

    • Kate December 20, 2016, 6:43 pm

      From the sounds of it, MIL didn’t have any financial troubles that would have kept her from giving the OP a nice gift. She could and did certainly afford them for Son and Grandchildren. That is what makes MIL’s behavior so bad, the disparate treatment and awful gifts to DIL (obviously used, worn out sweaters in unflattering colors).

  • Rom December 20, 2016, 2:46 pm

    WTF??? I know I’ve given bad gifts accidentally, and I know I’ve accidentally referred to someone’s significant other by the exes name. But if someone would celebrate my death over those things, that’d be terrible. Which is why I have stipulated that all of my things and money are to be donated to charity should something happen to me (no husband or kids).

    This is a terrible post.

    • Kate December 21, 2016, 6:03 pm

      MIL didn’t give bad gifts accidentally. She gave the same type of bad gift year after year.

    • Miss-E December 21, 2016, 9:44 pm

      I get your point but it doesn’t sound like MIL was accidentally boxing up old clothing items year after year. And she did not accidentally say the ex’s name, she stated (at the OP’s wedding reception) how much she loved the ex. Not a reason to celebrate a death but still obnoxious

  • Semperviren December 20, 2016, 2:58 pm

    Years of low-level passive-aggressive crap like that can really wear you down. By nature, passive aggression is sneakily disguised as niceness, so it’s difficult to confront; and it can be hard to get the people around you to have your back, since they are often blinkered by the favorable treatment THEY are receiving.

    If you politely stuck it out for the sake of your DH and kids, you’ve paid your dues. It is unfortunate that your MIL treated you in such a way that her death is something of a blessing and a relief to you, but that was her choice.

  • pennywit December 20, 2016, 3:16 pm

    Am I the only person who thought this would end with some kind of mean-spirited bequest in the Mom-in-Law’s will?

  • Ashley December 20, 2016, 4:53 pm

    While I agree that the MIL wasn’t very nice for regifting things that were obviously worn, the last paragraph of this story rubbed me the wrong way.

  • Billia December 20, 2016, 5:32 pm

    There is nothing gracious about rejoicing in someone’s death

  • rindlrad December 20, 2016, 7:19 pm

    LW was properly appreciative of the gifts she received – she even wore them. She didn’t put her husband in between his mother and his wife. If the LW says one slightly nasty thing now that MIL has passed, I think it can be overlooked. I suspect it reflects some of the suppressed hurt and frustration LW built up from biting her tongue and forcing a smile while she said those words, “Thank you for the lovely gift,” year after year after year.

  • Annie December 20, 2016, 7:53 pm

    You went out of your way to show you liked her gifts, and she took you at your word. Doesn’t seem so bad.

    And then, she kindly left you all her money. You make it sound like you put one over on her, but you didn’t. She wanted to leave all her money to your family, and she did. Accept it graciously and don’t gloat over a dead woman. There’s nothing to gloat about. You didn’t win, because there was never any competition.

    • Michelle December 21, 2016, 9:19 am

      The LW was gracious in receiving gifts she didn’t really like because it was the polite thing to do. The MIL knew her gifts were crappy but LW rose above it so that her husband and children could have a relationship with MIL.

    • Miss-E December 21, 2016, 9:47 pm

      What are you supposed to do if you get a gift you don’t like?? The answer is nothing. You behave exactly as the OP did because that is the polite thing to do. To tell the MIL that she hates her gifts would be unbelievably rude. The only choice the OP had was to sit there, Christmas after Christmas, take the cast-off sweaters and pretend to like them. Me? I would have said a nice thanks and chucked them but props to the OP for trying hard to get in good with a woman who clearly disliked her.

  • Kay_L December 20, 2016, 9:55 pm

    Geez, someone writes an ending that’s not glurgy and everyone loses their minds!

    She not “rejoicing in the woman’s death.” It’s a contrast. She passively aggressively dissed her DIL the entire time and now that she’s ironically, it’s the DIL that gets to enjoy her money.

    I thought it would be a trick ending story where the MIL would leave her fortune to the ex wife, who she loved.

    • o_gal December 21, 2016, 7:08 am

      Amen! Another person responded about how passive-aggressive-ness just wears away at you over the years, like water against a stone. If all the OP does is privately react to her MIL’s death this way, then it’s not up to us to judge and condemn her for it. She never said that she rejoiced in front of anyone. As far as we know, she didn’t dance on her MIL’s grave, and she may or may not have been wearing panties to the funeral that say “Joy!” all over them. It’s a vent against all the treatment she experienced over the years.

    • NostalgicGal December 21, 2016, 7:08 am

      This. Your last sentence.

    • KarenK December 21, 2016, 1:25 pm

      Put me in this camp.

      • saucygirl December 21, 2016, 3:06 pm

        What is “all the treatment” she received though? The OP gave two examples – a line at a party, and some bad gifts. The OP also said all she gave her MIL each year was a framed pic of her kids and some homemade canned fruit. I know that if I gave that gift to my MIL every single year she would say that I was the one giving horrible gifts that I put no thought or effort into. What if the OPs MIL feels that way too? What if her feelings were hurt every year? The OP may very well be justified in feeling the way she feels, but the examples she selected to give do not show that, especially when all of the OPs feelings seems to revolve around money.

        • Kate December 21, 2016, 6:06 pm

          A “misfire” gift, something you thought someone would like but didn’t quite suit, is completely different than giving someone really old, worn out, sweaters in colors they don’t wear and that don’t flatter them. Sweaters that you used to own, and obviously just threw in a box to gift because you don’t want them anymore, which is what MIL did.

        • Kay_L December 22, 2016, 9:59 am

          Her MIL certainly used money to differentiate her DIL from her son and grandchildren didn’t she? She gives gifts of cash to her “blood relatives” and used clothing to her DIL. if she gave used clothing to her son and grandchildren too then it could be chalked up to eccentric behavior.

          I give my DIL the same or better as I give my son. In doing so, I reinforce that she is now just as related to me as my son is. My son chose to spend his life with her and I honor that bond in every way I can.

    • Goldie December 22, 2016, 11:23 am

      I have the same interpretation. All her life, MIL gave her son and grandchildren cash and gifts, while at the same time giving worn sweaters to her DIL, year after year after year. Of course it was a PA message. I read the ending as that MIL never gave OP as much as couple of dollar bills or any gift that she hadn’t already used herself, ON PRINCIPLE, and now her money is buying OP new nice gifts, and there is nothing MIL can do about it anymore. Yes the ending could have been worded differently. But what is worse, an unfortunate turn of a phrase in an Ehell letter, or the MIL giving OP a Christmas slap in the face in front of OP’s family, every year they celebrated Christmas together?

  • Mags December 20, 2016, 11:27 pm

    So MIL said she loves the ex — whom OP also likes. And MIL gave OP sweaters that OP said were beautiful and then wore more than once in front of MIL. I could see this as being a not very nice MIL, but I can just as easily see this as being a MIL who is trying her best.

    What is the context of saying she loves Sally? Did she take one look at OP, turn up her nose and say, “I will always love Sally — she was the best wife my son ever had.” Or did she look at OP fondly and say, “I will always love Sally, but I’m so glad that Junior found you.”

    When MIL gave the first sweater, maybe she had some legitimate reason why she thought OP would like a “vintage” sweater. Then OP graciously thanked her for it and wore it. So maybe MIL thought this was a hit and made a point of doing it every year since clearly OP appreciates it and wears those sweaters and MIL didn’t know what else to get her.

    Based on this story, I can’t figure out if the MIL was awful or kind but clueless. However, good for OP for treating her MIL respectfully. Virtue is it’s own reward, but the inheritance is nice too.

  • Jelly_Rose December 22, 2016, 3:21 am

    Gift giving can be a strenuous thing, even more towards in laws that don’t like you. When I was married, my spouse and I would scrap together every penny we had to try and afford some gifts we thought my spouse’s parents and sister would like, stuff they had been been saying they wanted or liked and upon getting them were opening scoffed at. My ex-SIL even demanded that we return the gift and get her the ‘correct’ gift… even though we had gotten her what she wanted. Gifts to me (even though I was not expecting anything) would be stuff bought on clearance (still having the clearance stickers on them) or obvious regifts , still I accepted them with a smile and thanks, refusing to sink to their level.

  • Jolie December 23, 2016, 9:21 am

    Huh. I didn’t read the vitriol that everyone else has into this post.

    Perhaps it was worded poorly, or in a manner that was unclear. But it’s okay to not like someone. I don’t like my father-in-law very much, and really want to spend less and less time with him. He’s racist (I have people of color in my family, and he has said rude things about them) and bigoted and can just be mean. But I care about his well-being for my husband’s sake and I suck it up when dealing with him. You make do, you continue politeness, and then maybe in some way the universe gives some of that back to you as it did here. She’s not dancing on the grave of her MIL, but just because she doesn’t feel sad or devastated that she has to spend Christmas with someone who markedly differentiates her gifts in a way that certainly appears purposeful doesn’t mean she’s rejoicing in the death. Also, mentioning a previous spouse in front of a new spouse is rude. Point blank. Perhaps OP is feeling happy that all those years she was polite and even gracious and now she gets to also enjoy that money because MIL is not in control anymore.