Right? I mean, we can all just make small turkey or turkey alternatives in our own homes and not have to deal with extended family members next year.
I’m not doing Thanksgiving anywhere but my own home next year. I have no idea how Christmas is going to work, but I at least know that much.
As you know if you’ve been reading the blog, I largely like my in-laws. There’s the one brother-in-law who is a terrible asshole. He’s mean, he’s whiny, he’s unpleasant, he’s a bad influence on the children. I detest him. But we all try to be nice because 1) he’s a member of the family and 2) he’s in recovery from a long term drug problem and we want him to stay on the wagon.
But, you know, asshole.
Also, my in-laws are not good at planning. They don’t make plans for Thanksgiving until the week of, ever. Christmas is much the same. I’m a planner, from a family of planners, and I find their inability to make plans incredibly frustrating.
So we go into the thing at a disadvantage. I’m still stressed about the baby’s surgery, he’s still teething like crazy and fussy, nothing is getting done and the house is messy and I’m falling behind on my work, which means the money isn’t working, which means Christmas is going to be a problem if I can’t get it together, so I spent Monday and Tuesday home with the kids and being snappy and unpleasant and I hated it and I couldn’t make myself stop.
The plan had been to go up Tuesday night after dinner, giving us access to the zoo that’s near the in-laws house and then have the husband come up Thursday morning, thus eliminating the need for us to find a pet sitter.
But Monday afternoon the in-laws said we could not come up on Tuesday. Because 1) they had been cleaning the house all day and they needed another day to finish and 2) my mother-in-law had her book club meeting until about 8pm on Tuesday.
I said, we won’t be there until at least 8pm, since we want to eat dinner at home first. And let’s be real, they weren’t going to be cleaning after 8pm. And two days is a hell of a long time to clean a house that only 2 adults live in, no pets, nothing at all. I’ve never seen that house not completely clean.
But nope. They did not want us there.
I could have gone up Wednesday morning, but that meant that I’d spend 3 hours in the car with 3 children, including a teething baby, then a zoo, then 30 minutes back to the in-laws house where I’d have 18 hours alone with three children who have been cooped up in a car and had their sleep and eating schedules messed up. It’s a recipe for disaster.
So instead I had to tell the kids we wouldn’t be able to go to the zoo after all.
Then the family started pushing the husband. Can you come up earlier? Can you come up on Wednesday? Can you stay until Friday night?
LIKE YOU CAN TOTALLY GET PEOPLE TO PET SIT TWO DAYS BEFORE A MAJOR HOLIDAY?
We called everyone we could think of and found one friend who was having Thanksgiving at home and were willing to do the pets in the morning, but not the evening.
Which meant we could go up Wednesday night and come back Thursday night, making our lives a little easier and give the family more time with the baby. This is a benefit to the adults and the in-laws, but the older kids are still getting screwed out of the zoo they were supposed to get.
We get up there, fighting through holiday traffic, and the brother in law is waiting for us. He starts in on us. Why weren’t you here earlier? Why can’t you stay through Friday?
The entire thing goes badly. The baby is fussy from teething and won’t even eat his baby food, just formula. He wouldn’t sleep in the playpen, waking up every hour or so. By morning we were all tired and cranky.
Around noon, the brother in law returns. The first thing he says to his mom, “Did you look up how to keep the turkey from getting dry like it was last year?” This is the way he is, in a nutshell.
By the time we’re sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner, he’s pushing us, why can’t you stay till morning? Why can’t you just tell your friends they HAVE to take care of the pets tonight too? Why can’t you just let the pets stay by themselves until tomorrow morning?
We say repeatedly that we’re not going to be assholes to our friends, that the pets can’t spend 24 hours alone, the poor dogs will be beside themselves with their need to go outside. We say, we have to leave no later than 7pm.
At 6:30pm he insists that we play Taboo with him. We say, we have 30 minutes, that’s it. And he said, we’ll just play to 15 points.
At 7:04 I glance at the score sheet and my team has 17 points. He sees me looking and covers the page.
Then he starts ramping up the intensity so his team can win. He starts telling each person on his team how many points they need each round to tie or beat us. Then he decides to start nit-picking my team on clues.
So when my oldest daughter (on his team) does those things the next round, I push back, calling her out for each of the same things he pulled out on me. And he says, you should let her get away with that, she’s your daughter. And I said, she’s old enough to play by the rules. And he said, we’re just trying to have fun here. And I said, I’m not having fun. We should have left 15 minutes ago, when we said we had to leave and when we’d actually won the game. And he said, well I’m sorry that I like to have fun. And I said, you’re the only one having fun! I hate playing games with you! and I tossed the timer onto the table and left the room.
They cleaned up the game, we packed the baby up and got the last few items together and got ready to leave. As we’re about to leave, he storms into the kitchen and starts screaming at me about needing to apologize to him before flouncing into the garage.
We pack the car up and start to get into the car, when he storms out onto the driveway, screaming and cussing, slamming himself into his car, roaring off down the street, screaming and cussing the entire time.
And now we know why his desires are always obeyed, why everyone bends over backwards to make sure he’s happy.