My relationship with my in-laws has changed dramatically over the last couple of years. In fact, I feel like I can finally say I even have a relationship with them. For that, I am very grateful. It is a great blessing to feel like we have a mutual love and understanding for each other.
Except for in one area.
They don't quite know, what NOT to do:
Giving me access to wrapped up presents and expecting me to wait.
Each time my in-laws leave on an LDS mission (they are on their third!), they make sure each family has a big bag full of birthday presents for the next year.
Let me tell you about the previous missions-worth-of-presents.
The first mission, we actually got Christmas presents too. And I opened them all up the first night. I liked the porcelain statue of The First Vision so much, I promptly put it in a prominent place on the family room shelf. There was a slight problem, and though I can't remember all the details too well, I think my sister-in-law blew my secret. Oh well. I took the gentle chiding.
Then there was their next mission. The bag of presents for the kids was put up on a shelf in the closet (well, except for mine. It was opened that night.) One boring summer day, I was cleaning out my closet and I really needed the room on the shelf....
I called all the kids in, gave them each a present, told them who they were from and what they were for, exhanged a quick pretend happy birthday greeting with each of them, and then they kept themselves occupied with some new toys while I kept working on my closet cleaning.
There was a slight problem. My usual attempts to make sure my children give appropriate thank-yous was not really possible. By the time my children's real birthdays rolled around, the presents were somewhat forgotten and the thank-yous were much less sincere and real, if they were even remembered to be given...
And then there was my last birthday. Though my in-laws weren't on a mission, they were going to be out of town the week around my birthday, and so they gave Mike their gift to me a week or so early. Mike put it in the trunk of his car to keep it safely hidden until my birthday.
When I opened the trunk to load in some groceries.... a gift bag jumped out amongst the hard hat and dirty work boots in there... and well yes. I helped myself much earlier than October 22nd.
And so now my in-laws are on their third mission. A couple of nights before they left, they loaded the plastic present filled container into the car. I think my mother-in-law even told me not to peek. I think I changed the subject or something.
Well, I'm going to go off on a tangent for just a minute, but I'll be back.
So, for months now, I have wanted a new toiletry bag. The plastic red plaid one I've had since 1993 is in need of replacement. (Which incidentally I remember once opening to take a peek a few days before Christmas...) But, every time I look at one I like in the store, I think that I really don't need to spend the money on a new one. You know, the whole 'Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without' thing. And I put it back on the store shelf, and move on to more necessary items like toilet paper and deodorant.
Ok, I'm back.
Late January, the morning after we said our goodbyes to my in-laws for their third mission, I said goodbye to my school aged kids, and then turned and looked at the plastic container sitting on the kitchen table. My plan was to take it upstairs to my closet. And I did.
But before setting it up onto the empty spot on the high shelf, I took out the present that said, 'Tiffany'. And without a second thought, I opened it up.
And standing alone in my bedroom, I started laughing out loud.
My birthday present was a new toiletry bag.
I like(d) it.
And then, I realized, just like all the prematurely opened presents before, my curiosity has caused a slight problem. You see my next trip coming up is to Washington DC. And I really want to be able to use my new toiletry bag for it. Except, we're going to be staying in a fairly small Washington DC apartment.... visiting my in-laws!
And technically, the toiletry bag I'd love to be able to use next month, I shouldn't really know about until October 22nd.
Should I use the bag in April and
a. hope my mother-in-law doesn't notice
b. knowing my mother-in-law occasionally reads my blog, graciously say THANK YOU now. (After all, I'm sure I'll forget in seven months time.)
Perhaps knowing that I love the gift will give my mother-in-law so much satisfaction, that she'll forgive my over-eager curiosity.
Thanks for the (early) birthday present Laurie!
See you in April (with my cute new toiletry bag).