Monday, December 15, 2008

Gifts with Ulterior Motives

When my ILs moved out of their house, Hubbie and I spent months helping them sort through rooms full of things they had collected over the years.

While sorting old paperwork, his mother and I came across engineering plans from his grandfather's company. Handwritten plans that he had drawn himself.

Hubbie's mom chucked them in the trash.

Now, I know that when you go into purge mode, it is easier to get rid of things. It is impossible to keep everything. For me, however, this represented family history. I envision them framed in a study or home office. I took the tube out of the trash and asked to keep them. I don't know that my MIL was all that thrilled, but this was just as much my husband's legacy as hers. I put them to the side and brought them home.

That was nearly eight years ago. These plans have traveled in their original 1954 mailing tube across two continents, three states and three cities. Every time the tube surfaces, a sharp pang of guilt hits me. We've not really had the wall space to show them off, but I hate that I have not accomplished my goal.

Yesterday, I bit the bullet. I went out and bought a frame. I matted it myself. There are still touch-ups that need to be done, but it is framed. I am giving it to Hubbie for Christmas.


I am proud of the results. The mirrored, silver matting compliments the pencil strokes, and it feels nice to have a piece of my husband's family history displayed in our home.

There are enough of these plans for me to give one to each of the children when they get older.

My husband is thrilled. He loves how it looks and can't wait to hang it. I feel quite emotional about it. I got kind of teary-eyed when I flipped the frame over to see the results. Living here in the States, my kids do not have the opportunity to explore their Swedish roots in the way I would like. I want both families represented in our house, and I feel this is a good start.

Countering this, I recognize there is a teeny part of me that wants the approval of his family. I want to send them a picture to show how I am honoring my MIL's family. I want them to be proud. I want them to like it. I want them to acknowledge me. To recognize my efforts.

Past experience has taught me what a futile exercise that would be. That makes me sad. Sad how unresponsive they are. Sad how I never seem to learn my lesson.


Gypsy said...

What a thoughtful gift!

RiverPoet said...

I think that's a wonderful gift. So amazingly thoughtful of you!

It's been my experience that ILs never change. They just get older and meaner. We're spending this holiday season without Paul's mom speaking to us. Her loss.

Peace - D

Anonymous said...

Ah, hon. Dump all that sadness and instead revel in the beauty that your FIL and you created!!

What an amazing legacy for you children. If only we all had your presence of mind. You're amazing!!

A Free Man said...

Very cool. I know what you mean about wanting your kids to have some understanding of their heritage. Zach's got so many heritages - American, Irish, English, Australian - that it's a challenge but I'm going to make sure that he's aware of it all.

Irrational Dad said...

That's awesome. I'd much rather get a thoughtful gift like that than a new pair of socks (you know, a gift that requires no thinking whatsoever). Kudos for the good gift, and shame on you for thinking that it'll make a difference with the ILs.

Not Afraid to Use It said...

@Gypsy: Thanks!

@RiverPoet: Sorry to hear about your MIL. You are right--it is DEF her loss.

@BvB: I think I might have to edit my story because my FIL had nothing to do with this. LOL Where did I go wrong in my post?

@A Free Man: That's the main thing. If you are conscious of what you need to do, then you will be able to expose him to so many wonderful things about all the cultures. He will thank you for it one day.

@Joe: Sadly, Hubbie would be grateful for new socks, too.

As for the "shame on me" part, not yet. Just because I have a slight twinge of sadness that I want my MIL to see and appreciate this does not mean I have any intention of telling her. If Hubbie wants to tell his mom, it is on him. Considering how little interest they show in our personal lives, I highly doubt they will ask him what he got for Xmas.

Patois42 said...

Echoing others: yeah, what a thoughtful gift. A great save for your husband and your children.

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Oh, hon! That looks awesome! And I bet your MIL will be secretly jealous.

This reminds me of a small coffee table my dad made in high school shop class. That ugly, pitiful table sat in our garage and collected dust. After my dad's death, when Mom was purging, she was going to chuck it and I told her no, that I would take it.

So, for four years it sat in my garage until I took it to a furniture re-finisher. And that table? Is spectacular now and my mom? Jealous that she ever gave it away. :)

Anonymous said...

It's sad your in-laws aren't interested in your lives, have they other children in Sweden? I think that is a great present, and picture. Like a family heirloom. Presents with stories are the best presents.

Shelley Jaffe said...

OOps, I read it wrong - I thought that FIL had drafted these himself. I suppose it was the generation before.

My bad. This is what happens when I read too late past my bedtime. No good can come of it.