Janisse loves birthdays. So, when her husband’s birthday comes around, she wants to have a fancy dinner at home to celebrate him, surrounded by their family and friends. But things quickly turn sour when her mother-in-law shows up and takes control.
Birthdays have always been important to me. When I got married, celebrating my husband Carl’s birthday became something I also looked forward to. So, for Carl’s birthday this year, I wanted to do something with all our family and friends at home. I just wanted to do a fancy dinner and celebrate him.
But Carl’s mother, Sally, had a different agenda for the evening.
My mother-in-law came over the day before because she wanted to help me do all the cooking. I didn’t mind because Carl’s family had always been good to me, and I got along well with them.
Or at least, I thought so.
Anyway, Sally and I were cooking up a storm on the day. Then, later in the afternoon, she started digging around the fridge and sighed every few minutes. Naturally, I asked her what was wrong.
“I can’t find any ingredients for the cookies I wanted to make. I told you that I would make the cookies I’ve made every year for Carl,” Sally said.
“We have so many desserts and the cake as well. So, I think it’s okay. We can do it another day for him,” I told her.
“Janisse,” Sally sighed. “It’s really important to me, okay? It’s a tradition I started when Carl was only three years old. Can you go out and get the ingredients?”
Look, usually, I would have said no. Because there was still so much to do — I needed to finish the table settings, shower, and get ready. But I figured that it was really important to her, and to be fair, the grocery store wasn’t far away.
“Okay, I’ll run out and grab everything,” I said.
So, I get to the grocery store and run around throwing things into the cart because I want to be home for Sally to bake it on time and get everything else sorted. I drive home feeling like a superhero, thinking I was a part of this birthday tradition.
That high didn’t last very long.
The moment I opened the car door, Carl burst out of the house like I’d committed a crime and he wanted to catch me in the act. He starts shouting at me, accusations flying all over our yard. He accuses me of betraying his mom and ruining his birthday bash because I left his mom alone to do everything.
I go into the house and unpack all the groceries. Sally is nowhere to be found. I continue setting the table and clearing up the kitchen when the guests arrive.
I knew I looked like a mess, so I ran to my bedroom to shower and change. I stood in the shower, and felt like I had gotten hit by a wrecking ball of confusion. I had so many questions.
What did I do? Why was I getting blamed for something that felt like a soap opera plot? And what on earth did I miss while I was at the store?
After changing quickly, I went back to our patio to greet the guests and re-heat the food. Carl avoided me for most of the evening and only shot dirty looks my way. Sally ignored my existence entirely.
Turns out that Mrs. Sally Hudson had a whole master plan. She sent me out for groceries just to start some drama. There was no tradition. She just wanted the guests to show up and for her to be the host —The one who saved the day because her daughter-in-law was out shopping instead of caring about her husband’s birthday.
Even when it came to the birthday cake, my mother-in-law brought it out, singing to Carl.
After the guests had left and Sally went to bed, I tried to explain everything to Carl, but he didn’t want to listen. He refused to believe that his mother would have done something like that. And he thought that I was stupid to believe the ‘cookie tradition.’
But then, the next day, karma decided to join the party. In her quest to brag about her mastermind plan, Sally accidentally sent the entire message to Carl.
He entered our bedroom, where I was hiding from them, and held his phone up.
“You were right,” he said quietly.
“About what?” I asked.
Carl handed me the phone, which was all the proof we needed.
After that, Carl went to the living room to talk to her. Turns out that she didn’t like me because of my views on religion and family, and this whole drama was her way of playing puppet master.
It took a while, but Carl and I eventually forgave her.
“We’re going to Bali to celebrate your birthday next year,” I told him. “No friends, no family, and absolutely no drama!”
I’m still not convinced she likes me or is over everything. But I’ve promised Carl I’ll try my hardest to keep things civil.
And that was Carl’s birthday drama.
What drama has your in-laws given you?