I wanted to figure out who my mother-in-law really was, so I bought her two Christmas presents to reveal her true nature — one was personal and sentimental, the other was lavish.
I tested my mother-in-law for Christmas, and the encounter left me both amused and slightly bewildered.
Our story is a love story, mixed race edition. I am Sue, a Black woman, and my husband, Richard, is a white man I met at work. It was one of those meet-cute-love-at-first-sight moments. And, to make it even sweeter, we married secretly because we wanted our wedding to be intimate, where it was just the two of us.
But this is where it gets interesting.
Like most love stories, Richard and I are from different worlds — his family is wealthy and influential, whereas I grew up on the other end of the spectrum. Naturally, this meant that I have lived through my fair share of prejudice and being pushed around for it. Thankfully, now, I am well into my career and earning goof money.
Due to our intimate wedding ceremony, I did not get to meet my mother-in-law, Diane, but Richard had always told me stories about her. But still, judging from my own past, I wanted to make my own opinion of the woman who raised my husband — therefore, I devised a little test.
I had to face the anticipation of only meeting her, as Richard’s father had died before we even met.
The test I wanted to play on Diane involved me buying her two gifts for Christmas. The first was an incredibly sentimental gift — a hand-painted stone with a picture of her cat, and the second was an expensive, luxurious Gucci handbag.
The initial plan was to give her the stone first, gauge her reaction to something intimate, thoughtful, and beautiful, and then hit her with the big reveal of something grander.
So, we went over to her home on Christmas Eve, and while we sat around drinking eggnog, I gave her the first present. She took the beautifully packaged stone and unwrapped it with confusion etched across her face. She muttered a “Thank you,” and promptly stowed the stone back into its box.
I cautiously asked her if she liked it, mentioning that her beloved pet was painted onto the stone. To which she replied, “It’s fine, but it doesn’t quite suit my house, Sue. Maybe you should take it back. If I’m being honest, it does look a bit cheap for my taste.”
At that, I glanced at Richard over my cup of eggnog, smirking because he was in on the test.
Now, what about sweet Diane’s gift to me? A $20 movie theatre gift card. I burst out laughing when I unwrapped the card from the flimsy tissue paper. At least Richard looked ashamed by it all.
For a moment, I sat there, lost in the Christmas tree’s lights, thinking that perhaps I should keep the Gucci handbag for myself. But when the Christmas spirit overtook me, I realized that irrespective of her ungratefulness, Diane was my mother-in-law now.
So, my hands found their way to the gift bag I had hidden under the couch. I pulled it out, thinking that this was the redeeming moment — Diane would see that we cared about her, even if she wasn’t the type for sentimental gifts.
When she opened the gift bag, her eyes lit up when they landed on the signature Gucci symbol. But then, she inspected every single inch of it.
She’s trying to see if it’s a fake handbag, a voice rang loud in my head, almost making me want to chuckle.
But then, she turned to Richard, who was perched on the arm of the couch I was sitting on and smiled.
“You shouldn’t have let her buy me such an expensive bag. And probably with your money, too.”
Richard’s eyes found mine, and he widened them. I knew he couldn’t believe his mother’s behavior, especially because I had already placed a bet with him — telling him that this was how she would react. He looked at the Christmas tree for a moment too long.
“Mom,” he told her firmly. “Sue bought it with her own money. She earns more than me. I think it’s time you start respecting my wife.”
The truth was that Richard and I earn almost the same amount, but while he wanted her to respect me and apologize to me, I realized that I had been right all along. Despite hoping that Diane would be better than the usual fussy mother-in-law, she ended up being exactly who I thought she would be.
Richard made it known that she had to change her ways. But it was too late. Now, she has to think about me every time she uses her new Gucci handbag. I just wonder where the stone with Mittens’ face ended up.