A few weeks after NMIL's non-visit for the holidays, EFIL and L put in their obligatory Christmas visit with us. They ensured that they would only be able to stay for an hour, just long enough for us to open our presents, because they decided to come in the middle of a blizzard. DH told his EF he would rather reschedule the visit because he didn't feel comfortable asking them to travel in such bad weather. EF said, "No, it's fine." DH told him he wanted them to come a different day so that they wouldn't have to rush the visit. EF said, "No, it's fine."
But that was precisely it, Dear Reader, the fact that they were coming during a major blizzard was not fine. DH was not happy with it. He wanted his father to visit long enough to take off his shoes and hang up his coat. He wanted his father to want to see the babies and spend some quality time with us. He wanted his father to be safe and stay home, so that he wasn't risking his life to come and give us presents. His father didn't care about all that, he didn't care about DH's feelings. EFIL just wanted to get the visit over with. He made that clear, in his apparent unspoken rush.
So EFIL and L drove down to our house, a forty-five minute drive, in a wicked blizzard, so that they could stay for an hour and lavish us with hundreds of dollars worth of gifts. But you see, their act of gift-giving was not the same as NMIL's. Or, rather, NMIL's lack-there-of. EFIL and L give gifts simply out of obligation. I once saw their extravagant gift-giving as a means of generosity. Now, I see it as a way to shut people up. "See?" They say. "Look how much we care about you! This is six hundred dollars worth of caring!" That was all they could offer us.
Well. Six hundred dollars and a couple of underhanded comments.
You know what would have been a really great gift? A really thoughtful and meaningful one? A gift that surpassed all the others? A copy of the video they had taken at our wedding. I have a feeling we will never get that though, because we aren't worth their time.
L asked if she could look through the wedding photo album I had finally put together. "Sure," I said. I was just the tiniest bit excited that she actually expressed an interest in it. I thought that meant something.
We flipped through it. Quickly, as they were on a severe time budget.
The only thing L said? "Oh. There aren't any pictures of NMIL in here."
Well, that was annoying and intrusive. "Sure there is," I said. "There's one. Right here." And I flipped back through the pages and pointed to it. I didn't defend our right to have pictures of whomever we wanted (or didn't want) in our wedding album to L because it would have been useless - there is only one picture of NMIL in the wedding album because pictures tell a story and she wasn't part of ours. Neither DH nor I really want to recall her presence at our wedding. And, even if we had wanted to, there weren't many photos of her anyway. I had asked our photographer to focus mainly on DH and I, rather than guests. She obliged. She only took photos of guests who were in the picture with us. NMIL hadn't been in any photos with us because she hadn't actually been "present" that day. And how's this for Karma: The photographer took photos of me dancing with my father. She took photos of DH dancing with various members of my family. But when NMIL asked DH to dance, the photographer's camera overheated and she didn't get ANY of the two of them dancing.
When L finished overtly pointing out what terrible children she thinks DH and I are, we went back to the living room where DH and EFIL were talking. L wanted to take some pictures of EFIL holding the babies. She did. Then she took some of DH, EFIL, and the babies. She did not ask me to get in the picture. I don't know that excluding me was intentional on her part, but I do believe the purpose behind taking pictures in the first place was an obligatory one. I believe she only wanted a photo of EFIL and "his grandchildren" so that she could post them on her refrigerator at home as proof that they interact with us.
The snowflakes had barely evaporated from their hair before they took off. They had fulfilled their "obligation" to us.