The In-Laws and the 10-course Dinner – Hilda Wessels

I was 21, and a newlywed. My in-laws were very high standard people who looked down on me and my parents. So I thought, well, I will show them what a good wife their son got him!

For Christmas we invited my parents and his, for a surprise 10-course dinner… We bought extra silverware, plates, and we went to think what to serve. In early November I started with making broth from scrap, to practise, and from there I planned and practised and rehearsed… The day came. My ex invited the guests at the door, like a waiter, with a perfectly crisp white cloth over his arm, we were dressed up as good as we could, he made a Christmas tape with posh music, everything in perfect order.

The dinner started. Everything went tip top. Food was delicious as could be, serving went perfect, the inlaws were distant but friendly. After about 5 courses, all light and smaal portions, my MIL had to go to a certain place. She wore a very pretty black silk dress. When she returned, she had her skirt up in her pantyhose. I saw it, my ex saw it, but we didn’t dare to speak up… Her husband didn’t see it because he was on the opposite side of the table.

After course she complimented me on my cooking. BUT. She said. There is something I would like to say about something else. I said, OK, what is that? She did NOT think my skirt and sweater were appropriate. I wore a black tight skirt, a white ruffled blouse and a bright blue sweater. No. Bright blue was NOT appropriate.

… My ex looked at me. He and I knew, we had seen her dress. In her panties. But he just winked, and I said nothing. only after dinner, when everybody had had their coffee, they left. My parents stayed to help with the dishes.

With their goodbyes, my father in law saw her dress. Up there. He HISSED to her… YOUR SKIRT! She said, well. My dress is appropriate, right? He didn’t say anything else. He helped her, VERY careful, in her (bless that) long coat, and took her out.

I can NOT describe how we laughed. Really. We never invited them again for Christmas. We got a divorce 3 years later. She was happy. Me too…

Christmas can be fraught – Sue Griffiths

I believe that the Christmas feeling is something you create for others. If they then feel like it’s Christmas, you do too. Its’s catching. I don’t think everyone understands this though, at least possibly not in my family. Here’s just a few little memories

I’m at my parents in the kitchen preparing seafood I have done the oysters in the shell in half dozens using four different recipes, some cooked, some not. (Go me). My husband picks up the prepared plates of the raw ones to take into the dining room. Five seconds later he walks back in, still with oysters. My niece, who is vegetarian has freaked out at the sight.

Same Christmas, still cooking. My youngest daughter comes into the kitchen, steaming with rage and disappointment. Her aunt and grandmother had ridiculed her presents to them. Now, we had had a lot of fun making tie dyed socks and perhaps they hadn’t received the finest examples of the dyer’s art, but still, a little appreciation was all that was required.

Another Christmas … I’d had the kitchen renovated and replaced. This went smoothly, albeit later than expected because the kitchen man’s wife had had a premmie baby. (I know, life gets complicated, I’d said “don’t worry, just do it when you can”) . So a few days before Christmas the new kitchen was installed. Now I hadn’t bought a new fridge and my daughter decided the old one needed a new look, so she decided to paint it. (Yep, that’s right. Why not?). So, Christmas day dawned. The fridge is still outside the house on the verandah, connected to the power, and fully functional, being painted. Do you know how many times you go to the fridge when cooking? I trekked out the verandah every single time.

A few Christmasses earlier I’d had all my family coming for Christmas. This was quite a big event as everyone had to fly to Australia (parents, brother’s family, eldest sister’s family and my younger sister). You kind of want to look the best you can.The fridge was packed with food. My husband had eskies filled with ice for the drinks. All was in order. My sister arrived from London, her first time in Australia. We had a massive thunderstorm that night, which is fine. Then came Christmas Eve. An even bigger storm. The power went out again. This means we lose water as well because we are on tank water. Instant scramble for candles. My husband very quickly turfs the drinks from the esky and replaces them with the seafood from the fridge. Buckets of water are filled from the tanks and left by the toilet to be used to flush.  We sit in the dark, lit up by flashes of lightning, watching the gutters overflow, waiting for the storm to pass and the power to be restored. Somehow, I didn’t feel my best foot forward look was going to plan.