Maggots. The gift that keeps on giving. From my mother-in-law.


My mother-in-law may not have realised it when she gave me maggots for Christmas, but they were just what I needed most in my life.

Maggots. Lots of them. All dead.

Just before I opened her present, she did warn me that it was ‘a bit odd’.

I had been expecting a bottle of wine.

This is my blog and so it’s my side of the story but I think if she could speak for herself, she might say, along with all of my in-laws, that I am a difficult person to buy for.

Maybe it’s true although I do try to be helpful about this. I drop hints. Like, how much I love books and CDs. Like how much I’d value a donation to charity in my name.

If I’m honest I’d do anything to avoid that toe-curling moment when I open a present that I truly don’t like and then feel incredibly self-conscious as I try to act as if I do.

It’s just like when someone tells you to act normal, and you can’t remember what your normal is.

Do I smile when I like things? Or do I jump up and down saying ‘oh boy, oh boy’? Or is it something else completely that I can’t at that moment remember? I know that when I’m in that situation I can’t even think straight enough to resolve to take notes next time I get something I like.

And, okay, I admit it, there have been times, bad times, when I’ve wanted people to know that I don’t like their presents. Or them. Which is mean and not the spirit of Christmas as well as a shockingly poor example to my children. Bad, bad, bad.

I mean, it’s the thought that counts, yes? So, when someone who shall be nameless but might have given me maggots this year, gave me anti-wrinkle cream a couple of years ago, the thought was, what? ‘Here’s some stuff for smoothing out your newspapers when the paperboy scrumbles them’? That was probably it, yes?

While this year it was what? ‘Here’s some things you’ll need when you’re older and deader.’

The funny thing is, I didn’t really mind. I thought it was indeed ‘odd’ but not really my problem. I’m being honest about this.

(To be fair, although it’s strictly against my nature, the maggots were intended as bird food, and came with bird feeders, for which my husband had asked his parents.)

And there are good explanations for the wonky gifts. The anti-wrinkle cream was because her wallet was nicked and all she could get was stuff from the chemist.

That makes sense, yes?

The maggots were an accident. She meant to give them to her son, my husband, but they got into the wrong package. The wriggly little dead things. You have to watch them. They get everywhere.

The good news is that my husband and I, after 15 years of wedded bumbling, finally sussed the whole presents-for-each-other thing. I bought him Robert MacFarlane’s The Old Ways which I can’t put down. Meanwhile he got me an impossibly complicated radio which can tune in 14,000 stations and has kept him happily occupied for the last two days.

If you’re wondering what I got for my mother-in-law, the answer is that I left it to my husband. He bought her some gardening tools, decorated with flowers, which she loved.

But back to me, opening my present from her. I  said nice things about the bird-feeders, which were for my husband. Then I got to the maggots.

I said, after a very short pause, ‘Maggots.’

She began to apologise.

‘Don’t be silly,’ I said. ‘These are fantastic. I’ll dine out on them for weeks.’

It was just a few minutes later that I realised I could blog about the unwriggly ones too. Just what I most needed in my life.

 

 

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Posted in Christmas, feedback, irony, life writing, women
21 comments on “Maggots. The gift that keeps on giving. From my mother-in-law.
  1. justinbog says:

    Love your MILaw, her gumption, wise maneuvers during the holidays, the whole maggoty song and dance moments . . . I like mine fried tempura style!

  2. wyrdpooka says:

    First time I met my mother in law, to be. . She was a pathologist. She invited me into her office and had me look through a microscope as she sliced up a woman’s nipple for a cancer biopsy. Subtly, not her thing. .

  3. Pseu says:

    So you opened a bird feeder and maggots… what did your husband get to open, from her?

  4. dumphimlove says:

    I had just finished having a moan about how people seem to buy me gifts which aren’t really my thing. They’re nice but not me and then I read your posting and I smiled. Thank you 🙂

  5. benditty says:

    This is one of the stranger things I’ve read 😉

    • Cathy Dreyer says:

      I wonder which one of us is out there? That’s the thing about the internet, it’s hard to know. But I’m pretty confident that what I’ve described here passes for normal family life in England. I’m impressed by your site, though, so maybe it’s me. I’ll have to think about that. Thank you very much for taking the time to comment. Cathy x

  6. cath says:

    One of my closest friends gave me a British Horticultural Society diary this year. She has seen my garden & knows I don’t ‘go out there’. As she got another friend the same crappy & inappropriate gift, am assuming they were freebies, passed on. I’d begrudge the money I spent on her prezzie, but instead I laugh about it. Honestly #grindsteeth

    • Cathy Dreyer says:

      Presents are so often a disappointment. Struggling to buy people presents reminds me how little I know about their lives and needs. And receiving presents just underlines their lack of knowledge about me and mine. I’m not talking about OH here or the kids, but extended family seems completely unaware of who I am all too often. I do wish we could all just donate something to charity in each others’ names and have a nice meal without the excruciating ceremony of unwrapping each other’s unintimacy Bah. Humbug. Thanks Cath. Sort of good to know I’m not alone. Cathy x

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