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Christmas Balls

December 26, 2011

Well. Happy Boxing Day! I hope a very lovely Christmas was had by all who enjoy things like Christmas. And that a happy Sunday was enjoyed by all others. Along with anything else that they choose to enjoy. Except weird stuff.

Speaking of weird stuff, do you ever have those holidays when something happens and you just *know* that this will become a holiday story in your family for years to come? One year, my grandma dropped an entire apple pie on the ground.  We employed the “five second rule” and put it all back into the pan. We called it “earthquake apple pie” and we ate it. Needless to say, that is one pie that will never be forgotten.

Another year, a certain child who shall remain nameless (but was actually me) ran out of her room to see if Santa had come. Upon spying the many lovely gifts under the tree and the bulging stockings by the fireplace, said girl bolted back to her bedroom to report to her sisters. Only there was this mirror at the end of the hall… and as she ran past her bedroom (the last along the hall) at full speed her sisters and father wondered where the heck she was going. She was, in fact, going to run full speed into the mirror. To this day (or yesterday, actually) this girl’s younger sister, who was not even BORN yet on that particular Christmas, re-enacts this timeless gaffe. It’s the stuff of legends.

This year, if only for my husband and I, will go down as The Christmas of the Rice Ball Maker.

Every time my mother-in-law comes to visit, she brings with her a random assortment of shit that she can’t use but for some unfathomable reason, seems to think we *can*.  Over the years we’ve gotten a microwave rice maker, and a microwave steamer which she insists on looking for every time she visits and insists that we use even though we really don’t cook with the microwave, like, ever. She’s arrived with entire sets of china and innumerable tea towels. random bits of Japanese “finery” for my feet or outdated shoulder padded “evening wear” for me to wear to work. Now, our house is TINY and will soon be home to four souls with four people’s worth of clutter and crap. We don’t need anyone else’s castoffs. As it is, we make near weekly trips to the goodwill to drop things off.

It all began, this year, when I noticed a small piece of plastic with two triangular shaped cups. I asked Masa what it was, fearing his response. He told me it was a rice ball maker. His mother had brought it, naturally. But – get this – she’d told him that she would never use it because she *knew* how to make rice balls already (right? how hard can it be?!) so she brought it to us. because we make rice balls ALL THE TIME. or not.  Anyway so I asked what we were going to do with it and he answered we’d keep it for four more days and throw it away. Fine.

So fast forward to yesterday and I’m in the kitchen getting ready to start on Christmas dinner and there’s just crap everywhere. Our house is small and we MUST throw things away. but my mother-in-law is of the “fold up your plastic produce bags and stash them under something else in the kitchen” school of ridiculocity. At one point whilst alone in the kitchen, I snapped. I uttered profanity that I’ll spare you of now, and threw away all the stupid wrappers and bags and other crap she’d put under various things in my kitchen.


My eyes rested on those little triangular cups sitting atop our microwave. Cluttering my life and my kitchen. And you know what I did? I threw those little fuckers away. Done.

It’s petty, I know, but I felt better. I went about my business.


“Masa! Where is the rice ball maker?!?”

whaaaaa?!?! no. she can’t be looking for that damn thing.  I stay silent. I mind my own. I’m sort of annoyed with both of them right now so this isn’t hard.

Masa says it was on the microwave. They start talking about me as if I’m not in the next room completely in ear shot – does Jennifer know where it is? – I don’t know, ask her. – Ok I’ll go ask her. WTF?  So she comes in and deigns to ask me herself.

I lie.

I’m not proud. I know I’m a terrible daughter-in-law… but what am I supposed to do? So I tell her I saw them on the microwave (without mentioning that this sighting was *right* before I threw them in the trash.)

She carried on looking for them for a few minutes and then, lo and behold, where should the turn up? In the trash. Whodathunkit? I braced myself for Masa to come find me to fess up, but he didn’t. He was annoyed with me too at this point so maybe he just didn’t want to talk to me. I don’t know. All I know is that I felt like a little kid. I don’t think I’ve fibbed to a parent since I was 10. And that never ended well.

Well Christmas tensions mounted in the next 20 minutes or so and my hormones were on overdrive and we’d gotten precious little sleep the night before due to Gus and a stuffy nose… so not long after – for largely unrelated reasons – I found myself sobbing into my pillow with Masa trying his best to comfort me.  I was blubbering something about missing my family on Chri-Chri-Chrissssstmaaaaassss, when the guilt got the better of me.

And? And? And? … I stammered.

Yes? Masa patiently replied.

I threw that fucking rice baller in the trash! (fresh sobs ensued.)

To my astonishment he wasn’t angry that I’d done it or that I’d lied to his mom. He simply said, “that’s ok. she fished it out and used it anyway.”

gotta love in-laws! or something.

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