Mother’s Day Gift-Giving Guide: The Mother-in-Law Edition

With Mother’s Day coming, the advertisers seem to think the big problem is coming up with a gift for Mom. Now, you and I inhabit different worlds, of course, but in my world, it’s much more difficult to narrow down the possibilities for my mom than to get ideas. No, to my mind, the challenge that I think more people probably face is what to get their mothers-in-law. As a thoughtful, loving person who has given this matter much thought myself, I thought I should share some of my findings with you, my dear readers.

Thank you, but no.

No Thanks! These are among the first awkward phrases everyone learns to mouth when meeting their future mother-in-law. Would you like some salt-free ham? No, thanks. Would you like to play croquet in 100 degree heat with 90% humidity? No, thanks. Would you like to cat-sit for my 17 cats when I go on vacation to Bermuda for two weeks next month? No, really, but thanks. The mate who learns 99 variants of this phrase within a year will be a truly masterful spouse and son- or daughter-in-law. The nice thing about this game, too, is that the strategy of it is very passive aggressive, which is the cornerstone of any good in-law relationship. This is one of the two games I am giving this year.

Heave Ho!– For those not familiar with this older, more obscure title from the Kosmos two-player series, the premise is that the two players, characters of a Scots nature, play tug of war in an effort to claim a whiskey barrel. The first player to win three whiskey barrels wins the game, and much else, I’d imagine. {Full disclosure: My mother-in-law is a teetotaler now, and at her most lush I think only drank two glasses of wine at a sitting.} Many people have to deal with the dubious joys of mothers-in-law who enjoy a bit of a tipple now and then. This is the perfect game for those people to share with their families on Mother’s Day and all through the year. It can be played straight – drunk neat, as it were, or adapted to be a drinking game, which seems only appropriate.

Zen Garden – If the whiskey fails, you may need to try other ways to find patience in your relationship with your mother-in-law. An hour of deep meditation followed by a rousing game of Zen Garden may be just what you need to soothe frazzled nerves and give you the strength to spend the rest of your holiday visit applying ointment to Mr. Tickles’ fungal infection every evening without complaint. Breathe in the mediciney cat fur, breathe out the… mediciney cat fur, I hope. {What’s funny is, my mother-in-law has dogs, not cats, but, even though one of her dogs is quite obnoxious, I can’t bring myself to trashtalk dogs, even in jest.}

Boggle– I often find I am mind-boggled by people’s behavior, that of my mother-in-law very much included. That’s what brings this less-remembered word game to mind. Sure, we all play Scrabble with our in-laws, but why not Boggle at the things they say? Why not Boggle them a touch in return? If you’re very lucky in the mother-in-law you have, you might be able to try the Klingon Boggle variant (as seen on hit series Big Bang Theory), but if she’s as competitive as mine, better sharpen your bat’leth first!

Battle Line – Unless there’s a joke between you here, this game should only be given to your mother-in-law as a Mother’s Day gift as a last resort. Once you go to this point, Hollywood tells us there is no turning back, and I am inclined to believe them. Battles are best held IN YOUR HEAD. Fight them there, resolve them there, and then talk to your therapist about them if need be. If you want to develop a drinking problem, I say go for it. Though I suppose an interesting alternative would be to just play the game, and get it all out on the table… On Mother’s Day, though, let her win.

Actually, my mother-in-law is allergic to flowers. So she’s just getting games. And some bakery-fresh scones.


About Suzanna

Suzanna's passions are gaming, dogs, and writing. She also loves reading, travel, and cranberry juice. Above all else, she would have it be said that she is compassionate, funny, and too clever by half.
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