Home stories 5 Hours To Go: The In-Laws Cross The Atlantic

5 Hours To Go: The In-Laws Cross The Atlantic

written by M.E. Evans December 16, 2014

The next three weeks should be hell super fun. I’ve cleaned for a total of 12 hours in the past few days. I’ve washed every, single thing in the house. We dusted the baseboards, cleaned the fridge and freezer, the oven, and wrapped presents. You see, the Obamas  my in-laws are joining us in the US to spend Christmas with my parents.

My husband has been singing his usual Christmas song while I organize things. His version is terrifying because he only knows one line, “You better watch out,” which he warns over, and over again, threateningly. In his version, Santa is not only watching for naughty behavior, but is also a serial killer, ready for bloodshed.

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Maybe I can just hide in my hair.


At least it makes me giggle. Laughing breaks up the stress. I’m trying to focus on humor with all the cleaning, the planning, the preparing, the impending meltdown.

“What do you mean there’s no bidet!? We need at least a bucket or something!” My mother-in-law tells my husband on the phone last week.

I whispered, “What does she need a bucket for?”

Francesco cupped the phone, “You know, like a bucket to use as a bidet.”

I fluffed Oliver’s newly washed bed, “And how exactly will they lower their 60 year old asses into a small bucket?” I wondered.

We ended up buying the bucket, of course, which is now under my bathroom sink waiting. How they’ll use it, I have no idea. Frankly, I don’t want to know. I agree with them, the bidet is awesome but a bucket seems primative. It’s what poor people in those sad commercials-living in a foreign land in cardboard house-use for their weekly wash-up. It’s not really something you’d expect to find in bathroom in Arizona where they’ll be joining us for one week before we head to Utah for another week, then Vegas. They arrive in exactly 5 hours and 30 minutes. They’ve been to Germany but otherwise this is their first real trip outside of Italy. They’re main concern was not the plane exploding over the Atlantic or being eaten by sharks but whether or not we had an adequate butt washer.

They had other, more mild concerns, of course.  My MIL is worried that American lemons are not good enough to make cookies. What kind of food would they eat and who would be preparing it? Legally, how much food could they get away with bringing in their suitcases? What about Prosciutto? When my husband told my mother-in-law that she could not bring half of a pig with her she thought for a minute, “It’s okay, I’ll just tell the security guard that my daughter-in-law is pregnant.” I’m not pregnant and what pregnant woman requires four pounds of dried pork? What would I be birthing that would require that much medicated protein?

Don’t mind this leg. There’s a fetus in need of nourishment, officer.


“They’re going to show up naked,” I warned Francesco. I wouldn’t be surprised if they teetered off the plane with one change of clothes in order to make room for an entire ham, pasta, tomato sauce, lemons, grappa, and random greens my father-in-law harvested from a nearby field. If they were other people and not them it would be pretty cute (for those of you new to the blog, I’m not a monster, we’re dealing with some very special people here). It’s not that I hate them or even dislike them. I somehow even love them (stockholm syndrome). But they are impossibly difficult to deal with. Three weeks, 24 hours per day, with any in-laws is just insane. That amount of time with my in-laws is just asking for someone to self medicate or admit themselves to the loony bin.

In embracing humor we’ve also been making bets about the first round of shit talk they dish out. I voted on things that are typical and a sure win: “You’re hair is ugly, I don’t like your makeup, why do you dress that way, and you should get rid of your dog.” Francesco tried to be more optimistic, voting for: “The house isn’t clean enough, the food is all shit, your coffee is terrible, and why won’t you guys have a baby? Do you not understand how sex works?” Followed by a possible diagram situation or a series of uncomfortable jokes.

I’ll be keeping a roster in my office. Winner gets…something. What should the winner get? A cyanide tablet to escape to freedom.

Five more hours. I should shower. Or sweep. Or just cry into the bidet bucket so they can wash their asses in my tears. Wish me luck!

Please share your in-law horror stories with me. Or your insane holiday stories with me. Let’s all bond over other people’s insanity.

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Yvonne December 16, 2014 at 4:17 pm

I was in just the right mood to thoroughly enjoy your post about the impending doom. In bocca al lupo just doesn’t seem strong enough.

I keep getting flashes of Italian bums lowered into that bucket.

Buon natale!

Kristen December 16, 2014 at 4:24 pm

In bocca al lupo!!! I’ve had la suocera living with us for 5 years. There is no evil thought I have not entertained. This week they changed the packaging on her medication and when the pharmacist explained, she didn’t accept the explanation. Maybe if she stops taking the “suspicious” pills it will shorten my sentence!

AK December 16, 2014 at 5:05 pm

Ay carumba lady. Good luck.

My MIL stayed with us for a horrific 3 days. Among other things, she “found” a marker that was under our bed and she swept my baseboards with the tiny broom that you use to sweep your fireplace (covering my kitchen floor in ashes along the way). Fun times all around.

unwillingexpat December 17, 2014 at 2:05 am

I am feeling exicited/terrified for you. What can I say? Invest in a pair of earplugs and a mouth guard when you grind your teeth or need to bite your tongue. Remember it’s only a visit. Sending all possible positive karma, you’ll need it 😉

Katie December 17, 2014 at 3:33 am

My father-in-law still talks about the American ‘piatto unico,’ from a trip to California several years ago. It was so traumatic for him. I can’t wait to hear how it goes! Good luck!

T. December 17, 2014 at 6:08 am

Good luck! 😛

Jackie December 17, 2014 at 6:43 am

Love your posts….I couldn’t stop laughing thinking about the 60 year-olds trying to get up after sitting on the bucket; I’m 50 and sure as hell wouldn’t want to try ( although I will say that after travelling to Italy twice, a bidet for my bathroom is on my bucket list). I’ve been married for 20 years and admit that the best thing my hubby and I did was move from RI to NH – only 3 hours away, but so worth it. Good luck…keep the wine at arm’s length. And thanks again for your interesting and humorous posts.

Wynne December 17, 2014 at 10:11 am

I can’t wait to hear the outcome of this insanely L-O-N-G visit!

FlorenGina December 17, 2014 at 11:49 am

You are a braver woman than I. I would put the butt bucket over my head. Happy that you and your hubby can unite in making fun of the whole affair. Stay that way!!! I laughed and felt for you all at once with this post! Merry Christmas to you!

BerLinda December 17, 2014 at 1:05 pm

Bah haha! Guess they’ve arrived by now! Can’t wait to hear the updates on this one – hold off on the cyanide until you’ve written at least a couple of posts! 🙂

Oriana December 17, 2014 at 3:51 pm

Haha, awesome blog! Made me laugh so much, as well as your in-law Twitter updates! Buona fortuna 😉

tstaffaroni December 17, 2014 at 8:07 pm

Your posts never fail to me make laugh out loud. I do feel your pain, not about in-laws though…about my own wonderful parents. Arizona huh? If in Phoenix and things get bad you should let me know, I will buy you and your hubby a drink or 3!

lafemmet December 18, 2014 at 2:13 pm

I think I have been outed by someone in town. I have told a few people it is convenient that I can pretend not to understand my MIL sometimes… But now, every time I really don’t understand and I say so, “ne rezumem”, She replies, Sto ne rezumem. Why don’t you understand? I have stopped answering the phone now. I just can’t be bothered to try.

dakinidancing December 18, 2014 at 2:38 pm

Misty! I love your blog! I have never read anything that has reminded me so much of myself …. thank you for being you … e buon natale e baci a te xxx

Brianna December 18, 2014 at 11:28 pm

Wow! It’s stories like this that make me wish they had Ativan in aerosol form. Good luck and keep the wine handy.

Crazy Christmas story – my father, who is Italian, but raised in the US, got, shall we say, displeased with the Christmas tree and its inevitable lopsidedness. Well, let’s just say Christmas tree + chain saw use in the house = loads of fun! (The saw dust in the house added a nice touch of Christmas spirit.)

On a side note, my Italian family members visited me and my father in San Francisco a few years ago and they were absolutely fascinated by the clothes dryer!

Buon natale e tanti auguri per un felice anno nuovo!

Day 2: When Good Intentions Fail Miserably | Living In Italy.Moving To Italy. Loving In Italy. Laughing In Italy. December 21, 2014 at 12:42 pm

[…] If you haven’t had a chance to catch up you can see the two previous blog posts here: 5 Hours To Go I’ll Be Sainted, […]

Liz December 21, 2014 at 1:32 pm

Great post. This mentality is exactly why I decided against a move to Italy. Fortunately, your in-laws generation – (antiquated, rigid mentality), are dying out (the Romans would turn in their graves if they could see italy today). I hope the younger generation have evolved, otherwise there’s little hope for the country! I can put up with a lot of these mind-sets (I was born in Portugal but grew up in the UK), but when it comes to mistreating animals – forget it. Still, it’s a Catholic country, they don’t like animals, nature, and they believe women are all succubi just waiting for a chance to corrupt men.

sassiitalytours December 21, 2014 at 7:02 pm

Sorry to say as far as in-laws go I’ve fared pretty well and have nothing so humorous to report. I don’t think you can top the concept of showering so infrequently that you feel compelled to wash your hindquarters in a bucket anyway.

Tuzio July 2, 2015 at 5:44 pm

Pure excellence. Good luck with those two, they sound just like my parents.

whit September 18, 2016 at 7:24 pm

I feel your pain…but girl, it could be worse…muuuch worse. My (ex) Scottish in laws came for five weeks. My mother in law went nuts ,screaming the “c” word at me at the top of her lungs because she decided to sunbath in her bra and panties IN MY FRONT YARD…IN NOVEMBER, and locked herself out of the house while I was gone. All they wanted to do was party non stop like a bunch of foreign college freshmen. I was soo exhausted that I drugged my ex husband by slipping a zanax into his scotch so he’d pass out at the house and the in laws wouldn’t be able to drag us out for another night of drunken debauchery….

M.E. Evans September 18, 2016 at 8:49 pm

Holy. Shit. Wooooowwww


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