Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The W.A.S.P and the Albanians

I don’t have any family in town. Actually, I barely have any family at all. I have a mom, a brother and a tiny smattering of aunts/uncles/cousins who I speak to about twice a year. I’ve tried, a few times, to establish more of an actual relationship with these people but it’s pretty clear they are not really interested. None of them live in the same province as me anyway, and it appears I have cemented my position as black sheep when I was a teenager and now I’m just going to have to live with it. Not even facebook is thawing this bunch. Whatever, that’s fine. I often wish I had some family, but it is what it is.

What I do have are in-laws. LOTS of in-laws since my husband is one of six children. I have been with the same man since I was fifteen years old so I have grown up with my husband’s family and consider them actual family and not just an indiscriminate collection of people I inherited that I need to contend with during the holidays. I love them. They make me crazy because every single last one of them is certifiably insane, but it’s kind of part of their charm.

The large extended family option that came standard when I purchased the Hubby was part of the initial draw. The family I grew up with is considerably different than my in-laws. They are a small group who is quiet and conservative. They eat really nice expensive food, drink good wine and go on a lot of trips. I get the feeling they are somewhere between amused and horrified that I married a Ukrainian (he’s actually Romanian, but it took my family eight years to stop referring to him as Albanian so I take what I can get). They all have immaculately clean houses (like, freakish hospital-quality clean houses) and none of the women have careers. Well, I do have an aunt that is a nurse and a cousin that is almost a nurse, but the only reason they work at all is because they don’t have husbands. Female careers in my family are pretty much unheard of unless you have no one to ‘support’ you. They also have very nice manners and grammar and all family dinners are eaten properly at the beautiful dining room table using the matching china. Kids are trained not to speak or create any noise or generate any mess, and only a few certain people are invited to family occasions at a time. If you had more people than seats or plates, (a) there would be a tragic mismatched dinnerware situation, and (b) an increased risk of sound. There is NO NOISE EVER allowed around my family. They are a quiet bunch who like things proper and orderly and dignified. It's just how they roll.

The in-laws, on the other hand….are....umm..... different. They are loud (like, bag-pipe marching band loud), opinionated, invite whoever is hungry to whatever occasion is happening and all the kids get to talk or make noise whenever they want. Nobody has a clean house and all the women work. In fact, most of them make more money than their husbands. They burn every piece of meat to a scorching chunk of coal and buy whatever red wine is cheapest and then put it in the fridge. They eat food like perogies (SO good) and cabbage rolls (meh). They have random, quirky relatives whose average age is about 97 and when they come over for a family occasion my father-in-law assigns them a seat and proceeds to get them drunk. After a few stiff ones they start telling fart jokes in Romanian. Everyone eats dinner sitting in whatever free space they can find and if you can score a TV table it’s a major triumph. The brothers and sisters speak in these randomly bizarre pretend accents for no reason and play board games after dinner that include actions such as screaming ‘YODI YODI YODI YODI YODI’ as loud as possible while rubbing bums together and flailing arms whenever a team scores a point. There is nothing proper, orderly or dignified about this bunch. I fit in quite nicely.

Because my family doesn’t live near me and I have grown up with the in-laws, my house is a closer reflection of the environment created by my husband’s family than it is my original family. This works for us, but I don’t think it’s advancing my goal of some day fitting in with my original family. The world they live in has very specific rock-solid rules to live by and I don’t live by them. I work a lot, my house is always mess, my kids make noise and act like, well, kids, I earn more money than my husband and I have adopted the ‘more the merrier’ philosophy to hosting. I’ve tried to marry the two families together a few times for various occasions, and…..let’s just say it hasn’t really worked out all that well. That’s okay. I’m making peace with it. I’m grateful to have this ‘other’ family who makes me laugh and doesn’t take themselves all that seriously.

I’m never putting a bottle of red wine in the fucking refrigerator though. A girl has to draw the line somewhere.

24 comments:

Robin said...

This is AWESOME! I love it! Your in-laws sound freakin' fantastic!
I also come from a small family (black sheep here, too!) and married into a huge one. What a novelty! I love it... finally having relatives around is a really nice thing!
And on a total shameless note: I am having a great bloggy contest! Come on by to enter.

Keely said...

EW...in the FRIDGE? Gross.

I love your in-laws, too, lol!

GroovyGirl said...

just remember we choose our inlaw family to an extent by choosing our mates, but we definitely do not choose our family. I bet your wedding was a hoot to watch Your story reminds me a lot of My Big Fat Greek Wedding when his parents went to hers for dinner the first time. oooommmmppppaaaa! I would fit in the loud fam vs. the quiet reserved fam.

The Dental Maven said...

What's that Billy Joel song...I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints? Yeah. That's me.

Jenni said...

my husband and i have been together since I was 15 as well! it's nice that you get along so well with your in laws. mine used to hate me, but now that i've birthed heirs, they love the shit out of me.

Sherendipity said...

I would very much like to be adopted into your in-law family. They sound just like the kind of family I would invent for myself.

Cameron said...

Wait...if you consider your in-laws real family, then wouldn't you be kinda sleeping with your brother? Hmmm?

Captain Dumbass said...

I fled from a rather crazed family into my wife's south east Asian family. That was, ah, different.

Casey said...

Do you think your in-laws would be up for adopting another daughter? I love crazy nutty families. Half of mine is that way and the other half is stiff and judgmental. I like the crazy half.

Becca said...

LOL! Sounds like my dad's family and my mom's family total opposites. In dad's house, no noise, shades drawn at 5pm. In mom's house my gram would be drinking booze out of a vase :)
I always loved being around the loud partying ones.

Ginny Marie said...

It's great that you love your in-laws! It's taking me time to love mine, but I do.

I agree...a messy, noisy house equals happy kids! My kids are pretty happy!

Sprite's Keeper said...

I would love to get in with the in-law side since my in-laws are like them in the "more the merrier" route, but I still stress when people bring people to my home and I was expecting 10 but got 30. I'm trying!

Stacy (the Random Cool Chick) said...

Your in-laws sound awesome! My family is similar to your family - which is why I live almost 3000 miles away...though my brother and I were not quite the black sheep (that was my younger sister's destiny) but we did like to shake things up a bit with loud partying and 'the more the merrier' attitude...should I ever move back to the Seattle area I'd be hanging around my brother and his friends and in-laws way more than my own immediate family... ;)

LiLu said...

"There is nothing proper, orderly or dignified about this bunch. I fit in quite nicely."

As would I. I'mjealous of your super fun inlaws!

Frogs in my formula said...

Your in-laws sound like a lot of fun and less stressful to be around (refrigerated red wine aside). It's so cute how you call your family your "original" family. Chuck has tried to get closer to his "original" family too, but has had about as much luck. He's really close to his friends and they treat him a heck of a lot better. I'm sorry to hear that fitting in with your family has been hard, but your in-laws sound like a blessing. Besides, fitting in takes work and effort, and don't you already have a job?

Becky said...

Love this post. I want your in-laws to adopt me! YODI YODI YODI!

Heather said...

I want some in-laws like that too...I bet cheap wine in the fridge just makes it taste better??!!

Sticky (not too) said...

Wow, can I come over? I'll would make a comment about the wine, but when desperate, I've been known to take a hit off of Grampa's boxed pink stuff in the fridge - so evidently I have no standards at all.

They sound great (so do you!)

Blogging Mama Andrea said...

That is so great you have cool in-laws you love. When we move will will most likely be within an hour or so of dh's family like we used to be and my family lives thousands of miles away. I wish I could say I liked my dh's family... but it just isn't happening! They are 'nice' but I seriously don't fit in with them. I don't wear sweatpants to Christmas dinner....

Stacy (the Random Cool Chick) said...

Stopping back by to wish you a Very Happy Mother's Day! ;)

Bex said...

your in-laws sound awesome! i LOVE fine dining but not at the expense of being quiet.

Wendy said...

Okay, I want to have your in-laws as my family. :) Forget those other guys!

Tricia McWhorter said...

The in-law sound like a hoot. And by the way, great writing. I'll be back.

May said...

Oh, this is the first time I visit your blog and I don't know if you'll ever read my comment but I just had to say that your post was like a description of my own life. I actually did marry an Albanian, or something very close. My parents are Lutheran to the core and much like yours. All the best, May.