Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Thank You Card I Don't Want to Write

I like cards. I send handmade birthday cards to my family and friends. I send handmade thank you cards to people who do nice things. I do it because I like to make them, and because I believe it is good manners.

Now that we have officially completed unpacking I have all my delicious supplies ready to work. I have thank you cards to be made for the women who helped me clean my house, the members of our congregation who brought my husband food while he was living alone, the nice man who sent my husband a clipping from the local newspaper he was mentioned in, the families who had us over for dinner when we visited for graduation, and the list keeps growing.

I like thank you cards, but there is one that I am preparing to write that doesn't have my heart in it.

It was "suggested" that we might want to pay for the increased utilities for the time that the kids and I stayed in my in-laws extra home. The suggestion wasn't made to me, but rather by my mother in law through my husband. Or my husband offered and they accepted! I am not sure exactly how it went down, he can't even remember how it came up. But, yesterday his mom asked about it so it appears to be on their mind too. It is his family, he gets to deal with that kind of stuff.

I need to write a thank you card, that includes a check for $200 to cover the utilities. But I don't want to. My feelings are hurt.

As you may recall, for two and half months the children and I spent time with our extended family in another state while my husband finished up his residency. Most of the time was spent with my parents because their home accommodated a large family, and they really wanted us there. They said as much. It is nice to be wanted.

About three weeks were spent in my in-laws "extra" house about 20 minutes from the home they live in. During our time there, we didn't see them very often. They had us over for church and dinner on Sundays. Maybe once or twice during the week we saw my mother in law but it was primarily at her daughters house (who lives around the block from them, in a home they purchased for her to "rent") with her children and husband.

They only reason we stayed there was so that we could spend time with them and it didn't happen as much as I thought it would. We were there so we wouldn't hurt their feelings. Had I known how infrequent it was going to be we wouldn't have stayed. I envisioned us spending every day together. Maybe not ALL day, but some of the day. During the last six years we only saw them once or twice a year. Kids this young grow fast, I assumed they would want to hang out with us... what else were we going to do? Sitting in a sparsely furnished house, in a city we haven't lived in for 6 years, with no DVD player, no cable, no Internet (finally I asked my neighbor to borrow their wifi). You get the picture.

They aren't hurting for money. They have no debts (except a small mortgage on the house they bought for the daughter which they are paying off as quickly as possible - I think the plan is 5 years), collect 3 retirements and 2 social security checks, and sold an airplane while we were there. The airplane was the source of some discussion during our visits. An airplane that has been disassembled for the last 10 years, sitting in a hangar they were paying monthly fees for. There is also an italian sports car in the garage that hasn't been driven in at least as long.

The house we stayed in has been vacant for the last 6 years. They have paid utilities on that empty house the entire time. Our three week stay I am sure did increase their bills for that one month. We provided our own groceries, entertainment, and left it clean.

They bought their daughter a house last year! Her assisted rent is less than half of our current rent, 46% to be exact. They put a huge down payment on it so the monthly mortgage would be small enough for their daughter to handle until her husbands grandmother passed away and she would be able to pay them back. She is still having a hard time making that commitment. But the grandma did pass away, so there should be money soon.

It is almost like they forgot who they were talking to. Remember, we are the kids who just lost the equivalent of $40,000 cash when we sold our house. They know that. We are the ones who don't ever ask to borrow money, we figure it out or do without. We just spent a small fortune moving and getting set up in a new state. I am praying our first paycheck comes before the bills do. When will that first paycheck be here?

My parents on the other hand, have significantly less, and didn't ask for anything. We stayed there knowing we were loved and welcomed. Not once would my mother have suggested we help buy groceries (although I did), or contribute something to the utility bill.

I know it is only $200 and not worth having hard feelings over, and I am going to send it today. But it is $200 and $200 means a lot to us right now. We aren't done yet, and when we are we have a pile of student loan debt that is going to take more lean living years to pay off. Surely, they couldn't have forgotten so quickly.

They can have my $200, but they aren't getting a handmade card. (pout)



  1. It's because you fall under the "They'll be okay, 'cause he's a doctor" cloud and, like you said, despite the short sale, you always pay your bills. I'm sure the other sibling is not as responsible as your husband (and you!).
    Reading this I was going to suggest you just send it with a thank you note typed out on the computer and printed on normal copier paper, but you already got it! You're so busy putting the new house together, right?

    1. I thought the redistribution of wealth was supposed to go from those who "have" to those who "have not", not the other way around. I wonder if they would accept a handmade IOU for $200 payable in the year 2015?

  2. Oh, wow. I guess it's one thing to expect you to contribute to the bills if you're staying there all year and at least one of you is gainfully employed. (Although when I lived with Andy's parents for six months, I never paid for utilities, and they kept a plate heating for me in the oven until I got home from class every night.) But expecting you to pay for utilities when you're staying with family because you don't have a paycheck seems pretty harsh.

    1. In all fairness DrH was still getting paid. He was finishing up residency, but because we sold our house we needed a place to stay. Because we had lost so much money and still had huge expenses coming (i.e. the actual moving, licensing, deposits for rent/utilities, etc) we decided to head home and save for those expenses. Now we are waiting for his first paycheck as a fellow. They always hold the first week or two, so I am not sure when it will be here. I just hope it seems soon, or that $200 check I am sending may bounce.

  3. That would really bother me, too. It's hard being the responsible, self-reliant ones. Maybe you should send the $200 check with a note or dated not to deposit until August, since you won't have money until then!! Maybe they'll get the point!

  4. Your family sounds so warm and welcoming. I am sorry you have to go through this, and I think unfair treatment among children is so unfair. My parents do it all the time and it really bothers me. I wouldn't even write your in laws a thank-you note. I would just send them a check and in the memo I would put "suggested utility amount."


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