Life

This viral letter from a nightmare mother-in-law is shocking the internet

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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It involves a gift card, a knitted blanket, and the worst response to a present you’ve ever seen. 

If you thought you had a difficult mother-in-law, just wait till you read this story.

A woman has written into Slate’s Dear Prudence advice column demanding clarity on a subject of grievous importance that no-one in her family will back her on. But as the letter unspools it becomes more and more clear that the person with the problem isn’t the subject of the letter, but the letter writer themselves.

Are you ready to read this ridiculous letter? Are you sitting down and strapped in? Let’s begin.

“My daughter-in-law enjoys knitting and crocheting. For her birthday, my husband and I gave her a generous gift card to a local yarn store, for which she thanked us and seemed very pleased,” the letter begins.

“Imagine my dismay, however, when six months later for our anniversary she gifted us with a lovely bedspread, which she told me she made with yarn purchased from the gift card! I told my son that we’d in effect paid for our own present and that he needs to communicate to his wife how improper and stingy this move was. He refuses, saying that her labour and time were also part of the gift.” 

This poor knitter 

But the mother-in-law won’t stop there. Still smarting over the fact that her daughter-in-law did the absolutely egregious thing of spending months knitting her a “lovely bedspread” by hand to celebrate her wedding anniversary, this mother-in-law wants to write to her daughter-in-law and tell her off for her bad behaviour.

“We haven’t spoken much since except to discuss our grandchildren, and our DIL has been outright cold,” the letter continues. (Wow! We wonder why?)

“I’m considering writing her a letter directly explaining why this was an improper gift and expressing my sadness that her own parents didn’t each her gift etiquette,” the letter continues. “My husband wants me to drop the whole thing and pretend like it never happened. Prudie, I don’t like the idea of moving on as if nothing happened.”

Prudence’s response was typically measured. “Nothing did happen,” they write. “You received a thoughtful gift that cost more time than money. That’s it!” 

A beautiful handmade bedspread is a wonderful gift, in our opinion

“Even if you don’t like knitwear, your daughter-in-law spent countless hours over the course of a half-year working on something very detailed for you, and you say yourself it was a lovely bedspread. Whether she got the yarn with the gift card you gave her or spent her own money is beside the point.”

The internet agrees. 

Slate’s Dear Prudence column always attracts letters that often defy logic, human nature and common decency. Inaugurated in 1997, the column was first written by an anonymous journalist before Slate staffers Margo Howard and, later, Emily Yoffe took over the section. Today, writer Daniel Mallory Ortberg, co-founder of the humour site The Toast, sorts through the Dear Prudence inbox – which received between 400 and 500 letters every week – and answers the most pressing of queries. 

There have been some real doozies over the years, from the mum who wanted to ban her daughter’s disabled best friend from serving as her maid of honour at her wedding to the miserly man who objected to buying Halloween candy for kids from poorer neighbourhoods who went trick-or-treating in his street.

But we think this letter, with all of its mean spiritedness, might be the worst letter the column has ever received.  

Images: Unsplash

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Hannah-Rose Yee

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