Dr. Darling and I spent the second half (Sunday and Monday) of our long holiday weekend up in Falkenberg for a combined Easter and father-in-law's birthday celebration. This marked the first time we'd been up there since "The Great Christmas Disappointment of 2006," an episode so painful that I couldn't even bring myself to blog about it afterward. I'll spare you the details now, but let's just say THAT visit was so bad, and produced so much tension between Dr. D and I, that afterwards I vowed to never spend another Christmas in Sweden. Seriously.
So I had great hopes that the Easter visit would forever erase the memory of the previous one (that I still can't write about), and while it did help somewhat…let's just all agree that forever is a really long time.
At least on this trip I wasn't alone in feeling that we'd been invited "just for show" rather than any sincere desire on my in-laws' part to spend time with us. When it happened over Christmas, Dr. Darling kind of shrugged it off (which only served to multiply my frustration and misery). This time, I was ready for it and was thus able to just shake my head and chuckle when it became clear on Monday morning (following a horrid night's sleep) that the only thing on the agenda for the day was preparations for the birthday party…something with which we could be of very little help.
Now I'm not the kind of houseguest who needs to be entertained 24/7…but if you ask me give up a portion of my holiday weekend to come and stay with you, I don't expect to spend most of the visit trying to stay out of your way while you go about your regular business. Still, that seemed to be the plan for Monday.
It was also at this point that we learned that the party was not going to happen until 6 that evening. Since it was a holiday and Dr. Darling and I were facing a two-hour trip home, we assumed the family get-together would be held much earlier in the afternoon. WRONG. (Of course this also begs the question: Why were we iinvited up on Sunday afternoon if the only activity we'd be participating in wasn't happening until Monday night?)
Turns out the party time was picked to accomodate my sister-in-law…a nurse who was working a day shift on Monday. I found it quite considerate of them to schedule it so that she wouldn't miss dinner, but also somewhat surprising since my father-in-law can never seem to remember that I have a full-time job. It's become a running joke between Dr. D and I…and he had just added to the legend earlier in the week by suggesting that we head back for Malmö Tuesday morning. Hello?!
On Dr. Darling's initiative, we ended up borrowing a car and buzzing down to Halmstad (about 25 minutes away) to spend the afternoon with her brother and his kids. He was home being Mr. Mom while his wife (the aforementioned nurse) was working, and this turned out to be the highlight of the whole trip. Generally we only see our niece and nephew during large, chaotic family gatherings, so it was really nice to have a couple of hours of quality one-on-one time with them before we all re-assembled back up in Falkenberg for the birthday dinner.
The meal was delicious, as usual. But by the time we sat down to it I was stressed about the time and how late we would be arriving back in Malmö. (Because unlike some people, I was acutely aware of the fact that I had to work the next morning.)
My father-in-law insisted on driving us back down to Malmö even though we'd made it clear we were happy to take the train. This is something he got into the habit of doing back in the days when we were both students and money was tight. And even though this hasn't been the case FOR YEARS (did I mention that I have a full-time job?), he still wants to do it and we usually let him. Unfortunately the fact that it was HIS idea never made it around to the rest of the family, some of whom were obviously kind of peeved that the guest of honor was one of the first people to leave the party. Gaaaaah!!!!
So, what did I learn from the Easter Experience aside from the fact that my in-laws' family dynamic is even weirder than my own? (And THAT's saying something.)
NEXT TIME WE'RE RENTING A CAR.