“My Story… “: Wreath of Wrath





I remember getting home from work one October day and finding my husband and mother-in-law both gone. They had headed out car shopping since, at this point, it had become clear that his car was not going to be worth saving. I had my own vehicle back from repair by this point and I had “graduated” from teller school. They wound up hiring me on at the banking center where I’d been helping and I stepped right into the role of teller manager.


My husband still hadn’t been given a permanent position but, through some miraculous twist, the company allowed him to stay on the payroll, so we continued to pull in two incomes. I don’t even know exactly how that worked, but it was one less thing to worry about and I was very grateful.


Still, I was so stressed out. It was hard to have my mother-in-law staying with us, to be honest. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way, certainly, but it was super challenging. I felt like I couldn’t do anything to make her happy or comfortable and that contributed to my long-time feelings of failure as a hostess. I was still a newlywed and I truly wanted her to like me– but she really didn’t. (I’m not being dramatic here– she later admitted to me that she hadn’t liked me.)


My father-in-law was still in the hospital, but he was due to be released the next day. I had asked around and found an extended-stay hotel just a mile from our apartment. My in-laws planned to stay in Virginia for an extra couple of weeks because the doctors wanted to see him before allowing him to travel back to Indiana.


Anyway, back to the story at hand. I got home from work and went to unlock my door. Hanging from it was one of the most hideous wreaths I thought I had ever seen. It was made of some twiggy material and had a raggedy-haired scarecrow perched in it along with some gourd-looking plastic things.


I froze.


I really wasn’t one for a bunch of seasonal decorations and tchotchkes. They didn’t make me particularly happy. Added to that, I would never, in a million years, have chosen a cutesy scarecrow wreath. Something with lush leaves? Maybe. Something with cranberries or some Indian corn? Yeah, perhaps. But not… a scarecrow.


I started to cry.


I know it’s such a little thing. I know it shouldn’t matter. I know I was being ungrateful when, clearly, my mother-in-law was trying to add some cheer to our little home…


But it was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. That wreath* simply undid me.


I walked inside, kicked off my flats, and poured a glass of wine. I carried it out onto our little balcony and sat at the little table out there. And I started writing a letter to my best friend,


“Dear Mone,

Well, we’re in Virginia now! And absolutely NOTHING has gone as planned. It’s been pretty terrible, but, on the plus side, I feel like, if he and I can get through this, we can get through anything, right?… “


I obviously had NO idea what greater challenges we would be asked to face together, but I remember believing from the bottom of my heart that that must be as bad as it could get for a marriage.


Then I heard them come home.


So I wiped my tears, straightened my spine, and plastered a wide smile on my face.


It was something I was going to have to get used to.
The rest of this story can be found here:

Part 1: Itchy Feet

Part 2: Looking Northward

Part 3: Picking a Town

Part 4: The Job “Search”

Part 5: Selling Our First Home (at 25)

Part 6: Sold!

Part 7: Virginia or bust!

Part 8: Car Trouble & a Surprise

Part 9: Waiting and Waiting

Part 10: Disconnected


*Guess what? I still have that wreath. I put it on my door each and every September and leave it up through Thanksgiving. It holds a LOT of memories for me. :)

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1 comment to “My Story… “: Wreath of Wrath

  • I haven’t been doing a lot of blog reading so I finally got the chance to read through all of these! I was a little confused until I saw that you skipped one in your list up there – “Car Trouble & a Surprise.” It started to make more sense then! :)

    What a wacky adventure to have been on. And that sounds an awful lot like how my ILs like to “drop by.” Sometimes they give me a day or two warning. My FIL often calls an hour or two before he wants to come. AHHHH!!!

    I definitely tend toward to “it’s just going to work out” mindset and I do think that’s a good thing. It’s easy to get stuck in the details and never do anything if you’re too rational. ;)

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