Dear Ms. Meniscus,A woman with RA hates, hates, hates, holidays with her mother-in-law

I HATE holidays with my mother-in-law. I HATE the way she cooks. I have rheumatoid arthritis and I HATE that there’s not one comfortable place to sit in her entire house. She calls me lazy because I’m slow helping clean up and I HATE her for that especially since her house is one big mess.

I know  this is horrible to say but I even HATE the way she breathes. 

Is it okay to tell my husband that I can no longer do holidays at his mother’s house? I’m 30 and he’s 42 and we’ve been married 3 years. 

Thank you. 



Dear Melissa,

Oh dear friend, that’s a total of six “hates” and one “lazy” which adds up to seven. Seven is Madame’s magical number. She has a host of reasons for liking this number, not many of them logical but she’ll argue they’re quite delightful.  Look how easily we’ve left the realm of hatred and fed-up-ness and entered a more interesting sphere.  Madame senses that you’re too overwhelmed by your mother-in-law to enjoy anything remotely resembling a civilized holiday visit.

Madame will admit that your description sounds worse than dreary, and the breathing part: does the woman pant like a dog?  Of course it’s OK to tell your husband. Has he not noticed what an ordeal it is for you, and by extension, for him? That’s an important question. In the meantime,  inform him that you can’t do the holiday this year, but notice Madame has used the singular form. You don’t want to make a blanket statement that you’ll never attend another holiday because that shuts down all avenues for possibly improving the situation. Start small Melissa.

Sometimes one has to cut one’s losses, and sitting out a holiday can be the most responsible step you take for your own well-being. It’s possible that your MIL is a bit gruff and disorganized and has no idea how her behavior affects you. Madame has more of a challenge trying to understand her use of the word “lazy”. It’s natural that you would feel sensitized and defensive, most especially when you’re in pain. Some women are jealous of the attention a grown son shows his own wife. Who knows but we’re dealing with six hates and one lazy.

This time while you’re home and away from that negative environment, you might have some fun reading about the great cultural and historical significance of the number seven. Newton certainly was.  Inspired by beliefs of the ancient Greeks and the Roman calendar, he divided the colors of the rainbow into seven main colors. What else? There are the seven sisters of Atlas, and it takes seven seconds to remember a vivid dream. Seven is a prime number.  Who needs hatred and name-calling when you have better things to think about, ain’t that so?