It was Christmas Day. We were still in the early years of our marriage with three young kids to keep us very busy and generally short on sleep. At that time in our lives, almost every bit of my time, energy and money were focused on those kids. My wants and needs were secondary, and that was just fine with me.
It was my turn to unwrap a gift. I had a large, rectangular box in my lap. I slid one finger under the folded edge of the wrapping, popping the tape open so that the paper fell loose from the box. I lifted the cover and set it aside, pulling the tissue paper open to see what was folded inside of the box.
There in the box lay a lovely, deep purple, satin nightie with black lace trim. And there was something more. I lifted the nightie from the box to find a black, velvet robe to match.
I didn’t know what to say. It was a tasteful gift, yet decidedly intimate. I blushed slightly and looked up to see the eyes watching me…
There in the room was my husband’s family, all watching me. Every one of the many of them. His sisters and brothers. Our nieces and nephews. My own kids. My mother and father-in-law.
“Oh, it’s very pretty,” I forced myself to say aloud, while inside I was feeling distinctly uncomfortable. This just didn’t feel like a gift I should be opening at the big family Christmas. I looked to my husband, silently pleading with my eyes for him to rescue me, but he was oblivious.
I wanted the gift-opening procession to move on, beyond me. My face was burning and so were my ears. I had no desire to have any more attention on me and my nightie. There was a room full of people staring at me and my new lingerie – people who should not have been contemplating me and lingerie. The moments seem to tick by interminably.
My mother-in-law and father-in-law were looking at me with proud smiles on their faces.
“I hope we got the right size,” my father-in-law said to me. “We figured you wouldn’t buy something like this for yourself, so we did!”
My mother-in-law nodded in proud agreement.
My in-laws had bought me a nightie for Christmas.
I don’t guess they would have understood, but the tags never even came off.