Tomorrow, I am spending all day with my little sisters and their husbands. I bought one of my brothers-in-law a very naughty gift. My sister is going to tell me off. He loves caramel, as do I. So, I bought him a jar of Bonne Maman Caramel Spread – which is pure utter naughtiness.
For my other brother-in-law I have bought a Sundried Tomato Spread – which is also yummy – I am quite addicted to it at the moment. I am finding it incredibly hard to find though. I used to buy it in the local “Le Pain Quotidien”, but they have stopped ordering it for their shelves. The only other branch I know that still stock it is on the other side of London!
There are so many fantastic artisan delis, patisseries and artisan bakeries around here, I will be forever finding gifts and forever at risk of spending more than my budget dictates. I have bought some other foodie goodies…cakes, posh crackers, jars and bottles of this and that and the other…all yummy gifts for my younger family members.
I would like to tell you about my younger brothers-in-law. (Sadly, the older ones are not worth a mention having negated their marriage vows, but the younger ones are super. Both of my sisters will celebrate eleven years of marriage this year.) Yet my two younger brothers-in-law are oh so different.
One I must admit I have a super soft spot for – thus the caramel spread I bought for him. If he was ten years older, then I would have grabbed him before my sister Milly had a chance!!! He is very down to earth and fun. A hard-worker. I love that he married Milly because he is just the type of person I get on with and I know my whole family adore him.
At first, he seemed to have a bit of a shy streak. I remember years back when he came a-visiting, there were a few occasions when he seemed relaxed on his arrival, but then something odd happened. I think as he saw us girls chattering away ten to the dozen, sometimes he seemed to feel the need to escape. And escape he would! Quite literally, he would step into the kitchen or outside the house for a moment to himself. I was not sure at the time whether he found our family’s noisy chatter and laughing a bit over-whelming.
My opinion changed when we went to a get-together with his family. I started to doubt that he was overwhelmed by our noisy chatter because his family were incredibly loud. So, I started to wonder what was it that he found challenging about us. I drew the conclusion his family are very male dominated – lots of very loud and lively blokes always laughing and singing and play fighting. We were female dominated (six girls and one boy) so we chatted non-stop and laughed and sang but I guess we were just so different. He was not used to so many lively girls.
His family are amazing….it will take me too long to tell you about them now. I will tell you more in other posts. When he and my sister first married, I went to stay for a weekend with them. I was amazed that she had kind of been thrown in the deep end with doing all the house-work and cooking. He did help with the house-work, but Milly seemed to be determined to be a domestic diva. In addition, all these boys who were used to my brother-in-law being their best mate, would just turn up at the house, without ringing ahead to ask if that was convenient. My sister would suddenly be making dinner for 12. Milly just got on with it. She is the same now, she just gets on with whatever work there is to do. One by one his mates stopped just dropping in without an invitation, once they were getting married. In that fairly remote corner of the countryside, it does seem that people get married and start having children at quite a tender age. Now most of them have children. They all appreciate that it is easier to plan in advance rather than turning up at the home of your friends, expecting to be fed.
My brother-in-law is a typical member of his family. The entire clan seem to be made up of builders, window cleaners, farmers…they are all hard-working, down-to-earth and very jolly and gregarious. Love them, truly truly…they have an infectious love of life and laughter of heart. The countryside were where they all live…it is simply stunning…healing for the heart!
My other younger brother-in-law is super too. But a very different kettle of fish. He had a crush on my sister from the age of thirteen. Mandy was not sure about him for a long time, but I think she found that being adored by someone was irresistible.
He also comes from a close-knit family who liked to do a lot of socialising and holidaying. They are a town family like our own. He had a super-mum. Now I think most mums do a lot…but when I say super-mum. You know what I mean by the phrase “Super-mum” don’t you? – However this Supermum probably did too much…and not necessarily wisely. It is a risk. He and his brother were wearing pretty much identical clothing well into their twenties. Always smart and pristine. Why? Because their super-mum would shop for them. She was incredible at cleaning and washing and ironing and cooking. She kept both her home and family looking immaculate. Not saying there is anything wrong with that. But it may have caused some challenges for my sister. When Mandy was first married it seemed her husband expected her to be just like his mum…just like his Supermum!
Well, Mandy is one tough lady, she is not like Milly and I at all. Milly and I get on with everyone and would rather someone walked all over us than pick a fight. Mandy has a streak of fire than runs through her bones. You are wise not to cross her! Don’t borrow her clothes without asking permission! She soon made sure my brother-in-law understood that she was not his mother!
Mandy found it hard to get used to my brother-in-law’s family at first. They are a lovely family, but she was a bit overwhelmed at first that his mum wanted her to be part of the family immediately and to get all close and cosy. My brother-in-law’s mum and my sister are not alike. However, all that changed when my sister realized that every Sunday his mum would cook a giant roast dinner with two different types of meat and always a scrummy dessert. Mandy loves her meat!
It is true though, they have very different personalities and have certainly had times when they did not see each other’s point of view. But they both love my brother-in-law. My sister finds it odd that his mum buys them both thermal underwear each winter…but she accepts that these are habits that are unlikely to ever change. I would love someone to buy me thermal underwear every winter!
Anyway….back to my brother-in-law. I remember the days when he was courting our Mandy. There he was with his brother, both of them looking like catalogue models wearing smart jeans, polo-necks, cashmere sweaters, smart loafers – and we were all off to the beach. They knew we were going to the beach. My sisters and our friends and I were all wearing shorts and T-shirts and flip-flops. The beach meant fun! We were all running through the waves and sand and screaming and singing. Naturally, more than a little water was splashed around…and those boys were freaking out because we splashed their beautiful clothes. Well, I did feel sorry for their super-mum having more work to do. But in all honesty, we wondered why on earth they would wear those clothes for a day out at the beach.
My sister has worked on him. She has helped him to see that rather than always looking as if you are a catalogue model, it is best to wear clothes appropriate for the occasion. He is a great lad. Most importantly he loves my sister – which makes him wonderful – ha!
I am very pleased with both of my younger brothers-in-law. Not only do we feel delighted that they are a part of our family, but we love that we are an addition to their families. Before any of my siblings married, we did feel a bit unconnected, not sure how the rest of the world regarded us. Having in-laws is super. We are no longer a family, more like an empire. All workers who love life, love family, love laughter and love food. Nothing special really…just what we humans were designed for. I know not everyone has this now…I do know it. It is not right.
I read in history class once that strong families make strong communities and ultimately make strong empires. I also read that often the fall of empires is once they acquire great wealth, moral depravity and family breakdown has eroded the structure of their society. Their very foundations have crumbled.
In my mind…the whole human family should be exactly that…a family where every single person can thrive…working hard, and having good food and loved ones to share life with and to sing, dance and laugh with. One glorious day hey!!