Dear Mouthy Housewives,
My sister-in-law likes my stuff. She likes my stuff so much that every time she visits she asks things like, “Can I have those earphones?” and “Oh I love this lotion! Can I have it?” and “That antique dresser would look way better at my house, can I have it?”
My house is not a fire sale. I like my stuff as much as she does and have no desire to give it away. When I ask my husband to politely tell her to keep her filthy mitts off, he just shrugs and says, “That’s just my sister’s personality.” How can I tell my sister-in-law to buy her own housewares and still be invited to family functions?
For The Love Of Stuff
Dear Stuff Lover,
I’ve heard that in some cultures, it’s a high compliment to tell someone that you want their things. I was just in a middle of a letter to President Obama asking him to put those countries within the axis of evil and proceed accordingly.
Because having family over is traumatic enough, without them pilfering your belongings. Assuming that your sister-in-law is over the age of nine, the age where most children are developmentally able to grasp the concept of “not mine,” there are some strategies to combat her outrageous behavior.
Tell her No.
Sister-in-law: “I love that chair! Can I have it?”
Sister-in-law: “What a great vase! It’ll look great at my house.”
You: “Sure, take it!”
Sister-in-law: “Really? Thanks!”
You: “Of course not! Who does this kind of thing? Get away from my stuff!”
Repeat as necessary. After a few months, she should realize that your stuff is not hers for the asking and stop.
If not, just show up at her house and start asking for stuff.
“That ruby ring is so gorgeous, but is not really flattering on you, hand it over,” you may try.
Or, “I love your china set. Why don’t I take it, since you’re not exactly a fancy cook?” If she agrees, great news! You just got lots of stuff to unload on eBay. If she seems outraged, congratulate her on her very Aha! Moment. Even Oprah would be proud.