Jul 11

Gift Giving: In-Law

My in-laws are good folks.  They are honest, hardworking, selfless, loving, and remarkably patient with all of us.  They have four boys, a girl in the middle, three daughters-in-law, one son-in-law, two granddaughters, two grandsons (I should say 4.9, as my sister-in-law is due this summer), and two dogs.

Both my in-laws have worked in education for years, and as many of you know education is not a job you get to leave at the office when you head home for the day.  In addition to his full-time job at a high school, as a grandfather, and as a sweetie to my mother-in-law, my father-in-law (like my father) is also responsible for his church congregation.  But, despite their busy schedule, my in-laws recently made time to come visit Daniel and I here in Arkansas, and their visit got me thinking…


Sometimes I don’t go through the process I used to find a gift for Jen… Sometimes I hold onto my idea for the perfect gift until a gift-giving occasion rolls around.  And sometimes I come up with an excuse to give the perfect gift, for no occasion at all.  So, today I’m here you tell you about the most-recent time I knew exactly what I would buy months before the occasion rolled around.


Now, back to my in-laws… who, like my own parents, are are quite adept at growing edible stuff.  In addition to a large garden, they grow oranges, grapefruit, lemons, blackberries, and bananas.  Their yard stands out as a cool oasis in the middle of an otherwise dessert-ish Mesa, Arizona.  And, to match their green yard, my in-laws have some green habits.

Don’t go picturing a pair of 50ish hipsters–my in-laws are legitimately earth-conscious.  They are not in it to be trendy or to win fans, it’s who they are.  They’ve been in this nature-loving routine longer than I’ve been alive, and they know their stuff.

Arguably, their most-noticeable green habit is composting.  I say most-noticeable, because my father-in-law has historically kept an old plastic container (that originally held dishwasher detergent packets) on the counter next to their kitchen sink for items to be taken out to the compost bin.  And, as you can imagine, a clear container holding a few days worth of carrot shavings, lettuce bits, corn remnants, and old tomatoes isn’t exactly unnoticeable in an tidy kitchen.  Even with the lid closed tightly and no hint of a smell, it is not a pretty site.

So, after spending a month with them in 2010 and hearing a few conversations about the clever, although less-than-cute container, I had a pretty good idea what I’d be getting them for the next gift-giving occasion.

Idea #1 (& Only)

Brushed Stainless-Steel Compost Pail by Williams Sonoma


It was perfect.  It matched their appliances and their sink.  It was shiny (and not transparent).  The design included replaceable filters to prevent the natural stink of compost from doing its thing in the kitchen.  And, the best bit?  It was undeniably useful.  I knew it would  make my MIL happy and not seem unnecessary to my practical FIL.

The dimensions sounded a bit large.  It would likely be covered in fingerprints.  And I feared that, despite the filters, it would still stink.


Honestly, I never really made a decision.  My mind was made up as soon as I had the idea.  The hardest part was being patient enough to wait until the new year to give the combined gift, and hoping no one gave them one in the mean time.  I lucked out, and my patience paid off, because from what I hear, they both love it.  And, after our recent trip to Arizona, my fear of any escaping compost stench is cured.  So, with the three of us pleased, I’ll call it a success… and keep buying compost pail filters as a Mother’s Day gift for my MIL.