Hear from local visionaries and business legends at Think Summit on February 4 Get Tickets

Life

Sarah Williams: Future Mother-in-Law of the Year

Springfieldian Sarah Williams is her own Ghost of Christmas Future as she wrestles with living in the present—or planning a checklist that will land her on a World’s Best Mother-in-Law list someday.

by Sarah Williams

Dec 01 2021 at 8:48 a.m.

It’s embarrassing to admit the amount of thought I’ve put into what I will be like as a mother-in-law. Considering my oldest child cannot even drive yet.

My long-term parenting goal is for my kids to want to come home for Christmas. Not as an obligation, but as an anticipated highlight of their year. I like to think they will be lured by the nostalgia of the Jammie Elf who surprises them with matching pajamas on Christmas Eve. Or maybe my tres leches cake we devour every year after a delicious Beef Wellington dinner. But I am realistic enough to know that my kids will only be excited to come home for Christmas if I treat their spouses well. Hence, the effort I put into that upcoming role.

Free babysitting obviously tops the list of ways I will seek their approval. Considerate gift giving, consistent encouragement, and keeping my experienced mouth shut while they’re navigating the newness of marriage and parenting are my goals. Easier said than done, of course, but I will try my best.

There’s just one glaring situation threatening to ruin the whole plan: my Christmas tree.

My favorite ornament from my childhood is one I made in Ms. Hall’s fourth grade class. It’s a cute little stocking with my school picture glued on. When I had kids of my own, I thought it would be sweet to recreate this with an annual tradition of giving them an ornament with their picture on it.

Sarah Williams's family at Christmas
Sarah Williams's family Christmas tree
Photos courtesy Sarah Williams
“Can you imagine being hopelessly in love with your boyfriend, excited to spend your first holiday together, and finding out his mother has 95 photos of her children adorning the family tree?”
— Sarah Williams

Each year, when we decorate our tree, my family reminisces about Christmases past. These ornaments are a treasure of the places we lived, snaggly teeth and bad haircuts, and fleeting childhoods.

So precious. Until you consider that I have five children. Five children who each get an ornament every year. If you’re doing the math, that will eventually equate to 95 pictures.

Can you imagine being hopelessly in love with your boyfriend, excited to spend your first holiday together, and finding out his mother has 95 photos of her children adorning the family tree? As in, five less than 100.

There is not enough tres leches cake in the world to make that seem normal. Not that marrying into my wild family will be anything close to normal. The ornaments are probably the least of my worries.

But isn’t that the best part of the holidays? Gathering with our favorite people who know us well and love us anyway. In spite of, in my case, my ridiculously decorated tree and the embarrassing desire to be liked in the future by a girl who, as of the time of this writing, is  wearing mom jeans on purpose.

Perhaps I should chill out on my future role and enjoy the one I currently have: adoring the five children I proudly display and investing in our relationships in such a way that there’s no place they’d rather be than home for Christmas.

The free babysitting will just be icing on the tres leches cake.

Tags: