The mother walks to the mailbox, a lightness to her step. Her daughter is expecting a set of stickers, handmade from an artist on Etsy, to be used for a game that she’s constructing. That daughter has been waiting patiently for days, and each time she sees the mother exit the house and reach into the mailbox, she chants to herself, “Let them be here. Let them be here.”
Alas, her mother’s hands are almost empty, save for one letter that she can tell is not a set of stickers. By the looks of it, the envelope probably holds a Christmas card, one more in the long line of greetings that the family has received. Not that the daughter wants to be ungrateful, but she’d rather that letter were her stickers.
The mother places her coat on the chair and then opens the envelope and extracts the card. The daughter cannot see who it is from, but the card is bigger than others they’ve received, and she thinks that the sender probably spent a lot of money on the card. What does it say on the front? The daughter lurks in the foyer as her mother reads the card to herself: the mother’s eyes widen, then narrow, and a scowl forms on her face. The mother tosses the card to the table with a huff and moves into the kitchen.
The daughter loves cards and knows that those with Christmas greetings shouldn’t cause that reaction from the mother. She takes the card from the table, and reads the words on the front: “To a Wonderful Son-in-law and his family.” The “in-law” has been written in, adapting a card for a son into something the sender can use for a daughter. The sentiment is nice, the daughter thinks. But then, she overhears the mother speaking to a friend on her cell phone.
“Just got his card in the mail. I’m thankful that he remembered, but guess what it said?” the mother asks.
“Do I want to know?” the friend replies.
The mother sighs. “Well, I’ll tell you. It says, ‘To a Wonderful Son-in-law and his family.’ ”
Her friend says nothing for a moment and then, “What?”
“Yes, that’s right. Four daughters. Four. And he buys and alters a card to send to his son-in-law, who, might I add, is not the actual member of the family. Like he couldn’t find any cards addressed to a daughter? Should I be offended?”
The friend laughs, and the daughter walks away, still holding the card. She’s heard enough this last year about the way the world works, about the way her mother feels sometimes about her grandfather, and about a term called misogyny. She might not be able to spell the word, but she knows what it means. I’ll do Mother a favor, the daughter thinks, then tosses the card into the recycling bin.