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Lovely thought or slightly icky - AIBU?

(122 Posts)
traininthedistance Sun 01-Dec-13 15:13:10

Sorry if too long! To set the scene, DD was born a few months ago. DH comes from a long family of extreme hoarders - nothing is too weird to keep; they have houses and houses full of their stuff and dead relatives' stuff. They are very well off - household incomes over 80k or more, but are also very very tight with money - DH's aunt's baby gift was two £1 soft toys from IKEA. (DD loves them more than any expensive item though, and I'm not at all precious about presents, this is just to give you an idea of the family background!)

DH's (step, much older) sister didn't give us a baby gift either - I thought it was strange in passing but she's buying a house so assumed money was a bit tight at the moment, no biggie, people don't have to buy us presents! Plus we live in a teeny tiny 2-bed modern flat with only one living room/kitchen and DD's room is minuscule, so we have literally nowhere to store anything and I'm happy to be very minimalist about stuff.

This week I found out from another relative that as a Christening gift to DD, DH's sister is making DD a patchwork quilt - out of their great-grandmother's old clothes. Great-grannie died about a decade ago and all her everyday clothes have been in DH's aunt's attic since then, so DD obviously never met her, and neither did I. Recently DH's aunt expressed a desire to get rid of the clothes but no-one wants to pack them off to the charity shop/landfill (but no-one else in the family wants them in their house to keep either). SIL apparently sees this quilt as a heritage family heirloom item that we are definitely not meant to get rid of.

AIBU to be a bit creeped out about the idea of this? I get that lots of people may say that this is a lovely idea and a nice thing to do; but I have already bought DD a lovely cotbed quilt and feel a bit odd and creeped out about a quilt made of a dead relative's clothes that I didn't even know.

I also think it's more related to the fact that SIL doesn't want to do the emotional work of getting rid of the clothes and is sort of offloading the sentimental responsibility of the clothes onto us if you see what I mean. I think it would be very different if we had expressed a desire to have it or had said we thought it would be lovely for DD, but she hasn't asked us....We really really don't have anywhere to put it to hang on to it.

(And last of all being very PFB I know but I had chosen the things for DD's room and it won't go....) It seems an awkward situation if SIL spends ages making this and we then have to say we don't really want it (though I could never say this - we'd just end up not saying anything, but then how do we deal with her expecting it to be used/kept as a family heirloom?) I really don't like the idea of the quilt at all for DD - sorry if I sound ungrateful!

What to do?

BoffinMum Sun 01-Dec-13 21:42:32

I think it's a smidgin creepy but if it ends up being beautifully designed and made you may change your mind.

But I know what you mean about the hoarding. I just had the mother of all rows with DH as his family's century old crap has been piled up in our sitting room and/or dining room for eight months with me shuffling it painfully backwards and forwards periodically, and I just told him he did not have the right to fill the house with it any longer, half the house was mine and not his to take over, and he should either get a storage unit, get rid of other things to make space for it, or ditch it. It didn't end well but at least he put it in the loft. In my pique I threatened to decorate it all with tinsel and lights for the Christmas season, but he didn't see the funny side. sad He keeps being frosty and treating me like I am Hyacinth Bucket.

DoubleLifeIsALifeOfSorts Sun 01-Dec-13 21:47:20

If the lady died and was mummified in layer upon layer of tasteless man made fibre, slowly leaking through them leaving tide marks and uncertain stains, before becoming a dusty desiccated husk in the attic... Then yes, definite ick factor!

Perhaps she will prise apart the age felted layers of material apart using tweezers and aged leather gloves, before sewing them with love and cackling into a stained, musty and cloyingly soft quilt.

tchsmile

Or not!

Although given the propensity to keep everything, maybe they kept her too? shock

2Tiredtocare Sun 01-Dec-13 21:48:28

grin at double

Quoteunquote Sun 01-Dec-13 22:00:30

How lovely, hand made quilt, with a special story.

I think you have to smile sweetly and say thank you so much. As others have suggested it doesn't have to be out.

But if it's totally heinous you can always send it to the dry cleaner after a poo/vom incident where something 'awful' happens to it ... !

EduCated Bosnia-Herzegovina Sun 01-Dec-13 22:15:35

Ae they generally clean hoarders? As in, will the clothes have been properly stored in the attic so as not to be musty or mildewy?

LetsFaceTheMusicAndDance Sun 01-Dec-13 22:27:43

Gorilla over here please! He'd look a treat in the more exotic parts of my garden. How heavy will he be and will you be bringing a team of burly men? smile

Op it doesn't matter what you think of the quilt as it isn't yours to give away. It's for the baby . She is related to the old lady and might love the quilt when she's older and has her own children to wrap in it.

My nan knitted me a panda when I was born. If my cold hearted mother hadn't disposed of it when I was in uni I would have loved to give it to my sons. Sometimes things skip a generation.

traininthedistance Sun 01-Dec-13 22:44:01

Thanks everyone for the replies! I thought this might get some polarised responses, and I do totally get why lots of people think it sounds a lovely idea and I'm being ungrateful. I do like patchwork actually, and have made it myself when younger so know how time-consuming it is. It's actually partly that that frustrates me - to think of such a lot if effort going into something I feel very ambivalent about and then to run the risk of SIL feeling hurt (I have no intention of being rude, would never say I didn't want it or pretend it had got damaged, there isn't really any option apart from saying yes and how lovely etc. but I know SIL will want to know we're using it or displaying it, will ask after it and so on and will feel slighted if it's not in evidence. I hate the thought if her feeling upset.)

It is definitely from everyday clothes, not fine materials - they aren't really stuff that could go even to a charity shop apparently - SIL got the idea from American t-shirt quilts. She doesn't normally make patchwork, so I think you could all be right that it will be such slow going that it may never appear....

We really don't have any space (DD's room basically has a cot plus chair in it!) and I think even asking someone else to store it would upset SIL! Agh!

My nan was a hoarder too and was always trying to give ys stuff she didn't really want but wanted someone else to take and DH's family are very similar. I guess I think about it the way that ImperialBlether and others on the thread put it - it's not so much as a gift as if she had thought about what we might really want for DD, or asked us. Because it's loaded with emotional significance for her (but not for us - DH isn't keen on the idea either!) it's not quite like getting a Christmas present you don't care for, it's like it comes with a weight of other people's emotional attachments which makes me uncomfortable. It seems less like "beautiful patchwork quilt for DD's future family connection" and more "I have an emotional attachment to something that I'm going to make other people caretake for me in the guise of a gift", if that makes sense.

valiumredhead Sun 01-Dec-13 22:50:18

Store it under your mattress and get it out when she visits.

It would be very rude to do anything but accept a gift graciously.

I can see why you think this is creepy but also that it might be an amazing bit of family and social history. Wait and see - it may never turn up, given how long quilting takes, and if it does you can decide whether to put it away in a deep dark drawer until dd is older or to use it every day.

We have various bits from dh's family - the piece I'm most moved by is a sampler made by a girl whose name would otherwise be forgotten, but who is clearly the source of dh's Granddad's unusual middle name. Maybe one day your dd's granddaughter will cherish the quilt.

traininthedistance Sun 01-Dec-13 22:57:15

Sorry for typos! On phone and autocorrect keeps making changes....

Oh and they are definitely in bin bags in DH's aunt's very mildewy loft.

I do get why people think we're BU, though, I do think it sounds like it ought to be a lovely gift, just feel very odd about it.

traininthedistance Sun 01-Dec-13 23:05:42

And WorrySighWorrySigh your post made me laugh at "much wobbly-lipped emotion" - that is exactly what DH's family are like (and some of mine too, except mine aren't at all well off). DH's uncle is a big proponent of the "great-grannie's clothes must not be thrown out but must be preserved by someone in the family (but I don't want them in my loft)" - but was straight in (like literally the next day) when great-grannie died for the antique paintings and furniture which he has absolutely no trouble at all keeping in his house! ;)

traininthedistance Sun 01-Dec-13 23:22:52

StealthPolarBear ironically DD loves Elmer and a throw made out of him would be just the ticket grin

Maybe I could commission a gorilla for SIL....

ClaudiusMaximus Sun 01-Dec-13 23:24:43

The quilt will never appear. If they don't have the time, will, motivation to sort out their crap upstairs, which is a long process, then they won't have the time will or motivation to commit to making something like this, also a long process.

Don't worry, it'll never happen!!

Idespair Sun 01-Dec-13 23:27:38

It's gross and completely weird.
That's my helpful contribution.

Rosieliveson Sun 01-Dec-13 23:32:39

It would give me the willies but suppose its very meaningful for them. I think smaths idea is the best solution ... receive gratefully, store away but I would give back if SIL ever has a child "you made it, it should be your child's heirloom now"

WorrySighWorrySigh Sun 01-Dec-13 23:42:05

It will appear only it wont be finished. It will be a secondhand carrier bag stuffed with bits of musty old cloth sewn together.

I absolutely understand what you mean about the "weight of emotional attachment". Be on your guard for the future - this could just be the start. Who knows what toys-that-have-been-saved-until-a-new-child-arrives-in-the-family or other hand-me-downs-looking-for-a-good-home are waiting in the wings from this possession-focused family.

Be especially aware of anything where you are asked to save it and give it back when your kid has grown out of it. (My DM has done this on toys... and a friend on kids clothes (!)...). If its coming with such conditions - don't accept it. Its too hard to keep track of things once they enter the maelstrom of the household, and the worry if they get damaged.

Unfortunately I don't think you have any such choice around this quilt at this stage, for diplomacy's sake. But yes, I shudder with the alarm bells. It would be nice if you could make the decisions about the possessions in your own house - stay or go - without the weight of someone else's emotional attachment hovering around them.

missinglalaland Sun 01-Dec-13 23:52:17

ClaudiusMaximus, good point!

valiumredhead Mon 02-Dec-13 07:58:46

It takes bloody ages to make a quilt, it'll be years before you get it anywaywink

peppinagiro Mon 02-Dec-13 08:49:05

My aunt has made me some absolutely beautiful quilts that we love. The difference is she thought about us when she made them and considered what we might like, and asked what colours we had used for the house so it would match. Also, she is actually good at it.

I think the suggestion of offering to go through the clothes with sil to 'help pick' is good - if she has any social skills at all she'll clock your face when greeted with the mildewy crimplene and cheesecloth and will backtrack. Or you can fake real dismay at none of them being in a good enough state/right for whatever reason. Ir's a waste of a day but at least it saves you years of staring at the monstrosity.

Or could you go down the line of getting them to store it for you? That works a treat. 'Oh it's gorgeous! I'm worried it'll get ruined here, could it live at MiL's so DD can use it as a treat when she stays there?' or similar lies.

ClaudiusMaximus Mon 02-Dec-13 09:00:21

<nods knowingly>

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