Smuckers Showdown

Relationships fascinate me.

“Smuckers?” my father in law said from the kitchen. “Did you buy Smuckers?”

“Yup,” said my MIL from her seat on the couch. The kids and I were having a visit, and apparently MIL had made at trip to the grocery earlier.

“I usually get the other kind. The Harvest, the store brand. It’s on the bottom shelf. It’s cheaper.”

“I imagine the Smuckers was on sale,” answered MIL, unperturbed.

“Hmm,” said my FIL.

“You can always go buy the other kind, if you like,” she said evenly. “Do you get the jam, or the preserves?”

“They taste the same,” he said.

Now, what was the conversation about? Did he think Smuckers was too expensive, or did he really love the store brand better? (I think it’s the former.)

My MIL and FIL are very different. She was a stay-home mom who also has a teaching credential and a Master’s in English. She is devoutly Catholic. He was an engineer by trade, and agnostic. She’s a teetotaler. He has a daily cocktail.

What’s kind of cool for me to watch, sometimes, is how calmly she handles him. She is not ruffled by things that would annoy me. (But then, I’m half Irish).

I wonder if in a successful relationship, if there’s one person who is the calmer one– who lets little things slide and keeps his or her tongue when it doesn’t matter– and one person who gets annoyed easily. I guess if both people were calm, that’d be okay; but if both people were prone to flying off the handle easily, that wouldn’t be.

And if you were always the calm one, would you think, “I’m sick of being the calm one! Why can’t HE be the calm one for once?!”

Published by Margaret Dilloway

Middle grade and women's fiction novelist. FIVE THINGS ABOUT AVA ANDREWS, (Balzer + Bray 2020); SUMMER OF A THOUSAND PIES. MOMOTARO: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters (Disney Hyperion); TALE OF THE WARRIOR GEISHA and SISTERS OF HEART AND SNOW, out now from Putnam Books. HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE was a finalist for the John Gardner fiction award. THE CARE AND HANDLING OF ROSES WITH THORNS is the 2013 Literary Tastes Best Women's Fiction Pick for the American Library Association. Mother of three children, wife to one, slave to a cat, and caretaker of the best overgrown teddy bear on Earth, Gatsby the Goldendoodle.

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