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Charlie's Soap

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Friday, January 11
Sham-paired

I'm not a skilled interior decorator, but, I do try to keep the beds looking nice, especially in the guest room since it's the only bedroom on the main floor.

That bed and the kids beds have pillows with pillow shams on them.

I'm also not one of those people who insists on pillow mania, you know square pillows, round pillows, tubular pillows, big pillows, little pillows that have to be arranged "just so" every day, I just like the bed to look nice.

The guest bed has 2 pillows with shams and 2 pillows without, so, that ostensibly, all the potential occupant needs to do is remove the decorative pillows and sleep on the regular ones.

Easy, no?

Well, no.

You see, my husband's family and friends are apparently missing the "pillow sham" gene.

For years, my MIL would sleep on the pillows just the way they were on the bed.

I then began taking the decorative pillows off the bed and putting them aside before she retired for the night, and, the next morning I found that they had been put back on, and, slept upon.

I thought maybe the regular pillows were uncomfortable, so, I switched them with the decorative pillows.

No dice. Same thing.

I replaced all the pillows, and, told her that it was fine to take the shams off.

While the shams aren't terribly formal, they are notably not pillow cases, so, I can't imagine they'd be all that comfortable to sleep on.

Additionally, I told Busy Dad to remind her (maybe you have to know her to appreciate some of this) that it was fine to remove the shams from the decorative pillows, but, that didn't do anything because he is pillow sham-impaired as well.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Eventually, she just began bringing her own pillows with her when she visited, apparently in order to avoid the sham thing altogether.

A close friend of Busy Dad's stays with us from time to time.

He just cuts to the chase, and for reasons unclear to me, he discards the regular pillows and sleeps on the decorative pillows.

I want my guests to be comfortable, but, pillow shams do not care for being washed with that kind of frequency, and, I sure as hell ain't gonna dry clean them.

While none of this is terribly tragic, it causes me low grade consternation, but, the final straw was when I realized my kids had this apparent gene deletion when I found the (fairly nice) shams from Busy Boy's room rolled up in the windows of his room to keep out drafts, and, I found Busy D. actually inside the pillow sham on his bed, sleeping-bag style.

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Be sure to check out what TV show misrepresents working mothers (I know! Hard to believe the media would do something like that) and how the government helped me.

Also, don't forget "BUSYMOMS" is a Tiny Prints discount code. It'll save you 10% on your order over $100.

It's not too late to send Happy New Year cards if you're like me, and, your Christmas cards are, um, still at the store.

8:02 AM | Comments (35) |


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Maybe decorative is equated to more comfortable; softer; a better chance of a good night's sleep. Or, it could just be a complete conspiracy against you forged by Busy Dad. Who else has access to his mom, friends and the kids?

Posted by: khix | January 11, 2008 9:11 AM

But, but, but... its so OBVIOUS. The nice ones get put aside at night and use the regular ones. This would make me nuts. We have pillow sham pillows on all beds, and the kids just know they are for looks, not for sleeping.
I didn't realize this was not universal. Interesting.

I must be pillow-sham deficient because I sleep on pillow shams. But they are washable just like the rest of the sheets and pillow cases.

This is exactly why I don't have any pillow shams at my house.
DH and DS are definitely sham gene deprived. I see it when WE go visit the in-laws and I have to remove the decorative pillows myself - sometimes from under their sleeping heads.

Posted by: nashvegas | January 11, 2008 11:06 AM

Are your in-laws and my in-laws related? I *SO* know what you mean! It drives me absolutely crazy!

Posted by: Amanda | January 11, 2008 11:19 AM

Maybe decorating your shams with spikes would get the message across?

THIS IS SO DISTURBING!! I cannot understand why ANYONE would sleep on a pillow sham. The sleeping in one even makes more sense to me....that's a funny kind of thing that kids do: Hey, I wonder if I fit in here??

But grown people. Sleeping on decorative pillows. Ick. This is making me think I should not use decorative pillows. Perhaps they are unnecessary and I can eliminate them. I think I'd rather not have them than have someone sleep on them.

See? We totally eliminated this problem by simply deleting the whole guest room theory. Now, it is a playroom with a sofa bed. Come sleep at my house with a bar crossing your back and on a flimsy foam mattress. Good times.

Actually, my MIL might be your MIL. When we stay with her, she'll turn down the bed and have everything ready for us...and the pillows? The only pillows are on the bed and case-less inside the shams. She EXPECTS us to sleep on those foofy-frilly-lacy-gosh-awfully uncomfortable things.

You know, I didn't realize that people sent Happy New Year cards until I started going through my mothers things and found some. Holy cr*p! It's hard enough for us to get the Christmas cards out. Another Hallmark thing to make us feel guilty, I think.

I'm impressed that you even have shams.

See, this is why I wish the good old bedspread would make a stylish comeback.

My daughter doesn't sleep on the shams, but insists on leaving them on the bed, against the wall BEHIND her regular pillows. As she grows, she is getting less and less room for her legs because of the space those silly shams take up on her bed.

I sympathize and have heard many a similar pillow story. I like the spiky sham philosophy. As far as men and any understanding of good/grubby or everyday/nice or decorative/useful, forget it. It ain't gonna happen...at least it isn't in my house.

Posted by: Jean | January 11, 2008 11:59 AM

This drives me crazy as well. I had to take them off my bed for that reason. Do you think it could be your guests need more than one pillow? I know I need at least two and I always travel with my main sleeping pillow?

Boy, did this strike a cord with me. My mil and sil will sleep on the guest bed between the comforter and blanket. Are there sheets on the bed? Why, yes. Are they clean? Yes, again. My husband has even asked them why they do this and get answere like "I was to tried to" To what? Pull down the sheet? It bugged me so much I took all the beding off the bed. Just a mattress pad and comforter. If they get cold, then they have to ask for a blanket. Evil, I know.

Posted by: Heather | January 11, 2008 12:50 PM

I am LOL about these shams! We are sham-impaired at our house, too. Actually, I think we would do best to be minimalists at our house--fewer things to take care of, maintain properly, etc. But that ain't gonna happen anytime soon! People's sleep habits are very interesting!

OMG!

Thank you for writing about this! I thought maybe I was the only one with clueless friends!

I'd been taking the shammed pillows off the bed when company came - but same thing! (and there are 4 PILLOWS on the bed without shams) - so WHO needs to use the 3 with shams? But still NO LUCK. So now I just walk into their room mid-evening and do "turn down" service ... and REMOVE THE SHAMS.

*shakes head*

Oh that would really bother me. One does not sleep on shams. One does not put them on the floor either. They go on the chair at night and then back in the bed in the morning.

This is just the way it is.

This would drive me absolutely crazy. And I'm not even a well-decorated person. My house is definitely not home to Martha Stewart, and yet even I know one does not sleep on the shams.

Posted by: carolyn | January 11, 2008 3:34 PM

Yep, my mother is one pillow-crazy-lady and has about a bazillion fru-fru-type pillows thrown all over the bed.

The kids LOVE sleeping over Nagy Mama's house and never, EVER give her a problem about going to bed.

Go figure.

shams - I shun the shams - in all home decorating, form follows function. They have no function.

Come and sleep at my house and you'll be lucky if the pillow cases match each other or the rest of the bedding. Like lottery winner lucky, 'cause it ain't happening.

But we try to make sure that our guest beds are really comfy - we pay good money for good mattresses.

I usually sleep with 2 pillows, so if I'm a guest, I'll put the fancy sham pillow underneath the normal pillow. But just having them there distresses me a little.

OMG, this is so funny. My favorite line: "Eventually, she just began bringing her own pillows..." Hys-TER-ical.

I used to like shams. They look so nice and all...but I started rebelling against things that were just there to LOOK cute. I want my house to look nice but I also want it to be functional. I don't have a big enough house - or budget - for frou-frou. I just get several sets of regular pillowcases & mix & match. Nice bed, fluffy pillows, all comfy, all useful. At least, that's how it is on OUR bed. The guest room has the last set of remaining shams. And my MIL slept on them last weekend. I really don't think she knows any better...

Mine too is clueless...and obnoxious. The last time she was here she slept with Miss-D and took the sheets (that is right...sheets, plural-top and bottom) off of the bed and put them in the floor of the closet. She then replaced them with assorted blankets from our linen closet. When she left I found myself washing the sheets cause she clearly broke the 3 second rule by leaving them on the floor of my daughter's closet for 3 days and 5 blankets...

She also uses 3 CLEAN bath cloths with every shower and 2 or 3 CLEAN towels.

She is my favorite....(/sarcasam off)

One wonders if it's just a sham or if it's a conspiracy.

One wonders if it's just a sham or if it's a conspiracy.

I read your post and I'm happy to say that all I could thing was, "HUH?" I'm such a typical guy. Just give me a pillow that doesn't feel like I'm in a hotel!!

I'm with you. That would cause me a bit of consternation as well.

Actually, to be honest, it would likely cause me extreme irritation with a touch of "WTF is wrong with you people?"

Inside the sham? Like a sleeping bag? That sounds mighty cute, but oh, my. He really doesn't get it, either. :)

I'm thinking 'special' burlap shams, applied freshly before guests arrive (yes, passive aggressive).

Pillows are soft because we put them under our heads. Decorative objects should be hung on the wall, where they can be looked at but not touched. I really do not understand the concept of a decorative pillow that should not be used. Stop watching HGTV, please!

Posted by: STL Mom | January 14, 2008 11:49 AM

Pillows are soft because we put them under our heads. Decorative objects should be hung on the wall, where they can be looked at but not touched. I really do not understand the concept of a decorative pillow that should not be used. Stop watching HGTV, please!

Posted by: STL Mom | January 14, 2008 11:49 AM

I'm probably the only gay male who doesn't worship Martha as his patron saint, but count me among the non-sham set. I don't want a pillow on my bed unless i can sleep on it.

I figure that a bedroom is for sleeping rather than for show, and if it's going to be used for other purposes, I'd like to think that my 'guest' would remember things other than "wow, he had great pillow shams."

I know I'm late on the game on this comment. I actually wasn't going to comment, but I have not not been able to stop thinking about this since I read it a few days ago.

First, why would you treat your guests so poorly? Giving your mother-in-law so much grief about the pillows that she brings her own? If someone treated me like that, I'd never go visit again!

Second, if you don't want people to sleep on the shams, then why don't you take them off the bed and hide them? Put them in the attic and if she still seeks them out to sleep on them, then you both have serious problems.

If people come so far to visit me that they need to spend the night, they can sleep with my Tiffany candlesticks as their pillow - they are the guest and I want them to be comfortable and want to come visit again.

Of course, if I don't want them to ever visit again, I might berate them about their choice of pillow.

Perhaps your MIL thinks those shams are comfortable?

1. You have no idea how I treat my MIL. or my guests.

Furthermore, there is nothing in this post that indicates that I am a poor host.

I work very hard to make sure my guests are comfortable, I enjoy doing that.

As a matter of fact, for example, I stated that I replaced the pillows thinking they were uncomfortable.

Why in the hell would you assume I give her "grief"?

This is not that complicated.

For a long time I had no idea she was sleeping on the shams, and, after I knew that, I tried to make it simpler, it didn't work.

As I said in the post, there are 2 pillows without shams on the bed, it is very obvious, so, that's why it confuses me.

2. I don't take the shams off for the reason I just stated.

I want them there, and, there are two other pillows without shams sitting right there, and, there are more pillows in the closet.

Additionally, many people know to take the shams off pillows to use them, and, for a long time I had no idea that was such a mystery to some people.

Look, you are right, I don't know how you treat guests. I assumed (in the hell) that you gave her grief because you wrote that she felt the need to bring her own pillows when she visited to avoid the sham issue. I don't think that's an unfair assumption, given the information provided.

Not everyone is raised in a household where money is available to be spent freely on decorative pillows. My parents were more concerned about making sure the electricity didn't get shut off than about the presentation of our beds. I didn't know what a sham was until I was 18, and a friend of mine told me her mother got her a pillow sham for her dorm. I didn't know what it was, so I had to ask. Even then, I didn't know you weren't supposed to sleep on it.

And really, now at the age of 31, college-educated and everything, I probably wouldn't have known not to sleep on a sham. I'm sure I have in the past. If it looks like a pillow and is shaped like a pillow, well then, I assume it's a pillow.

I think I need to write a letter to the university and complain. NO SHAM EDUCATION! Shameful.

Question: If the sham touches the ground, do you have to burn it?

Wow, such anger Amy.

It's not appealing.

Especially for a humorous post. I didn't grow up in a pillow sham family, but there were an inordinlte number of hand-crocheted doilies and quilts, made by women who i couldn't hold a candle to.

This isn't a rich vs poor thing.

It's a commn sense thing

There was no anger in my last comment, it was all humor. Tone is so hard to judge in a comment.

I thought I was being quite funny.

Hello, I know this conversation was a year ago...but pillow sham questions never go out of style I guess! I am learning about shams too, didn't grow up with such a thing, didn't learn about it at college either (I think they used to at ladies training schools? maybe we should bring that back) but now have my own house and my own MIL and my own pillow issues. We just decorated a guest bedroom and the in-laws are the first to use it coming tomorrow. The shams came with the quilt. So I put them on the bed. I looked up online how to make them look pretty. They are OK, but what do you do with them at night? On the chair, someone said, that woudl be lovely, but alas, no extra chair in the guest room. I'm pretty sure the in-laws are not pillow sham savvy. My dh thinks I'm crazy for spending money on something you don't use. I am starting to agree! The in-laws are arriving late at night and will probably fall into bed without even opening their eyes, so I'm wondering if I should keep the pillows on to impress them with our new guest room? or take them off for them so they can just get to sleep? We just don't have room in this house for extra stuff like that...too many kids toys taking over! Thanks for keeping this conversation around!