I have been married for 10 years and I love my husband’s family and I believe they love me. My mom passed 5 years ago around Thanksgiving so I am grateful to be a part of my husband’s family Thanksgiving tradition. It keeps me from being alone and depressed.
Every year we rotate between his mom or his aunt’s house for dinner. They sometimes argue over who’s turn it is but they always work it out and dinner is always great. However, the downside is they do all the cooking. While the rest of the family come with their whole family, eat, don’t clean up and don’t bring anything. His moms feet are usually swollen afterwards and she complains for the next week. I always feel guilty thinking, we (the younger women in the family) should have done more.
This year I want it to be a little different. I would like to offer to host Thanksgiving Dinner at our home but I don’t want to do all the work. However the upside is our home is more spacious. As an in law, am I allowed to suggest dinner at my house or should I just shut up and go with the flow?
Dear Ms. Thanksgiving,
I think it’s wonderful you are ready to step up and take some of the load off the older women in the family. I am sure your mother n law will appreciate the offer, but make sure you do things in order. In other words, discuss it with your husband first, he knows the idiosyncrasies in his family. Call your mother n law second to make the offer and then you call your aunt n law third. Tell them you still need their help but you don’t want them to do all the work anymore. Believe me, most older women are too particular about their food to let you do too much at first anyway. They will not turn their Thanksgiving dinner over to you without knowing its going to be good and without knowing you are committed to keeping the tradition going.
Here is the kicker, after getting their consent, you must personally call every cousin and close friend that is usually at the Matriarchs home for Thanksgiving and tell them it’s going to be at your home this year. Why? Because if you don’t, one of them will say you did not invite them. While it’s automatic for the family members to go to their grandmother’s house or their aunt’s house, it is not automatic for them to come to yours. They must be invited! You are the in law and may expect your husband to take care of notifying his family but men often drop the ball in that department. So you must personally extend the invitation to everyone. Now, once you began calling, you must try to call everyone so no one can call and tell the other one they were not invited. You don’t want to offend any one expecting some else to tell them. You will be surprised who is extra sensitive in the family. This is the biggest challenge I foresee for your first year of Thanksgiving dinner, dealing with feelings or forgetting someone. You must make sure everyone feels welcome so they will want to keep the family tradition rolling.
As far as you not doing all the work, know that if it is at your home, you will do most of it. When you do call, be sure and tell them you are trying to take some of the stress off of the Matriarchs. Then, they may be more willing to help. If you know a dish that one of the cousin prepares well, ask them if they would make that for Thanksgiving If a family members asks if they can bring anything, do not say No. Say something, even if they can’t cook. Ice, soda or napkins is a help. Lord forbid they fall into the same behavior at your home. However you start is how you will be expected to continue Who ever does not want to cooperate, don’t worry, they will eventually come around when they see everyone else enjoying each others dishes and desserts. For those of you going to someone homes be considerate try not to go empty handed. May God bless your home and your new family traditions.