How do you handle negative family interactions during holiday dinners?

Asked by LuckyGuy (33372) November 14th, 2012

As usual, we are hosting Thanksgiving and, unfortunately, it is never a Norman Rockwell event. Father in law, FIL, divorced MIL after 30 years to marry his childhood sweetheart 20 years ago. Sister in law decided she did not want to be a mother and left husband with young son. She has since married. BIL had fight with FIL and will not come if he is there, nephew has 2 children out of wedlock and the mother is now back with her ex, etc. I know as hosts we are supposed to decide and control who comes into our house and not let others determine the guest list. We never accept an ultimatum, e.g. “I won’t come if he is there.” But, we understand there are hard feelings and the negative vibes are often so thick you can cut it with a knife.
Here’s how we handle it. I make a spreadsheet with the names of invitees across the top and down the sides. The diagram looks like graph paper. I then color in each square with the interaction level. If A will come no matter what and has no problems with anyone, their row and column is all white. If B is fine with everyone else but won’t come if C is there I put a black triangle in the lower left corner of the box. If C won’t come if B is there I fill in the whole square. (mutually exclusive). I work my way down the list filling in the squares as I know it. If this were not so tragic it would be funny.
I found that is was possible to have 2 dinners. A dinner for all the people who have no problems with anyone or are willing to let bygones be bygones, and a second dinner consisting of the leftovers for those who simply cannot face the ones who showed up on the main holiday. If someone can’t fit into both holidays, tough! Happy freaking Thanksgiving!

So, how do you handle similar interactions at your events? What do you do if Aunt Tillie won’t come if Victor shows up with his gay partner of 5 years? What do you do if the second leftover holiday becomes bigger than the first?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

Holy christ. My family is a Norman Rockwell painting compared to that. If things get a little unruly at our house I just say ah hem and give a hard stare and it takes care of the problem. But we don’t have any issues like that.

Goodness! You get credit for putting so much effort into it. I would invite everyone and let them decide on their own if they want to come and behave. If they sucked after a dinner or too, I would go on vacation with my spouse for Thanksgiving the next couple of years. We kind of did that actually after a bad Christmas at my MIL. They were horrible to us, mostly it was my husband’s sister, some his mom, and next Christmas we went to Vegas. We didn’t do it to punish them or send a message, but rather because we just were not going to subject ourselves. We don’t go every Christmas to the family, so it did not have to stand out. However, it turned out they seemed to take it more seriously than we expected, at least my husband’s mother did. Last time she was here she mentioned the shitty Christmas, blamed it on my husband’s brother and SO staying also in the house along with us, too many people. His brother and SO did nothing to bother us, funny how she twisted it.

As far as handeling the negative interaction during the moment, because really what I described above was what we did after the fact, I left the table and cried in my room a little a few times when it was my husband’s family. During that one Christmas especially I did that twice, and then when his sister started on me again during breakfast one morning (we were there a long weekend) instead of arguing back that would create a fight, I said something to her to shut the conversation down. She was telling me what to do and I said back that if she thinks I am doing something wrong then she can do it, go ahead (long story). At the moment she said she is not going to do it and the whole thing dropped. I had said it firmly, and she asked me to repeat it because she was surprised by what I said, and when ahe asked me to repeat it all conversations stopped and everyone heard. I looked like a bitch probably to all of them, I am really not sure, maybe they thought she was the bitch. I really have no idea.

Anyway, what I learned was when my husband and I pull away the family comes running after us so to speak. As long as they are manipulating people they revel in it. They love the power or something. There is always someone they have to hate, and they seem to be able to move the hate around; one year it is a brother, the next year it is their mother, the next year it is an SO. My husband does not give a shit about family mishagas. He does not placate anyone. He looks at it like it is their problem. He also doesn’t hold grudges like the rest of them nor look to hate someone.

JLeslie (52980)

I’ve gotta’ say things run pretty well this way. Both events are fun. Throw a couple of grandkids in the mix an it is quite pleasant. (I think that’s why people have them.)

The problem is, I empathize with people. I can understand why my MIL would not want to be in the same room as the FILs new (old) wife. She feels uncomfortable and I want everyone to relax and have a good time.
Now the SIL who “didn’t want to be a mother” wants to enjoy the grandchildren. Does she bring her husband while her first husband, who took care of their son, is excluded? And so it goes….

@JLeslie That sounds awful. We’ve never had anyone in tears. Yikes!
Also very little alcohol is consumed. That seems to reduce the chances of arguing. You might give it a try.

LuckyGuy (33372)

We have the occasional spat but for the most part those who have problems don’t bother coming and everyone else is fine with that.
Biggest problem, we have is a niece had an argument with my DIL (word of caution, be careful typing the abbreviation DIL as the “K” key is next to the “L” key and had I not gone back and reviewed this would have been a very embarrasing typo) They are both in their mid 20’s. We warned my SIL to stay out of it and let them work it out but she did not follow our advice. Even tho the two younger ones have subsequently made up, my SIL is still angry. We no longer see that side of the family anymore on holidays and that causes my MIL much sorrow.

rojo (20328)

@LuckyGuy We aren’t drinkers either. Sometimes there is a glass of wine with dinner, but not as a rule, and maybe only half the adults even have wine at all if there is a bottle of wine. No drinking ahead of dinner. Alcohol is not the problem.

It usually is not bad like that. They go through needing to hate someone or something and then things smooth over for a few years. It isn’t a given the family will be horrible during a get together, in fact the majority of the time it is fine. What I know now is when it sucks I just do my best to get through it and remove myself, and do little to engage in the chaos.

JLeslie (52980)

We stopped having the large family get together two years ago. The conflict between my mom and my sister’s wife became too stressful during the holidays, so we now spend the holidays with our immediate families. We met my parents and my husband’s mom and nieces for a Christmas meal at a Chinese buffet last year. We met the weekend before Christmas and had a wonderful time. We will be doing the same this year. The larger group gatherings with siblings and their families are now done when the weather is warmer and we can all gather outside without the stress of being cooped up indoors.

jonsblond (40336)

Yeesh. That’s a lot of hassle.

Growing up with my stepfamily, there was a huge conspiracy – everyone attends all family gatherings because no one wants Gramma to be disappointed.Because grand-ma’s disappointment face will rust gold and melt holes into asphalt.

Apparently I made some serious waves the year I opted to go to my fiancé‘s grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving, and then my own grandmother’s house for Christmas Eve.

Clearly, unacceptable. That was the first year there were no gifts for me under the tree.

I stopped going altogether. Who needs that kind of emotional blackmail?

Last year I threw Thanksgiving for my friends who didn’t have family in town (or at all). It ended up being a huge crowd of very happy partygoers, and there were no leftovers. Someone even did the dishes for me!

I highly recommend avoiding family at all if possible on all regulatory “Family Holidays”.

Seek (34203)

We don’t have drama on that level.

That said, sometimes I would prefer to have a small Thanksgiving, or to invite friends instead of family. So I’ve been thinking that each year I’ll try a different cooking theme and see if I can turn people off from coming back next year (family all invite themselves over).

So this year it’s organic and “healthy”. Big local bird, nothing fried, no milk products, whole foods, no grains. I’m really looking forward to it but maybe slightly hoping others don’t.

If that doesn’t work, next year I’m doing southern. Macaroni and cheese, grits, fried turkey, collard greens. I’ve really considered this, but am mostly kidding.

Cupcake (13153)

@Cupcake, @Seek_Kolinahr , I lived overseas for a while and it was a pleasure to have Thanksgiving with just friends. Ah… “friends”... even the word makes me feel better.

LuckyGuy (33372)

My holidays are bliss now with the difficult relatives either being dead, or, I divorced them.
Haha
It’s great, no stress, no hassle, only fun and silliness.
My poor daughter though, she HATES her grandmother on her dads side, an extremely controlling and snobby woman that has no problem laying on the guilt trips and letting you know what an unhappy little camper she is when things don’t go her way.
She has refused to include my daughters boyfriend of 3 years in a lot of events and then becomes nasty when my daughter declines invitations in favor of her boyfriends family who are like me, fun, flexible, easy going and not control freaks.

Last year she created a huge drama when my daughter opted for spending Thanksgiving with her boyfriends family, with “Nana” telling her, point blank, that ” actions speak louder than words” and guilt tripping her to no end. She just keeps digging her own grave even deeper and my daughter has actually said that she thinks the holidays will be much better after Nana drops dead. lol

Coloma (45689)

I would LOVE a Thanksgiving with friends. Maybe someday.

Cupcake (13153)

I do not envy you. I would have the first holiday dinner and let the second group find their own turkey.

Set up house rules wherein your house is neutral territory. Tell the combatants that if they come, they are agreeing in advance to no hostilities.

Then give thanks if no one comes to blows.

marinelife (61058)

@LuckyGuy I’d bake a couple of humble pies and toss in some Crow in for good measure.
Better yet, butcher the boobs on the back 40.
4 and 20 fucked up relatives baked into a pie. lol

Coloma (45689)

I handle it by not going. I use to all enjoy my family-in-law dinners but it have gotten too weird the last few years that I always have a reason not to go. They have been borrowing large amounts of money from my wife and I (we never expect to get it back) and I don’t enjoy having to sit there and listen to their liberal politics as well as problems and requests for more money. Through it all I’m expected to smile and pretend to have a good time. Frankly, I can do very well without that pain.

gondwanalon (14626)

@LuckyGuy We don’t have anything like that in our family. However, my family gradually moved away from large family gatherings as my siblings got older. I’m sure part of that is due to some of us moving to other parts of the country, but even so, it’s rare that those of us still here gather for a formal dinner at holidays. I tend to assume most families grow out of that, and wonder why some try so hard to force everyone together.

Is there actually enough good will between the family members who attend your Thanksgiving to make it worth doing? Could you perhaps just do a smaller event, that would include just those who won’t cause acrimony?

glacial (12115)

First signs of trouble, just fart out The Waltons theme, this should, by default alone, bring about that oh so special family ambiance once again.

ucme (44310)

Good idea idea @glacial !

Coloma (45689)

@ucme Has an idea too @LuckyGuy !
Put together a 4 hour mixed cd of nothing but sickeningly sappy songs with a general themes of love, forgiveness, family and coming together. haha
Oh my…could I have FUN with this! ;-p
A little passive aggressive offense to drive the mad dogs insane.

It can be subliminal enough that the difficult ones will be unconsciously compelled to leave early.
Get INTO it this year, get CREATIVE, set things up so they will hang themselves with the twine you provide. lol

Coloma (45689)

@Cupcake We had a friends only Thanksgiving one year and it was a lot of fun. Our family get together was canceled that year due to illness, so my husband and I decided to invite friends over that didn’t have family in the area or those who had nowhere to go. It felt good to have a meal for friends that needed it. :)

jonsblond (40336)

Gracious @LuckyGuy, that’s insane amazing!

A dear 90 year-old aunt still hosts her family’s gatherings, which includes an ongoing feud between two of her daughters, to the point where they do not speak to each other. The compromise was to have one group eat in the dining room and the other at the kitchen table.

The only oddball thing that our family has had to deal with is with my sister’s ex-husband. He would show up unannounced and, without saying a word, walk around the dining room table eating off of our plates. If Dad had still been alive when this happened, he would have gotten the boot. We put up with it because their three daughters were there and oblivious to the tension it caused.

We all probably have our family quirks, particularly during the holidays. There comes a point where it isn’t worth it. Having to do a spreadsheet in order to avoid chaos would probably be mine. Props to you @LuckyGuy.

Pied_Pfeffer (25042)

You are all too kind. Some of you suggested not inviting the relatives which cause acrimony. That is difficult. All the sisters are invited. They are all local and we see them regularly. Should I expect the “irresponsible sister” (the one who walked out on her husband and infant son) to leave her new husband home so the old one does not feel bad? His kids and ours are cousins and are the same age. I don’t exclude anyone. But I do understand how feelings are hurt. Thus the spreadsheet. It seems to work.
Some day I will throw in the towel and have Thanksgiving at Coloma’s place. It believe it would be great!

LuckyGuy (33372)

@jonsblond I love orphans’ holiday parties! I’ve hosted these a couple of times when away from home for the holidays. So relaxed and easy. @LuckyGuy, I highly recommend playing the orphan sometime – perhaps to @Coloma as you suggest. :)

glacial (12115)

I managed to have a wonderful Thanksgiving gathering with my family. Everyone had a good time. It started with telling my mom to invite everyone and warn them that there would be no family drama. If it was there intent to rehash past wrongs or to gossip and cause trouble or to over-do on the booze than they can stay home or take the chance and make the long trip to be kicked out. And those with uncontrolable children had to make sure to reign them in. Those near by where to pitch in by bringing food and I made all the arrangements.
Everyone left their drama at home that day and we all had a great time. Even my mom!

Pandora (26409)

@Pied_Pfeffer LOL.
No offense @LuckyGuy ;-).... but seriously, I’d rather drop poison in their tea than create a spread sheet of how to manage neurotic family members. lol
Pointing trigger finger at my head

Coloma (45689)

Two words: Casino Buffet

Kardamom (26160)

I don’t believe I’d be inviting that lot. In fact, if Thanksgiving looked like that to me, I think I’d be saying to my husband, “F*** it. Let’s go out.”

We don’t have huge family dinners any more; that ended when my husband’s parents departed the scene. (My family is and mostly has been all on the other coast.) But there never were uncivil differences among the festive diners, even when the numbers got up around 20 and included several extended branches. Everyone was civilized enough to put aside petty gripes for the sake of a holiday meal.

Still, I regarded those events as an ordeal just because of the scale and all that unbridled niceness, which wore me down. I was relieved when it came down to “just us” and perhaps one or two guests of our choice.

Jeruba (44760)

@Coloma Re. poison in the tea… that reminds me of a different holiday gathering!

glacial (12115)

We like never invite people for Thanksgiving, it’s always just me, my brother, and my dad.
A lot of times I don’t want to participate and just wanna chill in my room but then my dad gets all mad so I just humor him and go to the table and that solves the problem.

TinyChi (990)

Good grief is all I can say about the effort you go to. Well done on being so patient and determined to make it work. I take the easy way out. I pretty much don’t talk to anyone outside my immediate family (children and husband) that live close enough for us to interact with and so we do our own thing. If I did still interact with those who live close by, I think I would say dinner is here, come if you want and if you can’t be nice while in my home, don’t bother. That’s probably why I spend things like Christmas etc. with my immediate family.

Bellatrix (21196)

I used to get really loaded on whatever I had at hand.

bookish1 (13103)

I’ll have to wait a few more years until some people begin to die off.
It sure was nice when we lived away from all this mess. It was just my immediate family. Peaceful.
Ahhh… how I long for the good old days.

LuckyGuy (33372)

When anyone in our family feels our of sorts during a family gathering, they usually excuse themselves from the room and go play on the computer or take a walk.

We have lost so many family members over the years that those of us who are left make it work as we realize how precious each of us are to each other despite MANY differences and disagreements along the way.

Kayak8 (16433)

This year my sister invited me to spend Thanksgiving with her. Her fiancé, my father, my other sister, and possibly one of my brothers.
My parents are divorced, so my mom won’t go if my dad is there, because he always starts a fight.
I personally think the whole thing is childish, and would like to stay home and eat a whole turkey by myself. :)

AshLeigh (15541)

During a period when I was finding it difficult to be with my mother and sister, I chose to absent myself and volunteer at a local soup kitchen. Boy, was I not alone; we volunteers had to share the jobs, there were so many of us.

I never remember any holidays like the ones you are describing. We avoid negative feelings and serious nasty vibes by making other choices. It appears that everyone deals with conflicts (which certainly exist) elsewhere. I cannot imagine spending time with family where I had to excuse myself often and weep in my room.

Last year we had a three-day-feast with 24 of us. It included my ex-husband (of 22 years) with his girlfriend, and my three ex-step sons and their families. My ex’s first wife was invited but chose to decline; we all would have been fine but she was more comfortable elsewhere.

There are always some minor squabbling between spouses and partners but it is usually played out privately.

There are no drinkers in this crowd, which is interesting. We always have a few bottles of wine and beer on hand; half the time they are unopened. (Milo does have a few champagne cocktails but no one ever quarrels with him.)

Has my life been too dull? I used to occasionally wish that my parents quarreled and then made up so that I had an example of how it was done.

gailcalled (54393)

It’s not really something I have to deal with often because my mom usually spends holidays with her fiancés family, and even though they invite me also, I feel like if I don’t even like my own family functions, I sure as hell don’t want to go to someone else’s family functions either.

cheebdragon (17100)

I have learned to stand back, shut up and drink til I don’t mind so much.

For the past 9 years, I have had to sit and watch as my husband celebrates Christmas, as he had always done for about 8 or so years before I arrived, with his ex-girlfriend and their child. Yes, even when our little bundle of joy came, he went over there and left me at home with 1 month old Little Man and made dinner for her and her two kids (only one of which is his, biologically, but he has acted as surrogate dad from time to time). I am invited to her house, and, on certain years, expected to host the event in my own home. Hubby buys all the food and fixes it. She supplies some of the ‘libation’.

One year, hubby was off the northern shore of Australia for Christmas. She neither invited me to her house, nor came over to my house when I invited her to stop by. The company my husband works for sent over a flower arrangement. I set it a place at the dinner table. That Christmas was all about making it special for Little Man and taking loads of pictures of how we dragged the tree home on the sled, over the newly fallen snow and how we decorated it together on Lille Julaften.

This year, regardless of everyone else’s plans, I am taking little man to his grandmothers house near Oslo. Bestemor needs a special Christmas this year and Little Man and I want to see that she gets it.

cazzie (23577)

It’s amazing how different we all are, isn’t it? When my grandmother was still alive, all holiday dinners were at her house. I decided to opt out altogether at a certain point, because the uncle who had sexually abused me for all of my childhood was always present, and I no longer wanted to see him at all. That year, I was the biggest drama, just by not being there for the first time ever. It was really hard…knowing my whole family was together on those days, and not being there, but it was necessary for my mental health. We all got used to it, meeting up just before or just after Christmas, without the uncle.

Later on, once my (now ex-) husband and I had kids, all holiday dinners were at our place. We invited everyone and let the chips fall where they may. Most of them came, including friends and even ex-spouses. If drama cropped up, I’d hit someone with a dish towel and tell them to knock it off. With a smile, of course. Usually worked. Now that we’re divorced, my ex and his fiance and my second husband and I are frequently at the same events, with no trouble. For the most part, we all get along. Thank goodness!

Best Thanksgiving I ever spent was with friends.

augustlan (47243)

@augustlan really encompasses the spirit of the season when she writes: ” If drama cropped up, I’d hit someone with a dish towel and tell them to knock it off. With a smile, of course. ” There is a lesson in there for all of us. *smile Beware the symbolic and ceremonial dish towel.

cazzie (23577)

This Q makes me wonder if family gatherings when I was growing up were stressful for the adults? I loved when the family was together for Passover and Thanksgiving. If anyone hated going to those events I had no idea. Do you think the children at the holiday gatherings know the adults are annoyed? Those dinners when I was a child were at my maternal grandparents apartment. Later I went to big family parties with my at the time boyfriend in high school, and they all seemed to love being with family. Birthdays, Christmas, Sunday picnics. It wasn’t until I was married that I knew how family discorse could be. Even now most holiday gatherings are fine, there just was a very very sbad pell there for a few years with my husband’s family, and now I know how to handle it all better if it happens again. My own family my sister in the last 10 years won’t go somewhere if my father is there, which would be way worse if we all lived near each other, but we don’t.

JLeslie (52980)

@cazzie The dishtowel, while certainly a symbol of authority, is MUCH more than just ceremonial.

It is a fully functioning sophisticated device which is utilized in the proper, proscribed manner at the appropriate time to assert said authority and maintain discipline among the subordinates.

rojo (20328)

@rojo I think we all need a dish towel like this. I am imagining a future time, when all live in peace with each other and there would be no need to actually ever use the dish towel and it would then become symbolic and ceremonial.

cazzie (23577)

my family is full of smart ass criticism and bullying. I hate it. and leave PDQ

jazmina88 (11622)

@jazmina88 give them all dishtowels and let them fight it out.

rojo (20328)

My dishtowel must have been the precursor to the Fluther whip. :p

augustlan (47243)

Ooooh snap that dish towel. I am quite gifted in towel snapping. lol

Coloma (45689)

@augustlan: I decided to opt out altogether at a certain point, because the uncle who had sexually abused me for all of my childhood was always present, and I no longer wanted to see him at all. That year, I was the biggest drama, just by not being there for the first time ever. It was really hard…

My hat is off to you, but I do want to transport myself into the past and shake your family for making you do all the work.

gailcalled (54393)

Thanks, @gailcalled. I’d like to shake them, too!

augustlan (47243)

I actually enjoy cooking the turkey. I put in thermocouples and continuously monitor the temperature of the oven and the turkey. My goal is to have it reach 180F at the exact minute predicted.
Warning: If you think I am sane, and want to continue believing that, read no further.

You have been warned.

I have software running the whole time plotting the warmup curve . If I see the temperature deviating from the ideal curve I make small adjustments to the oven temp. I usually hit the finish time within one minute of predicted. Nobody has to wait.
When I say dinner will be served at X o’clock, it is ready.

LuckyGuy (33372)

@LuckyGuy Not to encourage your neurosis, but do you consider the turkey temperature when you first put it in the oven when you do this calculation?

JLeslie (52980)

Absolutely. That particular turkey was fresh (never frozen). That means it was near 40 F. The boxes highlighted in yellow are the variables I enter when starting the program: turkey weight, the recommended cooking time per pound from the supplier and the desired finish time.

It turn out that starting a few degrees plus or minus is insignificant as the corrections down the road absorb it. However, if a part of the turkey is still frozen, that make a huge difference. The heat of fusion is about 80 times that of the thermal mass of thawed turkey. That means it retains the low temperature for a longer period of time and the curve will have a flat spot in it for about 20 minutes before rising, forcing me to raise the oven temperature a few degrees above the base cooking temp. Either way the turkey is always done to perfection.

I’m an engineer. I can’t help it.

LuckyGuy (33372)

^^ Turkey nerd. I love it!

augustlan (47243)

^ And the oven temp is always exactly in calibration. That makes baking a joy. There are no surprises.

(Now that you know the truth, I hope you don’t think less of me.)

LuckyGuy (33372)

@LuckyGuy You so crack me up! Then there’s me, I just dither along sipping champagne and prepping and dinner is always much later than anticipated, partly because of the champagne, interspersed with socializing and my natural right brained scatterdness.
We have drank much champagne over the years when dinner is an hour late. lol

Coloma (45689)

I love it. I find it very attractive. OCD, but attractive. Now and then my husband and I have to figure out some sort of mathmatical equation for something and I get a kick out of it. Once in a blue moon he calls me to figure out an equation for a spreadsheet. It gets even more complex because he grew up in metric, so some measurements in our system don’t stick in his memory (like how many ounces in a cup or pound) but on the other hand in general he is much more knowledgable about converting metric to our system in his head (especially distance, kilometers, that sort of thing).

.

JLeslie (52980)

@LuckyGuy I’m a vegetarian, and even that got me HOT! Rowrrrrrrr!

Kardamom (26160)

I miss the turkey thing. Here they eat really fatty pork ribs… a whole side of them. It is disgusting. They never served much in the way of veg. When I asked what the side dishes were, they started describing them with a glint in their eye, but all I heard was ‘meat sausages’, ‘smaller meat sausages’, ‘melted butter with bacon pieces as a sauce’, ‘lamb chops that are soaked in brine and smoked and dried’. So, I said, ‘Oh, so… you have a side dish of meat with your meat.’ and they replied, ‘Oh, we have veg too!’ and I got excited and asked, ‘What veg?’ and they said, ‘Potatoes and sauerkraut.’ ‘Ahhhh… I said, being a vegetarian at the time. I get to eat potatoes and sauerkraut for Christmas. yippee. When it is at my house, I make sure there are brussel-sprouts and a few other good veggies.

cazzie (23577)

@cazzie You’d be in heaven at my mother’s house. She makes about 14 different veggies. I’ve eaten two full plates of food before getting to a little turkey.

@cazzie I was just visiting friends, and before we arrived the husband, the chef of the house, was telling me the menu he was considering. Tortellini soup, pasta carbanara, osso bucco with rissotto, and finally conolis. Italian theme obviously. Pasta, pasta, starch, and a dessert I don’t like. I asked if there was a vegetable, and he asked, “do you want a vegetable?” He did alter the menu a little, but still no veg, unless you count beans/legumes, he did add those to the serving of the osso bucco and the crab cakes he wound up doing for the third course (there were 5 courses in the end). This same friend I have been to thanksgiving dinner at their house and they have the turkey and the stuffing has sausage in it, and everything is very butter laden. I guess most Thanksgiving dinners are like that, but it is too heavy for me. Meat, meat, meat, butter.

Our other close friends who are part of this same crowd years ago asked me if I liked vegetables? We were staying with them and she had prepared one meal so far. She is a southerner, which I think is relevant. I answered, “yes, we both like most vegetables.” She started telling me some of her favorite veg dishes, all full of cheese or butter, or in pastry, etc. My husband later commented on how funny it was to him. We don’t think about “covering up” vegetables like that.

JLeslie (52980)

@JLeslie Aren’t some people weird about veggies? Like they carry the plague or something. My BiL is visiting and he was gobsmacked at how my Little Man eats brussel sprouts. His kids eat well, too, but he had never seen a little kid down sprouts as if they were chocolate bon bons before. We use them as bribery.

@Adirondackwannabe – veggies here.. really good, fresh veggies, are a treat. Flipping 63 degrees north, dark all the time now (winter solstice coming up next month) and I pay over \$2.50/lbs for old apples. I want good food for Christmas, not fatty pork, three-times-killed lamb and pickled cabbage. Of course, we don’t have Thanksgiving here, so all my references are for Thingiemas.

cazzie (23577)

@cazzie Well, I don’t love all vegetables, but generally I want one on my plate during a dinner. I like enough of them that it is not too difficult to eat a variety of them. I think some people never grew up eating them and have an idea in their head they hate them and so they do. Maybe they ate one green thing and it did actually taste horrible to them, and then they decide all green food tastes badly? Or, their mother tortured them to finish a veg on their plate they hated (I am completely against doing that to children) and being an adult is freedom from that tyranny.

But, getting back to Thanksgiving, but not really the main question, it has never been my favorite holiday food. We lighten it up a lot at my house. It’s usually just my husband and my parents and that’s it. If I were entertaining more people I would feel like I would have to fatten up the food more.

JLeslie (52980)

@cazzie My son is the same way – with broccoli. I made a simple spaghetti for dinner last night, and my little dude was all “But where’s the broccoli, mama?” He ordered me back into the kitchen to prepare some broccoli to go on top of his pasta.

Seek (34203)

OK here’s the update…. We will do one dinner. The next morning I will drive to CT to visit with two of my college friends. One of them is very ill with heart disease and a kidney issue. That is more important to me than doing a second dinner.
Done! I’ll let you know how it goes. .

This is bold move. But it might be the last time we get to see the guy. He’s already had a quad bypass and still suffers from angina. He’s driving up from NJ. I’m driving in from NY and we will meet at our friend’s house in Mystic. Nice.

LuckyGuy (33372)

Instead of the flow chart that gives me a migraine just to think about it, how about sending out an agreement of acceptable behavior that will gain your guests admittance at your house. No signed agreement, no entry.

gailcalled (54393)

@gailcalled That’s good. Remember, none of them fight or argue. They just send out bad vibes I can feel. I can’t control that. Anyway I will have fun cooking my 22 pound .turkey and taking data. It will be a one day event and then I’m gone.
You know… I might even bring some leftovers with me to CT!

By the way, I like vegetables. I try to have some with every meal – even if it is something as minimal as putting fresh cut chives on my eggs or bagel with cream cheese.

LuckyGuy (33372)

Good plan.

JLeslie (52980)

@Luckyguy; After you remove the foil tent from the turkey, simply make hats for everyone. . Everyone who wants to eat must wear them. Then use your mechanical engineering cunning to direct the correct thought waves throughout the room.

gailcalled (54393)

Yes, good plan! Remember what Confucius say, if one bend over backwards liable to have sharp object inserted in rectum. This is what annoying people do, they become a pain in the ass. Now…everyone SING…..

Over the hills and through the woods to @LuckyGuy‘s friends he goes…...

Coloma (45689)

I want to be @Coloma when I grow up.

Seek (34203)

@Seek_Kolinahr You missed a little party here last night. Lounging around eating spaghetti out of chinese rice bowls, slightly high, and then there was CAKE! lol

Coloma (45689)

So many good ideas! Tin foil hats and perfectly baked brownies and attendees. I like it.

LuckyGuy (33372)

@gailcalled I’m going to be driving through your neighborhood. I can drop off leftovers.

LuckyGuy (33372)

Good luck with all your plans, @LuckyGuy.
I am at a stage today where I am hoping that Hubby has to stay in South America for work and I get to set the table again for a flower arrangement instead. The job has been delayed and they are trying to piggy back one of two additional things, one in NOLA and the other in Venezuela.

cazzie (23577)

@LuckyGuy: Thank you…keep them for your friend in Mystic. (Do you have a portable and calibrated convection oven stashed in the back of your car?)

It’s a pretty spot. Is there hurricane damage?

Wave “hello’ if you drive down the Taconic.

gailcalled (54393)

I am quite cetain @LuckyGuy has GPS, an emergency first aid kit in his vehicle, flares, a flashlight, and maybe even an inflatable paramedic.
Anyone care to wager on this? lolol ;-)

Coloma (45689)

@LuckyGuy Don’t forget your thermal survival foil blanket. It should fold up nicely between those spread sheets in case you get stranded on your road trip.
Don’t forget the Tang. haha ;-)

Coloma (45689)

@Coloma Ummmm… you do know I was an EMT for 7 years and worked as first medic for the local ambulance service. I have logged over 2,000 hours of service and hundreds of calls. I don’t need an inflatable paramedic or Tang. But I do have everything else on your list, including: 30 ft of tow chain, gasoline, water, 1000 watt inverter with 75 ft extension cord, jump start battery, plastic sheeting.
@gailcalled I don’t have a portable oven but I do have portable temperature monitoring equipment. It would easily fit in my glove box. Seriously, aren’t you really close to that area? like one exit off the Taconic. (a beautiful road by the way.) I used to take that road every other weekend when I was driving home to Long Island from college.

LuckyGuy (33372)

I might be a little in love with @LuckyGuy

cazzie (23577)

^^^Join the queue, but at the back, please.

gailcalled (54393)

@LuckyGuy; Did some guy write a cook book with instructions on how to roast food in foil under the hood of your car (or am I dreaming?) You could wrap up the usual suspects… left-over turkey, dressing, gravy, cranberries, mashed potatoes and peas; set the packet to reheating when you leave home, and after 200 miles stop for lunch.

See PM.

gailcalled (54393)

@gailcalled Yes, years ago there was mention about cooking on the intake or exhaust manifold. But, the guy was clearly a rank amateur. He had no idea what temperatures the food was actually being subjected to. For that you need thermocouples and he did not even suggest it.
I believe in taking real measurements. Without data, all you have is an opinion.

@cazzie Awww shucks….
<<<< blushing

LuckyGuy (33372)

@LuckyGuy Hmmm thermocouples sounds interesting ; – P

Sounds like a new online dating service

Kardamom (26160)

@Kardamom I can see it now: “Thermocouples – The Hot, New Dating Service.for the Holidaze.”

LuckyGuy (33372)

I was just outside getting something from my truck and decided to check on the power inverter. I was wrong when I said it was 1000 Watts. It is 1200 Watt continuous and 2400 W peak – it’s the Vector Maxx. I can power my house from my truck if my 1100 Watt generator ever stops working. Backup to the backup.
I have no idea what this has to do with Thanksgiving events but, hey, this is “Social” and we are learning about people. Right?

LuckyGuy (33372)

@LuckyGuy: Do you also grown and harvest your own apples and make a wicked short pie crust?

gailcalled (54393)

^^^ * Can he bake a cherry pie, LuckyGuy, LuckyGuy, can he bake a cherry pie charming Lucky, Yes, he can bake a cherry pie, but he’s a young thing that cannot leave his spreadsheets. ;-p

Coloma (45689)

@Coloma Love it! But I’m not young thing – and I can take my sroeadsheet with me on my tablet.

@gailcalled I have 50 large trees: Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Jonathan, Macintosh, Northern Spye and have more apples than I know what to do with. I used to have the boy scouts come and pick. Now I just take a few bushel for the family and let the deer eat the rest. they love it. (As do the hunters.)

LuckyGuy (33372)

@LuckyGuy have you ever had Calvados? With all those apples, I know what I would be trying to make.

cazzie (23577)

@cazzie No I have not but it sounds delicious. I will look it up and see if I can get a bottle for the holidays. Thanks!
I did make apple wine a few times using champagne yeast. I have also tried the old style “freeze-thaw” method to make apple jack the way our ancestors did it. they say you can get it up to 60 proof but I was not even close.
We can go the entire month of January without ever getting above freezing. As the alcohol content of the apple jack increases, the freezing point drops but we can always hit it. I guess that is one of the advantages of living in my climate.

LuckyGuy (33372)

Another update! I was ahead of my time Check out he podcast by Mo Rocca on Splendid table.

“I want to split Thanksgiving in two. This is an idea I haven’t tried yet, but I’d like to: two separate meals. And there is a reason for this. On Thanksgiving Eve, I would assemble all the friends and family that I love, but maybe not love as much as other family and friends, and have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for them. I don’t like watching football, for instance, so that dinner would have football. We could lobby the NFL or maybe college football to have a Thanksgiving Eve game. If they couldn’t do that, maybe I could just play a recorded game from last year.

Then the next day, for the actual Thanksgiving, I would have the other friends and family. I don’t want to say I love them more, but…. I would bring them together and we could have leftovers, because I love leftovers. We would watch Meet Me in St. Louis, because I really like that and would prefer it to football. This would be much more of a standing Thanksgiving. I’m not a big fan of sitting at a table for long periods of time; I get bed sores.”

Yep. Way ahead of my time. However, that is not going to happen this year.

LuckyGuy (33372)

I am thinking of how to do Thanksgiving dinner differently next year. We have all gone to my BIL’s and did so this year, but it was painful for me to be there and see, but not still be with, my ex. I hate the idea of being the one to split away from the tradition but don’t know how to formulate it.

janbb (49670)

Oh, I get it. That is exactly how I felt for my MIL. How can she be expected to sit there and pretend she is comfortable and nothing is wrong? She is human! Same with the BIL who was left behind.
Understand, that there is never an argument. Everyone is too nice and civil to do that. I just feel for them.
I could try spiking the coffee or slipping some Demerol in the water. Then nobody would care.
Sometimes I think the best way is to just start a new tradition. Do something once and it becomes a tradition.
I guarantee by next year you will have something. I’d bet money on it.
How about a trip to WVa to meet a certain wonderful person? You’d both have a blast. :-)

LuckyGuy (33372)

Yes, but it’s the collateral damage; my son who comes in from California, the English relatives of my husband’s who sometimes come. It’s hard but I do think things will be different by next year somehow.

janbb (49670)

You need to come up with something really great. Something you wanted to do but could not with family baggage. If you have the resources, you can always visit the relatives over the winter break as part of your trip to visit some of the English fluther friends you’ve made.
Honestly don’t you think (I won’t mention her name ) would love to host you at her place for a few days? Can you think of anything more fun – and low stress? Rent a car and travel around to places you wanted to visit but could not because the rest of them were not interested. I’ll bet she would travel with you for a day or two or three. (Look at me volunteering someone – how forward is that?)

I am so sure you will have your act together by next year I am willing to bet a coffee on it. Two coffees even!

LuckyGuy (33372)

^^ Look. Fluther’s official travel and vacation planner : )

Kardamom (26160)

@LuckyGuy Thank you. Of course the damage has happened to me but I’m talking about how the breakup of the traditions impacts my family.

janbb (49670)

@janbb You just have to accept the changes and make new traditions, easier said than done
I know.
Try to let things find their own way, and they will. :-)
My entire holiday scene has changed dramatically in the last decade and I like the new arrangements so much better.

Coloma (45689)

Working on it of course.

janbb (49670)

I hear the town of Coloma is gorgeous this time of year. Just sayin’.
A nice meal, a few brownies and you’d both bond like superglue.

If I were single I’d be working on a new tradition faster than you can say “Turkey leftovers”.

LuckyGuy (33372)

Woo Hoo, do I get to throw a party?
Everyone has to wear rubber duck beaks and santa hats. :-D

Coloma (45689)

Does it matter where we put the beaks? Or the hats?

LuckyGuy (33372)

@LuckyGuy Of course not, be creative, wear rubber duck feet too!

Coloma (45689)

Quack! Quack!

LuckyGuy (33372)

Honk, squank, waaaaaa!

Coloma (45689)

@Coloma , I would be there with bell on. It looks like he won’t be home for Christmas this year. He ‘lost’ his passport and can’t get a new one until, most likely, after the holidays so he is ‘stuck’ in Rio. I guess I will have to go down to his mother’s house for Chrismas with the kid / kids on my own. (Why do I suspect that there is going to be a round washing planned before the decorations go up?)

cazzie (23577)

@cazzie: What does a “round washing ” mean? Why are you still putting up with this guy? He seems to do nothing but make your life regularly miserable.

gailcalled (54393)

@gailcalled what is miserable about having Christmas without him???

cazzie (23577)

The tone of your answer (and many earlier ones) implies some continued misery with the relationship. The specifics around Xmas at his mother’s don’t change that.

gailcalled (54393)

@gailcalled my poor mother in law is in a wheelchair and needs help cleaning every time I visit. That has nothing to do with hubby. Missing Christmas this year was a real screw up on his part, but I would rather set the table for a flower arrangment again, like I did last time he didn’t make it home for Christmas, but that was because of his job, not his screw up…. actually, you could say that it is his job. He has the craziest job in the world and it is, in no way, family friendly.

cazzie (23577)

@Cazzie; Sorry if I have been misreading things.

gailcalled (54393)

@gailcalled I think you are blaming absolutely everything on him and not looking at the situation in its entirety. It is much more complicated than that.

cazzie (23577)