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WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

How in the hell do you respond to this?

Asked by WillWorkForChocolate (22648 points ) November 21st, 2012

So, the day before Thanksgiving, plans change due to my grandmother being in the hospital. I decide that I will try to cook a Thanksgiving meal at my own house, so my parents can eat here instead of at the hospital.

This is my first time cooking the whole meal, ever, and I get stressed really easily, so naturally I’m feeling a little frazzled.

My husband complained when I told him I had too many other things to do to make homemade dressing for tomorrow, and he apparently bitched to his sister about it. She just fucking showed up at my house, walked into the living room with a pan, and with this smug look on her face, said, “Here’s your homemade dressing and homemade gravy.” So I walked outside without even looking at her or my husband.

Nothing I ever do is good enough, obviously, even though I took it upon myself, on incredibly short notice, to make the house look really nice, and do the entire meal instead of just two dishes to take to someone else’s house.

If you were in the same situation, would you feel like your efforts were just thrown in your face? And how would you respond?

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36 Answers

bookish1's avatar

I am sorry to hear that your grandmother is in the hospital. That was very kind of you to think of making a meal for your family.

This situation does sound pretty rude. A charitable interpretation would be that your sister in law was trying to help out, but did not express herself in the most tactful manner. Are you sure that she put an emphasis on the “homemade” with the intention of showing off/bragging/remonstrating you for not having made these things yourself? Are you reading too much into her intentions because you are stressed out?

Why did your husband make a big deal out of your deciding not to make homemade dressing and gravy? Why was this even something he needed to tell his sister? As an outsider to your family, I find myself more upset at his initial action, rather than that of your sister in law, but I wasn’t there to witness it.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Big deep breath and think of kicking me in the balls. You’re anger is gone, but I’m not doing too well. That’s what you’re doing to yourself.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Okay, you’re sense of humor is intact. The first time we did a full Thanksgiving meal at home was exhausting. You need lots of help with this.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@bookish1 Trust me, she did it to show me up. That’s who she is. And I don’t know whether to be more pissed at him for crying to her like a little bitch, or her for crossing yet another line, with evident glee. I’m half tempted to tell him if my efforts aren’t to his liking that he can just go to his damn grandmother’s.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate He’s male. We don’t think that far ahead. It was most likely his sister picking up the little frustration at changing his meal plans and her wanting to dis you. She only gets to do that if you let her do it.

filmfann's avatar

Squirt some Visine into the dressing. Let them all get sick, then explain that it must have been the dressing, since you didn’t get sick.

or you could just be cool and live with it.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Mind you, this is the same sister in law who gleefully shoved her pregnancy in my face, (knowing full well how much I want another baby) and made fun of the jealousy she knew I felt. I really can’t fucking stand her right now.

ragingloli's avatar

Kick her out. Then donate the turkey to a soup kitchen, or throw it away.
And then order pizza instead, but do not tell anyone until the pizza boy stands outside the door.
And the pizza should be decorated with the text “don’t fuck with me”.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

That would be funny, except she’s not even going to be here tomorrow.

ragingloli's avatar

Alternatively, and I have seen this on House, have the party at your parent’s house, but do not tell your husband. Hell be standing in an empty house.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Okay, deep breath again lady. Your focus is your family, not the other relations.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Right. And that’s where his focus should have been instead of what he did. Despite the stress, I was happy and having fun with my preparations, until I found out that he called his sister to complain, and now my happy mood is just ruined. I don’t even want to be in the same room with him right now.

It just reminds me me of all the other times when I go to any trouble to do something, and it’s not good enough for him. If I clean the kitchen, do the laundry, vacuum, light yummy candles, make dinner, and clean the kids’ bathroom? He wants to know why I didn’t scrub the shower and sweep off the patio.

This is just another slap in the face for my efforts, in a long line of slaps, and I can’t just get over it.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I PM’d you, but also wanted to say give it a bit. You’re stressed, your family is stressed and your sister in law is a lousy bitch.

Ela's avatar

I wouldn’t say a word and simply throw them both out. Not the hubby and the sis but the stuffing and gravy. I’d make a box of stove top, open a jar of heinz and call it done.
If he wants her food he can go to her house for dinner, imo. If anyone said anything to me about it, I’d graciously tell them, thanks but I had it under control.
If he doesn’t know how his sister makes you feel, I think you really need to tell him and if he does know then what he did was plain shity, imo.

FreshlyBaked's avatar

I’m very sorry to hear about your grandmother. That’s enough stress to knock a person sideways right there.

I believe that Adirondackwannabe has got it right. Breathe.

I have to disagree with Ela. I don’t think you should throw out the stuffing and the gravy. Serve them and be grateful. Those are 2 fewer things you have to make.

(OK, you can mentally slap me now for saying you should be grateful for something so hurtful.)

Bellatrix's avatar

Firstly, I am sending you a HUGE hug. It will be fine. I wish I could be there to help.

Secondly, but just as important I am sorry about your grandmother.

Finally, lists. They are my saving grace. Plus, do you have sisters who you get on well with who are going to be there tomorrow? Can you delegate some of the tasks – get them to bring a pumpkin pie (perhaps that isn’t traditional but as a Brit it seems to feature in all movies I see about US food!).

If that isn’t a possible, revert to plan a. Lists. What do you need to cook. Call on your friends here. There are some fabulous cooks here. So, what elements do you need for this dinner? Then a Question calling for simple, no fail recipes for each of those items. Ask for advice about what to cook first, second etc.

Next. Get the shopping done (I think this is started already). Delegate to your husband (even if he moans. Keep telling him ‘happy wife, happy life’ and refuse to get cranky).

Start the preparation for dishes that will take a long time. Get the kids involved in washing vegetables. They can get you dishes and wash and dry dishes and pots. Veggies peeled – older kids and husbands can do that. Turkey prepared and dressed (or your ham if that’s the way you are going).

Draw up a plan to get each job done step-by-step. A bit of preparation at first will save you time later when you panic. Just follow your list and don’t hesitate to delegate to your family.

With your sister-in-law’s food. Is it good? Do you like it? If not, see if you can make your own in the time you have. If you can and it comes out okay – use yours. If you can’t use hers. Be the bigger person here. I know you can do that.

I know things will be fine. This is your family. They love you and you love them. This is supposed to be a joyful time. Do your best and it will be good enough.

gailcalled's avatar

I like @FreshlyBaked‘s idea.

Forget the issue with SIL and husband for now. You can deal with them, separately, after the meal…that is, if you are still going to go through with it.

Thank them both for saving you some work and dole out the stuffing and gravy graciously. Making good gravy is a pain-in-the-ass under any circumstances.

Rise above this. Focus on your grandmother and your parents. I hope that your grandma is OK.

Return here on Friday for appropriate marriage and family counselling. The collective will come up with fiendishly clever responses…but not tonight.

Here’s a very useful voodoo dolls with pins.
When my husband walked out of our marriage, my daughter sent me this…a very satisfying gift.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Bellatrix yes, I had lists, LOL. Did all the shopping earlier today. Already have three dishes prepped, but everything else I planned to do in the morning so it would be fresh out of the oven. No other people are coming that can help. I did this just for the sake of my parents, and they certainly can’t bring anything.

I have eight dishes on my list, but somehow, cutting a corner with Stovetop wiped out all of my efforts. So he bitched about it. Despite the fact that I was making seven other dishes besides that.

We talked and he still wasn’t getting the point, so I did finally tell him if my meal wasn’t good enough, that he could take his dressing and go to his grandmother’s. I got a screaming “fuck you” for that, followed by crying six and eleven year olds. Yeah, Thanksgiving is really dandy right about now.

I’m going to attempt to make peace so the kids don’t go to bed upset.
@gailcalled Thanks for that. Made me smile.

gailcalled's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate: I can also send Milo over in his little grass skirt and ukelele..He will do the hula for you. Just say the word. He’s ready and practicing rolling his hips…having four legs makes it a little complicated, but still entertaining.

augustlan's avatar

I can kick them both in the shins for you. Or whip them.

Just know that holidays are already stressful times for many people and they aren’t on their best behavior because of it, and try to let it go just for tomorrow. After that, straighten them right out about this shit. {hugs}

Jeruba's avatar

I’m sorry, sweetie. You didn’t deserve that.

I don’t blame you for being mad. But it’s too late now to take the high road and vex her with your sweet acceptance, after which you could do exactly whatever you pleased with the dishes. So I’m with @gailcalled: deal with them later.

In fact, deal with him later. She’s just a symptom and not important. Something went wrong well before she showed up. It went wrong sometime around when he didn’t say “Why don’t I give you a hand?” or “Never mind, honey, Stove Top will be fine,” or “Whatever you do will be just great. I think you’re terrific for doing this.”

But you can’t control what he does, only what you do. So whatever you do will be fine, and we’re on your side, and you can still have a nice day with your loved ones tomorrow. There’s still just as much to be thankful for as there was yesterday. Don’t miss that part.

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

Take a deep breathe.

I’m really sorry about your grandmother. I would feel the same as you.

As much as I have a funny feeling that maybe you feel like the type to take it all head on, I think your husband was actually trying to help not just you out from suffering anxiety but also himself from having to put up with it(men are like that, they can be special) and also so he could just have stuffing. Maybe he needs stuffing, my husband needed things a certain way, sometimes it drove me nuts.

Try looking at it in a positive way instead of a negative way, even though at this time it may be hard to do. Think of it like “hell I wasn’t going to have enough time to make gravy or stuffing so now I still do not have to make it”.

Try not to let the sister get to you. She might of been perturbed that’s the last thing you need to care about. Making the dinner for your parents is the nicest thought, I’m sure they will appreciate it.

Tell your husband if he wants some things he needs to get off his ass and help you instead of bitching to his family, tell him he needs to work with you not against you. I’m thinking the sister is being put in the middle by your husband and your husband is unintentionally making you look bad. Tell him not to be so dang greedy, be thankful!
:D

DigitalBlue's avatar

I think all of the good suggestions have been touched on above. I just wanted to say that I’m sorry that you’re having a rough time, and I’m always here if you need to vent. ((hugs))

whitenoise's avatar

I would choose to focus on yourself in a positive way. Thank your sister in law for helping you out.

You seem awfully suspicious of your family’s motivation towards you. Get that sorted out after you’ve calmed down. Thanksgiving is merely one day… your close family is your life.

I hope that you find a way to enjoy the day and wish you wisdom and strength.

trailsillustrated's avatar

I would eat all of it. and say ‘hey thanks’

Symbeline's avatar

I’m kinda not going to answer this and go on one point that struck me; that your husband doesn’t seem to think anything you do is good enough. As given in your details, and another example you gave about how he asks why you didn’t scrub the shower after doing all those other chores. I think you guys should sit down and talk, and you should tell him how you feel about how he treats you. Screaming fuck you to you, making the kids cry? That sounds really damn sucky, especially if this is constant behavior of his.
I know you said you talked with him, but if if he just swore at you, something more serious needs to be undertaken. (not saying breaking up or anything, not at all; although if that was me, pss…)
I apologize in advance if I’m not getting some of this right and for not having any advice, but I personally couldn’t live with someone who treated me this way. If it’s a one time thing, okay, people get stressed and upset and say horrible things to each other. It happens. But if he’s ALWAYS like this, this really blows. ’‘hugs’’

ucme's avatar

Given that he sounds like a spoilt brat & she like a tubby little tit-witch, i’m going to suggest a healthy dose of “fuck you & the horse you rode in on”, should restore the balance somewhat.

serenade's avatar

I’m going to ramble. Forgive me. I mean to be helpful.

The first thing that comes to mind is a tenet from The Four Agreements—that people endure exactly the amount of abuse they think they deserve. On some level, you are accepting these efforts to degrade you as real—as carrying real weight. There are probably other people in your life who, if they uttered the same comments or behaved similarly, would elicit little to no antagonism from you because their opinions carry little weight. So, if the evaluation of you feels true or false depending upon who it comes from, is it objectively true and does it deserve your antagonism?

Second, you are dealing with people who are acting small. Your husband is disapproving of your efforts because it makes him feel like he’s an expert at something, when in reality, he’s probably a weak person. Maybe you and your capabilities make him feel weak or threatened. So he likely has to demean your efforts to preserve his ego.

That he complains to his sister shows that his family (still) has influence over him. Guessing that there’s some degree of dysfunction in his family, he still hasn’t come to realize it for what it is and the sway that it has over him. Hypothetically, would he complain to you about his sister’s behavior, or is it taboo to surface that kind of discussion? Does he rationalize her behavior? If I’m on the right track, these are big blinders for him. He doesn’t get that his family’s influence isn’t helpful for your relationship. He could have shut up about it to his sister and talked to you directly, or at least been protective of you. The problem is he doesn’t get it, because he is still playing the role of brother and not husband.

Similarly, your sister-in-law is too caught up in showing you up and being protective or maybe even controlling of your husband. It’s pathetic behavior, really. How sad that she thinks and feels like this is the best way to respond? How lacking in imagination, compassion, thoughtfulness, kindness? What lack is she compensating for? How childish, catty and small?

If I were you, I would start picking battles. The key, though, is that you have to come from a position of strength. You have to see and feel that you are doing your best, you are acting like a reasonable person, you are being thoughtful, kind and sane. This can be difficult to see when everyone around you is invalidating you. If you believe their words, you are lost, because you cannot tap into your inner strength.

You have to understand that they are acting out, and that their behavior has less to do with you personally than their own insecurities, blind spots, and emotional handicaps. You have to love yourself and love the person opposite you, but not feed or reward the behavior, and you have to be consistent about that. You have to learn how to stop accepting the abuse. That can be a difficult thing to accomplish, because it asks you to approach the line towards being a bit of a jerk yourself, but really you are just being a sane person in a storm of insanity. And, it can be difficult to fine tune a response that isn’t about over- or under-reacting, but just not accepting crazymaking behavior.

I rely on two tactics to thwart such behavior. I put that person in time out, meaning I don’t entertain that person until they’ve come to their senses, or I give the behavior back.

By putting them in time out, I’m not rewarding or feeding the behavior. I acknowledge to myself that they’re crossing a boundary, and it’s not healthy for me to continue interacting with them. I don’t hold a grudge about the behavior or the person—if they decide to act like a normal human, I’m happy to pick up the conversation, but while they are acting badly, I don’t give them my attention.

By giving the behavior back, I’m immediately freed of those feelings of stewing over getting stung. I don’t have to deal with feeling bad, like you are doing now. They can have their own medicine back. I don’t care. I’m not accepting their abuse, so they’ll have to find somewhere else to put it or hopefully figure out that their behavior is dumb and unhealthy.

If you’re really strong, you can just pity them in the moment. See their weakness and feel compassion for them. Again, how sad that they believe this is the most relevant way to behave? How lacking in imagination?

They use you to preserve their egos because it works. If you ceased to be food for them, then their relationship with you absolutely will have to change over time. Stop giving a fuck about their criticism. Ask them why they don’t think to participate differently. Point out to them how they’re not growing as human beings. Do it compassionately if you can, but first do it to maintain your boundaries.

Also, take a long view. Assuming you aren’t going to bail on this situation, resolve to have a somewhat lengthy period of fucked up interactions. They will need time to figure out that their crap behavior isn’t going to work on you anymore. Wreck a holiday now, so that next year they’ll think twice (or maybe even once) before pulling this kind of BS. Call their bluff and dare them to make it worse. You’ll take a chance that your relationship will fall apart, but one thing for sure is that you’ll never have to suck on these feelings again, and you’ll never again ask this question.

gravity's avatar

I would love to be arguing about dressing or no dressing. I am an American in Yemen right now and have been living on cornflakes and boiled eggs for the past week. I get to look forward to 51 more weeks of that too. They just brought my (what would be Thanksgiving) lunch to me and I have no idea what it is. Thank God they have eggs here or I would starve. I miss my family and I miss American food. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you Americans!

Try to relax and give thanks no matter what.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Just wanted to mention that saying thank you for something that hurt me so badly is just not an option. Whether or not an emotional hurt is different than a physical hurt, in my mind saying thank you after being emotionally slapped would be too much like being physically slapped then going back for more. You don’t say thank you for that, you stand up for yourself.

But I still appreciate the sentiments and the advice, because I know it was well meant.

Still stinging this morning, but a little peacemaking for the kids’ sake and some sleep helped me feel a bit better.

gailcalled's avatar

Keep a mental diary and report back if you feel like it.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Grumpy Cat here: I ate the dressing but I’m not happy about it.

JLeslie's avatar

I would feel like you.

My guess is your husband is oblivious to why it makes you feel like shit, and your SIL is happy to show off her dressing and revels a little in her being able to come through when you couldn’t. Not that I think you couldn’t, obviously you stepped up and took on the responsibility, just were venting a little about the stress of putting together a Thanksgiving meal. Understandable completely.

I would thank her several times for making the dressing. If she thinks she made you feel badly it will make her happy, and fuck her!!

Then I would explain to your husband that when you vent it is not the same as asking for help or for him to fix things, and that you do not like surprises. Men do not understand that women say out loud their fears, but it does not mean the woman will not be able to deal with them. I am assuming your husband knew his sister would bring dressing? He also needs to not gossip with his sister about you anymore. He can talk to a guy friend, but not her.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

So apparently, he didn’t complain to his sister, but to his dad, then somehow his sister got involved. He admitted that he can see why I was so upset about it, and acknowledged my feelings about his sister. He said that the next time an issue comes up, he will say something so that I’m not the one risking causing a rift. Holy frikking crap, I must be dreaming!

augustlan's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate‘s husband has redeemed himself! :)

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Mostly, yes. :)

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