Wish I was there . .
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28 November 2008

It's All Over

Another Thanksgiving has passed. Eighteen for dinner and and another three people for dessert. Much turkey was consumed, along with ham, veggies, stuffing, mashed potato, pumpkin bread, rolls, and a plethora of desserts. My kids had a wonderful day, playing with their cousins. That's what I keep trying to remind myself - I do this holiday for them. If I didn't have them, I would have stopped this years ago.

I have tried not to be angry, and some years I am quite successful - this was not one of those years. I am sick, my husband is preparing for trial - life is just busy. Of the 18 people who came for the meal, two were my grandparents and the rest are Hubby's family. Hubby's family does not help - no one brings a dish and yet there is an expectation that not only will I serve a meal but there will be left-overs for them to take home. In years past when there have not been sufficient left-overs, my MIL bagged up what there was and distributed it to her family, leaving no turkey or trimming for us.

Hubby's family does not help with clean up. There was a new girlfriend this year who actually helped to clear the table - I can not tell you the number of times I thanked her. We have tried hints and handing things to people - the response is "Oh, you guys are just a well oiled machine." My 84 year old grandmother who uses a cane to walk insisted on drying dishes and nearly fell. I tried to insist that Gram sit down, but Gram had eight kids and she knows how hard it is to put together these events. The difference between Gram's Thanksgiving and mine, is that every family brought an actual dish of food, and after the meal, Gram was shooed out of the kitchen and the rest of the family cleaned up. Even seeing my limping Grandmother wiping dishes did not bring an offer of assistance from Hubby's family. My resentment becomes harder and harder to swallow.

There is no reciprocity - no one else volunteers to host the meal, and they do not get together for any other holiday. They do thank me, but preparing a meal and left-overs for 18 people takes a good three days. I barely see my own children on Thanksgiving as I am busy cooking, serving, and cleaning up. My MIL actually asked me for a cup of coffee when the carafe was on the table in the other room. I walked to the next room, poured the coffee in a cup, set the cup next to the carafe, walked back to the other room, and told her it was on the table waiting for her to add her cream and sugar. I know that was petty, but for God's sake, it was less than twenty feet to the table and she is perfectly capable of walking.

I am grateful that I have the means to have such a bountiful dinner. I'm grateful to my husband who helps to set up and clean up. I'm grateful my children love their family and think it's wonderful to have time with them. I'm grateful for my grand parents who show me how much they love me, by showing up just to support me, and who always tell me that I make a wonderful meal and how appreciative they are for their "food gift" so they don't have to cook for a meal or two. I understand I can not change anyone, and that I have a choice in preparing this meal. I will continue to host the holiday, so that my children (and their cousins) will have the wonderful memories of Thanksgiving with their big family. I do wish that I felt less like a servant to my husband's family. Maybe next year, I'll find peace with this as I have before. For this year, it's done.

******Oh, and I am grateful for this blog, where I can actually voice this frustration and not finally boil over and tell my MIL to get off her a** and get her own cup of coffee :) Yes, still feeling the need to act a bit petty . . .


Expat Traveler said...

I would flat out tell them next year is pot luck and bring your own dishes. You dictate how it all works, it's your house and you are doing everything... Seriously, you've got a year to devise how to get them to bring something, but I would say, you cook the turkey, one dish and they bring the rest...

I'm so glad I didn't have to do dishes last night... (Sorry!) I do hope you can take some vitamins and get back into it while hubby stresses out...

Besides the bring a dish thing is so much more fun! Really I don't see why people wouldn't want to do that!

Rosie said...

ooh am I glad we dont have thanksgiving here...do you have to do it all over again for christmas?

G in Berlin said...

I can't even understand how anyone can expect you to provide left overs. Particularly as they are avoiding the kitchen!
Change the way it works. First, tell each couple what you expect them to provide. That might be sodas, alcohol, pie, whatever. It may be storebought and not as good as your own, but so what. Then, when you break the foods down, put them in your fridge! If you have left overs after everyone has brought something, then you decide qwhether to keep them or not. And I would also suggest , if you don't want to wash up and aren't comfortable telling people what to do, hire someone to help out for a few hours. A babysitter equivalent, but actually a kitchen help.
Although I prefer doing my dishes myself- I like the way I load the dishwasher!
Stop being a martyr- there really are limits and I thik you should set them or they will keep pushing.
And I am sorry that you were so exploited. It does leave a bitter taste.

hexe said...

Thank you all for the suggestions and listening to (reading?) my venting. I agree that next year each person is getting an assigned dish to bring. As my Mom reminds me - it's one day, once a year, and Hubby does not expect more holiday time with them. And "God No!" Rosie, we do not spend Christmas with them!

RennyBA said...

Like ET says: You have all the reasons to stand up for your rights!

Hope the rest of the weekend is nice!

Sherry Trifle - Lovely Cats said...

They sound like a selfish bunch. I've attended a Thanksgiving where one family brought nothing except empty containers to fill to take home!

Elra said...

Sugar shock indeed!
Superb idea on adding crushed walnut. And the chocolate swirl look gorgeous as well.
Well done!