Wish I was there . .
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20 November 2008

Thanksgiving Crisis Numbere One

My husband is one of seven children (six boys - shudder!). Also, my father-in-law, after divorcing my mother-in-law (MIL) has gone on to marry three more times (wives two and three died - and yes, this family is like a bad Friday night made for television movie). Anyways, these additional marriages have all added step/adopted children to the clan. While not everyone lives close by, there are enough people so that family get togethers are a bit . . . shall we say . . . INSANE.

For a number of years, I have hosted Thanksgiving - the rule is everyone gets invited. The numbers range from 20-30 people for the meal every year. Initially, the preparation and cooking of this meal was stressful. However, after many years of practice, including a year where I set the turkey on fire, a year where the oven door broke and I had to use a bungee cord to close the oven, and a year where the a/c unit died and it was 90+, I have come to enjoy the actual preparation ( or I will once my chemistry test is done tonight!).

What I dislike is the drama that leads up to the actual day. My MIL is the Olympic World Champion of Passive Aggressive Behavior. Unfortunately, PH's sister is a manipulative con artist who could star in her own Jerry Springer show. My Sis in law is 32, has never held a job, never completed high school, and is currently sponging off mother in law. Their relationship is beyond bizarre and while the other siblings think and have told MIL that Sis is taking advantage of her, MIL continues to try exert her "authority" over Sis.

Things with the family came to a head this summer when Sis moved her new "boyfriend" into MIL's house and then brought the guy over to a family gathering. New boyfriend who is nearing 50 years of age and had no job proceeded to get inebriated. When MIL tried to throw him out, he threatened her with bodily harm if she called the police. It is only then that Sis admitted her "boyfriend" recently got out of jail. One of my brother in laws pulled his records and "boyfriend" has a bunch of felony convictions for drugs, violence, and burglary. When this jerk called to get his stuff from MIL's house, brother-in-law met him at the door and told him that if he sets foot near MIL or anyone else, we will make sure the police arrest him, and family members who are attorneys (us) will help the prosecutor obtain a maximum sentence. Thankfully, the guy disappeared once the free ride was no longer available.

So back to the recent drama - I get an email from MIL about Thanksgiving. She is disappointed she won't be able to stay long this year because Sis is refusing to come to our house because we won't allow her dog to come, and therefore after the meal she will have to rush home to be with Sis. The dog is an untrained Rottweiler, Sis got at the pound. When Sis got the dog, Hubby told her that she was to never bring the dog to our house. Sis threw a fit and has refused to talk to Hubby since then. Now MIL has decided to make this her issue. On Thanksgiving, besides my own kids, there will be other young cousins, including a niece who has Down Syndrome. I'm sorry - No dog with a reputation for mauling children will be allowed.

Before Hubby even saw the email, I wrote back to MIL and told her we looked forward to seeing her for whatever time she was available. I NEVER MENTIONED THE DOG OR SISTER IN LAW'S REFUSAL TO COME. MIL has not responded. So was that the right call? Should I have made PH deal with his mother? Can you avoid passive aggressive behavior with intentional ignorance? I guess I'll know by next Thursday . . .


Rosie said...

OMG at least I am an only child...courage!

Expat Traveler said...

I just don't get how sis can have a dog if she can't hold a job? Ignoring it is a great thing.. I would have said exactly the same thing! And well if any other issues arise, I say let hubby deal with it..

Good luck with everything!

hexe said...

Rosie - On the day, my courage is bolstered by an early morning glass of wine ;)

E.T. - Don't even get me started on Sis as I could go on for days. Thanks for the good wishes. And no sadly, I last ran on Sunday, hew has been home sick this week and Hubby is preparing for trial, between a field trip and a chem test, everything else goes out the window. Maybe tomorrow?

christina said...

Whoah, sometimes it gets me down that the only family we have here are dh's parents, but then I read something like this and know that there are always pros and cons to any situation.

I think you did exactly the right thing. You can't change MIL's or Sis's behaviour, all you can do is respond in a way that causes you the least stress. I'm totally against people dragging their dogs everywhere, especially when small children are going to be attending an event. Too risky and just too much trouble in general.

Hope everything works out in the end! I'm sure you'll master it all and come out smiling, even if it does take a couple of glasses of wine.