Somehow I thought that this year would be the year we were finally past the drama that accompanies hosting Thanksgiving for PH's family. For nearly ten years, we've sent out the invitations and included everyone - PH's siblings, his mother, his father and his father's fourth wife, the step/adopted children from marriages two, three, and four (wives two and three are dead) . Sure there's been the occasional snide remark that left me and my favorite adopted sister-in-law in the kitchen downing a glass of wine while we commiserated on how we ended up as part of this motley group. And there's been a few years of rule setting, such as if you bring a convicted felon to the meal he's not to be left alone with the kids, no the Rottweiler is not invited, and if the invitation says 1:00 PM, I am not recooking and serving another meal at 6:30 PM. I have also come to realize that except for favorite adopted sister-in-law, no one will bring anything nor will they help clean up; I can hint or outright ask but there will be no response except from adopted sister-in-law and my Grandmother. I have learned to accept all this, but none of that prepared me for this year.
First, some background - my childhood memories of Thanksgiving include a meal with my Dad's large family at my Grandmothers farm. While everyone helped there, my Grandmother always hosted the meal and she made sure to include something that each grandchild liked. I have had the privilege the past few years of cooking this meal for my Grandparents who escaped the northern cold and wintered here. Sadly my Grandmother died this year in April and my Grandfather is not well enough to travel to Florida. At my Grandmother's funeral, I spoke about how difficult Thanksgiving would be this year without my Grandmother there. Now here's the important part*******I told PH's mother (MIL) this in mid-October and said I would be doing our traditional Thanksgiving. I explained how much it meant to me to carry on my Grandmother's tradition of hosting Thanksgiving. MIL never said a thing during this conversation.
Now fast forward to Halloween and what do I find in my email box, but an announcement that MIL is hosting Thanksgiving this year at her new rental home. Obviously, her ex-husband (FIL) and his various adopted/step children and current wife are not invited. And of course, my other Grandmother and my Aunt and Uncle who come to my home are also not invited. PH (and this is one of the times that he earns his name Perfect Husband) immediately emails back MIL that other family is expecting to come to our house as they have done for nearly ten years and that he is sorry but we will not be coming to her house. Then there are conversations with PH's siblings where we tell them that we understand the predicament they are in. Obviously we will not be upset with them for going to MIL's house, but obviously MIL will be furious if they come here. So one sibling will be here and the other three will be with MIL. Here's the other kicker - this holiday has been the one time all year that PH, his siblings, and their children all get together. So while MIL always laments the fact that her grandchildren are never together she has managed to destroy the one time during the year they do see each other.
So preparations are underway for our smaller Thanksgiving (still 15 people!). I'd like to say PH and I are over MIL's behavior, but we're not. I keep trying to remind myself that my own children will learn from my actions and if I cut MIL out totally, the kids will learn this is acceptable. So for now, I am going back to cooking and teaching my children the joy of preparing and sharing a meal that includes the yeast rolls my Grandmother loved and the pumpkin bread recipe from my Mother.