Q: Dear EQ Coach, What do you do when your daughter-in-law fixes an inedible Thanksgiving dinner? This will be my third year over there. They seem to have some actual contempt for "the traditional meal". What arrives at the table is strange (boudin with pesto) and often inedible (chicken that was pink in the center). Often there are only two items (meat and a salad). How can we handle this? I love my son and his wife, but this is becoming an ordeal.
A: Was there a dog under the table? That sometimes helps. No, seriously, this is a disappointment (to you) and a touchy subject (in general). You don't want to stress the relationship or let it ruin"your" Thanksgiving. I'm sure you know the answer - go and grin and bear it, or have other plans. If you go, take along your sense of humor, to be shared with your hubby or friend afterwards. You know the drill.
If you decide to go here are several practical tips:
Offer to bring something that won't intimidate the young woman, like appetizers. Then there will be at least one thing you can eat.
Prepare your own traditional feast the next day (if it's the comfort of tradition you crave)
Push stuff around on your plate as if you were eating.
When "finished," cover your plate with your napkin. I have found on the Thanksgiving table, at one time or another, sliced white bread. This makes a handy cover as well.
Say that you are allergic to some ingredient in the -- did you say boudin??
Take small portions, saying you are on a diet. Shovel in one spoonful if you can.
Maybe some child at the table will say they like it and you can offer them yours.
Say it's delicious and so innovative. That's what they want to hear.
Pray for a dog under the table.
Call your sister or coach before and afterwards, to vent.
Keep in mind the meaning of the season. It's a family gathering and a celebratory one. Bring along a good attitude and consider the meal an inconsequential part of the gathering. Do the best you can. Young folks have to learn somehow, and they are also big, these days, on doing it different.
What's one meal in the grand scheme of things.
What's sad is that she apparently has no sensitivity to the meaning of tradition to you, nor does she, evidentally, think to ask you what you would like to have.
As one writer put it, your job as the mother-in-law is to sit on the end of the couch with tape over your mouth and not say anything unless the house is literally on fire.