Ah Thanksgiving. It’s the merge of summer and winter, Autumn. The leaves have changed. There’s a crisp in the air, and a scent of pumpkin, apple and cinnamon. You have just as much chance of getting snow as getting one last good warm day. Every year you look at it with hope and excitement but not until right around July. Why July? That’s because that’s about the time of year that the scars from last years Thanksgiving have finally disappeared. Both emotionally and physically.
You forgot that you had to wake up at 4 am to start getting the food ready and that your mother-in-law showed up 6 hours early to your house with the rest of your in laws. 6 HOURS EARLY! Who does that? You were still in your robe! They give you a sort of “sorry she dragged us here” look as you try to hide inside your robe. Your mother-in-law then proceeds to inspect everything you have started to prepare and give her critique.
“Hmmmm canned cranberries. When did society get so lazy that we don’t have fresh cranberries on Thanksgiving anymore, huh? Oh, I don’t necessarily mean you sweety?” Pat on the shoulder “I just mean in general. I just hope we are having fresh mashed potatoes this year and not those gosh awful boxed potatoes. I just can’t stand boxed potatoes. Isn’t that right mother?” Classic trick, trying to get the grandmother involved. You call for your husband to come up here and say hi to his mother but of course he says,
“Can’t. Pregame is on.” and then all the men go downstairs to see it too. You are now stuck. You offer them to go into the other room to watch the Macy’s parade but no,
“Oh dear, we can’t bear to leave you with all this work.” You are stuck. Only a knife through your hand is getting you out of this situation. You consider it but then think no. That might impact your ability to shop during tomorrows Black Friday sale. Darn it, you are committed on getting that stupid new such and such for your 15-year-old. She has been talking about it non stop for months. So you are forced for the rest of the day to juggle cooking the meal, entertain 8 people that showed up 6 hours early, try to keep his mother from changing the recipes of the food you are making and at the same time, shower, change, brush your teeth, and get all three kids dressed and ready for company. Which by the way you have to do now because your mother-in-law wants to know why the kids are still in their pajamas at 8:30 in the morning?
Well, if you can relate to all this hubbub I have comprised a list of 10 things that you can do to help combat the mother-in-law during Thanksgiving.
Yes. I know, and you know how to make a fantastic batch of homemade mashed potatoes, however giving her a task might just get her off your back. It doesn’t have to mashed potatoes, use whatever Thanksgiving item. Stuffing, Green Bean Casserole, Yams, whatever….pick one that will keep her happy and say
“You know, Lucy I just can’t ever get my mashed potatoes (or whatever item it is) to turn out as good as yours. It is such a special event today with everyone coming over for Thanksgiving. Would you mind helping out and making your special mashed potatoes (or whatever)?”
You have made her feel special and therefore have now gotten her off your back for awhile. However, you have now opened the door for anytime mashed potatoes (or whatever) are EVER served she is going to comment how she would have been happy to make the potatoes because everyone prefers her potatoes. So….weigh how much you want to go this route. If you really like her potatoes, it might not be all that bad. If you really don’t like her potatoes, you might not want to go that route.
If she offers to bring something always let her. It lets her feel important and involved. If you say no then she feels like her little boy no longer needs her. Make her feel needed. When she asks if she can bring something, you can always say…..”Oh yes, Bobby would love if you could bring your delicious Green Bean Casserole. He says mine isn’t the same.” You have made her feel special and like she hasn’t been replaced.
Cough, cough…..it’s that darn bug going around
If it gets to be too much. Get sick. Just play sick and let them finish it. Is it the sissy way to go? Heck yeah it is, but after 16 years of marriage I have found sometimes it’s just easier to run away and hide. This woman is 70 years old and despite her frail and feeble appearance she will skin you alive and eat your innards for breakfast. So if you find that you are being surrounded, and it’s impossible to continue making the meal without having to explain every step you are taking. Then suddenly develop severe stomach cramps and go watch the Macy’s parade from your room. Your mother-in-law will prefer to make the meal anyway. You can take some medicine, and it can “magically” kick in after the meal is almost done.
However, you will hear about that “one Thanksgiving” that she had to come in and save the meal because you were too sick. Then whenever you want to cook a meal she will ask if you think you’ll be well enough to do so or should she just plan on preparing it again.
If your husband loves you and his mother he will be your buffer
This is simple. Tell your husband that he HAS to preoccupy his mother so you can make the food without her hovering over you. Tell him if he fails you will tie him to a tree out back, cover him in honey and find a hibernating bear to set loose on him. Put it in perfect English that this isn’t open for debate.
Where my girls at?
You have a mother too. Get your mom over there to be your wing man. Moms are great at that. They say the things us daughters can’t. For instance
Mother-in-law – “Oh sweety are you sure you want to be using that brand of butter?”
Daughters Mom – “Oh we aren’t snobby, any brand of butter will do. My daughter prefers to save money and not throw their money around on brand name flour. She learned that from me.”
Doesn’t have to be your mom. Could be your dad, aunt, grandmother, even a friend. Anyone that can back you up and be a wing man. Heck even your husband but that gets tricky cause he’s got ties. If you agree to have him be it, be prepared that he might jump to the other side and then you’ll be out of luck and on your own. You need a partial party.
Darn it if I didn’t forget such n such
This usually works in one of two ways. You forgot a certain item that is needed to make Thanksgiving dinner. You can either get in the car and run to the store for this phantom item to get some much needed me time, or the in-laws will offer to go get it and you can continue to work in peace.
Where this might backfire is if the mother-in-law yells for the father-in-law, brother-in-law or your husband to go run the errand. It’s at this point you need to do some fancy foot working. You need to go, or you need the mother-in-law to go. That’s why the item that needs to be picked up needs to be very specific.
For example, if you are making fresh bread and you need yeast, or you need vanilla extract but you need natural vanilla extract. These are all terms that might confuse a man. He might not have a handle on what exactly all that means and if you specify a brand that makes it harder. It’s a good idea to have this item already scoped out at your local store and make sure that the store will be open on Thanksgiving. (NOTE – If you send a man he will probably just lie and say that the store was closed. While in the mean time he was parked around the corner listening to the game. ) It needs to be items they can’t just run to the gas station for. If the store is a little further away even better. If you go get it, you can have some time to yourself. Just realize the mother-in-law is going to get her hands on your food and change some things and do stuff. You are going to have to weigh whether getting away is worth it.
Why even bother staying at the house
Simple isn’t it? Don’t cook. Just cater it all in. No fuss no mess. It’ll tick her off to no end. Just tell her this,
“Thanksgiving to about family. I want to spend the whole day together and not all huddled in the kitchen.”
Besides is it really cheaper than buying all that food and cooking it all up? It’s always nice to have someone serve you and clean up after you on Thanksgiving. If you go out you won’t have any leftovers. Also, you will hear a lecture about how much money you spent and what a waste of money it was. Blah, blah blah blah. However, you can always come back to your house for homemade pie and coffee. These can be made a day or two ahead of time. This way when they think back to Thanksgiving, hopefully, the memory will be of dessert at your house and not the dinner at the restaurant. Hopefully, if you make (or buy and say you made) nice enough desserts it will overrule the fact that you went out for dinner.
Phantom phone call emergency
You can suddenly have a really important job and use that to pretend to have a Thanksgiving emergency whenever your mother-in-law gets on your nerves during the holidays. It works like a charm. Don’t have a job like that, make it a family member or a friend. Some sort of emergency that someone is trying to deal with. When they ask what it’s about say, you aren’t at liberty to talk about it.
Use your greatest weapon….the kids
This works on my mother-in-law, but it might not work on all mother-in-laws. Buy something for the kids that needs adult supervision that the mother-in-law can get involved with. Tell her that you bought the kids such and such and you were wondering if she could supervise the children to make sure they were ok using it. Now my mother-in-law will jump at that, but it’s not an all mother-in-laws thing.
When all else fails drink
Have a few glasses of wine or egg nog and just keep em coming. Don’t get drunk, of course, just enough to keep you all loosey goosey. Enough that the nagging just doesn’t bother you. Unless you get angry when you drink. Then skip this one altogether. I don’t want to be responsible for some sort of Thanksgiving altercation.
Just give in
Yes. This is contrary to your belief. Give in? How dare you. I’m shocked! But yes. Just let her do all the cooking. Have Thanksgiving at your house but let her do the cooking. If that’s the case then why have Thanksgiving at your house in the first place? Well, it could be because your family is also coming over. Then your moms feelings might get hurt, but guess what she has a mother-in-law too and trust me she’ll understand. If you really want to make her feel ok, tell her she can have Christmas. What!? And give up cooking for every holiday? No, take Easter. Family is about compromise. I didn’t have a whole family at my house for the first 10 years of my marriage. For whatever reason just give in. Just make sure your kitchen is spotless because you know she’s going to be looking. So in that respect, you’ll be having anxiety attacks about if your kitchen is clean enough. Well, IT WON’T BE.
She’ll point out something. Even if you were to demolish it and put in a whole new kitchen. Something will be wrong. So just go with it. The sooner you realize that the moment you married her son you automatically became unable to do anything right the better your life will be.
You might think that I would suggest having your mother make Thanksgiving dinner, but we all know that’s a whole other ball of yarn. You might throw daggers with your eyes to your mother-in-law but your mom and you just plain old argue. You know you love your mom, but put the two of you in a kitchen for 10 hours preparing an entire Thanksgiving meal and forget it. You might as well be 5 years old again. An argument will ensue and that’s just something no one wants on Thanksgiving.
The point of all this is one thing. She needs to feel needed. You have taken the place of her in her sons life and she doesn’t like it. It is no longer her that takes care of him when he’s sick. It’s no longer her that makes sure his needs are provided for. So she tries to find ways to make herself needed. In all reality she probably doesn’t even know she’s doing it and of course some mother-in-law do do it on purpose. Either way it’s only one day.
At the end of the day they will leave your house and you’ll get to sit down and take a deep breath. The most important thing is that despite the comments that are hidden inside complimentst your children are spending time with people who love them. You don’t want family drama to ruin that for them.
So buck up, pull your big girl pants on and get through the day. Besides you still have Christmas to get through, so you better figure out a way to get through it all. Next July you won’t remember anything besides the good stuff anyway.