Giving MIL Special Christmas Cookie Recipe
I generally give out recipes when asked but a unique situation has arisen. Before Christmas I found a cookie recipe that is special b/c it is a traditional Christmas cookie for my nationality (and my nationality is different from my in-laws). It is not a family recipe - but my mother does remember her grandmother making this special type of cookie.
We always get together with my in-laws for Christmas and my MIL always makes a nice variety of cookies...I always bring something to contribute but generally I feel like I could have skipped bringing my stuff b/c it didn't seem to go over very well (recipes from my childhood).
Well this year it was different. The only homemade cookies I brought were the nationality cookies and they were a hit! Especially with my FIL (who tends to be picky and prefer what his wife makes). I don't make a lot of cookies throughout the year and I've been thinking I'd like these to be my "special" cookies that I can bring at Christmas time and know that they are going to be unique and enjoyed.
But today my MIL emailed me and again mentioned how much she liked the cookies and could I give her the recipe b/c my FIL wants her to make them.
So do I go ahead and give her the recipe? This means that the cookies will no longer be special Christmas cookies that I can bring to our family Christmas get together.
Incidentally my MIL does have her own special Christmas cookie recipe that she ONLY makes at Christmas. I know one time I asked for the recipe (via email) and I never got a reply. My MIL and I get along well and I don't think she'll be offended if I say no - I just don't know if I'm being foolish since it really is only a cookie recipe. And if I refuse - how can I go about it in a gracious way without seeming petty?
I'd say go ahead and share! What a lovely entry point for your in-laws to learn to appreciate the cooking of your ethnic background! It perhaps makes the cookies more special then, rather than less?
i think you should consider giving her the recipe with a handwritten card talking about how it is a traditional and nationally/ethnically special recipe. you can write about your own and your mother's memories of relatives making the cookies for special occasions. your mil may not be oblivious to the "specialness" of these cookies, & the fact that the family loves them may be prompting her to add them to her own cookie repertoire not to make them less special, but to be more inclusive of you and your family traditions as they become blended with her own-- asking for the recipe can be seen as a lovely gesture of acceptance and welcome on mil's part, imo! if she does not know the significance of your recipe, and just wants the "yummy factor," a thoughtfully written note will make it more clear, and a much more personal and special gift from you to her. i would be surprised if she still didn't ask you to make and bring "your" special cookies to holiday gatherings in future.
or you could ask to trade the recipe for mil's "secret" christmas cookie recipe-- then she can demur if she'd like, and in that case you get to keep your special cookie recipe, or if she shares, then you get the recipe you want-- win-win for you! :)
It could still be special for you if you only make it for Christmas and it doesn't matter how often your in-laws make it. And, even if they only have it at Christmas, that doesn't mean it'll be a special Christmas cookie for them. I think I put this along the lines of saving special china or dishes for a special occasion. Life is only so long, why not enjoy more often what you do enjoy?
If you refuse, I'd do the same as your MIL and say it's a special recipe. If she's done the same, she'll understand, especially if you have a good relationship.
Why don't you become your FIL's 'supplier'? Rather than sending the recipe, send along a batch of the cookies. If you feel you have to respond to her email, simply say something like "Oh, I'm thrilled he likes the special cookies I discovered! It really means a lot that he likes the cookies that I made! I'm putting a batch in the mail now!"