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update to 'please help me be kind to rude in-law'

Hey everyone,
Based on your wonderful feedback, I decided to 'make it a great day'. I did not think about or anticipate problems this week. I consciously resisted the urge to monitor, make disdainful comments in my head, or save tidbits for later. I hugged SIL when she arrived, looked in her eyes, and said "I'm glad you're here" and when she left, said "thanks for everything, I'm glad you came". I neither ignored her wholeheartedly, nor engaged in-kind with inappropriate remarks or behavior. When she started to say something inappropriate, I asked her to repeat what she said, and then asked her if she needed me to help. In both instances, she settled down, and I realized that it was possible that something was happening that she didn't like and she didn't know how to absorb it or ask for what she wanted, so it came out rudely. Either way, my response was kind, focused on the immediate problem, and put a stop to her inappropriateness. I had games out, and she was able to engage in those. When she was being appropriate, I asked her questions and engaged. She asked someone else to get her another helping of something, but I was able not to have my typical irritated thoughts about that, b/c it is what it is, and was none of my concern anyway.
I also did a lot more prep in advance than I have in the past: shopping done by last week, most of the cleaning and all of the laundry was done; the table was set on Tuesday, most dishes were made yesterday, I set up my kitchen island lastnight. This morning, I took time to get myself ready first, not last. This resulted in me being far less irritable and exhausted. All of it planning and taking responsibility for myself, none of it having anything to do with SIL.
Today I followed a turkey recipe that got raves on Allrecipes. It came out dry and lousy. So I asked at the table, who really, really likes turkey, like would you have it if it wasn't Thanksgiving? One person. So I casually said, "maybe I"ll try cooking something else next year...or maybe we'll go out". A short discussion followed, SIL saying that she and BIL go out many holidays and it's fine; I mentioned that I have been hearing a lot of people do that and they like it b/c they can pick and choose what they want. SIL fished a little to see how serious I was, and I said 'oh, I don't know, it's just an idea I've heard about'. It was very low-key and agreeable. Right after that, guess what? Most people helped clear the table, and I got lots of complements. It certainly wasn't the turkey!! It may have been people responding to me being less stressed (and possibly more approachable to help) OR possibly recognizing that it IS a lot of work. Whatever the case, I was very happy with the outcome and happy about how I handled it. I learned a lot about myself that I could change, and I really turned a corner today. I truly could not have done it without the very kind and thoughtful feedback I got from this board, and I really appreciate all of you!! Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

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  1. I read the original thread, so I'm glad you had such a good day today!!!! Sounds like a corner was truly turned!! Happy Thanksgiving!!

    1. What a terrific turnabout! You really made full use of the ideas offered and I'm so happy it became a good day for you and yours.

      1. Glad for you! You got so much advice, it was a good amount to absorb, so glad it worked so well for you! Best yet, you let us know too! Thanks!

        1. Glad that everything went well. The hardest lesson is that we can't change anyone we have too change how we react to them. This first step was the hardest next time it will be easier and soon it will be automatic dealing with SIL. Congrats.

          1. Binky, I am so happy for you! Relationships really are what we make them , as are holidays.

            1. I too decided this year to stop being so negative regarding my in-laws, a feeling no doubt caused by the stress of me being the only one that could do a meal like this (and having to do it 100% alone), exaberated by the feeling that they didn't appreciate all the time and money that goes into such a feast. I just let it all go and tried to fill my heart with love. And it worked! We had such a pleasant day, I'm looking forward to seeing them again at Christmas. Happy Thanksgiving indeed!

              7 Replies
              1. re: coll

                Coll, I had those saaaaaaame feelings. Congrats for turning your feelings around, though I think it could be temporary unless some specific things change. In that vein, two things were important for me: one, realize that when you do it alone and are unappreciated, these are very understandable feelings. Two, when you dwell or act on these feelings, you are feeling sorry for yourself and being a martyr. The people on this board convinced me to seriously consider going out next year, and the more I think about it, the more I think there is nothing to be lost there. If you go out and like it, great. If you go out and don't like it, you'll be reminded of the reasons why you do like it at your own place, and may come back more willing to do it or make some changes to make it work for you better. Everyone has to find what works for them - I'm glad you had a much nicer holiday than in the past, and we all know it's not just the holiday but the relationship that needs working on, so good for you that you were able to do that too. :)

                1. re: binky1

                  In the last few years, I've actually skipped a few of the ultimate triumverate of Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, that I "owned", but eventually realized that my BIL has nowhere else to go so reconsidered my stance. All I did was hurt their feelings for no reason except me being selfish, I used to be so easy going but now get cranky very easily. It happens. I have other issues going on the last few years with my husband which have made me realize a lot of crumby things about myself, mainly that I am WAY more self centered than I could ever believe. Not in a bad way exactly, just that I thought I could do it all and never ask for help, and be an angel on top of it all.
                  To my surprise, I've discovered I'm not perfect.

                  Anyway my husband's family is Italian with all the attendant traditions, so I would never want to go out for a big holiday, at least not with them onboard! My husband is not well lately and I'm starting to see the big picture. Speaking of which, I had asked his brother to take a look at the HDTV that I got at an early Black Friday sale, since he was here anyway; my husband could have done it with his eyes closed a few years ago. And guess what? He volunteered to come back today and do it for me, and was here bright and early to boot. I think of all the times I complained how he never helps us, but did I ever ask? I am so glad that I had this revelation before it was too late. We are not getting any younger, who knows how many more years do we have left? (Of course, nobody really does) I was so happy to cook the traditional meal I've been doing for 36 years now, and realized how much pleasure they get from it, instead of my being a "martyr" as usual. I really am looking forward to Christmas now, just as I did in my younger days.

                  Hopefully this feeling will last........

                  1. re: coll

                    Both the OP and this post are just so great :) Glad you both had a great Thanksgiving!

                    1. re: julesrules

                      So glad you appreciate, I am amazed that I had such a turnaround myself. You can definitely teach an old hound new tricks!

                      1. re: julesrules

                        I'm also really moved by these two turnaround stories, thanks for sharing them binky and coll! I have a different set of anxieties around these holidays than you all are talking about -- but really identify with used-to-be-laid-back and too cranky now. I mutter "zen" under my breath and try to remember that it's about the people not the planning, but I don't find it easy.... Glad to hear it can be done, and under your especially trying circumstances.

                      2. re: coll

                        Ah, coll, isn't the wisdom of age a beautiful thing? And to the OP, so glad you had a great day. Blessings all around.

                        1. re: pine time

                          Glad I lived long enough to learn this lesson. I think Clarence the Angel is sitting on my shoulder!

                  2. A big thumbs up for you. I'm so impressed that you were able to make such big changes and take everyone's feedback. What a great life lesson for most of us.

                    1. Yay, what a victory!! I really do believe that we create our own experience of the world, and you have proved it's true. Way to be the change :)

                      1. glad to hear things went so well

                          1. Very glad to hear things went well. And if you do decide to do a turkey in the future, I'd recommend Ina Garten's herb-roasted turkey breast. The rub was delicious (I added a stick of softened butter because it just seemed too healthy ;), and it was the most moist turkey we've ever had, so much so that nobody missed the dark meat in the least.

                            1. Cut her/them lose permanently. Life is short. Obviously this person is a 'sponge'. I had someone like that in my life once. He was habitually looking for a 'problem' with every family member. The last time I saw him was at a Christmas dinner. As usual he was acting like an idiot. I stood up and said: "Dave, I need to talk to you about something. Come into the kitchen". We went into the kitchen . I grabbed him by the collar and dragged him outside. "If I ever see you again I'm going to do something that will surprise you. Be ready to live with a tube up your nose for a month." Shortly after his wife left him.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Puffin3

                                "Be ready to live with a tube up your nose for a month."
                                puff, I'm very afraid of you