HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >

Discussion

Holiday Stress Advice?

Hello! I know it's early to be thinking too much about the holidays but it is driving me crazy and I've been lurking on here and thought I'd vent a little :) I just got married and have been trying to set plans for our holidays this year. I grew up going to the most amazing family parties with tons of good food, games, drinks, conversation, etc. In high school we moved pretty far away from our extended family so they weren't as often but we still would go back every few years. I grew up with a love for food and entertaining and I'm even working on turning it into a business. My husband is not picky at all but oh my gosh his family is another story! His mom and grandma do not cook, when they eat out they all (his parents, two brothers, one of their wives) eat in silence and eat FAST, rolling their eyes if we are not done because they are ready to go. There is no enjoyment in company or conversation. For holidays it has been either eating out at a southern diner or a "homecooked" meal of everything in a box! It makes me almost cry! Last year I cooked Thanksgiving dinner the day after because they couldn't miss their reservation at said diner, which I'm positive was all the same boxed food they usually have. They liked my meal enough, but they said it was too "different" aka real :). My parents are visiting my sister at school this year and the rest of my side is all over the place, so it looks like we will be with his side this year again. Christmas might be a different story, but I am really stressed right now. I don't want to cook for people who don't share the same tastes, and are all ready to rush out the door when they're done, so I won't offer this year! But I do like to visit because I value family and their differences. I guess I'm just a little sad that they are not interested in food and I have this strong desire to host all the dinner parties I have in my mind as a new wife! As for friends we just moved somewhere new so that isn't an option. We're also still in a tiny apartment which doesn't exactly set the mood nor have the space. Does anyone relate or have a good story about a holiday cooking disaster like this to share? Thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. I have some experience in that area.... honestly the best thing you can do is have dinner with them their way with no expectations and then have a dinner at home your way without them. People who don't get it will never get it and you'll waste your time and a lot of money on unappreciated food trying. Start your own traditions. :)

    (I've been thinking of excuses not to go to the inlaws for Thanksgiving and Christmas since at least January and I'm not kidding when I say that. What I would give to get to spend it with my fun, laid back and food loving family!!!)

    7 Replies
    1. re: weezieduzzit

      You're right about that! I guess I just want someone other than us to enjoy it and our options have been limited with that. I try to just let it go but I start to get all worked up whenever we have a meal and they all get chicken fingers! I would probably be happier if I just ignored it. I have been thinking about it a lot too, maybe we will just start seeing them the day after holidays or suck it up and have our separate one.

      1. re: justg25

        That sounds like the most prudent approach. I'm sorry to hear your two sides of families are so different in this regard. But if that's what it takes to maintain harmony in other areas, then do what needs to be done.

        One thing for sure, they (your husband's side of the family) can't take away all the fun and enjoyment you get from celebrations with your own relatives.

        1. re: justg25

          Weezie has given you the right advice. We can't change people, and there are plenty of things we don't have control over.

          So, make sure YOU enjoy your holidays. If stress over how your in-laws can't appreciate good, home-cooked meals gets in the way of that, just change your attitude and mind set about it and relax. And make your own meal afterwards and relish it.

          Have fun!

          1. re: justg25

            new town? there are usually co-workers in a similar situation, casting about with nothing much to do. those were some of the most fun my first few years in one city.

            they were usually part potluck, part cattle call.

          2. re: weezieduzzit

            i'm with weezle on this: we've tried it all to please THREE sets of relatives (divorce in there somewhere..) to just ignoring everyone completely and doing our own thing. In the end, we enjoy our own company the best, but have discovered that the relatives, over the years, have gotten very upset by our absence at holiday meals. (Some of which have been ghastly, let me tell you.) We have come to the conclusion that we split the holidays between relatives, call the 3rd (who now lives far away), and enjoy ourselves when we can in-between.

            A few things we do to lessen our stress: 1. we volunteer at a community holiday dinner. This helps to make us feel like our cooking is appreciated AND we are helping someone during the holidays. Just find something in your area - guaranteed you will find like-minded foodies in the kitchen. 2. We schedule our own family meal - just us and the kids. It doesn't have to be the same day. That way, I get to cook something wonderful, and we all look forward to it! 3. When you find friends in your new place (and you will - just start ringing doorbells with mini pumpkin breads or fudge!) schedule cocktails/game night/white elephant gifts.. something cheery!

            You'll get through it! breathe!!!! and smile as you pass by that jello salad in the buffet line at golden corral.. Weezle's right: people that doen't get it will never get it... start your own traditions. And bring your pepto bismol for the other times.

            1. re: rmarisco

              Hahah that was hilarious! And all very good ideas!!!

              1. re: rmarisco

                I'd only add that community centers/kitchens, can use help year-round. I'd say you and spouse have a decadent blow-out for the 2 of you and whoever you might scrounge and go volunteer on some non-popular days.

                or call the local fire/EMT station and see if they'd like a pinch hitter. or a nursing home - there's always a few lost souls with 'too busy' families there.

              1. re: beevod

                I was going to say the same as John Belushi, my advice to you is to start drinking heavily '-)

                1. re: beevod

                  a half xanax has become my savior. a friend passes me a few every year and I HOARD every grain of that stuff.

                2. I have posted on numerous threads about my soon to be in-laws (two days!!!!). They sound similar to yours. I have found that making what they like from scratch instead of the ore made junk was ok. This year my fiancé said I can serve wine and have courses if I want. His family is done and cleaned up in 30 minutes. We have missed dinner twice because for traveling we couldn't make it to the super early eating hour. I don't need thanksgiving dinner at 5 pm but 11 am is very difficult to pull off. Especially since I want to watch as much of the Macy's parade as possible. Now that it is at my house I am able to get a little more in.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: melpy

                    Congrats!! The wedding menu was just as much of an issue for them haha! :)

                  2. Sounds like their family has a 'food is fuel' culture... there really isn't anything you can do to change it. Since you love to cook for others, and your husband's family isn't a good audience, is there any way you could host an 'orphans' Thanksgiving? There's no law that says all your guests have to be related to you, or even people you knew before the day. You don't need a ton of room to host a celebration.

                    DH's siblings are very much 'box and packet' people and I was raised on 'everything from scratch'. I just had to let it go... their house, their rules. I saved my 'real' cooking for an audience who'd appreciate it. I don't cook much any more because of my health, but I knew anything I made would have a receptive audience at church... and even if it was only mediocre (in my opinion) I'd still get compliments on it to stoke my ego. :)

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Kajikit

                      That's a good idea! I willl look into doing something similar! I try to let it go but they are always complaining about how they just hate cooking! Then when I do offer they try to pitch in, for example his mom ran out to buy pillsbury crust when I was about to make pizza haha! And you're right I get more compliments outside the family anyway, might as well start some new traditions!

                      1. re: Kajikit

                        I so agree with this. Would you want to do Thanksgiving your way the weekend before with good friends? Good friends who like good cooking? Your in-laws will not change.

                      2. Holiday stress, you work retail? Ten weeks of hell.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: James Cristinian

                          I have before and it is! I only shop online now unless it's for food!