We hosted my wife’s family (about 20 people) for Thanksgiving last week. Everything went fine, and we all avoided talking about politics. What bugs me is that we spent over $300 on the meal. This is a paycheck for my wife, who works part time. All they brought was a side dish. How can I get my wife to get her family to pitch in on a big meal like that? It doesn’t seem fair that we carried the expense for the whole group.
Dear Frugal Guy,
You know, in the grocery store checkout line, I’m amazed at how quickly things add up. At the holidays, I buy specialty items (cranberry chutney, anyone?) that are expensive and we get only one or two servings/uses out of them. The good news is, we have access to healthy food and can share it with our loved ones. The bad news is it costs so damn much sometimes!
About your in-laws: Is this the tradition, that one family hosts everyone else? Or has this feast been served in your house every year? If this is a repeat performance, talk to your wife about enlisting her family members’ help. It’ll take a little more coordination, but it can be done. If your wife resists the idea, perhaps she likes being in charge of food prep, and/or has favorite recipes she wants to cook? Talk with her about her expectations for family gatherings, and let her know your concerns. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask her family members to contribute a dish (or several) to the meal.
On the other hand, if the sub-families are taking turns hosting each year, and this isn’t a recurring situation for you, then don’t make an issue of it. Think of it as your turn, and you’ll get a lighter load next year. All families have patterns of how they celebrate holidays or family events. It would be tough for you, as one who has married into the family, to suggest a big change in how things are done. It is important that you talk with your wife about your concerns, though, and listen to her reply with an open mind and heart. She may have strong emotions connected to the annual Thanksgiving gathering. Be loving in your suggestions—don’t just try to argue her into agreeing with you.
P.S. If you all avoided an awkward or upsetting political discussion this year, perhaps it was worth every penny!