A Public Service Announcement About In Laws

Talking to a friend the other day, she mentioned going to her in law’s home for Thanksgiving. She casually said something about how her mother-in-law asked her to bring canned cranberry sauce and napkins to the dinner. She said, “She knows how much I like to cook. This is just a power play on her part.”

I suggested she make homemade cranberry sauce and she shrugged. “She asked for canned, so I’ll bring canned.”

It reminded me of my last Thanksgiving with my ex-husband’s family. We’d been married almost ten years, and for all family gatherings, I was never invited into the kitchen. I did bring a dish or two to larger gatherings. But, what stands out the most was that Thanksgiving. I hosted it in my home for the first time ever.

I was so excited that they finally accepted my invitation. I planned for weeks what to cook. I opened an older recipe box of mine recently and found the stacks of recipes I’d set aside to cook that day.

Family members contacted me to see if they could bring anything and I said no, that I wanted to do it.

When they started arriving, I realized they’d all brought dishes. (This was a big family). Obviously, they’d coordinated the dishes because between them all, an entire Thanksgiving meal, including the turkey, came. My food was set aside and rejected for what they brought.

For someone like me, who finds cooking for friends and family a love language, my position and place as a “less than adequate” member of the family was screamed at me by what they did. I felt incredibly alone and unloved surrounded by my husband’s family.

Our marriage disintegrated about a month later for another reason entirely; however, over the years I’ve never really missed the relationships I’d built over a decade. I think without that Thanksgiving under our belts, I would feel differently.

I say all that to say (as a public service announcement) — don’t treat younger, newer members of your family that way. Embrace their gifts, even if they might outshine yours. Accept food, accept help in the kitchen. If the person doesn’t have any skills or training, don that Titus 2 mantle and train them.

You might be breaking someone’s heart, their confidence, their security in their position in your family otherwise.

…the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.

Titus 2:4-5

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