Dear Prudence answers readers' questions live at Washingtonpost.com.

Real-time discussions with Slate writers.
Nov. 23 2009 3:33 PM

Thanksgiving Misgivings

Prudie talks turkey with advice seekers about the upcoming holiday and all its pitfalls.

(Continued from Page 3)

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Md.: My brother-in-law has lived a mile away from us with my in-laws after a divorce several years ago. He stopped speaking to my husband and me after my husband refused to allow him to invite his EX-wife to our wedding earlier this year. We have not been included in family holidays at the in-laws' since the argument (Easter and now Thanksgiving). Essentially, my husband is told we are welcome to come by, but no direct invitation is ever issued to me, nor a dinner invite for both of us. This is unbelievably hurtful to me, as I have no family in the area. Luckily, dear friends have invited us for the holidays. There is no chance of Brother-in-Law leaving home anytime soon since he has been unemployed for more than a year. Husband continues to cut his parents' grass and visits them regularly. They claim we are welcome to come over, but visits have to be scheduled around Brother-in-Law. Any advice you can provide would be wonderful...thanks!

Emily Yoffe: There are lots of ways to interpret "welcome anytime." It could mean "Don't set foot here," or "We wish you would make the next move," or "We know we've been wrong, but no way are we going to acknowledge that."
On his next visit, your husband needs to make the next move. He should sit down and have a serious discussion with his parents and brother. He can be the big one and apologize for the hurt feelings over the ex-sister-in-law. He can say that the invitation wasn't extended since she was an ex, but he sees now how much this meant to your brother, and if he had it to do over, he would include her. But now this estrangement is making his own wife feel unwelcome in the family home, and he wants to get past this. He can suggest all of you go out for a peace-making dinner. That way, things should be back on track for Christmas.
If, however, your husband's family wants to continue to punish both of you, maybe they need to find an alternate lawn service.

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Emily Yoffe: It's my specialty.

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Surviving Thanksgiving Suggestion: Since it seems like a fair number of your readers are girding their loins for some less-than-fabulous Thanksgiving dinners, I thought I'd offer up a suggestion folks can try for next year, one that makes our holiday much more bearable. Every year we host a dinner the Sunday before Thanksgiving and invite all the people we would have around our table on the big day if we didn't head off to the hinterlands to do the family thing. Everyone is asked to bring a dish, something they would love to serve for Thanksgiving but don't, either because they are still perfecting the dish or because they think their fellow diners would turn up their noses. I make the main course, which sometimes is a turkey but not always. We end up with lots of interesting food, great conversation, and enough good spirit to carry us through the week. It's the highlight of our holiday season!

Emily Yoffe: What a great idea for the holiday season, although any time of year, casual, convivial entertaining makes life more fun. However, it sounds a little dangerous to specify dishes one's family is sure to reject!

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving, full of dishes everyone loves, and gratitude for the imperfect families we have.

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