Turkey Takes a Holiday
Prudie counsels a vegan whose family refuses to go meatless for Christmas—and other advice seekers.
Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence, is on Washingtonpost.com weekly to chat with readers about their romantic, family, financial, and workplace problems. A transcript of this week's chat is below. (Read Prudie's Slate columns here.)
Emily Yoffe: Good afternoon. I look forward to your questions.
Boston: My question is about how a vegan should host a holiday dinner for nonvegan guests.
My family recently decided to rotate holidays, and this is my first time hosting. I have been vegan since I was a child, and I am strongly against the killing of animals for food. It would be completely against my values to serve traditional, nonvegan food, but the rest of my family does not share these values and is extremely upset. I am excited to have my family over and cook for them, but they said they will not come if I refuse to compromise. I understand why they're upset about their favorite foods, but I also don't think it's fair for me to act against my morals to accommodate their taste for turkey. I'm getting married next year, and I'm already hearing from everyone how rude and selfish I am to be having a vegan wedding. Any dinner party I host, my family complains and decides they hate the food before they try it. What should I do about this perpetual vegan party problem?
Emily Yoffe: It's great that your family wants to rotate hosting duties, but it's not good that they want to rotate you on a spit because of your moral objections to eating animals. You should say you're delighted to host, but you can't compromise your principles. So they either agree to come or they agree that your house is not the proper venue for the holiday meal. If it's the latter, you could say you will contribute numerous salads and vegetable dishes to make up for the fact that you can't have the party at your house.
As for telling you you're rude and selfish to open your home and offer to feed them, or that you will have an unacceptable wedding because you won't serve meat—hmmm, I wonder who's being rude and selfish? Stop inviting them to dinner parties. But when they make nasty comments about the wedding, say you are sorry to hear they've decided they won't enjoy it. Explain you're excited about your wedding and hope it will be a joyous day for everyone no matter what the main course.
Baltimore, Md.: This past Father's Day, I gave my husband two tickets to see his favorite NFL team play against the local home team. I always assumed that we would go together, but recently I suggested that it might be nice of him to take our 12-year-old daughter, who is a big fan of the local home team. I even stated to him that I'd love to go but would forgo it if it meant she and her dad would have a special memory to cherish together. Well, yesterday he informed me that he invited his brother to the game. Then he proceeded to say that he had hoped that his brother would have to work but it didn't work out that way. I was taken so aback by this that I was at a loss for words. Honestly, I'm sincerely hurt. I also don't understand why he would invite him if he truly was hoping his brother wouldn't be able to make it. I just don't buy it. And to make matters worse, this game is occurring on my birthday weekend. I don't know if it is worth bringing up with him at this point because I realize the tickets were his to do with as he chose. Plus, he's already invited his brother, so it would be rude to uninvited him. I just find it to be such a slap in both my face and my daughter's to disregard us both like this. I'm only grateful that I hadn't mentioned to her my idea of her attending the game with her dad. Am I out of line for being so very disappointed over this, or should I confront him about how I feel?
Emily Yoffe: Maybe he told you, "I had hoped my brother couldn't go" once he saw the look on your face because he was hoping to avoid a long talk about how insensitive he was, how hurt you are, how crushed your daughter will be, etc. You gave your husband two tickets to the hockey game (great gift!) without the caveat that you would get to decide who used the second ticket. He wants to go with his brother! Unless your husband receives a puck to the head and doesn't return from the game, there will be other opportunities for father-daughter bonding. (Why not get another set of tickets and tell your husband they're for him and your daughter.) Please, let the guy enjoy his gift, and enjoy a rare evening out with his brother. And that night, instead of stewing, you should take the opportunity to do something fun with your daughter so the two of you have a special memory to cherish.
NFL, NOT NHL: Re: the earlier post who gave her husband NFL tickets ... NFL stand for National FOOTBALL League. It would be extremely hard to get hit in the head by a puck at one of those games.
Emily Yoffe: Wait a minute, you don't play football with a hockey puck? No wonder I've been having trouble following the game all these years! Sorry, my bad. OK, dad won't get hit in the head with a puck. Is it also true he won't get hit in the head with a baseball at a football game? Let's just say he'll likely survive the football game with his brother, and the rest of my advice stands.
Waseca, Minn.: My daughter and her fiance have a huge wedding dilemma. His parents went through a VERY messy divorce (and are still fighting after more than 15 years). Both parents have made it clear that they will not attend the wedding if the other one is there. Is there any way to convince two incredibly selfish, and volatile, people that they should put aside their differences for their son's big day?
Emily Yoffe: Why did they get divorced? Usually you end a rotten marriage so you can stop the misery. It sounds as if these two still enjoy going at it. What your future son-in-law should do is tell each of his parents that both of them are invited to his wedding—it being his WEDDING and all, it's customary to have one's parents there. Then they can decide if they want to be civil and show up. If they demand of him that he choose, he should say he can't and won't. He should tell them they either show or they don't, that's their choice. And if they both show, he should add that he hopes they can be civil to each other on this one day (alert other family members to be ready to keep the parents apart). This is important training for your son-in-law for when the children come and each of his parents threatens to divide the grandchildren in half in order to keep the ex from having more time with them.