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In my family, there was only one who cooked. Since I stopped, there have been some fantastic holidays, one spent on a picnic table in Santa Barbara overlooking the ocean, with my dogs sharing a catered gourmet meal.

Thanks everyone, but don't invite me, ever! Lol.

(sorry for the attitude).
Helpful Answer (7)

When I first read the OP's post, I wondered if I would be the only one who didn't feel that women need to spend days cooking and preparing. I haven't cooked for Thanksgiving for years; not only is it something that's too time consuming, but there are logistical issues with bringing my father here (along with oxygen tanks, walker or rollator, and up my front stairs), but I just don't feel like spending time on something that's become expected just b/c of a holiday.

So I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one who doesn't view this as something women should be expected to do.

And as I think back over my childhood, whenever we visited with relatives, it was always the women who did the prep and cleanup. Some of the male members went into the living or family room to watch football or sleep.
Helpful Answer (6)

I eat out alone fairly often since I've become a widow. I like a turkey meal at two local restaurants. One serves it either as a hot sandwich or as a meal -- not a lot of difference in items, more in the presentation. The other only offers it open-faced sandwich style. I often order it as take-out from the closer restaurant, sometimes adding a slice of pie and always getting an extra cranberry serving. The serving size is two meals for me -- maybe three if I include pie and add a bagged salad. So if I have a craving for Thanksgiving "leftovers" any day of the year, I know how to arrange that very easily!

Obviously having "leftovers" is not the real issue here. The nature of your mother's relationship to your stepdad is. This can be heartbreaking for the adult children and other relatives who witness it. And other than be supportive, I don't know what the outsiders can do. If you figure it out, New2this, share!

A friend whose parents lived half the country away from her was devastated that her father (a physician) treated her mother who had dementia so unkindly. She realized that it was simply the long-term nature of their relationship, but only looked much more inappropriate since her mother was impaired.
Helpful Answer (8)

There was an early decline in the Thanksgiving hostess one year at an in-laws home.
Every event has some snafu inevitably. But when everyone allowed in the kitchen disappeared, I went in there for some cola, and there sat a huge pot of mashed potatoes upside down on the kitchen floor. No one was in the kitchen! The dysfunctional family's rule of 'the food is okay if you get it off the floor within 5 minutes' lol, was broken, but the potatoes were served anyway. An elderly aunt had unsafely transported her ham contribution for several hours, and some people got sick.
It may be pride that keeps a hostess going way beyond her ability to serve THE BIG MEAL. Or, illness, alcoholism, just not knowing when to stop. Or, like Barb mentions, abuse.
Maybe when someone no longer enjoys the preparation, is fraught with resentment, or is just too ill (not old), other plans could be made.

A hostess should alway consider the guests, are they going to enjoy your family's chaos?

I get that nothing is perfect. But leave me out of it. I have no plans whatsoever, and am fine with being spared.

Otherwise, catered is a great way.  Still hard on the hostess without help.

I think that I would get that man who wants leftovers, a fresh cooked turkey delivered the next day, with all the trimmings.  Then go out on Thanksgiving.  Last year, smaller portions of every item were found at trader joes just before the day.

My take on Thanksgiving.....make sure there is something to be thankful for.
Helpful Answer (11)

New, I've seen that kind of putdown by a man to his wife. I don't know all the psychological background that contributed to it, but I was just as offended as you were. Not that that's any excuse, as tolerance is also enabling.

You've gotten some really good suggestions. Maybe you just need to take the bull by the horns and order a catered meal if your mother just isn't up to challenging of going through arguments at this time of the year, a few days away from Thanksgiving.

Or just take the whole bunch out and ask for separate checks so you don't end up paying for the new GF.

I still get annoyed at these men every time I read one of the responses; that is such inconsiderate treatment for your mother.

Me, being a smart derriere that I can be, I might just rebel and embarrass the men by putting out a few loaves of bread and some hormone free packages of meat, condiments, lettuce, and a few pumpkin pies and tell them to fix what they want (paper plates of course), and go at it while I go sit down and read or watch something like one of the parades on tv.
Helpful Answer (12)

How old is too old to prepare a holiday feast alone? I'd say about 30.

I don't remember ever having a holiday meal prepared by one person, at least since I've had adult children, and before that my husband did half of the work. This year my sister is hosting a Thanksgiving feast. She has been prepping for weeks. Part of that was assigning dishes to bring. I'm bringing an awesome wild rice/mushroom side dish and a chocolate roulade. The non-cooks have been assigned wine, etc. Everyone brings something. Sis is a fabulous cook and she loves doing this, but even she wouldn't tackle this single-handed. Just hosting is a huge job, let alone preparing all the food. One person hosting and preparing all the food? I just can't comprehend that expectation.

The catered meal is too skimpy? Order two. Find a more generous source. Or, best of all, go out to eat where the prep and cleanup is done for you! Order and pay for some take-out for leftovers.
Helpful Answer (17)

Thank you guys for the non biased guidance. I was afraid I was being unreasonable opting out, but also feel like if I "save the day" I am enabling him to treat her poorly. Am kind of hoping that if it "hits a wall" goes poorly, and he has to get in there and help, that he'll quit expecting so much from her? I'm in a catch 22, if I help it continues, if I don't it might hurt her.

Garden Artist, you nailed it, he's super controlling and dominating. I don't know when this happened, we butted heads when I was 13 when he came into my life, but then I grew to like him, trust him. But I have lived out of state a very long time, maybe things weren't as they seemed for a while now. Mom has always over congratulated him for every little thing, kind of like how you train a puppy, smile, you know how far "good boy" goes in that instance. It really seems like this has ended up backfiring? He's 10 years younger than her, I wondered if it is that he doesn't understand she's older, or if his plain doesn't care? The later is scary. When we moved back we started noticing he criticizes every little thing she does or says, talks down to her, while really talking himself up. He says her name followed by "G_d D_mmit!" often, then will follow it with something trivial, like "you're using the wrong spoon!", doing whatever wrong, telling the story wrong. I haven't known what to make of it, other than it makes us uncomfortable. One time recently it was offensive enough I got up out of my chair and started towards him without even realizing it, he's lucky I caught myself cause I think I was on the way over to deck him. (?). I did pull her aside and tell her I wasn't going to tolerate that any longer and wasn't the only one who'd notice that and was upset with it. Believe it or not, it stopped, or, at least in front of us. I don't understand what is going on. Is he afraid of something? Ugh.

Odd thing is that he didn't ask her, he plain told her they were coming, in front of me and other company, then took off out the door. She was really mad, and said, "no way". Next time I talked to her she'd changed her mind and said "one more, last one". She keeps asking where hubby and I are going, have hoped she'd change her mind because I really don't think she can do this. Thanks you guys, at least I won't feel like a total jerk AND worried at the same time.
Helpful Answer (7)

To answer your first question, when is too old? It is not an age, but an ability. My mum is 83 and perfectly capable of preparing a big meal. Not that I would suggest she do so. My former mil decided when she was in her 50's that she could not possibly manage to prepare a family meal of any size.

Me, I decided after preparing many a family meal that I would not do one more unless the men got off their backsides and did all the clean up. Boy were they surprised when I followed through and told them all to get up and clean up.

But for your mother, why is she agreeing to this? Step-dad wants left overs, I want a basement reno, doesn't mean I will get one. Safeway has lovely pumpkin pies, so does Costco if he needs lots of left over pie. The deli at my local store has real roast turkey.

Why does your mum feel she must do as he wants when it is not good for her? Why is he so selfish?
Helpful Answer (13)

Has your mother's marriage always been abusive?
Helpful Answer (15)

My grandmother could turn out a meal for 30 till the age of 88. But she was mighty unusual in that.

I'm 61. I'm DONE doing all the cooking, prep and cleanup. My hubby was upset one year b/c I didn't haul out the china and crystal. The next year I DID and made the men clean up. Since then, I have had no complaints about high quality plastic or paperware.

NO ONE should put the "expectations" of such a meal on anyone else. ONE TIME my DH commented that I had not made the best pumpkin pie that year (he was right, forgot the sugar) but I blew up at him. Really, told him it takes 3 days to prep for a meal for 30 people, our house is tiny, he doesn't help at all....sleeps until 2 pm and is often jumping in the shower when the first guests arrive...since then he has been much more grateful for what I do. Or, rather, did. I am going to my daughter's this year, and if I have my way, won't be hosting the whole shebang ever again.

Your mom needs some backup....seriously? Her husband has to have his leftovers? I don't know the guy and I wanna smack him.

It is not too late to plan to go out, or have the meal catered.
Helpful Answer (17)

I am 68 and TG dinner is too much for me. Don't know how my Mom did it all those years. We r trying the Bob Evans catering this year. Everything is done, just pick it up and heat. I wouldn't consider Mom old but she has a lot of challenges to overcome for a Holiday that is overwhelming for someone not challenged. Can you talk to the guest coming and ask that they help by offering to bring something and help. Or, maybe you can help by making somethings ahead. A sweet potato casserole can be made the day before and reheated. So can succotash. Same with coleslaw. Mash potatos can be bought already made. As can pies. For the number of people coming, a breast will be enough and have leftovers. Stuffing can be made ahead in a baking dish and thrown into the oven. I've done it in a crockpot. Yes, stepfather is unreasonable. But III know men like this. I really sympathize with you but it looks like ur it to help Mom. Hope all turns out for her.
Helpful Answer (9)

While I agree with everything GardenArtist has said I have a different take on this. Its not so much the hosting at home that is the problem, it's the unrealistic expectation that she is to do it without help and turn out a special feast. Frankly I think the person who needs an attitude adjustment is your mother (not that all the others don't need a good swift kick up the, er, backside). She needs to stand up for herself and insist that if she is going to host a gathering she needs help, it takes a man to put a heavy turkey into and out of the oven and to mash the potatoes. And she needs to insist that a store bough dessert and simple side dishes are all she is willing to do. And then she can call everyone into the kitchen after the meal to package up leftovers and start the dishes. (Speaking of dishes I have two words, paper plates) And forget cleaning for days and all the other things that go along with the it's got to be perfect mindset, chances are the guests don't notice or care, and if they do they might actually realize that poor mom isn't up to the task. A gathering is only as stressful and physically demanding as you allow it to be.
And given that thanksgiving is only days away, isn't it a little late to be making this an issue? The time to make any meaningful changes passed weeks ago.
Helpful Answer (10)

WHO is expecting this challenged woman to cook? The men in the family. And what are they doing except continuing (if not enforcing) a chauvinist attitude that women still perform the mule's worth of work in the kitchen.

Grrrr! This makes my blood boil!

Your poor mother is struggling while she's literally too physically challenged to even think about cooking a dinner. I support your efforts to change, but it sounds like you're up against a practiced controller and dominator.

Could you get her to come with you on Thanksgiving, and perhaps spend some time with you while the volcano erupts and finally extinguishes over anger that he's not being served as he wishes to be?

I suspect your mother would be afraid to do this. So the focal point is their relationship, and her subordination. And figuring out a way to stop this now before she suffers even more.

Something else you could try is enlist the new GF; if she's going to eat, she can help prepare it. You could also advise everyone that there will be no leftovers unless they all pitch in, one way or the other, and contribute. But I suspect that won't work either.

I think the insistence on leftovers by your father is an obvious manipulative tactic to control his wife. The fact that she reaches otu to you to help with the dinner suggests that she realizes the men in the family won't help.

How old is your father, and he's still working? Couldn't a caterer just be requested to provide double the portions for the leftovers?

This issue of leftovers is such an ill disguised manipulative one.

There's another way, but it's sneaky, and your mother would have to cooperate: she could collapse the day before and ask you (not your father) to take her to the ER. Even if they don't keep her for observation, you might be able to keep her out of the house on Thanksgiving Day.

If you pick her up and take her home, you can always fudge the advice given, i.e., that her medical condition prevents her from cooking a massive meal and that she needs to spend the next several days resting.

Further, the ER doctors advise that she should NOT prepare any large meals again if she wishes to avoid further spinal deterioration.

It wouldn't hurt to also speak with her regular doctors even if you aren't HIPAA authorized. Her back issues concern me as much as the anxiety and stress.

I've seen a similar situation in my extended family. It only stopped when the wife was too ill to cook, and by then her health was severely compromised.
Helpful Answer (12)

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