Not That Different After All…

No, this isn't my husband (usually)
No, this isn’t my husband (usually)

I’d say the most unexpected part of marriage was holidays with my husband’s family. After seventeen years, I can still see stark differences. Sometimes the differences are frustrating and aggravating, but examined with a sense of humor, they can be amusing.

Of course, I choose to view life through a lens of humor!

My husband’s mother and one of his brothers (along with his youngest two children) stayed with us for several days. Our Thanksgiving dinner was an eclectic mix of traditional food (my fare) and more ethnic food (compliments of their Greek heritage.)

I am not adventurous in my food, so I didn’t partake of the pastitsio my mother-in-law made. The lamb, noodles, two sticks of butter and aromatic Greek cheeses didn’t appeal to me. My brother-in law made turkey – I was excited for some ‘normal’ food. I didn’t know he would go all Emeril Lagasse on the bird, though. It came out with a strong garlic/citrus taste. My husband said it tasted like the waste from a living organism (well, he didn’t say exactly that, but I’d like to keep this a PG blog.) My assessment was a bit kinder: I ate it. (However, days later, I’m thinking the ice chest the turkey marinated in may never be the same.)

On the flip side, I’m sure my stuffing was bland for their palates. The green beans with onions and bacon were probably a few notches below boring. But they ate it anyway.  My pumpkin pie may have been passable smothered in whipped cream, but I still had leftovers.

Despite out differences in taste, we did manage to agree on one thing: we were thankful to be able to spend the holiday together.

Their early departure indicated there is at least one other thing we agree on: four days is enough family time for one visit.

How long is long enough for family to visit? I’d love to know your response!


31 thoughts on “Not That Different After All…

  1. Timothy Price December 1, 2014 / 7:05 AM

    Since I do not like turkey or much of the tradition Thanksgiving fare, your in-law’s Greek feast sounds wonderful. My brother-in-law is the one who has to have traditional turkey and stuff, but he was out of town for Thanksgiving so my mother-in-law made red chile posole, which was a marvelous Thanksgiving dinner.

    • jannatwrites December 3, 2014 / 10:41 AM

      Haha, yeah, you might have enjoyed it, Timothy. She didn’t make baklava this time- sometimes she does. Now, Mexican food for Thanksgiving- I’m on board with that one 🙂

  2. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) December 1, 2014 / 7:27 AM

    Yes too many days with family can be exhausting.. I think I have heard it last about the same amount of days as fish.. so four days sounds perfect.

    I have managed longer periods but then it as been obvious that we each go our separate ways during day-time.. hmm Then as when it comes to food,, we don’t have Thanksgiving, but I think the way we spend Christmas has a lot of common…

    • jannatwrites December 3, 2014 / 10:43 AM

      Christmas is another feast time for us as, as well. I think it’s good to have some separate time when guests visit. When we’re not used to someone, it can be exhausting (or maybe I’m just selfish with my “me” time, haha!)

  3. Sean December 1, 2014 / 9:01 AM

    The bird surprised me. It looks like it was shot haha. Vacation stays to about 4 days is about right. & days becomes a bit long but it also depends on how much time is spent at the house with everyone. I remember a 3 month stretch where we were bouncing from relative to relative waiting on a job. 1 Month is a long time with anyone including parents. Glad you were able to spend the holiday together with family.

    • jannatwrites December 3, 2014 / 10:44 AM

      Wow, Sean, I don’t think I could make it anywhere with anyone for a month (and I’m pretty sure they’d feel the same!) ‘m glad you survived it, though 🙂

  4. nrhatch December 1, 2014 / 9:02 AM

    Sharing our home with others is a balancing act that requires finesse and diplomacy. After a few days (or, in some cases, hours), I’m ready to show “them” the door.

    • jannatwrites December 3, 2014 / 10:46 AM

      Hours? Glad I’m not the only one who has been there, Nancy 🙂 It’s like I’m happy to see them visit, but I’m just as happy when they leave…

  5. joannesisco December 1, 2014 / 10:19 AM

    Your post reminded me of visits to my in-laws. I was raised with the spicy, flavourful food of Italian cooking … probably not much different from the Greek food of your in-laws.
    My mother-in-law’s cooking is – by my palate – very bland and unappetizing.
    It really is a question of what you get used to 🙂

    As you said, in the end, what matters is the joyful gathering of family and friends … ideally measured in hours and not days 😉

    • jannatwrites December 3, 2014 / 10:50 AM

      Well, Italian food I think I would enjoy, Joanne! I would have to agree in the measurement of hours. Sometimes the days do get long… it all depends on their moods and my own mood. I get cranky when I don’t have quiet time. (My mom always tells the story of when I was a baby, she’d have to go check on me when I napped because I wouldn’t cry when I woke up… I’d just quietly play in my crib. I’m still content to be by myself!)

      • joannesisco December 3, 2014 / 12:33 PM

        I hear you! I need my quiet time alone too 🙂

        • jannatwrites December 4, 2014 / 9:46 PM

          Glad it’s not just me!

  6. suzicate December 1, 2014 / 10:40 AM

    The time period for family visits depend on which members are visiting, ha! We had our sons (one with gf) and my mom….it was great! We had 16 people for dinner, an array of ages (from one month to 81 years and all in between) and a great variety of food. It was fabulous! Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday.
    I had to laugh at your husband’s assessment of the turkey. My hubby brined and grilled ours and a young guest made one (“boiled” in a bag). Let’s say when they went to leave and pack up food, this young man left his turkey and took some of the hubbys while telling his friend the one he made wasn’t fit to eat…now, his really wasn’t that bad, just a little dry. However, when brined with fresh spices and grilled, a turkey does step it up several notches, ha!

    • jannatwrites December 3, 2014 / 10:52 AM

      Hehe, yes, it is a sliding scale with variables, Suzicate 🙂 Your husband’s turkey sounds good. I’ve never cooked a turkey, so I can’t criticize! It sounds like you had a great time and large crowd.

  7. Carol Ann Hoel December 1, 2014 / 11:54 AM

    I really miss my family and they miss me. Four days living under the same roof would probably affect all of us in the same way. We would all be glad to return to our separate homes. This is not a sign that we don’t love one another. This would be evidence that we have our own lives to live. I am too far away from my family to have had the opportunity to visit them this year. We went out with our friends, and we don’t regret missing all the work and stress of hosting a holiday dinner. Blessings to you, Janna…

    • jannatwrites December 3, 2014 / 10:54 AM

      I’m sorry you didn’t get to see family for Thanksgiving, Carol Ann. Time with friends is still enjoyable, though- especially when there’s no dishes to do after dinner 🙂

  8. Debbie December 1, 2014 / 2:09 PM

    Janna, I have a friend who maintains that “Fish and Guests are good for a maximum of three days,” and I believe he’s right. Of course, Domer was home and stayed a bit longer than that, but he’s not a “guest,” ha!

    Glad you survived your eclectic Thanksgiving. I much prefer traditional, down to the way everything’s cooked. In fact, I remember one Thanksgiving at my ex’s house where EVERYTHING was different (and I wasn’t a happy camper!). Funny how we get used to certain traditions and don’t want to give them up.

    Good for you, though, in keeping a sense of humor about it all!

    • jannatwrites December 3, 2014 / 10:55 AM

      Haha, I don’t think children count as guests even when they’ve moved out. (If I don’t bother to clean house before they come, I don’t view visitors as guests 🙂 ) I like traditional, too. But I eat way too much stuffing!

  9. Emilio Pasquale December 1, 2014 / 4:10 PM

    Good ole Ben Franklin said, “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.” I would change guests to family as there are several people who, as guests, would be welcome in our home for longer than three days.

    • jannatwrites December 3, 2014 / 10:57 AM

      Haha, that quote has surfaced quite a bit, and I have to say, Ben was a wise man 🙂 I think sometimes friends are better to have over because they are people we’ve chosen to be around, so they likely don’t annoy us… not so with family: you get what you get.

  10. GodGirl December 2, 2014 / 11:53 AM

    Haha, this made me laugh. “My assessment was a bit kinder: I ate it.” You did well to tolerate the differences and appreciate the time together for what it was. I think three days is my limit for guests, depending on the guests.

    • jannatwrites December 3, 2014 / 10:58 AM

      Well, GodGirl, since I don’t even know how to cook a turkey, I wasn’t going to complain! Three days is pretty good. Sometimes one is enough, though. My parents came for a surprise visit yesterday… I hoped they would stay longer but they already left.

  11. agjorgenson December 2, 2014 / 8:28 PM

    Well that depends completely on which family member! Some could quite easily move in and others… well, I don’t think we need to worry about the duration of their stay for rather different reasons.

    • jannatwrites December 3, 2014 / 10:59 AM

      Haha, their are different categories of family members, Allen! Thankfully, the ones who irritate me often feel the same toward me so they don’t want to stay too long!

  12. Kathy Combs (@Kathy29156) December 4, 2014 / 10:09 AM

    I have absolutely no desire to see any of my extended family and I never really have to, which is a blessing. So it is always my dear husband and my 2 kids. Just us…and I prepared a feast of regular Thanksgiving fare, probably a lot more agreeable to your palate from the sounds of it. Sounds like you had a nice Thanksgiving and that is what counts! ♥

    • jannatwrites December 4, 2014 / 9:49 PM

      I’m glad your immediate family provides a happy support system for you, Kathy. So, your house for Thanksgiving next year? 🙂

  13. Ellen Hawley December 6, 2014 / 9:28 AM

    You’ve proved it: Nothing divides us like the things that bring us together.

    • jannatwrites December 7, 2014 / 4:25 PM

      It does sound ironic, doesn’t it? Thanks for stopping by, Ellen!

  14. pattisj January 1, 2015 / 8:54 PM

    Where did December go? 😉 I like traditional food, and when someone else makes it, even better!

    • jannatwrites January 2, 2015 / 8:07 PM

      Haha, it did fly by, didn’t it, Patti? It also helps if someone else cleans up, too 🙂

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