Food Friday: Ask The Lady

Cherished readers, what a timely question this is. The Lady so enjoys Thanksgiving for the family togetherness and of course, the opportunity to show off a properly set table! But just what if the table will be filled with those on opposite sides of the political spectrum?Let us examine…

Dear Lady Hooper-Brackett, 

I am a 53 year old woman who is beyond the point of tolerance for my family members. Maybe it’s my age, but I have no patience, time, or inclination to deal with people who are letting their opposing political views get in the way of my Thanksgiving celebration. My darling cherub children and their cousins are pretty much guaranteeing a big family feud as we carve the turkey. I have seen with my own eyes the posts on social media. I find this whole thing absurd and feel caught in the middle. What can I do? I told my husband I am ready to cancel the whole thing and go eat my Thanksgiving meal in peace at Golden Corral. 

Pissed Off Mother of 4

Dear Pissed Off Mother of 4,

Firstly, The Lady would like to point out that this is the precise reason that politics is on the No-No Topic list for polite conversation!

Second, while The Lady doesn’t have a problem with Golden Corral, she is unsure that you will be satisfied entrusting your Thanksgiving enjoyment to this place on what will probably be the most crowded day of the year.

Third, The Lady reminds you that the gathering will be at your home and YOU make the rules. If this animosity if being broadcast across social media, you have every right to send an email or make a call informing the warring factions that they are to leave their political squabbling at the door and not bring it inside. That is NOT what a family meal is for. And as you mention cousins will be coming to your home, The Lady would include their parents (you or your husband’s siblings) on the email or calls. MAKE IT VERY CLEAR (in a mannerly way, of course) that this is a non-negotiable house rule. For example:

Dear Children and Dear Nieces and Nephews, I am looking forward to seeing all of you on Thanksgiving and enjoying much-anticipated family time. I request that we use this day to celebrate family and gratitude and not use it to squabble over politics, religion, or any other divisive topic. I want to hear all about YOU, your families, jobs, and achievements. I love you all and I know that you will respect my wishes as you come to my home. I would be very disappointed to not continue our family tradition due to this matter. We will be family longer than any one person will be the President. Love, Your Pissed Off Mother and Aunt

The Lady is quite frankly tired of the political climate, which is why she frequently watches re-runs of Designing Women and The Golden Girls and has fond memories of the 80s and the Reagans. (The Lady shows her age!)

Please write back after Thanksgiving with an update.

Best Thanksgiving Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

Sunday Ask The Lady: Football Fracas

Cherished readers, Happy October and Happy Autumn! Today’s question comes from the host of football parties and The Lady feels that this just might be a situation that is quite common this time of year.

Dear Lady Hooper-Brackett,

Please give me the best advice you can on what to do about my cousin. She comes over every Sunday to watch football (we have about 20 people here each week as we enjoy watching the games). She is fine at first, but boy, once she has her fourth beer in her, she becomes a belligerent jerk. She thinks she is being funny with people, she picks on people, but she calls it ‘busting chops’; she is really rude and crass. She is hurting the feelings of everyone who come here. My problem is, I am completely a non-confrontational person. The thought of dis-inviting her is keeping me up at night. What do I do? 

Stressed Hostess

Dear Stressed Hostess,

The Lady certainly doesn’t advise speaking to her about this while she well into her cups. The Lady shudders to think what would happen. The Lady must admit that she cannot understand those types of people who feel the need to ‘bust chops’ as you said. How does it contribute to a pleasant time to pick on others?

When she is sober, talk to her about her behavior. If you are still scared to do this and it  still gives you insomnia…omit liquor from the Sunday get-togethers completely and see if  the same thing happens. If she is no longer jerky, then fine…all is well. But if she is still rude, The Lady fears you must tell her that she is no longer welcome.

No guest has the right to behave in the manner you described. She is showing disrespect to you, your home, and your other guests.

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

Wedding Wednesday: How Much Food To Serve

Cherished readers, two of The Lady’s correspondents in the past few weeks have asked this question (not a carbon copy but the general idea) so it must be a timely topic. Below you will find one of the emails.

Dear Lady Hooper-Brackett

My son is being married at the church of his fiancee, which happens to be in New York City. We live in Boston as do many of our friends and family who are invited to the wedding and reception. We will all be carpooling or taking the train to NYC (which you can imagine is costing the group of 48 both time and money) The bride and her family have decided to serve only “light refreshments” at the reception. And by light she means tea-time finger sandwiches, champagne, and small dainty desserts in addition to the wedding cake. Am I wrong to feel that they should serve something a little more substantial? Especially with the groom’s family numbering so many and traveling such a distance. I’ve offered to contribute and they politely refuse.

Starving Mother of The Groom

Dear Starving Mother of The Groom

First The Lady will say what you want me to say: HOW AWFUL! They should be ashamed at serving such meager cuisine.

Now The Lady will say this:

Traditionally, the bride’s family hosts the reception and provides the apres-nuptial bounty. In our modern times, there seems to be more cost-splitting going on, but this is the traditional role that the bride and her family play. Basically, what they are serving is perfectly acceptable. Even if they chose to serve only the wedding cake and punch or champagne, that is entirely correct.

NOW, with that being said…as you have been rebuffed in your efforts to contribute to the food kitty, The Lady advises this:

Since all of the starving Bostonians are traveling together anyway, after the wedding reception, find a restaurant in the city where you can play hostess, pay for the cornucopia of vittles, and eat as much as you like. Your relatives will have full tummies and can travel home in comfort.

Best Wedding Wishes

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

 

 

Manners Monday: Photographic Stress in The Family Shrine

Cherished readers, recently a dear friend came to The Lady for advice on a sticky subject of family photographs. She is an older lady with three children and several grandchildren. Her problem was that two of her children have children with their former spouses, but are now re-married. The bone of contention is this: Her new daughters-in-law both resent the fact that she has family photographs on the wall that still clearly display the old spouse. The Lady’s friend insists that it is her house and that the former spouses will always be the mothers of her grandchildren, so why shouldn’t she display their pictures?

The Lady offered this advice:

Yes, while it is true that one can display any and all pictures that one wishes in their home, The Lady feels that others’ feelings must be considered. The display of pictures of ex-in-laws can certainly send the message that the new spouse is not welcome or taken very seriously by the family and The Lady assumes that her friend is intelligent enough to know that this can cause strife in a marriage. (Do you really want to add another stress to your adult child’s life? It’s hard enough as it is without this petty problem) This advice applies to everyone: Regardless of how you feel about your child’s ex, when they have moved on to a serious relationship, support them and this includes taking down old pictures of the ex. It will go a long way to creating harmony in the family.

Best Framed Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

Thursday Ask The Lady: Badmouthing An Ex

Cherished readers, The Lady presents today’s question. She advises at all times to Never Call Attention To Oneself

Dear Lady Hooper-Brackett, 

Here’s my real life question. What do you think of people who bad-mouth their exes in public? 

Ex-Ex-Ex

Dear Ex-Ex-Ex,

The Lady presumes that you mean ‘ex-husbands’ ,’ex-wives’ , ‘ex-boyfriends’ or ‘ex-girlfriends’, though she assumes you could mean ‘ex-bosses’ or ‘ex-colleagues’.

The Lady has a very good piece of advice for anyone who may be tempted to spout-off publicly: DON’T.

To publicly speak ill of someone that you were once in a relationship with is bad form. The Lady understands that most people do talk about their unfortunate experiences, and there is nothing wrong keeping these conversations in the family circle or between friends. It is when you blab away to all and sundry that it becomes a social faux pas. After all, people can understand that things may not have worked out and it is always better to at least give the impression that things ended on friendly terms.

If the ex is an ex-boss, The Lady fears you will risk any future employment opportunities. People can be reluctant to hire someone for fear that they will in turn talk badly about the new boss.

Silence is Golden.

Best Ex Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

Thursday Ask The Lady: Multi-Level Annoyance

Cherished readers, The Lady cannot be certain how widespread this issue really is, as the correspondent states she is from Texas, but The Lady  feels this might be something that some readers deal with regardless of locale.

Dear Lady Hooper-Brackett, 

How do I politely say no to a woman who is involved in a multi-level marketing company who continually pesters me to try the latest and greatest product? I have never shown enthusiasm for the products at all, but at every turn she brings up the company, the marketing plan, and actually makes me feel as though there is something wrong with me for not wanting to join. The fact is, she and the other people who sell these products are pushy as hell and I have no desire to be in  their company. I am a proper Southern Belle Texas lady, but there are times I want to be rude and tell her to back off. 

Had Enough In Houston

Dear Had Enough in Houston,

The Lady is sorry that you are being seemingly targeted by this enthusiastic person who obviously is passionate about what they do. Their passion, however, should not infringe on your peace and quiet. The Lady sees nothing wrong with telling her flatly that while you appreciate her wishing to “spread the word” about products she obviously loves, you do not wish to try them, so please do not ask. Be firm. If she continues on her quest to get you to buy or sign, she is the rude one, and you have every right to remind her that you’ve spoken to her already about your feelings on this company. No is NO.

Socialization should not be a sales pitch. In The Lady’s opinion, truly effective sales efforts attract and do not attack.

Best Non-Salesy Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

 

When They Won’t Stop Calling

Cherished Readers, during my weekly lunch with some friends, one mentioned that she is in the midst of dealing with a relative who repeatedly calls her at all hours of the day and night to moan, groan, and complain about her problems. She rarely asks after my friend. Her cup of patience is almost empty. She turned to me for guidance and I told her I needed to think about things.  I believe that these types of situations might be common, so after discussing with my friend, she agreed I could share my insights with you. Below you will find what I advised her. Name changed to protect the innocent.

Dear Dorcas, 

I pondered your situation on the drive home and the first thing that I would like to remind you of is the fact that your phone, be it your landline or cell, is for your convenience only and not for anyone else’s. You are entirely within your rights to only answer the phone when it is convenient for you. I know that you felt guilty letting it go to voice mail so often, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. 

I am very dismayed that this person only seeks out your listening ear to vent and spew complaints and never asks how you are. 

BUT, and it is a big BUT (not like Kardashian sized, but big nonetheless) if you are the only person who listens to her, perhaps there may be an emotional problem that she is suffering from and your being there for her is helping her. Because she is family, I would not cut ties with her; but I would be very honest with her and inform her that because you and your family are very busy there must be a set time when you will take calls. Give her one or two times during the week that you will speak to her and explain that if she calls out of those times, you will not be answering. If there is an emergency, she may text or email. You must control the situation while being loving and considerate. 

I feel that one can set boundaries and still be a good friend and we lose nothing by extending these courtesies. In fact, you may find you regain your sanity when dealing with her. 

Best Telephone Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett