Dear Miss Manners: My family arrangement has been to go to a relative’s home almost every Thanksgiving and Christmas over the past 10 years or more. The hostess never attempts to accommodate my gluten and lactose intolerances, which she is aware of. She serves mostly wheat- and dairy-based items for appetizers and entrees — lots of Italian food, breads, pasta dishes with cheese, etc. — therefore I’m left out.
I’ve had to bring my own dinner, as well as a dessert, and have even brought tortilla chips or rice crackers so that I could safely join in on the hors d’oeuvres. But the hostess never seems happy about me bringing things. At the same time, I’m expected to contribute a side dish to share with the guests, as well as help out in the kitchen while this food I cannot eat is being plated and cleaned up.
There are usually no more than 12 people, and often fewer. It hurts my feelings that she has never attempted, or even offered, to accommodate me at these family dinners I’m expected to be a part of. Thanksgiving turkey is only safe for me if no gravy is poured on before I take mine. She’s never volunteered any info on ingredients or the menu — whether there’s flour or butter in gravies or sides, for instance.
When I have asked about the Christmas entree in advance, the hostess states that there will be “plenty of antipasto and salad for you.” I get the vibe that I’m being a bother.
So I bring my own meal in a takeout container, feeling like I’m sneaking it in, as she expects me to be satisfied with only salad. The hostess sets her table like a magazine shoot, with the finest linens, crystal and silverware. But after I heat my food up in the microwave, I usually have to eat right out of that takeout container on her perfectly set holiday table!
Only in the past few years has she started placing my microwaved food on a dinner plate in the kitchen and serving me like all the other guests. But still, it all feels very cold and insensitive. I feel hurt and left out, and I’ve dreaded these holiday meals.
Am I expecting too much to be offered something besides some salami, celery, carrots, olives and a tossed salad while everyone else is eating the main dish of homemade lasagna or baked ziti?
I think it’s rude to expect people with legit dietary restrictions (not a passing fad diet) to make a meal out of a few bites of cold appetizers while watching everyone else enjoy a delicious hot meal. What do you think?
That you should make other plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Miss Manners understands that people want traditional dishes for the holidays. She sympathizes with hosts who are expected to produce individual menus for a variety of needs or demands. She acknowledges the annoyance of having others taking over the kitchen with their offerings, altering a well-planned menu.
But the callousness of refusing to accommodate a relative — and one who has made efforts to avoid being an annoyance — is stunning. Do the purposes of celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas mean nothing to these people?
New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.
©2022, by Judith Martin
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