Both Families are Turkeys

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Dear Jack,

Sometimes I wish I didn't live in the same city as my parents and my fiancé's parents. When parents live in different cities, you only have to visit one of them on Thanksgiving. My fiancé and I have been engaged for a year and dating for three, so we've been through this a few times, but it doesn't get any easier. In fact, it seems to be getting worse.

My parents and my fiancé's parents hate each other. The fact that they are different races and political and social castes plays a big part. When it comes to Thanksgiving, they make no effort to time their dinners so we can attend both of them. They seem to try their best to schedule at the same time.

What makes things worse is that neither of us even wants to go. It's always tense, there's always an argument. His family is easier to get along with than mine, as they seem to like me if not my parents, but my family is just short of openly hostile towards him. After four years, you would think they would come to accept him and appreciate his many charms. The first time he met my mother she asked me if I was pregnant. Apparently that was the only way she could imagine I would bring home someone like him.

So here we are, once more trying to decide who we are going to offend, only this time we are arguing about it. I want to go to his house, he wants to try one more time to reconcile our families before the wedding.

—Sick of Pumpkin Pie

Dear Pumpkin,

So why not go away?

Seriously, hear me out. Why don't you and your fiancé go out of town for Thanksgiving? Take a trip somewhere and just be together and pretend it isn't a holiday of traditional family obligations. Have some fun for a change. When your parents file their inevitable objections, state that you've decided not to ruin their holidays again with your presence.

It has been one of my long-standing rules that past the age of majority you are under no obligation to attend family functions. Your presence should be a blessing to the event, a welcome addition to the table, like whipped topping on the pumpkin pie. If you treat it like an obligation, that's exactly what it will become. If you don't put your foot down now, these miseries will themselves become a part of the tradition.

However, if you can't be counted on to attend, then both sets of parents will be induced to provide enticements for you to join them, rather than reasons to dread the day. You just need to realize that you hold the power in this situation. They will try to guilt you, but you have no reason to feel guilt. Instead, as an adult, you have the right to start your own holiday traditions. And when you do, they will be forced to schedule around you.

Got a problem? Let Jack Waggon set you straight: jack.wagg@gmail.com

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