Wedding Woes

Just stop going. Seriously.

Dear Prudence, 

My partner and I celebrate Thanksgiving with their family. Their aunt and uncle host and cook the meal, which they love to do. The issue is that their aunt and uncle are not clean. They pet their dog while cooking and don’t wash their hands. They drop food on the floor and put it back without telling anyone. They cough on the food. The dishes they use are “washed,” but still have food crusted on them. The list goes on.

It seems like they’ve gotten worse over the years. With COVID and the fact that guests have contracted norovirus multiple times in the past after the meal, I just can’t do it anymore. I’m totally grossed out at the idea of eating their food.

How do we deal with this? They won’t give up hosting—and it would still be a problem if they did anyway because they behave this way in other people’s homes. They do not handle criticism well and have a “whatever, it’s fine” attitude about cleaning, in general, so my casual attempts at mentioning food safety have gone nowhere. I don’t think they’ll change their habits no matter what we say, they’ve been like this forever! Thanksgiving is a big deal in my partner’s family and despite the lack of cleanliness, we love getting together with them. We love this aunt and uncle, we just don’t love eating with them. Is there any way to handle this without just saying goodbye to celebrating together?

—Dirty Little Secret

Re: Just stop going. Seriously.

  • Offer to bring side dishes and only eat those? 

    But seriously- you don’t want to stop going, they’re not listening to the really valid feedback you & others have given, so what miracle answer do you think exists that will suddenly change their minds? If you can’t take it anymore- go for drinks after, leave before the meal, or just don’t go. You can’t change their behavior but you can decide whether or not you want to keep putting up with this. 
  • The ball is entirely in your court LW.  You know what you're getting if you choose to go.  
    You can't poke yourself in the eye and then ask why someone else made you do it. 

    You know this is gross.  You're asking for permission to tell someone else how to live and it's just not how it works.  

    Is all this stress worth it to protect someone else's feelings when they don't give a shit about your feelings or health and safety? 
  • I hate to say it, but this is MIL. It wasn’t until H and I started dating that he realized all of the “stomach flus” he had growing up were actually food poisoning. I know it might come off a certain way but I will only eat at his parents if it’s catered, if we go out for dinner, if I’ve cooked it with her, or if I’ve brought the food. We’re not going to stop visiting so those are my options. If I can’t cook with her or bring food I eat before I go.

  • guests have contracted norovirus multiple times in the past after the meal

    Say What Now!!!!

    That's a Hard No....I would eat before or only what I brought. 
  • Don't eat their food.  Full stop.

    I'm wondering if they can get away having their own Thanksgiving meal and then go over to the aunt/uncle's house during the non-meal portion of the day.  So at least they can still enjoy family time.

    If the timing doesn't work that way, then still eat a big meal before going.  Bring sides or other dishes to "contribute" and then only eat those.  If they miss having Thanksgiving foods for the holidays, make their own feast on the Friday or Saturday.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • Multiple times of norovirus?? 

    Nopes.  You have plans.   You can stop by for an after dinner drink but it's not worth the health risk. 
  • Ugh, I dated a guy for years that had parents like this. I literally pulled a clump of dog hair out of my food once. 

    Either don't go, or bring your own food and only eat that. Not many other options. 
  • This is why I don't do potlucks.

    But yeah, tell a white lie and say you doubled booked thanksgiving and just finished a big meal at your cousin Sue's and couldn't possibly eat another bite. 
  • I honestly feel like bringing your own food wouldn't solve the problem. I think LW should stop going.
    This is a literal health hazard. 
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