ShareThis Page
More Lifestyles

Daughter-in-law imposes her dietary fanaticism on the holiday feast

| Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018, 1:33 a.m.

Dear Carolyn:

I am in an OOD (Obsessive Organic Disagreement) with my daughter-in-law and her husband — my son. Three families are coming to my house for the holiday. The OOD couple decided not to join us if everyone didn’t contribute dishes made from foods labeled “organic.”

The OOD couple have three preschool children. They buy only organic foods, and dine at cafes of all-organic grocery stores. Otherwise, they bring organic food and beverages for the children. Letting them bring their own organic-labeled foods for holidays hasn’t worked well. My daughter-in-law brought so many vegetables for a cookout that she monopolized the entire grill cooking them. They proceeded to eat dinner as we had just gained access to the grill.

I was brought up that if someone invited you for dinner, you ate what you liked of what was served. You didn’t order the hostess to prepare foods specific to your family nor did you bring your own dinner to the “dinner.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture food safety hotlines say all food sold in grocery stores is safe to eat. Would it poison the OOD family to eat one holiday meal that was “regular” food?

— OOD Grandmother

Being right doesn’t do you much good if you’re answering the wrong questions.

Of course these kids could safely eat one “regular” meal, no hotline confirmation required, oh my goodness.

And yes, etiquette tilts heavily toward gracious acceptance of whatever hosts choose to serve, although allergies and other intolerances can politely factor in.

And, organic? Sure. Their prerogative, though it’s an imprecise business at best.

But this isn’t about food or manners. It’s about fanaticism.

Your daughter-in-law — she’s the driver here, I gather, while your son is the passenger? — is an extremist. Extremism is psychological, not dietary.

This is also more of a hostage situation than a menu challenge. Your access to your son and grandchildren lies behind that “OOD” gate, which your daughter-in-law controls, and your son buys into (again, I gather).

So, sure, you can fulminate eternally over impure coffee about your daughter-in-law’s food sanctimony, with full justification and no doubt ample validation from those other families, your friends, and people like me — but your son and grandkids won’t be there. And that’s the thing you want, isn’t it? Not winning, but companionship?

If it’s winning, then that would explain what your son sees in your daughter-in-law. Righteousness as emotional comfort zone.

But if you do want your son and grandkids there, then you need to stop trying to reason with — or, perhaps more aptly, harrumph your way to triumph over — the fanatic. You just need to meet her terms.

Obviously that’s not ideal. It feels like (vegetable-dyed-chemical-free-leather) bootlicking.

It’s merely an extreme version of what we all have to do, though, always, to interact with other people. You don’t choose what other people believe or stand for or request of us. Nor does the FDA or Emily Post. We can only choose from the options we’re given. In this case: Fight your daughter-in-law over food, or celebrate with your son and grandkids.

Rarely is the grovel barrier so low as just cooking organic food. Seriously. This potato versus that potato. I say do it and zip it — before she raises the bar.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me