Post # 1
So I need some holiday advice, bees! Sorry this is a tad long. I have two separate issues that need addressing:
Fiance and I just got engaged in October. We’re flying to Virginia next week to spend Christmas with his family; we live in Chicago. I’ve met his parents on two occasions, one being when we all went on vacation together over the summer, which was quite fun. I get along with his parents very well and we all really like each other.
His mother is a very traditional Southern “super mom.” I mean, she bakes pies every week, ships us her homemade jams and other goodies, she makes her own butter for goodness sake. She knits, sews, can make any craft you can think of…she’s basically Bree Van de Kamp (but actually sweet).
I am the complete opposite of all of these things. I don’t cook or do anything an old-fashioned, traditional type of woman would relate with. I have plenty of talents but zero of them are homemakey. That said, I am a bit intimidated by his mother’s vast “womanly” talents and feel bad that I can’t offer to cook anything for Christmas dinner. Outside of bringing Christmas gifts for the family, which is an obvious necessity, what should I do to help out or as a kind gesture while I’m there? Any advice for the first holiday with the future in-laws?
*Secondly: This will also be the first time I meet his extended family, who will all be there for Christmas dinner and throughout the week. I am the first non-white person to marry into this family (I’m black) and his grandmother, whom he is very close to, is not at all pleased about it. She shared some choice words (no slurs or anything, but definitely racist; she’s 85) with my Fiance when he told her about our engagement. This will also be my very first time meeting her as well. Question is: This is FI’s beloved nana. Should I feel obligated to bring her a gift? (ugh; that seems so kiss-ass to me, but it seems like the bigger thing to do). And should I engage her first or let her engage first? Not sure how to navigate social interaction with an old racist Southern white lady. This will be an experience! Thoughts?
Post # 2
I’m sorry to hear of your dilemma! I’m in a similar situation, my fiancé is from Missouri & I’m the first non-white person marrying into the family. His parents were nice when I met them over this past Christmas & were accepting of me, but some of his extended family are apprehensive. They have tried to be cordial with me, including his grandma but that may be because my fiancé & I have a son together so we will be in each other’s lives forever. Lol.
If you don’t want to feel like you’re kissing ass but don’t want to be rude either just bring a card to be polite. Say hello to the family & if they ignore you or are rude, don’t put so much effort into talking to them & definitely don’t argue with them. Let your fiancé know that you’re uncomfortable in private & if it’s reason enough to, just leave. The only approval you need is that of your fiancé.
& In regards to the whole homemaker situation, just ask if there’s anything you can do to be of assistance, or just make something easy at home to bring. I’m no expert, but I love to cook & experiment in the kitchen so I made cheesecake filled red velvet cookies & his parents loved them!
I’m from New Jersey so I have an IDGAF attitude & luckily so does my fiancé so for any of his family who didn’t approve of me he said he would have no problem cutting them off. It’s 2015, if they don’t accept you just because of your skin color to hell with them!
Post # 3
If you’re wanting to help out as a nice gesture, I’d just ask if there is anything you can do. I’m from VA and I know with my family, just the act of offering to help is appreciated. If they say you don’t need to do anything, maybe make a pie or some cookies (that is what works for me).
As for his grandmother, unfortunately older generations here can be very blunt about any prejudices or racist attitudes that they have. Just try to be polite and respectful towards her, even if ust for your fiance’s sake of trying to keep peace. Hopefully, after getting to know you she will come around and let go of any racist atttitudes. A few years ago a cousin of mine married a man who’s family is from Mexico. At first, all hell broke loose from the older generations in my family, but after a year and the birth of their daughter, my family thankfullycame around to realize that he is a great person. I don’t think you should go getting her a present, especially since you haven’t met yet, but a card might be nice. Or if your fiance is getting her something, tack your name on it as from both of you.
I hope all goes well for you!
Post # 4
AS for homemaker mom, ask if you can bring something easy. Once there, admit that you don’t have the skill she does and ask if you stay out of the way can you watch/help and learn. It gives you something to talk about with her, makes her feel good about you respecting her skills, and you get a chance to improve at something(even if you never use it again).
If Grandma says something I’d probably say “I’m sorry you feel that way, maybe after we get to know each other better I can change your mind about that.” It kind of calls her on her behavior, so hopefully she won’t continue to make uncalled for comments.
Post # 5
Bring your Future Mother-In-Law some really nice holiday themed flowers!
As for grandma, well it really sucks when you confront racism like this. Unfortunately it is because of how she was solcialised when she was growing up. The world has changed a little bit for the better since then. I find a lot of the time it is more ignorance than racism. Most people I encounter like this have never actually met or interacted with a PoC. If this is indeed the case then kill her with kindness. Engage her, breakdown the stereotypes she has in her head and show her what an accomplished/kind/intelligent/whatever word you want to use to describe yourself women you are.
It sucks that you kind of have to be the one to still disprove prejuidices but at least this is becoming less needed in mainstream society.
Post # 6
1) Wash-up or fetch and carry. She may not like this, so ask her how you can help.
2) Treat Grandma like a normal person. She will never change her mind if you don’t give her reason to. Don’t take any crap though!
Post # 7
Im in an interracial relationship as well. My mother can be pretty difficult at times. Hopefully his grandmother will be on her best behavior though. If she makes a snide comment, I would just ignore it and try to pretend you didn’t catch the negativity. Just kill with kindness.
I would let your Fiance do the introducing but he should introduce you as soon as she’s there. For FI’s family, it’s very important to greet your elders regardless and I think that can go a long way in any culture. At least that way she won’t feel you’re avoiding her and give her more fuel to add to the fire. If you both are the first to leave, it’s usually the same for saying goodbye to all elders before you do.
If you’re getting others gifts then I would gift her too. No one should be left out even though it’s a pain.
All I can say is my Fiance has been amazing with it. My mother doesn’t realize half the things she says can be pretty bad and truly thinks she’s accepting. My Fiance is able to take her good aspects and overlook the bad. We also are fortunate to not have a worse situation like many interracial couples experience so we just take it with a grain of salt at the end of the day and try to focus on one another. You may find his grandmother gets a little better or she may never change. It certainly took my parents awhile growing up to get to the point they are now. Educating is also always a good thing even if the questions or comments are prejudice. As PP said, a lot is just ignorance.
If she does something or says something over the top inappropriate then that’s reason to excuse yourself from the situation with your fiancé if you feel it necessary.
Post # 8
I’d say definitely ask if you can learn from the mom over the holidays; even if you don’t really want to, it’ll flatter her and possibly ease any concerns she might have about the two of you feeding yourselves. 😀 Who knows, you might enjoy it.
Is there anything you could make people? Something which shows off your talents that they might like?
Post # 9
With the southern mom- you don’t need to cook but offer to help prep and help clean up (she likely won’t let you, but offer). Always say please and thank you, maybe even throw in some yes ma’am no ma’ams. Those little manner things will go a long way. Do bring gifts for Christmas and maybe an extra hostess gift for Mom that she gets right away (Like a pretty tea towel. Southern moms love tea towels haha).
as for grandma… All you can do is be polite. Nod and smile. If she’s spent her whole long life being racist I wouldnt have too much hope from getting warm and fuzzy with her but still kill her with kindness and manners and nod and smile through all discomfort. Do not engage. God speed!
Post # 10
As a bee who is the bi prduct of a situation like this do bring the nana a gift. Definately ask to help pick up/do the dishes. Maybe you can bake some cookies and put them in a tin. Cookies are easy hell all you have to do is but dome feezer cookies and place them on a cookie sheet and follow the directions.
Kill the crazy nana with kindness. You will look up on top and you may even get them southen ladies saying bless her heart to the nana. And I totally agree on the tea towels my white southen female relatives go crazy for tea towels no clue as to why. They often tell me I wouldn’t get it because I am a yankee (they call me a yankee no matter how many times I tell them I am a red sox fan lol)
Do you know how to make breakfast? If you wak up early and make everyone breakfast that woukd be a good way to kick ass at this whole future daughter in law! Also it will get easier as you have kids. My grand pa had tols my dad that he didn’t want half breed grand kids but now he spoils me and calls me his favorite so it will get better 🙂
Post # 11
Kill granny with kindness as soon as you hit the door. When you are introduced make sure you tell her how special she is to your Fiance and how lovingly he speaks of her. Taking the high road puts you in the position of being gracious and warm right off the bat. If granny still wants to be pissy with you at least you have gone into the game in the best possible position and she will be the bad guy if she can’t come to see you for who you are rather than the color of your skin.
She comes from a generation that was brought up racist (not an excuse, but it is the truth). On top of that she is 85 and has surely lost her “filter” as most elderly people do. She may be a lost cause but you will certainly shine in the moment in front of the rest of the family and they will remember that.
Agree with offering to help prep and clean for dinner. Go into the kitchen and see if you can’t get ahead of washing things that can’t go into the dishwasher, tell Future Mother-In-Law you REALLY would like to help prep. You have gotten lots of good advice so hopefully things will go well.
If she does treat you poorly is Fiance going to deal with that?
Post # 12
Really great advice everyone! Thank you!
I think (hope) Fiance would stand up for me. But we’ve never been in that kind of situation, and I don’t know his dynamic with his grandmother, so I’m not totally sure how exactly he’ll behave, honestly. He’s generally nonconfrontational, but we’ll see. If he doesn’t say something, I am SURE his mother will (nana is her mother).
I genuinely don’t make anything craft wise that’s worthy of public consumption and I do not cook at all. I can cook basic stuff, but I just don’t see the point in making vastly mediocre eggs and bacon when his mother is Martha Stewart; I know the gesture is what matters, but it’s embarrassing, LOL. The cookies are a good idea!! Cookies are easy!
I am a professional performer though (actress and singer) and I was thinking about singing Christmas songs for the family after dinner…but I wasn’t sure if that was too “Look at me, look at me!” But I mean, I AM a professional singer; it’s what I do for a living so I feel like it wouldn’t be too weird or inappropriate and I think everyone would enjoy it. But I wouldn’t want anyone to think I’m a narcissistic prima donna. It’s just something unique that I have to offer…
Thanks everyone for the tea towel advice!! I had no idea!
Post # 13
honestly, professional singer or not, I DO think singing after dinner would be a little “look at me! Look at me!”
As for dealing with the grandmother, it seems like you’re already expecting that she’s going to be unpleasant. Treat her as you would anyone else, and then let her make whichever move she chooses to. You really don’t know what she’ll do. All of the “old southern white ladies” that I know may have opinions, but they generally value grace and tact over spewing unkind words.
Post # 14
The thread directly below this one on the forum is titled “Alcohol!”, which, yeah
Since Supermom is the daughter of the grandmother, I bet the grandmother is also a born-and-bred Southern lady and wouldn’t dream of being rude to a guest deliberately. My guess is that she’ll make racist comments that are compliments in her mind (“You’re so articulate!”, etc), and it’s okay if you don’t feel like calling out microaggressions during your first holiday with your fiance’s family. Sip your spiked eggnog and smile or redirect the conversation back to her because people love talking about themselves. Kill her with kindness, even if she’s icy to you it’ll just reaffirm what a sweetheart you are to your fiance’s parents.
If you’re staying with them, make your bed/rearrange the couch every morning and keep the guestroom/your corner of the living room as tidy as possible. Always ask what you can do to help out, and if it won’t cause a fuss do things without asking like clearing dirty plates from the table after a meal.
Post # 15
You will def get microaggressions. they are to be ignored. If someone says bless your little heart (thats actually an insult) Do not sing that is a bit showy! Do the dishes! like for reals I told one of my cousin’s black fiancee to do the dishes and my granparents loved that shit. Just be polite and try to be an easy house guest. cookies in a tin is easy. Also maybe take the mom out to lunch during the chaos so she has a breather.