Author Topic: Is it rude to change up traditional holiday family meal?  (Read 4136 times)

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amylouky

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Is it rude to change up traditional holiday family meal?
« on: December 20, 2011, 10:04:38 AM »
This question came up while discussing holiday plans with a co-worker..
His family switches off hosting a Christmas breakfast each year, between 3 or 4 adult siblings. Generally, whoever is hosting provides all of the food. While some of the smaller sides may vary, he said that for years the traditional meal has been country ham, biscuits and sawmill gravy, scrambled egg casserole (they use the same recipe every year), and french toast.
He said that this year, it's his sister's turn to host, and she's decided to change the meal. She's having honey ham instead of country ham, "doesn't like" making gravy so is skipping it, and not doing the french toast either. CW said that they all look forward to the country ham and sawmill gravy all year, and it won't feel like Christmas without it.
I'm a little torn on this.. on the one hand, it is certainly the host/hostess's right to determine the menu. However, since this is something that is a family tradition, and is always the same meal just with a different host, I think it was a little thoughtless of the sister to just decide to change it up without consulting the sibs.
Thoughts?

Sharnita

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Re: Is it rude to change up traditional holiday family meal?
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2011, 10:07:55 AM »
I don't think it is rude.  It might be rude if she agreed to host and went form big breakfast (eggs/ham/etc) to continental.  If they really want French Toast that badly would she be OK with somebody bringing an electric griddle over and making it while she does the rest?

amylouky

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Re: Is it rude to change up traditional holiday family meal?
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2011, 10:10:54 AM »
I'm not sure.. he said that he'd offered to bring a country ham but she insisted she wanted a HoneyBaked, so she probably wouldn't like others bringing food.
I guess I see it like Thanksgiving.. we take turns hosting as well, and my family would probably go into shock if we didn't have turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and sweet potatoes. I would feel a little.. maybe not rude, but off, if I decided to serve lasagna, salad, and garlic bread when it was my turn.

Kaypeep

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Re: Is it rude to change up traditional holiday family meal?
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2011, 10:11:37 AM »
My thought is that not everyone is a good cook, likes to cook or wants to cook.  As host this year, that person is entitled to cook what they want, as long as there is adequate food for everyone.  Since this is family, why doesn't someone else bring the gravy and/or french toast, if they want it that badly?  I don't think the sister is thoughtless to change it up at all.  She may have any number of valid reasons for having this menu.  People get older, grow up, start their own families and their own traditions.  I think it's unrealistic for adults to expect their xmas meal to be exactly the same year after year for decades.  I think your co-worker sounds like a SS.

amylouky

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Re: Is it rude to change up traditional holiday family meal?
« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2011, 10:20:56 AM »
My thought is that not everyone is a good cook, likes to cook or wants to cook.  As host this year, that person is entitled to cook what they want, as long as there is adequate food for everyone.  Since this is family, why doesn't someone else bring the gravy and/or french toast, if they want it that badly?  I don't think the sister is thoughtless to change it up at all.  She may have any number of valid reasons for having this menu.  People get older, grow up, start their own families and their own traditions.  I think it's unrealistic for adults to expect their xmas meal to be exactly the same year after year for decades.  I think your co-worker sounds like a SS.

See, I thought at first that he was completely being a SS as well. He even joked about running to Hardee's on the way and picking up some country ham and biscuits.. I accused him (jokingly) of feeding the drama. He said that the other sibs were bothered by it as well, and had even talked about having the breakfast somewhere else, even though it's sister's turn to host, so they could have their favorites. (which, by the way, I think would be completely rude and OTT).

But then I thought about it, and I realized that wouldn't likely go over well in my family either. Christmas would be fine, as we don't have a "traditional" meal per se, but for Thanksgiving it would cause an uproar if there were no turkey/dressing/etc.

I don't guess I think sis is rude, it's her home and she can serve what she wants, but I think messing with what has been a long time tradition that people look forward to seems a little thoughtless? Just wanted to get some other opinions!

camlan

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Re: Is it rude to change up traditional holiday family meal?
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2011, 10:33:06 AM »
It isn't rude. But it might upset some people.

My family had a traditional meal for Christmas Eve. It was basically one dish, stemming from old Catholic tradition that the day before a big holy day was a fast day--so small meals, no meat. I disliked that one Christmas Eve dish. I could pick out bits of it to eat, but couldn't choke down the entire thing as is. Never was any change made in the menu, like adding a side dish, or cooking a variation of the one item on the menu.

After both my parents died, someone brought up the idea of getting takeout for Christmas Eve dinner. I was thrilled--finally I wouldn't leave the table hungry and have to go scrounging for food. So I can sympathize with the sister if for years she's been eating a Traditional Holiday Meal that she simply doesn't like. It's hard enough trying to eat it. It must be worse having to shop for and cook it.

The one thing the sister is doing that I wouldn't do is that she's changing a lot of the menu, all at once. In her place, I'd change out the ham for the type I liked, but I'd make the gravy (or ask someone else to bring it). It's easy enough to not put the gravy on your food. And then I'd have a really good substitute for the french toast--good enough that the family might consider changing over to whatever I provided, like homemade cinnamon buns or something like that.

Keep enough the same that people feel they are getting basically the traditional meal, but change up a few things to make it interesting.

As for the hams, doesn't country ham require much more preparation and cooking than a Honey Baked ham? It could be that the sister is simply trying to make her day easier and not have to spend so much time in the kitchen. I think the brother could still ask if he could bring the gravy, at least.
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mabelle

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Re: Is it rude to change up traditional holiday family meal?
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2011, 10:37:13 AM »
The etiquette says yes, the host/hostess may plan and serve whatever menu they want, however, the relationships aspect of this question is more pressing. Why, in our family of 4 siblings, if three of us are talking about how disappointed we are in the actions of the 4th...that is cause for concern. If I were in your coworkers shoes, I would express those concerns to the hosting-sibling. Note, this would not include saying, "Hey, Sib 1, 2 and 3 and I are all moaning and groaning about your meal plan" but rather, "The sawmill gravy and french toast are such a Christmas tradition for my family. May we bring those items to make your morning preparations easier" or the like.

Our family tradition is a surf-n-turf - prime ribwith au jus, shrimp, mashed potatoes, a green veg of some sort and salad. My stepdaughter is hosting this year and she is doing brisket, crab cakes and salad/veg. I offered to bring the mashed potatoes and gravy when she asked me for a "good potato salad recipe" (hint: in my opinion, there aren't any good potato salad recipes  >:D ). Since she accepted my offer to contribute a different potato than she had initially planned, I have no qualms about having made it. And i didn't tell her that potato salad is of the debbil, either.

Bijou

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Re: Is it rude to change up traditional holiday family meal?
« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2011, 10:39:45 AM »
This family needs to talk and maybe alter the ground rules so that some items served are sacred and others are up for changing by the hosting family. 
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Wonderflonium

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Re: Is it rude to change up traditional holiday family meal?
« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2011, 10:41:28 AM »
I would feel a little.. maybe not rude, but off, if I decided to serve lasagna, salad, and garlic bread when it was my turn.

Of course that would be off. That's Christmas dinner!  ;D (At least, at our house it is.)

I don't think she is being rude, exactly, but she's being pretty inconsiderate if she won't let others bring the traditional food. This is a family meal with both tradition and emotion behind it. It would be nice if she said, "This is what I'm making, but if you want the other things, feel free to bring them."
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Judah

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Re: Is it rude to change up traditional holiday family meal?
« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2011, 10:41:57 AM »
All heck would break loose in my family if we changed Christmas Eve dinner.  Knowing that, I think it would be rude of me to decide that just because I'm hosting this year, that we're having something else without consulting everyone else. If I got everyone else, or at least the main players, to agree, then I'm good to go.
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Winterlight

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Re: Is it rude to change up traditional holiday family meal?
« Reply #10 on: December 20, 2011, 10:54:47 AM »
I think changing half the menu isn't a great idea, though not technically rude.
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EMuir

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Re: Is it rude to change up traditional holiday family meal?
« Reply #11 on: December 20, 2011, 11:15:23 AM »
She isn't hosting THE Christmas dinner, she's hosting A Christmas dinner.  Tradition is important to some people.  I think it's rude, especially because there are family expectations for that one meal.  Let's say my family gathers for pancakes every Shrove Tuesday.  One year the host says "I decided to make lasagna instead!". It's still a hosted meal, but not the traditional one everyone wants. 

Now, adding items would be fine.  If she wants to prepare honey ham too, great.  But if you host a traditional meal, not following the traditional menu is rude.

Sharnita

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Re: Is it rude to change up traditional holiday family meal?
« Reply #12 on: December 20, 2011, 11:20:50 AM »
How exact does it have to be, though?  It isn't like she skipped the ham entirely.  If the family is used to one turkey with one kind of brine is it rude to cook the turkey with a different brine?  I don't see going from country ham to Honeybaked on the same level as going from pancakes to lasagna.

camlan

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Re: Is it rude to change up traditional holiday family meal?
« Reply #13 on: December 20, 2011, 11:32:07 AM »
How exact does it have to be, though?  It isn't like she skipped the ham entirely.  If the family is used to one turkey with one kind of brine is it rude to cook the turkey with a different brine?  I don't see going from country ham to Honeybaked on the same level as going from pancakes to lasagna.

Pod. The sister is making little changes, but keeping a lot of the traditional dishes, just with a few changes.

The more I think about it, the more it looks like Sis is trying to make Christmas dinner easier to cook. I've never had country ham, but I googled it and it looks like it takes significant preparations and a long cooking time. Gravy can be tricky to make; it forms lumps easily. And french toast has to be made on the spot, while the breakfast casserole can probably be prepped ahead of time.

Which makes me wonder--has anyone asked Sis *why* she is making the changes? That might explain a lot of things. Is she a mom with little kids and she'd like to get out of the kitchen and watch her kids open their presents? Is she older, with a bad back, and doesn't want to do all the standing that cooking the traditional menu would involve?

I do think the siblings' idea of going somewhere else for breakfast is a bit over the top. Seriously, they'd reject going to their sister's house just to eat a few dishes they could cook for themselves at any time?

Upon consideration, it appears that the sister is trying to adapt the traditional menu, not change it.

I also want to know if the people doing the complaining are the people who would be doing all the cooking when the meal is hosted at their house. If they aren't, they may not realize the amount of work that goes into making that traditional meal.
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Kaypeep

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Re: Is it rude to change up traditional holiday family meal?
« Reply #14 on: December 20, 2011, 11:36:01 AM »
How exact does it have to be, though?  It isn't like she skipped the ham entirely.  If the family is used to one turkey with one kind of brine is it rude to cook the turkey with a different brine? I don't see going from country ham to Honeybaked on the same level as going from pancakes to lasagna.

This is how I feel.  She is still making something in the spirit of the family tradition, but not exact.

My brother got married and had kids, so we started going to his place for Christmas.  His wife never makes anything even remotely close to what was our 'traditional' Christmas dinner. (prime rib).   One year my mom offered to help with dinner and bring a cooked prime rib and my brother and SIL scoffed and my brother took it as an insult.  Mom just wanted to help make it easy for SIL since she had her hands full and had never made a prime rib before, but they wouldn't hear of it.   My SIL is not a great cook, and her dishes are usually served cold, are bland, not cooked properly, etc. and eating there any time of year can be a chore.   We (me, my mom and sis) have resorted to just having our own traditional meal on Christmas eve or the day after instead, sans DB and his family, so that we can enjoy the things we like most.  It's easier to do our own thing than try and get DB and SIL to change.