The Luv Doc: An Upsell for Your Latte

We have pumpkins. The Irish have Guinness.

Dear Luv Doc,

My husband's parents live in a beautiful old house in a small town not far from Austin and every year since we've been married (4 years) we have spent Thanksgiving with them. I am happy with this arrangement because my parents live on the East Coast and we have spent Christmases with them two out of the last four years. Also, my mother-in-law loves Thanksgiving. She likes the fall decorations, she likes cooking, and she even likes football. It's the perfect holiday for her – or so she says. What I witness with my own eyes every year is her completely stressing out, getting snippy with me (she is usually lovely), and then later complaining (only to me) that no one appreciates everything she does. She's right. Her husband and her two sons barely lift a finger while all this is going on. They're too busy drinking beer and watching football, so all of her stress gets heaped on me. My husband always says, "Don't let her drag you into her drama, I don't," but that's because she never asks him to do anything. Meanwhile I am basically her kitchen slave and her therapist. How do I help her ... and me ... break out of this pattern? – Ricing Potatoes

I am in a bit of a hurry this week because of a short deadline – a short deadline which is the direct result of the annual orgy of gluttony and consumerism Americans call – without even the faintest trace of irony – "Thanksgiving." You know a holiday has completely jumped the shark when Starbucks invents something called "pumpkin spice" as an upsell for your latte. Y'all ... seriously ... pumpkins are pretty fucking marginal vegetables at best, so there is no way Starbucks is going to convince me to pay extra for pumpkin in "spice" form – not even with an adorable holiday commercial featuring cozy sweaters and fluffy dogs. Let me be clear: I am not trying to shit on Thanksgiving as a holiday. It's easily in my Top 10, but like Christianity, Thanksgiving is something that started with good intentions and then got warped into something that terrorizes a certain percentage of people – and I'm not just talking about the unfortunate souls cursed with discriminating palates.

Sarah Josepha Hale (yeah, I just Turkey Day name-dropped) would probably burn herself at the stake if she knew that a possible result of her ceaseless lobbying would be that pumpkin would someday be sold as a spice, but it's nearly impossible to know the impact of our harmless peccadilloes in a larger, historical context. Suffice it to say that in America if someone figures out a harmless way to make pleasant memories, somebody else is going to concoct a shameless way to make money from them. Here's an important point to remember: Those good feelings don't come from the taste of pumpkin. I think we can all agree that if someone shoved some pumpkin into your mouth, you would probably slap them and spit it back in their face, but the taste of pumpkin for literally millions of people is a reminder of happy times with friends and family. You're literally trying to eat your feelings. We have pumpkins. The Irish have Guinness.

It sounds to me like you've somehow gotten on the wrong side of Thanksgiving – and I don't mean the Indigenous peoples side, even though if anybody has an axe to grind with Thanksgiving, they certainly do. I mean the sexism side, the patriarchal gender roles side. I refuse to believe that your husband, his brother, or your father-in-law can't baste a fucking turkey and peel some goddamn potatoes – even while intermittently watching the Cowboys get their asses handed to them by the Commanders. It's 2023. You don't have to take that shit anymore. It's time for some role reversal. Now, I know that might be a bit of a rough sell to your moms-in-law, so I have a suggestion: Wednesday night, while she's up late brining the turkey, sit her down on the couch, pop open a bottle of tequila, and dial up season 2, episode 6 of The Bear on Hulu. You can call it an intervention, but I call it the best 66 minutes of aversion therapy an overworked, underappreciated matriarch could ever hope for. If you hurry, you might still be able to make it to the H-E-B to buy some frozen pizzas before it closes. Happy Thanksgiving!

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