Mom wears a thong; girls want to follow suit
I'm not sure why Americans are so dug in about this particular meal; families can gather and bicker in many different dining environments. (You could also probably achieve your basic goals by having this meal catered at your home.)
If your sister-in-law wants to give in to her mother's manipulations and host a Thanksgiving dinner instead of you, then that's on her. You'll have to then decide whether to attend, or eat your lonely steakhouse meal. If you decide to attend her meal, then be gracious and grateful. No sulking allowed.
Dear Amy: Thank you for standing up for the father who signed his letter "Dad Needs Help." His mother had offered to babysit for their 14-month-old daughter for the day, but his wife was insisting that the baby adhere to a very rigid schedule.
I have two children. One needed to stay on a strict schedule, and the other didn't. But families do need to learn how to go with the flow.
-- Experienced Parent
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Dear Parent: Veering from a schedule can cause problems for some children, but family life is really all about balance. This was a time when the parents' needs should have allowed for some flexibility.
(You can contact Amy Dickinson via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Readers may send postal mail to Amy Dickinson, c/o Tribune Content Agency, 16650 Westgrove Drive, Suite 175, Addison, Texas, 75001. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or "like" her on Facebook.)