Giving up control


For as long as we have been in this house (17 years), all holidays have been here. Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, and a few extras now and then. Both my family and my husband’s family have been invited, occasionally there was an extra person or two that joined us because they were new to the community or just because they didn’t have family here. It was never an ultra large group, 10 to 15 or so, but it was always here. I love to cook and play in the kitchen. Over the years, I had fine-tuned the turkey-making process. I never mind guests in general.

For a number of years, it was always guess whose coming to dinner here almost every night. See Children that are not Mine. My favorite part of cooking is being able to try new recipes and experiment. Our children and their guests have had fun wondering what Ms. W was going to make next. On holidays, I tried to stick mostly to the traditional recipes but usually had at least one dish that was new, figuring that even my father-in-law could be selective if he didn’t want to try it, it was OK.

Our house is in a perpetual state of remodeling and the kitchen has yet to be touched. (wait for that blog post on kitchen remodeling) My husband was a remodeling contractor for years. Now his job is to be caregiver for his father and he spends 6 days a week there from about 7am to 7pm. This year, his sister from Arizona decided that she wanted to come home and have Thanksgiving on the dining room table at my father-in-law’s house as she remembered from 30 years ago. She didn’t ask what our tradition was and she actually never talked to me at all.

Anyone who knows me well, knows that planning a dinner would have been one more thing on top of the many things that I am buried under on a regular basis. So after a short pouty period where I whined about not asking me, I just decided to roll with it. This would eliminate the craziness of shopping, food prep, cleaning, decorating, moving tables, etc.

My Sister-in-law arrived Saturday and she brought with her a friend from Thailand that we haven’t seen for over 20 years. My sister-in-law doesn’t thrive on cooking but her friend knows her way around the kitchen and is helping my father-in-law who loves to cook. He also loves to experiment but it has to be his idea. My mom and brother will also join us so there will be at least 9, possibly 10 at dinner today.

I could have gotten crabby and pouted and made an issue of changing our tradition. But I thought about it and it would have made no sense. I have enough to keep me busy for years with catching up on paperwork, marketing for Design Resumes and Wausau Whitewater, client projects, and just trying to stay on top of Teddy’s perpetual shedding.

My previously mentioned kitchen needs a total redo (it did before we moved in and that was 1992) and though I could make it work, it isn’t ideal. So taking all that into account, I decided several weeks ago that I could just give up control, let them handle Thanksgiving and help out today if they want help in the kitchen.

Teddy is coming along because he has been a part of every holiday since 2004 when he joined our family. I’ll spend the day working on projects and probably make a big batch of granola to satisfy my cooking needs.

Giving up control is something that should be easy. But I have always been the kind of person who likes to have a role, I like facilitating, coordinating, doing… it makes me feel like I am helping… It also makes me feel part of things. I am not naturally an extrovert, most of my life, I would have told you I was shy but if you put me in a position of helping, cooking, planning, directing, etc. I am fine even if it means more work.

I like cutting-edge, new and different, I like change, except if it makes me feel less valued. Giving up control can make me feel less valued. How about you, do you adapt to change, be it in your job, your job search, your family, or your holidays? Or are you a little like me, struggling when someone doesn’t ask you before they change things.


  1. TJ on November 26, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Sometimes it is more blessed to recieve than give. Because that allows others to give, do and be their talents. So, just let them shine and enjoy your day ‘off’.

    Happy Thanksgiving Julie!

  2. Kim Woodbridge on November 26, 2009 at 11:59 am

    This is wonderful Julie 🙂 So many people would have made a huge fuss and even gone so far as to refuse to attend … I know a lot of people like that. And by just letting go, you get a day off.

    I have a hard time with control as well – I need everything to be scheduled and the way that I want it to be. I am getting better at just rolling with it though – so many things are out of my control/

    Now, I have never made a holiday dinner in my life – I can’t see it happening 😉

    Have a wonderful day! I am thankful for you too Julie.

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