Yoga Vita

Musings on Yoga, Life, and the Yoga Life

A Family Conundrum


Or, “Everyone Should Just Be Vegetarian so as to Make My Life Easier.” Or, “Why Is It Always So Awkward Introducing One’s Lover to One’s Extended Family?”

So my Grandpa’s 8oth birthday celebration is coming up next weekend, and Grandma of course invited me and Z, who has yet to meet the fam. So I figured, ok- – big, awkward extended-family time back in farmland- – sounds great, we’ll go. But upon further inspection of the hand-written invitation, I realized that the celebration is to be a dinner party at good ol’ Max Dale’s Steak & Chop House. I’m vegetarian, he’s vegan, and this is the kind of place that doesn’t have a single vegetable on the menu and even puts bacon on their french fries (I’m not kidding). Ain’t no Seattle steakhouse with at least some kind of “Asian” veggie wrap or whatever for the pansy-ass herbivores in the family.

The simplest solution- – to go but not eat- – is not an option, because they’ll think we’ve joined some cult and are observing ritual fasting or something. My extended family already thinks I’m some kind of weirdo radical yogi ascetic, which is fine, but I can’t drag my partner down with me. Not so early on, anyway.

So the sensible thing to do in order to save face and not freak anyone out is to call ahead to the restaurant and request veggie pasta or some such thing that they already have all the ingredients for anyway. We’ll be eating, they’ll be eating, everyone will be happy, and hopefully the questions about vegetarianism will be politely kept to a minimum. But I have a feeling no one who works at the restaurant will have ever heard of a veggie-tare-ay-uhn and will completely misunderstand my request. I mean these are people who put cheese sauce on halibut. They’ve got to be a little funny in the head. (Wow- – look at me go. Hey, we can all just sit around and judge each other– – that’s something we all enjoy.) But I suppose I’ll have to take that risk.

What an annoying situation. I know it’s just a couple hours, but when that’s all the time I spend with my extended family in a year, it seems important. I really want to make this work out- – it’s better than being the family outsider who just stops going to birthdays and holidays completely. Or is it?


3 thoughts on “A Family Conundrum

  1. Hee hee. *Really* funny post. I wish you the best of luck. You’ll do fine.

    I have a collection of similar experiences. And it seems like you’re offering an opening for advice, so here is mine. Call the restaurant, and plan on eating there no matter what. I bet they have pasta and the standard iceberg lettuce salad with cherry tomatoes or the vegetable tray with carrot sticks and Ranch dressing. It’s important both viscerally and symbolically that you break bread with these people. If you do it in the right spirit, even the weirdest food will nourish you on some level. In my recent history, it is worth it to bridge the distance back to commonality. It means crossing a lot of cultural distance, but having come from here you’ve got the ability to do it. Sitting down together is a way to be good to them, and to recognize in your own personal way that even if it feels foreign and even repugnant, this is a part of you and those feelings are part of your process of growing into your whole self. Maybe this advice takes it too far–it’s just coming from my own experience with a conservative, rural family. God knows it’s all hilarious and scary. Have a good time.

  2. 🙂 Thanks for the advice, Owl. Right on.

  3. Hi Cara
    You’re not alone. Making a healthy vegetarian selection when eating with family is something I face on holidays. Restaurants are accomodating, even those seemingnly ignorant of healthy nutrition. My family is used to me by now and the wait staff think they are just accomodating someone with special dietary needs. It’s nice to be “special”, a good kind of different.

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