Open Thread

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  1. Rebecca

    I have a colleague who recently learned that her husband has a terrible type of cancer, which will most likely kill him within months. Obviously, she and the entire family are in shock and grieving, all the while trying to do everything possible to take the poor man to various doctors and treatments. My question is, is there anything I can do to help during this time? I’m thinking that cooking, for instance, may be appreciated, as they aren’t home a lot and likely don’t want to keep going to restaurants. Is there anything else that is not invasive, yet still helpful and appreciated in a time like this? Thanks!

    • Jodi

      Some other suggestions: Do they have any pets? Offering pet sitting/care can be a big help, even if it is a walk and romp for an active dog. Yard maintenance is another thought, everything from a regular mowing to a day of weeding/clipping etc. Are there any errands that need to be taken care of? Maybe a few hours on a weekend or evening after work. Even laundry — my neighbor asked me to wash her son’s baseball uniform when she was dealing with chemo treatment, which was easy for me but HUGE for her. Do the kids need to be driven to any activities — or could you do something that would help them take a mental break for an hour or two, such as a movie, swimming, fishing, etc.

  2. Pam

    The best thing you can do is extend an offer of help to your colleague. Do you have other colleagues who would be willing to also make dishes on a rotating basis? This way the family wouldn’t be inundated with food all at once, but at least once in awhile won’t have to worry about meals. You could also consider, if your workplace is willing, to take up a collection and purchase gift cards for local delis/eateries where they could order food and have it delivered. I found, during the recent loss of my grandmother, that the most helpful thing was when friends and family brought over food and gave us gift cards for local food places. We didn’t have to worry about “what should we do for dinner?” during a difficult time. It doesn’t have to be difficult either, make a delicious vegetable soup in a crock pot, pick up a loaf of Italian bread and drop it off…it’s not expensive and will be deeply, deeply appreciated.

    • Rebecca

      Yes, there are a number of folks here who really want to help her and her family – it’s a close group. Thanks!

      • Jody

        All these suggestions are excellent. A couple years ago, a coworker and his wife were dealing with their 18-month-old’s severe burns, and were back and forth to the hospital in another state. Neighbors, coworkers, and church friends pitched in just as people have noted here — providing meals, mowing the lawn and raking leaves, driving their other 3 kids to activities. This kind of help was very much appreciated.

  3. polite punk

    Apologies for a direct copy and paste job, but the question below was posted on a local blog and I’m curious what the EPI crew thinks:

    “My daughter is a vegan, and she wants a strictly vegan menu for her wedding reception. I don’t think our elder relatives are going to eat tofu. Do I have to go along with her wishes?”

    • While not a vegan myself, I do know there is so much more to vegan than tofu (fruits, vegetables, curries, nuts, various dips such as guac and hummus). Would people feel differently if the question read, “My son is such a bbq fan, and for his outdoor afternoon wedding, he wants smoked ribs and other bbq meats and more! I don’t think any of his cousins want that messy of a selection, not to mention the Kosher diets of our Jewish family friends. Do I have to go along with his wishes?”

      My short answer is that it’s her wedding, and if that’s the kind of food she wants to serve, what’s the problem? As long as other people know about it in advance and can plan accordingly (eat a light meal before), I don’t see an issue. The complaint isn’t related to allergy or religion. Perhaps people will take this as an opportunity to try something new.

      • Alicia

        Well if the hosts all agree and those planning the wedding are happy with an all vegan selection then it is fine. However the writer is not in any way obligated to pay for anything that they truly object to. However, there are a lot of mainstream vegan means that nobody thinks of as being vegan. Pasta for example. Also if the enetire family knows that both of the couple are vegan they are probably not expecting filet minion. If every dish has tofu or tempeh of other fake meat in it you are going to turn folks off but if there are lots of lovely appetizers made from fruits and vegitables and then a selection of main dihes that are vegan but still at least some stuff that everyone is familiar with then nobody will be unhappy. I went to a party recently that was vegan lovely grilled veggitables kabobs and rice and sauces and the dessert that was a selection of italian ices was fantastic. Only when you really think about it did you realize that nothing had meat or dairy in it. So this can be done where a big deal is made of the lack of meat and dairy and it is very noticable or it can be presented as just a lovely food menu and which choice makes all the difference.

        • polite punk

          Thanks Just Laura and Alicia. I was more or less agreeing with you on this matter, but I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t completely crazy!

          I’m not vegan either (but very sensitive to my vegan friends). I agree that it’s amazing how many dishes can be made vegan without us even noticing it. Every now and then, I like to throw a vegan dinner party (no fake meat though). I don’t tell anyone that it will be vegan, but once everyone has remarked about how good the food was, I say “thank you…and it was all vegan!”

    • Johanna

      I have a very similar concern: in discussing future wedding plans my boyfriend objected to my wish for a vegetarian wedding. He as well is concerned about “having to offer the guests at least a ‘proper’ meal ” (the quotes on ‘proper’ being mine). I was very surprised by how disconcerted he was by my idea and that he does not consider it proper, as he eats along with me and cooks vegetarian for me all the time, only eating meat on his bread or at restaurants.
      I am a vegetarian who will yield on my principles as a guest, as I feel I should not impose food rules in anyone else’s home. However, that’s why I would similarly be taken aback to have to have meat, poultry or fish at my wedding. Since I adjust to others at their homes and events, I expect others to adjust when at my home / event and I would feel very taken aback to have animals served in my honor on a very important day in my life. I was considering it a perfect opportunity to serve good vegetarian food without guests noticing that something is ‘missing’ and I feel hypocritical for not being true to myself.
      All of that said, a future wedding will not just be MY day, it should be OUR day and my boyfriend should have a say as well. My only idea to solve the problem is to not have any dinner at all (but of course he will not have that either since he feels guests should have a meal) or to have a dessert buffet, like my cousin did (she had a nice lunch with the bridal party before while the rest of the guests entertained themselves in the neighbourhood / went back home for a few hours – but if I copy that idea I’d want the smaller lunch to be veg as well… -).
      I was also wondering what your thoughts were and whether you have any alternative suggestions for me to solve this issue in our (not soooooo far) future. Thank you!

      • polite punk

        I definitely vote for having a dinner at your wedding!

        And I totally understand your frustration. I’m a vegetarian and I think I would prefer to have an all veggie wedding as well. If most guests know that you are a vegetarian, I don’t think this is an issue.

        However, you and your boyfriend should be on the same page as as you said it is OUR day. I think that if I was in your shoes, I would try to continue the discussion with him. Maybe ask him if you could both sample some vegetarian dinner options and if he is still unsatisfied with the meals then discuss adding a fish or chicken option. In an ideal world, he would try the veggie dishes and realize that they certainly do make up a “proper” meal.

        • If it helps the vegetarian argument, there are some great Spanish and Italian meals that don’t include meat. Eggplant and Portobello mushrooms make great meat substitutes, without subjecting people to tofu (I personally do not care for many soy products).

      • Alicia

        Well the smaller lunch while the guests have nothing to do solution is not a good one because then you are not really hosting the guests. It is leaving them bored to fend for themself.
        How about a brunch wedding? I went to a vegitarian(not vegan) brunch wedding a few years ago and most barely realized it was vegitarian. The belgian waffles and berries were the biggest hit. But the omlet bar, fancy coffee station, and chocolate chip heart pancakes were all very popular as well.
        Failing that people love pasta and a italian pasta is a classic wedding food and very vegitarian friendly. Stuffed shells or manicotti and good bread and salad mmmm ok now I want lunch.

      • CJP

        You’re right, it is a day for both of you. I think the problem is that you have different principles. Your fiance is not a vegetarian. Polite punk is correct, you both need to be on the same page.

        I’m not a vegetarian, but will happily eat vegetarian. However, my husband doesn’t believe he’s had dinner unless he’s had meat. As long as people are aware it shouldn’t be a problem. They might even be surprised how good it can be.

      • Johanna

        Thank you all so much for your replies.
        Polite punk, thank you for the encouragement. My boyfriend certainly knows veggie dishes are “proper” meals as he cooks them for me every day, I need to convince him that his family will not mind though. His parents will come and visit us soon so let’s see what they will say… I asked if we could have them eat our normal fare and we are only going to make an exception for his little sister, who will not touch any vegetable.
        Laura, your suggestion of Spanish and Italian meals make me smile, as my boyfriend is Spanish. I had a very hard time finding veggie tapas when visiting is hometown but the link you sent is awesome! I will try my hand at them.
        Thank you Alicia, the brunch idea is awesome!!! As most of our guests will travel from abroad and stay for more than a day, they will probably already have to make some plans and their own and will not expect us to entertain them all day or for more than one day. Having a lavish brunch sounds like a great option.
        CJP, thank you for your and your husband’s perspective and the encouragement. You are right in pointing out that we have different principles, no matter how easily he has adapted to my diet.
        Thank you all again, I have some food for thought (literally!) to go over with my boyfriend.

  4. Jules

    My fiance if from another continent – How do we ask his relatives & friends if they will truly be planning on traveling here for the wedding? Everyone has been very positive but we are unsure that they will actually make the trip. We are more than one year away from the date but need to book a venue soon. It’s been hard to determine the guest list count in order make a venue decision.

    • Alicia

      You think through the guest list person by person and guess what likelyhood they specifically have of attending. Aunt sue you may thinking has a 30% chance. Assign her 0.3. But brother Bob has a 65% chance assign him a 0.65. Total all those assigned best guesses up and consider that the likely number of guests now give yourself a range and be prepared to deal with up to 30% more or less guests. Then plan your event based on that. But one year out you can not really push for answers as people likely do not have a clue yet and their best guess is really no better then yours at this point.

      • Rebecca

        This is a sticky situation – you don’t want people to feel slightest by not receiving an invite, and yet you don’t want people who truly don’t have the means to attend to feel obligated to send gifts. My family also has many relatives on another continent, and we have received numerous wedding invites over the years (and even for way smaller events, such as First Communions, which are admittedly a bigger deal in our culture than in the mainstream United States, but still…) In my mind, such invites serve more as a call for gifts than a true invitation, since the senders know we aren’t about to attend.

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