My granddaughter moved here five years ago to go to college. She graduated and got herself a job. I don’t think it pays all that much but she is supporting herself and paying off her student loans. I know that says something about her character.
She was happy to finally move into her own apartment a month ago. Last weekend, she invited me and her Grandpa over for dinner. She said she wanted to cook us a “special” dinner because of everything we’ve done for her these last few years. She said I wasn’t to bring anything. I didn’t like showing up empty handed but I did.
It was a fun evening until we sat down to the table. It wasn’t much of a special dinner at all. You see, she’s a vegetarian, says it’s for health reasons. We’re pretty much meat and potato people. She proudly described all of the dishes she had made. Tofu this and bean sprout that — my poor husband poked around his plate. Neither one of us was all that interested in what she had made, except for the delicious rhubarb/strawberry pie she made for or dessert.
This girl’s known our eating habits for as long as she can remember. She never left my table hungry. Don’t you think she should have had a little meat somewhere on the table for us? Wouldn’t that have been more respectful?
Let me get this straight. Your granddaughter is a self-sufficient college graduate, has her own place, and is also paying off her student loans. Best of all, she loves her grandparents so much she cooks them a “special” dinner to show her gratitude and tells them not to bring anything.
Your granddaughter sounds like a real success, one that would make most grandparents very proud. Instead you’re having trouble with her food choices, suggesting this hard working young woman is disrespectful because she didn’t serve what you always want. Sorry, but I just don’t follow.
Granted, I think when hosting a dinner, it is helpful to ask guests ahead of time if they have any food allergies or preferences. But to expect her to completely disregard her own beliefs in healthy eating simply because her grandparents don’t have much experience with vegetarianism seems a bit unreasonable. (It doesn’t sound like you accommodated her food preferences for all of the years she ate at your house.)
As for having “a little meat” on the table, perhaps you don’t realize that many vegetarians can’t tolerate the odors meat produce when they are cooked. Providing meat for you two may have left a lingering smell in her apartment.
I am more inclined to think your granddaughter wanted you to truly experience who she is. It sounds like she went to great lengths to serve you healthy food.
Disrespectful? No, I actually think this dinner may represent just the opposite. Your granddaughter’s menu may be the ultimate compliment. It seems to reflect a belief that her grandparents are open and flexible enough to try a vastly different foods from those they regularly eat.
I certainly hope she invites you back sometime for another “fun” evening, even if it means you have to try foods that you aren’t familiar with.
To B.P. who scolded me in a lengthly letter after reading my column, “We’re off to see the Wizard” posted here on August 1, 2018. Unlike your younger sister, I do not believe “having fun” is the only way to cope with grief. Please read my column “Grappling with Loss” — published 7/9/18, in the Times Standard newspaper. (Eureka, CA.) It addresses much of what you felt I had missed in that subsequent column. It sounds like you have had your own share of pain. I’m very sorry for that.