Adapted from a recent online discussion.
My husband's family is really academic, most are in school until their late 20s at least. My husband has a bachelor's degree and I have some college but never finished. His family has always been welcoming and they aren't snobby or anything — with the exception of Thanksgiving. My in-laws host and make a great meal. My husband's siblings are never asked to contribute because they are in finals and "don't have the time or money" to bring anything. We are always asked to bring a dessert or something.
My husband thinks I'm overreacting and doesn't care, but for some reason this really bugs me. How do I let it go? Or is it worth it to bring it up?
— Really Bugged
Oh goodness no. Please don't.
There are only two possibilities here. One is that the face-value explanation is correct: The sibs are all broke and slammed with finals and you two are not broke and not slammed, so you are the only ones in a position to help.
You will find out whether this is true, by the way, if and when the now-students finish their programs and are asked to bring pie. Or not.
The second is that your gut instinct is correct — that you're being treated as an academically second-class citizen.
If the latter is true, then in theory it's not defensible, but in practice it's not only a bit of a stretch ("Let the unwashed bring us pie!"), but it's also playing out as enjoying 364 days, arguably 365, of welcoming and unsnobby people for the cost of one pie.
It's normal, even fine for our insecurities to raise their voices and drown out the more rational ones in our heads sometimes. We all just need to make sure we don't slip and speak them out loud.
Make the pie. Make it with a loving heart, freely and voluntarily. For all you know, the academics in the family can't cook.
This answer is the answer to so many things: Make the pie.
Re: Academic snobbery
I find it very hard to believe that if these in-laws really do think of "Bugged" as inferior, this would be the only way or time it manifests. Maybe they just think she makes good pie.
True, the calendar brims with holiday-dessert opportunities through which to express contempt.
Re: Bring the pie
An acquaintance always thought she was being snubbed because she wasn't asked to bring anything except frozen dinner rolls. Turns out her mother-in-law figured she was really busy and was trying to keep from imposing extra stuff on her. Don't take offense if there's no need.
And sometimes even if there is a need.
Leave the offense, take the pie.
One option is to make a terrible pie, so you won't get asked to do so anymore.
— A Crime Against Pie
Terrible pie is not an option.
I am now in existential crisis.
My main takeaway is that pie is always the answer.
— Takeaway Pie
All better now, thanks.
— Write to Carolyn Hax in care of The Providence Journal Features Department, 75 Fountain St., Providence, RI 02902, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.