I love you, but….

I truly believe that my husband is my other half. No one, not my ex-husband, former boyfriends, friends or even family have seemed so close to me in my entire life. We are very similar, but with enough difference to keep life interesting. We genuinely enjoy spending time together, he’s my best friend and my first choice of who I want to hang out with, always. That said, because he is so much like me, there are times he gets on my last good nerve. These times don’t happen often, but this weekend it happened.

My husband is smart, well read on so many topics and loves to debate is his point, often to the “death”. I love his passion and while 90% of the time we are on the same side of the debate, the times we aren’t, watch out. Again, being we are so similar, I too have great passion and we will get into heated debates. Nothing too serious and without fail at the end of the day we can put anything aside, because nothing is more important than our relationship. This weekend the debates were more with his mom, which is where his passion comes from. I woke up yesterday asking if he had apologized to his mom yet, as I really felt he crossed a line. He had not and had no intention of doing so. I let it go, as I was in no mood to ruin my Sunday with carry-over drama from the day before.

This got me thinking about the shit we let go for the sake of the relationships in our lives. Not just with a spouse, but we all make allowance for those people closest to us, allowances we would not afford a stranger on the street. My husband’s mother is a perfect example. While I feel he owes his mom an apology, not because he was wrong, but for how he handled himself, I am typically on the opposite side of her in most of the time. We don’t have the same views on many thing, yet it doesn’t keep me from loving her and having a wonderful relationship. When she pushes me too far, I tend to physically remove myself, as I don’t want to be disrespectful and the debates are usually nothing so personal that I feel I need to cross a line to make my point. There have been friends I have fallen out contact with because we were on the opposite side and I couldn’t let it go any longer. Maybe it is due to the changing political climate over the past several years, but what was once water cooler talk seems to have a far greater personal impact than it once did. I don’t completely cut everyone out of my life who doesn’t see things the way I do, that is not how mature adults act. You have to find a balance.

What is your line in the sand? What are the things you can’t let slip, no matter the stakes? I have a few, but this isn’t really about  what pushes me to the breaking point, but how I handle it when I’m there. I do not like confrontation, I don’t know many people that do, other than my husband upon occasion. Since I will do pretty much whatever it takes to avoid confrontation, often my first reaction is to give the benefit of the doubt. To excuse a comment or behavior as an isolated slip in judgement. The second time, well, as the saying goes, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. That is when I will make every effort to talk to the person about how I feel and how their behavior is affecting me. If there is open and productive dialogue, even if we can’t come to an agreement, I can agree to disagree and move on. I have said my peace, they know how I feel and should things escalate in down the road, they know where I stand. However, if my attempt to have a mature discussion is met with defense and devolves into an argument, well I have no problem cutting my losses. I’ve gotten to a point in my life were I don’t need to be “right”, I just need to be heard and if someone can’t hear my side, well, whatever relationship I thought I had with them wasn’t at all what I thought. Yes, it hurts to walk away from friend and even family member, but there is also very freeing to have that weight lifted, because as time passes you come to realize what a burden those relationships can be.

So, you can love someone with all your heart and still be annoyed with them, doesn’t mean you don’t love them, you may not like them in that moment. And you can let go of someone you thought you loved when you start not liking yourself for what you put up with to keep them in your life.

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Food: A Southern Girl’s Greatest Gift

I love to cook and thanks to my grandmother, I have a talent for it. More than anything I love cooking for friends and family. This past weekend, in the middle of July, we had a full Thanksgiving meal at our house. I was in my element cooking all day and entertaining friends all evening.  We don’t only give thanks once a year, so I see no reason to only have the wonderful meal that goes along with it only once a year either. Bacon wrapped turkey, cornbread dressing, creamy mashed potatoes and gravy, bourbon glazed sweet potatoes and green beans that cooked all day in the slowcooker with a ham bone. A meal worthy of any holiday table, even if that holiday is  a Saturday with good friends. What I found interesting was anyone who heard of our plan was at first surprised, then went on about what a wonderful idea it was.  I will tell ya, finding a whole turkey in July is not easy, so if you opt to try this, call ahead.

As I  was planning my menu to the feast I thought about all the special foods I make for the different people in my life. Food really is one of my gifts to those I love and I enjoy giving as much as they do receiving.  Southern cooks all have special items we are known for and whenever there is a potluck or get together we are asked to bring them. I have a few, depending on the audience. For every family function I make a special sugar-free/dairy free cake for my father in-law who has dietary issues and deviled eggs, a true southern staple.  My sister has a few items she will request; homemade strawberry cake or a strawberry pretzel salad are at the top of the list, along with my lasagna. My brother inlaw loves a salad I make with a homemade dressing that has about a million ingredients, so I make a double batch, half for the salad and half for him to have to use later. My niece loves my mac and cheese, mostly for the lattice bacon “crust” on top and my bacon chocolate chip cookies (I see a pattern here). My husband is a fan of anything spicy and Mexican, so he is easy to please, but his favorite item are the breakfast burritos I make for him weekly and freeze. My stepdaughter will request homemade fettuccine Alfredo for every meal if we would allow it and a double chocolate cake with dark chocolate butter cream frosting that is as sinfully good as it sounds.

At work when we celebrate birthdays I typically make brownies, but one of my dear friends loves my homemade pimento cheese, so for her, I bring that. Her birthday is coming up and another co-worker said she was bringing the Southern staple. Oh the flurry of emails that followed. I politely let her know that I was bringing my pimento cheese, as I have done in the past and at the birthday girl’s request. Not being the sharpest tool in the shed, she replied with what could be taken as a challenge: a pimento cheese off. To this I say….BRING IT! Not only is my recipe amazing, its has all Southern staples should be: all the fat, all the fun, all the love!!! I don’t try to “go light”, not for a celebration. I have no doubt, in her attempt to appear health conscious (which she is NOT) she will use light this or fat-free that…that is NOT southern style pimento cheese darlin’.

I do not think I’m the best cook, but I am a good cook and I’m very lucky to have friends and family with similar talents. We all have our specialties and I would never be so bold as to insist on making another’s signature item, it’s just not done. So, we shall see how this pans out, but my guess is my bowl will be empty and the birthday girl will be happy, which really all that matters anyway.