DEAR MISS MANNERS: My daughter married into a very nice family. They are a fairly small group, as are we, so we have celebrated holidays together since our children married, usually alternating hosting.
We did this on Thanksgiving and I hosted. I prepared the same meal I would've prepared regardless -- and yes, it represents a great deal of work, which I am happy to do.
When they host, however, it's a more modest repast, not because of finances, but simply because they don't have much interest in cooking or baking. I was concerned, after one or two of these frozen-chicken-cutlet, can-of-mixed-vegetables events, that they would feel we were showing off; they have sometimes looked a bit astounded at our table.
I asked my daughter and son-in-law if I should tone things down on our next turn. They emphatically said "No!" and that they would be disappointed not to enjoy all their traditional favorites on these occasions. My daughter further chalks it up to cultural differences, while these meals seem very standard to us.
Do you think I am being offensive to guests who don't care to go through so much bother when they entertain?
GENTLE READER: Please listen to your children. What Miss Manners would deem highly offensive is to convey the message, "You don't bother to give us a fancy meal, so we're going to stop bothering to give you one."
Surely it is more in the spirit of family harmony and holiday spirit to assume that people are doing their best, however much or little their best measures up to yours.