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A Year of Thanks in a Week: My New Family


We boarded a plane this morning bleary eyed and lacking sleep. What airline schedules flights for 5:40AM?! We were on our way to Savannah, Georgia to spend Thanksgiving with Cent’s family. And I couldn’t be more thrilled about it.

I’ve heard horror stories. Crazy parents-in-law doing crazy things to ruin their daughters or sons-in-law. Or vice versa. What the heck?

I’ve watched crazy movies about it. Have you seen Monster-in-Law? Would you want Jane Fonda to be your future mother-in-law? Not me!

This is my first Thanksgiving with my new family. And I’m happy to report that I’ve been blessed with wonderful in laws. They have been nothing short of welcoming me into their family and making me feel like I’m really a part of it. I’ve never had a brother before, and now I do!


Cent’s Granny invited me to Thanksgiving when we first started dating. She’s such a sweet lady. And now she’s my Granny too!

Photos by Travis Hoehne

I remember the first time I went to visit my in-laws before I knew that they would be my future in-laws. I was so nervous. I had quickly met them one time before, but I had been so nervous, that I was basically mute, and didn’t say much at all. So when I went with Cent to visit his parents at their home just outside of Savannah, Georgia, two years ago, I was a bag full of nerves.

I wanted everything to go smoothly, you know, just in case they would become my in-laws. I had sought out to find a great gift that characterized California. I had a whole plan to present this hostess gift to Cent’s mom.

Well, the “right” time never presented itself. And my final window of opportunity arrived right before they were to take us to the airport. Cent was in the kitchen doing the dishes and motioned for me to go get the gift.

So I did.

I came back out to the living room to give Mrs. Wood the gift. I presented it to her and thanked her for her hospitality.

She said, “Oh you don’t have to give me anything.”

So I insisted and said, “Thank you, this gift is for you and Mr. Wood.”

She said, “You really don’t have to give me anything.”

We exchanged these words a couple of times back and forth until I said, “No really, please accept this gift or you’ll be offending my people.”

Yeah. I said that. To the woman who would become my mother-in-law.

She looked at me like I was crazy. At that point, the words were out, and there was NO taking them back. I scrambled and stumbled over my words and tried to tell her that in Filipino tradition, a gift to the host/hostess is usually customary. Of course, I couldn’t for the life of me remember the word in Tagalog for it.

It’s pasalubong.

From friendly Wikipedia: “Pasalubong, in general, is a “gift for a relation or friend brought by” a “traveler returning from a trip,” and could also refer to “anything given as a gift to someone on the way home to a certain place.”

Oh man. I thought I would never recover from that faux pas. Who tells their future mother-in-law that?! Obviously, I do.

All is good now. While totally embarrassing, I actually love recounting this story. Because it’s totally ridiculous and hilarious, and what you shouldn’t do.

Tips for meeting your future in-laws for the first time:

  • Relax. Chances are, they may be as nervous as you.
  • Bring a hostess gift. If you have to travel by plane, bring something packable. Like coffee or a book. Wine will require you to check your bag.
  • Get to know them. Get to know your fiance(e)’s sibling(s) too.
  • Have your fiance(e) give you the run down of the family. This will help with any awkward situations.
  • Do not, I repeat, do not tell them that they will be “offending your people.” Learn from my mistake.

Happy Tuesday!


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