My wife is an amazing cook. I’m sure that’s a common statement, but Kara truly goes above and beyond. It’s how she loves people. And it’s made my family famous for dinner parties, for the delicious treats I bring into the office (that might be the only reason I still have my job!), and especially for Kara’s almond croissants.
That’s why I was so excited to show off Kara’s gift for cooking to my family when we first started dating. My family was all gathering in Des Moines, and to make the trip easier each couple was choosing a meal to cook.
Kara and I had Saturday breakfast, which basically meant Kara had Saturday breakfast. Her croissants weren’t just on the menu, they were the menu. Everyone was going to be introduced to a baking miracle and would basically start begging me to marry Kara.
Everything in the croissants is made from scratch, so Kara and I had to start the process Friday afternoon. To make things a little more complicated Kara, and I were staying at different houses, and I was in the one where we’d have breakfast.
Saturday morning I had to be up by six to start kneading the dough, and she’d be over shortly for the filling and baking. As you might know, I’m nowhere near the chef Kara is. And just to top it off, my brother Robert and I were out all Friday night at a bar, so I had to stay on task with about three hours of sleep. But it was worth it because I wanted to impress Kara and my family.
Overcoming all obstacles, the almond croissants were baked and ready to eat by about 8:30. The house was filled with a delicious aroma, and since we knew what a hit they’d be we had a double batch ready to go.
As my family bit into their croissants I waited for the waves of praise to start rolling in.
And waited … And waited! Suddenly, my sister stood up and said, “I’ll get the eggs!”
Before I knew it, three of my siblings were cooking eggs and bacon on the stove, and Kara looked ready to break up with me.
I was surprised, but in hindsight I shouldn’t have been shocked by my family’s response. We grew up in a house where eggs and bacon were a part of every breakfast, with pastries rarely being part of the meal.
The rest of that morning was spent in an uneasy silence. I tried to ease the tension and to make sure we had a good time the rest of the morning, but it was clear that Kara was hurt. Eventually we were able to leave and to talk about what happened.
Kara explained that she felt unappreciated and discouraged because she had put a ton of effort into impressing my family. And she had a right to feel that way! I shared her frustrations, but I also tried to explain where my family was coming from. I explained that breakfast was a very different experience in my family’s home. And I truly didn’t think they were trying to be rude, or didn’t like the croissants, it just wasn’t what they were used to.
As the visit wore on, we were able to move past the breakfast incident and enjoy the time with my family. Although my family can be quirky, they are a pretty lovable group, and Kara was able to see how much they had already embraced her. But that was the last time we ever made them Kara’s famous almond croissants!
Whenever a couple begins to share their lives with each other, there are going to be hiccups. Each family, like each person, is unique. There is no one-size-fits-all way to impress or bond with each of them. But it’s important to get those differences out on the table early, in order to avoid frustrations and disappointments.
It’s not always easy blending our different backgrounds, but it’s been worth it. After seven years of marriage, Kara and I still find snags, but luckily we’ve always been able to talk and laugh about all the memories we are making together.