Christmas Dinner Leftovers

by admin on December 21, 2011

My husband’s extended family is quite large but the only holiday we spend together with the whole clan is Christmas Eve.  We are all local so we have a good system down of rotating the event between 4 different cousin’s homes (including mine).  Everyone brings something and the hosting family always provides a large and very expensive prime rib as the main course.  One of the cousins who loves to host had offered her home several years in a row because a couple of us were busy having babies.  Finally we decided that she had done it enough and we were ready to go back to the old rotation.

The cousin who was next in line for a turn, lets call her Buffy, (remember she had had extra few years off because of the other person had hosted 2 or 3 years in a row), was not to thrilled about taking her turn.  Besides the fact that she doesn’t work, has grown children and a housekeeper, she has the largest home of all of us, so we were looking forward to a place for us all to spread out.  Buffy made it known that she wasn’t too thrilled and tried to push it off on me since it would be my turn after her.   I still had a small baby and another child and knew I would find it difficult to do all the regular “work” that we parents have to do on Christmas Eve, after serving 35 people dinner and cleaning up.  I told Buffy that as a compromise I would make the prime rib in my counter top roaster and bring it to the dinner.  She said that would be great because it can be nerve wracking making sure the large cut of meat is not overdone, and it would take a load off of her as the hostess.  The fact that I wouldn’t have to host (even though it wasn’t my turn anyway) made it all worthwhile to me.  Buffy did not offer to pay for the prime rib which as I stated, is usually bought by the host.  On top of that Buffy makes it known to other members of the family that my husband and I better not try and take all the leftover prime rib home, she wants it.

So we purchase the $200 piece of meat, cook it all day at our home, and transport it the short drive to her house. My husband was designated the meat carver (I guess since we brought it?), and he spent a good 20 minutes cutting it all up before dinner.  After dinner she hovered around the meat trying to act nonchalant.  My husband was cleaning up our electric knife to take home and he felt her eyes all over him.  We decided not take any leftovers, even though we probably did have the right to.  Come to find out the reason why she was so obsessed with the leftovers was that she was planning to serve them to her family for their Christmas day dinner!   0427-11

{ 90 comments… read them below or add one }

Miss Raven December 21, 2011 at 4:01 pm

I’m at my desk, quietly snickering at everyone dogpiling on the OP for FORCING Buffy to host Christmas.

Here’s a little hint: No one wants to host Christmas. Do you think OP’s family has a rotation because everyone wants to host and they just can’t decide? No. There is a rotation because everyone wants to get together and have a good time, but hosting a holiday for that many people is an enormous amount of work and the fairest thing to do was to split up the work so that each family only hosts once every four years.

Unless one of you is Martha Stewart, you suck it up when it’s your turn and do it for your family, everyone has a good time, and you won’t have to do it again until next leap year.

It seems that Cousin A was most gracious in hosting a few times in a row because of the young mothers. But Buffy wanted to skip her turn simply because she couldn’t be bothered. That’s not fair. It was extremely gracious for the OP to offer to do the hard part for Buffy, even considering she would take her turn again the next year. Buffy may have been “hosting” the home, but the OP “hosted” the prime rib and IMHO, that makes her entitled to dole out the leftovers however she pleases.

The other option for Buffy was to try to “switch” years, or to switch up the menu. Otherwise everyone else shares the burden each year while Buffy shows up with her family, takes advantage of everyone else’s hospitality, and then leaves.

That being said, at my family gatherings, leftovers are parceled out as each family likes. I agree that no one had a spine here.

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Green123 December 21, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Seriously, OP, choose a potluck supper next year…

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FerrisW December 21, 2011 at 4:42 pm

It seems to me that while there’s some etiquette blunders on both sides, Buffy really shouldn’t have been participating in the tradition in the previous years if she wasn’t prepared to take her turn in the near future. And the same goes for everyone else in the family.

When I was a kid, my parents and the two couples who were their best friends used to take turns hosting Christmas dinner since everyone’s relatives lived overseas and it was nice to have a big group of people around. It was on a rotating schedule and the same food was served at each meal and generally everyone was happy because they only had to deal with the expense of Christmas once every three years. Sometimes the rotation switched around, when people lost jobs or were short on money for other reasons, but it was all done fairly and happily and I was sad when we stopped (when the other couples kids grew up and had families of their own and didn’t want to travel distances with small children). My parents would never have participated if they hadn’t thought they could reciprocate the next year, and neither would their friends.

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claire delune December 21, 2011 at 5:04 pm

I agree with what others have said–though Buffy’s attitude toward the leftover prime rib was embarrassingly bad, I’m very confused about the rotation system. When was it decided that the burden of hosting 35 people should fall to just four of those people? It might appear that Buffy is in an ideal position to host, but that kind of decision can really only be made by the prospective hostess herself.

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Shannon December 21, 2011 at 5:15 pm

One thing I have learned is that not everyone wants to host, and not everyone is good at it. For some people, it’s a nerve-wracking spectacle of expense and effort, with none of the “glow” that natural hosts receive from the event.

So hosting should NEVER be foisted on an unwilling party. If you don’t want to host, or it’s not in your budget or lifestyle, then you can fulfill your part of the social compact by being a fantastic guest: offer to come early and set up, or offer to swing by the next day and help with cleanup. Bring wine or a dish (and not snatching up the leftovers to take with you…seriously, it’s tacky and smacks of “I’m gonna take my toys and go home”). And when you’re at the party, be sunny and helpful and gracious. Some of my dearest friends are terrible hosts, but when they’re guests they’re absolute gems who are happy to plate appetizers or take out the recycling bin when it fills up.

So I don’t think Buffy is a bad person. I think hosting just isn’t her bag, her whole family ganged up on her, and she decided (probably peevishly) that the very least she could get out of this was an awesomely delicious piece of meat (by which I mean the prime rib, not Bradley Cooper).

A better course would have been, “Okay, Buffy, I understand how you feel. But I have small children and the prep will be a lot for me. Can we all split up the cost of the prime rib, and each bring a dish?”

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Library Diva December 21, 2011 at 5:26 pm

I agree that OP and her family seemed to gang up unfairly on Buffy, and sort of created this situation. Buffy was rude, no doubt, but maybe it was her way of pushing back against being forced into this. This family definitely seems to me like it has a baby bias. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but it seems as if the person whose children are grown and raised is getting stuck with all the work because “we parents are so busy at this time of year” (uhhh…so is everybody? And isn’t Buffy a parent too?), and because she frankly has the nicest house. “We were all looking forward to spreading out” just makes me picture people and small children in every room of the home that she likes to keep so carefully maintained, she hires a housekeeper.

Everyone in this story needed more of a polite spine. Buffy should have firmly refused to be the host if she didn’t want to. OP shouldn’t have bought the prime rib if she didn’t want to. OP’s husband shouldn’t have agreed to carve if he didn’t want to. If Buffy wanted the leftovers for the next day (and I see nothing wrong with that, this is a nice cut of meat that would have been less than 24 hours old, not a 2-week-old tuna noodle casserole), she should have talked to OP about it well in advance. I’m guessing this wouldn’t have been submitted if OP had received a call from Buffy offering to give them some money in exchange for the leftovers.

I agree with the other posters that this system needs to be looked at again. Everyone has had significant life changes in the past few years, it sounds like. It probably needs only a few tweaks to get it back on track. OP should have a conversation with everyone in January or February after the holidays are over, even if it’s only via email. It’s lovely that she and her cousins have remained close into adulthood. That’s so hard to pull off, and making sure the holidays are a source of fun, not stress, will help keep the relationships solid for many years to come.

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Bint December 21, 2011 at 5:33 pm

I hosted 12 people one year. I loved it but it took me twelve hours and I was frankly knackered afterwards. 35 people? No way. This obviously sucks to several people involved and the 4 groups might want to reconsider. At least Buffy ‘made it plain’ she didn’t want to, but was made to anyway. Classy.

And this really, REALLY got me:
“knew I would find it difficult to do all the regular “work” that we parents have to do on Christmas Eve, after serving 35 people dinner and cleaning up”

In other words, this huge task so difficult for you as a parent is something Buffy, with her grown up children and housekeeper, should suck up and deal with? This may surprise you, but people without small children can also have enormous amounts of work to do that might even take longer hours, and make it every bit as strenuous, if not more so, for them as it would for a parent.

The rest of this post has been dealt with already. This part reeks of entitlement and the whole ‘I have small children so everyone should work around me’ effort. I cannot stand that attitude and have no time for it. I don’t think Buffy behaved well here in several ways but you lost all my sympathy with that bit. The crushing insensitivity of some parents beggars belief, and I have kids.

And if you’d offered to cook the rib and bring it over, I’d have told you to have the party in your own bloody house. Way to dodge the cleaning up. No wonder Buffy didn’t want to cook for her family the next day – although she never said she wanted the leftovers! Way to assume!

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Shalamar December 21, 2011 at 6:02 pm

I have to admit, the idea of hosting a Christmas dinner for 35 people makes me want to break down in hysterical tears. Some people love it and thrive on that kind of challenge; some people don’t. Sounds like Buffy is one of the latter group.

Only somewhat related, but this reminds me a bit of a story my mother told from when she was small. She had aa Great-Aunt Maude, who was fairly well-to-do but notoriously cheap. Mum and her family visited Great-Aunt Maude one Christmas, and they were served a fairly austere tea – thin bread and butter, stale biscuits, and no seconds. The children didn’t mind, though, because Maude had placed a beautiful iced layer cake on the sideboard, and they couldn’t wait to have a piece. It was worth skimping on the other food, knowing that that delicious-looking cake awaited them. After everyone was done with their bread and biscuits, Maude suddenly said “No-one wants cake, do they?” and she whisked it away before anyone could say anything. The poor children were crushed, and Mum’s mother was furious, muttering under her breath “She’s saving it for the Jacksons. They’re coming over tomorrow.”

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Cat December 21, 2011 at 6:35 pm

Nothing says family like fighting like a pack of wolves over the leftover meat. Thirty-five people? Prime rib, no, sausage & chicken wings, yes. Or go to a restaurant that serves buffet for one price.

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Merry Mrs December 21, 2011 at 7:23 pm

Reciprocation only means Buffy owed the host of previous meals a turn as a guest , not every guest of the host and not the same meal or occasion. So if cousin A hosted 4 times Buffy should host cousin A 4 times, within those 4 years or stop accepting invitations. If they had taken turns until this point including Buffy , Buffy didn’t owe cousin D (op)and C anything. I’m wondering who else doesn’t have to host with 35 regular guests and 4 host households , household Buffy with 2 people and household OP with 4. That’s a lot of people not hosting and possible getting so far removed from Buffy it’s becoming unreasonable for her to host.

I think Buffy had the right to decline hosting, pushing her was a huge mistake and she would have had every right to change the menu. It’s not completely unreasonable to consider the prime rib hers,I assume the prime rib normally stays with the host family, as a “gift/bribe” to persuade her to host.

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Gracie C. December 21, 2011 at 7:53 pm

I’ve never brought a dish to someone else’s house to contribute to a meal and assumed the leftovers were mine. In fact, I’ve often shifted things to Tupperware for them so I could take my dish/platter back. It’s never occurred to me to say, “Well there are left overs so I’ll just take those back now.” Though I’ve never bought a $200 cut of meat, either. I’ve taken plenty of leftovers from parties, but always because they were offered by the host. So, I don’t think there is anything wrong with Buffy assuming the leftovers would be left with her to do what she wanted with (though in her place, I certainly would have offered leftovers to those who wanted them).

And I agree with the others. Buffy did not want to host this party. She should have declined, but it doesn’t sound like she was asked. She shouldn’t have been put in the position to have to back out of what someone else declared she would do.

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Lady Antipode December 21, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Etiquette blunder 1 – forcing Buffy to host
Etiquette blunder 2 – Buffy stating ahead of time, to others and not the OP, that she wanted the leftovers.
Etiquette blunder 3 – Not talking to Buffy about this and coming to some compromise on the night whereby both parties could show generosity towards the other and share the leftovers.

You could also have discussed the cost of the rib ahead of time – “I’d be happy to cook it for you, but the cost is a bit prohibitive. Could you help us out with that?” Or even “I’d be happy to cook it for you – feel free to drop it off at our house after you’ve picked it up from the shop. The best ones are this and this, so if you can find that, that would be great”. And then you don’t complain about what size or what kind of meat she provides.

The deeper hosting issue – I can understand the family wanting to ‘spread out’. I suggest that you re-define ‘hosting’ in future, regardless of where it is. Hosting can become ‘providing a venue and a kitchen’ with all the family helping with food provision, set-up and clean-up, rather than expecting one person or family to take care of it all while the others simply turn up and be entertained. And I urge you to consider your motives – is it more important to spend time with the family, or to have china plates and metal cutlery rather than plastic disposables that are so much easier to clean up? If it’s the latter, it seems that you (and perhaps your family) are more interested in the ‘show’ than the company.

Buffy may have a housekeeper, but I doubt the housekeeper would turn up on Christmas morning to clean up before the other side of Buffy’s family arrives for lunch.

I also note there’s no mention of the most important question – WHY? Did you find out why Buffy didn’t want to host, and maybe come up with a solution that would address those issues? Did you ask why Buffy needed the leftovers for the other side of her family? At least you asked why (or were told) she didn’t want to cook the prime rib.

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Melnick December 21, 2011 at 11:06 pm

I tend to disagree with everyone who says the OP is rude for expecting Buffy to rise to her part. They ALL have a turn doing this and bearing the cost. They ALL know that it is going to happen so can budget for several years if need be to put the money aside for the meat. I actually find it unfair that one cousin had to bear the cost for several years in a row. The cost of the rib should have kept rotating. Everyone gets the benefits of not having to pay for several years in between their turn – that seems pretty fair to me in all honesty. If she constantly refused to host and made everyone else host and put up the $, everyone on this site would be insisiting you ‘grow a spine’ and tell her she must take her turn like everyone else.

As for next year, when it is your turn to host, I would talk to Buffy early in the year and ask her could she please do for you what you did for her. And I really wouldn’t get hung up on leftovers.

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Angel December 21, 2011 at 11:24 pm

It seems that a lot of assumptions have been made about Buffy’s situation here by the OP. I feel kinda sorry for her, even though she laid claim to those leftovers in a pretty rude way, she was counting on them for her own Christmas day meal. And I don’t know about anyone else on the board, but if I were her I wouldn’t want to host either–two gatherings two days in a row–especially when the first one has 35 people there–that is a huge imposition on even the closest of family members! Putting aside the expensive cut of meat, to set up the house, clean, (even with a housekeeper–because who has a housekeeper that comes EVERY day) decorate, prepare even some of the food dishes–and clean up afterward–that is a BIG deal. I am not saying that the family is ungrateful–but the mathematics of 35 people at the gathering, with FOUR people rotating the hosting duties, just seems so disproportionate to me and if the OP and Buffy both did not want to do it this year, that is a telling sign that the expectations for this particular event are just too high. As for the prime rib, either get a smaller cut so that there are no leftovers, or ask to be reimbursed for the cost. FYI: dessert and coffee for 35 people is a lot less trouble than a whole dinner. People will also not stay as long.

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Merry Mrs December 21, 2011 at 11:56 pm

@ Melnick but how do we knoe Buffy didn’t take her turn , if she was the last host before the cousin who hosted 2-3 times or if she agreed to host in 2004, 2008 and 20012 then it’s reasonable to say it’s not my turn. Also “yes we’ll rotate ” is not a lifelong commitment.

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Cat Whisperer December 22, 2011 at 12:18 am

If you don’t want to do something, don’t do it and accept the consequences. If you allow yourself to be guilted/bullied into doing something that you don’t want to do, go look in the mirror to find the person who is responsible!

There is no etiquette law that states that everyone has to spend any holiday the way other members of the extended family decide they should. I, personally, detest the idea that “ownership” of the holidays is something that has to be decided by families as a group and that there is some sort of majority rule, and that if you don’t go along with the majority, you’ve violated some sort of etiquette. There is no rule regarding this. People should be free to decide what hospitality they want to offer and accept. It is detestable and abhorrent that holidays become occasions for scorekeeping over who is hosting, who gets what presents for whom, and now even over the leftovers from the family get-together.

This is getting down to a level of pettiness that is completely contrary to the idea of the holiday as a time to spend in joyful celebration with people that you care deeply about.

There is no rule of etiquette that requires that any individual within a family submit to the rule of the majority in the way the holiday is spent. Invitations for hospitality are issued by those who want to offer them, and are accepted by those who would enjoy them. The rules of gracious hosting/guesting apply. Those rules are not in suspension simply because the people involved are family.

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Shannon December 22, 2011 at 1:16 am

Miss Raven:

“Here’s a little hint: No one wants to host Christmas. Do you think OP’s family has a rotation because everyone wants to host and they just can’t decide? No. There is a rotation because everyone wants to get together and have a good time, but hosting a holiday for that many people is an enormous amount of work and the fairest thing to do was to split up the work so that each family only hosts once every four years.”

If 35 people attend the dinner, then why is hosting rotated among only four households? Seems like there are lots of people in that family who don’t want to host Christmas…and the burden shouldn’t fall among just four cousins.

If the goal is to get everyone together, then this family needs a reality check. Because the great effort and expense of a prime rib dinner for 35 is going to crush the holiday spirit right out of Buddy the Elf, let alone Buffy the Cousin. Do a much simpler, less expensive potluck or open house, and GET OVER YOURSELVES ALREADY. There’s a point where “tradition” becomes “suffocatingly high expectations.”

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Shannon December 22, 2011 at 1:17 am

Also, I personally wouldn’t budget for “several years” for a hunk of meat. I’d just politely demur from hosting and offer to bring a pie to whomever is carrying on the oppressive tradition of dropping two c-notes on a hunk of beef (which is, again, not a reference to Bradley Cooper).

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Missy December 22, 2011 at 2:00 am

“One of the cousins who loves to host had offered her home several years in a row because a couple of us were busy having babies. Finally we decided that she had done it enough and we were ready to go back to the old rotation.”

Now, I’m going to thread carefully on this one: if cousin truly loves hosting and won’t mind hosting Christmas, she should host Christmas. Now that’s only if she wants to host and enjoys doing so. Hosting Christmas shouldn’t be forced on anyone; one must volunteer one’s home for the festivities.

Ditch the rotation system; it doesn’t work. As for the roast, why not split the cost? I’m saying this because the host has to buy the $200 roast plus presents for 30+ people. That’s too much. If you all need the roast, split the cost. If you all can do without the roast, have a potluck.

The family really needs to keep communication open about hosting and expenses. Everyone should put in their thoughts and have a say. Be considerate, understanding, and open. I hope you all will work something out during or after the holidays.

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Mojo December 22, 2011 at 4:26 am

Buy a smaller joint. No leftovers, no argument.

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Setsu December 22, 2011 at 7:07 am

I think that some of the previous commenters have skimmed over something in their attempts to dogpile the OP for “forcing” Buffy to host.
She and Buffy did in fact discuss this whole hosting gig. She and Buffy came to an agreement that OP providing the cooked meat was reasonable and that she would, because of this, host at her home.
If she did not wish to host at all, she should have showed her polite spine (or even her impolite spine) and stated that no, she was not willing to come to compromise if it meant that the family would be in her home.
If someone came up to you and stated that you would be hosting a party for a large group, but they would be providing the main portion of the meal to make it fair, and you said “okay”, you would not have the right, IMO, to complain later that you were “forced into hosting”

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Buffy's cousin December 22, 2011 at 8:51 am

I am the OP, and it is my turn to host Christmas Eve this year! I have read the previous comments and I agree that the system may need to be looked at. Just to clarify some things, the host is responsible for the meat (which was a tradition long before any of us were married into the family) but the rest of the guests supply the side dishes. Everyone lets the host know what they want to bring and it all seems to work out just fine. I am providing my home, all beverages, the prime rib and one appetizer. Yes I am a little stressed out, mostly about keeping my house clean from now until then, but I like that all I have to worry about is the meat and setting the tables!

Believe it or not all these 35 people only come from 5 main households. We have rotated through the 4 houses that are large enough to accommodate the large group. The 5th household is that of a widower and we have never asked him to take on the task. (although he did want to host one time 10 years ago so he did) We do have sympathy for the person whose turn it is because we have all taken our turn and understand the burden. I left out many details about Buffy’s personality because I didn’t want it to seem like I just wanted to bash her. Just know she is one of the most difficult people in the family to deal with, very unhappy in general and money is absolutely NOT an issue.

I have purchased extra plastic containers and will be offering leftovers of prime rib to anyone who wants them!

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Lulu December 22, 2011 at 9:51 am

I’m with Melnick on this one. Buffy is extremely rude and “entitled”. If she didn’t want to host, why participate all those years? Or AT LEAST offer her house up to a different host so they could all spread out, and let the person hosting in her house take the leftovers as well for doing the serving and cleaning?

And to Bint: A woman who doesn’t have to work outside the home, has a large home, a housekeeper, AND grown children? No, she doesn’t have “too much work to do” (What is there? Gardening she has to get to straight away? Emergency laundry for 2 people?) I don’t care if she volunteers at every opportunity. It wouldn’t be too much to serve 35 people as long as you have the room, particularly if the meat had been bought, cooked, and brought to you. Working 2 jobs, having 2 children in school, and a small house– I would still be able to swing it with enough notice. It’s about being with family, and making small sacrifices like this shouldn’t be such a frustration when it’s done to make happy memories.

About the feast– surely to entice hosts an easier or more inexpensive meal could be planned for future dinners. If people are so anxious about hosting, a potluck signup is also a good choice. I also recommend buying just enough (perhaps an extra serving or two) for everyone but not to ensure a full meal of leftovers. This way there is no argument over who gets the leftovers, since it’s a negligible amount anyway.

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Abby December 22, 2011 at 10:15 am

I too am confused by the math. Unless each of the four hosting cousins have 6-7 kids, it seems like there are a fair amount of adults making up the 35 who never have to have a turn hosting, and that isn’t fair.

It seems like three of the four cousins don’t like hosting, and just suck it up and do it once every four years with the reasoning they won’t have to do it for awhile after. I still don’t get why it was such a big deal that it had to be Buffy’s turn this year- the rotation order isn’t carved in stone. And yeah, it may have been 5-6 years since she last had to host, but it was also 4-5 years since OP had to do it, and 3-4 since Other Cousin had to do it, so I don’t think wanting to switch years was so out of the question. The whole ‘it wasn’t my turn’ mentioned numerous times throughout the post just screams of childish indignation. This isn’t kindergarten. Sometimes situations change, and the fact that 5-6 years ago Buffy was capable of and willing to host doesn’t mean she is this year. Obviously since this system has been in place awhile she has at some point hosted in the past, so this is not a case of someone who never wants to do the work/spend the money and is trying to constantly pass the buck.

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Bint December 22, 2011 at 11:18 am

To clarify my post, Buffy only told other family members she wanted the leftovers. Apparently. Never told the OP, never said anything to her about it. She might have never actually said so. She never said so to the OP – way to assume indeed.

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Gracie C. December 22, 2011 at 11:59 am

Melnik – actually, 35 people attend and 4 people rotate hosting (maybe 8 if it’s couples), so, no they are not ALL having a turn. Granted, some of the 35 are probably kids, but you cannot just insist that everyone host. That’s not how hosting works. If you want to choose not to invite Buffy to Christmas because of her inability or lack of desire to host, that’s within your right (though I think it’s petty), but you don’t get to insist that she host because others have.

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Allie December 22, 2011 at 12:04 pm

Might I suggest scrapping the massive Christmas Eve feast in favour of a summer potluck BBQ. Way less stressful and expensive, and you still get to gather the whole clan together once a year. Of course, you run the risk of seeing Uncle Bob in his bermudas with socks and sandals, or worse yet, an itsy bitsy Speedo. Perhaps best not to have the BBQ at the beach.

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Angela December 22, 2011 at 1:29 pm

It seems likely that Buffy had gone to numerous Christmas dinners at other relatives’ homes, knowing that she was expected to host in kind eventually. If you don’t want to participate in this sort of thing, you either don’t go or you work out something else well ahead of time. Not sure why it’s OP’s fault, especially when it’s her husband’s family that worked all this out some time ago.

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Rachel December 22, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Miss Raven-

1. It ISN’T each family in the clan that hosts, it’s one of four families in the entire extended clan. That is a huge burden for one family to assume especially if one cut of meat to serve everyone is $200 dollars. Good god!

2. I don’t care if it is for family. Everyone does what they can and not wanting to take this task on definitely falls under this.

3. Who decided on this tradition anyway? Did everyone get together and vote on it? I doubt it. I think this probably something that has been passed down from the older generations. It is perfectly fine to change one’s mind about participating in family traditions. The “it’s family!” argument cuts both ways. If one should do it because it’s family then family should understand when one of the members doesn’t want to do it anymore.

4. What contribution does the rest of the family make ? Why are they exempt from hosting and only these four cousins must make room? There are plenty of places one could host a family party. My church and my community center each have ‘party’ rooms available; one for a nominal fee the other you just put in to reserve. Both of these options also have a kicthen that comes with the facility. Many apartment complexes have these amenities as well. At my brother’s apartments complex one just reserves the community room. No charge. He had his reception there and the facilities easily handled fifty or so guests.

Do all the rest just t show up to enjoy the party each year? They are equally guilty of accepting someone’s hospitality without hosting in return. Bringing a dish for potluck does not even come close to the financial burden of providing 35 or more people with dinnerware,food and drink (and cleanup afterward). And no one is required to do so because “it’s family!” and they should “suck it up”.

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Kristi December 22, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Ok, the primary thing that I don’t understand here is how the OP states that this is a family of 35ish people, but only the 4 cousins with the largest homes were in the rotation to host/provide the prime rib dinner. While I understand that the rest of the family shows up with something to add to the meal, I am befuddled as to why these 4 specific cousins bear the burden of providing a $200 (apparently mandatory) cut of prime rib to the rest of the family, at their own expense. Why not have a kitty that everyone contributes to that is used to purchase the meat? Or as others have suggested, start a new tradition, pans of lasagna, or something easily made in bulk and much more economical.

I agree with many of the other posters in that the OP, if in disagreement with hostess on what happens to the leftovers, should have spoken up and had it straighted out prior to the event. You are only a victim if you let yourself be one.

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Ann December 22, 2011 at 4:07 pm

If Buffy didn’t want to host, she should simply have said so, allowing the rest of family to regroup and make other plans.

If Buffy wanted to serve prime rib to her Christmas Day guest, she should have bought her own.

In any case, this is OP’s cue to start a new Christmas tradition that doesn’t include neither a cast of 35, nor Buffy.

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Library Diva December 22, 2011 at 5:17 pm

@ Lulu, this type of attitude is why there’s so much friction between parents with small children and the rest of the world. Buffy’s stuff IS important, to her. Just like my life is important to me despite its dearth of small fry, and my sister’s life is important to her, despite the fact that she doesn’t have a significant other or small fry.

What Buffy did with the leftovers wasn’t right, but it also wasn’t right of OP’s clan to foist this on Buffy over her objections. I can see where the people who say that this has been a longstanding arrangement and isn’t a shock to Buffy are coming from. But the family sort of broke the system by having one person host for a number of years. Things change. They have for OP and her husband, as well as for the other implied cousin who was too busy having babies to host. Buffy did take her turn in the past. This seemed like it was the type of thing that worked for a while and maybe no longer is. And that’s not anyone’s fault. Buffy tried to speak up about it and apparently got shut down. Now it’s caused aggravation among an amiable group.

I’m glad OP is happy with what she’s doing this Christmas, and I hope she and this entire clan have a wonderful holiday. But I stand by my original suggestion: if they don’t, talk about tweaking this system in January or February. My family no longer gathers much. On both sides, the older generation is largely gone (grandparents, great-aunts, etc.) and no one really picked up the ball. My mom’s entire family hasn’t been together in years. My dad’s family gathers sporadically, but they live far away and it’s always ill-planned, so we’ll get the occasional call: “We’re getting together tomorrow night, can you make the 6-hour drive?” So I’m of the firm belief that it doesn’t much matter what you do. Home-cooked meal, catered dinner at someone’s house, getting together at a community room, going out to eat, dessert only, it’s all irrelevant, what counts is that you get together.

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SV December 22, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Why is everyone saying that Buffy was forced to host? Isn’t this something she has agreed to for quite some time? I mean, she has gone to these parties at other people’s houses, right? So presumably she realized that when her turn came around she would be required to reciprocate. Where does the forcing come in? She can always choose not to attend and so not have to host, or even request that she not host at her house but contribute in some other manner. There was no coercion here, folks!

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Shannon December 22, 2011 at 11:54 pm

I think there WAS coercion. I can see how it went down:

Cabal of Cousins: Cousin Susie has hosted the last few years, it’s Cousin Buffy’s turn.
Cousin Buffy: Whuh?
Other Cousins: (apply family pressure) We decided it was YOUR TURN! And it’s TRADITION! And whatever is happening in your life is LESS IMPORTANT! Don’t you see we have CHILDREN (who we totally had voluntarily)?
Cousin Buffy: Okay, fine, just to shut you up, but I don’t want to do this.
OP (Cousin Perfect): Okay, but we MUST have prime rib, so we’ll bring it.
Cousin Buffy: Okay, at least I’ll get some leftover meat out of this.

Ultimately, there is a point where ‘family tradition’ becomes ‘crushing expectations.’ The OP’s family crossed that line long ago – if they’re badgering people into hosting then that’s obviously the case. Time to reassess and simplify.

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Redneck Gravy December 23, 2011 at 11:02 am

Sorry, not feeling much sympathy for any participating party here…

Buffy could have declined hosting, “that will not be possible”.
Stating that Buffy doesn’t work, has grown children, has a full time housekeeper, etc., is not the point; Buffy did NOT want to host the gathering and she should have declined to do so.

OP could have stated up front or at any part in the pre Christmas prep “I will furnish the roast and take the leftovers home with me” or even after serving stated that she would be taking the leftovers of the roast she furnished. OP offered to bring the beef, it was up to her to make clear the plans for any leftovers and complaining that the hostess did not offer to pay is again back on the OP – offering to cook the roast that Buffy supplied would have been a better tact to take. Don’t offer to furnish if you can’t afford to.

Lack of communication is on both parties. Everyone in this scenario needs a spine brace. I don’t know why many think that because she participated in a gathering she is REQUIRED to host one in the future? I cook many meals for holiday gatherings and no longer host because of the size of my house, I am unaware that my attending these parties requires me to host one. If my family indicates this to me I will stop attending them and I will stop furnishing a good portion of the meals – I am happy to go to a potluck at other friend’s homes where I am not expected to host a party in my tiny home in the future. Geez, this smacks of entitlement by others.

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NicoleK December 23, 2011 at 11:06 am

We have the opposite problem, everyone wants to host!

Seriously, though, if people don’t want to host they shouldn’t host. And there’s no reason to make it a tit-for-tat, “If you don’t ever host we never want to see you at Christmas!” Let the people who are good at it host.

Forcing people to host and dictating the menu to them is a pretty evil tradition. Let people serve what they want… for 35 people a big pasta dinner is fairly easy.

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Goldie December 23, 2011 at 11:23 am

I’ve been thinking about this post for two days now! Here’s what I think the problem is: 35 people and only four families on rotation, and the hosting family pays for dinner (on top of all the work they do). So, unless we’re talking about very large families, I see a lot of people that are never contributing in any way. This, IMO, is exactly the reason why Buffy tried to get out of the rotation. If other people never host, why should she? I agree with other commenters, time to change the rules. Otherwise Buffy (and others on the rotation) may become creative and come up with a new tradition to suddenly book out-of-country trips for their families around Christmas (true story, I knew someone who did this to get out of forced hosting) and what are you going to do then?

There are multiple variations of what can be done. In my group of friends, we either do potluck, or one family does all the cooking but we all pay our share of the cost.

Wanted to add, though, to people that said having small children is no excuse for not hosting the party… have you every tried cooking or cleaning anything with a baby and a toddler? You’ll be lucky if you’re able to make a cup of Ramen, let alone a holiday dinner for 35 people. I don’t even know how the OP managed that prime rib, she is my new hero for that. It’s not that the OP is totally capable of cleaning house, cooking for 35, and setting the table, and is just using her baby and toddler as an excuse not to do that — she is really not physically capable of doing it.

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Gracie C. December 25, 2011 at 11:30 pm

@ Goldie – plenty of moms prepare large holiday meals, even when their children are young. Perhaps the moms in question can’t, and I’m not saying they should necessarily be able to, but their reasons for not being able to are no more or no less important than anyone else’s.

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Enna January 2, 2012 at 3:18 pm

I think when it is the OP’s turn next she should ask Buffy to provide the meat then keep the leftovers herself.

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Cat January 26, 2014 at 3:08 am

SO not only is a family member made to host a party at their house meaning preparation and clean up is their responsibility but they then also have to shell out for a $200 piece if meat?

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