One brother always gives us a new game for us to play as a family of all three of us adult kids plus our kids (holding baby/toddler in various arms, or helping a small child follow along to play or help roll the dice.) Mom has never has participated in the new board or card game, nor the decorating cake trains or rolling out Santa cookies.
The NO DOG is really just an expensive eye roll. I thought the dogs were fine together. My dog is relaxed and was impressively very good not to bother Mom's dog's food or toys. Her dog is a nervous Nellie that is pretty spoiled. I am fine leaving my dog with friends. Our dog loves adventure and we have an excellent at-their-home dog sitter, who will paid quite handsomely.
The NO SHORTS is more of a, "wow, I know you have only met my kids about 12-14 times ever (did not go home when DH got laid off, and twice when very pregnant or just gave birth days before to her first grandchild) but, really, in every photo you have ever seen they have been well attired, plus you know we go to a conservative school and church.
Plus, why are you completely ignoring the idea of a family photo when you have this great opportunity?
My DS asked a few years ago if you even went to church, since he has never seen your church, because you are so often in-between church-hopping in distant towns, that it is too much bother for you. You sputtered that the dates did not fit, but he logically, as only an 8/9 year can, checked the calendar and realized that was just not so. I really do not know why suddenly it is such a big deal for us to all go to church together. And yes, both brothers and their wives share the same basic faith- just some use more candles than others.
The NO COOKIES is the issue. It is not that the cookies are so delicious. When mom muttered to herself a few years back about the time and hassle, I assumed she meant the actual making of the dough, so I switched to store-bought cookie rolls. And, I was always careful to leave the kitchen back in complete and clean order.
The special thing we have all done together has been to color the dough and make Santa shapes before
the baking. I have a lovely picture of grade school DS holding his toddler cousin and "helping" her roll the dough in her hand. This cousin belongs to Aunt L.
Both brothers have preschool children now, Aunt T. also has a baby, Aunt L. has the one grade schooler plus the same age preschooler, and mine are older teens.
When we are working together, on the trains and the cookies, we are opening up to each other, getting re-acquainted in person and just chatting. It is like a quilting bee of baked goods.
So, mom is not taking away the cookies to eat, but the tradition of working on a family project.
She has not ever done them since I was a kid. Aunt T. was inspired by our cookies to come up with her own tradition for her kids, so she started the trains two years ago.
I will call Aunt T. later today- time zone and work differences. She is very diplomatic and calm and I doubt mom has spoken to her about this.
So, that is my non-update, but maybe more info.
And, yes, my doggie keeps a diary buried on the back yard, I am sure!