HELP. The dreaded holiday season is now upon us, and it’s only dreaded because of stupid family dynamics. I have a pretty big extended family who traditionally has Thanksgiving dinner together at my Mom’s house. We’ve gotten pretty big now that more of us have gotten married, there are more kids, boyfriends, girlfriends, etc. We’re talking close to 40-45 people.
In addition, my husband’s family has Thanksgiving lunch, as they’ve always done, so he and I usually hit both families (lots of driving, hustling around, no fun for us). His family doesn’t feel comfortable with mine and has yet to accept the invitation to jump on our Thanksgiving and drop their own (and, why should they?).
So, this year, my husband and I have taken over hosting Thanksgiving for a few reasons, including, my Mom is tired of doing it, and we don’t really want to drag our then 8 month old baby through all of that. We want to ENJOY the holiday.
From my side, we invited my parents, my brother, his wife and their two kids, my SIL’s Mom and her husband. From my husband’s side, we invited his parents and his sister and her husband (chain ends there). Well, my aunt and uncle (mom’s brother) are just up in arms that we’ve divided the family and that we have the audacity to suggest we get together at a restaurant on Friday to still celebrate after Black Friday shopping. They are threatening to never speak with any of us again (they’ve all already been fighting since a family gone wrong Greece vacation in June 2014).
What am I supposed to do?? Host 50-55 people in our home for Thanksgiving? I can’t just invite my extended family, we would have to invite my husband’s too, and where would all these people go? And, how is that fun for anyone? Even if we do a potluck, I can’t imagine hosting that! At what point do you draw the line and stop inviting all of these arms of people???
I’m now being blamed for breaking up the family, when all I want is for my son to be able to enjoy the holiday with both sets of grandparents and his FIRST cousins without dragging him 150 miles in the car that day. 1103-15
The inevitable conclusion of creating a family holiday tradition is that eventually it cannot be sustained for a variety of reasons. My husband’s mother’s side of the family hosted an annual holiday get together which had become monstrously huge due to the fact that my MIL was one of 11 siblings! Every cousin was there so you can imagine how large this gathering was. But eventually the sisters who hosted this extravaganza grew too old to continue the tradition and it faded into oblivion because none of the subsequent generations was willing to keep it going.
Your mother, as the longtime hostess of the family gathering, should be the one who informs her brother that the tradition she had begun and maintained is in need of a change of plans. I suspect that your mother was the one who did the bulk of the food preparations while her brother contributed little in comparison. The people who protest the change in family traditions that are typically associated with eating food are usually the ones who have not invested the most time in hosting, cooking and cleaning. I can’t recall receiving stories from longtime host/hostesses of big family events bitterly complaining about the change in those traditions since it is they who are weary from often decades of serving the family.
Your aunt and uncle could have volunteered to take over hosting duties for Thanksgiving but appear, instead, to prefer to whine and guilt manipulate to sustain a tradition that serves their needs rather than the needs of your mother to have a break or her desire to pass on the hosting to someone else. So, the fundamental question to be asked in this situation is, “Who is being served?”, when assessing people’s attitudes and behaviors. Your choice to host a smaller family event serves your mother, your husband’s family and your own family. Your aunt and uncle’s behavior serves themselves with no consideration for the guilt they inflict on your mother for having the audacity to be tired of years of holiday hospitality and family drama they generate because you choose to host a smaller celebration. It’s all about them. And when people choose to serve themselves selfishly with no apparent regard for how that affects people they allege to love, I believe you must stiffen the polite spine, ignore the tantrums and continue to extend a cheerful welcome for them to join you and the family for dinner on the Friday after Thanksgiving at a restaurant (making sure you communicate to them that they are paying for themselves unless otherwise arranged).