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Author Topic: Changing family holiday traditions... [How to?]  (Read 6579 times)
clean
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« Reply #45 on: November 24, 2012, 2:46:25 PM »

Quote
Ditch them all and forget about it.  

Mama wants to see the family.  She is 80, cant she have this?

I think that she can.  We have simply not found the solution yet.  The call to the oldest sister is step one.  What progress has been made on that front?  

Only if that fails do alternatives need to be found.  There are many alternatives.  Some more expensive than others, some more and some less convenient.

Lately, after the deaths of my grandfather's siblings, they reserved a banquet room at Olive Garden.  It was big enough.  (though that expense was in the will to be paid by their estates as part of the 'funeral expense').  I dont know what it cost, but certainly less than $20 a person

Im just pointing out that there ARE alternatives that allow Mama to see all of the family and not worry about cooking and cleaning up.  There IS a solution.  There are likely several viable alternatives.

Call the sister.  Perhaps the problem will be easily solved and this thread may be a resolved.
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bioteacher
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« Reply #46 on: November 24, 2012, 3:00:41 PM »

I definitely like the meat/cheese/crackers tray + cookies and coffee idea. Have a 2 hr open house (at a church hall near the beach condo?) where people can come and go.  

Mama is probably not going to be happy with whatever is set up that isn't a formal dinner. But it's time to let that tradition go. The family has gotten a lot bigger and it may be time for the natural split that happens as a result. Even with the flexibility that has been built in for other family obligations, this is a very short season for travel for a lot of us. My university will be class-free for a whole two weeks this year, which is generous of them. Nonacademic get far less. Biodad was back at work yesterday, for example.

The loss of the big gathering does not mean Mama is less loved as the matriarch. But it does reflect the numerous obligations we all have on our time during this season. Alert the whole family that the Big Gathering is a wonderful memory and that Mama would still love to see them whenever possible. Then stand back and see what transpires. Maybe a new tradition will arise and maybe not. But from what you have said, I think you have reached the natural break point. I don't blame Elder sister for not wanting to take this on in it's current form. Middle sister is wise not to try.

As others have said, with this new info, it's really for the best to simply announce what will not be happening and convey Mama's desire to see everyone at some point. Let them figure out what and where and when. Maybe military officer will make the trip home in the spring, for example. And if you don't get to see them but Mama does... then Mama's request was met even if you were not there. Don't mix up your purposes here.

It's hard to reach this transition point. But you have very Good and Big reasons why this year is the Transition year. Put your energy into Mr. W and into supporting Mama as she grieves the loss of a tradition she treasured. Next year will hopefully offer new possibilities.

On preview, Clean, I agree to a point. But Mama is not the only one to consider here. Even as the family matriarch, her wishes do not and should not trump the needs and wishes of others in the family. Just because she wants a big gathering does not mean that's what she will get. The family gathering is pretty big, as I'm learning. And the larger it gets, the harder it is to sustain. The younger generations may very well want to start their own traditions that do not include the Big Trek to Mama's House During Christmas Celebrations. As long as an effort is made to let Mama see them all over the course of the year, that should be permitted and even encouraged.
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testingthewaters
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« Reply #47 on: November 24, 2012, 4:28:23 PM »

I'm going to respectfully disagree with those who are saying that this year should be the transition year. With everything octo and Mr. W. have going on, I think the aim here should be as little drama as possible. Revamping a family tradition and delving into the underlying relationships will inevitaby lead to drama. On the long term, it may improve things (or not) but in the meantime, there will be drama. While a lot of good points have been made about why some family members might not be as enthusiastic about the family gathering as others (or maybe they are entitle brats, or maybe they feel in the middle of the situation with Eldest Sister) my vote is to sort out that minefield next year.

I'd suggest starting out by calling Eldest Sister. Who knows, she may surprise you (though I doubt it). Then, I think the route of a group e-mail asking other people to step up is a good next step.
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lucy_
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« Reply #48 on: November 24, 2012, 5:18:53 PM »

Looking back, I think I was fooled by the title of the post. I thought you were looking for "changing the family holiday tradition", thus the many suggestions to really mix it up. But as I read your responses, it doesn't really sound like you (or your mother) really want a change in tradition, just a change in who will bear the brunt of the responsibility to hold the event, someone else instead of your mother? If that's the case, that both you and your mother really want to hold on to this family tradition, just in another home, then I guess you have to ask someone else to do it. Sorry I misinterpreted what you wanted.

My mom wanted to continue hosting everyone, well past the point of everyone fitting in her very tiny home. We had to tell her that while we understood and respected her wishes, it just wasn't practical anymore, and a change had to be made. She wasn't happy about it initially, but she got used to, or not, but things did change, because they had to.

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hungry_ghost
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« Reply #49 on: November 24, 2012, 7:24:27 PM »

But as I read your responses, it doesn't really sound like you (or your mother) really want a change in tradition, just a change in who will bear the brunt of the responsibility to hold the event, someone else instead of your mother? If that's the case, that both you and your mother really want to hold on to this family tradition, just in another home, then I guess you have to ask someone else to do it.

I think Lucy_ nailed it. It sounds like your two priorities are
(1) A gathering attended by everyone on a day other than Christmas  (continuity)
(2) Not hosted, cooked, or cleaned up after by you, Mr. W, or Mama (change)
Although I numbered these priorities, in fact you want both, not one or the other. If forced to prioritize, you might have to make (2) the top priority, since it is simply impossible for her (and you and Mr. W.) to host.

To accomplish (1), the gathering needs to be local to Mama's house (not the beach, not Octo's house) and on an agreed-upon date. To accomplish (2), you either need another family member to offer to host the gathering, or you need to find another acceptable venue (restaurant, community hall, etc.) and you'd still need another (local) family member to be in charge of arrangements. I'd encourage you to contact all adult family members to get input and assistance on this.
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2much2do
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« Reply #50 on: November 25, 2012, 10:07:32 AM »

Rent the rec hall of your church for an afternoon. Put up a table along the side for some goodies (I like the idea of a dessert potluck someone mentioned, but I am a slave to chocolate), set up a bunch of folding chairs around the walls (with comfy chairs provided for Mr W and Mama) and leave plenty of space in the middle for mingling and little kids to run around crazily. Then run the rest like the aforementioned victorian at-home (except, of course, it's at church). Everyone eats and talks and socializes and helps fold up the chairs and take out the garbage at the end and it is a win-win.

This is a solution a good friend of mine chose, 9 brothers and sisters and assorting offspring.  They do a potluck in the church basement.  No cleaning before or after, no serving trays for the potluck, plenty of space for the kids to run around in and not break anything, and the only painful part is washing any church stuff you've used.  For them, it has been a very inexpensive option to deal with a large family gathering.  

As for the grandkids not helping, we ran into this with my family.  Then we realized that after years of doing this,we kind of worked as a well-oiled machine, and there probably really wasn't "space" for the grandkids to do stuff. So, we labeled the generations (G1 is my parents, their kids are G2, grandkids are G3 and G4 is the great grand kids).  Then we can say - "G1 isn't doing anything, G2 is doing preparation, G3 is doing cleanup, and G4 are just going to play and have a good time."  This has also allowed G3 to develop their own work traditions.  It really has worked out well, although there were a coule of rough years.  But no worse than my sisters and me cleaning up in the kitchen and b*tching the whole time!
« Last Edit: November 25, 2012, 10:08:35 AM by 2much2do » Logged
mythbuster
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« Reply #51 on: November 25, 2012, 1:01:22 PM »

My own family went through the process of shifting holiday traditions as my grandparents aged. We switched form having the whole shebang at Grandmas house to a hotel buffet, and then once both my grandparents died, we did a few years of potluck at my cousin's house, untill they got too fundy religious for most of the group.
     I would definitely open up the discussion to the whole extended group, adult grand kids included. They may love the idea of hosting a holiday but didn't want to step on tradition. But in the discussion I would throw out a few options. One other option that hasn't been put put is dinner at a restaurant and then dessert and family time back at one of the sisters houses. This minimizes there effort, but you all still have time to just relax in a home and be together. This is what my family did for years. We did the hotel lunch buffet on Christmas Day and then came back to grandmas house and everyone enjoyed each other and had a few drinks. This let my grandparents still feel like they were hosting, but without the hassle of having to cook. I miss those holiday, they really were wonderful.
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larryc
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« Reply #52 on: November 25, 2012, 1:55:50 PM »

Octo, I would like to suggest that you back away from trying to push through the so
Octo, I would like to suggest that you back away from trying to push through the solutions you can envision and just put the problem out there for everyone to consider. Call and/or email everyone (not just the sisters) to explain that your Mama really wants to see everyone together, and simply cannot host the usual gathering any longer. Ask for their ideas, and see what comes back. Even the excuses will give you some information about the issues that are involved for various parts of the family, and that could be helpful in figuring out what to do next, if no good suggestions are forthcoming.
Call and/or email everyone (not just the sisters) to explain that your Mama really wants to see everyone together, and simply cannot host the usual gathering any longer. Ask for their ideas, and see what comes back. Even the excuses will give you some information about the issues that are involved for various parts of the family, and that could be helpful in figuring out what to do next, if no good suggestions are forthcoming.

This is by far the best suggestion on this thread.
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marigolds
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« Reply #53 on: November 25, 2012, 2:22:50 PM »

Octo, I would like to suggest that you back away from trying to push through the so
Octo, I would like to suggest that you back away from trying to push through the solutions you can envision and just put the problem out there for everyone to consider. Call and/or email everyone (not just the sisters) to explain that your Mama really wants to see everyone together, and simply cannot host the usual gathering any longer. Ask for their ideas, and see what comes back. Even the excuses will give you some information about the issues that are involved for various parts of the family, and that could be helpful in figuring out what to do next, if no good suggestions are forthcoming.
Call and/or email everyone (not just the sisters) to explain that your Mama really wants to see everyone together, and simply cannot host the usual gathering any longer. Ask for their ideas, and see what comes back. Even the excuses will give you some information about the issues that are involved for various parts of the family, and that could be helpful in figuring out what to do next, if no good suggestions are forthcoming.

This is by far the best suggestion on this thread.

Agree.

Think of them as your students, Octo--this is precisely how you'd get them to help figure out a problem for themselves without your babysitting them, AND create buy-in on their parts. 
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nezahualcoyotl
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« Reply #54 on: November 26, 2012, 1:23:49 AM »

When a family gathering is large enough, you will inevitably have people who have quarreled, dislike each other or simply don't get along, or who are effectively strangers to one another. No if or buts, if the family is big enough, this will happen, even more so counting the in-laws. Thus while your mother may be very keen on this tradition, that doesn't mean anyone else is. This happened at my (not very big) family - my grandmother has always been very much the matriarch type and views Christmas as hugely important. My earliest memory of the season is one time when my grandmother decided she was going to one of my uncle's, and my parents, as my father had recently quarreled with him, refused to go and we did our own thing at home (to which I'm sure my grandparents were invited). I still remember the faces my grandmother made next time we saw her (we spent New Year's at her place - it was not fun).
After that, my parents decided we'd go for a cheap vacation somewhere every year, just to escape the family gatherings - sometimes my grandmother came with us. It wasn't about not seeing her, it wasn't about the hassle or the logistics, it was precisely about not wanting the family gathering because there were people we didn't particularly want to see. Due to these dynamics, Christmas is my least favorite major holiday. So with a family including so many households, there are bound to be people that simply don't want to go, not (necessarily) because they don't want to see your mother but because they don't want the gathering. They may go out of a sense of obligation, but if you're going to ask them to contribute, that may be the final straw, particularly as it seems your first instinct was to sort it out with your mother and siblings without even consulting other adults in the family, who would nevertheless be expected to attend and contribute (and as someone else pointed out, indirect invitations don't make you feel welcome).
Particularly with the restaurant option, it really isn't fair on families with young children to ask them to, on top of the expense, have to deal with the kids in the restaurant or have to hire a sitter and risk offending or disappointing your mother because they didn't take the kids (and then they run into that second cousin they can't stand) - and it's not  fair on the kids (who are after all three generations removed from your mother), either. This just illustrates some of the problems with this sort of gathering - it's hard to agree on anything, a situation that may have been disguised by you and your mother bearing all the burden of making it happen.

Octo, I would like to suggest that you back away from trying to push through the so
Octo, I would like to suggest that you back away from trying to push through the solutions you can envision and just put the problem out there for everyone to consider. Call and/or email everyone (not just the sisters) to explain that your Mama really wants to see everyone together, and simply cannot host the usual gathering any longer. Ask for their ideas, and see what comes back. Even the excuses will give you some information about the issues that are involved for various parts of the family, and that could be helpful in figuring out what to do next, if no good suggestions are forthcoming.
Call and/or email everyone (not just the sisters) to explain that your Mama really wants to see everyone together, and simply cannot host the usual gathering any longer. Ask for their ideas, and see what comes back. Even the excuses will give you some information about the issues that are involved for various parts of the family, and that could be helpful in figuring out what to do next, if no good suggestions are forthcoming.

This is by far the best suggestion on this thread.

Agree.

+1. It's not your job to sort it out, you've clearly done more than your fair share over the years and you have more than enough on your plate right now. Yes, there may be drama, but that's unavoidable if you're going to change the tradition (and at least the venue will have to change). There may be no agreement (difficult with so many people, esp. so many different households, involved) but that can't be helped.
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octoprof
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« Reply #55 on: November 26, 2012, 9:29:14 PM »

Update:

Today, I phoned Eldest Sister as discussed a few pages back. She offered to have the family Christmas at her house this year without me actually asking. I just explained Mama's worries and Mr. W's immune system issues and said I was willing to rent a room in a hotel or restaurant and what did she think people would prefer (or be least cranky over). She then offered to have it in "her little home." She wanted to know if I'd asked Middle Sister and I told her no but Mama had, and she'd said no, but that was before Mr. W's health issues became so important.

I have promised to help her with cleaning/decorating/cooking or whatever and given her likely dates I can come before th family thing (she can choose amongst the dates, if she likes). Every adult who is coming (12-14) adults will bring some food.

I am was sitting in the car (waiting to collect Mr. W. from his cancer support group) and bawling... Now we are home and someone I barely know sent me a new garlic press (an acquaintance on Facebook who is always commenting on my gluten free cooking photos and recipes), a belated birthday card and a get well card for Mr. W. and, yes, I am still bawling... I should have posted this part on the inhaling thread, since I don't think we have a bawling thread....
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bioteacher
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« Reply #56 on: November 26, 2012, 9:53:27 PM »

I'm so glad it's working out, Octo. You're allowed to bawl! You need to cry now and then with everything you have on your plate.

Hugs.
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octoprof
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« Reply #57 on: November 26, 2012, 10:18:14 PM »

I'm so glad it's working out, Octo. You're allowed to bawl! You need to cry now and then with everything you have on your plate.

Hugs.

Of course, Mr. W. just kept hugging me an apologizing for having cancer...
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tinyzombie
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« Reply #58 on: November 26, 2012, 10:29:41 PM »

I'm so glad it's working out, Octo. You're allowed to bawl! You need to cry now and then with everything you have on your plate.

Hugs.

Of course, Mr. W. just kept hugging me an apologizing for having cancer...

My mom does that, too.

I'm glad it's working out, Octo - and for what it's worth, these days many threads on the fora are bawling threads for me.
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octoprof
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« Reply #59 on: November 26, 2012, 10:38:25 PM »

I'm so glad it's working out, Octo. You're allowed to bawl! You need to cry now and then with everything you have on your plate.

Hugs.

Of course, Mr. W. just kept hugging me an apologizing for having cancer...

My mom does that, too.

I'm glad it's working out, Octo - and for what it's worth, these days many threads on the fora are bawling threads for me.

At least I only bawled in the car and at home and not in the meeting I was chairing or the other meeting the dean was running or any other rather inconvenient time/place.
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