Dear Carolyn: Our family includes 20-plus people, most on my husband’s side. For years my mother or I hosted Christmas, and my husband’s mother or sister hosted Thanksgiving. Five years ago, my sister-in-law announced she was neither attending nor hosting Thanksgiving.
This leaves my mother, 72, hosting the smaller gathering every Thanksgiving (inviting my mother-in-law) and me hosting every Christmas.
I’m having trouble with why my sister-in-law can’t have us over for Thanksgiving. I am happy to host Christmas, but I think she should host Thanksgiving instead of my elderly mother.
Part of the reason this burns me up is that my husband’s family has always treated me like I’m “difficult” and my sister-in-law is the “nice” one. I think I’m being pretty nice, having everyone over when they never invite me anywhere! Is there anything I can say to try to get her to step up? – Anonymous
I certainly understand your frustration. But you’ve essentially roasted this down to, “I’m stuck with Christmas, so stick her with Thanksgiving” – when that’s treating things as compulsory that aren’t, and making decisions for others that aren’t yours to make.
I appreciate that busting a we-do-this- every-year!! tradition is sacrilege to some people, and heartbreaking particularly for heads of family like your mom and mother-in-law. I also get your scapegoat concerns.
But none of these changes the fact that your sister-in-law doesn’t make you cook, you choose to. You have, perhaps reflexively, determined it’s more important to keep accommodating 20-plus guests than it is to invite blame for canceling Christmas.
Know this: You are just as entitled to quit Christmas as your sister-in-law was entitled to quit Thanksgiving. If you don’t want to quit, then own that; don’t distribute blame.