Big family, big Christmas
QUESTION: Is it time to gather in smaller family groups for the holidays? My grandmother has three children with children and grandchildren of their own, so we also are exchanging gifts with everyone, including second cousins, and the number can be 25 to 30 people. Should individual families host the holiday events on their own and let grandmother go to whichever ones she chooses? If we do that, how do we tell everyone?
CALLIE'S ANSWER: Are you complaining about too many people or are you complaining about buying too many gifts? If it is the latter then I would suggest drawing names for presents. If you would like to have a smaller holiday this year or next year, then you should. No need to get everyone on board, some people might like the big group.
LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: Changing things up sounds like great idea! As much fun as it is to get together over the holidays for many extended families, it gets harder for one person to entertain as families grow. Can you alternate houses each year? Is there a way of getting together without the burden being placed on one person — by going potluck, for example? What about drawing names for gifts? There are ways to bring this up without offending your family; it's even easier to do that since you're bringing it up on behalf of the person you feel is shouldering the burden — your grandmother. Start by asking your grandmother and her three children and let them discuss and make recommendations for the next year.
HELEN'S ANSWER: I love the holidays and families are a major part of the celebrations. Some families I know draw names for the festivities. Some set limits on what people spend on gifts. If the size of the crowd is too large to have the event in a home, then check out restaurants for dinner with people paying their own dinner check. Another friend I know has everyone in the family come by an open house from 5 until 7 p.m. with no gifts involved, just family. There are creative ways to get together.
If you are really ready to split the families in smaller group, discuss it with your grandmother, and your siblings. They might be thinking the same way you are and your grandmother might also be ready to visit each family and have quality time with each group. Communicate. You never know what someone else might be thinking.
GUEST'S ANSWER: Jane Jayroe, former Miss America and television anchor: Ah, family, the gift that can keep on giving for generations. I grew up going to my grandparents' home every Christmas along with my mother's five siblings, spouses and their children. The whole pack of us shared Mama May and Oklahoma Dad's one-bathroom home. None of us can remember how we did it but memory brands it as one of the greatest growing up experiences.
In time, we had to change because of our expanding families and grandparents' age. Then, our immediate family gathered at my parent's home and we managed to continue that tradition until my mother's death at the age of 93.
Realities require changes in family traditions. Being deliberate and caring in the adjustment process is important. My opinion is that the decisions should come from the three older siblings of this family in consultation with their mother. Hopefully, a unanimous plan could be reached and then each sibling could share it with her children. Consider name drawing for gifts to cut down on expenses.
When our family became more complicated with marriages and sharing holidays, Mother always reminded us that Christmas was whenever we could get together. In other words, don't let the details of the holiday ruin the most important part — to love each other — and to deliberately strengthen those precious family ties. A big part of who we are is learned in the midst of family gatherings. They're worth the effort. Blessings!