I’ve got two siblings. A brother who is married but never had kids, and a sister who has an older teen and a little boy who is just about my big girl’s age. My brother lives the out east. My sister is somewhere in the middle. My mom’s house is in the middle, too. Until recently, we always had holidays at my mother’s house. However, the last few years that’s changed. We had Thanksgiving here in 2008; My sister had Christmas Eve. My brother hasn’t hosted in a while. His house isn’t kid-friendly. He’s got a big TV, and lots of animals. (His wife does dog rescue, so there are always plenty of forgotten animals hanging around.) He doesn’t have a single room that’s pet-free, actually. Great for him, not-so-great for someone who needs to put a baby down to sleep.
This year my mother, who still works part-time in addition to sitting for me, is working on Wednesday. She also just had a tragedy. Her long-time boyfriend’s son died of sepsis. He was 36. So sad for him and his family. Because of this, my mother didn’t get a chance to cook this weekend. She was at the funeral. She was complaining to me on Saturday that she had to work, and she wasn’t sure when she would be able to catch up with everything that needs to be done before Thursday. Okay, so I offered to host. I would prefer to host, actually. Everyone can arrive at 2 when Little Girl goes down to sleep, I figured. She wakes up at 5, eats dinner, and then we could put her back down at 7. My life would be much easier, even with all the cooking and cleaning. I called both of my siblings last night. My sister was fine with it. My brother, however, is now threatening not to come. He offered first, he says. And if I am going to host he might just “bag it” and stay at home so he can watch football. Sigh.
I tried to explain why we wanted it here. Having it here means my big girl and my sister’s little boy can play in the playroom. They have plenty of room to run around. Also, my sister wouldn’t be too far from Brooklyn in case she needs to make the trek to her in-laws’ house. (They’re still not sure who is hosting this year.) It will be easier on Mom, too, who is tired and still recovering from helping her boyfriend deal with his sudden tragedy. But he wasn’t buying it. He hung up telling me he would speak to my mother today.
Families. It’s a tough subject. You’re not just dealing with rational thought when it comes to familial issues, you’re dealing with emotion. My brother, who is in his 40s, will revert to being a child again when it comes to family stuff. We all do. Sibling rivalry never goes away. We’ll probably be old and decrepit and still be fighting over who gets their way. So how will it all turn out? I have a feeling my mom is going to side with my brother (as the only boy and a cancer survivor she tends to favor him a lot), and we’re going to end up out east. If it comes to coming to us, but not having my brother there or going there, she’s going to push us to all go there. (I am much more easily led when it comes to mommy guilt.)
And so, even today, I can see my Thanksgiving clearly in my mind. I will spend the entire time chasing my 16-month-old, and trying to find something for her to do. My big girl will read. She’s great like that. My husband will watch the baby so I can help my mom set things up. My sister-in-law will come in to a full dinner table after spending the day riding her horses. (Love her, but she’s an extreme feminist and will say, since my brother is insisting on hosting, that he should do the cooking and cleaning.) My younger sister will stop in for an hour or two having to split the day between Brooklyn and Suffolk County. And my mother? She will be happy because we’re all together. And after what happened to her boyfriend’s family last week, she’s the one who will have the greatest insight. I’m going to work on that between now and Thursday. Being grateful for what we’ve had this past year, and the promise of what’s to come.
Do you have issues when it comes to planning holidays? How do you manage to compromise? What would you do if you were me?