My extended family is big on my side-really big. With nine siblings ranging in age from 68 to 48, all with families of our own, most of us (not me and younger sister) with grandchildren, the big holidays have gone more to open house style.The host gets a count, and divvy's up the food prep amongst the siblings she knows are coming. It works well, but even with this less formal no sit down dinner gathering, it's a ton of work for whoever is hosting. The hostess usually is doing an additional holiday of some sort with their immediate family, at least for Christmas, maybe not Easter or Thanksgiving. We usually just stop by for Thanksgiving desert, or for a pre-brunch coffee on Easter but this year, decided to just do DH's.
While smaller on DH's side, holidays have gotten hectic and strained as well. My sister-in-law that I have friction with, does do an every other year rotation with her husbands family and only does one or the other. While it makes sense for them, the years switch up randomly, and none of us are ever really sure what year their doing what. She hosted DH's family, with a few extra guests, two years in a row, but not this year, it was the other side of her family. My other sister in law decided to host, but invited her whole family, as well. Then, her husband, my husbands brother got sick. She couldn't very well host Easter with a sick person in the house, so switched the venue to her mothers. At the risk of sounding very anti social, ungrateful, and petty, Easter was odd this year. We felt like we were crashing some other families Easter.
I didn't know she had extended the invitation to her family as I wasn't on the original e-mail group because she mistyped my address. Of course it makes sense for her. If you're going through the work of hosting a big dinner, why not have both sides and see everyone at one time. When I got caught up, I just got date, time, and a request to bring my potatoes. Only when I learned the venue change, and by then it would have been rude to say, "well, maybe we'll just have Easter with my own family." Now our Easter became my-sister- in law and her four kids, her parents, her sister, brother-in-law and two kids, her aunt, uncle, and cousin, DH's second cousin and his wife, my mother-in-law, and DH, the two DD's, and me. Her family was nice, but holidays can be awkward enough with people you know, but now throw in conversations in which either half the group knows nothing about what the other group are referencing, or staying on such benign topics everyone is bored. Still, in spite of the awkwardness, it was a more enjoyable day than last year when the other sister-in- law orchestrated an over the top, micro managed, scripted sit down dinner and conversation. I told you I would sound ungrateful.
It was gracious of the mother to step in and host last minute, I met a nice family, and there was wine. Still, it was another holiday that was taken out of my comfort zone. As holiday's seem to be my biggest anxiety trigger, and believe me, despite my optimism post yesterday, I had one doozy of an anxiety attack Saturday night when all the changes I wasn't aware of came to light, I need to think through how we will celebrate the rest of 2016. Is it time to focus on just my nuclear family, but with extra seats at the table if anyone doesn't have a place to go? Do I not worry about keeping the peace in either family and spread ourselves thinner than what makes holidays enjoyable? Has anyone ever said or even hinted my family needs to be at the extended versions? Is it just trying to hold onto old traditions from childhood that no longer fit our life? I think, perhaps, it is, and it's time for me to make my own for my family, even if the tradition is a calm stress free day of relaxation.
|An Easter walk in a park would have been lovely even with the rain.|