Wedding Woes

Just ask if they want to make a holiday plan this year or not.

Dear Prudence,

I don’t know if I should get the family together for the holidays this year. It’s just me, my brother, and my sister. We’re estranged from our parents, who were abusive addicts. My sister has no car and lives closer to my brother, so we always come to my brother’s for the holidays. Because of busy/conflicting schedules, financial issues, and living far apart, we rarely see each other outside of the holidays, but text often. I’m the oldest and often stepped in where our parents weren’t. This has continued into adult life in some ways. I coordinate the few times we see each other every year and provide financial help when I can, mostly to my sister.

Last year, we showed up at my brother’s house for Thanksgiving, and he had just been in a fight with his partner and the house was a mess. My wife, sister, and I tidied before guests arrived, and his partner took the hint and helped with this. After dinner, mostly cooked by my wife and me, my brother went to play videogames, leaving us and his partner to make awkward small talk with his in-laws and guests. My sister spent most of the time on her phone. I thought it was a one-off, but Christmas was more of the same, and I feel bad putting the expectation of gifts on them when I know what their finances are like. It was stressful and depressing.

Neither of them has mentioned getting together for the holidays yet, so I don’t know if I should bother at this point. It feels like I’m forcing everyone to do something they don’t really want to do. They’re both very conflict averse so if I asked them directly, I would never get an honest answer. At the same time, we are all we have left and maybe it will be different this year?

—Not So Happy Holidays

Re: Just ask if they want to make a holiday plan this year or not.

  • Can you get together in a different way? Offer to take the two of them out for a siblings only lunch at some point in December and then do your own things on the actual holidays?
  • I would definitely skip being with them during the holidays this year.

    It's a busy season for most people.  Maybe shifting the LW's visit to a totally different time of year would be better going forward.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • I know sister doesn’t have a car but why can’t she hitch a ride with brother if LW does want to do something but doesn’t feel like all of the travel? Or just go out before or after for a sibling lunch. 

  • Sounds like bro doesn't want to host, or doesn't want to host everyone. LW could offer to host, and offer to do it a different day if they think it would cause issues with bro's in-laws. 
  • * Sponge Bob Rainbow * "Reservations!!!! 

    Pick a non-peak holiday date together, reserve the small party room at a restaurant everyone can afford, and meet up there.  It's one thing to have the family member with the family event space, it's another to be the ones ALWAYS expected to host and go to the expense and time of hosting.  
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