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When Mom and Dad Cannot Host Holiday Dinners Anymore



"My parents used to host Thanksgiving dinner every year, and now they can't. Dad barely makes it from his chair to the bathroom or bedroom; meanwhile, Mom's bad knees prevent her from standing for even moderate periods of time. All four of us, children, live within 30 minutes from their home. Now there is some disagreement as to who should host Thanksgiving. Some of us believe we should continue to hold it at my parents’ home, while others believe we should create a new tradition and celebrate elsewhere. The conversations are getting a bit heated, and the past keeps getting dug up. Is there an optimal solution here?" - READER


Oh, the holidays! They bring out the best, and sometimes worst, in us. Because it is already a heated situation, heeding my advice may not have much impact on the situation. Perhaps it will, however, be an opportunity for you and your siblings to put this situation into perspective.

Getting four children to agree about how the holidays should be celebrated is not realistic. There is no one perfect solution. Sure, your beloved memories of the past may make you think so, but things are different now. Keeping things the same would likely be everyone's first choice, but that is no longer an option. The most important thing is that the family gathers together.

What You Can Do

Since your parents are still living and relatively independent, it would seem likely that you would want to center yourselves around them. The simplest solution is to ask your parents what they believe would be best to accommodate their mobility and willingness to travel. If they desire to stay at home with a strong need to keep Thanksgiving at their house, maybe that could be arranged. Someone could clean and set the table, while everyone else could bring the food. Perhaps someone goes over to the house in the morning and cooks the turkey at your parents’ home. It is doable if the desire is there.

If your parents are willing to travel a short distance, Thanksgiving could be held at one of the children's homes, rotating annually. There are simple solutions if you all compromise a bit. If you cannot agree, make it a game of chance, rock/paper/scissors, draw straws, or flip a coin.

Note that during transitions like this, traditions change and some family members may see this as an opportunity to do their own thing. If not thoughtfully managed, it could create distance that may not be desired. Family relationships need to be fostered to keep the bond strong.

Encourage your siblings to support each other while supporting your parents during the upcoming holiday. Someday all you will have is each other.

I wish you the best.

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