Dear Barb – don’t Let Details Clutter the Big Picture

Dear Barb:

This may seem like a trivial thing to write to an advice column about, but I am totally stressed out. Easter is just around the corner and I’m hosting the family dinner this year. My parents are getting older so my sisters and I have decided to take turns. I was planning on preparing a ham dinner, but one of my sisters says she won’t eat ham. This is news to me since she always ate it in the past.

I want everyone to enjoy their dinner, so I then suggested a pork roast. Well, my brother-in-law doesn’t like pork. I don’t want to cook a turkey since we had turkey for Christmas dinner. So it seems like I’m left with lamb or roast beef. I know my dad doesn’t care for lamb, but he would never complain. Aside from the dinner problems, two of my brothers-in-law are not getting along with each other. It seems one bought a new vehicle and the other one has his nose out of joint about it. I just feel like taking my parents out for dinner and forgetting about everyone else, but I know they want us to all be together. Please help before I go crazy!

Alyshia

Hi, Alyshia. I don’t think your situation is trivial. In fact, I think there are a lot of people feeling the same way you do right now. These are the exact reasons many people do not enjoy holidays. Experiencing stressful family gatherings while growing up will cause feelings that carry on into adulthood and ruin many special occasions. For many people, the anxiety begins weeks before the occasion as they anticipate things that may occur. It’s likely that in many cases the anticipation causes more stress than the actual event.

If you are hosting the family dinner, then I think it is up to you to decide what you want to prepare. If your last meal was turkey, then I can see why you would not want to prepare it again. You are never going to be able to please everyone. Hopefully you can present enough of a variety of foods that each person will find something they like.

As for the relationship problems between your brothers-in-law, I would suggest you try to ignore it. Your job is to bring the family together for a nice meal. How they choose to interact with each other is beyond your control.

Happy Easter, Alyshia, and try to look at the bigger picture: that your family are together and that your parents are still able to share the day with all of you.

Email your questions to voice@voicemagazine.org. Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.

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