Dear Barb – Christmas Cancer

Dear Barb:

My younger sister has been battling cancer for the last five years. She seems to be in remission at the present time. Lately, Leah has been going to the casino and gambling at least once a week. She enjoys going there and has a lot of fun. The problem is her adult children don’t think she should be wasting money at the Casino. They want me to talk to her but I’m really not comfortable discussing financial issues with my sister. Besides, I feel she’s been through so much and if she wants to gamble she should be able to. What do you think? Looking forward to your response, Ellen.

Hi Ellen:

So sorry to hear about your sister, cancer is a devastating diagnosis to say the least. Without a doubt you are in a difficult situation. Your sister should be able to do what she enjoys, but if she is spending beyond her means, then perhaps you need to discuss this with her. Have the two of you talked about her gambling? Do you know how much she spends? Responsible gambling is all about knowing when to stop. Perhaps you could express to your sister that her children are concerned. If she reassures you that she is not overspending, then you really have to accept her word for it. You are undeniably in a sensitive situation, as you don’t want to alienate your sister or her children. Let us know how it goes and thanks for sharing!

Dear Barb:

As Christmas is approaching I’m starting to feel stressed out. I am the youngest in the family and the only boy. My three older sisters are married and have young families. My mom hosts Christmas dinner every year and the day always ends up with someone getting their nose out of joint and leaving early which upsets mom. It is frequently a stupid event that gets my sisters going. They are close in age and have always been very competitive with each other. I feel sorry for my mom as she puts a lot of work into these events. I would like to do something to defuse this situation before it begins. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks, Brent.

Hey Brent:

I can sense your anxiety and it’s only November! Perhaps these unpleasant events continue happening every year because the dynamics do not change. For example, same place, same time, same people, thus triggering memories of previous years. Perhaps you and your sisters could host Christmas dinner this year, providing mom with a much needed break. Your mother will probably still want to contribute, so perhaps she could bring her favorite dish and each sibling could bring a side dish as well, consequently it will be a shared effort. Changing the venue most likely will alter the dynamics within the family. Moreover, your mom will be free to spend time socializing rather than in the kitchen preparing dinner. If no one volunteers to host the first dinner, put all the names in a hat and choose one. Merry Christmas!

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