Dear Barb – Christmas Tradition Trade-In

Dear Barb:

I have hosted Christmas at my house for the last twenty years and I really wish someone else would do it for a change. It is not only expensive but it is a lot of work. I have four adult children and two grandchildren. They all have homes of their own, except the youngest daughter. When I suggest someone else do Christmas dinner I always get the same response, “Mom we could never do it as well as you.” As a result, I feel obligated. I know that I should be happy to have all my children together and I am, but it would be nice to get a break once in a while. Am I being ungrateful? Marilyn.

Hi Marilyn:

Every year around this time, I get letters similar to yours. No, you are not being ungrateful. Most adult children enjoy mom and dad doing all the Christmas fixings and it’s very hard to get them to take over these responsibilities unless they are forced into it by circumstances beyond their control. I would recommend you gradually start to get them involved by assigning them a side dish to bring. You still prepare the main dish, whether that is turkey or whatever your traditional meal includes. This will take some of the burden off you and also get the kids involved. Maybe in a few years you can see if someone else will do the main dish and you can bring a side dish. Happy Holidays!!

Dear Barb:

Hi. I usually don’t write to advice columns but I have a situation. I graduated from AU a couple of years ago. I have a fantastic job that I love and I’m making great money. Through the years my parents have always given me money for Christmas, because they knew that’s what I needed. But I now make enough money to buy what I want and I don’t feel a need to exchange gifts with my parents and sister. Anyway, my parents are both retired, so I think it would be better for them to spend the money on something they need. The problem is I don’t know how to bring this up to them. Also, my younger sister is in university and I know she needs the money from my parents and I don’t want her to feel obligated to do the same. Do you think I’m being rude by suggesting this and do you have any ideas on how I could approach this with my family, or should I just let it go and accept the money as usual? Thanks William.

Hi William:

This is a noble gesture and I think you should go with it, if that’s how you feel. Tell your parents your wishes and if they insist that they want to give you something, then provide them the option of making a donation to a charity in your name. Your sister should not feel that she has to forfeit her gift. This is a personal decision on your part and really does not affect anyone else in the family. Make it clear that this is your choice. I’m assuming you and your sister do not exchange gifts, if you do, you may want to make it clear to her that you do not want to exchange gifts, or perhaps just a nominal gift, with her as well. Merry Christmas William.

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Email your questions to 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.