When there is aging, chronic illness, a Pandemic, how do you balance the "I really want to gather with family" vs "We just cannot do this"??

I have found that the oldies in my family do not want to pass the torch on hosting family holiday dinners. They seem to want everything to be exactly the same every single year. The occasions that I have held in my home have been met with great resistance and criticism. I found that it is an incredible amount of work to entertain 25 guests. One year it took six hours to clean up the kitchen alone the day after a holiday. I had to dig through trash bags to find my sterling flatware and cloth napkins that someone threw out. Why someone would want to do that every holiday Covid or no Covid I don't know.
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Reply to velbowpat

Way back on a Mother's Day, I stopped cooking for family.
I was working hard, turned around while I was at the sink. Family was miserable, not talking, watching me work on Mother's Day, they were eating, the token visit was almost over, and I had not even a minute to enjoy their visit.

Way too much work, time, and expense for an hour's dinner. Bye Mom, we're expected at the in-law's house. I was "Mom".

Took me a week to recover.

In talking to an aunt, she had explained that coming to our childhood home for Easter was a greater chore than she could manage. My mother would expect her sister, and any kid they could catch to do the dishes and cleanup for 30 people!

What were they thinking, was this a fun tradition?
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Reply to Sendhelp

My husband I have hosted Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter for our single friends for the past 20+ years. Anyone who doesn't have family close by, or who has family issues that make it uncomfortable to be with family are welcome. (A friend called it our orphans and strays dinner).We used to do it all, food, beverages, etc.
3 years ago after hubby had surgery for subdural hematoma (2 surgeries in 5 days) he remarked he didn't think he could lift the turkey out of the oven. My BFF volunteered to cook it, and rest of the guests decided what side dishes they would bring.
2020 we had Thanksgiving as usual, with the inclusion of my Hubby's caregiver and her family.
Every one pitched in to set and clear the table, pack up leftovers (-rule is you have to bring your own Tupperware), do the dishes and clean the kitchen. It was the most enjoyable dinner yet.
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Reply to Maple3044

We "kids" took over when out parents were in their 70s.

Now us "kids" are in our late 60s and our middle aged kids are gradually taking over the cooking and prep for celebrations.
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
Sendhelp Apr 2, 2021
Thanks Barb! I was reading another thread from 2017 on a Thanksgiving feast. Someone died making that dinner! I am going back to re-read that. Age 73?

Today, most of the younger set (under 40), prefer to go out to dinner.

I was remembering the tradition, always wanted to hostess the events like my mother had done. That was then. Times have really changed things. But I have the m e m o r i e s when my son was growing up.
My family has not had a holiday meal together since Christmas 2019 due to the pandemic. It is really bad here, the hospitals just opened 2 more Covid floors and the Brazil variant is here and some vaccinated nurses at the hospital have tested positive. My mom is fully vaccinated and I had a first shot this week. I offered to let her come over for dinner and we could sit out on the patio but she said no that maybe the next holiday would be safer. She is making me dinner rolls and dropping them off. She makes the best rolls.
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Reply to Stacy0122

Hosting a family gathering doing a pandemic should be off the table until everyone in the family is vaccinated. There should be no balancing involved
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Reply to MsRandall
freqflyer Apr 3, 2021
I agree 100%. Too many families are thinking there was an ALL CLEAR alert because people were starting to get their vaccine shots.
I'd say time to stop when the elderly parents get an offer from others and finally agree to do it that way. If this is something they look forward to, then help them continue to be the hosts even if it means they need a little more help to do it.
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Reply to my2cents

Our family tradition was always more pot luck (I was usually the hor dourves girl). The host family provided the meat (depending on holiday, turkey, ham). Grandma hosted Christmas eve. When Grandma was in her late 80s early 90s she still hosted Christmas Eve. Family brought most of the food and nine of us gathered in her tiny apartment (the family I belonged to and mom's sister family). Ah good times.

Well Grandma is long gone, my aunt in her 90s, my mom in her late 80s. We haven't had family gatherings for many years.

Well my husband and I Zoomed with husband's brother and family - four different locations - for Passover. What fun.
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Reply to cweissp

Hmm how do you balance it?
The needs vs the wants.

Duty of Care (keeping people safe) vs Dignity of Choice (letting people choose).

I would acknowledge the WANTS, the feelings (insert empathy 🙁) but then choose a practical & safe way to proceed. (That may have to be a video call party..)

As people get older & have changing health or financial needs, I think a re-evaluation may be good every year anyway. I see it as a progression;

1. The full deal: the giant family sit down meal gathering.
2. BYO: Guests bring plates or prepackaged/takeaway
3. Lite: brunch or afternoon tea, maybe split into smaller groups
4. Nursing home visits.

DH's lot are at #2.
Mine hanging in at #3.

Start a real conversation with the hosts. Ask questions. How do they really feel about it? Then offload, delegate & skip stuff until it is adapted to the correct comfort level.

Look out for any sticklers or moochers.. Any members that say "Oh but So & So don't mind! They host every year. They always provide it all & clean up etc". Maybe... or maybe not 🤔

My SILs are sticklers for tradition but they are happy to take over & do the work for it. My sib however, assumed someone else wanted to host every single year. I explained kindergarten rule 101.. Taking Turns. It's your turn now 😜. Either step up or we can step out (to have it all done at a restaurant instead - I'm cool with that). But step up to communicate or it just won't happen at all.
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Reply to Beatty

I have always hosted ALL THE THINGS.
Which was fine, until it wasn't.

When DH would come downstairs and find me sobbing in my room b/c I was just so worn out from planning, cooking, cleaning, etc and everybody sat at the tables with their PHONES--I just lost it.

My middle daughter, who is so very sweet and sensitive said, when I was dxed with cancer 2 years ago--said "Mom, we are ALL older than you were when you were doing dinner for 30 people. Let US do it now." I was too sick to care, and gratefully turned it over to the next generation. And I am not going back! I still contribute--honestly, many time, most of the food--but I do not have to set up, do cleanup AND try to host the whole thing.

I have everyone over one Sunday a month and we usually just do snacks and dessert.

It's not only OK---it's IMPORTANT that younger generations step in and learn how to do these things. Traditions change and grands grow up and so the timespan to really make the most of these times is really short.

We're ALL vaccinated and/or have had covid, so we can meet as a family today.

Looking forward to it. I will not be a sad mess when dinner rolls around this afternoon.

I thank God everyday for my 4 beautiful, thoughtful and generous daughters. Maybe, just maybe, I did something right?

(And we, as a couple, prefer to go out with friends. I think being one of the first generations where the wife worked and didn't have time or energy to plan and produce a huge meal for friends may have been a part of the cause.)
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Midkid58

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