Sad­dened by the end of a 30-year hol­i­day tra­di­tion

The Modesto Bee - - Explore - CAROLYN HAX Email Carolyn at tellme@wash­post.com

Dear Carolyn: Our ex­tended fam­ily — sib­lings and kids — have al­ways gath­ered at Thanks­giv­ing and Christ­mas. Last week I got a text from my sis­ter say­ing she and her fam­ily would be go­ing away for the hol­i­day and would no longer host Christ­mas Eve.

This came out of the blue and is up­set­ting me. My brother and I have both been wid­owed in the last four years and this event was some­thing we looked for­ward to be­cause ev­ery­one at­tended and it was a lot of fun. (My brother has grown chil­dren; I do not.) We feel sur­prised and un­wanted and don’t un­der­stand the de­ci­sion.

Of course it is their right to cel­e­brate as they wish, and I kick my­self for ex­pect­ing a 30-year tra­di­tion to con­tinue on. But I can’t ig­ure out how to feel OK about this. I feel re­jected, and I don’t know why they would do that.

Any ad­vice? I haven’t said any­thing ex­cept, “I’m dis­ap­pointed” to my sis­ter.

— Left Out in Min­nesota I’m sorry. Change is hard. You don’t have to “feel OK about this.” At least, not now, as you get used to the change.

It’s also re­ally good that you stuck to the lim­ited “I’m dis­ap­pointed” re­sponse. As you said your­self, this is their hol­i­day to plan as they choose, so push­back would be in­ap­pro­pri­ate.

Your work now is strictly in­ter­nal and doesn’t in­volve your sis­ter — ex­cept when you’re ready: “I’ll miss the tra­di­tion, but I ad­mire you for hav­ing the courage to do what you needed. Car­ry­ing the ex­pec­ta­tions of the en­tire fam­ily for three decades can’t have been easy for you.

“Thank you for those 30 years.”

Which beats be­rat­ing her for the 31st.

Which brings me to the next point: Isn’t fa­tigue more than enough to ex­plain “why they would do that”? You men­tion grown kids and 30-year tra­di­tions and wid­ow­hood (my con­do­lences), so I de­duce that you’re all in the slow­ing-down years.

Slow­downs bring their own grief for sure, but they have noth­ing to do with be­ing “re­jected.”

So you don’t have to feel OK about this any time soon, but I urge you to turn your thoughts to in­clu­sion that’s eas­ier. Smaller groups, non­hol­i­days, em­pha­sis on lo­cal con­nec­tions. Whom can

you host for Christ­mas Eve?

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