DEAR CAROLYN: I hope you can advise us about this year's holiday season. I know it's early, but this past one was painful for my husband and me.
We live close to our son and daughter-in-law. Her family lives 2,000 miles from here. They were married two years ago and now have a year-old girl. We see them a few times a week, quick visits to see our granddaughter or to baby-sit for a few hours.
For the past four years, her parents have come here for Thanksgiving. We have hosted them twice. Also, for those four years, our daughter-in-law and son have traveled to spend Christmas with her parents. Our Christmas with them consists of having them here on a day before Christmas for dinner and to open gifts.
So for both holidays every year, she is with her family and we are here with our other son, who would like to spend a Christmas with his girlfriend's family but feels guilty about leaving us alone. We have told him it's OK.
Is it fair for us to ask our son, in the interests of fairness, to alternate Christmases with us? They could go to her family the day after Christmas. Now that there is a grandchild involved, we would like to share our customs and the day with all of them. We are not getting any younger and would like our grandchild to have some memories with us for such a holiday.
DEAR GRANDPARENTS: I sympathize with your yearning to share your traditions with your next generation, but acting on it would be myopic. You won the grandchild lottery!
You see this family on an every- other-daily basis!
Any interest in "fairness" would have you paying the air fare and driving them to the airport for their annual Christmas trip to re-introduce the child to the other grandparents.
OK, maybe not paying for it, but certainly giving their trip the kind of blessing only someone who has won the grandchild lottery can give.
If you disagree with me, here's another reason to make like a clam on the whole topic: If I, an objective observer, see your let's-alternate-Christmases proposal as a greedy grandchild grab at the expense of the other grandparents, imagine how their daughter will see it. Those thrice-weekly visits you take for granted could dry up if she wishes it so.
And one more: Just about every young family mellows into an established one, and established families tend to wake up one morning before their Big Holiday Travels and think, "I want to have Christmas in my own darn living room." If and when that happens, Christmas Mountain will come to Muhammad, and you'll want to be there to receive it.