While I’m away, readers give the advice.On explaining death to children:
Eventually, Grandmother turned to her and said, “Look, do you remember what it was like before you were born?” My mother said, “No.”
“Well,” said my grandmother, “That’s what it will be like when you die.” I was in my late 50s when Mother told me this. It continues to be comforting.On partners who refuse to budge on one thing or another and won’t say why:
If someone used his words, it could lead to a productive (if possibly unpleasant) discussion. In my opinion, it is both selfish and cowardly for people to refrain from explaining themselves verbally when they are in a relationship with someone who clearly desires such communication.On “overbooked” members and other obstacles to family togetherness:
The one sibling who had no children gradually and ultimately bowed out, and the remaining sibs were very smug about this outrageous behavior. (How could he do this to our parents?) Never mind that he and wife always planned a specific time to host our parents in their home and exchange gifts, independently of the others.
My husband, two children and I “did” Christmas Eve with my parents, spent a short time with each other Christmas morning, then went to the in-laws’ for a big dinner.
It occurred to me, much too late in the game, that my husband and I never established traditions with our own children. At about the same time, I realized I was actually jealous of the brother who dared to go his own way.
In our 60s and 70s now, we siblings rarely get together, and when we do, it seems forced. We’re not estranged, it’s just that we have little in common as adults. All the early “togetherness” did not generate close family ties.
Annual events – holidays, anniversaries, birthdays – need not be rubber-stamped year after year. Enjoy the enjoyable, be civil when required, and don’t fake “togetherness” to the point of resentment.