Dear K&K: Almost every year, my siblings and I descend upon my parents house for Thanksgiving and with each passing year, I’m starting to dread the experience more and more. My siblings and their spouses act like they’re children, barely lifting a finger to help my parents. I can’t stand to see my parents tired and exhausted so I step in to help cooking and cleaning and basically doing everything. I’ve mentioned this to my siblings but they don’t see it the way I do. Is there anyway to get everyone on board? Signed: Harried in Harrisburg.
Dear Harried: Holidays are miserable for a lot of people for a lot of reasons. One of the main reasons is getting together with family which can be fraught with misunderstandings, miscues, miscommunications, and old grudges. You’re never going to solve them with one conversation, nor are you going to convince siblings to see things as you see them because their reality is technically as valid as yours.
But, even if you are right and your siblings take advantage of your parents over the holidays, it’s their choice as grown adults to either take this treatment or not. Focus on what you can change, which is rarely other people’s behavior. Start with planning.
Holidays are always less stressful with more planning. Ask your parents ahead of time what you can do to have everyone help them more with the holidays and have a great time together. Perhaps volunteer setting up a shared Google document to create a sign up sheet for various responsibilities and task for the upcoming holiday. We decided to try one this year as our mom still recovers from foot surgery and to avoid only a few people bearing the brunt of picking up her “slack”.