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The ski trip sounds like fun, but how much enjoyment would Mother have sitting in the ski chalet alone? If her health is a factor, she may choose to stay home, so where does she fit into the holiday visit? As families grow, space becomes an issue for get togethers. Luckily, there are hotels that offer indoor water parks,pools,hot tubs, and other activities for all to enjoy. Why not put Mothers issues at the front of the list due to her health,age and ability to travel. The whole family could resserve space at a nearby hotel for a weekend, or whatever time desired. Rent a block of rooms, then all can enjoy time together,in the pool area,or a suite. Food can be set up buffet style in the pool area, or in the suite.(Everyone brings something.) Those that cant/dont partake in the water fun, can at least sit around and talk, play games, or cards, yet enjoy each other, and watch the kids have a good time. Everyone is together, yet still has the option of being away from the "black sheep" if they choose. No one would have to take vacation time,or spend a lot of money if planned on a weekend, during or after the holidays. Its almost gauranteed the kids will have the times of their lives, and the grownups will too.
My question is: Does Jane know that mother has health issues and trouble with traveling? Let the sister rent her cabin for the 4 days while the rest of you who can come by for a visit for one day and bring mom. Surely that can be doable. The only problem would be the distance. Perhaps sister can find a place a little closer to home.
The ski trip is not a good idea, but the sisters seem to think Jane even suggesting it is "rude". She probably didn't think of all the hassles involved, she was just trying to suggest something she would like and to include her family. I would bet she feels alienated because her sisters always assume the worst of her, and she probably doesn't come around a lot because she feels left out of their "traditions". Perhaps she does not like whatever it is that makes them happy, in the same way that they don't like skiing? Also, the sisters should move on from their hurt feelings.
My parents have lived far away from me for my entire adult life. When they come to visit us and the rest of the family, it is always without prior notice, no planning, and they are always surprised when people can't find time to visit with them. I don't suggest that this group shut the door in Jane's face, but a counter proposal that benefits everyone would be good. I love the hotel idea - something for everyone. And isn't that whet the holidays should be?
This is a family in need of some huge forgiving. The writer assumes a self-centered motive on the part of her sister--maybe, maybe not. Maybe the sister is only thinking of what she'd like to do, on the other hand, maybe she doesn't want to come and spend time at her sisters' houses because she doesn't feel welcome there. The writer also doesn't know how to talk to her sister in an open communication way. A counter proposal is the best way to go--some kind of compromise that keeps the peace and gives everyone most of what they were looking for.
My bet is that the "black sheep" sister is the middle child. I have occupied the same position as black sheep sister in my family, but unlike Jane, I wasn't lucky enough to escape to another part of the country. Likely Jane hopes with every visit she'll be accepted in her family that things will finally change.
Also likely that "aging Mom" contributes to the sister gang up in subversive ways. As a single mother abandoned by my husband when my daughter was a small child, I struggled to pay the mortgage and provide a decent standard of living for my daughter. I dreaded every approaching holiday season. "Our family tradition" enacted by my own sisters was for all the children (7) to receive a $25-$50 present from each family and for all adults to draw names and provide a $50-$100 gift. Every year I tried to renegotiate the family tradition, because the end result was that I had a terrible time trying to make my heating bills that winter due to the expense. I was told that I was "selfish" and "greedy" for wanting to change this tradition and not caring about their children.
Finally, when the economy crashed, Mom wanted to help change things. Not for me, but another sister. She is a stay at home mother and her husband has always provided well for their family. They have a new, beautiful home, designer clothing, and a great standard of living. They have been generous to my daughter on her birthdays and holidays. They have usually taken 2-4 vacations every year--one for them as a couple, one for them as a family, and sometimes separate get-aways for my sister and her friends and husband and his pals. But this Christmas was different. Her husband had to take a lower-paying job.
Mom called off the name drawing on their account entirely. She felt so bad for their "plight".
Despite their hardship, this sister still managed a trip to Florida two months later but with the added inconvenience of having to drive there instead of fly and a Chicago vacation that following summer. Both would have been trips of a lifetime for my daughter and I.
Here's for hoping Jane has her own loving family and perhaps even inlaws who can fill the void from her unloving family-of-origin.
Hurrah for Carolyn Hax for her ability to read between the lines and call situations for what they are. Here's for hoping Jane's sister recognizes themselves and include her in the circle of shared traditions.
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