It’s time for our daughter to host Christmas dinner

Your Life
Dr. Manuel P. Santos and Karee Santos
November, 2016

He says: We’ve been hosting family holidays for 30 years, and it becomes more exhausting every year. It’s also hard for our children to travel with their own young children. This year, our daughter wants to host, which I think is a great idea – now if I could just get Sally to agree.

This is my tradition and I want everyone home

She says: The holidays have always been my favorite time of year— the dinner, the decorations, the family. This is my tradition and I want everybody home for Christmas! Mark needs to take my side and tell our daughter this is not going to happen.

Holiday dinners commonly provoke a round or two of family feuding. Whether it’s about the menu, the venue, the guest list or the topics of conversation, someone often seems to get his or her nose out of joint. What should be cause for celebration becomes cause for irritation. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

St. John Paul enthused, “Did not Jesus institute the Eucharist in a family-like setting during the Last Supper? When you meet for meals and are together in harmony, Christ is close to you.” (Letter to Families 1994, 18) Especially when holidays are also holy days, like Christmas, the main goal is spending time together in worship and fellowship. Everything else is secondary.

Holiday traditions that worked when the kids were little don’t always work after the kids grow up, get married and have kids of their own, as in Sally and Mark’s family. When the shape of the family changes, all the family members need to stretch themselves to fit the new circumstances. This year might be a good year to celebrate at their daughter’s house. Next year, circumstances might change again.

With at least four major holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and Easter – there are many different ways to divide up the hosting duties. Sally could host Christmas, and her daughter could host Thanksgiving, for example. When it’s her daughter’s turn, Sally could offer to cook some of her tastiest dishes at home and bring them to dinner at her daughter’s house. Even better, Sally could arrive early and the two of them could cook up time-honored family favorites together. Sally’s daughter might really appreciate the help and the togetherness.

Sally’s daughter seems to resemble her mother quite a bit. They both cherish family traditions and value the opportunity to entertain family members in their own home. Sally’s willingness to pass the baton on to her daughter would be the best holiday gift of all.