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thanksgiving guests inviting guests . . (part vent)


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am I being inflexible about not allowing guests to invite guests? I have received snide comments about 'my lacking christian charity' (makes me feel like attempts at manipulation) - by dh's family members who are not allowed to invite guests. Is this as outrageous as I think, or do I need to chill?

 

background: thanksgiving has been dh's family, at our house, for over 25 years. (dh does the two turkeys, stuffing, and 3 batches of rolls. I think he has a norman rockwell fantasy.) when it started, it was supposed to rotate every year. sil did it once, and promptly weaseled out of ever hosting again. (her house is almost twice the size of mine, and she's an empty nester. She will act like the hostess at my home (but does none of the work). since it's dh' family, I decided it wasn't a hill to die on and ignore it.)

 

this is a formal sit down, china, silver, crystal dinner for as many as 30 people, plus the "babies". I admit I stress over it every year, and don't much like thanksgiving anymore.

 

this year, a number of the "children" are going to their inlaws for dinner, woohoo, under 20 (including babies) for the first time in probably more than a decade. I could feel my blood pressure dropping at the prospect. Though no one informed us they weren't coming until sunday night- even though the "thanksgiving e-mail" (re:who's coming, and what are you bringing?) went out on the first.. - two weeks previously. (wait, I take that back, I did hear from one sil - with a *long rambling - at times incoherent - history* of the pilgrims thanksgiving, and what they ate and what she thought would be interesting to cook and eat, but nothing definitive. fairly typical of her.)

 

dh got an e-mail from sil (the without the work hostess wannabe) stating (NOT asking) that, since we are "only" having 20 people this year, her daughter was bringing her serious boyfriend (ok. I'd already planned for him), and two more friends with pitiful plights. We had told our *own* daughter she couldn't bring her friend becasue we didn't know if there would be room at the inn, but more importantly, didn't want the precedent of non-significant other guests.

 

we had a huge hubbub a few years back when a sanctimonious "child" invited three unrelated acquaintences - not friends - of his. we already were having close to 30 people that year - which put me at the breaking point for space (and nerves). after being told - uninvite them to our house - "child", and his mother, had a snit and declared they would have their own thanksgiving. apparently, they thought we would bend and allow them their guests. I wished them a nice thanksgiving. pity they were only bluffing. He hasn't been the only one inviting "friends" without asking, at least one "child" just showed up with her friends. appaently she did ask her mom- hostess wannabe. (HWmom has also invited friends.) It threw things so far off that year, I didn't know my own son wasn't at the table for dinner.

 

and then there is the fact dudeling is HFASD. (he doesn't "do" crowds, and must be managed on top of all the dinner chaos.)

 

so, am I not seeing something? am I being unreasonable? do I need an attitude adjustment because I now hate thanksgiving?

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Um, yeah, since you are asking...I kind of think so. It's Thanksgiving. Besides the fact that you are already lesser in number this year, it's Thanksgiving!

 

If that was your child, as a young adult, who had no where to go for Thanksgiving and a good friend kindly took upon their heart to invite your child to their family meal, would you appreciate that, or prefer your child to eat alone their fast food meal.

 

It's one meal, one day.

 

Unfortunately this type of situation, inviting others to share in a family's bounty, just does not happen enough in today's society. Back in the day, that was the norm.

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I think that for next year you need to send out a pre Thanksgiving letter saying that you are not hosting it. You sound burned out and gracious attitudes and burn out don't mix, in my experience. For this year, you need to decide what you can handle. Don't worry about precedence because NEXT YEAR YOU WON'T BE HOSTING IT! (Make sure you talk to dh about needing a break first.)

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I think that for next year you need to send out a pre Thanksgiving letter saying that you are not hosting it.

 

Good idea, Jean, but if it's as difficult for the OP as it sounds, I wouldn't wait until next year. I would suggest making the decision at the end of the evening this Thanksgiving. Or at least planting the seed.

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If this wasn't a fine china and silver event, then I would think you were being a bit uncharitable. But considering that this is obviously a fancier event, I can see why you want to limit who gets invited.

 

I'd either limit who gets invited or change to a more informal dinner.

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I think that for next year you need to send out a pre Thanksgiving letter saying that you are not hosting it. You sound burned out and gracious attitudes and burn out don't mix, in my experience. For this year, you need to decide what you can handle. Don't worry about precedence because NEXT YEAR YOU WON'T BE HOSTING IT! (Make sure you talk to dh about needing a break first.)

 

:iagree:Yes, it's time for you to take a break. Be a gracious host this year and then plan to use all the grocery money you'll save next year to take a nice little family trip.

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I'm sorry, but I think you need to reevaluate your entire Thanksgiving. Personally, I would allow the extra people, and then after the holidays I would sit down with dh and sil and go over some rule changes. Explain that you can't do this whole production the way you've done it in the past. Give some responsibilities to other family members. If they don't want to help, they need to understand that you're not going to do everything anymore. And don't say this in an angry way, just a matter of fact "I can't do this anymore, we have to make some changes."

And go with the flow. You have the opportunity to share your Thanksgiving with people that don't have anywhere to go. Your family WANTS to bring people with them. That's a good thing! Just try to find a balance.

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I wouldn't appreciate it. It would be one thing if they asked, but to just go ahead and invite other people, no that's rude.

 

:iagree: Thanksgiving or not, there is still such a thing as good manners. I would never take it upon myself to invite others to a dinner that I was invited to at someone else's home. If they have friends that need a place to go, perhaps they should consider hosting their own Thanksgiving meal for them.

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I see nothing wrong with asking about inviting others (even non-significant others), but I also think you are fine to say no to that question. It is your house.

 

I don't see anything horribly wrong with asking to invite friends with pitiful plights.

 

However, it sounds like they informed rather than asked, quite likely after already inviting the people in question and making it very awkward to say no.

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I think you should let everyone know that you're not going to be able to do the Thanksgiving celebration this year after all. I'd apologize, but not explain beyond the fact that you're just not up to it.

Then I'd plan a little celebration to include just your immediate family.

 

It seems clear that the other folks involved have a different idea about what "Thanksgiving" should entail. For me, it would involve opening my home to people who would be cheered by being included in a family gathering to give thanks and break bread. I would have no problem at all with dropping the formality and letting the day flow as an outpouring of my gratitude, and a celebration of all the best impulses of human kindness.

 

I completely understand burnout, but personally I would just change my expectation & my plans in order to be a bit more noble & focused on the meaning of the holiday.

 

I get it if you aren't up to being gracious in this situation, and I just think that you'd be better off canceling now than going forward with a heart *not* full of thanksgiving, kwim? Make the day into something that you can enjoy without it being a merely a shell. The other folks might just end up doing the same. :grouphug:

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If Thanksgiving was at my own home, then I could invite anyone I want. Even if family were coming. If my parents and my IL were coming and I decide to invite some guests who have no where else to go, then it is my house. I can invite anyone I chose.

 

BUT if I were having Thanksgiving at someone else's home, the it is incredibly rude to tell someone with no where else to go "yes, come on over, it will be fine." If I find someone who will be alone, I'd call my mom or MIL and ask if I can bring this person/persons. It is then up to them to say yes or no.

 

No matter how I feel about extras in my own home, if it's not at my home, it's not my place to say es until I've talked with the hostess. You are in the right.

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I think the age of your nieces and nephews are part of the dynamic. We have seen the same event in our family these past two years as the N&Ns are college age. They become aware of those in their circle who are dramatically without love, family connection, or ability to participate in Thanksgiving. Celebrate that the young adults in your family reach out with compassion. Welcome the outsiders.

 

The person you are really irked with is your SIL. Address her next year.

 

The way our immediate household broke with DH's family tradition was to leave the area for one year. We just spent Thanksgiving week on vacation elsewhere. We announced early in the summer that we would not be home for the holiday. Everyone was "forced" to come up with a different plan. It was a tremendous psycological break and time of refreshment for me. I enjoyed Christmas so much more without having to recover from the stress of Thanksgiving.

 

As a consequence, this year the entire family is doing something totally different, much more relaxed for all.

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I would first ask what is most important to you about Thanksgiving? Is it the "Norman Rockwell-esque" picture of china and crystal and the perfect turkey or is it about sharing time with family - those by blood or my choice- and by extension those whom family wish to include in celebrating blessings and bounty? Btw, I am not being snarky in any way bc I do realize different people place differing amounts of importance on these things.

 

My family has never had that sit-down formal dinner at any major holidayb there are simply too many of us. There are typically over 80 people at my aunt& uncle's house for Thanksgiving. Everyone brings what they want. Turkey duty is divied between several people (hostess aunt cooks two in her oven, my DH usually fries 3 or 4 provided by different people). A cousin is a firefighter in the same town aunt& uncle live in so the firefighters and police officers that are on duty that day often drop by in the firetruck/patrol cars and fill a plate a different times. Neighbors, in-laws, in-laws, friends, and school mates of anyone are always welcome and made to feel like family-even if it is our first time meeting. No assigning of dishes, no nazi-hostess orders as to what ingredients to use, and it all seems to work out.At one point in my life I thought I had missed out on something by never having a formal holiday meal; and then I did with ex-h and his mom, step-dad, brother, and daughter. I prefer our style of celebrations for sure-paper plates, buffet line, share the prep, lots of family and laughter and love.

 

If it were me, I would ditch the formality and make it you can welcome extra guests into your home with less stress. I will say though that with the type of situation you describe it is rude to bring guests uninvited (and especially unannounced).

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I think you've been wonderful all these years, and I don't feel that giving up hosting Thanksgiving would be rude at all.

 

However, I think you're not asking enough from your guests. Why are they not bringing casserole dishes full of food to help you out? I have almost never gone to *any* dinner without bringing something. If I were you, I'd get on the phone right now and ask every guest to chip in and bring a dish or two. If a guest wants to bring a friend along, you can say, "Well, that's fine, but we're a little low on food, so please stop at the store and buy ____ so we'll have enough." You'd be surprised at how obedient people can be when a leader begins to delegate.

 

Just wanted to add: I don't think anyone will mind one bit your asking them to bring food. It's a small price for them to pay for a wonderful Thanksgiving experience.

Edited by Rebecca VA
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However, I think you're not asking enough from your guests. Why are they not bringing casserole dishes full of food to help you out?

I agree. The idea that one family has been in charge of all the work and expense of a formal meal for dozens of people for 25 years seems horrendously inconsiderate in itself, let alone inviting random non-relatives.

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:grouphug:

 

maybe try separating it out into this year and subsequent years will help.

 

does dh enjoy having his family over for thanksgiving? is that why you do it or ???

 

several different approaches:

a) "sure they can come"

b) "sure they can come BUT i am already overloaded. so for three more i will need one more vegetable dish. if you can bring "x", that would be great. if not, maybe you'd like to have thanksgiving at your house this year."

c) sorry, it just won't work for us this year unless you're able to come over on wednesday and shine the silver and set the table.

d) sorry that just won't work. i feel dreadful that this stresses me out so much, but it does. if you want to have thanksgiving at your place this year, so that your dc's friends can be part of it, that's great. we'll bring the turkey and rolls. would you like that so that they will have a place to go? (that way, she gets to choose whether to be charitable and do the work it takes, or to have them not included)

 

and then for next year i would go to disneyland....

 

but

 

if your dh loves doing this, then i'd ask him to speak to his sister and sort it out however he'd like.

 

and then i'd live with it.

 

in the end, it will all be over in eight days....

 

:grouphug:

ann

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Ya know - people who never host anything, or volunteer to run things like Scouts, or anything that takes a lot of time, stress and money - they have no idea the kind of stress it puts on someone, and how much of themselves they have to commit.

I don't think it was bad of you to say no. I do think it was rude.

I do think if there was any way to let them come, you maybe should - but you arne't a bad person for not wanting to let them.

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It's just rude to invite extras to someone else's home without checking with the host/ess first. It's wonderful to welcome those who have no where else to go, but if it's someone else's home then they need to check and make sure it's okay, first.

 

I'm with the others in saying that it really sounds like you are burned out. It's time to either get some help from the extended family with the meal or let them know you won't be hosting next year, you need a break.

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If it were me, I would ditch the formality and make it you can welcome extra guests into your home with less stress. I will say though that with the type of situation you describe it is rude to bring guests uninvited (and especially unannounced).

 

 

I would do this too, and I agree that it's a little rude. Now, my family can't meet someone at the store without trying to get them into the house and fed, so I'm working from that background. I'd tell people to bring some paper plates and a bag of chips, and call it good. (But we don't own crystal, and I'm not sure where our matching set of dishes is in the basement.)

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It's just rude to invite extras to someone else's home without checking with the host/ess first. It's wonderful to welcome those who have no where else to go, but if it's someone else's home then they need to check and make sure it's okay, first.

 

I'm with the others in saying that it really sounds like you are burned out. It's time to either get some help from the extended family with the meal or let them know you won't be hosting next year, you need a break.

 

:iagree:

 

Just because it's a holiday does not give other people the right to expect YOU to do more work. This is a common family party dynamic--often folks don't expect to contribute (food, help, etc.) but do feel they have the right to dictate what will happen that day. They don't think it through. I think it's time to talk to the family about it, and especially to your dh.

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In my home growing up, and even now (always have Thanksgiving at my mom and dad's house) as adults, my mom and dad's home has always been 'the more the merrier'. We always have had misc friends that had family out of town, Coast Guard friends that have no family in town, friends of friends that needed a place to eat, not-so-significant others, etc. My mom's only request was that we needed to give her a little notice (but that didn't always happen) so she could make sure to have enough food. She even accommodated friends with special dietary needs (vegetarian, food allergies, etc). I loved that growing up..knowing that my home was the 'go to' home for all family and friends.

 

My mom and dad have been living abroad for several years now. 2 years ago, I spent thanksgiving with them and it was the same way. Instead, it was a little tiny apartment with 7 different nationalities there and roughly 15 people. It was wonderful.

 

Thanks for the trip down memory lane. With that said, I think you need to host this year then bow out next year. It's not fun for anybody if the hostess is burnt out. I like the idea of taking a nice vacation for thanksgiving next year!

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HOLIDAY OR NOT, IT IS NOT OKAY TO INVITE GUESTS TO SOMEONE ELSE'S HOME WITHOUT ASKING FIRST.

 

Having a formal Thanksgiving IS your tradition, and you shouldn't have to change it to accommodate uninvited guests. At this point if it were me, I would allow these guests for this year and instead of email invites next year, I would go full paper invites with RSVP cards, no joke. each family would get a RSVP card with total attendance already printed, and a yes or no option. Unless of course you don't want to do it at all. Which is fine. Vacations are wonderful, take one with the $ saved. However it sounded like your hubby likes it, so maybe you should discuss your feelings with him and go from there....

 

Good luck!

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Its your home, not a restaraunt.

 

Inviting strangers to your home is so completely rude, I don't know where to begin!

 

I'd cancel the whole thing, personally. That much work for ppl that don't appreciate it, push you for more, to do what *they* want, despite not helping out...Yeah, I'd bail.

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As a military family, I really like the idea of asking others to share the holiday meal since military members tend to live far away from their families.

 

However, it would greatly bother me to have others invite people without at least asking first. Chances are I would always say yes, but, I would still like to be asked.

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I haven't read all the other responses, but it's your house, your Thanksgiving. You are not required to do anything or host anyone you don't want to.

 

We are having some exchange students and I'll love it. I love having people over that I want to have over. OTOH, I hate it when grandma invites her boyfriend. I don't like having him over at all.

 

ETA- When my children want to invite someone I'm all for it. Couldn't be happier. Someone else inviting people over? Forget it.

Edited by Remudamom
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I can truly see both sides. Yes, it is rude to invite extra guests to somebody else's home. However, there have been many years people in our circle have showed up with stray soldiers who didn't have any place to go and I wasn't mad. We always had way too much food anyway and everyone pitches in with food.

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I can truly see both sides. Yes, it is rude to invite extra guests to somebody else's home. However, there have been many years people in our circle have showed up with stray soldiers who didn't have any place to go and I wasn't mad. We always had way too much food anyway and everyone pitches in with food.

 

To me that's different. I'll take in any exchange student stuck on dd's campus and feed them.

 

But the niece's boyfriend's mother's ex? Nah.

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Um, yeah, since you are asking...I kind of think so. It's Thanksgiving. Besides the fact that you are already lesser in number this year, it's Thanksgiving!

 

If that was your child, as a young adult, who had no where to go for Thanksgiving and a good friend kindly took upon their heart to invite your child to their family meal, would you appreciate that, or prefer your child to eat alone their fast food meal.

 

It's one meal, one day.

 

Unfortunately this type of situation, inviting others to share in a family's bounty, just does not happen enough in today's society. Back in the day, that was the norm.

 

My first though is, if they want to invite people they should volunteer to do Thanksgiving. It's rude to invite someone to someone ELSE's house without checking with the hostess first.

 

To OP: is there an issue with sitting down with dh's family and saying, "Guys, we'd like a break next year. Would one of you like the blessing of hosting Thanksgiving for the family?"

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Paper plates, plastic wear, SOLO cups, and aluminum pans. At end of day, throw away!

 

Next year, just say no.

 

That, and assign dishes to be brought based on the number of people that they are bringing. If the person that is supposed to bring sweet potatoes or green bean casserole or anything else doesn't do it, then no one eats sweet potatoes, green bean casserole or whatever this year.

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To be frank, I think it is incredibly rude to state that you are bringing extra guests. I don't think you are being unreasonable at all.

If asked, I would probably say yes, but if you tell me you are bringing people that would tick me off.

 

:iagree: I was taught that you only invite people to your own party..

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It is rude to invite someone else to an event if one was not given the +1 option on the invitation.

 

Hopefully you were gracious when informing the family member that no extras would be welcomed.

 

(I agree with the others. Time to let someone else handle it next year. Or if your dh really wants to have his family over, you can be invited to my house for next year.)

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Paper plates, plastic wear, SOLO cups, and aluminum pans. At end of day, throw away!

 

Next year, just say no.

 

:iagree: My mil has always hosted Thanksgiving. For many years before I joined the family. She used to break out the Christmas dishes, complete w/ gold plate warmers (is that what they are called?). Once all of her nieces and nephews started getting married and having kids though, that all went out the window. Now we eat off of plastic plates, and the last 2 years we have used plastic utensils and cups. Throw away when done= less stress!

 

Also wanted to add that someone is always bringing someone new. If it were my house though, I would be stressed, but probably allow it. Wouldn't like it, but I'd allow it.

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If this wasn't a fine china and silver event, then I would think you were being a bit uncharitable. But considering that this is obviously a fancier event, I can see why you want to limit who gets invited.

 

I'd either limit who gets invited or change to a more informal dinner.

 

 

I agree with this.

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I'm guessing that the OP wouldn't mind if the Thanksgiving hosting duties weren't already so stressful.

 

OP, you need a well-deserved break from hosting duties. That is a lot to take on every single year, especially when you still have children in your home.

 

As for this year, I'd let the extra guests come, but I'd also try to make things a little easier. Perhaps skip the china and go with fancy disposable dishes or send out an email delegating some of the hosting duties to others. When people arrive, put them to work by directing them to specific jobs. That might even increase the camaraderie enough to make things fun instead of stressful for you.

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I'm torn on this one. On the one hand, we always struggle just to find people who will eat Thanksgiving dinner with us. I think our family must be taboo.

 

On the other hand, 30 is a big crowd. Difficult to plan for w/the china and formal serving. I don't believe it is polite to "announce" that your are bringing so-and-so. If they came to me personally and explained the situation (a friend from school is all alone with no family to celebrate with...we'd be happy to sit at the kids table...etc.) I'd probably welcome them over. And then it would be particularly nice if they volunteered to handle more of the food - either bringing or preparing at your house, or even coming over to help clean/prep the house in advance, cleaning up afterwards, etc.

 

You may want to try for the less formal approach this year and see how it goes. Younger guests (teenagers and up) are welcome to do dish/kitchen clean-up :D. It'll make them feel right at home, which is what they really want, isn't it?

Edited by Susan in TN
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Thank you for everyone's replies.

 

the "children"(grandchildren) range from late thirties to early twenties, and many of them are through college and own their own homes. (and dudeling-the caboose, who is six) the "babies" (aka: great/grandchildren) are four and under.

 

sometimes we have been asked by people if they could bring a guest. (rarely, and they asked their friends anyway without our permission). Usually we have not been asked, and sometimes not even forewarned. They've just shown up. At least I have drilled into people I need a head count, so I've been more likely to find out about the extras when I can still do something about it. dh did e-mail his sister and let her know she can't bring non-family/non-significant other extras. Dh has had this converstaion with her a few times before, and she STILL does it.

 

Dh's family was always the "More the merrier". But there were a scant (four) handful of them. they also weren't doing sit down dinners for 30 adults. they most they ever did was 12 adults and some children who could be put at a small table.

 

I'm already moving furniture out of my living room so there is room for everyone. the famiy room is on a different floor, so it is out for eating, and it is also the only location for small children to play. I have a huge deck right off the kitchen, but renting a weather proof party tent with heaters is not in the budget.

 

dh is the "china, silver, crystal' and nothing but person. I think he thinks it connects him to his father, who passed away in 1969. He will not budge on it. I suggested the plastic "china, silver, crystal" as easier care, but it was vetoed since we have the real stuff. dh is he control freak about thanksgiving.

 

Everyone does bring food on the day - I have had to put my foot down that people are expected to ALSO bring a serving dish and utensil with which to serve their item. I was buying more every year, and it simply got to be too much, I was always scrambling for dishes and utensils at the last minute. I also had to come up with somewhere to store them all.

 

But it is the days before and days after of work that is really getting to me. My sil (hostess wanabee) loaded the dishwasher one time *one year*, and moaned for the next 11 months as though she was cinderella and I was the wicked stepmother. (dh had put his foot down beforehand that year that people needed to actually "help".) yeah, and I didn't run the dishwasher another six times in the following 24 hours. or break down the tables, wash what doens't go in a dishwasher, or wash table cloths and napkins, vacuum, etc. /sarc.

 

the last few years, I have done little visiting with people as I simply haven't had time. I work to set up, and am cleaning up after dinner so the dishwasher is going all the time just to get ahead on the mess. Yes, my kids do help, and they do alot.

 

I am very burned out, especially by the entitlement mentality of a few members of dh's family.

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