You’ve dug out the ceramic platter you bought 40 years ago ? the one with the smiling turkey painted on it. You’ve polished the brass menorah, or fluffed the plastic branches of your pre-lighted Christmas tree. But, where are the kids? Once again, your grown children have nothing but excuses to give you for the holidays. Not to worry ? the instructions below will get your babies back to the bosom of their origins for the annual festivities. All you have to do is modify the steps according to the number of children you have:
1. Stake Your Claim: Loudly inform every child, grandchild, in-law, and sibling at this year’s gathering, “It’s my turn next year.” Have everyone at the table sign an affidavit that they’ve heard and acknowledged this. Then when next year comes, if they renege, that signed paper should hold up in court.
2. Invite Your Single Son First: He’s an easy mark. A bachelor son is always willing to partake of a meal he didn’t have to cook for himself, even if for him, Thanksgiving won’t actually be ‘Thanksgiving,’ but his 25th Annual, ‘How-Come-You-Never-Got-Married-Are-You-Sure-You’re-Not-Gay’ Day.
3. Strike the Youngest Second: By ‘strike’ I mean, ‘wheedle,’ ‘cajole,’ and ‘plead.’ One of these attempts will get a weary “yes” out the youngest because they’re the most likely to still be suffering from unresolved mother issues. So, go ahead ? tug on the remnants of that umbilical cord. Just be sure to give the youngest cash for his or her holiday gift. Therapy is expensive.
4. Hit the Married Daughter Next: Your married daughter wants to spend the holidays with her overbearing mother-in-law even less than she wants to spend them with you. Veiled criticisms of her weight gain and her mothering style, which she has to swallow along with her green-bean casserole, don’t upset her stomach quite as much if they come from a more time-honored source. So, if she’s got school-age children and a full-time job, there’s a good chance you can lure her in with, “Come on ? with all the extra work you have to do for the holidays, do you really want to cook?”
5. Now You’re Ready to Attack the Married Son: The married son is the toughest ‘catch’ because that woman he married insists on spending the holiday with ‘her side.’ You need to tell your son exactly this when you phone. Don’t think of this conversation as an invitation, but more as a demand for an audience. Remind him of precisely how many times he’s gone to his wife’s family instead of his own; that all his siblings will be at your house except for him ? again ? and that the last time you had holiday dinner with him was when you were still coloring your hair. It’s unlikely he’ll agree to come, but he will tell his wife, and at least then she’ll know exactly how you feel.
6. Bask in the Spoils of War: This is an achievement of which you can be proud ? most, if not all of your offspring are sitting around your holiday table, doing their yearly penance over dried-out turkey, store-bought gravy, and canned cranberry sauce. And after all, isn’t that what the holidays are all about?