Dear Annie: Thirty’s a crowd

Dear Annie: Though the holidays are behind us, I’m left with some lingering resentment. My problem is that we host too many guests. I married into a family of seven. This family has since grown to 30 people, even with the deaths of the mother and father. My wife and I took on the hosting of the annual Christmas get-together for the family, but it has gotten out of hand, in my opinion, over the past 17 years. With the exception of one year we spent in Hawaii at Christmastime, we have hosted the gathering, even though others have the ability and a home big enough to do so; no one else has ever offered to host. To add to my perceived problem, there are some 16 to 19 other people who come to my home each Christmas Eve who are invited by others and by my wife.

I will not go into all the mess they leave behind or the fact that I have, for the most part, funded this for all these years. (My choice.) It’s beginning to be a royal pain to me — so much so that I’m at my wits’ end. My wife refuses to even consider cutting back on this out-of-hand party. Relatives, I can deal with, but all these uninvited-by-me guests are beginning to be a pain in the rear. My wife seems to think that once invited, always invited. I might add that I also have a large family on my side, whom we never entertain, at least not on the scale we do for hers. Am I just an old curmudgeon? — Crowded House

Dear Crowded House: You’re tired of hosting 30 family members and 20 people you hardly know every year. That doesn’t make you a curmudgeon; that makes you human. Talk honestly to your wife about your feelings. Find a compromise — such as limiting the event to family and close friends only or alternating years and letting one of the other 30 relatives take a turn. If you’re frustrated that you don’t often host your side of the family, tell your wife that, too. The good news is you’ve got all year to work out a plan that works for you both.

Dear Annie: A friend of mine died recently. She went through a terrible time during her last weeks, but the trauma was from her living arrangements made by her children, not from the pain. They say you learn a lot about life through death, and it is certainly true. I want to share some of the things that she and her nurses shared with me.

Remember that even on hospice care, your loved one is living. Place the hospital bed in the living room, where the patient can still have access to life. Do not relegate the person to the bedroom. You have no idea how long he or she will live. Your loved one will still want to smell scents coming from the kitchen, view the TV and have access to all the normal routines of life.

Keep all of your loved one’s favorite foods and beverages on hand; you don’t know when something might sound good to him or her. When you come to visit, bring some of those things, and please don’t forget to bring some along for the caregivers; they are physically and mentally exhausted.

Finally, let the patient make the decisions when it comes to visits from family and friends. If your loved one was an extrovert in life, there’s good reason to suspect that the same will be true until he or she has no life left. — Betty

Dear Betty: I’m sorry for your loss. Thank you for passing on the wisdom of your friend and her nurses.

Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com. To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, go to the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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