Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Yom Tov is for Families Conundrum

Unless your children live around the corner from you, all families will eventually hit the stage of the "Yom Tov is for family togetherness" problem. Yes, problem, if you make it one.

In the first few years of married life, married children come home to their parents fairly often, at least those for whom the travel is not extensive, costly, time consuming or in conflict with work schedules. Once the children's children number more than one the dynamics begin to change. It's hard enough to pack up two adults and one infant for a few days stay elsewhere; it's a real challenge when that involves many more children. And so the request comes: "Mom and dad, come to us for yom tov. It's easier for you two to pack up and come here than for us to pack up five and go to you."

Sometimes the parents do go to the children. Other times they can't--there are still unmarried children at home that the married child cannot accommodate, or there are still young married couples coming home to the parents. And if there are many married children staying at home, parents get on the merry-go-round of "being fair" to all the kids and visiting each of them at some point over the yom tov season. And sometimes the cost and time in traveling makes it difficult or impossible to get together.

In addition there is another point that comes up. In making my calls before Rosh Hashanah I asked one relative if the kids were coming home for yom tov. He answered that no, they weren't, because the sons wanted to daven in their own shuls for yom tov. And there weren't any children for their children to see and play with in the parents' neighborhood. Well, this man wanted to daven in his own shul as well, so everyone was staying in their own homes over yom tov.

In short, it's wonderful when the whole family can get together, especially over a yom tov. But everyone needs to be realistic about how long that may last for. Yom tov is not something to wage a war over between parents and children. If getting together is possible, then enjoy. If it's not, wish each other well and try and schedule some together time when it's mutually convenient and/or acceptable.


Anonymous said...

Don't forget the issue of do we go to her parents or to his. Wanting to daven in one's own shul is a tactful way to avoid all these issues.

Anonymous said...

I can take my in laws in small doses and keep everything calm. But a week locked up together results in some fireworks somewhere during the week. Not worth the possible damage to the family relations I want for my kids. Even 2-3 days is pushing it. So yeah, my fil understands that his son wants to daven in his own shul and that's our reason for staying home.

Anonymous said...

It is very hard for anyone (particularly with kids) to spend more than a few nights in the home of someone you didn't grow up living with. It's even harder if space is limited. A simple solution is to not go for the whole week. We have gotten around that problem when visiting somewhere that requires a flight (and therefore going for only 2 or 3 nights doesn't seem right or worth it) by breaking up the week by staying three nights at a hotel. - i.e. two nights at the relatives, three nights at a hotel, and the last two nights back at the relatives. I think they appreciate the break too.

Abba's Rantings said...

I use to say that I plan on going to our parents until our kids are old enough for us to go to them. But now we no longer go away for all the holidays, and if we do we Re just as likely to go to friends

Rae said...

When all your kids are married and live in different places that all require traveling well more then a few hours, planning who will go where for yom tov requires the skills of an international negotiator. Add in 4 sets of mechutonim who also have a claim on the kids, and who have other mechutonim with their own schedules. Much as we'd love to have all or at least some of the kids for yom tov, we've basically decided to save our getting together times for other times of the year when the competition and franticness isn't there. We share meals over yom tov with friends in the neighborhood who are in the same position we are.

Maya Resnikoff said...

And then there are those of us whose families are for various reasons unavailable for yontif- not religious, not present in our lives, otherwise occupied... Sometimes I get very jealous of people who have the option of that debate. In my family, it's pretty obvious: if I'm going to see my parents over yontif, they're coming to me.