Health Possible

How to Get Extended Family Together, Despite the Holidays

February 28, 2020

Our extended families—our grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins—fill much the same role in our lives as parents and siblings. They inform who we are, they help us explore how we get along with others, and they add extra dimension—some might say flavor—to our lives. Speaking of flavor, it’s among our extended families that we often find the best bakers of homemade pies.

Connecting with extended family probably never feels more important than over traditional family holidays. But as families grow, change, and move farther apart, this can become harder to accomplish. Getting plans worked out can lead to stress and strained relationships—the last things you need this time of year, or anytime, really.

With a little organization and an attitude of flexibility, you can still find those moments of togetherness—though you may have to be willing to compromise on the pie.

Choose a Different Date

Let’s start with what may be the biggest issue: time. As people form new relationships—romances, marriages, remarriages—new family relationships form, and quite often these new families want to hold their holiday celebrations during the same time period yours does. Sometimes it’s impossible to hold a holiday celebration on the assigned date. A little flexibility here can help. Choosing a different day for your gathering is not only an easy solution, but also offers auxiliary benefits. For instance, if you’re open to having your family Christmas in January, you’ll probably find that travel is cheaper and easier, too.

Try Regional Gatherings

If your family is widely but evenly spread out, you might pitch the idea of smaller regional get-togethers. Everyone travels less, but still gets to see some of the family. If you can manage to coordinate all the mini-gatherings on the same day, you could even bring all the groups together for a group Skype.

Plan a Family Reunion

If getting everyone together for the holidays isn’t happening year after year, it may be time to create a family holiday all your own. Find a weekend—any time during the year—that’s generally good for everyone’s schedule and plan a regular family reunion. If the time of year is right, a campground can be a great central location, and make travel demands more equitable. And nobody has to worry about cleaning house.

Or Make a Virtual One

Here’s the one where you have to compromise on pie. That’s right—so far, there’s no way to share a homemade pie to a Facebook group. But you can still keep up with what’s going on with all the members, share stories, ask questions, and easily create, promote, and manage events—like a real gathering somewhere down the line. All you need to get started is your own personal account.

Look for the silver lining: Those pies weren’t doing your health any favors. How about some delicious, healthy soups instead?