My husband and I are sympathetic, so we always have events with no media on in the background. We crate our dog, put away the loudest toys, serve familiar and basic foods. My husband's family is local, and my family is not.
This Thanksgiving, we are hosting my extended family. I do not want to invite my sister-in-law or my husband's parents. It would be really hard, if not impossible, to keep the noise level down. My kids will be playing with their cousins, my Dad will want to watch football, and my husband and I will be focused on cooking. I would like to see my in-laws after the holiday instead.
My husband thinks we should invite everybody, but let his sister know we cannot accommodate her, and she can decide if she wants to come. What do you think?
Host: [This is from a 2019 chat. The no-brainer now is to cancel.]
I think this is a no-brainer, if we cut the question down to its basic elements: You want to exclude your disabled in-law for being disabled.
Right? So, nope.
Your husband has an elegant solution — it shows you value her, want her to join you and understand she might want to opt out of the noise. Why didn’t you agree to it right away?
Re: Sister-in-law: I wonder if Host actually has chosen a terrible reason as cover for a simpler reason — that holidays are usually with her husband's family and this year she wants to celebrate with only her family. She doesn't want his parents there, either.
It seems that isn't an unreasonable ask, but she should own her preference rather than try to pretend that she is just trying to protect the sister-in-law.
Anonymous: If that’s what Host really wants, then that’s what Host needs to say.
Carolyn: I didn't agree to it right away because I am afraid she will say yes and then get overwhelmed. I don't see my family often, and I would really like to have a holiday where I don't feel like I need to control or change everything for my sister-in-law. It's a lot of stress and mental energy. Does this make me a terrible person?
— Host again
Host again: No! Just an iffy communicator, maybe, if you haven’t said all this out loud. Please be honest with your husband and work together on it: Either plan a second celebration with his family on the weekend, or include the sister-in-law and agree this particular gathering is a no-accommodations deal. None.
In fact, it sounds like time to revisit your expectations at family events. It’s imperative that you’re inclusive — and it’s also important for your sister-in-law to know when to step away to a quiet place when she’s overwhelmed. Meaning, you create a hospitable environment, then pass the functioning within that environment to her. It’s not reasonable for you to create the environment AND manage her experience within it.
Again, all good stuff to talk about and plan for with the spouse.