Etiquette Help for the Holidays
Dealing With a Loss
Q. My mother-in-law recently passed away, so my father-in-law will be spending the holidays with us. We have our own traditions, but he wants us to follow all of his. Short of letting him hijack our holiday, how can we help him relax?
A. Start by acknowledging your father-in-law’s unease: “I know this will be the first Christmas without Grammy and that is going to be difficult and strange.” Then help him zero in on the aspects of the holiday that matter most to him: “We want you to be as comfortable as possible at our house, so tell me the one tradition you want to make sure we include.” When it comes down to it, maybe all he cares about is carving the ham, and surely you can work around that. If he comes back with five must-do rituals, ask him to rank them in order of importance and then take some time to do the same, says Smith. Perhaps you can give on the Jell-O “salad” in exchange for keeping your Christmas morning customs—and family harmony—in tact.