What should I do? My husband and I were planning a visit to distant family over Thanksgiving but have recently learned that this family is going through a large transition in their lives which is not a pleasant one. Should we postpone the trip and not invade their home and lives while they are going thru this transition?
I couldn’t decide if I was supposed to reply with or without the familiarity we share. So, if I didn’t know you, or the situation you were referencing, this is what I would say:
The burden of unpleasant transitions is often eased by the community around us loving us through the changes, and sometimes exactly what someone needs is for family (or friends) to show up, connect, and lend an ear/shoulder. Time is an invaluable gift, and your presence matters to them, I’m sure. That being said, holidays are often a stressful time for people, with increased financial expectations, and the general busyness of the season. If the transition affects the family financially, then you may reach out and discuss meal plans and let them know how you can help with the big meal, but also the smaller meals surrounding the trip. Travel makes it hard to cook and bring specific dishes, but knowing that they aren’t expected to feed everyone out of their own pocketbook may be a relief as they face the transition at hand. Offering to split the grocery bill, or letting them know that you don’t need them to provide every meal while you are visiting will be helpful to them. (If the transition is not financial in nature, and they have offered and are willing to feed you, then enjoy and go be a shoulder!) If you don’t share the closeness with this family that it takes to have a transparent financial conversation, it may be best to postpone the trip.
I have to get personal with this answer and say, please come see us. These transitions are just part of life – changes happen, and we learn and grow in the difficult seasons. I want to see your beautiful face, and Dad’s too. I want to spend time with you and watch my kids interact with you. The meal will worry about itself, but let’s not miss the opportunity to spend time together.