I have a confession to make. Everytime my in-laws have an event, I feel put-upon. I immediately feel all defensive and my mind starts to think of reasons why I can't attend, plan, help, or even approve the event.
I don't even know why that is, but I think it's because they just do things differently than I grew up with. Why is that wrong? Of course it isn't. My brain knows that, but first it has to go through it's usual thought cycle. And I really have to start asking them to define the event.
Part of the problem is that it feels like I'm being dumped on unexpectedly. If I had asked "what does a party mean to you?" before I agreed to go to the party, I wouldn't then feel surprised to find out that it means an all day commitment and I should bring a dinner with me. I may have thought I should only bring a small gift and eat cake while visiting for a couple of hours.
That example hasn't exactly happened, but it's just an example after all.
In this case, I don't even think they knew what they meant at first with this event. This is new.
Tomorrow we are interring my father-in-law's ashes.
What's the protocol for that? None of us have done this before. Whatever any of us have grown up with, this is new. Once upon a time, we were children who attended these things for relatives we hardly knew. Now we have to define them, organize them, carry them out.
And only I am thinking selfishly about me. I don't want to bake. I don't want to spend my Saturday in the country. I'm busy and I'd like to start insulating my basement. But this isn't about me. It's about my mother-in-law and honouring her husband and his wishes. And it's about his many children who still grieve his absence.
It's a hard thing they are doing and I'm just thinking about me. I'm terrible. I'm doing so little. I've planned so little, I'm preparing so little. And I'm so ungrateful for the work that others are doing to make this happen.
Who cares if the squares and cheese that I'd thought we would share after the short ceremony is now a full potluck meal? That's not what I expected at the start. Does it really matter? So it's different than I expected. If this is their family custom, or the way they want to pay tribute to their father, it's lovely
And if I can provide a few squares and some flowers, then I'll be happy to share the time with them.