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I'm the youngest of five children. My siblings have complicated relationships, and we haven't had a real family gathering in a very long time. My father passed away many years ago, and my mother is 87 years old now. She would love to have us all together for Christmas like in the old times, but I don't know whether that will be possible, since nobody gets along. What can I do?
Potential Peacemaker (female, 50)
Dear Potential Peacemaker,
I hope your mother has many happy and healthy years ahead of her, but tomorrow is guaranteed to no one — especially when you're nearing 90. I've known people who have keeled over out of the blue before they were 50, so age really makes no difference. None of us knows how much time we have here on Earth, so your siblings would be wise to take heed and make better use of theirs.
Unless they are complete jerks, I'd imagine that your family members would show up to your mother's funeral and act decently toward each other. So they need to suck it up, check their differences at the door and show up for Mom while she's still here. Making that happen might be up to you.
Start by calling your siblings individually and letting them know how important a family gathering is to your mother. Keep the expectations simple and time commitment small. Make it clear that you're not trying to force everyone to mend fences; you just want to give your mother some peace and happiness for the holiday. If they don't listen to you, call in the big guns and get Mom on the horn.
Good luck and God bless,