When you are smack dab in the middle of caring for grandchildren and your elderly parents, holidays can seem a little scary and full of questions. Who do you include in the holiday meals beside your children and grandchildren when all of your siblings and their children want to see their Great Grandma now that she lives with you? How do you fit everyone around the table? How do you afford all of that food? How do you entertain when Great Grandma is all worn out and asleep in her chair by 1:30 pm? I hope this post gives you some good ideas especially if you or your siblings are “sandwiched” for the holidays.

Who to Include

Remember when everyone went to Great Grandma’s house and hung out there for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners? Then they stayed around all afternoon and played games, made a lot of noise, and laughed a lot? Well, now Great Grandma is living with you. Everyone still wants to see her. Everyone wants to come over on that day. You want your own children and grandchildren to be there, but can your house hold everyone? Probably not – but the first year my mother-in-law moved in with us, Christmas was upon us before we had time to think about it. We invited anyone who wanted to visit her to come and share a meal with us. After all, she was their Mom, Grandma, and Great Grandma too. We set up tables in the living room and kitchen because the dining room table would not hold all of us. Some siblings and their children came, but others wisely set up appointments to see Great Grandma between Christmas and New Year. We rejoiced. On subsequent years, we decided the appointment arrangement was a much better idea. We still left the door open for those who wanted to join our kids and grandkids in celebrating dinner on the special holiday, but asked that others come at different times in the week as to not wear Great Grandma to a frazzle. That way we celebrated multiple times during the week, but nobody stayed too long or needed a big meal. After four years, only a couple of people actually showed up on the holiday itself, so we went back to just our children and grandchildren celebrating together.

How Do You Afford the Food and Gifts?

Buying Christmas gifts for our children, grandchildren, and Great Grandma was something we did every year. That was not new. But suddenly we were going to have my husband’s siblings there and some of their kids with their children. What do you do about opening gifts and not leaving anyone out? Food seemed to be the answer for us. I made up homemade goodies and bagged them up. Then there were bags of goodies to give to anyone who came over. At the end of this post, I have a recipe for a cracker snack mix that tastes great and goes a long way. This past Christmas, I gave my husband’s siblings a copy of their Mother’s biography that I had worked on since summer. I interviewed my Mother-in-law, which was a lot of fun. I wrote the biography from her answers to my questions, and I published it as a book on Lulu.com. That way, if a niece, nephew, or any other person wanted their own copy, they could purchase it off of the Lulu website and I didn’t have to handle the money or get the book to them. Except for the time involved, this was a reasonably inexpensive gift that they all treasured.

How to Feed Everyone on a Shoestring

When I told relatives they could come for the holiday meal with Great Grandma, I said that I would supply the meat and drinks. They would have to bring a side dish if they came for the holiday meal. That worked wonderfully. There was plenty of food and I didn’t have to cook it all. Now I want to do pitch-in holidays all the time. Nobody feels they are putting us out if they help bring some of the food. Sometimes they even leave us some of the leftovers which are great during the following week.

What to Do When Great Grandma is Worn Out

Having a house full of people is sometimes stressful to an older person, just as it is to the little grandkids when they are babies. We had some of both that first Christmas that Paul’s Mom moved in with us. My husband’s siblings wanted to play games and visit after lunch, but Great Grandma was tuckered out and ready for a nap; so were the babies. Babies were put in beds or cribs, away from the noise, so they could take a nap after lunch. A movie was started in the living room for the bigger kids. Great Grandma, and a few other adults, napped in the living room during the movie while the rest of the adults played games at the dining room table. It helped that Great Grandma wasn’t wearing her hearing aids and could sleep through a train wreck.

Holidays are Temporary

Remember that Holidays are temporary. You work for a few weeks to get ready. You celebrate for a week or so, and then everyone is back to their regular schedules including the grandkids and Great Grandma. It is not so bad. You do a lot of smiling and that is very good for you! I hope I have given you some good ideas for surviving the holidays when you are in the Sandwich Generation. Happy Thanksgiving and have a Merry Christmas with your extended family!

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Mindy’s Cracker Snack Mix (Makes 8 quarts or more)

Ingredients:
1 pkg. of regular Bugles™
1 pkg. of Parmesan Goldfish Crackers™
1 pkg. of Nacho Bugles™
1 pkg. of Cheese Nips™
1 pkg. of Snyder Pretzel Chunks™
1 pkg. of White Cheddar Cheese Nips™
1 box of Mini Club Crackers™
1 pkg. of Mini Triscuit Crackers™
1 box of Wheat Thins™
1 bottle of Popcorn Oil (10-12 oz)
2 pkgs. of Ranch Salad Dressing™ mix
Directions: Pour Popcorn oil and the 2 Ranch Dressing Mix packets into a clean quart jar. Shake to mix together and set aside. Divide and pour all crackers in two extra-large turkey roasting pans. Divide the oil and pour over the contents of each pan of cracker mix. Stir to coat all of the crackers. Put in a 250 degree oven for 45 minutes, stirring the mix every 15 minutes. Let the mix cool and bag it up for your loved ones.