My friend Caroline is a tad steamed about her family.
To use her words (cleaned up for presentation here): My family is insane! It’s like herding cats! They can’t plan anything!
The real object of her frustration is an upcoming party for her parents’ thirty-year wedding anniversary. Sweet, huh?
She figured if she started planning now, with the party set for next spring (yes, as in 2013), it would be plenty of time to get her family’s cooperation and assistance. Turns out, no amount of time other than a decade (or two) is going to help, it seems.
Part of the problem, as she amusingly puts it, is that her family is such a mix of backgrounds, “mostly farming types, with about one-quarter redneck and one-quarter Southern gentility, also known as stick-up-a-butt.” Given this description, the idea of a gathering an actual group of furry felines into one place and willing them to remain there starts to sound like a simple task.
The issues Caroline faces are probably no different from those anyone faces when trying to organize a major family event: work out the details of the event and make sure everyone is still on speaking terms before, during and after, if possible. After all, who has time to worry about catering, booking a DJ and digging a hole deep enough in the neighbor’s backyard to bury “dear” Aunt Mary when she staggers into the party, open bottle of Jack Daniels in (each) hand, and both of them bound to wet no one’s whistle except hers.
So, if you are in a similar party-planning position as my friend, a few things to consider:
- By all means, begin planning early. Just realize that you and your relatives may not be in the same brain ballpark when it comes to the idea of time sensitivity. One person’s absolute deadline is another person’s “Whatever; I’ll do it tomorrow.”
- When it comes to assigning tasks and designating chores, be firm. Put it in writing for the slower folks, so they cannot come to you later and claim, “But you never said I needed to get that done!” Tough luck on them; you’ll have the hard copy goods.
- If you have sour grape siblings, grandkids with grudges, or other relatives harboring resentments that go back to the time of the town crier calling the day’s news, tell them that from party planning time to one hour after the party officially ends, all feuds are frozen.
- And most important: keep your eye on that final prize: the event itself. Keep telling yourself that it will all be worth it. You will make the guest(s) of honor very happy with your thoughtfulness, hard work and effort.
Oh, and that hole in the neighbor’s yard? If Aunt Mary does not make use of it, it’s always good for a pig roast.