Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I’m hosting the annual family Thanksgiving. In addition to the usual
feuding about who brings what, which side of the family’s recipe is
best, and who gets the honors for various dishes, we have a more
substantive problem. Two of my sisters have stopped speaking to one
another since my nephew’s graduation last June. The stories that have
been told by both aggrieved parties vary so significantly from one
another, and have been so inconsistent, that frankly none of the rest
of us believes anything they say, though we’ve learned to listen
politely. All we know for sure is that we cannot have Thanksgiving
without either or both of them, and that all of us are dreading the day
more than looking forward to it. Do you have any suggestions about
how to enforce a truce, or even make a peace?



Dear Hostess:

The hardest part of this situation is getting each of them to stop
reciting their litany of hurt long and sincerely enough to hear anything
that’s said to them. It’s easier to put it in writing, and best to precede
and follow up with verbal reinforcement. The phone call: I’m inviting
you for Thanksgiving, but there are conditions I want you to agree to
before you decide to come. Check your email tomorrow. The overnight
before phase two is deliberate. Put your sister off base a little. The
email: I know you and [other sister] are feuding. But I’m inviting you
both for the holiday, and telling you both the same thing: It’s not okay
to fight in my house. If you cannot commit to being polite and on good
behavior, you certainly have the option not to come. If you come and
poke a fight, about anything, I will promptly ask you to leave. No
second chances or do-overs. I love you both, and wish you’d make up,
but that’s between you. I’m not taking any side except my own. The
day before Thanksgiving, call and get a verbal commitment of good
behavior, and remind each sister you will not be shy about ejecting an


As for recipe allocation, as hostess you decide and assign. Tell any
complainer that they’re welcome to hostess next year and make any
decision they want to. But you’re being consistent: your house, your
rules. Also alert the other siblings of the house rules. Tell them if they
want to play peacemaker to do it any other day.