Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
Every time my parents come to visit something goes kaflooey. It’s like
we are a cursed family. I have broken out in severe attacks of eczema.
My husband had a car accident. Our daughter needed an emergency
appendectomy. The water heater died. The cat died. That’s not all but
I want you to keep reading. The holidays are approaching and honestly
I’d prefer a quiet weekend at home with the doors locked and the
phone unplugged than another catastrophic visit. I love my family, but
my kids are beginning to think that their grandparents travel in some
sort of bad supernatural vortex. Can you explain this seemingly
doomed confluence of people and vents or make a suggestion about
how to avoid yet another calamity?
Yes, statistically you are describing an unusually high frequency of
annoying, even serious, events. Calling them “calamities” is relative.
I’d pick all of them over, say, a life-threatening diagnosis. And
sometimes bad things happen to good people at exactly the wrong
time. You’ve convinced me that there’s lots of stress in your
immediate family when it’s time to get together with your parents. I
confess to curiosity about whether these same types of things occur
when your husband’s family visits. Also how your parents feel when
they come to visit. Do they think they’re seeing life as normal in your
household? Do they act as though they’re part of the stress, politely
ignore what’s happening, or jump in to help and resolve?
Assuming you want to have your folks continue to visit, I’d
recommend finding a way to bond over these disastrous visits, turning
them into great family stories, of the Do you remember the time
when… variety. Once you all start laughing, the stress will abate and
I’m betting the number of disasters will drop precipitously. That sure
beats having your children grow up thinking they come from some
accursed line. The alternative: meet them in some resort, but try to
avoid hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes.