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by Abigail Van Buren

The More, the Merrier Holds True for Family Gathering

DEAR ABBY: We are approaching the time of year when many people struggle with how to divide time between families during the holidays. This is often made harder when there has been divorce and remarriage within a family, especially when children are involved. This was the case in our family.

Planning dinners and celebrations became far easier once I realized that holidays are not just arbitrary dates on a calendar, but a spirit of heart and mind. I let everyone else plan their events, and then choose a day that as many people as possible are available. I host an event on that day -- a week earlier, a week (or month) later -- it doesn't matter. What does matter is that we gather in love and friendship and have a wonderful time.

As a result, even my former daughters-in-law readily join in with their new spouses and children and we have a ball! We get to blend together four generations, and our youngest generation is richer for the experience. We joke about having "in-law" and "out-law" tables.

I'll be honest, it took work. The adults had to agree to act like adults, but I'm proud that everyone looks forward to coming to our holiday celebrations whenever they are held. My advice to your readers: Forget the calendar and remember the reason for the gathering! -- FOUND HOLIDAY SPIRIT

DEAR FOUND: I love your attitude, and couldn't stop smiling after reading your letter. Thank you so much for writing. I hope it will open the minds and hearts of other readers.

Read more in: Holidays & Celebrations | Family & Parenting