I just moved into a condo this year and am hosting my first Christmas dinner. But my place is impossibly small and there's no way I can have my whole family over - at least not at the same time. So, in an effort to accommodate everyone, I asked that only the immediate family come for dinner and that if my brother and sister's significant others want to pop by they do so after we've eaten and we can mingle over drinks. There's room for that. My suggestion, unfortunately, has been greeted with a boycott by my siblings. But it's my new place! I want to show it off. How can I appease the whole gang?
Okay, hmmm, where to begin?
First of all, I don't know how old you are. But whatever phase of life you're in, even if you're a teenager, it's no longer an option to invite people without their "significant others" to functions.
It's offside! No wonder your family is boycotting that scenario. You're asking them to create terrible friction in their love lives: to turn to their boyfriends or girlfriends or wives or husbands and say: "Listen, I'm going to my brother's house for Christmas dinner. You can't come, but you can come later for drinks."
Not to put too fine a point on it, I'd go so far as to say your selective invitation may have the net result of interfering with their sex lives. And I don't care if you're Oscar Wilde, Brangelina and the Obamas all rolled into one: No invitation is worth that.
No, if someone's part of a couple, you have to invite both members of that couple to everything.
Got that, son?
Secondarily, maybe it's my teen-hippie, anti-materialistic roots, but a part of me still feels wanting to "show off" your tiny new condo is kind of a weird reason for having people over, especially if you piss everyone off in the process.
The main thing is you want to see everyone, make them happy, throw a little food and wine down their throats while you're at it, right?
Now, I've never been in the cozy confines of your condo, but suffice to say: If there's room enough to drink, there's room enough to eat.
Why not have one of those dinners where everyone balances their plates on their knees?
It'll be fun. The more the merrier, right? So phone or e-mail everyone and say: "Listen, sorry, I'm new to this hosting business. Please accept my apologies and an invitation to all y'all for a cozy Christmas nosh-up chez my petite little boîte of a condo."
Even if everyone is packed in like sardines, even if you all start to feel like the stuffing in a Christmas turkey while you eat your dinner, you'll still have, I predict, a snootful of festive fun in a spirit of communion, togetherness and, above all, inclusiveness.
And that's what this season's really all about, isn't it?