Our Two Cents: Always the host, never the hosted

Dr. Sharon Ufberg and her three children offer advice about family, love and life. Send your questions to [email protected].

Now that the Jewish holidays are over for the season, I wanted to write in about my issue of always being the one to host the holiday gatherings. It is a pattern that has developed over the years, and I am tired of it. With three school-age children, some nearby family and lots of Jewish friends, I find myself spending the entire fall entertaining and making the holidays meaningful for everyone. It’s beginning to feel like a burden rather than a pleasure. Why isn’t anyone else hosting!? I am wondering what ideas you may have to bring back the “happy” in my holidays, too! A.S., Berkeley

Jessica: You should feel special that everyone enjoys coming to your house year after year. You obviously are doing a good job in creating an atmosphere that makes the holidays feel special for everyone. Personally, I have an expectation for the way a holiday should go and how that feels to me. And when my mom doesn’t host, it just doesn’t seem right (sorry, Mom, but it’s true!). I think if you’re OK letting go of your expectations for a holiday and are happy to relinquish responsibility, then give it a try and let someone else invite you. However, you may find out that you enjoy being the host versus the guest after all.

Sharon: I can totally relate! Our home was definitely the place where family and friends often celebrated Jewish holidays, so I understand the feeling that comes over you in mid-October when enough is enough. However, it really is a wonderful gift you are giving your children, and all of your efforts are totally worth it. Making the Jewish holidays come alive and creating a special celebration in your home add to a lifetime full of wonderful Jewish memories for your family and friends. So many of my children’s childhood friends continue to tell me now how much fun it was to be at our house for Shabbat dinner or Sukkot. Your hard work and commitment to making the holidays meaningful will be honored and appreciated for years to come.

Saul: Even though you may feel burnt out at the moment, by next year you most likely will want to do it all over again. The time that you have with your family all living under one roof is short-lived, so in a few years you will be very happy you hosted all those holiday celebrations.

Alexis: You know that saying, “If you want it done well, you have to do it yourself?” It seems that you’re living “If you want it done at all, you have to do it yourself.” And I’m sorry, because that’s a lot of work for you. Talk to your friends and family about the burden of hosting and ask whether they would be interested in taking a turn at it — or taking turns, in general. If your nearest and dearest choose to not celebrate the holiday at all rather than deal with hosting everyone, take a deep breath and assess what will ultimately make you feel good. It may be that you suck it up and continue to host, despite the fact that this isn’t reciprocated, because you want these people at your holiday table. Alternately, it might feel better for you simply to celebrate holidays with your immediate family so you don’t end up with a helping of resentment alongside your latkes. You will do your family and yourself a big service by analyzing what really matters most to you — and making that happen. In the meantime, you can feel good about the hard work you’ve put into making holidays special for everyone.


Dr. Sharon Ufberg is a Napa-based radio host, journalist, consultant and integrative health practitioner. Her daughters live in San Francisco: Lawyer-turned-writer Alexis Sclamberg, 28 and married; and hair colorist Jessica Sclamberg, 26 and single. Saul Sclamberg, 24 and single, studies chiropractic in Los Angeles. Read more at http://r-2-cents.com.