I was reading a blog post the other day that really struck me. The poster wrote about being invited to her sister-in-law's house for Easter, and being expected to bring "the dinner" (she called it the dinner, but it became apparent that it was really a side or sides). This poster thought it was ridiculous for someone to expect her to bring a dish. In her opinion, if you invite people for dinner, you provide the dinner. All of the dinner. I am not really commenting on this person's post because I do not know the relationship with the extended family and maybe there are underlying issues there.
In my family, we are all expected to bring dishes to family gatherings. When we were younger, my mom brought things; now that we are out of the house, we each (the three girls; my brother lives far away and rarely gets to attend) bring dishes. And, really, there just are not that many to bring, so it is a constant struggle to come up with something creative to bring because all the older people have their signature sides and the rest of us are left floundering. I am pretty sure I am going to bring a salad - of the green, leafy variety - for Easter because every other damn thing is taken! So, the way this works in my family (and I mean, extended), is the person hosting provides the ham/turkey and maybe a side or two and some appetizers. Everyone else provides sides, rolls, desserts. And there is always a BOATLOAD of food. No one feels burdened by the responsibility to bring a dish. Except me (kidding!) - but that is just lack of planning on my part that I am always at the store at the last minute getting stuff together. I like being part of the group, knowing I contributed to the food. This works very well and allows us to get together regularly without anyone going broke.
Another interesting (to me) facet to this is the location. We do Thanksgiving at my mom's; Christmas and Easter at my aunt's. Always. If someone else wants to host, they need to get word out way in advance! At some point in the future, we will have bigger houses, and our parents will get older, and my cousins and sisters and I will take the torch and start hosting holidays and family gatherings. And someday my girls will do the same. This tradition may not follow the etiquette rules of hosting dinner, but it is a great tradition, rooted in love. And I would not have it any other way.
How about you - any family traditions? Thoughts?