At first I accepted his refusal. I didn't want to cause more stress in his life! But the more I thought about it, the sillier the whole thing seemed. I mean, we haven't seen one another in quite some time. It's a bit of a drive, but in all seriousness it is not really very long at all - particularly when shared between two people. He shouldn't feel an obligation to entertain us when we visit, especially when he has so many important things to do. Quite the opposite: he should be able to depend on his family for help when he has so much stress in his life. So I talked it over with my sister, and yesterday I composed and sent the following email to "the siblings"..
He hasn't responded yet. We'll see what he thinks of the idea...I'm hoping he'll be open to it.
Dear Bro and Sis-in-law,
Since I talked to Bro on Friday, I've done quite a lot of thinking, plus talked to Sis some. Between the two of us, we have come up with the following idea. We'd like to visit you next Saturday. Just me and Sis. Now hold on, I know you said it'd be easier if we didn't come, but please hold your protests until you read what we propose.
Sis and I would like to get up early(ish) next Saturday, dress up in our grubby clothes, and drive to your place. We will arrive ready to work. We will then help put things in boxes, wrap breakables in newspaper, carry things, move things around, sweep, clean toilets, and just generally make ourselves useful. We will also, should the need arise, go to your new house, paint, tear up floorboards, scrub walls, move boxes, whatever is most helpful.
After a full day's work, we will demand from you Diet Cokes and wet washcloths. Once we all look presentable, we will all four go out to dinner. We will then give you presents, however much we can fit in our car, from the both of us plus our parents. Then we will help you pack them, or perhaps we will just give them to you at the new house. You will be allowed to open some, but some we will insist you save for Christmas morning.
Once all this is through, Sis and I will get back in our car Saturday night and drive back home, feeling renewed with helpfulness and the Christmas spirit.
I know you guys are really busy and really tired, but in my opinion that's all the more reason for you to need 4 extra hands to help finish last-minute chores! That's what family is for, to help with arduous tasks. Plus, it'll save us all kinds of trouble trying to ship gifts to you.
So what do you think?? Will you accept our offer of help and dinner? You won't have to worry about entertaining us or putting us up for the night, you just need to point us to tasks that need doing. You don't have to rearrange your schedules to accommodate us, nor feel guilty...even seeing you for an hour would make us happy. We will all exchange hugs, and we'll relax a bit during dinner, but otherwise we'll just help out. I'm sure there are plenty of things you could find for us to do, and hopefully we can ease your burdens some. It's what sisters are for.
Think about it, talk it over, and get back to us. You're still allowed to say 'no' if you really want: we want to help make your lives easier, not harder.