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Teamwork (12/06/06)

Dear Zelda,

Every year my siblings, their families and my family all get together for Christmas dinner. The problem is that our brother (who is a single dad) and his family NEVER offer to bring food or even to help clean up. One year we asked him to bring a pie, figuring he could buy one at a bakery, but he arrived empty-handed and claimed he forgot. My sisters and I are tired of his behavior and feel it is his male chauvinistic side that ignores our requests ("Cooking and cleaning are women's work.")  We've talked about not inviting him, but feel bad that his two children will be left out of our family tradition. What's your advice?

Invite or Fight

Dear Invite or Fight,

It's time for a showdown at the Not-So-Okay-Corral! Who is this contrary-cowboy you call a brother, what era is he living in, and why are you and your sisters not calling him on his outlaw behavior? Refusing to contribute to the holiday feast is rude, selfish, and definitely not in the holiday spirit! Zelda's diagnosis: unaccept-a-bull!

When teamwork is required and expected, it's everyone's job to pitch in. Your brother's antiquated, lame-duck explanation for not helping out is just another excuse to be a lazy freeloader, with a little chauvinism thrown in for charm. The gender roles of the past have more or less vanished, and today more women are hauling out the garbage and more men are washing dishes (or so I've heard). But to me, it sounds like what irks you most isn't the actual work he should be doing, (certainly bringing one pie doesn't make that much difference in a whole feast), but the respect and courtesy that effort represents.

So what you need to tell your brother is this: "We work hard to celebrate this meal as a family. And when you refuse to contribute in any way, it's a sign of disrespect to the time and work we put into it. If you don't want to cook or clean, that's fine. We can do that ourselves. But you need to find some way to show us that you're willing to contribute too. Bring some wine. Or bring the turkey for us to cook. Or work with your kids to make the centerpiece. Just do something to help us feel like you care too.” This may not be the easiest thing to say, but think how much easier it will be than another holiday filled with tensions and resentment! In the long run, the results will be better, and I think your brother may find that not only is participating as part of the family team actually a little bit more enjoy-a-bull, but his children will have a lot more fun as team members than as spectators.

So, call your brother and tell him that his sisters have spoken... either he joins the family team by lending a hand in some way that works for him or he can stay home where he will be in charge of everything. Be firm, stand your ground, and don't let him dodge this bullet. You cowgirls can kick some booty too!


Dear Zelda,

This year I was elected president of a social club in my high school. We would like to take a ski trip this year and I'm wondering how I can motivate the members to raise enough money to pay for the trip. Help me Zelda! Do you have any suggestions?

Looking for Ideas

Dear Looking for Ideas,

What you need are some creative tips for motivating your club members to raise enough money for the ski trip, and one of the best ways I know for motivation is healthy competition. Why don't you create two teams (e.g. the freshmen and seniors vs. the sophomores and juniors), and offer a 'reward' to the team that raises the most money? This will give both teams an incentive to win, no matter what.

Everyone (including yours truly) likes to be pampered. If the winning team's reward is that they will be waited on and catered to by the losing team during one day of the ski trip, you can bet the motivation to win will be strong. The wining team members will watch as the losing team members prepare meals, wash dishes, and clean up the cabins. What a great incentive to win the ski trip competition! And while it seems like one team might be sad about losing, ultimately both teams will benefit by raising money, having fun, and getting to go on a great ski trip together!

Since you are really the leader of both teams, it's your job to encourage each team to be creative and figure out a variety of ways to raise funds. Set a deadline and send out e-mail reminders to everyone showing the progress of each team on a chart. I think you will be amazed how this will motivate the teams and make money for a great ski trip.

By creating two teams that are actually both working toward (mostly) the same goal, as president you will be dividing the fund-raising task and doubling the success. Good teamwork means coming together, sharing together, working together, and succeeding together, but sometimes it takes a little healthy competition to get there. Working together works, but having a rival to spur you on never hurts! GO TEAM!


Dear Zelda,

It's the holiday season again and my husband and I can't agree on gifts for our dog Sierra. I'm sure a celebrity like you receives lots of products, so what can you recommend as the best gifts we can give Sierra this year.

Holiday Woe's-me

Dear Holiday Woe's-me,

Your letter couldn't have come at a more opportune time. Over this past year our Zelda Wisdom staff and I have been tasting, chewing, tossing, licking, drinking, and wearing many new products for our first ever "Z-List". Here are our top 20 picks for a fabulous Holiday Season (10 last week and the final 10 this week).

Simply click here and set your Holiday woes... free. Fetch the Z list