Wow! We've had Panikhidas for 38 years or even 50
Years. If the family wants kolyva they bring their own. If not, we just have the prayers. No charge. We all try to remember the priest and his wife at Christmas with gifts.
There's no prohibition of praying someone after a certain amount of years, especially a number so arbitrarily chosen like three! It makes no sense, if anything we're encouraged
to pray for the dead for as long as we're alive! I hope my old congregation doesn't go around saying "Well gee, Mrs. Diamantidis, y'see, this is your husband's fourth mnimosyno; God has heard enough prayers for him, it's time to move on so that we can have a fresh batch of the deceased to pray for. If you want, we can still give you $80 worth of stari, maybe we take a little bit off for you, give you a special parishioner's discount!" It's one of the reasons I moved to the OCA cathedral down the street and have never looked back.
"Charging" $35 for kollyva is ridiculous, $80 is is outrageous. I make the stuff regularly, and I know how much time it takes and the cost of ingredients to put it together. It's kollyva, folks, not a wedding cake.
Finally, someone gets it! My Mom has that Old World Greek charm where if the church (yet not always the
Church) says something, then you do it. She was happy to put $60 for it, and we were one of five families that had the mnimosyno!
But hey, you guys think that's
bad; one of the nuttier ushers accused my Mother of theft—on the night of the Pascha vigil.
He thought she put a $1into the collection plate in the narthex for keria/candles, but she put a $5 and took $3 back. And then he refused to recant! Because my Mom is getting a bit old and set in her ways and thus refused to go to any service not in English/liturgical Greek, we stayed. That is the main reason why I left and became an actual (but non-paying) member of the other cathedral next door.