Q. My nephew’s wedding is fast approaching. We received invitations, but each of my four adult daughters, ranging 21 to 30, were invited with no guests. They are not married. When they questioned their cousin, he replied that he and his fiance HAD to invite 250 guests and have to cut somewhere, so unless you are engaged you cannot bring a guest. Further, if they get a lot of “no” replies they will revisit the idea of allowing guests.
This is hurtful as we are family, and I feel as adults these young women should have been able to bring a guest and it’s tacky that they would allow them later to bring dates. Am I wrong for thinking family should be allowed a guest at a reception this big?
A. You want tacky? How about going back to your host after receiving four invitations and asking why you weren’t issued eight. How about gazing upon a guest list of 250 and believing it’s your place to suggest that it should be 260 or 300, because you’re you and you believe in “and guest.” Or, worse, deciding 250 is fine but that four people the couple cares about should be axed to make room for four people your daughters care about.
Or pressing an accommodation out of your host, and then dismissing said accommodation as “tacky.” Yikes.
I’ve sat in this chair for too many years not to understand there are rebuttals to my rebuttals, so I won’t pretend you’ll be satisfied by my standpoint on guest lists.
But my viewpoint does prove the fact of different opinions, because you and I expressly don’t agree your nephew was rude. And that makes a more persuasive point: Managing a guest list does indeed involve judgment calls, and it’s not any individual guest’s judgment — or mine — that sets the bar for invitations made thoughtfully, versus those that are careless or rude.
You have been invited to celebrate the joyous life event of people you love, people likely under pressure to please a lot of different constituencies — many of them poised to be critical, ahem, of the way the couple chooses to host people at their or their families’ expense. Wouldn’t it be loving, joyous and celebratory just to embrace the invitation as kindly intended, and show up without further complaint?
Q. My daughter and her husband have three families to see, her parents being divorced and remarried. I understand how stressful and demanding holidays are for her.
My problem is that it is always me and her stepdad on the “bottom of the barrel.” Her other two families have more members, making it fun to get together, and people their age and the ages of their little children. It is just me and my husband, much less festive. I get it.
However , we are left alone at holidays and it is always so depressing at the same time. We normally find some other people to share dinner with but it doesn’t relieve the lonely, left-out feeling. I have expressed this to my daughter in years past but she just gets upset and I feel like I’ve dumped a guilt trip on her. I hate holidays. Any suggestions?
A. I’m sorry. This is common and hard.
Nonetheless, you know what they say — if you can’t beat ’em, blow everything up.
That is, assuming you’ve completely ruled out joining these bigger gatherings. I hope you haven’t; radical inclusion can work, even when relations tend to the chilly. All you need to get started is a group decision to make it work. If your ex-husband for whatever reason stands in the way of your gathering with your daughter’s side of the family, then maybe you can create a niche for yourselves, over the course of a few years, with your son-in-law’s crew. Certainly you and your daughter don’t lack for incentive to try something new.
While that’s impossible or unpalatable, then, boom: Take your current idea of how a holiday is supposed to look, and obliterate it. Tell yourself firmly and finally that what you envision — sharing with your daughter and her brood — isn’t going to happen.
Then look at that fresh blank page and see … what? Is it interesting travel, even a day trip? A hike to a gorgeous view? Community service? Or can you see just treating yourselves — be it to a performance, since not all venues go dark on holidays, or a spa or a high-end restaurant meal or a streaming binge of a show or movies you love, with a menu to match.
Anything purposeful. Anything but a scraped-together consolation bird.
If you can’t see holidays as an appointment to feel good, then please note that currently they’re essentially an appointment to feel bad — and that almost every element of this yet your daughter’s circumstances is within your power to change.