Someone did an outstanding job rearing children who have each other’s backs.

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The Not So Unexpected Ingratitude

by admin on February 26, 2015

So last year my friend invited me to her 30th birthday party  to be held the weekend before she turned 30. I wouldn’t say we are close friends so I rather agonized over what to get her as a gift. I settled on a nice silver picture frame.

When I went to the party I handed her the wrapped gift and card – the card was not attached to the gift in anyway. She opened the card, said thank you and gave me a hug. She then said she wasn’t opening any of her presents until her actual birthday. I did rather wonder at the time how on earth she was going to know which gift was from which person since she had opened all the cards that came with the gifts, and they didn’t say to and from on them.

Well, it is now February of the following year. I have no idea if she did open the present on her birthday, if she liked or disliked it or anything because I never heard another word about it. No thank you or anything. Am I wrong to think the verbal thank you she gave me when she opened the card isn’t sufficient? Especially since she hadn’t even opened the present yet and therefore had no idea what I had gotten her? 0219-15

I am of the opinion that people who host their own birthday parties are giving everyone a significant clue as to the status of their understanding of good etiquette.   Why is it surprising that someone does not express gratitude for a gift when they had already crossed the etiquette line by acting as host of a celebratory party in which they are also the guest of honor?   Particularly a party for a life event that definitely has gift giving as a major component?

Hosting your own birthday party is a hot button topic on this blog despite the fact that the etiquette regarding it has been clear and unanimous for a very long time.   One does not engage in hospitality that is specifically planned to honor your own self as the guest of honor.   But modern Western culture is predominated by a belief that the individual is owed recognition, accolades, respect, honor and gifts for reaching certain life milestones and if friends and family won’t do it, then they feel justified in taking matters into their own hands to make sure they are sufficiently and deservedly honored.  Humility is a dying character trait.

So the stage was already set for your friend to not acknowledge the gifts she received by virtue of the fact that she planned her own birthday party.   Entitled people feel no obligation to express gratitude for things they feel are owed to them.   Should you be offended by this lack of courtesy by your friend?   No.  The warning signs were there from the beginning and you, possibly inadvertently, enabled it by bringing a gift.   Move on.

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Birthday Blackmail

by admin on February 25, 2015

Call me crazy, but I always thought birthdays of children should be about the parents and a few close relatives relishing a few gifts (if they choose to!), some cards and some cake.

Well, figure me shocked when I saw this come up on my Facebook feed from a woman I know this morning:

“Well im done giving a s**t about anybody in this world! The only person in this world to make an effort and send something to our daughter for her birthday was her uncle [blank] & he is locked up in prison! We appreciate it and she certainly loves it! As for everyone else thats ever been apart of [blank]’s life feel free to hit the unfriend button!”

Since when did it become OK to openly be such a gimme pig on Facebook about your child’s birthday (with blackmail about unfriending and exclusion included)? It’s pretty rich to assume that her 200 friends and acquaintances (most who have never even met her daughter) will be sending gifts. I myself do not even know of the date of her daughter’s birthday and she did not post anything about it, otherwise I probably would have wished her a happy birthday on the post.

For some background, this woman is famed for gimme pig behaviour (threatening to sue competition runners because her daughter didn’t win, openly embroiled in a spat on Facebook with a cleaner who she didn’t pay, moaning about how she never has money constantly but wants to take her child to this and that and sitting back and waiting for someone to offer to her).

I would love some advice on what I could say to this woman about her gimme pig behaviour before I do unfriend her. I am choosing not to be a part of her gimme lifestyle any longer, but I feel it needs to be pointed out to her why I feel that way.    0212-15

I had a similar situation last year.   I reconnected on Facebook with a person I had known from early childhood but had lost contact after we went to college.  She posted a similar guilt manipulative rant that no one had acknowledged her eldest son’s graduation or wished her a “Happy Birthday”.   Friends rushed in to remedy this deficit in her life, not realizing that by doing so they were enablers of future such rants.   I quietly unfriended her from Facebook.

What is the point of saying anything to this person other than to get a load off your chest?  She won’t listen to you and you will have started a conflict you cannot end well.   Better to just quietly ease her completely out of your life.

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Doing The Right Thing In The Midst Of The Drama

by admin on February 24, 2015

I would love to know what the Etiquette Hell community thinks about this situation and whether I should respond or just ignore this ridiculousness.

My father passed away of cancer in October. Because my parents live a few hours from the rest of the family, the funeral was held on a Saturday, about a week after his death.

Almost all of my mother’s family attended, some driving 8 hours to attend. My Uncle (my mother’s brother) drove 3 hours to attend, but came alone. My Aunt said she wasn’t coming because she couldn’t close her small boutique for the day. Their five children also did not attend (all are in their 20s and 30s), though none called to say why they wouldn’t be there.

My mother’s sisters and parents were offended at the absence of my Aunt and cousins, while my mother had other things on her mind obviously, but after the fact has acknowledged their absence was at minimum rude.
Sadly, my Uncle is also battling cancer and it has spread, with doctors only giving him a few months longer. This is where the situation has become ridiculous. One of his daughters has posted on Facebook several times with a variation of “there is NO excuse for missing a family funeral.” Another cousin reminded her that she missed my father’s funeral, though that comment was quickly deleted. My Aunt called my mother to update her on my Uncle’s condition and told her that “you better be at the funeral,” and implied to my grandparents and other Aunts that my mother, my brother and I would probably not go just out of spite.
My mother is outraged; she wouldn’t miss her brother’s funeral for anything, regardless of what happened in the past. I am shocked that they are talking about my Uncle’s funeral when he is not yet at end of life (they are continuing treatment, so there is always hope).
I have no idea how to handle this situation that is quickly getting out of control for absolutely no reason. My Uncle is still alive, but we will all attend his funeral when the time comes. We feel under attack when it was never said or even hinted that we would get our “revenge” by not attending. Do we ignore these comments? Do we remind them that they all seemed to have an excuse for not attending a family funeral in the past?    0218-15
Yes, you ignore the drama queens.    When confronted with manipulative dramatists in the family, the best advice I can give is to do what is right irrespective of what the others are saying. If you remove the guilt manipulations and ugly speculations completely from this situation, would you still go to your uncle’s funeral?   Would you speak with kindness to the bereaved?  Would you send a condolence card and/or flowers?
At the end of the day when you make choices that are the right thing to do, you have the internal strength to ignore the ugliness and can have a deep contentment that you did the best you could do.
Just a head’s up, btw.   If they are already fighting about the funeral, it would not surprise me if they are already dividing up the estate well before Uncle has breathed his last.

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Pot Luck Piracy

by admin on February 23, 2015

I love reading your site, and have learned a lot about mannerly behavior from it. So when a situation arose today that ended with my actions being labeled “rude”, I wanted to send the story in, and see if I was indeed at fault, and if so, what a better response would have been.

My family attended a potluck lunch today, and I brought a Mississippi mud cake, (one of my favorites), and was pleasantly surprised as the event was wrapping up to see that there were a couple pieces of cake left in my pan. I also noticed a certain lady, (C), sitting near the dessert table. Knowing that C makes a habit of taking things she didn’t bring home with her from potlucks, I decided to go ahead and pick up my leftovers.

As I lifted the pan off the table, C leaned in and said, “I’m taking some of that home.”

I replied, “Actually, it’s mine, so I’m taking it home. Sorry.”, and began to walk away.

As I did so, I heard C say, “Well, that was rude!” , but I didn’t know how to respond , so I just kept going.

I swear I didn’t say it meanly, or anything, but I did feel that since I paid for the ingredients and made the dessert, and because the luncheon was over, that if anybody was going to enjoy the remainder at home, it should be me and my family.

What do you think? Should I have phrased it better? Just let her have the cake? Or was I okay? I’m willing to hear whatever you have to say. 0223-15

There appears to be this presumption among certain people that once a food item appears on a potluck buffet, the owner/creator/chef loses all rights to it into perpetuity.   People like C believe they are entitled to doggie bags without any reference to a courteous request to have a few leftovers.   Upon seeing the cake being prepared for removal, C should have asked, “May I take a few pieces home with me? It was so good.”   Instead she staked her claim of ownership with a declarative statement that challenged the OP’s right to do with her dessert as she saw appropriate.   C then responds manipulatively and incorrectly with an accusation that the OP was rude–a common tactic of the clueless and entitled.

OP, you did nothing wrong.   Ignoring C is definitely the best option just as it would be if one were confronted with spoiled, bratty child who made tantrums to get their way.

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