- Jun 2004 Archive
Last year, 2007, we were asked to attend Thanksgiving dinner
at my second sisters (#2) house. I looked forward to this event as she was
the best cook in the family and I enjoy her and her family's company. We left
for our trip to the town the rest of my family live in and went to my Mother's
house to stay overnight. Mom has already cooked most of the food she is to take
so I was fortunate enough not to have to cook anything.
Right before we are to leave to go to my sisters (#2) house,
my Mother tells me we are going to the other sister's house for Thanksgiving. I
asked about my second sister and her dinner and Mom tells me that she isn't
having one since her Grandson had been put in the hospital the night before with
a jaw fracture. Now I love both of my sisters, but my oldest sister's family
drive me nutzo. They are loud, obnoxious, gossiping know it alls. So we go along
since we are in no place to not accept going to older sisters house.
When we arrive everyone is there, except sister #2 and her
family. The table is beautifully decorated, the smell in the house is of freshly
baked turkey. Maybe not such a bad day will be spent after all, I'm thinking.
When we sat down for dinner, everything was tasteless. No sugar in the candied
yams, no sugar in the pumpkin pie, the turkey has no spices nor the stuffing. I
had forgotten that my sister was newly diagnosed diabetic and didn't cook
with sugar or spices any longer. Needless to say, it was the worst Thanksgiving
meal I had ever had plus had to listen to my niece talk about her daughter's
divorce and how she wasn't going to do this or that, for over two hours. That's
the last trip we make to my family's town for Thanksgiving.
I used to work with a woman I'll call J who was very big
on bragging about her house (exclusive neighborhood but they couldn't afford to
turn on the heat above 45 and she had to wrap up in sweats and big afghans at
home all winter), her wonderful husband who ADORED her (yeah right, this is the
guy who brought a date to her funeral when she died suddenly and married the
much younger girlfriend a week later -- you know this had to have been a
long-term affair), her son who was a big football star in high school and was
going to go to West Point (he ended up in community college, by the way and
we never heard another peep about West Point again) and her exclusive
The highlight of her year was always her big Derby Day party
and she lived in Kentucky so she wanted it to be ultra perfect and in keeping
with the true Kentucky Derby spirit. She bragged all the time about the
mint juleps she'd be serving and the Kentucky Burgoo she was making (a type of
stew they serve in the elite parties among the real horsey set). She name
dropped about the guest list. She showed everyone what she bought to wear
and made sure she left the tags on and that everyone saw what she paid for the
outfit. She even showed everyone in the office (including all the
non-invitees) the engraved invitations with a drawing of her house on the front
that she'd supposedly commissioned some artist to draw. I didn't like her
anyway and wouldn't have gone had she asked me but I thought that was all very
But it got worse. The trouble was, every day this woman,
J would have lunch with another coworker who was an old high school
classmate of hers, S and another coworker, P. P was always included
because she sat right next to S and she and S were close friends. And, by
the way, P was a very nice person who just happened to have married a Jewish man
slightly older than herself and J was always critical of her and called her a
lot of names behind her back over this. The fact was, P's husband was a
very nice person, had a lot of money and could've bought and sold J 10 times
Anyway, S was always invited to J's big Derby Day party.
S told me this story later and knowing them all, I believed every bit of it.
Every day for weeks on end, J droned on endlessly about this party to both S and
P. Eventually the invitations went out and it became clear to P that she
was not invited. Personally, I think that if you're going to talk about a
party in front of someone, you should have invited them to the party. One
day as J is going on and on about the very authentic Kentucky Burgoo she is
making tons and tons of, P asks her how it is made. J says, "You
wouldn't be able to do it -- it's too complicated."
A day or so goes by and again at lunch the subject comes up, J
droning on and on about it and P says, "I know you have your guest list all
set and I wouldn't dream of asking you to invite me..." (at which point J
huffs "That's good, you are NOT invited") but I have heard about
this burgoo for so long and it sounds so delicious, do you think you might save
me a tiny bit just to taste if there's any left over?" J looked at
her, incredulous and said, "Absolutely not. I didn't invite you, and
I am not giving you anything." P was very hurt and S felt bad about
it. So S snuck a tiny Tupperware container to the party and when J wasn't
looking, she ladled a little portion of the Burgoo into it and tried to hide it
in her purse. Unfortunately, J's husband saw her and alerted J who
confiscated S's Tupperware.
Dear Miss Jeanne, It is the week of Halloween as I
type this story, and I have just witnessed some behavior that might add
Halloween to the list of holidays provoking greedy behavior. Aside from
the occasional vocal negative review of the candy I distribute (they're little
kids, they still have time to learn), I have not experienced Halloween as a
holiday strewn with etiquette landmines when it comes to children trick or
treating. (I am only focusing on kids out for candy here, not the
vandalism that unfortunately is also prevalent in the season.)
I live in a county with several municipalities with
different times scheduled for trick or treating. In the past few years, I
have noticed an uptick in the number of children who make my neighborhood one of
*many* stops for gathering treats. Yesterday, I heard a chaperone telling
a child that when they were done with my neighborhood, they would drive to the
city where the designated time started a bit later and walk around to more
houses! Unfortunately, the child was exhausted but the chaperone insisted
they keep going.
I may be a curmudgeon (I am 31), but I don't remember
Halloween being an opportunity to have my parents drive me all over creation so
I could get a good haul of stuff. If I was too tired to walk to a
neighborhood, I didn't go there, period. What particularly disturbs me is
the justification of "We spent all this money on a costume so we need to
get our money's worth in candy." That sounds to me like the
parents are creating a future Bridezilla/Groomonster - "I spent a lot of
money on your dinner so you owe me a good gift!" Again, like in the
RugRats section, the etiquette lapse is not really the kids' fault, but I didn't
force the parent(s) to spend the money for the costume, and I am not providing
treats for the whole county! I will happily provide candy for the numerous
kids in my neighborhood and have some extras on hand, but that's IT.
This story is about the first and only Christmas that my
parents and I spent with my sister at her home in London. It was about 12-13
years ago making me 9-10 at the time so while everything's not as crystal clear
as it was certain things most definitely stick in the memory.
Firstly as we lived over nearly 3 hours away we had to get up
at the crack of dawn (as far as I was concerned) to drive down to be with her
for around 9am. Not a problem as I was up anyway being Christmas after all. I
was not allowed to open all my presents which I understood but my parents chose
2 that I could open. A pack of books and a big cuddly toy to keep me occupied on
the journey down. Unusually for me I was also carsick on the way down. So we
arrive tired and in my case feeling a little queasy to start Christmas with my
sister. She however is surprised we haven't already opened our gifts as she and
her BF already have. My mother was a little hurt as we get on with our own
little Christmas in her front room while she ignores us and talks to her BF and
his brother, to my dad and I however it was not much of a surprise as she has a tendency
to be selfish and thoughtless.
Following our present opening she announces she's off to the
pub with her BF to see his family and will be back later. She did not invite us
to go with her nor were we forewarned that she was going to abandon us to
entertain ourselves. When she returned,3 hours later, we were watching one of
the films I had been given for Christmas. She proceeds to talk loudly about how
bad it is and then give away the ending despite her being asked to be quiet as I
hadn't yet seen this movie.
Christmas dinner was reheated turkey and soggy veg. Which I
don't hold that against her as she's not a great cook. After which she goes out
again this time to see all her friends. At this point we're wondering why we
bothered to come. We were supposed to stay for boxing day too but decided to go
the next morning. My sister was hurt as she thought she was spending the day
with us. My mother only just stopped me from informing her that we thought we
were spending yesterday with her.
Strangely enough we've never spent Christmas with her again
despite the odd request for our company. Usually when the latest BF has dumped
her. Since moving out of home she never sees me at Christmas anymore but did
offer last year through my mother to have us all for Christmas. My mum politely
declined on my behalf saying I was planning on spending the Christmas with my
new husband. While I on the other hand had hysterics when my mother told me.
I love my MIL and FIL, but this one is hard to swallow.
My MIL's father passed away in late October. After his passing, his
daughter, (my MIL ) being almost 55 years of age and still unusually close to
her folks, decides it is time for my MIL and FIL to purchase their own burial
plots right next to her folks. Being that my MIL and FIL just bought
burial plots and a custom-made headstone, they were horribly low on money for Christmas
presents. I would have just assumed that they could forget presents for us
all and just have a nice holiday meal with the family. This is the 1 time
of year that my MIL and FIL have the 4 kids, spouses and 4 grandchildren over to
their cluttered, overly decorated house with breakable stuff ALL over.
Instead, they take out the photo of the headstone and plot that we, as children
with no gifts, "bought them", and proceeded to tell us about them
cleaning out one of their spare bedrooms, cluttered with stuff and gave us what
they were "planning on getting rid of anyway" from that room, for Christmas.
For instance, my niece (5 yr old) and nephew (4yr old) were given a
black-n-white TV, which my MIL and FIL thought "worked", their parents
received an old vacuum, and my BIL received a broken lamp. My husband and
I were the most blessed. We received the very old, but nice camping stuff
(Tent, lantern, camp cookers). My son (5 yr old) received my FIL's Nintendo
game set which was given to him as a Christmas gift from my BIL about 2-3 years
One of the strangest gifts were old pictures that my hubby and
his siblings colored when they were kids, were given back to them as Christmas
gifts. My SIL and I still talk about the garage-sale Christmas we had a
few years ago, hoping this is not something they plan on doing every
year……next time they should forget presents all together.
This is an email that my mom sent to my sister and me:
"I know that money is tight this year, so to
make my list easy....These gifts were OK in the past, but These are a few
of my I DON'T WANT GIFTS: 1. TIVO 2. sweaters (not even
red) 3. slacks 4. gloves 5. scarves
6. slippers 7. robes 8. earrings 9. watch 10. ornaments
(unless the kids make them) 11. Bath and Body products ( I have a ton) What
I would like is a small am/fm radio and a v-neck, sleeveless nightgown. "
Sheesh mom, how about a gift card? I'm sure I'd pick the
wrong store, though.
I have a sister whom I'll call "M" who is a total
control freak! If she doesn't get things exactly the way she wants, she becomes
passive-aggressive and just ends up doing what she wanted to anyway. She is so
bossy that when she and her fiancé get ready to leave our home after a visit,
she insists that he use the bathroom before they go. (It's only an hour's drive
from our house, 1-1/2 hours with traffic). She's inconsiderate, brutish, and
rude. My family doesn't celebrate Halloween; she's completely aware of this, so
what does she do? Goes out and buys a Halloween coloring book for my child
because she celebrates Halloween.
Christmas rolled around and she completely sucked all the fun
out of the holiday. My parents, my other sister & BIL, "M" & I
all agreed to pull names for the adults and buy one gift ($15 value) for the
adult whose named we pulled, and then every family buy one gift ($20 max) for
each one of the 2 kids. (This meant each kid would get a 3 gifts plus whatever
else their parents bought.) At the last minute, "M" changed her mind
and bought all the adults 3 gifts each from Dollar Tree (where everything's
$1.00), 2 gifts for my daughter and NOTHING, not one thing for the other child
(a boy). She does this type of stuff all the time, and today is Easter. (Happy
Easter guys, if you celebrate it.) I think I should stop visiting for the
holidays, but my Mom would be hurt. Any suggestions?
I’ll preface this with I don’t get along that great with
my mom. After her visit, I now remember why. But, as she’s getting
older and has helped me out financially through a rough situation (which I
repaid totally, with interest BTW) I thought I would give it another try and
invited her to my house for a week. My finances are still rather tight,
but I decided to make this a good week for her as a thank you for her help.
Unfortunately, she accepted. To say my mother's visit
was stressful would be a bit of an understatement. I realize she means well, and
is my mother, but behaviors she would not tolerate from me while growing up seem
to be her norm.
I had a guest basket set up for her with snack bags, lotion,
etc. That wasn’t enough, she needed some “special foods” also, so I
took her to the grocery store and let her select her food as she’s on a weird
diet. She selected a month’s worth of “snacks” that I gladly paid
for, as I assumed she would pick up the tab somewhere else. Was I mistaken
To start with, every bite of food she takes is accompanied by
a lecture on why she is eating this and not that, how it affects her body, etc.
She can't eat carbs, yet can scarf down an entire loaf of bread at the Outback
restaurant (which I paid for). She can't eat rice as it will affect her blood
sugar, but has no difficulty with candy. Interesting how her rules change for
My house is not overly large (but not small either), so I have
many things stored in the guest bedroom closet. She decided because I wasn't
wearing the coats she gave me many years ago (dress winter coats--I used for
church and other similar occasions, which have not occurred during her visit)
that she would take them back. She did not even ask; just announced her plans to
mail them to her house (she was quite surprised when I took her to the post
office so she could pay for the postage to mail them). I would have gladly given
them to her (even though I do use them, and will have to replace them) if she
had but asked.
My boyfriend and I took her with us to his Christmas
celebration on Christmas eve. His family was nothing but nice to her, and she
was on her best behavior. For gift exchange everyone brings one gift and then
pick numbers to either select a new gift or steal one from someone else. They
are supposed to be about $20-$25 gifts. Mom brought a plastic cosmetic bag. I
filled it with bath salts and things to try and bring the value up, but it was
still rather embarrassing. As she was the last to select, she picked a toy that
I'd stolen and was stolen from me. Stating that she had to steal it back as she
was my guest and she was getting it for me. I was totally embarrassed by the
whole thing; my boyfriend was mortified. While leaving, his mom invited her back
on her next visit and she had to make a catty comment about how he and I had
"issues" and she didn't expect to return.
For her Christmas I gave her a cell phone (on my family plan,
which I will pay for the next two years for) arranged for her a massage (with a
lady she knows and enjoys); a haircut (once again with a lady she knows and
enjoys); several smaller gifts for her to use and enjoy. I gladly paid for
these as a small thank you for her assistance.
For Christmas, she only had the gift from the party for me,
and a few smaller things from her suitcase. My “big” present was still
in the mail. She did write an IOU (on my paper, and wadded it up into my
stocking) for a tree for the yard and a kitchen faucet to replace the one in my
kitchen that doesn't work well (we’d been to a home improvement store several
times, but she didn’t see a reason to buy anything as these items weren’t on
sale—when they were I was to buy them and send her a receipt). As she promised
to buy me a nut cracker if I took her to a specialty gift shop (which I
did, and she didn't) I will not hold my breath on this. My "big"
present (a cordless vacuum) arrived in the mail the following day.
When I vacuum, I use the wand for corners, etc, I have no use for a small vacuum
that won’t let me get into the crevices of the couch, etc. But she made
such a big deal over it.
Next, she insisted on inviting herself to visit my kids on
Christmas day. These children have been bought by their dad with promises
of fancy cars, etc; all they have to do to earn them is treat me like crap and
help him spread his lies and slander about me to anyone that will listen.
. This went against all my instincts and everything that I had been attempting
to accomplish with them (have them miss me so they would treat me with at least
a little respect). This did not matter and it was important for HER to maintain
contact with HER grandchildren. That this was done at the expense of her
daughter (not capitalized, as apparently I'm not as important as HER
grandchildren) was irrelevant. She would not drive herself, and nothing would do
but for me to drive her over there and accompany her in.
That visit in itself was very stressful (just what I wanted to
do on Christmas day). I stood in the empty entryway of the house I'm still on
the loan for. The kids gave us their gifts (I got a stuffed Christmas dog that I
gave to a coworker; she got some lotion and made a big deal about how thoughtful
they were, etc.) The kids wanted us to go to the kitchen and at least my mom
came up with an excuse to not do that and we left. A few minutes later we were
invited back to join "the family" for Christmas dinner. Interesting
how it was timed to be ready at the same time we visited, isn't it? I would have
just loved sitting in my kitchen, watching my X and children put on a show about
how wonderful THEIR family was and how they didn’t need me. Thanks mom,
for helping rub it in.
My brother sent money so I could take her to a nice restaurant
and think of him while she was here. She opted for Outback, as she likes their
Salmon. I like it to, even if everything is a bit over seasoned for my tastes. I
ordered a large salad. She appeared to enjoy her Salmon (she certainly enjoyed
the bread!) which was great. While eating my salad she saw a piece of an onion
in it and reached over and grabbed it with her hand. As I sat in shock she then
stated that as I didn't like onions she would take it for me, and was that OK?
Well, I do like onions and stated that, at which point she dropped it back into
my salad and apologized. I really didn't want it at that point and used my
fingers to pick it up and drop it in her plate. Unfortunately, my enjoyment of
the salad ceased at that point.
This was next followed up with plans for her to visit with the
kids, again. She didn't want to take them bowling (I've done that and they just
ignore you while you spend money on them) or anything else that involved money
(at least she listened to me on that). The compromise was she would play board
games with them. I tried to tell her this would only be used to hurt me. My
boyfriend tried to get this through to her. She refused to even consider
(remember her relationship with HER grandchildren?) the possibilities. So, I
left her my car and had to hitch a ride to work and back.
Well, as near as I can figure (I refused to talk to her about
her visit with HER grandchildren), she got to ride in the new truck my X bought
for my 15yo son. She was totally impressed with this bottom of the line
Ford 4 door pick up. My 14yo daughter was promised my X’s sports car.
As there was no other car, this meant my X either had to “borrow” a vehicle
from the kids (yeah, right) or just continue using them as if they were his
(which I’m sure is what he did). She also got to listen to what a great
family THEY were and what a bad person, etc. I am. My mom believes in
being polite no matter what the cost; so rather than leaving when this visit
turned bad, she stayed for awhile and tolerated all of this. I have no
sympathy, as her visit will be used as further justification somehow that I am a
bad mom for not visiting with them and subjecting myself to more of this crap.
When she left my house, she managed to lock herself out of my
house (I don't know why she decided to lock the door between the house and
garage, but she did). I had taken the precaution of hiding all the keys so the
kids had no access to them if they came by; and I didn't want her to have one in
case my X had a chance to run a copy. She called asking permission to break a
window to get in. I guess she didn’t want to wait 3 hours for me to get
home; as if I could anyway as she had my car. She decided to just hang out until
I got home. By this time, my boyfriend had no interest in helping her (it
was all he could do to convince me to talk to this woman).
As the final example of her excellent social skills, I had a
basket of pecans sitting in the living room for her to enjoy cracking and eating
while watching TV (I usually do this for her, as she enjoys this--one reason I
needed the nut cracker). She ate them very sparingly as she planned to take them
back with her to give to one of the people watching her house (much cheaper than
buying a $10 bag at the gift shop).
I am happy to say she finally left on Saturday morning. I do
not anticipate her staying with me anytime soon. Perhaps she will be able to
stay with HER grandchildren on her next visit? I do know I will clean out the
closet and guest room and lock everything up if she does spend another night
with me (as I would do if the kids visit, even though I doubt they would feel
the need to steal a coat).
During her entire visit, the only thing she bought was ½ a
tank of gas. As we visited a tourist town a distance away, this didn’t
come close to the amount of gas used. All of the snacks I bought her?
Wrappers weren’t in the trash so I can only conclude she took them with her,
as well as anything similar from my pantry.
When she returned home, she called to say thank you and tell
me what a wonderful visit she had. She saved so much money she treated
herself to a shopping spree at Big Lots and spent over $140 and thoroughly
enjoyed all of the things she got.
p.s...This woman makes twice what I do and has no house or car
payment, so finances are not a problem for her.
Page Last Updated September 18, 2008