Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Etiquette Hell Classics => Topic started by: emeraldsage85 on January 13, 2007, 09:08:09 PM

Title: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: emeraldsage85 on January 13, 2007, 09:08:09 PM
This happened 30 years ago but still gets dragged up at family reunions...so I thought you might enjoy it.

We were invited to spend Thanksgiving with my father's relatives. Keep in mind as I tell this that, due to distance, we always spent more time with my mother's family so I actually was not closely acquainted with my father's relatives. I knew most of them by name only, so my parents thought this was a good opportunity for me to get to know them.

The gathering was being hosted by a cousin of my dad's, let's call him "Bob" and his new wife. I had only met "Bob" once, when I was about five years old. I'll call the wife "Linda."

We get to their beautiful home and everything smells wonderful. However badly Linda behaved later, I have to give her points for her decor and fabulous cooking. They had turkey, ham AND roasted deer meat (this is the South, you know) as well as four different kinds of cakes and pies. A long line of luscious-looking side dishes had been set up on folding tables. Little did I know that I'd get to taste little of it.

I was glad to see my cousin "Kelly" because she was someone I DID know and figured at least I'd have someone to talk to because all the other kids were SMALL kids. Instead, "Linda" corralled both of us, put her arms around us, and told us in an overly sweet, overly slow tone (as if we were tiny children) that she was sooo glad to meet us and we are just soooo cute, and how much she needs us to be her "helpers" and we don't mind that, do we? Big overly lipsticked mouth grinning the whole time.

Not knowing what else to do, we say sure. She puts us to work serving food. When at last all the adults are served, we try to make plates for ourselves, but she says, "Oh, no, my helpers get special seats!" She took us into the game room and seats us at tiny tables (we're in our teens) made for the smallest kids and announces that we're each in charge of a kid's table, and to make sure they behave!!!

The kids are being served macaroni and cheese. There is also a plate of macaroni and cheese in front of my place and Kelly's.

To give my mom credit, she looks incredulous and goes back to the buffet and makes a plate for me. Kelly's mom looks dismayed but does nothing so poor Kelly gets mad and cheese too!!

The kids behave like total brats. I try to keep them quiet, but don't know their names or even which relatives they belong to. Linda comes in and gives us all a stern look, says the adults are being disturbed, and tells Kelly and I to "remember that she trusts us!" in that baby talk voice. Big lipstick smirk again.

The dinner is a nightmare and moms keep coming in and out to tend their wailing brats and give me and Kelly dirty looks. They treat us like their personal babysitters. I can't wait to get out of there, but then Linda comes in with the huge gaping red mouth and tells us in baby talk again that she needs her helpers now! You guessed it. Kelly and I are put to work clearing the table and washing dishes.

My parents thought this was tacky but hang around yakking anyway. It was the longest day of my life. I told my dad I could understand why he spent so little time with his relatives if they were all like that! Fortunately we never spent another holiday with them again.

HolidayHell0923-05
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: Shoo on January 13, 2007, 09:37:19 PM
Why, oh, why, did your parents let her treat you that way?  Even 30 years ago it wasn't unheard of for parents to stand up for their childrens' dignity.

Good visual on the gaping lipsticked mouth, BTW!  I'll probably have nightmares tonight!
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: smarterthanu213 on January 13, 2007, 11:50:43 PM
I personally love the typo. "Poor Kelly gets mad and cheese!"

This probably seems funnier right now than it really is.
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: Asharah on January 14, 2007, 01:12:34 AM
Shoud have billed the b**ch for services rendered. "Baby-sitting is $4 per hour for each of us for the first child, plus an additional $1 per hour for each extra child. Wait, it's time-and-a-half since it's a National Holiday. Oh wait, we forgot the additional 15% "excessive brattiness" surcharge. Etc., etc. etc." Not very nice, but it's better than "accidently" dropping some of her expensive china while doing dishes or leading the little brats in a chat of "I want the real food! I want to eat with the big people!"

And what the heck is wrong with those parents?
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: Chivewarrior on January 14, 2007, 01:34:33 AM
And what the heck is wrong with those parents?
Actually, those parents sound about like my mother- so afraid of being "rude" that they're doormats. Were I in a situation like that, my parents would behave exactly the same way, except I wouldn't get the buffet plate from my mother because that could possibly be seen as insulting the host's plans for the evening.
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: kherbert05 on January 14, 2007, 05:40:28 AM
My parents wouldn't have stayed for dinner. We would have left as soon as it was clear we kids were getting a b menu. I don't mind multiple tables. My family is so big that they are required. Generally on is in the kitchen or at least not on a carpeted area and any itty bitty kids are seated there in case they drop food or spill something on accident. By the time you are 5 or 6 years old, you are expected to be able to sit and talk to the family like any other member. Little Johnny takes his turn telling about the cool thing that happened at school, Uncle Frank will explain about his engineering project, the teachers will compare latest fad the administrators are buying into, and so on.
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: Pixie on January 14, 2007, 01:31:55 PM
Being #9 out of 13 kids, my  family holiday dinners were HUGE.  The first time I was ever seated at "The kid's Table"   I was 27 years old, married, and it was our first (and last) Thanksgiving at Hubby's  Grandmother's house.   I do ADORE his Grandmother, she is a wonderful woman, but the seating arrangement was done by her 4 adult children, not her.   BTW.. ALL of the adult grandchildren were at the "kiddie table", not just Hubby and me.   The only reason there have not been more family dinners, is that as an Air Force family we don't live close to any relatives.



Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: Gileswench on January 14, 2007, 03:30:42 PM
My mother was grace and class personified...and she'd have ripped Clown Mouth a new one for that performance. Then my father would have gone in hammer and tongs.

Where do some people get the idea that relatives they rarely see are unpaid household staff? Why would anyone give the kids mac and cheese on Thanksgiving when they can see mom and dad and other guests are getting something much more special?

Any way you slice it, Clown Mouth needed a re-education program.
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: Emmy on January 14, 2007, 04:02:48 PM
Linda was the main culprit in this story, but all the parents are guilty.  I imagine everybody knew the 2 girls were relatives and not paid babysitters.  The story teller said the other parents seemed annoyed with her and Kelly that they weren't doing their 'jobs' and keeping their children quiet so they could enjoy the meal in peace.  I would think most parents would be a combination of embarrassed, apologetic, and thankful when they realized that the teenaged girls were stuck babysitting their bratty kids and not even partaking in the 'real' dinner (and this is after the girls served dinner to them).  By the attitude the OP described, the parents seem to feel entitled to free babysitting and having the babysitters do a perfect job of keeping the kids quiet.   This makes them almost as bad as Linda.  It's hard to believe that Linda would make them serve the adults and tempt them with the delicious food, yet not even let them fix a plate before forcing them to the 'kiddie' table.  I don't feel it was rude to ask the girls or other guests if they'd mind helping if help was needed for things such as slicing cheese or carrying out a dish or 2, but forcing them to work the whole time, forcing them to babysit screaming kids, and not allowing them part of the food is beyond rude.

I feel Kelly's parents could have at least gotten her a meal from the buffet, poor girl.  Both the girls parents should have stood up for their daughters in this situation.  I can understand the girls not speaking up for themselves although they would be totally justified in this situation.  As justified as they were, there is always a chance of getting in to trouble when mouthing off to older relatives.  The parents should have said they were leaving if their daughters didn't get to sit with the rest of the guests over 5 and get the dinner the other adults guests had. 
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: Suze on January 14, 2007, 04:24:17 PM
Even as the wishy-washy teen that I was I proably would have eaten my "fantastic" dinner and left the table with all the kids behind.

and would have developed a grand case of "dishwater diarrhea"
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: Gyro Widget on January 15, 2007, 09:15:02 AM
Shouldn't all the children have the option of whether they wanted Mac and Cheese or buffet?  It was good of the host to provide a kid-friendly meal, but to force it on all those under the age of 19 is a bit much.  It is basically akin to eating a first class meal while giving the rest of your guests trash.  Even if a 3 year old wanted the main course, it should have been given to them... afterall, mac and cheese isn't much of a healthy meal. 

As for being treated as a servant, I can understand a teenager being too frightened to protest and winding up doing the work (which is why that evil woman took advantage of their nature).  However, I think it would be completely within their rights to send a thank you note for being invited, however explaining that they felt taken advantage of.  She shouldn't necessarily say that the hostess is rude (as that is rude in itself), but just assert that she felt used.  Would that be acceptable? 

It would be tempting I suppose.  I just always detest people who disguise labor as generosity.  On a bit of a tangent:  I have a relative that insists on having dinner every New Years for her turn (every family has a "turn" of cooking a large meal for everyone for various celebrations throughout the year, completely voluntary).  She then tells guests to bring 3 or 4 dishes (oh and desserts too).  Even though she eats free of charge and labor at everybody elses home, she expects guests to bring their own food when she has a party.  Last year my family alone brought 3 main dishes plus desserts... her contribution?  A caesar salad.  She always manages to become ill when it is time to clean up as well. 

Ugh... either host and do the work/pay hired help, or just do not bother at all!!!   
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: IndianInlaw on January 15, 2007, 09:26:36 AM
Can you imagine those kids going back to school and mentioning they had macaroni and cheese?
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: Lisbeth on January 15, 2007, 12:11:25 PM
If I were treated like that I would have sent the woman an invoice for my services...or my parents would have.  Sometimes they're PITA, but on this occasion they would have stood up for me.

Poor Kelly.  She deserved better than to be treated like that.
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: kingsrings on January 16, 2007, 03:04:59 PM
One time at a family get-together when I was 13, my cousin's wife decided that I was to be in charge of entertaining their 4 year-old daughter. The daughter wanted to play with me because I reminded her of her babysitter back home. I didn't like children and had no experience playing with them, but this lady coaxed me into what I was thinking would be a few minute's play. Nope, she stuck a five-dollar bill into my hand and said thanked me for my services for the day! After a few minutes of me uncomfortably trying to entertain this child, I'd had it and went back to join the adults. The mother gave me the nastiest look and was not pleased that I had left her kid and taken her five dollars. Later on I told my mom what had happened and she said that I was in the right and that this lady had no business making me her daughter's babysitter for the day if I didn't want to.
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: Psykogrl on January 16, 2007, 03:48:28 PM
Even though I was raised to respect my elders and to be helpful, I'd have told that lipsticked demon woman where to shove it  :D
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: MelJill on January 16, 2007, 06:14:39 PM
One time at a family get-together when I was 13, my cousin's wife decided that I was to be in charge of entertaining their 4 year-old daughter. The daughter wanted to play with me because I reminded her of her babysitter back home. I didn't like children and had no experience playing with them, but this lady coaxed me into what I was thinking would be a few minute's play. Nope, she stuck a five-dollar bill into my hand and said thanked me for my services for the day! After a few minutes of me uncomfortably trying to entertain this child, I'd had it and went back to join the adults. The mother gave me the nastiest look and was not pleased that I had left her kid and taken her five dollars. Later on I told my mom what had happened and she said that I was in the right and that this lady had no business making me her daughter's babysitter for the day if I didn't want to.

And unless you're way older than I am, $5 wouldn't have paid for a whole day anyhow.  Good thing your mom backed you--unlike the poor victims of "Linda".  (My parents sure as shooting wouldn't have stood for me being treated that way ...  My mom would've intervened as soon as 'help' was clearly something other than 'carry this dish to the serving table'.)
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: Asharah on April 06, 2007, 11:14:03 AM
Thought I would resurrect this topic since Easter is in a few days, in case some of those hosting big holiday dinners need a reminder of how not to treat their guests.
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: Pixie on April 06, 2007, 12:07:43 PM
Even though I was raised to respect my elders and to be helpful, I'd have told that lipsticked demon woman where to shove it  :D





I wouldn't have.  My Mom would have beaten me to it. 

.
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: jamiescudder on May 10, 2007, 01:03:50 AM
Okay, now I'm feeling bad for asking guests for help. There is a family that my family spends a lot of time with. (We have dinner together at least twice a month and are at each other's houses several times a week.) When they're over for dinner I've never thought twice about asking the teens to help with the finishing touches on a meal and setting and clearing the table. I've even been known to recruit their friends who come over with them to help. In my defense, I've always served them the same thing as everybody else, and I've never asked them to do dishes.
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: RJeeves on May 10, 2007, 02:20:57 PM
Okay, now I'm feeling bad for asking guests for help. There is a family that my family spends a lot of time with. (We have dinner together at least twice a month and are at each other's houses several times a week.) When they're over for dinner I've never thought twice about asking the teens to help with the finishing touches on a meal and setting and clearing the table. I've even been known to recruit their friends who come over with them to help. In my defense, I've always served them the same thing as everybody else, and I've never asked them to do dishes.

Do you pay them? Or compensate them in any way? I understand where you're coming from, but asking the teens for help exclusively without ever offering anything in return really doesn't sit well with me.
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: twinkletoes on May 10, 2007, 02:36:08 PM
Okay, now I'm feeling bad for asking guests for help. There is a family that my family spends a lot of time with. (We have dinner together at least twice a month and are at each other's houses several times a week.) When they're over for dinner I've never thought twice about asking the teens to help with the finishing touches on a meal and setting and clearing the table. I've even been known to recruit their friends who come over with them to help. In my defense, I've always served them the same thing as everybody else, and I've never asked them to do dishes.

Do you pay them? Or compensate them in any way? I understand where you're coming from, but asking the teens for help exclusively without ever offering anything in return really doesn't sit well with me.

Agreed.  And this is why it gets sticky with having family/people who are "just like family" over and they end up "helping."  No way.  It's a nice and generous gesture for a guest to see the harried host/ess and say "gee, Pat, would you like me to set the table?"  It's another to say "good, you're here!  Mary will set the table, Susie will get the glasses out, and Mark will pour the drinks."  Those aren't guests - that's unpaid help. 

It's also a great way to build resentment - I have a few relatives who did that to me when I was a teen, and I don't think back of all the great holidays at Uncle Joe and Aunt Susie's.  Instead, I remember having to wash the dishes, and how my aunt screamed at me when I almost dropped a huge crystal vase.  It's really unfair - the "kids" work, while the adults cool their heels.  Either *all* of the guests pitch in, or the host/ess just cleans up after everyone's gone.
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: Twik on May 10, 2007, 03:55:42 PM
Okay, now I'm feeling bad for asking guests for help. There is a family that my family spends a lot of time with. (We have dinner together at least twice a month and are at each other's houses several times a week.) When they're over for dinner I've never thought twice about asking the teens to help with the finishing touches on a meal and setting and clearing the table. I've even been known to recruit their friends who come over with them to help. In my defense, I've always served them the same thing as everybody else, and I've never asked them to do dishes.

Why precisely do you ask the teens and not the adults?
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: illini on May 10, 2007, 04:09:50 PM
One of our parents friends used to do a similar thing in regards to the mac and cheese for kids, every time we went to her house for a dinner party.  My parents started calling me and my sister over to get food with them once they realized what was going on, but to this day she's referred to as the "Mac and Cheese" lady in our family.   >:D 
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: twinkletoes on May 10, 2007, 04:25:10 PM
Just another thought - in my family, most people entertain with the good stuff.  Heirloom dishes, very nice crystal, etc.  Why on earth would someone think it's a great idea to make the guests handle that stuff, and especially if they're teens?  I remember how clutzy I was at the time - I hated having to handle the Waterford or the dishes that had been in the fam for generations.
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: jamiescudder on May 10, 2007, 06:18:44 PM
Okay, now I'm feeling bad for asking guests for help. There is a family that my family spends a lot of time with. (We have dinner together at least twice a month and are at each other's houses several times a week.) When they're over for dinner I've never thought twice about asking the teens to help with the finishing touches on a meal and setting and clearing the table. I've even been known to recruit their friends who come over with them to help. In my defense, I've always served them the same thing as everybody else, and I've never asked them to do dishes.

Why precisely do you ask the teens and not the adults?

I guess I ask the teens because when I've asked the adult parents they've turned and told their kids to do it. And that was after the adult offered to help. Not a good excuse though. After hearing about it from the teen's point of view things are going to change.
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: DottyG on May 10, 2007, 06:21:12 PM
After hearing about it from the teen's point of view things are going to change.

This site works. :)  Another set of lives changed by the advice herein.

Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: kherbert05 on May 10, 2007, 06:24:45 PM

It's also a great way to build resentment - I have a few relatives who did that to me when I was a teen, and I don't think back of all the great holidays at Uncle Joe and Aunt Susie's.  Instead, I remember having to wash the dishes, and how my aunt screamed at me when I almost dropped a huge crystal vase.  It's really unfair - the "kids" work, while the adults cool their heels.  Either *all* of the guests pitch in, or the host/ess just cleans up after everyone's gone.

In my family, all the adults help put on the food and clean up after. Being told by your parents to pitch in, is a mark of joining the adults. I was only screamed at one time. I was scraping plates and dropped in a good silver spoon. When I reached in to pick it up, my cousin yelled at me to stop. Her son had been eating peanutbutter crackers before we arrived - she was afraid I might touch the wrapping.

Does it make me a bad person that hearing these stories makes me very happy to be  a part of my family.

ETA a prepositional phrase that went missing.
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: DottyG on May 10, 2007, 06:32:07 PM
Does it make me a bad person that hearing these stories makes me very happy to be  a part of my family.

Yes.



;) (Joshin' ya!)

Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: Suze on May 11, 2007, 05:25:28 AM
At our  family gatherings ther was always a "parade" from the kitchen to wherever we were eating.

You wanted to eat,, you know you will get to eat faster if you help me get it on (or to) the table.

Washing dishes and such...no.. but help was NEVER refused.
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: jamiescudder on May 11, 2007, 11:27:23 PM
I guess I never really thought about the whole "free labor" thing because in my family everybody pitches in. It doesn't matter who's hosting it, if you're family, you help. The hostess was supposed to simply coordinate things and assign tasks. We usually used paper products so that doing the dishes meant throwing them away. Pots and pans got rinsed or put in to soak, but left for the hostess to wash later. If for some reason we actually used the china then a couple of people who wanted to visit privately would volunteer for dish duty. It was the one sure way to get everybody to leave you alone and stay out of your conversation. But nobody was ever singled out, just everybody helped.
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: BethanyAnne on July 17, 2007, 03:22:01 AM
Being #9 out of 13 kids, my  family holiday dinners were HUGE.  The first time I was ever seated at "The kid's Table"   I was 27 years old, married, and it was our first (and last) Thanksgiving at Hubby's  Grandmother's house.   I do ADORE his Grandmother, she is a wonderful woman, but the seating arrangement was done by her 4 adult children, not her.   BTW.. ALL of the adult grandchildren were at the "kiddie table", not just Hubby and me.   The only reason there have not been more family dinners, is that as an Air Force family we don't live close to any relatives.





  Sounds like what my aunt tried to do when we were visiting for my grandmother's funeral. Here's some background. My aunt has 12 children. No lie. 2 of which are girls.

 After they learn to walk and talk she wants nothing to do with them. Because uncle works so hard to afford 12 children he's rarely home. They run wild. Along CRIVINS! not believing in parenting she also doesn't believe in cleaning. They have multiple pets that shed and "let loose" all over the house. Never cleaned up.

Okay, now that you have the background, here's the story. My family of parents, three siblings, and one BIL 29(married to oldest sister,21) all were visiting my aunt and uncle for dinner a few days before the wake and funeral. After dinner, aunt tells my parents that all the "adults" as she referred to them were going to be going out to dinner to discuss arrangements and such, and that my sister and BIL were going to stay here with my siblings and her children and babysit for her.

Well, after dinner was over and clean up had begun my brother and second oldest sister and I took my mother aside and told her that if they left us at the house while they went out to dinner we were gonna walk back to the hotel room and sit outside and wait for them.

Now, I know what you are gonna say. How could we make demands when we weren't the adults and we should be able to talk to our parents that way. Normally, we wouldn't, but we had only been at my aunt and uncles for a few hours and all of us were physically sick from it.

We all have an allergy to dust that affects out breathing abilities due to being prone to asthma. Those of us with asthma had already pulled out the inhalers so as not to suffocate, and we all were sick with migraines, which we are also all prone to due to both parents having a history.

So, basically what I'm saying is that it was self-preservation. I love my parents. They kindly told my aunt that we would all be staying at the hotel room while they went out. My parents left money and we ordered pizza and hung out.

Just as a side note. It's not as if all the children were too young to be left alone. The age range was 3-20 years old.
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: BethanyAnne on July 17, 2007, 03:25:38 AM
If I were treated like that I would have sent the woman an invoice for my services...or my parents would have.  Sometimes they're PITA, but on this occasion they would have stood up for me.

Poor Kelly.  She deserved better than to be treated like that.

Can someone tell me what PITA means/is?
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: afbluebelle on July 17, 2007, 04:04:27 AM
Pain In The bottom/Butt/Rear.... just the naughty word >:D
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: Dindrane on July 17, 2007, 11:27:09 AM
I have never in my life questioned being asked/told to help out at family gatherings.  Granted, I usually offer first, and it's usually one of my parents asking me, but even so.  In my family, everybody helps because that's what you do.  All of my aunts and uncles parent all of the grandchildren (to an extent).  My mom's younger sister was practically my second mother, and I lost guest status at their house before I started kindergarten (because I was over there so much).  I'm pretty sure she was the one who informed me that I shouldn't chew with my mouth open.

I've also recently realized that I have an almost unusually functional extended family.  It was unusual enough that, on a recent trip the whole family (all 21 of us) took, people commented on how well we all got along.  So I guess in that situation, nobody bothers getting offended by people asking for assistance.  I often feel bad that I didn't offer first if my grandma or an aunt/uncle has to ask for my help.
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: MiladyOak on July 17, 2007, 11:41:37 AM
My mom is the type who will put up with serious rudeness just because it's "faaammmillyyy!". From age 6 to age 13 I was the designated babysitter for all my younger cousins. Yes, at 6 I was looking ater 3 and 4 year olds because I was so mature and responsible. At 6??? And of course my mom wouldn't say anything other than "it's faaamillyyyy" and she didn't want to be rude. Oh man, I could tell some horror stories! But in the end, she learned the hard way to either gently and politely tell my aunts to find another babysitter, or I would tell them myself, in my own graphic, obscene, and foul 14 year old way. >:D
I have no problem at all helping if asked, but to be shanghied into servitude, no way! The height of rudeness!
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: ashilleong on July 17, 2007, 09:43:06 PM
My family always made the kids do dishes, etc. And being the oldest I was always lumped looking after the kids.
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: ashilleong on July 17, 2007, 09:44:48 PM
...come to think of it, that still happens now, at 23.

I'd lived out of home for about 5 years and remember coming back and my parent's frineds thinking nothing of interrupting my conversations and ordering me to do things.

It is not amusing.
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: MissRose on July 21, 2007, 09:49:32 AM
As a kid and later as teen and adult, being "Free hired help" was no fun most of the time... especially when my mother insisted I pitch in alot more (when my younger sister wasnt forced to do so) because I was the older kid and had to set a good example & look good in front of the other adults.  To this day, I hated being the oldest kid at most gatherings because of the exceptation that i had to be always good (even though sometimes i did complain like most kids have).

But an incident really stands out with me regarding being "free help".... I was around 16 years old, and we went to my grandmother's place for a whole weekend as my uncle was getting married, and my dad was his best man. My mother made me wear an outfit to the wedding ceremony (full Catholic Mass too if i remember correctly) & reception that made me look like I was 36 not 16 (a simple plain dress I would have preferred to have worn wouldve been more flattering compared to a white blouse and dark skirt plus a jacket that looked like a rainbow had an explosion on it!!).  But what really takes the cake - after the reception was finished around midnite or so, my mother had me, my dad, my sister, and a few others, start to clean the reception hall (usually most places the catering staff does this).  We were finished by 2 am, then we got back to my grandmother's place, and my mother forced me & my sister (she was around 13 or 14) out of bed by 7am to walk to church near my grandmother's house for the earliest mass they had there (about 8:30am), and i could barely stay awake. 

I knew if i pitched a fit at any time, my parents would have not hesitated to hit / slap me. 

I really need to submit this one to E-hell soon......
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: Asharah on November 25, 2008, 07:26:29 PM
Bumped as a reminder of how NOT to treat our holiday guests!
(http://smileys.smileycentral.com/cat/8/8_5_25.gif)
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: Derangelic on November 27, 2008, 05:00:29 PM
O_o

Seriously, what is up with this woman? It would be understandable, if annoying and idiotic, for her to lump the writer in with the sprogs (no offense to small children, I until recently was one myself  :P) and treat her accordingly. It would be understandable, if obnoxious, for her to recruit the writer as free labor on the grounds that she was old enough to work for her dinner. But both at once?

I guess "child" and "adult with a side helping of no-respect gravy" meet in the middle. Make up your mind, Clown Mouth! Mac'n'cheese or table clearing, ya can't have both!

Maybe she didn't want to spend any more money on adult food but wanted the free labor anyway, and this was her diabolical plan...
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: RegionMom on November 27, 2008, 07:52:45 PM
My mom does it this way--the girls help in the kitchen, and the guys are called only to eat. 
Then she grumbles how no one helps.

Hey, I baked 3 cakes, made a casserole, frosted said cakes, got out the good dishes and set the table, fed my own kids, tupperwared the leftovers, and more.

But, since I am the eldest and a girl, of course no thanks is needed.

My SILs do help, but one works night shift so is often asleep, and other claims cluelessness in the kitchen, or a diet, or they arrive too late. 

oh well. 

Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: Abby T on November 29, 2008, 10:24:41 AM
My mom does it this way--the girls help in the kitchen, and the guys are called only to eat. 
Then she grumbles how no one helps.

Hey, I baked 3 cakes, made a casserole, frosted said cakes, got out the good dishes and set the table, fed my own kids, tupperwared the leftovers, and more.

But, since I am the eldest and a girl, of course no thanks is needed.

My SILs do help, but one works night shift so is often asleep, and other claims cluelessness in the kitchen, or a diet, or they arrive too late. 

oh well. 

You have smart SILs. I hate the gender segregation of kitchen duties. I find it even more annoying when it is one of those 'unspoken' things. To have a MIL top it off by complaining that no one is helping - well, I would be running late on a regular basis too.
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: Blurgle on November 29, 2008, 11:58:00 AM
Okay, now I'm feeling bad for asking guests for help. There is a family that my family spends a lot of time with. (We have dinner together at least twice a month and are at each other's houses several times a week.) When they're over for dinner I've never thought twice about asking the teens to help with the finishing touches on a meal and setting and clearing the table. I've even been known to recruit their friends who come over with them to help. In my defense, I've always served them the same thing as everybody else, and I've never asked them to do dishes.

Do you pay them? Or compensate them in any way? I understand where you're coming from, but asking the teens for help exclusively without ever offering anything in return really doesn't sit well with me.

Especially since they're teens. Teens are so often thought of as "in the way" or not really full guests the way adults and children are. It's almost as if adults see them automatically as slackers for receiving hospitality.
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: LJM on November 29, 2008, 03:26:44 PM
Especially since they're teens. Teens are so often thought of as "in the way" or not really full guests the way adults and children are. It's almost as if adults see them automatically as slackers for receiving hospitality.

Exactly.

I have no problem with situations where everyone is pitching in. But when certain people are being singled out due to age (and/or gender), that's a problem.

And I agree, teens tend to be considered guilty (of slackerdom, rudeness, etc) until proven innocent in our society.
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: missmolly on November 30, 2008, 05:04:29 AM
In my family, gatherings are a pretty serious business, as is the workload that goes into it. We've almost got a heirarchy going: the ladies of the family concentrate on the main meal, my older cousins prepare nibbles and plates of food, the fathers handle the drinks, and the kids hand food around, and help clear the table. Dishes fall to anyone foolish enough to volunteer for them!
We've never done the 'kid's meal' thing, probably because nobody wants to have to prepare a whole other set of meals. 

If someone tried to pull a 'Linda' at my family gathering, they'd face a full scale mutiny, both from children and parents.
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: MissRose on November 30, 2008, 06:34:21 AM
At the recent thanksgiving dinner my parents hosted, everyone pitched in a way to help with dinner and cleanup duties:

*My sister's 2 kids helped to set the table with help from grandparents or my sister plus the kids proudly told me that they helped do simple things like wash potatoes and poke and wrap them in foil for baking

*I brought dessert, helped clear the table as needed and putting food away later on, and filling glasses/mugs with beverages

*My Aunt and uncle brought a salad to pass.  My aunt also helped me and my sister make turkey gravy as me & my sis couldn't get the gravy to thicken properly but she gave us some hints to follow that we wont forget that worked out great.  My uncle helped my dad a bit with the turkey (getting it out of the pan and carving it).

*My father washed dishes and later on tore the remaining turkey off the bones & packaged and leftover turkey was sent home with a few people and remainder kept with my parents. He also had to go out and purchase the food items needed for my mother to make dinner including dinner rolls.

*My mother cooked the turkey, green bean casserolle and a few other things.

*My sister helped with some food preparation and made deviled eggs.
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: RoseRose on December 15, 2008, 04:06:57 AM
I just realized something.  At the latest Thanksgiving dinner (which was three families instead of the normal two this year) the younger generation may have helped cook... I know I did, I don't know about the others, and possibly the hosts' kids set the table, but the ADULTS set everything out.  Cleaning was also the adults for the most part, other than clearing our own dishes.  Oh, and the "kids"?  There were four of us at 21 (the hosts' twin daughters, one daughter's fiance, and myself), my 16 year old brother, and the fiance's younger sister, at I think... 13?  Maybe.

I've never been asked to pitch in solely because of my age.  I've pitched in, because my family was hosting, or because it was polite, or because everyone was, and a few times because it was semi-gender segregated... all the INTERESTING women were in the kitchen.  Now, at 21, I'm passing the teen point for this.  I do think it is rude to do so.
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: Asharah on December 09, 2011, 08:59:29 PM
Back to OP, I wonder if the kids were acting like brats because they were mad about being fed mac&cheese on Thanksgiving. I would probably not have been thrilled if I was expected to eat mac&cheese, which I don't really like on Thanksgiving instead of the turkey. Thankfully, my parents never pulled something like that.
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: Aeris on December 10, 2011, 03:25:53 AM
On a purely developmental note, one has to wonder what happens to kids who are treated as the small kids in this story were treated. I mean, if you grow up with holiday meals, for your entire childhood and teenage years, consisting of being relegated to a back room and given a plate of mac and cheese - one would think you would have absolutely no typical connection to the holiday whatsoever.

I would imagine that any kid that got this treatment consistently would escape holidays as soon as they were physically able (teenager? drive self to movies instead?) and would reach adulthood treating Thanksgiving like just another day. There would be no fond memories of stories around the dinner table, no fond memories of grandma's stuffing, no misty memories of grandpa carving the turkey, or even *eating* turkey period...

It's just really weird to me to keep children out of every typical aspect of a tradition. What a sure way to ensure the tradition dies.
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: Nora on December 10, 2011, 09:33:45 AM
On a purely developmental note, one has to wonder what happens to kids who are treated as the small kids in this story were treated. I mean, if you grow up with holiday meals, for your entire childhood and teenage years, consisting of being relegated to a back room and given a plate of mac and cheese - one would think you would have absolutely no typical connection to the holiday whatsoever.

I would imagine that any kid that got this treatment consistently would escape holidays as soon as they were physically able (teenager? drive self to movies instead?) and would reach adulthood treating Thanksgiving like just another day. There would be no fond memories of stories around the dinner table, no fond memories of grandma's stuffing, no misty memories of grandpa carving the turkey, or even *eating* turkey period...

It's just really weird to me to keep children out of every typical aspect of a tradition. What a sure way to ensure the tradition dies.

I agree with this wholeheartedly. What a way to ruin holidays for kids.  :-\
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: violinp on December 10, 2011, 11:10:01 AM
My sister and I were looped into babysitting our 10 years junior cousin when we were 17...by another aunt. Yes, not her kid - she didn't have kids of her own that we might have to watch, but she "insisted" that we do it. I'm pretty sure my cousin's mother had no idea that we were forced to do this. I was so mad at the aunt who forced us to do that.

This aunt also thought it was perfectly okay to question a 7 year old about politics, berate my mom for wanting to cook Grandpa's birthday dinner (apparently, since Mom never cooked for a living, she didn't have a right to cook the birthday dinner  ::)), and insist that my dad "didn't need" to take his psoriasis meds, because he just needs to get back to nature*.

I love the uncle that married her, but I am so glad that aunt lives on the other side of the country from me.

*For the record, I don't think natural remedies are bunk; I just really don't think you need to try and override a doctor's advisement when you know nothing of which you are speaking.
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: Rohanna on December 10, 2011, 11:27:11 AM
I agree - I mean the "typical" turkey dinner is pretty kid-friendly, so to serve them something so differ t is very alien to me. I don't object to kids meals in theory, just in this instance they seem unnecessary and against the spirit of the season. It's not like at a wedding where the food comes plated and your worried they will not like the bouillabaisse and they'll waste the lamb - you just plate them an appropriate portion of corn turkey and taters ....
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: Mental Magpie on December 18, 2011, 03:18:46 PM
I agree - I mean the "typical" turkey dinner is pretty kid-friendly, so to serve them something so differ t is very alien to me. I don't object to kids meals in theory, just in this instance they seem unnecessary and against the spirit of the season. It's not like at a wedding where the food comes plated and your worried they will not like the bouillabaisse and they'll waste the lamb - you just plate them an appropriate portion of corn turkey and taters ....

On a similar note, what about nutrition? I would have happily had only mac and cheese for dinner (but not on Thanksgiving!) as a kid, but my mom never would allow it because there is not enough nutrition in it alone.

Also, I can't believe no adults intervened. That makes me angry for the OP.
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: Dr_Manners on January 29, 2012, 02:35:32 PM
This reminds me of something that happened when I was a teenager.  My aunt and uncle (mom's brother and his wife) were hosting a family Thanksgiving that included both sides of the family (meaning, the family I was related to through mom/uncle, and my aunt's siblings and their children).  In general, this isn't an issue.  We have all met my aunt's siblings and their children many times, and we all got along famously...for the most part.

At this particular Thanksgiving, my aunt and uncle had gone to great lengths to set up the table so that we could all sit together.  In their basement, they rented and set up an extra long dining table with three extensions put in.  This meant that all 16 people in attendance (children and adults) could sit together.  Both my uncle and aunt are the youngest of their particular siblings, and grew up hating the notion of a "kids' table," since being the youngest relegated each of them there well in to early adulthood.  It was well organized, very thoughtful on their part, and made for a nice familial setting.

Well, that is, until my aunt's older sister showed up with her 8 year-old daughter in tow.  Aunt's sister, who I will call Karen, had made it clear that she and her "precious angel" (her words, not mine), would not be in attendance at Thanksgiving.  As such, 16 people RSVP'd, and 16 places were set at the table (which was rented to seat, you guessed, 16).

When Karen noticed that there were not enough places at the table, Aunt made a mad dash to the neighbor's house to borrow two folding chairs from them in order to accommodate Karen and "Precious".  She then spent 15 minutes rearranging the table, the seating, the place settings, the food, the candles...everything.  Karen was not happy still, because that meant things would be too crowded.

Karen then set up folding trays in the living room (upstairs from the rest of the family), for my sister and I to eat at.  Since we were the oldest of the kids in attendance (my sister being 18 while I was 15), Karen thought we would best handle eating alone.  The other kids, she felt, would be too upset to handle it.  Aunt, a normally lovely woman, didn't say a word about it (perhaps out of fear of a very domineering older sister...but, that is just my speculation).  Uncle was busy frying the turkey on the back patio (yummy...fried turkey) to notice the commotion inside.  And, thus, the people hosting did not object.

When my parents finally noticed what was happening, the family was sitting down to eat (with my sister and I banished to the living room alone).  My father asked why my sister and I were put upstairs, to which Karen responded "Oh, well, it would be crowded with 18 of us so I thought it best that they eat upstairs, they'll be fine."  Aunt and Uncle just stayed quiet, while the rest of the adults' mouths hit the floor.  This was not going to fly with my parents who filled their plates along with everyone else, then stood up with their plates, silverware, and glasses and marched upstairs.  When Aunt asked mom what was going on, she stared right at Karen and said "if our children are not sitting at this table, then neither are we."  :)
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: AmethystAnne on January 29, 2012, 03:49:25 PM
Dr. Manners, you've got good parents!
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: Venus193 on January 29, 2012, 04:12:37 PM
By the gods.

I'm glad the writer never had to experience another holiday at Linda's house.  She sounds like a nightmare and a half.  I would have found a way to leave.
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: Asharah on January 29, 2012, 04:48:56 PM
Dr_Manners, I'm sure the OP would have loved to have had parents like yours.
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: kherbert05 on January 29, 2012, 06:08:04 PM
On a purely developmental note, one has to wonder what happens to kids who are treated as the small kids in this story were treated. I mean, if you grow up with holiday meals, for your entire childhood and teenage years, consisting of being relegated to a back room and given a plate of mac and cheese - one would think you would have absolutely no typical connection to the holiday whatsoever.

I would imagine that any kid that got this treatment consistently would escape holidays as soon as they were physically able (teenager? drive self to movies instead?) and would reach adulthood treating Thanksgiving like just another day. There would be no fond memories of stories around the dinner table, no fond memories of grandma's stuffing, no misty memories of grandpa carving the turkey, or even *eating* turkey period...

It's just really weird to me to keep children out of every typical aspect of a tradition. What a sure way to ensure the tradition dies.
POD - I have fond memories of curling up just in the shadows and listening to all the stories the adults told. They would forget I was awake (Most of the other kids were asleep. One other cousin in Canada would also hide in the shadows.) My Aunts and older cousins were shocked at all the stories I knew - they thought I was too young to have heard them.
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: kherbert05 on January 29, 2012, 06:18:11 PM
[Dr. Manners - You have fantastic parents.

I tend to babysit the kids, because

1. I love them.

2. I have a low tolerance for them running around the house(s)

So after we finish eating/cleaning up, I tend to take them for a walk to the nearest park/playground/school to run off steam. The nappers in the family all tend to crash and burn for about an hour. I take a book, walk them to the playground and let them loose. They don't need me to supervise generally. When we get back the adults are waking up, and the youngest kids tend to crash. The older kids are a bit between and betwix - sometimes they play quietly and listen to the adults, sometimes they play in the backroom while watching a video.
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: Sabbyfrog2 on January 30, 2012, 09:17:56 AM
On a purely developmental note, one has to wonder what happens to kids who are treated as the small kids in this story were treated. I mean, if you grow up with holiday meals, for your entire childhood and teenage years, consisting of being relegated to a back room and given a plate of mac and cheese - one would think you would have absolutely no typical connection to the holiday whatsoever.

I would imagine that any kid that got this treatment consistently would escape holidays as soon as they were physically able (teenager? drive self to movies instead?) and would reach adulthood treating Thanksgiving like just another day. There would be no fond memories of stories around the dinner table, no fond memories of grandma's stuffing, no misty memories of grandpa carving the turkey, or even *eating* turkey period...

It's just really weird to me to keep children out of every typical aspect of a tradition. What a sure way to ensure the tradition dies.

You know, it's been a while since I read this and for some reason, it's significance just hit me. THIS is probably exactly why I don't get the least bit excited about Holidays in general. I never really thought about it until now...  How insightful....

I don't have fond memories of any Holiday with my family, or my step family. We did have Christmas at home (when dad was actually home), but it was usually swift and filled with a sense of "order". My dad insisted it was always done his way, and there was always very little time for play or traditions because we had to do whatever it was my dad wanted immediately after.

When we traveled to the out of state families, us kids were banished to another part of the house and I was always somehow put in charge of the kids, including my little sister.  I resented that I had to travel, get up early, get dressed up, and then spend the whole time, watching the kids of relatives or family friends that I only ever saw once every couple years. I never really got to eat because I was busy corralling someones misbehaved kid.
As I got older, that job was "passed down" to the younger relatives (lucky them  ::)  and I was pretty much left out of the "festivities" all together; I was either made to "help" or completely banished to hang out on my own because I was "in the way".  By the time I reached my late teens and was already living on my own (I lived on my own by 17), and mom re-married, Holiday's became "obligatory" events in which I made an appearance at.  I learned the first year to drive myself so I could escape. Holidays with the step family were for " the kids". I hardly ever received gifts, was one of the last to be in line to eat, and was pretty much on my own in all aspects. Thanksgivings were pretty much the same.  When I was older, we had to spend them with the step family, in my step grandmothers dank basement. I always ended up next to my step fathers senile Grandma and my socially awkward step sister. And the the drunk step-uncle.

I do however, have one fond memory of one Christmas at my Grandmothers. My sister and I did not have a great upbringing; I was forced to grow up quickly. On top of many many other issues (abuse being one), my dad at the time was stationed overseas with the Army, and my mom brought us up to my Gramma's for Christmas that year. My older cousin was there that same year, home on leave. We weren't that close (huge age gap) but he made a point to make sure my sister and I (just kids at the time) were treated well that year. He spent his whole Christmas morning on the floor playing Barbies with us. He took us outside to sled and build a snowman, and even let us curl up in bed with him and watch movies that afternoon. He is my only good Christmas memory and ironically, that's the last time I saw him. We lost touch after that.  :(
That's also the year that my Grandfather's Christmas Eve tradition of watching White Christmas started. To this day, that is the ONLY tradition I have.

I stopped spending Holidays with my family years ago. I prefer to spend them with my in-laws. Or with just DH and me at home in our jammies.  :P
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: Nora on January 30, 2012, 11:30:32 AM
Sabbyfrog, I know this was not your intention, but your whole post made me want to cry. That was so sad to read, I can well imagine why you don't feel like emulating it every Holiday. (((Sabby)))
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: Sabbyfrog2 on January 30, 2012, 12:54:14 PM
Sabbyfrog, I know this was not your intention, but your whole post made me want to cry. That was so sad to read, I can well imagine why you don't feel like emulating it every Holiday. (((Sabby)))

I'm sorry. That certainly wasn't my intention and I didn't realize how bad it must sound until I went back and re-read it.

The thing is, I don't think any of it was intentional (aside from the abuse but that wasn't necessarily Holiday related). It was sort of just how they did things. Both sides of the family were very very set in their ways and also pretty lazy. I became their free laborer while on "holiday" and trust me, the resentment I felt for YEARS after that still burns.

It was always just the way our family operated. The older kids were expected to take care of the little ones and as I was the oldest, the  expectation was on me. And as I got older, the expectation was that I was to help elsewhere. There was no arguing back either because we were all raised never to question an adult.

I think the step family just didn't know what to do with me. After I "aged out" of the kid stuff, (Yes. I was specifically told I wasn't getting gifts because those are "for the kids."  ::)   I was sorta on my own. My mom and step-dad started living together when I was 16 but didn't marry until I was 19 so we were never really close to begin with and I'd started living on my own at 17 anyway. But still had to attend these "family functions" and since they had to place me somewhere, I ended up at the "undesirables" table. Not because I was undesirable, but they genuinely didn't know what to do with me.  By then though, I was already so jaded that my goal was just to eat and get out of there as quickly as possible.  So, it wasn't malicious, just really thoughtless.

I guess I never really thought about how all of that is very likely the reason I don't get very sentimental or have any "traditions" at the Holidays until now... Holiday's became a chore for me, not a time to be excited, hence why I likely have such a dreadful feeling of "obligation" when they come around.

I don't know if that makes it worse or better...
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: Dr_Manners on January 30, 2012, 03:35:57 PM
Dr. Manners, you've got good parents!
Dr_Manners, I'm sure the OP would have loved to have had parents like yours.
[Dr. Manners - You have fantastic parents.
Thank you all!   ;D

I sure think I have great parents.  They were stern with me and my sister when we needed it, and stood up for us when we needed it.  Though our biggest supporters, they still (even with my sister and I both in our 30's) have no problems calling us out when need be.  ;)

I've told them both, many times, that I wouldn't be half the man I am today if it weren't for the constant love, support, and occasional verbal smackdown they gave me as a kid. 
Title: Re: Using guests as free labour.
Post by: Dr_Manners on January 30, 2012, 03:42:13 PM
Sabbyfrog, I know this was not your intention, but your whole post made me want to cry. That was so sad to read, I can well imagine why you don't feel like emulating it every Holiday. (((Sabby)))

I'm sorry. That certainly wasn't my intention and I didn't realize how bad it must sound until I went back and re-read it.

The thing is, I don't think any of it was intentional (aside from the abuse but that wasn't necessarily Holiday related). It was sort of just how they did things. Both sides of the family were very very set in their ways and also pretty lazy. I became their free laborer while on "holiday" and trust me, the resentment I felt for YEARS after that still burns.

It was always just the way our family operated. The older kids were expected to take care of the little ones and as I was the oldest, the  expectation was on me. And as I got older, the expectation was that I was to help elsewhere. There was no arguing back either because we were all raised never to question an adult.

I think the step family just didn't know what to do with me. After I "aged out" of the kid stuff, (Yes. I was specifically told I wasn't getting gifts because those are "for the kids."  ::)   I was sorta on my own. My mom and step-dad started living together when I was 16 but didn't marry until I was 19 so we were never really close to begin with and I'd started living on my own at 17 anyway. But still had to attend these "family functions" and since they had to place me somewhere, I ended up at the "undesirables" table. Not because I was undesirable, but they genuinely didn't know what to do with me.  By then though, I was already so jaded that my goal was just to eat and get out of there as quickly as possible.  So, it wasn't malicious, just really thoughtless.

I guess I never really thought about how all of that is very likely the reason I don't get very sentimental or have any "traditions" at the Holidays until now... Holiday's became a chore for me, not a time to be excited, hence why I likely have such a dreadful feeling of "obligation" when they come around.

I don't know if that makes it worse or better...
Like Nora said, your story is sad and makes it perfectly understandable that you don't have the association with holidays and family that so many others do.  However, that said, sometimes a Christmas at home with the DH in just a pair of pj's is just what we need.  I spent New Year's Eve with my DH this year, in just our pj's and robes, watching tv and cuddling on the couch.  It was the best New Year's Eve I have ever had.  :)