Author Topic: The Birthday Lunch  (Read 9037 times)

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Danika

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Re: The Birthday Lunch
« Reply #45 on: December 27, 2013, 10:03:03 PM »
Thanks for explaining, TootsNYC. My understanding of your explanation is that if Purple explained her thinking/reasoning to her SMIL (or your kids explained to you) then you'd understand that she wasn't just blowing off the important event willy-nilly but that she had other things going on.

I tend to assume (apparently, wrongly) that other adults in my life know that I'm not the kind of person who blows off important family events willy-nilly. And so I assume that when I say "I cannot make it" that it's automatically known that it's because I have something else planned. I'm a big planner, and my calendar is usually full of things weeks if not months in advance. Generally, things I've RSVPed yes to (that's where I got that sentence from, the one you bolded in my last post). Either I've RSVPed yes to something else like another party, or I've committed to something like volunteering at the library, or getting important errands done (like if my car has to get an emissions test that month, and the emissions center is only open at that time).

So I get upset when someone tells me they were disappointed in me, as if I blew off an important event. Because if they know me even moderately well they'd know that I don't blow off important things. That I know when they're important and that I do try very hard to attend important things, but that my schedule's really packed.

Before your explanation, I would have thought that the person expressing disappointment should know, just by knowing me, that I knew it was important and that I would have come had I not already had other plans.

It sounds like that's not always the case.

But the OP's reason to not attend was she wanted to clean the house, set the table for Christmas Eve, not leave her dogs home, didn't like the menu and just didn't want to go. So that is very different to suggesting that the OPs MIL was suggesting she cancel another engagement.

But who's to say that's less important to the OP? Maybe her dogs are her babies? Maybe she needs mental health breaks where she's not always engaged with other people, getting dressed up, on the road, circling for parking spaces downtown, etc. It's not SMIL's place to tell OP what is or not important to the OP.

Attending a birthday party is important. But the OP's other priorities are not mine, yours or SMIL's to judge.

RooRoo

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Re: The Birthday Lunch
« Reply #46 on: December 27, 2013, 10:42:04 PM »
Quote
didn't like the menu
Actually, this is pretty important. Purple is a vegan. If I was planning a family party at a restaurant, I would work pretty hard to make sure there was something that she could eat! And most restaurants throw some shredded cheese in the salads, making them off limits.

The only exception would be if the restaurant was one that Aunt Sue particularly loved. And in that case, it would add another burden to Purple's shoulders: she'd have to spend energy on managing to eat beforehand, or finding/making food that she could bring with her.

And, yes, Purple; you picked a winner! Ain't love wonderful?  :)  8)

"Someday we must write a book of Etiquette for sensible people," said Mrs. Morland, "though apart from a few rules it really boils down to an educated mind and a kind heart." ~ Angela Thirkell, Never Too Late

PastryGoddess

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Re: The Birthday Lunch
« Reply #47 on: December 27, 2013, 11:37:59 PM »
Thanks for explaining, TootsNYC. My understanding of your explanation is that if Purple explained her thinking/reasoning to her SMIL (or your kids explained to you) then you'd understand that she wasn't just blowing off the important event willy-nilly but that she had other things going on.

I tend to assume (apparently, wrongly) that other adults in my life know that I'm not the kind of person who blows off important family events willy-nilly. And so I assume that when I say "I cannot make it" that it's automatically known that it's because I have something else planned. I'm a big planner, and my calendar is usually full of things weeks if not months in advance. Generally, things I've RSVPed yes to (that's where I got that sentence from, the one you bolded in my last post). Either I've RSVPed yes to something else like another party, or I've committed to something like volunteering at the library, or getting important errands done (like if my car has to get an emissions test that month, and the emissions center is only open at that time).

So I get upset when someone tells me they were disappointed in me, as if I blew off an important event. Because if they know me even moderately well they'd know that I don't blow off important things. That I know when they're important and that I do try very hard to attend important things, but that my schedule's really packed.

Before your explanation, I would have thought that the person expressing disappointment should know, just by knowing me, that I knew it was important and that I would have come had I not already had other plans.

It sounds like that's not always the case.

But the OP's reason to not attend was she wanted to clean the house, set the table for Christmas Eve, not leave her dogs home, didn't like the menu and just didn't want to go. So that is very different to suggesting that the OPs MIL was suggesting she cancel another engagement.


The OP's plans were valid and important to HER and that's all that matters. 

camlan

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Re: The Birthday Lunch
« Reply #48 on: December 28, 2013, 08:09:24 AM »

Today is Sue's 81st birthday.  She has been living in an old age care facility since April of this year.  I was talking to Fran on Wednesday via text message and she mentioned that she was planning for a few (but not all) of the family to get together and take Sue out for lunch for her birthday.  For a few reasons, I decided that I would prefer not to go to the lunch.  I'm not sure if it matters, but if you're interested, these are the reasons:


Let's not forget that the OP heard about the plans on Wednesday and the birthday lunch was Saturday. In the middle of the pre-Christmas bustle.

The OP had already made plans for Saturday, based on her lack of leave from work and plans she'd made for Christmas.

If MIL really wanted the OP at the lunch, she should have given her more than 2 or 3 days notice, if the lunch was really that important to MIL.

The lunch was less than a week before Christmas, on one of the two days the OP had free to get pre-Christmas stuff done. With very little notice about the event at all. I think that also must be factored into the situation.

If an event is important and you really want specific people there, you need to give them enough notice to rearrange their plans. You can be as disappointed as you want, but you can't box people in like that and expect things to go as you planned.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


Hmmmmm

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Re: The Birthday Lunch
« Reply #49 on: December 28, 2013, 10:35:19 AM »
Thanks for explaining, TootsNYC. My understanding of your explanation is that if Purple explained her thinking/reasoning to her SMIL (or your kids explained to you) then you'd understand that she wasn't just blowing off the important event willy-nilly but that she had other things going on.

I tend to assume (apparently, wrongly) that other adults in my life know that I'm not the kind of person who blows off important family events willy-nilly. And so I assume that when I say "I cannot make it" that it's automatically known that it's because I have something else planned. I'm a big planner, and my calendar is usually full of things weeks if not months in advance. Generally, things I've RSVPed yes to (that's where I got that sentence from, the one you bolded in my last post). Either I've RSVPed yes to something else like another party, or I've committed to something like volunteering at the library, or getting important errands done (like if my car has to get an emissions test that month, and the emissions center is only open at that time).

So I get upset when someone tells me they were disappointed in me, as if I blew off an important event. Because if they know me even moderately well they'd know that I don't blow off important things. That I know when they're important and that I do try very hard to attend important things, but that my schedule's really packed.

Before your explanation, I would have thought that the person expressing disappointment should know, just by knowing me, that I knew it was important and that I would have come had I not already had other plans.

It sounds like that's not always the case.

But the OP's reason to not attend was she wanted to clean the house, set the table for Christmas Eve, not leave her dogs home, didn't like the menu and just didn't want to go. So that is very different to suggesting that the OPs MIL was suggesting she cancel another engagement.

But who's to say that's less important to the OP? Maybe her dogs are her babies? Maybe she needs mental health breaks where she's not always engaged with other people, getting dressed up, on the road, circling for parking spaces downtown, etc. It's not SMIL's place to tell OP what is or not important to the OP.

Attending a birthday party is important. But the OP's other priorities are not mine, yours or SMIL's to judge.

Danika you were stating that your family knows you don't blow off important things and try very hard to attend. In my family not attending because of those reasons would not be interpreted as trying very hard. Since the OP spent a lot of time in the morning with the aunt it would be seen as not saving time because of a packed schedule but simply avoiding the luncheon because she just didn't want to go. The OP said she just didn't want to go.

As a family member I can be hurt and disappointed when a family member makes a choice like that. Neither are wrong. They are adults and can decide their own plans. But feelings aren't wrong either. My family has tried to convince me to take a family cruise for over a decade but I don't want to. They are disappointed I won't put my dislike of cruises aside to attend a family event that they see as being a fantastic way to vacation as a family together. That's their feelings and they are entitled to them and they aren't being mean when they tell me it disappoints them.

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Re: The Birthday Lunch
« Reply #50 on: December 28, 2013, 04:55:18 PM »
Lifestyle differences play a huge role in folk's estimates of how much notice other folks may need.

Earlier in our marriage, we were the only members of the extended family who worked both full time, and on our employer's clock.  Everyone else was either retired, self-employed or a full-time student.

Our leave time had to be earned over many months, and since we'd just relocated, we simply hadn't earned much yet.  We also had a small son.  For adult events, last-minute care could be an issue.

Back then ... no one, but no one, could understand why we always declined weekday trips when they were sprung on us during, say, the weekend!  Weekdays are the best time for travel, after all.  How could we possibly need more than a day or two to prepare?

Meanwhile, we're trying to tot up our leave hours, and figure out whether we could even ask for time off on such short notice, even if we did have time on the books.

No one was trying to be mean (not even us -- though I'm sure we were the ones who looked bad).  No one was trying to leave us out, in a PA way (though I do know this can happen, but not with this family).  Still, much discomfort all the way around.

We did list the conditions we had to work under, but they had too much fun keeping up with their own schedules to remember ours (I can't keep track of anybody else's schedule, either, so I can't criticize).  Still, communications did get better over time ... but it did take much time, and many tries.

TootsNYC

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Re: The Birthday Lunch
« Reply #51 on: December 28, 2013, 06:03:21 PM »
Thanks for explaining, TootsNYC. My understanding of your explanation is that if Purple explained her thinking/reasoning to her SMIL (or your kids explained to you) then you'd understand that she wasn't just blowing off the important event willy-nilly but that she had other things going on.

Or depending on whatever that reasoning was, I might assume they were blowing off the event.
Not in the OP's case--given her specifics.

Quote
I tend to assume (apparently, wrongly) that other adults in my life know that I'm not the kind of person who blows off important family events willy-nilly. And so I assume that when I say "I cannot make it" that it's automatically known that it's because I have something else planned. I'm a big planner, and my calendar is usually full of things weeks if not months in advance. Generally, things I've RSVPed yes to (that's where I got that sentence from, the one you bolded in my last post). Either I've RSVPed yes to something else like another party, or I've committed to something like volunteering at the library, or getting important errands done (like if my car has to get an emissions test that month, and the emissions center is only open at that time).

So I get upset when someone tells me they were disappointed in me, as if I blew off an important event. Because if they know me even moderately well they'd know that I don't blow off important things. That I know when they're important and that I do try very hard to attend important things, but that my schedule's really packed.

Before your explanation, I would have thought that the person expressing disappointment should know, just by knowing me, that I knew it was important and that I would have come had I not already had other plans.

It sounds like that's not always the case.

I don't think it is always the case. And many people aren't that busy, or don't have plans that are that solid. And I've found that people almost always assume other people are like them.

So, which would you rather--that they make a negative assumption about you, and never tell you? Or that they express their disappointment, thereby giving you the opportunity to provide them evidence that will correct their assumptions?
   Or, maybe only giving *you* evidence that they have really erroneous assumptions about you, and now you know that you might need to give more info early on to avoid the whole thing.
   or, maybe they give you evidence that they're unrealistic and unfair, and now you know--and can manage your own reputation within the family more effectively, as well as respond to their demands/requests/expectations with whatever grain of salt or more discerning information gathering.


I spoke earlier of the matriarch having the right to set family standards. Of course, the matriarch only get to exercise that right if she's setting standards other people agree to--power flows up from below.
   Someone who is unreasonable (like Purple's MIL, apparently, bcs she tends to label a lot of things as "important!!!" and because she announces that something is important 3 days before it happens) is not going to get anybody following her lead. Purple didn't.
   That's appropriate. Matriarchs who want influence need to be judicious about their leadership. (Me personally, I try to give explanations for why an event might be important and leave it at that; I figure I'll save the "this is a must-attend event" for something -really- important. My mom did--she never asked for much, so when she said, "You need to be at Christmas for Dad's and my 50th wedding anniversary--I'm not accepting excuses, you have 2 years, and I don't demand much from you," I paid attention. (As it was, Nephew couldn't get military leave, so we missed him--but Mom knew he had genuinely tried.) If any of us had declined to come without explanation, or with a lame explanation, Mom would have been really, really hurt.
    Then again, when my cousin that I didn't know that well was marrying in Houston, and I said, "I think I might be able to go, I'm considering it," and my mother said, "This is important--even if it means you have to charge the plane tickets, you need to be there," I rolled my eyes. I went--but not because of what she said.
    That's because all the teaching had *already* gone on. The time to teach your kids what truly matters is when they're little. And she had.

MariaE

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Re: The Birthday Lunch
« Reply #52 on: December 29, 2013, 03:23:24 AM »
So, which would you rather--that they make a negative assumption about you, and never tell you? Or that they express their disappointment, thereby giving you the opportunity to provide them evidence that will correct their assumptions?
   Or, maybe only giving *you* evidence that they have really erroneous assumptions about you, and now you know that you might need to give more info early on to avoid the whole thing.
   or, maybe they give you evidence that they're unrealistic and unfair, and now you know--and can manage your own reputation within the family more effectively, as well as respond to their demands/requests/expectations with whatever grain of salt or more discerning information gathering.

Actually, I would rather that they gave me the benefit of doubt and assumed that I wasn't blowing things off willy-nilly!

Especially in the case of my mother. She has raised me, she knows my values. For her of all people to assume I would do such a thing would both upset and offend me greatly.

Except for the "she raised me" the same would go for my MIL as well.

It's not my job to correct people's assumptions of me. If they want to think the worst of me based on faulty evidence, then that's on them... but it will affect how I feel about them. I'm not in the mood to constantly be doing damage control if people assume the worst of me. That's on them - not on me. It'll just mean I'll think less of them.

I don't mind being told that they're disappointed I couldn't make it. I do mind being told that they're disappointed in me. There's a significant difference.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2013, 03:31:54 AM by MariaE »
 
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Psychopoesie

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Re: The Birthday Lunch
« Reply #53 on: December 29, 2013, 07:27:55 AM »
Agree with MariaE.

The difference between someone being disappointed in me vs disappointed that I'm not there is a huge one. The former seems like it's pointing to some sort of moral lapse on my part and is potentially shaming. The latter doesn't have the same judgemental feel. It's like saying we missed you or we would have been great if you could have been there.

Tea Drinker

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Re: The Birthday Lunch
« Reply #54 on: December 29, 2013, 10:49:14 AM »
Agree with MariaE.

The difference between someone being disappointed in me vs disappointed that I'm not there is a huge one. The former seems like it's pointing to some sort of moral lapse on my part and is potentially shaming. The latter doesn't have the same judgemental feel. It's like saying we missed you or we would have been great if you could have been there.

POD

"I'm disappointed you couldn't make it. We'd have loved to see you" starts from assuming that we both wanted to see each other, but time and/or energy are finite. "I'm disappointed in you" says that the other person disapproves of my choices of how to allocate that finite time and energy.
Any advice that requires the use of a time machine may safely be ignored.

Wordgeek

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Re: The Birthday Lunch
« Reply #55 on: December 29, 2013, 10:55:15 AM »
Th etiquette issue has been resolved.  The rest of the discussion is about family dynamics.