EDITED TO ADD: UPDATE post #219.
One of my old friends started telling me the following story about something rude that happened at his family's most recent Thanksgiving dinner.
PLEASE NOTE: although our conversation was interrupted, and I never did hear the final outcome of the story, I think the etiquette issues it brings up are interesting enough to share what I did hear:
Back in early November my friend told me that his eldest aunt, who is 89, was planning to host what would probably be her last Thanksgiving meal in her own home later in the month. (She is probably going to be moving to an assisted living apartment in January.) She had announced to her extended family that she simply did not feel up to hosting as large a group as she had in the past, so this year, she was limiting her invitation to family members only. No girlfriends or boyfriends, no lonely neighbors, no old family friends this year, just family members.
Well, one of my friend's cousins (let's call him "Larry") got very upset about their aunt's decision. Larry recently divorced from his third wife, and he really wanted to bring his new girlfriend to Thanksgiving dinner. Even after talking with their aunt, Larry told my old friend that he didn't care what their aunt (the host) said, he was bringing his girlfriend no matter what. My old friend told me that he had told Larry not to do that, that it would be very rude to bring a specifically not-invited guest. My friend mentioned it to Larry's dad, too, who, my friend told me, was going to also tell Larry not to do that.
Last weekend I bumped into my old friend for the first time since Thanksgiving. I asked him about his holiday. He rolled his eyes and started to tell me that Larry did show up at their aunt's house with his new girlfriend even after their aunt (the host) and Larry's dad and my old friend all told Larry not to do that because this was a one-time family-only meal before their aunt goes into assisted living.
My old friend got started to tell me that when Larry and the uninvited girlfriend showed up at their aunt's door, their aunt got very upset and angry...
...and then someone else walked up and joined our conversation. My friend changed the subject then, and I didn't get to hear the end of his story. (Did their aunt calm down and allow Larry and his girlfriend to stay? Did their aunt ask them to leave? Next time I see my friend I'll want to hear the rest of the story!)
Here are my questions for any who care to share their opinions:
1.) It was OK, wasn't it, for the elderly host to limit her invitations to family members only to keep her numbers down? (I'm thinking if it is her dinner party she can invite whomever she pleases, and then they can decide whether or not they want to come. But, are there different ways of looking at this?)
2.) It was OK, wasn't it, for the elderly aunt to say "no" when Larry told her he wanted to bring his new girlfriend?
3.) Was it rude for my friend and Larry's dad to have shared their opinions with Larry, or should they have stayed out of the disagreement between the aunt and Larry?
4.) Larry was terribly rude to have brought his new girlfriend even after the host said no, wasn't he? (I'm thinking the only polite thing Larry could have done was to have said, "I won't come without my girlfriend, so I will not be joining you this time," but do others disagree?)
5.) Once Larry did show up at the door, what were the elderly aunt's polite options at that point? (I'm thinking that while it would have been gracious for the aunt to have invited the girlfriend in - it would have also been polite for the aunt to have said, in a polite tone of voice, as she ushered them out, "I am so sorry, but, as I explained to Larry, this is my last holiday in my own home, and I am limiting our day to family members only. I am sorry you cannot join us today." But what do other people think?)
Has this happened to anyone else? How did you handle it?