Author Topic: Feeling like our events are less important than others....  (Read 20715 times)

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Twik

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Re: Feeling like our events are less important than others....
« Reply #120 on: March 02, 2014, 02:59:41 AM »
About 3 weeks before the party, my DH's aunt decided to plan a anniversary party for herself and her husband (50 years), and also for her daughter (DH's cousin) and her husband (25 years).

I think that if the anniversary party was that important, it would have been planned more than 3 weeks in advance. 

Also it would have been one thing for MIL and company to need to leave OP's party early (expressing regrets all the while), but quite another thing to dictate the events of the birthday party to suit themselves.

She is sending the message that 'you are less important' to the Granddaughter as she forced the OP's family to rush through their event to accommodate herself and her entourage.

Sure, but I don't think in this instance that there's necessarily anything wrong with that, because I think a golden wedding anniversary *does* take precedence over a 14th birthday party. 14 isn't any kind of milestone.

And actually, the message she's sending is 'this *event* is more important, this time', not '*you* are less important'. There's nothing wrong with a teenager learning that other things are important too, sometimes more so.

She did also make the effort to be there, rather than blowing her off altogether to go to the party.

Etiquette doesn't say attend the most important party, it says attend the one you accepted first.
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MariaE

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Re: Feeling like our events are less important than others....
« Reply #121 on: March 02, 2014, 03:11:45 AM »
Exactly, Twik. Just because it may be understandable to prioritise a second invitation over the first one doesn't mean it's not still rude.
 
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perpetua

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Re: Feeling like our events are less important than others....
« Reply #122 on: March 02, 2014, 03:21:43 AM »
About 3 weeks before the party, my DH's aunt decided to plan a anniversary party for herself and her husband (50 years), and also for her daughter (DH's cousin) and her husband (25 years).

I think that if the anniversary party was that important, it would have been planned more than 3 weeks in advance. 

Also it would have been one thing for MIL and company to need to leave OP's party early (expressing regrets all the while), but quite another thing to dictate the events of the birthday party to suit themselves.

She is sending the message that 'you are less important' to the Granddaughter as she forced the OP's family to rush through their event to accommodate herself and her entourage.

Sure, but I don't think in this instance that there's necessarily anything wrong with that, because I think a golden wedding anniversary *does* take precedence over a 14th birthday party. 14 isn't any kind of milestone.

And actually, the message she's sending is 'this *event* is more important, this time', not '*you* are less important'. There's nothing wrong with a teenager learning that other things are important too, sometimes more so.

She did also make the effort to be there, rather than blowing her off altogether to go to the party.

Etiquette doesn't say attend the most important party, it says attend the one you accepted first.

I'm aware of that. But sometimes real life gets in the way and requires us to not stick so unbendingly to the rigid rules of etiquette.

I mean, take the following example: A couple you are close to are planning a wedding to be held a significant time in the future. They discover that one half of the couple is ill/is being posted abroad on service/something else that means the wedding must be brought forward unexpectedly. When the invitation arrives, you check your diary and find you already have a lunch date with a friend on the proposed date of the wedding. Do you *really* turn down the later invitation to such an important event because 'you have a prior engagement' ?

I would sincerely hope not.

Sometimes you have to make these decisions and sometimes they're the right decisions to make.


MariaE

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Re: Feeling like our events are less important than others....
« Reply #123 on: March 02, 2014, 04:47:11 AM »
No, I probably wouldn't, since lunch-dates with local friends are easily rescheduled, but I would still be rude to do so. It might be understandable, but it would still be rude.

Besides, where do you draw the line? Does a wedding trump a reoccurring lunch-date? A once-in-a-blue-moon lunch-date? A visit from out of town/state/country? A "regular" birthday party? A milestone birthday party? An anniversary? A graduation?

This is why the rule is "attend the event you accepted first", because otherwise you'd constantly be weighing events against each other, deciding which is more "worthy" (for want of better word) of your attendance.
 
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Dindrane

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Re: Feeling like our events are less important than others....
« Reply #124 on: March 02, 2014, 04:58:09 AM »
Etiquette doesn't have any flexibility on the rule about which social engagement takes priority. It's the one you committed to attending first. People, however, typically are more flexible in that respect.

So if you have an extraordinary circumstance that comes up where you feel you really must break a prior engagement, you don't just break it and assume everything will be okay. You acknowledge that you are, in fact, acting in a way that is contrary to good manners and apologize for doing so. You count on the fact that most people you'd want to set a casual lunch date with would understand that you felt you needed to break it to attend a wedding that was moved up for reasons that are both important and impossible to predict.

The point is not that you can't back out of invitations. The point is that a) you are backing out of one, no matter how understandable, and b) you will not always escape negative repercussions for doing so. Because it's not polite, and so it is a transgression of manners that requires a certain level of forgiveness, one which may not be extended if it is requested too often.

In addition, the way that a host treats his or her invitations is the thing that communicates to the guests how important the event is. I don't tend to plan casual lunch dates more than about a week in advance, if that. Because if it doesn't work out that week, it's no big deal to reschedule. There's no specific date or time that it needs to happen on in order to be successful. But at the same time, if it's important for me to have lunch with a specific person, I do typically have to give at least a few days notice, even though planning the lunch date rarely takes more than a 5 minute phone call.

On the other hand, birthdays, anniversaries, and other similar events do have specific dates that matter. They can't necessarily be rescheduled for a different week or a different month because of scheduling conflicts. More importantly, they involve gathering more than two people in one place at one time, which is statistically much more difficult to manage than just trying to find a time when two individuals have an hour to meet for lunch.

So for that type of social engagement, either the date and attendees are important enough that people would expect to set aside other things they'd rather do in order to be there, or they aren't. Saying that a party is important enough that people should back out of invitations they've already accepted, but not so important that anyone needed to be told the party was happening more than a few weeks in advance, is contradictory. Those two things are mutually exclusive.

I also think that the advance notification of guests is an element of party planning that is every bit as important as making sure those guests have food to eat. It isn't necessary to send formal or even particularly detailed invitations well in advance if you're planning a party. But if you want people to be able to plan for it, you do have to at least say, "Hey, my 50th anniversary is coming up this July, and we're planning to throw a party. We're still figuring out the details, but we'd like you to be able to attend, so we wanted to give you a heads up."

If you give that informal heads up 2 months in advance and then do nothing else at all until 2 weeks before the party, it still took you 2 months to plan it. It just didn't take you 2 months of doing nothing but planning.


perpetua

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Re: Feeling like our events are less important than others....
« Reply #125 on: March 02, 2014, 04:58:18 AM »
No, I probably wouldn't, since lunch-dates with local friends are easily rescheduled, but I would still be rude to do so. It might be understandable, but it would still be rude.

Besides, where do you draw the line? Does a wedding trump a reoccurring lunch-date? A once-in-a-blue-moon lunch-date? A visit from out of town/state/country? A "regular" birthday party? A milestone birthday party? An anniversary? A graduation?

This is why the rule is "attend the event you accepted first", because otherwise you'd constantly be weighing events against each other, deciding which is more "worthy" (for want of better word) of your attendance.

Well yes, but it's ridiculous not to be *able* to weigh up if necessary because you're sticking so rigidly to the 'rules', is what I'm saying. Life happens and sometimes it's necessary.

As for being rude, I tend to think it's only rude if someone is offended. So, if your friend with whom you've rescheduled your lunch to attend a hypothetical wedding isn't at all offended by your doing so, how is it rude? Who are you being rude to? If nobody is negatively affected by it, it's not rude just because someone who writes a book says it is.

Interesting that you bring up a graduation. Would you not attend your hypothetical child's graduation because there was 'something else already in the diary' that day?

Dindrane

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Re: Feeling like our events are less important than others....
« Reply #126 on: March 02, 2014, 05:15:42 AM »
No, I probably wouldn't, since lunch-dates with local friends are easily rescheduled, but I would still be rude to do so. It might be understandable, but it would still be rude.

Besides, where do you draw the line? Does a wedding trump a reoccurring lunch-date? A once-in-a-blue-moon lunch-date? A visit from out of town/state/country? A "regular" birthday party? A milestone birthday party? An anniversary? A graduation?

This is why the rule is "attend the event you accepted first", because otherwise you'd constantly be weighing events against each other, deciding which is more "worthy" (for want of better word) of your attendance.

Well yes, but it's ridiculous not to be *able* to weigh up if necessary because you're sticking so rigidly to the 'rules', is what I'm saying. Life happens and sometimes it's necessary.

As for being rude, I tend to think it's only rude if someone is offended. So, if your friend with whom you've rescheduled your lunch to attend a hypothetical wedding isn't at all offended by your doing so, how is it rude? Who are you being rude to? If nobody is negatively affected by it, it's not rude just because someone who writes a book says it is.

Interesting that you bring up a graduation. Would you not attend your hypothetical child's graduation because there was 'something else already in the diary' that day?

Of course it's ridiculous to adhere too rigidly to the rules. But that doesn't mean that the rules themselves ought to be flexible. It means that your application of them needs to be flexible. Flexible rules don't do anyone any good, because there are no clear lines drawn about what is and is not appropriate. You can't take the rules themselves on a case-by-case basis, though you can (and should) take your response to them that way.

If someone steals something that I never liked anyway, is that still a theft? Even though I'm not actually sorry to lose it? The fact that it doesn't bother me means I likely wouldn't press charges or whatever in relation to that theft, but it doesn't mean that it stops being a theft subject to the enforcement of applicable rules.

I doubt most people would skip a graduation because they had something else planned that day, but the reason is not because the rules of etiquette are too rigid. The reason is that the date of graduation is usually fixed in stone 6 months to a year before it happens, and graduating students typically have to submit some sort of application to graduate at least a month or so before it happens. The event is important enough and inflexible enough that people are given a large amount of notice to maximize their ability to attend.

Case in point, my husband just graduated with his PhD and will be attending the commencement ceremony for it in June. The date itself was set by the university something like 4 years ago. I knew the approximate date of my husband's graduation a good 6 months before it happened. He had to apply to graduate about a month before the end of the term. And because he received his actual degree in the middle of the academic year but his school only has one commencement ceremony, we both knew that we could be unavailable on that day about a year in advance, and knew that we would be unavailable that day 7 months in advance. So even though I don't recall the exact date of the ceremony off the top of my head, I know there is a date in June that I am not available, and I wouldn't accept any invitations in that timeframe without first making sure there was not conflict.


MariaE

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Re: Feeling like our events are less important than others....
« Reply #127 on: March 02, 2014, 05:42:55 AM »
No, I probably wouldn't, since lunch-dates with local friends are easily rescheduled, but I would still be rude to do so. It might be understandable, but it would still be rude.

Besides, where do you draw the line? Does a wedding trump a reoccurring lunch-date? A once-in-a-blue-moon lunch-date? A visit from out of town/state/country? A "regular" birthday party? A milestone birthday party? An anniversary? A graduation?

This is why the rule is "attend the event you accepted first", because otherwise you'd constantly be weighing events against each other, deciding which is more "worthy" (for want of better word) of your attendance.

Well yes, but it's ridiculous not to be *able* to weigh up if necessary because you're sticking so rigidly to the 'rules', is what I'm saying. Life happens and sometimes it's necessary.

As for being rude, I tend to think it's only rude if someone is offended. So, if your friend with whom you've rescheduled your lunch to attend a hypothetical wedding isn't at all offended by your doing so, how is it rude? Who are you being rude to? If nobody is negatively affected by it, it's not rude just because someone who writes a book says it is.

Interesting that you bring up a graduation. Would you not attend your hypothetical child's graduation because there was 'something else already in the diary' that day?
Instead of repeating Dindrane's reply re. graduation, I'll just POD her entire post.

To the bolded, this argument sits very badly with me, because it puts the onus on the "innocent party" (in this case the friend) to decide whether I'm rude or not. So suddenly she may feel pressured into not being offended, because if she's offended then I'm rude, and a good friend wouldn't want a friend to be rude.

No, I'm rude. Regardless of whether she understands me or not, I'm still rude. Our friendship may very well cover such cases - but from an etiquette POV I'm still rude.
 
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perpetua

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Re: Feeling like our events are less important than others....
« Reply #128 on: March 02, 2014, 05:54:01 AM »

Of course it's ridiculous to adhere too rigidly to the rules. But that doesn't mean that the rules themselves ought to be flexible. It means that your application of them needs to be flexible. Flexible rules don't do anyone any good, because there are no clear lines drawn about what is and is not appropriate. You can't take the rules themselves on a case-by-case basis, though you can (and should) take your response to them that way.

Yes, I agree. That's exactly what I'm trying to say. The rules don't change, but life means occasionally we must be flexible with our adherence to the rules and be understanding of those who have to do this. Trotting out 'But that's rude!' just because a book that someone who claims expertise has written says it is, when it's so obviously the right thing to do is just too rigid.

The flexibility works both ways too; it allows me to see who among my circle is understanding that sometimes life gets in the way, and who aheres to the rules too ridigly for me to be comfortable having a friendship with them.

For example, I would not be keen to carry on socialising with a friend who was too rigid in her rule adherence to be understanding that the hypothetical short-notice wedding mentioned upthread was more important than a lunch date which can likely be rescehduled for another time. If said friend gave me a hard time over that, she wouldn't be a friend much longer, I don't think.

In this case, the OP's MIL was put in an awkward place after accepting an invitation. I think the proper thing to do in this case was to understand that MIL can not be in two places at once, that a 50th anniversay happens once in a lifetime and was probably more important for her to attend than a 14th birthday party, that the granddaughter will have another birthday next year, and that the MIL *did* attend for a portion of the day and did her best to please everyone. Disappointing, perhaps, but not worthy of a big drama.

MariaE

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Re: Feeling like our events are less important than others....
« Reply #129 on: March 02, 2014, 06:03:35 AM »
I don't see that the OP is making a big drama out of it. She's just making sure the same thing doesn't happen again another time. Actions have consequences, that's all there is to it.
 
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perpetua

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Re: Feeling like our events are less important than others....
« Reply #130 on: March 02, 2014, 06:06:20 AM »
The OP might not be, but to read some of the responses you'd be forgiven for thinking that MIL had kicked the granddaughter's kitten pr something :)

Too rigid adherence to the rules without allowing for situations like this just doesn't work in the real world, is what I'm saying. To take it to its extreme - do you refuse to eat a meal when you haven't got the correct fork because doing so would be 'rude', even if you're starving hungry?

MariaE

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Re: Feeling like our events are less important than others....
« Reply #131 on: March 02, 2014, 06:17:40 AM »
The OP might not be, but to read some of the responses you'd be forgiven for thinking that MIL had kicked the granddaughter's kitten pr something :)

Too rigid adherence to the rules without allowing for situations like this just doesn't work in the real world, is what I'm saying. To take it to its extreme - do you refuse to eat a meal when you haven't got the correct fork because doing so would be 'rude', even if you're starving hungry?

Actually, assuming I was a guest and not a host, not eating would be rude, because then I'd be drawing attention to a mistake my host made ;)

I do agree with your basic premise though. All I'm saying is that it is wrong to say that MIL wasn't rude, because according to etiquette - and this is ehell after all - she was. It's as simple as that. It might be an understandable rudeness, but some posters have argued (and you probably weren't one of those - after 8+ pages I've lost track) that she wasn't rude at all, and I simply just can't agree with that. According to etiquette, she was.

That it may have been understandable, reasonable even expected is a different matter entirely, and is up to the individual relationships to figure out :)

(And for me, personally, I would pick a 14th birthday party over a 50th wedding anniversary any day, because in my experience they tend to be a lot more fun! ;) )
 
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perpetua

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Re: Feeling like our events are less important than others....
« Reply #132 on: March 02, 2014, 06:27:23 AM »
The OP might not be, but to read some of the responses you'd be forgiven for thinking that MIL had kicked the granddaughter's kitten pr something :)

Too rigid adherence to the rules without allowing for situations like this just doesn't work in the real world, is what I'm saying. To take it to its extreme - do you refuse to eat a meal when you haven't got the correct fork because doing so would be 'rude', even if you're starving hungry?

Actually, assuming I was a guest and not a host, not eating would be rude, because then I'd be drawing attention to a mistake my host made ;)



Aha! So, etiquette is not infallible. Either you are rude yourself and eat with the wrong fork, or you draw attention to your host's fail, which is also rude, so, you have to pick one rule to adhere to and disregard the other... so technically you're rude either way :) Etiquette does not always allow for real-life situations, is the point. Sometimes you have to go with the 'lesser of two evils' and call it good, which I think is exactly what the MIL did here.

Quote
I do agree with your basic premise though. All I'm saying is that it is wrong to say that MIL wasn't rude, because according to etiquette - and this is ehell after all - she was. It's as simple as that. It might be an understandable rudeness, but some posters have argued (and you probably weren't one of those - after 8+ pages I've lost track) that she wasn't rude at all, and I simply just can't agree with that. According to etiquette, she was.

Indeed. That's why I've been prefacing it at all times with "Technically..."
« Last Edit: March 02, 2014, 06:31:21 AM by perpetua »

Runningstar

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Re: Feeling like our events are less important than others....
« Reply #133 on: March 02, 2014, 06:38:17 AM »
It is really interesting to see how very differently we all see what MIL did.  I still think that the first rsvp stands.  If MIL had declined the invite to the anniversary party, it would have avoided the double booking.  If Aunt/Uncle saw that so many could not make it to their anniv. party on Saturday(for example), they could have held it on Sunday.  After reading the OP's clarifications, I wonder if Aunt/Uncle would have preferred this also so as not to interfere with DD's birthday.   

nayberry

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Re: Feeling like our events are less important than others....
« Reply #134 on: March 02, 2014, 07:38:58 AM »
if i had a lunchdate planned and got an invite to a "we have to do this as we're being moved etc" close family/friend wedding, i'd call the lunch friend and ask if we could reschedule due to the sudden wedding.  and if i was having a lunch date its likely that person is a good enough friend that they'd understand and tell me not to worry about it.



none of the arguments anyone has put forward have convinced me that the grandma was anything but rude