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Author Topic: Carolyn Hax: Stepmom insists on throwing shower  (Read 8488 times)

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gellchom

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Re: Carolyn Hax: Stepmom insists on throwing shower
« Reply #30 on: July 18, 2016, 11:17:53 AM »
I think some posters are missing Hax's suggestion that the party be something other than a shower.  That is key, because the bride's issue was not that she didn't know the people or that the stepmother has a history of controlling or anything like that -- she was just concerned about the etiquette issue of it being a shower -- another point I think some people are forgetting.  Hax made a point of saying that there are ways to avoid the gift-grabby impression that worried Bride. 

Hax is just saying that as the idea of some kind of party that wouldn't involve gifts doesn't seem to be that big of a deal to this Bride, and that as it means so much to the SM for whatever good or silly reasons she has, then Bride might consider going along with it -- sort of like a calculus that it will make someone else much happier than it will make her unhappy, even though it isn't her preference.

I don't see anything wrong with that, and I don't see it as a surrender of boundaries.  It's just doing something nice for her fiance's family.  As Hax patiently and repeatedly pointed out, if boundaries become an issue in the future, she can deal with it then, when it is something important.  I think it is highly unlikely that "SM may be harping for the rest of her life that because she got to give the shower, she's entitled to make other decisions too."

When I got married, my in-laws wanted to give a party in their city for their friends, because the wedding would be in my home town far away.  As the plans started snowballing, one idea that was being floated was to do it after the wedding and have another rabbi "bless the wedding" (whatever on earth that would have meant).  When they got to the point of saying they wanted me to wear my wedding gown again, I was ready to crack.  My very wise brother advised me to just let them do whatever they wanted even if it meant I'd feel like a circus pony for a couple of hours; they are kind and loving people and it seemed to mean so much to them, and it was just for their own friends, and no one I cared would be there anyway except my own parents.  I never had to make that decision, and I think at least I would have drawn the line at wearing the gown again, but I'm glad I didn't make it a battle.  Rather, we made a compromise: we pointed out that as we were moving to another state and my husband was starting a new job immediately after the wedding and honeymoon, a party after the wedding would just be too hard for us.  So they decided to make it a brunch a month before the wedding, without any quasi-ritual or wedding gown, which worked out just fine.  It still wasn't something I wanted.  But they really loved being able to be hosts for their friends, and although it was not very convenient for us, I'm very glad we went along with it.  And I don't think it made any difference in later years with any boundaries.

I think that's what Hax was thinking about.  She suggested that Bride focus on the elements of the plans that really bothered her and see if she couldn't negotiate some other type of party that she still might not especially want, but that she could live with.  That's not being a doormat, that's having a generous spirit.  I agree that, especially if she can eliminate the gift elements that are evidently bothering her, it doesn't have to be a hill to die on.

shortstuff

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Re: Carolyn Hax: Stepmom insists on throwing shower
« Reply #31 on: July 19, 2016, 12:29:26 PM »
I think some posters are missing Hax's suggestion that the party be something other than a shower.  That is key, because the bride's issue was not that she didn't know the people or that the stepmother has a history of controlling or anything like that -- she was just concerned about the etiquette issue of it being a shower -- another point I think some people are forgetting.  Hax made a point of saying that there are ways to avoid the gift-grabby impression that worried Bride. 

...snip...

I think that's what Hax was thinking about.  She suggested that Bride focus on the elements of the plans that really bothered her and see if she couldn't negotiate some other type of party that she still might not especially want, but that she could live with.  That's not being a doormat, that's having a generous spirit.  I agree that, especially if she can eliminate the gift elements that are evidently bothering her, it doesn't have to be a hill to die on.

I agree that this could work, but it was pointed out in the letter than the mother really wanted to 'recoup' on all the gifts that she gave to her friends over the years.  Whether the party is called a shower or tea or engagement party, it's possible to assume the step-mom will make it all about the gifts, which is the part the bride wanted to avoid in the first place.  Plus, if the bride has little to no input on the party, it could easily turn into a shower anyway. 

Honestly, what is the difference between a shower (with or without guests who are not invited to the wedding), and an engagement party held shortly before the wedding, which I thought is a gift-giving occasion?

Mikayla

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Re: Carolyn Hax: Stepmom insists on throwing shower
« Reply #32 on: July 19, 2016, 12:40:37 PM »
Gellchom, as usual you make good points.  But Hax's response barely focused on the suggestion to switch events.  It was almost grudging.  I started shaking my head as soon as she said that accepting the shower "won't make you that bride".  As much as I usually love Hax, this isn't something someone else can proclaim from afar. 

I did like her idea of a low impact recipe shower or something like that, but I also think she completely ignored the LW's comment about stepmom wanting to be part of an event where her "side" gets the gifts.  With this mindset, it's not likely she'd agree to an alternate event.  This is the type of thing Hax usually jumps on, so the whole thing kind of surprised me.

Twik

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Re: Carolyn Hax: Stepmom insists on throwing shower
« Reply #33 on: July 21, 2016, 08:33:36 AM »
Actually, the current crop of advice columnists aren't very good on traditional etiquette. There was one in my local paper who was asked if it was all right to ask for money, and money only, as your wedding gift. Why of course it is! she responded. Why should you be burdened with toasters and linens when you really want something to pay off the credit card bills? Surely your guests will be thrilled that you've saved them the trouble of shopping.
My cousin's memoir of love and loneliness while raising a child with multiple disabilities will be out on Amazon soon! Know the Night, by Maria Mutch, has been called "full of hope, light, and companionship for surviving the small hours of the night."

gramma dishes

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Re: Carolyn Hax: Stepmom insists on throwing shower
« Reply #34 on: July 21, 2016, 09:38:45 AM »
Actually, the current crop of advice columnists aren't very good on traditional etiquette. There was one in my local paper who was asked if it was all right to ask for money, and money only, as your wedding gift. Why of course it is! she responded. Why should you be burdened with toasters and linens when you really want something to pay off the credit card bills? Surely your guests will be thrilled that you've saved them the trouble of shopping.

It sounds like maybe she was being facetious or even downright sarcastic.

cross_patch

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Re: Carolyn Hax: Stepmom insists on throwing shower
« Reply #35 on: July 21, 2016, 10:27:33 PM »
Actually, the current crop of advice columnists aren't very good on traditional etiquette. There was one in my local paper who was asked if it was all right to ask for money, and money only, as your wedding gift. Why of course it is! she responded. Why should you be burdened with toasters and linens when you really want something to pay off the credit card bills? Surely your guests will be thrilled that you've saved them the trouble of shopping.

The thing is, etiquette is not a static and objective concept. It's dependent on cultural and social context so it develops and adapts. I'm not saying she's specifically correct in this instance, but I'm not sure that being good at 'traditional' etiquette is a valid critique.

Twik

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Re: Carolyn Hax: Stepmom insists on throwing shower
« Reply #36 on: July 25, 2016, 01:26:27 PM »
Actually, the current crop of advice columnists aren't very good on traditional etiquette. There was one in my local paper who was asked if it was all right to ask for money, and money only, as your wedding gift. Why of course it is! she responded. Why should you be burdened with toasters and linens when you really want something to pay off the credit card bills? Surely your guests will be thrilled that you've saved them the trouble of shopping.

It sounds like maybe she was being facetious or even downright sarcastic.

Nope, quite serious. Your guests should be told upfront when money was the only acceptable present. Don't let them waste your time by having to return stuff for cash or worse, store credit.

She even suggested that a "cute poem" would make it look less mercenary.  ::)
My cousin's memoir of love and loneliness while raising a child with multiple disabilities will be out on Amazon soon! Know the Night, by Maria Mutch, has been called "full of hope, light, and companionship for surviving the small hours of the night."

LtPowers

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Re: Carolyn Hax: Stepmom insists on throwing shower
« Reply #37 on: July 29, 2016, 10:36:25 AM »
I agree with Gellchom, by the way.

Honestly, what is the difference between a shower (with or without guests who are not invited to the wedding), and an engagement party held shortly before the wedding, which I thought is a gift-giving occasion?

An engagement party is not a gift-giving occasion. An "engagement party" held shortly before the wedding at which gifts are expected is a (co-ed) shower.


Powers  &8^]

sammycat

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Re: Carolyn Hax: Stepmom insists on throwing shower
« Reply #38 on: July 29, 2016, 07:48:26 PM »
I agree with Gellchom, by the way.

Honestly, what is the difference between a shower (with or without guests who are not invited to the wedding), and an engagement party held shortly before the wedding, which I thought is a gift-giving occasion?

An engagement party is not a gift-giving occasion. An "engagement party" held shortly before the wedding at which gifts are expected is a (co-ed) shower.


Powers  &8^]

It depends where you live. In many countries, including Australia and New Zealand, an engagement party is very much a gift giving occasion. To invite someone to the engagement party and not the wedding itself would be very rude.  A shower (bridal/co-ed/single sex) is a different event.

Celany

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Re: Carolyn Hax: Stepmom insists on throwing shower
« Reply #39 on: August 01, 2016, 03:17:28 PM »
I agree with Gellchom, by the way.

Honestly, what is the difference between a shower (with or without guests who are not invited to the wedding), and an engagement party held shortly before the wedding, which I thought is a gift-giving occasion?

An engagement party is not a gift-giving occasion. An "engagement party" held shortly before the wedding at which gifts are expected is a (co-ed) shower.


Powers  &8^]

It depends where you live. In many countries, including Australia and New Zealand, an engagement party is very much a gift giving occasion. To invite someone to the engagement party and not the wedding itself would be very rude.  A shower (bridal/co-ed/single sex) is a different event.

I've only been to a grand total of one engagement party (in NYC), but it was definitely a "gifts optional" occasion. The HC were close friends of my boyfriend, and he brought them a very nice bottle of wine. It seems like the family/very close friends bought gifts of that type (wine, fine vodka, I think some caviar (They're Eastern European)), and other people just showed up to extend some good wishes to them.

I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior. ~ Hippolyte Taine