Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: Family visits are coming up and I’m sure my relatives will be asking us to join them on a summer vacation. How do I, in a most polite way, tell them I can’t imagine spending a vacation with them? We are with them during the holidays because they are family. But to use hard-earned money and vacation time with them is out of the question. Any good white lies you have for this situation?
Probably, but why lie when you can just think about it now and come up with your summer plans? Then you say, “Thanks for the invitation, but we’re doing X this summer” or “We’re not taking a vacation this summer, thanks anyway.” Or etc. Some genuine version of “We have other plans” is a most polite way to respond.
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And if it becomes an annual invitation-refusal dance, then just say definitively, “We reserve the holidays for family, and summers are our just-us time (or when we vacation with friends, etc.).”
Translation: Don’t lie; take ownership.
Dear Carolyn: Our daughter is getting married. Her older brother is gay, and has yet to find a life partner.
We have a number of close relatives who are very politically and religiously conservative; we know they will accept an invitation to Daughter’s wedding, but wouldn’t to Son’s, which is hurtful to all of us. If Son got married first, these people could be winnowed off further guest lists, but as it is …
Any ideas? We’ve considered having a wedding registry for donations to a GLBTQ organization or having people Google the officiant (a liberal rabbi married to his male partner) to give people a hint. Or should we just let it go?
What does your daughter say? It’s her wedding.
If it were mine, I’d probably have a small wedding that allowed for close friends, colleagues and immediate family only, thus allowing me to lop off the part of the guest list that would boycott my brother’s wedding without presuming anything about anyone’s political views.
I don’t like any of these ideas, of hosting people who would shun my gay brother; or of using a charity or my rabbi’s marital status as a political electric fence; or of contorting myself with one wedding to modify behavior toward a potential other.
Encourage the bride and groom to choose the guest list from their hearts, then let adults be adults.
Re: Relatives: The son isn’t even engaged and you’re worried about who may not attend his (theoretical) wedding? This is building a mountain out of a flat space where a molehill might someday be.
On the surface, yes. I expect the son appreciates, though, having parents who are mindful of differences in the way he is treated compared to his sister. Even things they can’t control they can at least anticipate and understand.
Re: Relatives: Their feelings could evolve, as many people’s do. I agree with holding people accountable for their actions, but it seems unfair to hold them accountable for what you think they’d probably do in the future based on what you know about their beliefs.
Actions: yes; beliefs: no; past actions stemming from beliefs: a maybe worth giving some thought. Thanks.
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