Dear Annie: My husband and I were recently invited to a surprise birthday party for his 30-year-old daughter, “Marcy.” We received the “invitation” by text three days before the party via the son-in-law’s mother, and it was scheduled at an expensive restaurant.
Seemed a little off, as it was less than two weeks before Christmas and many budgets are stretched now, but the son-in-law and his family are well-to-do. We and other family members RSVP’d that yes, we were coming.
The day of the party, we all received another text with specific instructions about what time Marcy’s husband would be bringing her and not to answer any calls from her; it was all a big happy surprise for her.
The text also mentioned that the cost of a meal at this restaurant would be between $75 and $120 per couple. Am I a fuddy-duddy to think this was inappropriate?
We let the text inviter know that most of us would not be staying for dinner so she could change the reservation. One person was angry and opted out completely.
We went for the “surprise” part, gave Marcy our gifts and politely visited. When all the son-in-law’s family abruptly took seats at one end of the table, we left. The son-in-law’s comment when we left was, “Are you sure you don’t want to stay?”
My husband and I would have been glad to assist financially with this party or suggest a less expensive alternative so all our family could have attended without feeling burdened — if we would have been asked.
My husband loves his daughter, but it seems the son-in-law and his family buy her away from us whenever possible. And she loves it, but it really makes for some hard feelings, especially during the holidays.
— Family Stressed
Dear Stressed: Sending out a last-minute “Oh, by the way, hope you’re all prepared to spend $100 tonight” text? That’s the wrong kind of surprise party.
I’m guessing that money has never been much of an issue for these people, so they’re probably clueless. Clue them in. Ask them to get you involved earlier in the process next time so you can help plan and contribute.
But once you have communicated to them your wishes and been open about your expectations for them, you must let go of the hard feelings.
As the saying goes, “resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Stay healthy.
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