Up­com­ing hol­i­days cre­ate in-law drama

St. Thomas Times-Journal - - LIFE - AMY DICK­IN­SON

Dear Amy: I am hav­ing in-law trou­bles.

About five years ago I asked my sis­ters-in-law if we could move the an­nual Christ­mas fam­ily gath­er­ing from a Sun­day to a Sat­ur­day so that one of my kids could at­tend. He lives quite a dis­tance away and would have to miss work on the Mon­day af­ter if he at­tended the party. None of the oth­ers would miss a day of work be­cause they live lo­cally.

The re­sponse was: “No, this is the day we al­ways do it.”

Each suc­ces­sive year, I made this re­quest when the ad­vance email came out, and I was re­peat­edly re­fused. This year I did not even get an email, but I was in­formed ear­lier than nor­mal of the event by my niece.

I am de­pressed and de­mor­al­ized by the ex­clu­sion of my child and by be­ing ex­cluded from the con­ver­sa­tion. I have asked my part­ner to ap­proach his sib­lings but frankly I am not sure what will change. Do you have any sug­ges­tions? — LEFT OUT Dear Left Out: I sym­pa­thize with you — really I do, be­cause no­body likes a sis­ter-in-law ex­clu­sion story bet­ter than yours truly.

But you are not host­ing this party. Some­one else is. You made your re­quest to change the day for the sake of one per­son’s work and travel sched­ule and were told no. Ask­ing the same ques­tion ev­ery year and al­ways get­ting the same an­swer is the very def­i­ni­tion of so­cial mad­ness, and it is start­ing to re­flect poorly on you.

Hol­i­day par­ties in­volv­ing groups of peo­ple do tend to be­come set in stone. It is really not for you to say what change might be easy for oth­ers. Oth­ers in your in-law fam­ily group might have in-laws them­selves on the other sides of their fam­i­lies that are vy­ing for hol­i­day at­ten­tion. So chang­ing a hol­i­day party by one day might throw off scores of other peo­ple.

It is a shame that your son can’t ever at­tend this party. You and your hus­band might make some head­way by of­fer­ing to host it one year, and giv­ing Sat­ur­day a try.

It is not al­ways easy to be a sis­ter-in-law, es­pe­cially when you feel that a spe­cial so­cial bond has not been ex­tended to you. But this might be one of those times when you have to re­al­ize and ac­cept that you are not a fam­ily mem­ber with vot­ing rights, but one of many guests. You should not en­ter this sea­son de­ter­mined to be hurt.

Dear Amy: Sev­eral weeks ago, while un­der the in­flu­ence of al­co­hol, a (for­mer) friend of my hus­band’s posted some in­sult­ing and un­true com­ments about him on the web­site of a so­cial group to which we all be­long.

The site’s di­rec­tor spot­ted the re­marks within hours and re­moved them, so they weren’t seen by a lot of peo­ple. Now, many weeks later, the in­di­vid­ual has sobered up, but has not apol­o­gized, and in fact has told a mu­tual friend that he has no in­ten­tion of ever apol­o­giz­ing.

We find our­selves in so­cial sit­u­a­tions with him about ev­ery week or two.

We want noth­ing to do with him, but at the same time, don’t want to make oth­ers in our cir­cle un­com­fort­able. How do we han­dle this?


Dear Un­happy: It would be wis­est if your hus­band could con­tact this per­son di­rectly and pri­vately, and sim­ply ask for an apol­ogy: “I was re­lieved when these un­true state­ments were re­moved from the site, but I am still con­cerned that you pub­lished them at all. I would really ap­pre­ci­ate an apol­ogy from you so that we can all move on.”

If your hus­band makes this ap­peal and doesn’t re­ceive an an­swer (or if the per­son re­sponds neg­a­tively), then your hus­band should choose to be the big­ger per­son and re­main cor­dial, while keep­ing an arm’s length from the for­mer friend when you are all thrown to­gether. If you are al­ways cor­dial and po­lite, then noth­ing about your be­hav­iour would make oth­ers un­com­fort­able. Any pub­lic dis­com­fort should be on the per­son who cre­ated the prob­lem. Email: askamy@tri­bune.com

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