Annie Lane: Feeling snubbed on Thanksgiving

Published 6:30 am Saturday, January 2, 2021

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Dear Annie: I’m 76 years old and need to know if I’m behind the times where etiquette is concerned. I have never been married and have not been around “young folks” a lot, so maybe I’m just behind the times.

My only niece, “Marji,” a 40-year-old, invited me to Thanksgiving dinner at her home. There would be only us and her daughter, whom I’ll call “Robin,” and Robin’s new baby. Although there is no difficulty between us, I’ve never had Thanksgiving Day dinner at my niece’s house before.

As background, I have been helping Marji financially since her mother, my sister, passed away in 2018. Additionally, I am financially helping my great niece (my niece’s daughter). They live together and both work, but my niece has told me that they don’t earn enough to meet their modest expenses. They are aware that they are my only heirs.

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The Thanksgiving Day invitation was made in person two weeks before, and I was delighted to accept. I was asked to bring a favorite side dish, which is no problem. There was no mention of any other obligation they had. Marji called me the night before to give me some details of the get-together. She said that I could join them between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. That sounded strange to me, so I asked her if she had somewhere else she had to be later in the day. She said that she and Robin wanted to visit with the grandmother of Robin’s new baby. Robin is not married to the baby’s father, and I had been told that the grandmother was not in the baby’s everyday life.

I’ll have to admit that I was hurt by this backhanded invitation but want to give my niece the benefit of the doubt. Thus my question: Is it proper these days to invite someone to your house for a celebration dinner and then tell the guest that she must leave at a designated time?

— Perplexed by

Modern Etiquette

Dear Perplexed: These particular days, it’s really not proper to invite anyone to your house for a celebration. Maybe COVID-19 cases aren’t prevalent in your area, but that could quickly change if people are freely spending time indoors and unmasked with people from other households. I don’t mean to lecture, but friends of mine have lost loved ones to this disease, and I feel compelled to speak up on their behalf.

That aside, I understand why you’d feel snubbed with your niece changing plans at the last minute. It sounds as though she’s not in the running for hostess of the year. She and Robin care about you and the baby’s grandmother and wanted to include you both in the baby’s first Thanksgiving. They didn’t realize that splitting the difference would injure you. Trust that their intentions were good, and next year, communicate from the outset that you’d like to spend the day with them.

• • •

Dear Annie: Your response was spot on to “Not a Fan,” the reader who wrote in about her mate singing in the morning and putting on a performance in the evening after he came home from work. He seems like a happy chap! Singing, as you stated, makes people feel good even if they are terrible. And the things we dislike about a mate or good friend are often the things we miss most about them when they are gone.

I sing, too, and I stink at it, too. But guess what? I am in a band! And I am a happy chap, too!

— Robert J.

Dear Robert: Keep crooning.

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