Make lemonade out of sibling’s Thanksgiving snub
Advice columnist Carolyn Hax hears about an estranged sibling ruining Thanksgiving and from a grandmother who must get past rude parents to see her grandchild.
DEAR CAROLYN: How do I handle not being invited to the extended family Thanksgiving dinner? An estranged sibling is having the dinner and excluded the other siblings — on purpose. The only other family member who knows is my mother, a favorite target of the estranged sibling’s bullying. The extended family does not know there is a rift.
Do I just suck it up and cook my own dinner, or get together with the other siblings and not mention it to anyone?
DEAR R.: Or invite people you enjoy who you know don’t have plans, or invite your other siblings and don’t care who knows what, or pack a bag and treat yourself to an overnight someplace you’ve always wanted to see/see again, or spend the day shopping online for a needy family, or warm up your favorite pie and queue up a video marathon.
When someone spits on your script, that is hurtful and upsetting; I get it. But it’s also license to drop the spitty script in the fire and write a new one. If you can use this do-over to be more generous with others than your sibling has been with you, then think of that as the stuffing in the bird.
DEAR CAROLYN: I need help in handling my son and his wife, so I can keep my dignity and still see my grandchild.
Son and Wife are in their mid-40s, building a successful law firm and live about 45 minutes away by car. I see them once or twice a month, mainly because I pick up my granddaughter to spend time with her; otherwise there would be much less contact. Son and Wife encourage my contact with their child; it gives them a break, of course.
My problem is Son and Wife do not find it necessary to return my emails or phone calls or other common courtesies. For example, I have emailed asking if Granddaughter may go to a certain event. If the answer is no, they simply will not respond. I email asking them if I left my camera case at their house, I receive no response. I bought Granddaughter a Halloween costume, with her mother’s approval. When I brought it on Halloween, she was wearing another costume.
How do I handle this situation and keep my granddaughter and my self-respect?
— Grandma Almost Ready to Give Up
DEAR GRANDMA ALMOST READY TO GIVE UP: It is a healthy reflex, when someone mistreats us, to stop offering ourselves up for mistreatment.
You want to protect yourself and punish this couple by denying them your compliant presence, but we both know they’ll barely flinch — while you’ll suffer greatly in denying yourself time with the child.
And so, for the purpose of your bond with your grandchild, I don’t think your dignity will mind if you treat her parents’ rudeness merely as the traffic you must endure to see her. The parents’ rudeness is a reason not to give up, to provide the loving presence of someone who isn’t in a rush.
For what it’s worth, there’s probably a mode of communication Son and Wife prefer and respond to better. Ask them. Text, perhaps?