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November/ December 2008

Dear Madrone,

My nose is out of joint, and I am hoping you can set it to rights. My mother's sister's children, aka my cousins, are throwing a bash for their mother's sister, aka my aunt. This is as it should be. What children wouldn't throw a bash for their mother. I never did for mine, but that's not really my fault. I was planning to, ,but she ran away with the undertaker who did my father for his wake, god bless them both. I like the guy, but after they went on the lam, it was awkward with the family. So the bash part, that's fine. I applaud them. The problem is the guest list.

AI!! Readers, here I must interject; Nine times out of ten, where these things are concerned, the problem is the guest list. According to my records, 87.9% of all trips to the ER caused by family related functions come from fights over the guest list. The rest are from people who ought to know better putting it in and out, then shaking it all about without training for it ahead of time.

My cousins have invited my and my spouse, which is very nice. But they have made it very clear that my children are not on the guest list. I can accept this, it's their party, no children, no big deal. However, one of them let slip that there WILL be some children invited, just not mine. One of the cousins is bringing his kids, the same age as my three I resent!! This is an unjustice. How can I make this known?

Aggravated, West Babylon

Dear Aggravated,

You're wasting your time. First, even if it was an injustice, what can you do? No one is breaking your arm to go. Make an excuse, and let it be. Their party, their guest list. If you want to resent, you can, but what's the use? I don't mean a slight should be forgotten, that's different. A slight should be filed away, in an agita proof container, and referred to when necessary, such as when you are trying to decide if a person needs a smack or some slack.

But in this case, you have no beef. Your mother's sister's children's children are her grandchildren. YOUR children are your mother's sister's sister's children's children, which makes them some kind of niece or nephew, not the same thing at all. The only way you can feel indignant is if you have siblings who have children, and those children were invited, not yours. Or if your mother and her sister had siblings who had children who had children and those children were invited. And if your mother's sister's husband has siblings who have children who have children and THOSE children were invited, you, that would be ruder, unless of course the bash is an anniversary, not a birthday, then it's just ordinarily insulting.

So go and be happy, don't go and be happy, or be upset, it's on your head. No wrong has been done to you or yours.

God bless, Donna

READERS- Some things you really ought to keep in mind about guest lists:

First thing is this: People complain. That's one way we know we are alive, so deal with it.

Second thing: There is a set of circles around every person or every event that a person might have that involves a guest list. If by some chance you are involved with making decisions about who gets the invite, keep that in mind. You can decide how big a circle you want to use, but once you decide, invite everyone who is in it, and don't let the people on the outside give you a hard time. Leave someone out, you take heat.

Add someone from an outer circle, but not everyone else, you take heat. Do what you like, I don't care, but just don't come complaining to me when the Aunt you invite tells the Aunt you didn't invite how great the fried calamari was, and the Aunt that you stiffed cuts your children out of the will.

But Madrone, you ask, I don't get this circle thing.

Ok, let's start with relatives.. Let's say you have a child X…who is getting married to person Y.

Circle 1: Mother, father, grandparents

Circle 2: Add siblings, and if they exist, spouses and any children.

Circle 3. Add Aunts and Uncles

Circle 4: Add Cousins -

Circle 5 Add guests of cousins or spouses , depending on age

Circle 6 Add children of cousins.

X and Y have their own independent circles, (unless of course they are first cousins, like all of my great grandparents, which cuts down on the guest list), keep that in mind when adding the numbers.

Another category is friends, it depends on the kind of life you lived.-

Some sample categories

  • People I went to school with
  • Army buddies
  • Co-workers.
  • People from my block
  • People from my cell block

Then there is another category that overlaps-People I owe.

The person who gets to make up THIS list is the person who is paying.

.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pamela Bongiorno Monk is a full time faculty member of Penn State University, where she teaches creative writing, both fiction and non fiction. She pursues freelance writing, authoring plays and feature articles. She has broken nearly as many rules of family as she has enforced.

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