QUESTION: My husband and I are in our early 80s. We held a large family “after-Christmas” dinner. All of our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews and Oklahoma cousins were invited — a total of 32 people.
Some of our granddaughters have significant others, and those who have been “in the family” for a few years were invited, as well as an engaged couple. One granddaughter, who isn't divorced yet from her second husband, but has a sweetheart, now has her feelings hurt because he and his son were not invited.
She has three young children whom we love and who were invited and came. She has written us after the fact that she now wants an explanation as to why her sweetheart wasn't invited, and she is hurt that she's not getting any “family support” for this relationship.
We have had alcoholics, felons, etc., brought to our home and they became a whim of a relationship. We don't know this “sweetheart” but the last time they were here (Thanksgiving), his son was found opening doors and closets that he had no business doing. We paid for their motel room at that time. This time we had nine people staying over, which we didn't mind, but I resent being told that “it would not have been a burden to my husband and I to have invited this ‘sweetheart' since there was enough food to go around and they would have paid for their own motel room.”
My husband and I have decided this will be the last time we have a large gathering. We are very family-oriented and don't wish to hurt anyone's feelings. I don't know how to answer this granddaughter. Do you have any suggestions?
CALLIE'S ANSWER: I think you are right, you and your husband have gone above and beyond! The fact that your granddaughter sent you that ungrateful note — ugh! So rude! I would not respond at all. It was childish, and childish actions should not be tolerated!
LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: It sounds like you have been very generous and accepting through the years of your entire family out of love, which is a wonderful example for all. And with such a big family it sounds as if you have set reasonable expectations for inviting significant others — that they need to have been around long enough to know everybody and not just be a temporary fling. Your granddaughter shouldn't be dictating how you handle the family tradition, especially since she's bringing a date and more children.