Return to the Entertaining Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
Feeling Welcome

Posted by silversword (My Page) on
Wed, Sep 3, 08 at 15:48

I have a problem. I don't know how to respond to a situation that occurred recently.

I was invited to an aunt's house for a family dinner to celebrate my father and step-mother visiting from out of state. My DH and DD (age 6) drove the 60 miles one way and got stuck in horrible traffic, causing us to be 1/2 hour late. When we got to the guarded gate, our names weren't "on the list" and I had to use my father's name to get in. (BTW, my aunt is very well off, and lives in a beautiful community.)When we arrived only my grandfather, father and sm were eating, everyone else was standing in the kitchen talking. We were greeted and we were asked if we wanted a beer. We declined the canned Bud Light. Everyone else was drinking wine, but we were not offered wine. They asked if we were hungry, and we said yes (we were invited to dinner, so had not eaten). Around 1/2 hour later someone finally got us a plate. The food was cold, the salad was gone and had bugs at the bottom. We sat down and ate by ourselves, feeling very uncomfortable. My aunt then left with another aunt to get Starbucks, without saying where she was going, let alone ask if anyone else wanted to go, or wanted something to be brought back. When they returned we said our goodbyes.

Yesterday I got an email from my aunt saying she was sorry we were mistreated but it had nothing to do with my immediate family. She also left a phone message. Basically, she was mad at my SM and took it out on my father, me, my DH.

I don't know how to respond. I'm angry that we wasted three hours driving and two hours at their house just to be treated like that. I'm embarassed that my family treated my DH like that. I can't email her back until I can formulate some kind of response that is respectful but tells it like it is. I don't care who she's mad at, she either should have kept it to herself or cancelled the party. What a waste of time and energy, not to mention the fuel expense.

Help!


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: Feeling Welcome

With such dreadful treatment I fail to understand why you are vaguely interested in being respectful. You said there were bugs in the salad and she left in the middle of her own party to get Starbucks? Her behavior is bizarre and given that she lives in a gated community you would think she could afford decent food and enough of it. If you were only a 1/2 hour late I fail to see why there was a food problem.
I am not so sure she was just angry. I think you are either looking at early Alzheimers or at the least a reaction to medication unless she has always been your strange aunt.

I wouldn't respond at all because you don't really know what the problem is. I also would pass on future invitations. Hang around with famiy you really like that treat you well--
bugs in the salad weren't just directed at your SM.


 o
RE: Feeling Welcome

I agree. Ignore her and her e-message. Just put it all behind you.


 o
RE: Feeling Welcome

Being passive aggressive only makes you project on the future,,, "I wish" "She should have" "I wonder"... It doesn't show how you felt.

I would thank her for offering an explanation but ask her to please understand that you won't be attending anymore gatherings. Graciously tell her that you didn't feel welcome and cannot subject your family, to that sort of treatment /behavior.

Wish her well and go one about your business.

She knows she treated you wrong... that's why she wrote... So I believe you are perfectly within your rights to tell her how you really felt.

I wish you the best....


 o
RE: Feeling Welcome

Hi Marge,
She's 45, so I don't think Alzheimers is an issue. :) My father told me that she told him the problem was with my SM.

I do want to respond because I don't want to terminate the family relationship based on one uncomfortable dinner. I just really don't know how to say how I feel without coming across as a bit$%.

When she wrote that the issue was not with my "immediate family", meaning me, my DH and DD, I knew that the issue had to be with SM because my father and SM had told me they had a big discussion about it that night after we left.

She and her husband have been acclaimed as the "perfect hosts" by my father and sm on numerous occasions. But the last few times I haven't been offered anything to drink for an hour or more, and the same thing has happened with my SM. I took it personal because we have a large family, with four sisters and a brother (my father) and all of the "girls" have a husband and kids (my cousins), and all of them had drinks, etc.

LikesIvy, thank you for your comment, but I really don't think just ignoring her will make anyone feel good. What would you say in this situation if you couldn't ignore it?

Thank you for your help!


 o
RE: Feeling Welcome

Early onset Alzheimer's can happen as young as 45. But in any case, you say you've not been made terribly welcome the past few occasions, not just this one dinner. So, I'd just tell your aunt, sorry, you feel that there must be more to it than her being peeved at your SM because lately there's been a pattern of making you feel unwelcome and while she will always be welcome at your house, you don't feel you can drag your small child out on a long drive to be made to feel like a fifth wheel when you get there.


 o
RE: Feeling Welcome

I'd tell her very honestly and simply that your feelings were very hurt by the treatment your family received, and that you appreciate the apology. Then say that you sincerely hope that she can resolve the conflicts with your SM before the next family gathering, as those times are precious to you and you are deeply concerned when you see them ruined by bad feelings. Perhaps you could offer to help in some way.

Or something like that. It shouldn't come across as bitc*# at all.


 o
RE: Feeling Welcome

I agree with Rhizo. You don't have to be unforgiving or harsh.


 o
RE: Feeling Welcome

njtomboy, you wrote "Being passive aggressive only makes you project on the future,,, "I wish" "She should have" "I wonder"... It doesn't show how you felt."

You're right that saying "she should have" doesn't solve anything. But I think I made my feelings pretty clear when I wrote "I'm angry that we wasted three hours driving and two hours at their house just to be treated like that. I'm embarassed that my family treated my DH like that."

Colleenoz, I worked in a retirement facility for a few years and am pretty familiar with the symptoms/signs of Alzheimers. Stage one of Alzheimers actually usually starts around 30, and is indicated by losing keys, not being able to remember people's names, etc... While I understand your point, I'm sincere in my statement that I don't think at her age attributing this kind of behavior to Alzheimers is logical. I thank you for your input, that does seem to be what I should be saying, along the lines of thank you for your apology, and... this is how I feel and why.

Rhizo 1, thank you for making the reply a kind one. This aunt is a very lovely person, and may be having more issues in her life than I'm aware of. I don't want to cause more family drama but I want to stand my ground as well. I just have a tendancy to sound harsher than I intend, especially in emails, so I want to avoid coming off like that.


 o
RE: Feeling Welcome

Thank you bumblebeez, I don't want to be harsh. I just don't quite know how to say it without coming across that way. :(


 o
RE: Feeling Welcome

silversword, I was answering & reacting to the the 'ignore' comments.

I was saying that if you didn't address the issue w/your aunt, then your actions would be passive aggressive. It would only make you angrier.

You have certainly made it clear that you want to respond - I totally agree. On that note - I wish you well.


 o
RE: Feeling Welcome

What I'd write would depend on what the point of your response is. Is it just to let her know how you feel? Will you go back there again if invited or will you decline in the future? If you don't want to return, is this your moment to tell her that?

You said:
I don't want to terminate the family relationship based on one uncomfortable dinner.

...

But the last few times I haven't been offered anything to drink for an hour or more, and the same thing has happened with my SM.

So, it's not just a one time thing. And if she is taking out her anger on one person by mistreating others, that sort of thing is a personality trait that will inevitably repeat itself.

I think I would just write the facts as you saw them, pretty much like you described them in your first post, and then say that you find her behavior hurtful, especially in light of the fact that she is taking out her anger on your SM on you and your family. I'd remind her that it's not only you that is being hurt, but your DH and child as well. Make the point that children do not understand that these kinds of behaviors are not intended personally, and that it's one thing for you to forgive her for her behavior toward you but another to make a six year old understand this kind of treatment.

Personally, if it were me, and I came to her house again, I wouldn't wait to be asked if I wanted a drink or if I was offered the wine, etc. I'd just go in and help myself or if that's not possible for some reason, I'd just ask my aunt. Aunt Mary, we're sure thirsty after that long drive, what do you have to offer us in the way of a drink?

Ok but anyway, that's me. Why be shy about it? If she isn't going to be a good hostess and you're in a situation where you feel you have to go there, then take the reigns and steer the situation yourself instead of waiting for her to step up.


 o
RE: Feeling Welcome

Your husband and child are entitled to consideration. Unless you know why she dislikes your SM enough to create this problem I fail to see why you would want to make sure this doesn't cause a rift between you. You finally did mention that this is not a one time unusual behavior. So my original comment about her being your strange aunt is correct. At least I initially gave her the benefit of the doubt and suggested it might be medication or mental problems.
Families often have somebody like that and nobody wants to make waves. Of course my strange aunt nearly ruined my sister's wedding and she started out just being an inconsiderate rude person, and everyone was afraid to say anything to her.
Its your choice what to do, frankly I don't see that she is treating your SM any differently than she treats your husband and child.


 o
RE: Feeling Welcome

I'm with Rhizo and bumblebeez -- I would try to handle this gently. She was wrong, but where does it get you -- or anyone -- to make a big drama out of it or divide the family? She certainly was rude and inhospitable, but it wasn't so terrible as to be unforgivable.

More important, it sounds like YOU don't want to create more negativity:

"I do want to respond because I don't want to terminate the family relationship based on one uncomfortable dinner. I just really don't know how to say how I feel without coming across as a bit$%."

I think you are right not to want to cut relations over one bad dinner. (I know you wrote about her not offering you anything to drink on other occasions, but I thought the same thing as lowspark on that one. She's your aunt! Just go help yourself or ask for something. I doubt I would even notice whether my own aunt offered me something or not.)

But reconsider whether not wanting to sever relations means you have to respond at all. She has evidently apologized, so she knows she did wrong and made you feel bad. So maybe the difficulty isn't that you can't find words that don't sound nasty, it's that there really isn't anything more to say. Consider just acknowledging her apology (or whatever it was) so as not to leave her hanging, and leaving it at that.


 o
RE: Feeling Welcome

Thank you so much to everyone who responded. It really helps me get a rounded view on the subject.

Gellchom: "She certainly was rude and inhospitable, but it wasn't so terrible as to be unforgivable."

That's exactly how I feel. And, you wrote "She's your aunt! Just go help yourself or ask for something."

At any other family member's home I would do just that. But this aunt is the "posh" aunt and everything is just so. It's not the type of house one just helps themselves, (you have to go behind the bar section) and I didn't want to offend her the first time it happened by indicating she had not been a good hostess.

Marge727: "So my original comment about her being your strange aunt is correct."

I can see how you got that impression, but this type of behavior is new. She is the rich, popular, does everything for everyone aunt rather than the oddball. I really think it is her being passive-aggressive towards my SM and the overflow just splashed on me. She is the "perfect hostess" most times, and has that reputation within the family.

NJTomboy, perhaps I misunderstood you. I'm sorry.

I ended up emailing her pretty much word for word what Rhizo1 recommended I write. I will update this thread if and when I get a response. Thank you again for all of your recommendations. It really helped to get outside opinions!


 o
RE: Feeling Welcome

Tee hee, I was about to offer to write it for you! I have been most happy to have been your 'ghost writer'.

I hope everything works out great!


 o
RE: Feeling Welcome

Thank you Rhizo1! It worked as best as I could have hoped. I got to tell her how I felt, and she wrote back that she was glad we could communicate about it. She then told me to pencil in another aunt's visit in October. I haven't decided if I will attend (a lot depends on if it will be at her house, at my cousin's house or my grandpa's house) but I do feel better about the situation.

Thank you!


 o
RE: Feeling Welcome

I'm glad it worked out!

If you would have ignored her email and not said anything, IMO, that would have caused a rift. She probably would have thought that you were mad at her. Instead, you were mature enough to discuss it with class and respect. Good for you!

She also had enough respect to apologize to you. That also says something!


 o
RE: Feeling Welcome

Thanks Khandi! It also helped me to hear that others were so disgusted that they would have just ended the relationship. Maybe they were having a bad day, maybe it reflected things they have experienced... who knows? But to know that people didn't think I was overreacting was validating too.

I did want to maintain my relationship so I opted to be strong, I just didn't want to be silent! But it is so hard when I'm in the middle of my feelings to be clear and kind. This forum helped me clarify what I wanted to do, and glean what I thought was the best response to my situation. Thank you so much!


 o
RE: Feeling Welcome

I'm saddened and disgusted by your treatment, but I have to wonder if you didn't somehow promote this mistreatment by your demeanor or attitude. Please step forward with your personality and friendliness; and don't be afraid to meet and blend into the party--your hosts might have been inclined to "hide" you for your own sake because you appeared to be shy and unsure of yourselves. I don't know --it definitely was not a good social happening for anyone. Not a party I would want to go to, again!


 o
RE: Feeling Welcome

I think you're reading too much into this.

Good excuse or not, you arrive late and then are mad that you were only offered beer (Canned Bud Light as you clearly made a point to mention), but not wine. Ok, maybe the person who offered only had the beer and the wine was in the other room (or all gone by that time). Obviously, they went ahead and ate without you. I forgot, had you called to tell them you were running late? You were afraid to help yourself because this is the "posh" aunt. It seems like maybe you hold her to a higher standard than other relatives because she is wealthy ??

It sounds to me like she was in a big old fight with your SM (or whoever it was) and forgot her general hosting manners because of it. Haven't you ever been in a fight with someone and slighted someone else because of it? If I'm really mad at my husband, I may walk by a friend without saying hi and not even notice, etc. It just happens; your mind is not always in the moment. She obviosuly realized what she did and apologized. I'd accept the apology and if it happens again at her house, help yourself to your own food and wine no matter how rich or posh she is.


 o
RE: Feeling Welcome

Somehow I don't think the issues between SM and your aunt can be worked out that easily...

Feed yourself and your family before you go next time, so you aren't hungry/thirsty, and you're there just for the smiles and company.


 o
RE: Feeling Welcome

Annie,
"your hosts might have been inclined to "hide" you for your own sake because you appeared to be shy and unsure of yourselves"

This is the guest list: My father, SM, my aunt, her son and dil, my other aunt and my grandfather. Since I know everyone and am related to everyone, there's no real reason to hide me. Plus, if you had a shy/unsure guest, which I most certainly was not until I felt very unwelcome and didn't know why, I would hope you would try to make that guest feel comfortable rather than hide him/her!

I wasn't "shy and unsure". This was a party FOR MY FATHER. And as I said, "When we arrived only my grandfather, father and sm were eating, everyone else was standing in the kitchen talking." This is because my father and SM had just arrived too. IMO, 1/2 hour late is not so late that everyone else (the hostess, her children and her sister) should have eaten without THE GUEST OF HONOR and without my grandfather.

I have thrown countless parties, and I would never have eaten my own cooking when my guests had not yet arrived. Also, had she left my name at the gate I would have been a good ten minutes earlier.

Carla, I don't hold her to a higher standard because she is wealthy. She has the liquor behind a bar that she regulates. She is captain of her ship, which is fabulous, but it's not like other family homes where "it's in the fridge" suffices. You wrote..."help yourself to your own food and wine no matter how rich or posh she is." I would never dream of doing that in her home because that's how her home dynamics work, as I explained above. I'm sure you can understand that some people host differently than others. I feel doing so would be rude, much as I would never go in the fridge at my DH's grandparents house. At his aunt's, sure, we have that relationship. But everyone does not operate like that. I think you are taking my words completely out of context.

Also, I don't know if you read above, but I did update this, and it did work itself out.


 o
RE: Feeling Welcome ?

Hi Jessyf,
"Somehow I don't think the issues between SM and your aunt can be worked out that easily..."

You're probably right. But I can't hope to fix someone elses relationship, nor was I asking for insight on how to do that. I just needed to know how to respond that wasn't coming from a place of hurt/anger so I don't hurt my relationship.
"Feed yourself and your family before you go next time, so you aren't hungry/thirsty, and you're there just for the smiles and company."

Good one, except I have a young daughter. I think it would be pretty awkward to go to a DINNER PARTY, sit down and then not eat, and when asked why not eating, have 6 year old pipe up and say "we at at home" or something to that effect.

I'm not going there for her tofurky, endive salad and cous-cous. I'm going there for the company :)

And Carla mentioned that I made a point to comment on the canned Bud Light and that I did not want to drink that (perhaps insinuating that I am a beer snob? well, yes, I am, but I will drink Coors). Fact is Bud/ Bud Light gives me a headache and I don't drink it. Nothing else was offered. This is not normal for this aunt as she usually has several things to offer. And everyone else had a glass of wine and there was an open bottle, so I hardly think they were out of wine. I was just so stunned, in another home I would have said, "but I will take a glass of that wine" but I was shocked right off my feet.


 o
RE: Feeling Welcome

Hey Silver!

Glad it worked out, let us know how the next dinner goes, I bet it will be a wonderful evening. My comment about your SM was directed more for rhizo's benefit who may not have read some of your other posts about your SM. I kinda cracked up when rhizo suggested you offer to help with the relationship between your aunt and SM....it was a good, constructive comment to put in an email, but in reality, a mine field?

Also the 'eat before you go' was tongue in cheek, I should have added a LOL. We do that when we see consistent behaviors in hosts/hostesses where it would be to our benefit to do so.


 o
RE: Feeling Welcome

Your issues are way beyond being made to feel unwelcome by sloppy family party-givers. You need to get it together before you agree to another family get together! Your anger is still very apparent.


 o
RE: Feeling Welcome

silversword - I disagree w/ annie's comments; I think your desire for a graceful exchange & outcome is apparent, & I hope your next gathering reflects that :)

Taking the time to ground yourself (& get advice!) & then be honest w/o unwarranted drama will nearly always be beneficial for those involved.

And nice job on the wording rhizo1 :)


 o
Oops

Sheesh - I just realized how old this thread is.


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Entertaining Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here