Dinner Etiquette Not Reciprocated

by Allison
(McDonough, Georgia)

Dear Miss Practical Manners,

For the past several years I have held holiday dinners at my house. I am not one who entertains often, but I tried very hard to make sure that people schedules, food tastes, limitations (like diabetes etc.) were all taken into consideration. I called people several weeks ahead of time to invite them. I made enough to eat for everyone invited (which may have entailed having to save money several months ahead of time to ensure I could buy enough food). I also made sure that if there was a difficulty with someones schedule, that we ate early or late so that everyone possible was included. If the people invited had to work, I saved them portions out and sent their spouse home with their partners dinner packed so they wouldn't feel left out.

This year my sibling took over the family dinner. I received my invite via text a few days before Christmas letting me know they didn't know what time but I could come over if I wanted. The day before the holiday I received my next text informing me dinner would be at 2:30.

The dinner was scheduled during the time for husband to be at work. We a few minutes early so that my husband could at least say hello. When we got to my siblings home, their kids answered the door. We asked to be able to say hello before he had
to run out the door to get to his shift in time, and we were told they were busy getting dressed and wouldn't be down, so my husband left without a greeting.

After the dinner, we played with kids and talked with family for several hours making sure to visit and let the kids all play. When it was time to go, we were shuffled out the door without anything to take home.

Perhaps it's just me, but when I have multitudes of leftover dinner I pack the food for my guests and send it home with them. Especial if it's m family.When I spoke to my parents who live out of town about the days events, I was told I needed to get my head screwed on straight, and that I shouldn't expect people to invite my husband earlier so that he could attend, I shouldn't expect people too come down to speak to him before he left, and I certainly shouldn't have expected anyone to set aside and send home a Christmas dinner for him since he had to work (he works for law enforcement where they often have to work during holidays) and was unable to attend.

I would like to know if my expectations were presuming and rude? Or is this normal etiquette and I have been overly generous during the times I have been the host?

Thank you for the insight and advice,

Your confused reader in Georgia

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by: Ms P Etiquette

Hello Georgia~

My, what a holiday saga! First, let's all agree that family is great except when it isn't. You entertain in a way that makes you feel good about what you do. Thoughtfulness, generosity and kindness are admirable characteristics for a host. Your sibling does exactly the same thing, only she sees it differently. That does not mean she is any less kind or generous in her way. If we give expecting to receive in kind, we are usually disappointed. This leads to poor manners, sour expressions or noticible displeasure. That is very rude. Remember, just because your family member did not reciprocate the way you wanted does not mean that they haven't enjoyed all your hosted dinners. Perhaps they are just not capable or interested in expending the time and energy it takes to put on a big family affair. Many folks are not so inclined. This was their party at their home to which you were invited. If you were displeased with the timing of the invitation or the party you could have declined the invitation. If you attend, good manners dictates that you are gracious and avoid voicing your opinion to other family members. You have not been overly generous, you gave the way you wanted. So did your sibling. Understanding this concept of living will help you create more joy in your own life.

Ms Practical Etiquette

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