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Holiday dinner: Just need a validation...

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Hi all,

 

I've pretty much come to a conclusion about my decision but just need some feedback to validate my decision...:-)

 

For the past five years I've hosted a holiday dinner for a couple of Dh's former co-workers and their families.  At first we were just 3 couples, and we got along fine, although it was initially awkward for the Dh and the wives who only knew everyone through their significant others.

 

As time went on, we got to know each other on their own basis, and we all had kids.  All the co-workers subsequently moved on to other jobs and so no one works with anyone else, but we still remained friendly aquaintences.  I'm very good friends with one of the wives (Couple B) and we see each other on a weekly basis.  The other couple (Couple A) we/I see maybe 2-3 times a year.

 

Here's my problem...

As I mentioned before I usually host a holiday dinner around the beginning of December, and it was fine for a while.  However, as time went on and our lives changed I'm finding that I'm starting to dislike Couple A.  It started when when they said that they would no longer invite us and Couple B to their house because they got 2 cats and 2 dogs, and my Dh and my friend from Couple B are both violently allergic to pet dander.  That was fine with both of us couples.  Couple B, and Dh and I still continued to invite Couple A on various kids birthdays or our annual holiday dinner.  There was no reciprocation of any kind from Couple A.

 

Secondly, Couple A's parenting style is very lax.  For instance, they let their two boys run roughshod over everything, even things that don't belong to them.  Climbing on the dinner table as it is set for dinner is not unheard of.  They let their 18mo dump his dinner on my new table linens and proceed to smear it all over.  This is while he was sitting on his mum's lap.  Not a word was said until the dad mentioned to the mum that the toddler was starting to fling the food onto my walls.  They didn't offer to clean up.

 

Thirdly, and this probably bothers me most, is that Couple A makes close to $200,000 with both adults working full time at professional jobs.  Couple B and Dh/I are both one income families.  When it comes to generosity, Couple B and Dh/I are fairly generous when it comes to birthday gifts and potluck offerings.  Couple A seem fairly stingy when sharing.  They have enough money to buy a new car and a vacation home in another country, but could only offer a single small pot of jam for a potluck offering?  Before anyone mentions that they might be living on credit, I know for a fact this isn't the case as the wife is an accountant and knows better.  They pay in cash for most things and eat very well, eg. fresh Ahi tuna for dinner.

 

Another example was when the wife approached me in the spring to ask if I would sell some baby carriers for her as she was too busy to attend our local Babywearing meetings.  She offered me 30% of what I could get for them.  I went out of my way to go to a meeting, sell the carriers, and earned $240.  She was too busy to come pick up the left over carriers and I stored them for her for 4 months.  In the end I delivered the carriers that I didn't sell, back to her (a 1 hr bus trip with two kids).  She took all the money and said that it would come in handy for Christmas presents.  There was nothing said about the 30% she had offered to me and I was too taken aback to bring it up.

 

So, how awful would it be if I were to only invite Couple B to dinner?  I really can't stand Couple A at the moment and I doubt things will change as I intend to avoid them like the plague from now on.  Luckily we live in different parts of the city and our paths don't cross.  Am I justified in avoiding them?

 

Thanks for hearing me rant!

post #2 of 16

If you don't want to invite them to your home for dinner I think that is fine. After 5 years it sounds like your lives have taken pretty different directions and it is time to phase the friendship out.

post #3 of 16
Quote:

As I mentioned before I usually host a holiday dinner around the beginning of December, and it was fine for a while.  However, as time went on and our lives changed I'm finding that I'm starting to dislike Couple A.  It started when when they said that they would no longer invite us and Couple B to their house because they got 2 cats and 2 dogs, and my Dh and my friend from Couple B are both violently allergic to pet dander.  That was fine with both of us couples.  Couple B, and Dh and I still continued to invite Couple A on various kids birthdays or our annual holiday dinner.  There was no reciprocation of any kind from Couple A.

 

If both couples have allergies to Couple A's animals, then why on earth would they invite you over for any get together?  I see no problem with this. 

 

 

Quote:

Secondly, Couple A's parenting style is very lax.  For instance, they let their two boys run roughshod over everything, even things that don't belong to them.  Climbing on the dinner table as it is set for dinner is not unheard of.  They let their 18mo dump his dinner on my new table linens and proceed to smear it all over.  This is while he was sitting on his mum's lap. 

 

Why didn't you speak up about the children's behaviour.  Nobody can take advantage of you without your permission.  Tell the little rugrats to haul-in and slow down.  Your house, your rules.  As far as the 18 month old, well, some babies/toddlers DO play with their food and you should expect this as a possibility and set the table accordingly.

 

 

Quote:
Not a word was said until the dad mentioned to the mum that the toddler was starting to fling the food onto my walls.  They didn't offer to clean up.

 

 Why didn't YOU or your dh say something?  A good hostess is polite to her guests, but don't be a sap and let people walk over you or allow their children to fling their food.  SPEAK UP! 

 

 

Quote:

Thirdly, and this probably bothers me most, is that Couple A makes close to $200,000 with both adults working full time at professional jobs.  Couple B and Dh/I are both one income families.  When it comes to generosity, Couple B and Dh/I are fairly generous when it comes to birthday gifts and potluck offerings.  Couple A seem fairly stingy when sharing.  They have enough money to buy a new car and a vacation home in another country, but could only offer a single small pot of jam for a potluck offering?  Before anyone mentions that they might be living on credit, I know for a fact this isn't the case as the wife is an accountant and knows better.  They pay in cash for most things and eat very well, eg. fresh Ahi tuna for dinner.

 

Sounds like someone is a bit envious of Couple A's income.  I always felt it was the act of giving that was most important, not the gift itself.   

 

And, believe it or not, even accountants are often up to their eyes in debt.   

 

 

Quote:

Another example was when the wife approached me in the spring to ask if I would sell some baby carriers for her as she was too busy to attend our local Babywearing meetings.  She offered me 30% of what I could get for them.  I went out of my way to go to a meeting, sell the carriers, and earned $240.  She was too busy to come pick up the left over carriers and I stored them for her for 4 months.  In the end I delivered the carriers that I didn't sell, back to her (a 1 hr bus trip with two kids).  She took all the money and said that it would come in handy for Christmas presents.  There was nothing said about the 30% she had offered to me and I was too taken aback to bring it up.

 

If you didn't bring it up, then don't complain about her not giving you what had been agreed on.  Phone her and ASK her for the money.  If she says no, well, you won't feel bad about not inviting them for dinner ever again.  If she says yes, you'll have your cash (and, you still don't have to invite them to dinner.

 

 

Quote:

So, how awful would it be if I were to only invite Couple B to dinner?  I really can't stand Couple A at the moment and I doubt things will change as I intend to avoid them like the plague from now on.  Luckily we live in different parts of the city and our paths don't cross.  Am I justified in avoiding them?

 

Why should you invite people you don't like to your home??  Skip the invite to Couple A. 

 

If Couple B ask, tell them you feel you and Couple A have gone in different directions over the past few visits with one another and drop the subject.  If they persist, just tell them you don't want to discuss it.  End.  Of.  Story.

 

Should Couple A ever contact you and ask about the lack of holiday (or, other) dinner invites, be polite and say you're not doing them anymore due to schedules and finances. 

post #4 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by grahamsmom98 View Post

 

If both couples have allergies to Couple A's animals, then why on earth would they invite you over for any get together?  I see no problem with this. 

 

I can't see why Couple A would invite Couple B or the OP to their home, either. That would make no sense. But, it is a bit odd to continue to accept invitations, but never offer one....meet at restaurant, or "hey - we're having Child 1's party at such-and-such venue - no cats - want to come?". I wouldn't exactly call it a problem, but it does seem odd.

 

 

Why didn't you speak up about the children's behaviour.  Nobody can take advantage of you without your permission.  Tell the little rugrats to haul-in and slow down.  Your house, your rules.  As far as the 18 month old, well, some babies/toddlers DO play with their food and you should expect this as a possibility and set the table accordingly.

 

This is true (although I really don't like parenting other people's children, even under my own roof), but it doesn't change the fact that Couple A was simply allowing their chlid to make a huge mess of somone else's home. There's also a big difference between a child simply making a mess, and the parents sitting there and watching it. It's appalling that anyone would allow their child to dump their food on someone else's table, and then just sit there and watch them make a mess.

 

 

Sounds like someone is a bit envious of Couple A's income.  I always felt it was the act of giving that was most important, not the gift itself.   

 

I didn't get that at all. I don't think OP sounds envious. I think Couple A sound kind of selfish . The thought behind a gift, or the act of giving, are what counts. And, having a higher income than your friends, and then deliberately making a smaller contribution to a group effort (I don't actualy think of potluck contributions as being the same thing as a gift) shows a lack of generosity of spirit, imo. (It kind of reminds me of a couple I used to know who would show up at parties with a six-pack as their "contribution", even though everyone knew they'd drink at least a 12 pack...and then, they'd drink everyone else's beer, and take home any that were left of their original six-pack  - carefully shoved to the back of the host's fridge.) Bringing the cheapest, smallest item you can get away with to a potluck, when there's no financial imperative to do so, is cheap. (And, no - I don't expect the wealthiest couple to bring the biggest, most expensive contribution, either - but to go significantly below the average group contribution, when you have the means to match it, demonstrates a certain level of selfishness and greed, imo.

 

 

And, believe it or not, even accountants are often up to their eyes in debt.   

 

The only accountants that I know avoid debt (aside from mortgages) like the plague, but I'm sure this is true. Nonetheless, these people are basically saying, "we're worth ahi tuna, and you're worth a small pot of jam". Whether they're in debt or not isn't really the point. The point is that they're clearly saying that OP and Couple B aren't worth spending the money on.

 

 

If you didn't bring it up, then don't complain about her not giving you what had been agreed on.  Phone her and ASK her for the money.  If she says no, well, you won't feel bad about not inviting them for dinner ever again.  If she says yes, you'll have your cash (and, you still don't have to invite them to dinner.

 

I agree that OP should ask for the money. I disagree that she has nothing to complain about. Promising someone a 30% commission, and then just not bothering to pay it, speaks to a person's character. What it says isn't nice.

 

 

Why should you invite people you don't like to your home??  Skip the invite to Couple A. 

 

I do absolutely agree with this. There's no reason to invite Couple A. This kind of event should be enjoyable for everyone, and it's clearly not going to be enjoyable for OP, if Couple A arrive. I don't think I would, either. They sound amazingly selfish (not just talking about the "gift" for the potluck, but also the "oh, our little cutie is smearing food all over someone's stuff - how cute" vibe).

 

post #5 of 16

Yes, you're completely justified to not invite Couple A to your holiday dinner. It sounds like you guys have just grown apart. 

 

That said, I don't really get the thing about the baby carriers. It sounds like all the money was in your possession and you delivered the money plus the unsold carriers to her? Why didn't you just keep 30% instead of giving it all to her and then waiting for her to give you your cut? Maybe she thought that what you gave her was her portion. 

 

Anyway, it sounds like they've proven themselves to be a poor match for you guys in terms of friendship, so I'd just let your relationship drift away, and definitely don't agree to help her with anything like carrier sales in the future. 

post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 

Grahamsmom98: Ouch.  Bit harsh, wasn't it?

I did tell the older boy of the Couple A to quit climbing the furniture, btw.  However, I was a bit occupied at the time, cooking, serving, and hostessing to hover over the kids the whole time.  I do EXPECT the PARENTS to watch their kids at someone's home. 

 

Lisa, you've hit it right on the nail... 

 

I'm not sore about not being invited to Couple A's home.  I'm just irritated that despite being invited to several gatherings between Couple B's and our place, a similar invite out to dinner, playdate, what have you, **outside** of their home has NEVER been given, either to us or to Couple B.

 

Re: not speaking up about the toddler's behaviour at our dinner table...

I didn't speak up because I didn't feel it was my place to monitor someone else's child, ESPECIALLY since the child was sitting in his mother's lap, with his father directly across from them.  The wife is also better known to Dh (they were co-workers), and is also a very Type A personality, always wanting to control/dominate any conversation.  It would have been very awkward afterwards if I had said anything.

 

No, I am not envious about their lifestyle and income.  I realize for them to make that kind of money, they've had to do a lot of sacrificing.  It was like Lisa said, they can afford and want to get the best for themselves, but when it comes to others, the smallest amount or effort will do.  Not a very generous spirit.

 

No, I'm not going to ask for the money because it would cost me more in time/effort/money on transit, than I would receive.  I'll just simply call it "lesson learned", and avoid doing any more favours for this person. 

 

I think I'll skip the dinner entirely this year.  I have enough on my plate as is, and no one needs another obligation around December.

post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 

Limabean:  I didn't keep my portion because I had told Couple A's wife that I have gotten $240 in total for the carriers.  I felt it was presumptious of me to take out my portion beforehand.  I guess I expected her to hand me my portion when she took it.  I clearly told her that I had the full $240, and here it all was.  

 

I guess I should have spoken up about my portion but it was really awkward to bring it up as the wife immediately spoke up about needing the money for Christmas presents.  How do you tell someone that you want money they promised you when they say they need it for Christmas?

post #8 of 16

Oh, my gosh - Ellaine - I didn't even notice you were the OP! Yeah - totally not seeing the envy thing. That's just not your style at all!

 

If you're interested in socializing with Couple B, why not do something in the Spring? My mom used to have an annual "No Reason for a Party Party", and it was a big hit.

post #9 of 16
I don't really get the thing about them not inviting you over because of allergies... Do you want them to invite you over anyway? Have you told them this? I have a friend who's very allergic to one of my pets. She said she is still willing to come over & just take antihistamines but she spends so much time sneezing & red-eyed & complaining that it doesn't seem smart to have her over often, she just seems miserable, which defeats the purpose of doing something fun together! But now that I know she still wants to come, I am making more effort to invite her.

Parenting style -- you need to state your house rules clearly, either to the parents or the kid, whoever you feel more comfortable approaching. People cannot mind-read about rules, and some assume that toddlers will just be messy & out-of-control & not make much effort to contain it since it seems fruitless.

Potlucks -- tell them something like, "We need you to bring that amazing Ahi tuna dinner you make, we'll have salad & bread & Couple B will bring dessert." Be more direct & specific about what you expect of them.

The baby carrier thing sounds like a misunderstanding, like she thought you already took your share, or the way you emphasized "the FULL amount" made her think you meant to give all of it to her for whatever reason.

It sounds like you have kind of let Couple A walk all over you & now you are (understandably) resentful. It also sounds like they may lack some social awareness... and as someone who, myself, also lacks those social skills, I appreciate when someone spells it all out for me, makes their expectations clear, and puts in extra effort to discuss issues so we can maintain our friendship.

I think there are lots of ways you could start to remedy the inequality but, really, it sounds like you just don't like them any more, so why invite them over? Why bother if the friendship is no longer bringing you joy? You definitely have no obligation to invite anyone over. smile.gif If you like the time with them but these are just a few minor annoyances, then maybe it would be worth it to work toward improving the relationship.
post #10 of 16

Ellp - why did you post this? From what you write its like a nobrainer. dont invite couple A.

 

but i guess this is still bugging you and so you wrote your post. 

 

why is this still bugging you? 

post #11 of 16

What is couple B 's relationship with couple A?

post #12 of 16

I mostly agree with crunchy_mommy, but not completely:

Quote:
Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post

I don't really get the thing about them not inviting you over because of allergies...
To me, it sounds like you are tired of doing all the work of maintaining the friendship. The allergy thing is valid, but they've made no effort to find a work around.

Parenting style -- you need to state your house rules clearly, either to the parents or the kid, whoever you feel more comfortable approaching.
I don't agree. I think that parents are responsible for the behavior of their child, esp their toddlers. All the time. None of us wants others disciplining our children. With older children and things that may be rules at one house and not another, it's simpler. No jumping on the couches, or please use a coaster -- that sort of thing. But honestly, if something thinks  its OK for their toddler to just destroy stuff, then all you can do is not invite them back. You cannot succeed in either attempting to control the toddler or telling the parent that the toddler needs to suddenly behave completely differently than they do 99% of the time. The kid isn't going to be able to do that. 
The baby carrier thing sounds like a misunderstanding,
It does, but it also sounds like the other mom left you holding the bag and didn't follow up. I dump her as a friend just for that.
It sounds like you have kind of let Couple A walk all over you & now you are (understandably) resentful.
I agree, and while I think this friendship is completely shot (why bother with these people any more?) in future, I think that you could be more clear with people about what you are OK with and not OK with, and set more clear boundaries.  I suggest that you learn and grow from this situation, so that YOU can have more fulfilling friendships in the future. Needing so much validation to not extend a dinner invitation is a sign that you may tend toward being a people pleaser, more concerned with living up to what you think other people think you should do rather than than being true to yourself.
I think it is totally reasonable to let friendships fade away when the other person (couple/family) lack the skills or desire to help make the thing a go. 

I think there are lots of ways you could start to remedy the inequality but, really, it sounds like you just don't like them any more, so why invite them over? Why bother if the friendship is no longer bringing you joy? You definitely have no obligation to invite anyone over. smile.gif If you like the time with them but these are just a few minor annoyances, then maybe it would be worth it to work toward improving the relationship.
I absolutely agree.
post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post

Oh, my gosh - Ellaine - I didn't even notice you were the OP! Yeah - totally not seeing the envy thing. That's just not your style at all!

 

If you're interested in socializing with Couple B, why not do something in the Spring? My mom used to have an annual "No Reason for a Party Party", and it was a big hit.

Nice to bump into you too Lisa! wink1.gif

We get together with Couple B on a regular basis as our kids are friends and the wife teaches Dd#2 piano on a weekly basis.  The reason I held these annual get togethers is so that the adults could have some social time where the focus isn't on kids activities yk?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post

I don't really get the thing about them not inviting you over because of allergies... Do you want them to invite you over anyway? Have you told them this? I have a friend who's very allergic to one of my pets. She said she is still willing to come over & just take antihistamines but she spends so much time sneezing & red-eyed & complaining that it doesn't seem smart to have her over often, she just seems miserable, which defeats the purpose of doing something fun together! But now that I know she still wants to come, I am making more effort to invite her.
Parenting style -- you need to state your house rules clearly, either to the parents or the kid, whoever you feel more comfortable approaching. People cannot mind-read about rules, and some assume that toddlers will just be messy & out-of-control & not make much effort to contain it since it seems fruitless.
Potlucks -- tell them something like, "We need you to bring that amazing Ahi tuna dinner you make, we'll have salad & bread & Couple B will bring dessert." Be more direct & specific about what you expect of them.
The baby carrier thing sounds like a misunderstanding, like she thought you already took your share, or the way you emphasized "the FULL amount" made her think you meant to give all of it to her for whatever reason.
It sounds like you have kind of let Couple A walk all over you & now you are (understandably) resentful. It also sounds like they may lack some social awareness... and as someone who, myself, also lacks those social skills, I appreciate when someone spells it all out for me, makes their expectations clear, and puts in extra effort to discuss issues so we can maintain our friendship.
I think there are lots of ways you could start to remedy the inequality but, really, it sounds like you just don't like them any more, so why invite them over? Why bother if the friendship is no longer bringing you joy? You definitely have no obligation to invite anyone over. smile.gif If you like the time with them but these are just a few minor annoyances, then maybe it would be worth it to work toward improving the relationship.

No, I really don't care if we're invited to their house or not.  Its just they've never really expended any effort in maintaining the friendship.  Whether this is because they're too busy, too self-involved, etc. who knows?

 

Re: the Potlucks, we have worded the invites a certain way and I have requested certain dishes but they never turn up.  For instance Couple A went on a trip to Italy a couple of years ago and bragged how they each took cooking courses at a famous cooking school.  Wife took Gelato making and Hubby took Pasta making.  For our potluck that year I requested that they bring over some of their dishes that they had been talking about.  When the time came, Wife brought 2 yoghurt containers (for 12 people, including kids!) of Gelato in weird flavours (which no one really liked but we didn't say anything), and her Dh didn't bring anything.  After a while I just stopped being specific and just said, Carb or Veg.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by meemee View Post

Ellp - why did you post this? From what you write its like a nobrainer. dont invite couple A.

 

but i guess this is still bugging you and so you wrote your post. 

 

why is this still bugging you? 

I guess my purpose in posting was partly to vent, and partly to validate why I'm still maintaining the friendship.  I'm very loyal to my friends, and I guess I'm naieve (sp?) when it comes to recognizing signs of when people aren't making the same effort, and when to let go.  Wife A became one of my inner circle friends at one point and I just find/found it hard that someone could behave that way.

 

My guess is that the couple isn't very socially cognizant, as a previous poster mentioned, and they miss cues.  It wouldn't have occured to me that they could be this way but it does go to explain quite a few things.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adaline'sMama View Post

What is couple B 's relationship with couple A?

One person in each of the couples used to be former co-workers.  The spouses are friends and aquaintances by association.

 

 

Thanks all for your advice, and I'll think on it.  As I mentioned before, I'll probably forgo this year's dinner, and just get together with Couple B from now on. 

post #14 of 16

As to the questions about Couple A not inviting the others to their home because of pet allergies, I think they should -- if they want to maintain the friendships -- come up with other ways to reciprocate.  Arrange and "host" a picnic or potluck in the park, or something.  It's not that they've stopped inviting people with allergies.  It's that they're acting as though that gives them a pass wrt taking initiative with the other couples and families.

 

Definitely no angst, OP, and plenty of validation from my end!  :)
 

post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellp View Post

Nice to bump into you too Lisa! wink1.gif
My guess is that the couple isn't very socially cognizant, as a previous poster mentioned, and they miss cues.  It wouldn't have occured to me that they could be this way but it does go to explain quite a few things.

That was me... I have great intentions but I am socially clueless. So is my DH, and my DS (who we suspect has Asperger's... honestly, DH & I both have a lot of Asperger's traits as well). We genuinely love our friends and never ever mean to do anything hurtful or offensive or that would appear we aren't putting effort into the friendship. However, it was pointed out to me a while back that some very specific actions I was taking, things I'd said, etc. were in fact hurtful. I was missing cues that seemed so obvious to my friends, and it was causing a ton of tension in our friendship, and I had absolutely no idea. We hashed it all out, and I'll be honest -- I don't think our friendship will ever be the same, I will always feel on guard or judged or something, but at least I can do my part to avoid making things worse, and we are able to continue being friends, with a lot of the issues being out in the open at least. I have no idea if this is anything like what is going on with Couple A, but if it rings true, and you otherwise enjoy time with them, I'd consider not cutting them out of your lives completely. (Which still doesn't mean you have to invite them to your dinner party!)
post #16 of 16

Don't invite them. You are under no obligation. If it feels ackward to you, you might change the nature of the event this one year as your "excuse" if you feel the need.

 

But honestly, your behavior seems mighty passive in regard to the issues you've brought up. If she promised you 30%, then you never should have given her the full amount. If I had been in a similar position the money probably would have gone in my wallet without another thought. An 18m is going to make a mess so either provide them with an appropriate place setting or invite your guests to bring a booster or something. And it would be nice if they reciprocated in another way to your invitations but if you only do it once a year than I can see why it slips out of mind.

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