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golddust

Hmm, would you attend?

golddust
12 years ago

I received an email invitation to my niece's college graduation. I am kind of put off by it but am wondering if I am being unreasonable. Here is a copy of her invitation. I have erased identities only because I don't want it searchable.

****

Dear ....,

I just received an email invitation to my niece's college graduation. It is a dinner "out". Each of us have been invited to pay for our own dinner. I am not sure what to think... Here is a copy of her email. What would you do?

****

I am writing to invite you and Uncle XXXX to my graduation from UCSC! The graduation ceremony is from 1 to about 2/2:30 on the UCSC campus, and following graduation, at around 5, we will be having dinner at the XXXXXX Restaurant located at the Santa Cruz Harbor which you are of course invited to. Since there is a large group going, we are asking that people help by paying for their meal and my mom also asked that I get a head count so she can finalize the reservations. If you could let me know if you would be able to make it that would be great. Hope you are well :)

Lot of love,

XXXX

****

Maybe this is just me but I would rather attend a potluck than be asked to buy dinner out. Am I crazy to feel a bit put off by this invitation? I love my niece but her mom and Dad have been divorced forever and her mom drives me nutty. (That isn't my niece's fault, I know.)

Maybe I just need help to see this in another light?

Comments (46)

  • natal
    12 years ago

    Dinner out's a lot less hassle than potluck. Go and enjoy!

  • tinam61
    12 years ago

    I don't think it would put me off. For a large dinner at a nice restaurant, I wouldn't expect the niece or her parents to pay for everyone. Perhaps they are planning on furnishing wine, appetizers, or dessert for the group. Even if they don't, it wouldn't bother me. I would put aside my feelings for her mother and take part in celebrating your niece's success. I am guessing there are probably others in the group you will enjoy spending time with.

    tina

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  • stinky-gardener
    12 years ago

    Goldie, no, I don't think you are crazy in the least to be put off by a request to pay for your own meal. You just don't invite people to dinner & ask them to pay their own way. Of course, this sort of thing IS happening frequently these days. That doesn't make it appropriate.

    Happened to me twice this year! Was "invited" to a big New Year's bash in my neighborhood. Was asked to pay $25.00 a head for the privilege of attending. No thanks! Another neighbor "invited" us to their Valentines's dinner at a nearby restaurant. We could have joined the love feast in exchange for $50.00 per person. No way, no how.

    I'm old school about these things & have no intention of changing to accomodate new trends. I would thank your niece for the invitation, congratulate her, & send her a graduation gift. That's what I would do. Others will surely chime in to offer you different advice.

  • parma42
    12 years ago

    I don't see a problem with it. Sounds like fun.

    At least she doesn't seem like she's got her hand out, iykwim.

    I've seen much worse.

  • lowspark
    12 years ago

    I'm with stinky on this one. I don't think it's appropriate to invite someone to a party of any kind and then ask them to pay for it.

    HOWEVER, if it were someone I really loved, like a niece, and who obviously has no control over this since her mother is planning it, I'd probably suck it up and go.

  • moonshadow
    12 years ago

    I've never received an invite like that (all college and most HS graduation celebrations were at home, family/friends party, and graduate maybe going out later with friends.)

    So, putting myself in that situation, I adore all my nieces and nephews (despite some of their parents, lol). Knowing they couldn't afford to foot the bill for a nice place, I'd probably go for the niece or nephew graduate, enjoy a chance at a nice dinner out. And your niece will remember Aunt & Uncle Golddust were there to help her celebrate her milestone. ;)

  • deedee-2008
    12 years ago

    If you truly appreciate/love/are fond of your niece, I would look at the big picture and go attend the dinner. Sometimes little issues like this split a family wide open, and then the "wounds" fester. If you don't care for your niece, don't go and just send a card and/or nothing.

  • golddust
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    We don't even know what the date is...

  • stinky-gardener
    12 years ago

    I agree with the provision that Lowspark made. How close you are to these people makes a difference. For someone I felt a deep connection to, I'd make a concession. In my heart of hearts though, I'd feel put off by the arrangements. At the same time, I would not harbor ill-will toward my niece or even her parents. They probaby are just doing what they've seen their own peers do. As I mentioned, this is becoming a trend.

  • yborgal
    12 years ago

    I'd go and enjoy myself. I'd be flattered that we were included and were able to share her celebration with her.

    If I found out there was a dinner,even a pay for yourself, and we weren't included, our feelings would be hurt by the exclusion.

  • natal
    12 years ago

    We don't even know what the date is...

    June 12?

    Here is a link that might be useful: UCSC commencement

  • natal
    12 years ago

    Btw, looks like there's a reception after the ceremony. You could always just go to that if you don't want to pay for a meal.

  • stinky-gardener
    12 years ago

    I don't get the impression that Golddust simply doesn't want to pay for a meal. I think she was addressing the principle of the thing, not the dollar value, when she spoke of feeling "put off" by the arrangements.

    There was a time when people weren't put in awkward positions like this, because we all knew the rules & followed them. Living in a more casual, "anything goes" era may make life easier in some regards, but it also invites confusion. This is a case in point.

  • sweeby
    12 years ago

    I think there would have been a better way to word the question to make it seem less like an 'invitation' (that it really isn't) and more like the 'come along with us' friendly organization tactic that it really is. Maybe "Mom's reserving a big table at Fishy's for dinner after the ceremony for everyone who'd like to come, and we'd love it if you and Uncle Golddust can make it."

    The come along and pay for yourself rule is absolutely the norm for young broke folks like your niece, so definitely don't hold it against her. And I think even a broader 'come along' non-hosted 'invitation' is fine too -- so long as there's absolutely no pressure to accept or negative social ramifications from declining. It's much better, IMO, than a 'we-could-only-pay-for-10-so-you-weren't-invited' exclusion...

    Though personally, I would try to avoid the word 'invite' in the 'organization documents'...

  • golddust
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    Stinky, that is it. Sweebie, maybe if my niece would have said, "I'm making reservations for everyone who would like to come, so please...", instead of "MOM is reserving a table...". Once parents are brought in to the mix, it feels different. Maybe it is because all of 'MOM's' events are organized like this. It costs everyone attending an arm and leg to celebrate her children's milestones. No host birthday parties, baptisms, etc. We are always gracious but there has never been any reciprocation whatsoever. We host Christmas dinner ($$$) every single year without so much as a bottle of wine as a thank you... It's just that 'Mom's' money goes to 'Mom'.

    I can't wait to see the wedding invitations. I've been attending 'Mom's' events for years with a nose plug on, for the sake of my nieces. She has done some very evil things to many members of our family (You wouldn't believe it! Very few remain unscathed by her evilness). We've let it all go "for the sake of the two girls", but the older the girls get, the harder it is to maintain grace.

    So this is why I brought it here. I can't think straight anymore.

  • palimpsest
    12 years ago

    Would your niece really expect you to come to her college graduation? I know things have changed a little bit, but I didn't even invite any of my aunts and uncles and didn't expect my siblings to come hundreds of miles either. (We also had limited tickets) I've gotten invites to my niece's and nephew's graduations, but there was no expectation that I would really attend. College graduation isn't like a wedding or other personal event, in my book. The last degree I got I was Valedictorian and got two department prizes and the school had to convince me to go myself...I only told my family afterward.

    That said, I probably wouldn't have thought twice about going out to dinner and paying my own way, but your family dynamic explains some of the reasons you are ambivalent about doing so.

  • lowspark
    12 years ago

    I can't wait to see the wedding invitations.
    I'm sorry because I can tell this is not a laughing matter but I really did LOL at that.

    And I can completely see where you're coming from. You're sick of paying your own way for every celebration for this family, especially considering that you host them regularly.

    So then I think the question becomes, where do you draw the line? At what point do you say, enough is enough, this is one celebration that can go on without my presence? And really, the thing is, no one can answer that but you.

    The problem is that these girls have learned from their mother that this is the way to do things, and might very well continue the tradition with their own future celebrations. It's a dilemma because you love them and want to attend their festive events but how many times must you (and the other invited) get stuck holding the bill?

    It's not an easy thing to answer, and will take some thought on your part as to how much you wish to remain a part of their lives and how much you're willing to put up with in order to do so.

    Family is what it is and we all end up doing things against our will and putting up with misbehavior, etc. in order to keep peace and maintain relationships. I like to say that we can't change others, only ourselves. The mom is not likely to change and if the girls have patterned their behavior after hers, they probably won't change either. The only thing you can do is either accept it or just quit going. Or pick & choose the events you feel are important enough to attend.

    Again, I completely understand your hesitation and feelings on this. It's awful!

  • natal
    12 years ago

    If I felt the way you do I definitely wouldn't go. Treat yourself to something special instead. Send a card and be done with it. Life's too short.

  • cyn427 (z. 7, N. VA)
    12 years ago

    Feeling as you do (and I agree it is tacky to host an event and expect 'guests' to pay-once we were invited to a "formal" New Year's Eve dinner in the huge new house of DH's friends-turns out it was a potluck black-tie event and the wife informed me that my contribution was to be scalloped potatoes for 40-thank you Betty Crocker-no way was I peeling that many potatoes), I think I would probably attend the graduation and reception. Could you email your niece to say how exciting it all is to be graduating and how you definitely would like to be at the ceremony, but alas, won't be able to make it to dinner and perhaps she would like to come as your guest for a special dinner with you at some future date when you would be able to visit and celebrate together?

  • judithn
    12 years ago

    I think it's tacky to "invite" people to a party that you make them pay for. In my mind, when you invite someone you take that on.

    Also, what happens when you order the teeny weeny salad and cup of soup and don't touch the wine and someone else orders lobster and a bottle of something expensive and then says "Oh, let's split the bill evenly." Great. So I just ate a hundred dollar garden salad? Yup.

    Is this family financially strapped? From your description it sounds like this is more a matter of character than any economic pressure. It's a shame that the children aren't learning what hospitality really is.

    Unless I was really dying to attend, I would gracefully decline. I would invite my niece out to lunch at another time. It would be more meaningful and more personal and probably would end up costing as much as, or even less than the big dinner out. Oh, and I wouldn't ask her to pay a cent.

  • lee676
    12 years ago

    I've attended several *charity* events of this sort where you had to pay to attend, proceeds go to the charity.

    But when it's just to lower the cost of inviting people to dinner "out", it's different. Do you have any idea of your niece's (or her family's) financial situation? I agree it's tacky, and yet, I also can understand how someone who has no extra money to spend may want to celebrate a major occasion by eating dinner out. What are people who don't have expendable funds to do? Ignore graduations or other major events? Invite nobody to their wedding?

    Still, I would have tried to find something that got people together inexpensively - it doesn't cost much to throw a party in your home or backyard.

  • excessfroufrou
    12 years ago

    I agree it would have been better to not send an ivitation to such a gathering. Case in point, some of our dear friends will be having thier 50th anniversary this month. When I found out they had no plans and no one had planned anything for them, I suggested to our close group of common friends (14) that we all have dinner at our country club and everyone would pay for thier own meal. I would get flowers, cake and take care of the anniversary couples meal. We all get together at the club once a month anyway. At first I felt a little wierd about it, but everyone agreed it was a good idea. And I wouldn't be mad if anyone declined. We usually host two big events at our house a year, paying for everything.And I'm usually old school about things, but times are changing.

  • terezosa / terriks
    12 years ago

    potluck black-tie event

    Now that's an oxymoron if ever I heard one!

  • terezosa / terriks
    12 years ago

    What are people who don't have expendable funds to do? Ignore graduations or other major events?

    They should do what they can afford:

    I would have tried to find something that got people together inexpensively - it doesn't cost much to throw a party in your home or backyard.

    Exactly!

  • golddust
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    Well, this is just it. I am far from a snob or even a do it by the book person. I have hosted weddings at my house for family members who were financially unable to have family and friends gather any other way. Heck, Robert and I got married at home and had close friends and family do a potluck picnic celebration. Having affordable events at home requires much more effort. There is all the cleaning, cooking, organizing and decorating, etc.

    It's just that 'Mom' always picks these high end celebrations that others must support. She burns friends so every time we attend another event, there's a whole new set of people there. If you cross her, you are crossed off her list forever, and she is very hard to get along with as she has a devious personality.

    Once, she *un*invited us to a birthday party because the party girl was "sick so the party is cancelled." Turned out, we were the only ones uninvited so great Uncle and Aunt (childless) could be told that we didn't think family was important. That night, we got a very angry phone call from great Uncle, because we neglected to attend the party. When we told him the party had been cancelled, he didn't believe it. (She is the actress in the family.) Seems she was setting herself up for the inheritance. She repeated these kind of stunts with everyone else in the family until she was caught on to. (Can you say 'gold digger'?)

    There was sooo much more...

    That said, our nieces are very precious to us. They are sweethearts. They have been raised with their father having equal time and their temperaments are much different than their mom's, which is why we generally plug our noses and attend their milestone events. Saying that I am their favorite Aunt would not be a stretch at all. (See why I get so confused???)

    I guess I need to talk it over with Robert. I try not to be petty with him as it's his brother's ex. Rob can't help it that his brother has a bad wife picker.

  • graywings123
    12 years ago

    it doesn't cost much to throw a party in your home or backyard.

    I agree with the concept, but we don't know whether Mom lives in the area of USC.

    Here's how I would approach it:
    Do I want to attend the graduation? (I didn't attend my own college graduation, so I know what my answer would be.)

    Do I want to attend the dinner. irrespective of who pays?

    If yes and yes, suck it up, pay and go and have a good time.

    At some point a kindly aunt is going to have to step in and tell the nieces that pay-to-play parties are a bad idea, despite Mom's approach. It helps if you have a close relationship with them.

  • lesterd
    12 years ago

    Golddust, I think you answered your own question when you said "our nieces are very precious to us. They are sweethearts."

    Just remember that the guest of honor at this particular college graduation is your niece. The guest of honor is not her mother, her father/siblings or the guests. Go, have a great time, and celebrate your niece's accomplishment! Leave your feelings about the mom on the curb.

  • bestyears
    12 years ago

    Well I can certainly understand why you are tired of this treatment. Is the Dad throwing her a party of any kind? If not, I think I'd suck it up and go, because really, what is one more time? And the girl, from your description, is probably very aware of how her mother comes off, and will appreciate everyone's efforts to come all the more.

  • tinam61
    12 years ago

    "our nieces are very precious to us" I think you answered the question right there. If that's how you feel about your niece, I would most definitely be at the dinner. It may not be how you'd do things, or you may think of it as rude, tacky, etc., but if I was that close to my niece, I'd just overlook it and celebrate along with her.

    tina

  • cyn427 (z. 7, N. VA)
    12 years ago

    terriks-oxymoron-seriously! I still can't believe she had the nerve!

  • Shannon01
    12 years ago

    Golddust, for a minute this sounded like my life, kinda. Since we both live in Sacramento area it was just so funny to me.

    My niece, who struggled to put herself through college over many years and sometimes three jobs at a time, is finally graduated in Dec. The ceremony is in June and we all urged her to go back for it. It is in Monterey (see the similarities as I go on).

    Niece works at a fine steakhouse which is struggling. She only has 10 tickets for the ceremony but could manage a few more if she tried hard. She has decided for herself who she wants to attend the ceremony based on who has been there for her, not just because of who they are. So she has decided to invite her Mom, siblings, best friend, boyfriend and me/dh and our two kids. She is not extending ticket invites to my parents, her maternal grandparents, as they are never there for any of there grandchildren. Even when invited to her high school graduation, grandma complained about the heat/sitting outside, etc and just stayed at the motel instead. She would have been better off just not coming at all.

    So this is what she is doing. She is sending announcements stating that she has limited tickets. There will be a dinner/party at her restaurant afterwards. Everyone is welcome to attend that. Horderves, wine and cake will be provided but the cost of the meal will not be. She will provide list of hotels and things to do during the day before the party. She figures most will make a weekend out of their trip.

    At first I too was thinking the meal should be paid for. But then I realized she has no money, neither does my sis, her mom. She wants to do something nice as she has worked so hard for this. We will make it a nice trip and add this dinner as something special for her.

    As for who she is inviting, she made it clear to her mom, my sis, that it is her choice. She is not going to give grandma a ticket to only have her complain on an on and then not even go. She really wants dh and I to go, even the kids, because we have always been there for her. She would rather my wiggly little 9yr old go than a crabby grandma who refuses to call her by her nickname than her legal name, which is the name she has used for 27 years. (And grandma has two children of her own who use a nickname and she has no problem using them).

    I think we need to really look at who the event is for and disregard the PITA family. I am really excited because it will be between my chemo treatments so I can probably go and actually enjoy myself. My tastebuds will not allow me to fully enjoy the meal but I will find something on the menu.

    Just like you, golddust, I love my niece and that is what is most important. Go and have fun.

  • Ideefixe
    12 years ago

    Where would they hold a potluck? If people are coming from out of town, it's hard to transport a hot dish, etc. The public park idea wouldn't thrill me.

    While it would be far more gracious for her family to pay for the whole dinner, they might not have the money. They could fix a set menu (with entree options), cut a bulk deal with the restaurant and have everyone chip in, but it may be too late to suggest that.

    I'd go, and roll my eyes all the way home.

  • tinam61
    12 years ago

    Shannon - what a lovely response. Your niece is lucky to have you. I'm sure with the ones your niece is inviting, you will all have a GREAT time!

    tina

  • lukkiirish
    12 years ago

    I haven't read any of the responses, just your post but I really didn't see a problem with it. I thought it was nicely written and email has become the new trend. That said, graduating from a big university like that is a big deal. Even if the email didn't hit me the right way, I'd still go to support and celebrate my niece's accomplishment. After all the hard work, she would deserve it! :c)

  • kgwlisa
    12 years ago

    I am tired and just waiting for my last load of laundry before trying to get some sleep so please don't take this the wrong way in case I don't articulate things the best way, but...

    your last post, golddust, sounds like you are peeved with the girl's mother (which is understandable given her behavior). But your niece is a young adult now. While it would be nice, her mother is under no obligation to throw her a graduation party. She's not a little girl and it's not a birthday party, where the onus is totally on the mom.

    So if you are ok with the concept of a young, broke college graduate getting together her favorite people in a restaurant to celebrate what is probably the biggest achievement of her life even though she cannot afford to pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars to treat everyone to their meal, then go to it (and it does not seem like THAT is what you object to).

    What her mother has done while raising her is in the past and the number of times her mother will influence events in her life is coming to an end (maybe the wedding is left and that's it). Don't look at it as mom is once again putting one over on you and making you foot the bill for a "high end" celebration. The focus should be on your niece and her accomplishment.

  • les917
    12 years ago

    I would skip the "party" , for a lot of reasons but in large part because you will feel annoyed with 'mom' (and rightfully so) all day.

    What I would do is decline, saying you have a prior commitment that cannot be changed, BUT that you would love to invite niece out to a special dinner to celebrate her achievement and get some time to hear all about her plans. That gives you one-on-one time with her, no whining from her momthat you just didn't bother to come to the party, and a much bigger bang for the bucks that you will spend either way.

    I would try to get her to pick a date and set it, so that she knows you mean it. That will also give a concrete response to anyone who wonders where you are at the other event. "Oh, they couldn't be here, but they have invited me out on June 20th to celebrate."

  • geogirl1
    12 years ago

    Life is short. Celebrate every minute that you can! Don't look for reasons to be upset, when there are so many reasons to just be happy and celebrate. You love your niece, she loves you - go, be happy, smile a lot.

  • judithn
    12 years ago

    Our family had a major milestone today which involved a ceremony and a swearing in at a federal courthouse. It too was a once in a lifetime event, like a graduation. To cap off this special event were decided at the very last minute (this past Wednesday) to have a backyard party. I've made several pasta dishes, a green salad, got several cheeses and dips and will cut veggies and such to set out before hand. I don't have time to bake so I bought some grocery store cakes and will make a simple fruit platter. All in all I probably spent $150 for ingredients. I don't include my time in that cost. If anyone asks what they can bring I always suggest wine or beer. We're having about 20 people. Is it a little work? Sure. I'm willing to put myself out to make an enjoyable event that everyone likes. Anyone can do anything if they want to. It just takes a little creativity and effort and those are the two things that seem to be lacking in the situation the OP described. Would I prefer to go to a restaurant and pass on the prep work and so forth? Sure. But I can't afford to do it and be the host (which means yes, paying for everyone present) so I don't.

  • pammyfay
    12 years ago

    I would say that it's about your niece, and that you should celebrate HER and not her family issues.
    But you seem to have such deep anger/resentment/call it what you will that I doubt you're able to keep it in check to do that, so don't go and spoil the party with that cloud over your head.
    And then follow Les's advice.

    It's clear that this goes a lot deeper for you than just being asked to chip in. I've had family gatherings (like taking an aunt or uncle to dinner) where everyone except the guests of honor chip in to cover everything. That's not a big deal whatsoever. That's just what you do for a celebration, regardless of how an invitation is worded. There are not a lot of people who would cover the tab for a large reservation alone.

  • rucnmom
    12 years ago

    I would only be offended if the relly's were wealthy. We have friends who have -- let's say, beyond serious cash (glided age industrial fortune), who ALWAYS have potluck gatherings. I guess it's so we regular folks don't feel bad but man, it ticks DH off.

  • yborgal
    12 years ago

    golddust, what did you decide to do?

  • igloochic
    12 years ago

    Ok so wealthy people can't have potlucks? What about if it's a tradition? Ie the school fund raiser we just hosted....Maybe the wealthy people feel that the, to use your words, "regular folks" will think they're lording it over them or showing off if they pay for everything or have a party catered....I certainly got plenty of that here just for renting dishes and making a prime rib!

    The pocket book size does not matter when it comes to manners...if you invite someone to dinner the invitee pays. If you "organize an event" ie potluck etc, that's different and should be worded differently.

    Grrr anyhoo, that double standard kills me. Sorry. Goldie...go to the event and enjoy your niece, and chalk it up to the fact that her mother has no manners. Not attending isn't going to change that. :)

    And if it's an ugly event take all of the TP out of the restaurant and tp mom's hotel room or house...you'll feel better afterwards :oP

  • golddust
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    We (DH, really) decided we aren't going. We will send a gift ($$) and a loving card. Santa Cruz is over a four hour drive and we decided that as much as we love our niece, we can (and do) show it in other ways.

    Going would be complicated as we are leaving for a week at our cabin immediately after the weekend she graduates AND we have another niece who is scheduled to deliver a baby (locally) the week before. Since my sister (her mom) isn't home, we have recently agreed to be on standby to take their older daughter (almost 3 yo) - my great niece - while mom delivers the new baby.

    So it turns out we have a solid reason not to commit to leaving town, right or wrong. DH really can't stand the "host." If you knew him, that is really saying something. I can't think of another person he feels this way about.

  • newdawn1895
    12 years ago

    Well, Goldie it all worked out for the best and your DH doesn't have to deal the host. And four hours is a long ways to go, if you ask me. Things are changing I know, and not for the best IMO.

    But, I'm sure your niece will appriecate the money and the sweet card.

    Enjoy your vacation at your cabin.

    ....Jane

  • natal
    12 years ago

    Maybe the wealthy people feel that the, to use your words, "regular folks" will think they're lording it over them or showing off if they pay for everything or have a party catered....I certainly got plenty of that here just for renting dishes and making a prime rib!

    Igloo, that was Rucnmom who mentioned "regular folks", not Golddust.

    GD, sounds like a grand solution! Enjoy your time away.

  • johnmari
    12 years ago

    "The pocket book size does not matter when it comes to manners...if you invite someone to dinner the invitee pays."

    WHOA! Hold up there a sec, podnah. Do you perhaps mean that the invitER (the one who does the inviting) pays? (Which is what I was always taught when I began dating: you ask someone out, you pay or go Dutch. They ask you out, they pay or you go Dutch.) Pocketbook size DOES matter, a great deal, and it can be outright humiliating. I have lost friendships over this, where my friends were much wealthier than me and expected me to keep up with them and their lavish expenditures. (Some friends, huh?) Frankly I find it extremely rude to invite guests to events both you and they know they cannot afford to attend, and it's often embarrassing for the invitee to get these "pity invitations". IMO it is a lot classier to tailor your invitation to what your guest(s) can afford, if you are expecting them to pay their own tab. After all, having a guest is all about making your guest comfortable, isn't it? (Isn't that the message of the gazillion threads on "what makes a good guest room/bath/suite"?)

    If you're buying, by all means - take 'em to that joint with the $1000 gold-leaf hot fudge sundaes if that's what turns your crank! LOL