Monday, November 14, 2005

When it comes to family, sometimes you just want to make yourself a fort and hide.

When it comes to families, it’s always tough to be the person that tries to change the status quo.

This holds true with everything, from my issues with my mother and the enabling and get-together etiquette.

I’ve found that standard etiquette flies out the door when it comes to family get-togethers. If Emily Post saw how we treat each other for family functions, she’d roll over three times and flip. I honestly think people forget that politeness starts in the family.

The problem comes when relatives automatically assume that you are going to their place or they are coming to yours. Lrudlrick and a few others would say it’s downright rude. I just find it impolite. Maybe I don’t find it rude because my entire childhood was spent with relatives running in and out of my grandparent’s home like it was the local HoJo’s.

It’s not like I’m going to put a ‘no vacancy’ sign on my door for friends and family. I just find that a simple, can we camp out at your pad or is there room for one more at the table, would just be simple etiquette. Are you afraid I’ll deny you? Hello, I love to cook. The more the merrier. I grew up in an Italian/Irish neighborhood. Trust me, another mouth to feed only excites Mothra. The only time I’ll deny you is if I’m deathly ill, if I’m swamped with work and if you call me a day before. Ok, if you call me the day before and the visit isn't an emergency visit but a planned visit, I probably won't deny you but you can bet I'll call you out. Tough love, baby. I love you but didn’t your mama teach you manners?”

Instead, we get, “Jeanne and her 5 kids are coming. We’ll be at your doorstep somewhere between 4am and 11am depending on traffic” or my favorite, no call at all. One group of relatives called my mother and told her to tell me that they were hoping for dinner at my place for 10 people. That really bites my craw how a call to my mom with a declaration is supposed to be accepted as this is normal.

Maybe the problem is the open door my Grandparents had. Maybe the problem is that family realizes that you are family. It’s not like you can leave them really. You have to take them. That still doesn’t excuse the lack of social graces. It’s a shame when you treat a stranger better than your family member.

Even if there is a set place for Thanksgiving or Easter or whatever holiday event, please be polite to your guests and let them know. Don’t just spread it via chain voice messages. I’m not saying you need to make placeholders and invitations. Just let your guests feel like they are welcomed by sending them an email or giving them a personal call.

Likewise, guests, even if Aunt Janice always holds Thanksgiving at her house every year, let her know you are coming and offer to arrive early to help set up or bring something, even if it’s napkins. Also, don’t forget to thank her for starting the tradition. She obviously takes pride in holding this special event every year. Let her know her efforts are much appreciated.

For those who asked: No, we did not build the fort around P-man. P-man somehow got himself in that position.