A dear friend’s son and daughter-in-law throw parties to celebrate each milestone in their two children’s lives. They have been doing this for years, also during COVID (with parties outside).
They invite the children’s friends, their own friends and those of their parents. When you ask the parents what you can get for the child, the answer is always “money would be best”.
Recently, they held a joint party for one child who graduated from high school along with the other child who had a birthday.
Guests were greeted by a large table with two large boxes, with cut-out slots in it, one box labeled “Graduated”, the other “Birthday Girl”. There is always a box in a prominent place. Like everyone else, we’ve been giving money for years.
But there is never an acknowledgment of the gift, not even a “Thank you” email.
I heard a guest call this a “cash grab.” Another joked that the kids were counting money all night.
My husband never liked this setup, didn’t realize until recently that there was never a thank you, and now says he won’t be attending future parties.
He agrees that this is just money for three generations and believes that the parties should only be for the children’s friends. He also tells me to tell my friend that “the box” is in bad taste so she can talk to her son.
Should I say something to my friend? My husband can be stubborn and won’t attend the next birthday party (it’s coming soon). I don’t know how to explain his absence if I go alone. Or do I just stop?
AThis scenario IS a money grab, in very bad taste, lacking even a simple “thank you”. You should not expect the children’s friends who are also graduating and having their birthdays to bring money … at most small meaningful gifts are common. Their age groups should save their allowance or earned money for their own use.
Bringing in friends of parents and grandparents for donations is also disturbingly rude. None of these “guests” have a payment obligation. If the close relatives of the children choose to bring gifts or money, that is their choice.
My question to ponder: Do the hosts ever tell friends and family what their imposed generosity has been paid for? Unlikely.
My response to your letter: If the friendship is very important to you, go alone. But don’t bring any money. If asked, say you’d rather give a personalized gift.
Tell your husband about your plan, showing that you acknowledge his point of view.
FEEDBACKAbout the abusive husband of the letter writer (July 4):
Reader“What people (in Canada) often don’t realize is this: While marriages can be ‘arranged’ according to a family’s customs, these unions are still governed by the laws of Canada.
“All the advice given in the specific column to the letter writer who is being mistreated by her husband is excellent.
“She should find a women’s shelter (search online through a computer available in a public library), and do so immediately. The experienced employees of abused women’s shelters advise and handle your situation from there.
“I agree with Ellie’s advice: TELL NOBODY about your plans and preparations. Not even your son. Let the shelter workers take charge if/when they think he won’t choose his father. There’s just too much to lose.”
Ellie’s tip of the day
Celebrating birthdays, graduations and other milestones with invited family/friends is a time-honored tradition. But it’s no “honour” to host guests for a thankless money grab.
Ellie Tesher and Lisi Tesher are advisory columnists for the Star based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions by email: [email protected]