Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Holiday Etiquette: If Someone Sends You an Invitation

Howdy Folks...

Laverne here again, taking a quick break from dazzling the world with my mad Christmas decorating skillz (I spelled that with a Z so you know I totally mean it) this cold, Texas afternoon, to talk to y'all a little bit more about etiquette. Yeah, yeah. I know what you're thinking.

"Did I just stumble across the Miss Manners blog?"

No. That's not it at all (plus, I totally hate that uppity bitch). But, it is the holiday season and I feel like it is my personal responsibility to pass along these unspoken rules of etiquette (and by unspoken, I mean, things you just cannot, must not do) to those who may be totally unaware that society dictates that we treat others respectfully. Whether or not they deserve it is a completely different story.

So, here is a holiday anecdote about my friend Gina. Which is totally not her real name, but you know, we can't go around just exposing everyone...

Gina is a nice gal. Sweet. Very smart. Incredibly witty, dazzlingly gorgeous. Always gentle and kind with great hair. She has four of the most handsome sons you will ever meet, who are (of course) well-mannered and polite. You would be totally jealous of her if you knew her. Trust me.

A few years ago, Gina was busily preparing for Christmas. She had two baby showers to plan (because she is ridiculously generous too), a home to decorate and clean, food to cook, and lots of shopping to do. And because she is so kind and generous, she offered up her home to her in-laws that year, in addition to her very own family, thinking that it would be nice to all spend the holidays together.

(okay, that last part is a load of crap, because her parents are divorced and hate each other, her husband's father and his wife are insane burned out hippies and her mom probably would have beaten her dad's new wife to a bloody pulp, but that didn't really fit in with the story here so...)

After much hemming and hawing, her in-laws (blessedly) declined and so Gina went about her normal holiday business, happy to have one more thing crossed off her Christmas list.

Weeks went by. Her list dwindled, plans were made, her home glistened and sparkled, gifts were wrapped and under the tree, everyone's favorite holiday sweaters were clean and pressed, family had arrived and before Gina knew it, it was Christmas Eve!

She had just gone to switch out a load of laundry that morning when her phone rang.


Hello Gina, this is your fabulous mother-in-law calling from Tennessee!

Oh, hi there! How are you mother-in-law?

Well, I was just calling to see if you had received your surprise Christmas package yet?

My surprise Christmas package? No, I don't guess I have.

(Gina's wheels were turning fiercely at this moment, wondering what her mother-in-law meant)

Well, sister-in-law just happened to mention that my ex-husband called from the road to say that they are surprising you for Christmas.

(Gina, rarely flustered, was totally caught off-guard)

No, mother-in-law, I'm afraid you misunderstood. You see, they told us they weren't coming for Christmas. I can't imagine that they'd tell me no if they really meant yes. This is quite the conundrum.

Well, good luck to you Gina. I certainly hope I'm wrong.

(okay so the conversation didn't exactly go that way, but it also didn't fit with Gina's sunny disposition, so...)

Upset and confused, Gina quickly called Mr. Gina.

Ah, yes. I seem to recall grandmother hinting that they might be on their way here.

Gina hung up the phone, reeling. "Who shows up for Christmas unannounced on Christmas Eve?"

Suddenly, the phone rang again.


Hello. Do you need a Christmas ham?

A Christmas ham? No, I don't believe I do. Are you offering one?

Oh. Well, we thought we would bring one this evening for dinner.

Did you? Well (nervous laugh), I guess we could always use extra! What time should we expect you?

Right about now....

(Gina looked out her front window to find a familiar car pulling up to the curb)

Now, as I've said before, Gina is rather generous. She is kind. She can be tolerant. And so, for the sake of keeping the peace at Christmastime, she chose tolerance. It would not be the last time Gina carelessly made this mistake with her in-laws.

And because Gina is always prepared for guests, she made room at the table for an extra two people. She served them beer and wine graciously (even though they carried enough in their suitcases to keep a bar operating for days), laughed when they joked about ruining her holiday, and hid her displeasure each time they rudely insulted her family. She didn't so much as flinch when she was berated for daring to buy Christmas gifts for her husband and children (and not herself) with the hundreds of dollars they apparently "only" sent for Mr. Gina. She did not complain when she was given a $25 gift card for a mall 800 miles away. No, Gina held strong. And it would not be the last time Gina made this mistake either, but she is kind and generous with a good heart and so she is stupid enough to think that maybe at some point they will change.

(for the record, they don't)
So, here is a recap of today's lesson.

-Do not decline an invitation if you plan on actually accepting it

-Do not show up unannounced

-Do not show up unannounced on Christmas Eve with a burnt maple and brown sugar ham that's just spent two days in a car wrapped in plastic wrap.

-Do not take advantage of other people's hospitality

-Do not treat your daughter-in-law's family poorly.

-Do not show up drunk or continue to get drunk to the point of embarrassment

-Specify who you're sending money to, so you don't yell at your daughter-in-law on Christmas Day

-Don't buy a gift at all if your sole intent is to be an asshole

-Do stay in Tennessee for the holidays and spare everyone the agony of your presence

I think that's it.

Happy Mannerly Holidays, friends!



  1. My outlaws are sensitive and respectful like that, too. It's why I am so happy to see them, happy to open my home to them EVERY chance I get, and just plain fucking happy. Period.

    What did your husband do when he realized that his father was planning a sneak attack on your holiday? And why do some people think that it's OKAY to do shit like that? What if you were going to have an intimate dinner party with some friends on Christmas Eve? Or maybe you were going to take your beautiful family to someone else's house to enjoy cookie decorating, caroling, and Christmas movies? It could happen!


  2. Wow. Just.... wow. I thought my family was bad. My father tends to show up unannounced throughout the year but, lucky us, he has a way of forgetting the big days.

  3. Yeah. That sounds like the year David's uncle spent Easter on my couch. That was fun.

  4. WOW! Gina is awesome... and I am sure I would have sucked it up too.. but I don't know that the bitterness wouldn't have come through. What is WRONG with people? It is stories like this that make me rethink feeling sorry for myself because all of our families live at least 1500 miles away and my kids spend every Christmas without the company of grandparents and cousins. But.. perhaps that's a GOOD thing?