Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Question: I'm trying to figure out a graceful way to stop my brother and sister-in-law from making absolute fools of themselves. They just completed a remodeling of their kitchen and want to have a party to "celebrate" - as in, show it off.
The first problem is that there's nothing special about their remodeling. It was really basic: new cabinets, floor, countertops, a coat of paint. That's it.
The second problem is that this party is going to come off as a total gift grab. They say they don't expect gifts, but I know people receiving the invitations are going to think it's required. I even did a poll at my workplace, and most people agreed with me that upon getting a "kitchen-reveal" invitation, they probably would think a gift was in order.
I tried explaining to my brother that when my husband and I did a huge remodeling of our kitchen three years ago - total gut job, kitchen island, all new appliances, the works - we didn't find it necessary to have a "reveal" party. But my brother is totally guided by his wife, who is a very sweet woman, but not socially savvy at all. I cringe every time I think of how clueless and greedy this party is going to make them look, even though they seem to have the best intentions.
Should I try to do more to prevent this disaster, or do I need to back off and let them suffer the consequences of their stubbornness?
Answer: Or (c) Do you let them be themselves, which is what their friends probably/presumably love about them?
Or (d) Why do you care so much?
You can choose not to go, and, instead, luxuriate in your far superior kitchen.
Comment: We had a kitchen reveal after a remodeling, and it was a boatload of fun. Yeah, one or two people brought gifts - that kind of surprised me - but mostly we drank and ate and generally made a lot of noise and just showed off how happy we were about the work. I looked at it as a way to have a party, to break in the new kitchen after months of cooking on the grill in the rain, and showing off the work, and sharing with the neighbors who lived through the noise, dust, and a giant Dumpster.
Reply: Sometimes, a party is just a party. Thanks.
Question: A recent letter-writer wasn't sure whether her boyfriend's aversion to hand-holding in public was a deal-breaker. My husband was this way, not as extreme as this boyfriend, but close. I think my husband had/has an aversion to intimacy. Over the years, he found excuses to pull farther and farther away. He never initiates a casual hug, we don't have meaningful conversations, and we haven't had sex in years.
I may be wrong - maybe the letter-writer's lack of affection isn't the tip of this iceberg - but how many years of life does someone want to throw away to see whether I'm right?
Answer: Perfect question, thank you.
One for you: Do you feel like you're still throwing away years? And if so, do you have a plan for dealing with that besides just warning other people away?
Chat with Carolyn Hax online at noon Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.