dimanche, janvier 05, 2014

Kindness (and manners) matter

Last week my son invited a few school friends over to his dad's home for movie night.

He had the menu all planned out.  He was pumped, looking forward to an enjoyable evening with his pals.

A few hours before I was to drive him down to his dad's house, one of the students canceled.

Then, in quite succession, so did the other.

Looking at his dejected face, my heart ached for him.

It's one of those parenting moments when you want so much to comfort your child, but the words just don't come.

Instead, thinking it might make him stronger, I told him that many adults were just as commitment-phobic.

But it doesn't mean, I said, that you should respond in kind. Courtesy in small things makes a big difference.

I still believe, in spite of abundant evidence to the contrary around me, that the small courtesies matter.

A few years ago I started having a small open house to mark the new year.

It's relaxed, not at all fancy, and, I hope, enjoyable.

Yesterday's event was lovely, and I thoroughly enjoyed my guests. It was a really nice afternoon, at least for this hostess.

But getting to the afternoon was aggravating, to say the least.

A few people say "yes" and "no" to my invite, almost as soon as I created and posted the Evite. Gold stars for being so conscientious.

A few said "maybe" (I couldn't figure out how to eliminate this term from the invitation).

From the rest? Crickets.

Descending to passive-aggressive plaintiveness, I posted a carefully worded reminder on Facebook for those on the site.  In addition, I sent the invitation again to those who hadn't yet replied.

That elicited a few more responses, which was very helpful.

I never heard from roughly half of those invited.

And some of those who responded with a "yes' never showed up, the majority without any explanation (though Facebook is useful in this regard).

As Emily Yoffe points out in this post from Slate,  people generally know whether or not they can make an event when they get the invitation. A minority may actually have a conflict (a friend of mine was recovering from major surgery).  But the rest? It does, as the columnist suggests, make the host or hostess wonder whether they are social pariahs.

I found Yoffe's reflections both helpful and straightforward.

Yet I keep feeling like I'm missing something. Am I too uptight? Should I just feel positive about having had such a lovely time with those who did show up?

I don't know. As usual, I live in the grey zone.  Some of these folks are friends of long standing, and I'd like to remain friends with them. Others? Well, probably, it's better to just strike them from next year's invitation list.

I just wish that some of the people who never bothered to answer from the git-go would ask themselves how they would want to be treated in such a situation -- and then act accordingly.

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