Hello Elderly Aunt, I do have a situation, sort of. We weren’t invited to a wedding, and now we are. And I want to say something, but I’m trying not to. Back in December of 2019, my younger cousin accepted a proposal from someone she had been living with for a while, and they started planning a wedding in October. My parents and my other cousins received paper invitations by mail, but I did not and my only brother did not. I wouldn’t have been upset if it was my whole generation that was excluded, but it was only my brother and myself, and it isn’t as if we had had any falling out with my cousin. It is not an exceptionally large family where she forgot about us in some way. So, then comes COVID and all of a sudden she has to shift her wedding plans from a standard wedding to a “watch online, drive-by, and stop-for-pictures-and gifts” format — and now I’m magically invited again. And I want to say something. Is there anything that can reasonably be said? Or is it better to just ignore it entirely and move on? Thank you for any thoughts.
At first blush, the Elderly Aunt is tempted to call your cousin’s failure to invite you to her standard wedding followed by a (non-paper) invitation to her online wedding for what it appears to be— a greedy attempt to score another fondue pot or toaster oven without having to pay to the additional cost of your in-person attendance. If that is indeed what’s going on, then shame, shame, shame on your cousin!
At second blush, the Elderly Aunt feels compelled to point out that entirely one-way bad behavior is extremely rare and perpetrated almost exclusively by sociopaths. The old adage “it takes two to quarrel…” didn’t become an old adage by being an inaccurate observation.
For your own peace of mind, dear reader, the Elderly Aunt encourages you to reexamine the history of your relationship with your cousin and to calmly own whatever your part is (however trivial) in a family feud in which your cousin’s tacky present grab is the latest manifestation.
The point is not to place blame but to gain a deeper understanding of yourself as well as your cousin. The Elderly Aunt is a firm believer that the road to inner contentment is paved with self-honesty. Shoulder chips can be such terribly corrosive loads to tote. It’s almost impossible to carry one around without souring one’s own soul. And who really wants to be condemned to life with a soured soul?
As to what you should do in this particular situation, that depends entirely on whether you’re looking for short-term retribution in the face of your cousin’s venal present grab or long-term, serenity-inducing, realistic acceptance of both yourself and her as you really are—warts and all.
If you’re after the former, by all means send your cousin a snippy note. But before you do, imagine how you will feel about yourself after you hit that send button. Only you can know who sending that note will damage more.
If you decide against the snippy note, the Elderly Aunt suggests two possible courses of action. The first is to call your cousin and ask directly (without snippiness) why you didn’t get the first paper invitation? There is always a chance it was an oversight.
The second, which would probably be the Elderly Aunt’s choice, stems from her belief that the only behavior she controls is her own and that she enjoys her own company more when she operates out in the world with a generous heart. This would lead her to accept the e-vite, send the bride a suitable present, attend the wedding, wish her and her new husband well, brush that particular chip off your shoulder, and get on with your own life.
The Elderly Aunt offers her thoughtful responses to your questions about this wild ride we call life on every other Monday. And as a general disclaimer—to quote the elves from The Lord of the Rings — “… advice is a dangerous gift, even given from the wise to the wise.”
Got a question for the Elderly Aunt? Ask her on Facebook or email your question to [email protected] with the subject line “Elderly Aunt question.” (Just please don’t ask detailed financial questions).