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Nearly 30 years ago, I had a close friend whom I met in a mother’s group when our kids were infants. We were still close when our children started kindergarten. Then one day she dropped me as her friend. No explanation, no return of my phone calls nor acknowledgement of my written apology for inadvertently hurting her. I asked what I had done to drive her away so that I might right the situation, but I never heard from her again.
About a year ago, we bumped into each other at a community event. She approached me all smiles and hugs. Then she friended me on Facebook. I was puzzled and, to be truthful, really ticked off. She didn’t want me as a real friend 25 years ago but wants me as a Facebook friend today? I still have her friend request but haven’t responded. What should I do?
— Unfriended and Unamused
Dear Un Times Two,
My sympathies to you for being unfriended at a time when the word was yet to be coined and Zuckerberg was still learning his ABCs. I can understand how peeved you must be to have this “friend” resurface and with her the past hurts she caused. If you want nothing to do with her, simply delete her friend request. If you want to open an old can of worms, send her a message asking the most obvious question — Why is she bothering to friend you when she dropped you decades ago? You can always accept her request, follow her posts and gloat over the vapid trivia she shares. Unless, of course, in the ensuing years, she’s had an uber life and is into posting endless selfies of vacations to exotic locales with her much-younger-drop-dead-handsome second husband. You don’t really want to know that, do you?
For years my husband and I hosted the family Seder for 30 of our relatives. My husband and I love Passover, and now that our children have children of their own, we are quite committed to creating a lively and educational experience for our grandchildren. My siblings and their families do not share our perspective and in the past have arrived late, complained that we “do too much” and left early. So last year I didn’t invite them. We had a much smaller Seder with our immediate family (still about 15 people) and had a memorable and meaningful time.
I am now the family black sheep for being “uncooperative” and am already hearing noises from my siblings about whether I will invite them and their families back next year for Seder. I’ve reminded them that they did nothing but complain about how we led our Seder and that it’s best that we celebrate that holiday separately. But I’m getting a lot of flak. What should I do?
— Feeling Like Chopped Liver
Dear Chopped Liver,
You have every right to invite whom you wish and not to invite those who disparage your efforts. But you cannot have your Hillel sandwich and eat it, too. Your family, instead of copping to their misbehavior and apologizing, is making you the bad guy. In layman’s terms, we call this an inability to behave like a grown-up.
What is more important? Being with your immediate family or mollifying the very folks who are disrespectful of your hospitality and effort? If you want to add a hefty spoonful of resentment to the bitter herbs next Passover, by all means invite your family, knowing they will in all likelihood arrive late, complain about the length of the Seder and leave early.
But if you want what you had last year — a meaningful Seder with the kiddies chanting the four questions, scrambling around the house looking for the Afikomen and singing about frogs here, frogs there and frogs jumping everywhere — then explain calmly and firmly that your idea of a family Seder isn’t theirs and it’s best if you celebrate other holidays together.
Of course, if you really want your family there and are prepared for their complaints, then by all means invite them. Just don’t be surprised when the only questions they ask are When do we eat? and When is this over?
Debra Darvick shares her unique take on life, books and more at debradarvick.com.