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I just received an invitation to a baby shower for my sister-in-law. I was raised with the tradition that Jewish moms wait until after the baby is born and all is OK before bringing gifts into the house. Sister-in-law and I both come from Jewish families, but she seems to be OK with the whole baby shower idea.
I know this could all be filed under the category of old wives’ tales, but I realize I am more superstitious than I thought I was. I’m OK with going to the shower, but I really don’t want to bring a gift. How can I pull this off without seeming judgmental or old-fashioned?
— No Showers, Please
Dear No Showers,
Old wives’ tales survive because those old wives knew a thing or two about counting one’s chickens before they hatched. With modern medicine, and Baby’s R Us registries being what they are today, baby showers are making inroads where little knitted booties never dared to tread. If it’s any comfort, old fashioned or not, I’m with you on this one. But I wasn’t invited to the shower.
Why not give your sister-in-law a gift for just for her? A certificate for a mani-pedi or a pregnancy massage could be a welcome treat. Hopefully, your sister-in-law isn’t the kind to look a gift horse in the mouth and will be gracious and excited about whatever gift you bring to celebrate her becoming a mother.
A longtime friend is a great entertainer and a fabulous cook. Lately I’ve noticed that when it comes to dessert, she serves everyone a sizable portion and then takes nothing for herself. When I respond with a “No thank you,” she serves me anyway and I end up eating it. It feels like a real power play. My friend is quite thin and strict about her calorie intake. She seems determined to ignore that I want to watch my weight as well. Why is she being like this? What can I do the next time she invites us over?
— Just Desserts
This dynamic seems to be taking the battle of the bulge to new heights — or widths. I could attribute an entire playground of reasons behind mean girl hostess’ actions. Bottom line is this: What she does matters less than what you do. The simplest answer is also the most challenging: Ignore the dessert on your plate or take a small spoonful and then push your plate aside. At benefit luncheons I’ve attended, I’ve seen some women take a bite and then dump their water glass into their dessert dish. It does the trick, but looks rather messy.
Enjoy your longtime friend for her strengths, and don’t let her dessert power plays trifle you any longer.
A few months ago, the daughter of someone I know suffered a miscarriage. Neither the daughter nor her mom is a close friend of mine. We are more than acquaintances but not “inner circle” friends. At the time of the miscarriage, I heard through a mutual friend that the family was closing ranks and didn’t want calls, cards or offers of any kind of help.
Last week, I ran into the daughter and mother. Pleasantries were exchanged; the mother and I made noises about getting together soon. The daughter had her first child with her. Now I feel awful about never having acknowledged the family’s loss. Should I reach out now and offer sympathies? It will feel weird seeing the mom and not saying anything.
—What’s the Protocol?
What a devastating loss! When you get together with your friend, tell her how lovely it was to see her daughter and how well she is looking. Say something sweet about the grandchild, too. Depending on how the conversation goes over the course of your lunch together, you might mention having heard that the family preferred to be left alone at the time of the miscarriage and how glad you are to reconnect now. Follow your friend’s lead. If she doesn’t want to discuss the situation, move on to other topics. With good fortune, her daughter will soon become pregnant again, and you can certainly offer congratulations and bring or send a baby gift when the time is right. RT
Debra Darvick shares her unique take on life, books and more at debradarvick.com.