November 20, 2003
Family Friend's New Beau Not Welcome at Wedding
Close family friends have recently separated after 20 years of marriage -- the wife left her husband for someone else. She won't go anywhere without him and is intent on making sure that her friends recognize them as a couple. My daughter is getting married and does not want to invite the new boyfriend, whom she has never met. Frankly, we are all a little concerned that the wedding will turn into an opportunity for our friend to show off her boyfriend rather than to celebrate the bride. Furthermore, we plan to invite her estranged husband. How do I tell my old friend that she is being invited solo?
Mother of the Bride
You don't. It is your daughter's wedding and it is her job to deliver the news. Moreover, it will be easier to swallow if it comes directly from the bride rather than the bride's mother. I don't imagine your friend will take the request well -- and she may even decide to boycott the event. There is nothing like the passion of a new love affair to blur one's better judgment. The easy (read: cowardly) way out would be to avoid the conversation altogether and to address the invitation to your friend alone. But don't even think about it. If she is a dear friend she is entitled to hear the news firsthand, not to discover it on the outside of an envelope.
Is Graveside Video Kosher?
I recently received a brochure from a Jewish funeral home offering a service I find appalling: a personalized video of the deceased that can be viewed at the funeral and on demand whenever you visit the gravesite. Surely this cannot be in keeping with Jewish law?
Consulting Jewish texts about the "legality" of videos for the dead is like asking the framers of the constitution if they made allowances for Internet dating.
Against Jewish law? No. Against any semblance of good taste, religious or secular? Absolutely. Tacky. Embarrassing even.
This is the kind of thing that makes the Dark Ages look good. And with good reason. Tempting though it may be to immortalize your loved one this way, a family picture album, sprinkled with bobka crumbs at the kitchen table, is probably a more tasteful way to go. No one needs a posthumous Emmy, after all.
Challenging a Scrooge
My friend and I are hosting a benefit for children with disabilities. She invited her boss for whom she has worked for 12 years and who is a wealthy man. He donated the smallest amount specified on the R.S.V.P. card. Frankly, we are both shocked that his donation could be so meager. Is it fair of me to comment? Obviously my friend would not feel comfortable since he is her boss.
Few people would be willing to make that call. I respect your chutzpah; you are obviously a good friend, and one committed to a good cause.
But you are way out of line. There are any number of explanations for this man's donation: he is a generous donor to causes closer to his heart; he gets hit up for funds daily; he feels awkward having been solicited by an employee; he is a cheap bastard. There is no graceful way to address any of the above.
It is always easy to spend someone else's money -- particularly when that person is wealthy -- or we think he is. But just because we think a wealthy person should be more generous, doesn't mean that the individual does. Probably it's wise to keep in mind how we might feel about someone else spending our money. If you want to raise more for a good cause, expand that invitation list. But leave the reply cards to your guests.
My Mother Is Archie Bunker
My mother is extremely sensitive to remarks she considers to be anti-Semitic. But when we went out to dinner last week, she made a disparaging remark about the individual who served our dinner. She fails to see that she is as guilty of prejudice and bigotry as the next person.
Most people are blind not only to their own shortcomings, but to their own double standards as well. You can gently point it out if you are that kind of daughter and if she is the kind of mother who will not only hear your point, but will take it well. Otherwise, I am a believer that it is difficult to teach old dogs new tricks. Your mother has got away with this bias for some time; it's unlikely you will change her now. You needn't point out the error of her ways in the expectation she will change them. You do need to speak up to let your mother know that you are uncomfortable with her hurling slurs in your presence.
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