For years we’ve had my voice coach and his wife for Christmas dinner, because we all enjoyed his company. He died two years ago after we had already invited them. Last Christmas while we were helping his widow tie up his affairs, she came for dinner.
Today, she phoned to hint that she is free to come for Christmas dinner this year, but none of us want her to come. She arrives too early, stays much too long and the whole time she only talks about herself repeating the same stories. Would it be rude not to invite her? We all dread having to spend Christmas with her.
–Reluctant Hostess, Boston, MA
There are two ways to handle this. You could lie and tell her you’re going away for the Christmas holiday.However, you might still have to deal with her again next Christmas.
Or you can compromise. Invite her with a clear timeframe, to arrive no earlier than just before you plan to sit down to dinner and tell her you will take her home directly after dinner.
Just as you’re saying goodbye, explain that you and your family will probably not be spending Christmas in Boston next year, so she will have to make a new plan for Christmas dinner.
You’ve set up a tradition here, and obviously one that she has come to rely on with anticipation. Now is the time to stop leading her on. If nobody enjoys her company and she is not related, you are not obligated to lead her on further.
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Accepting A Compliment