Dear Annie: My family had a lot of heartbreak in 2020. Our daughter was diagnosed with a neurological disease, and our son passed away. And then the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
Later that year, we decided to decline an invitation to a family Christmas party. I gave a month's notice to the host and explained that, because of everything we've gone through this year, we were going to stay home. My husband and I didn't try to dissuade our other family members from attending, though we did invite a few of them to come over for dinner instead if they decided not to go.
My two nephews decided to come over rather than go to the traditional gathering, and my sister stopped by after the family gathering.
My nephew posted a photo taken at our house and captioned it "Family Christmas."
Well, this upset a relative and her mom so much that they both stopped talking to all of us. I didn't feel that we did anything wrong. I apologized to the host that her feelings were hurt and explained that it wasn't intentional. She has refused to accept my apology. She thinks we planned our own party to exclude them.
I've tried to get past this, but it's constantly on my mind. I deleted all social media because I felt like she was using social media to shame me.
I thought we would skip one year and then all be back together, but alas, I don't believe our Christmas gathering will ever be the same. Our family has never fought before.
What is your advice? — Heartbroken
Dear Heartbroken: I am very sorry for your loss. You had every right to say no to the Christmas party this year. In fact, I'm surprised they had a large party, given the pandemic, but that is a topic for another letter.
Your family deserves time and space to grieve. If you want to celebrate with only your immediate family, you should do just that.
You politely declined a month in advance and were very gracious. If the host won't accept your apology — I don't think the apology was necessary — and the other relative won't talk to you, I say good riddance to them. You need family and friends in your life who support, love and accept you no matter what, especially after suffering the loss of your son and your daughter's challenging illness.
They are being cruel to you on social media and incredibly insensitive. Don't give them another thought. It's their problem, not yours.
Dear Annie: I sent three baby shower gifts last year via Amazon because of the pandemic. The parents are either working at home or not working at all. Six months later, I have yet to receive any thank-you cards, or even an acknowledgement that they received the gifts. I checked Amazon, and they definitely received them. I am on a fixed income. Is this the wave of the future? Because, if so, I really don't want to participate! — Gift-Giver in New Hampshire
Dear Gift-Giver: Not acknowledging a gift is not the wave of the future. It is rude behavior and never good manners.
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