Miscommunications and misunderstandings

Dear Annie: I come from a large family. I was the youngest of four girls, and there were several years between us. Growing up, I barely knew my two older sisters.

One of the sisters remarried someone from a different religion, though they were not practicing. Fast-forward 20-25 years and this same couple drives by our small town 10-20 times a year. After I entered retirement, I realized that we made several invitations for them to stop in, but they never did.

(Let’s not forget that they would stop in and see my other sister’s family).

We bought a historic house that has wooden floors, and a few years ago, we hosted a Christmas party. In the invite, I suggested wearing pretty socks, as shoes might harm the floor. Our house is surrounded by gravel. This sister’s husband refused to come to the party and gave no notice. He dropped off my sister at the street and drove off. We heard that his reaction was, “No one is going to tell me what to do.” I sent a letter to all that it was disturbing. We had just moved in and barely had beds for our family, but since it was our turn, we wanted to have the Christmas celebration.

We four sisters went to counseling. It turned out that at my mother’s death, 20 years ago, l gave a funny look to my new brother-in-law, and that is why there has been friction. The look was because I had information that our mother gave me right before she died, and I was trying to relay it to them.

A family member posted for her birthday pictures of family on Facebook, and every family was represented except ours. — Sister in Distress

Dear Sister in Distress: First things first: Twenty years is a long time to hold a grudge. If you are upset that your sister and her husband never stopped by when they drove through your town, why don’t you ask her about it? Sometimes, the answer is as simple as, “Well, we didn’t know we were invited.” A fresh invitation could do the trick. Let that one go.

As for the Christmas party, your brother-in-law’s behavior was terrible. Not being flexible enough to enjoy a family event because of a refusal to wear socks — and a refusal to even have a conversation about it — misses the spirit of Christmas entirely. Check in on your sister who is married to the louse. Make sure that she is happy. If not, encourage her to seek therapy.

As for that Facebook post, I’d suggest having a conversation with the family member who posted the message. Try not to be angry or defensive. Again, this oversight might have a simple explanation. If you are able to listen and learn, and possibly change a few things, you might feel more welcome within your own family.

(Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com. This column is syndicated by Creators Syndicate columnists. Visit the website at www.creators.com.)


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