Do I have to attend my sister-in-law’s grandson’s Bar Mitzvah? I mean, really, I don’t know the child or his parents. My sister-in-law is a good friend–not a great one. If not for marriage, my Birkenstocks would never have graced her Stark carpets. Maybe she invited me because she thinks she must. How do I get out of this? Any ideas?
Your sister-in-law’s grandson’s Bar Mitzvah?! Ov vey! What’s next–an invitation to your cousin’s hairdresser’s dog’s christening?
Listen very carefully, honey: I want you to grab that invitation and check the “Will Not Attend” box faster than it takes to say “Hava Nagila.”
Let’s get real, sis. As a gay man, I receive literally hundreds of invitations a year, and there simply aren’t enough cute outfits in my closet for me to attend them all. So the criteria I’ve developed with regard to RSVPs is one I strongly advise you to take up as well, and it boils down to one simple question:
Do I want to attend this event?
If the answer is anything but “Hell, yeah,” I send my regrets. Life is too short to spend time doing anything you don’t actually want or need to do–especially if it involves a karaoke machine and a candle-lighting ceremony.
Now to your second question: How do you get out of this? I totally understand the guilt associated with a negative RSVP. I’m a Jew too; my mother has perfected the art of guilt. So if your sister-in-law should ask, you can always feign a previous engagement–“Unfortunately, that’s the weekend I’m at a hot yoga retreat” or something like that.
But guess what? You don’t owe her an explanation or an excuse. “I wish I could, but I won’t be able to make it” is a perfectly polite and acceptable way to express the fact that you won’t be dancing the Hora that day.
And P.S. Given that you don’t know this child and are not a blood relative, you’re under no obligation to send a gift either. If you do want to spring for something, don’t go crazy. If he’s anything like I was at 13, he’ll be thrilled to receive the original cast album of Evita.
Now about those Birkenstocks…
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