Daddy and Aunt Ada are like oil and water. (Actually, I am pretty sure they do not get
along because they are so much alike, but they would prefer the oil and water
analogy so we will just go with that!) One day, Daddy got a heads up from his
sister, Aunt Shirley, that she was picking up his other sister, Aunt Ada, and they were going to visit him. Regardless of what was socially acceptable, polite, expected, etc., (Not that Daddy had ever cared about those things...) Daddy just did not want to see her. This was his solution:
I knew I had to think of something, quick! So I dialed Ada’s number. She must have seen her caller ID
because she didn’t bother with saying hello. Instead, she said, “I’m about to come see you. Shirley will be here to pick me up any minute.”
I said, “Don’t come! It’s a trap!”
She yelled back, “What?”
I said, “Hell yes, it’s a trap! When you get here, they are going to sign you in and leave you. Whatever
you do, don’t come here. If you do, you’ll never go back home! It’s a trap!”
He was so proud, he could hardly contain himself! He laughed so hard he had tears in his eyes. Once
he composed himself a bit he, “Well, it worked! That was about four months ago
and she has not trusted any of them enough to come visit me yet!”
It was a cute little story, but what is my point?
You do not always have to do what is socially acceptable, polite, or expected. Sometimes, you have to just do what is best for YOU.
I am not saying you should use Daddy’s tactics. (Although I must admit I laughed as hard as he did! If you knew the two of them, you would be laughing right now too!) What I am saying is, whether you are physically not up to it, emotionally not up to it, or you just know it is going to be a negative experience for you, it is perfectly acceptable, perhaps even necessary, for you to decline invitations.
YES, even Christmas family events.
Of course we should make an effort to be socially active, a part of the family, not to let our health rob us of moments we cannot ever get back, etc. Still, the simple truth is not every family gathering is harmonious. Only you know your family dynamic well enough to decide, but if you really feel like it will drain you more than edify you, politely declining does not make you a bad or weak person. It is not selfish or cowardly. Actually, it is rather brave. (Perhaps not the way Daddy went about it...)
Again, politely declining is probably best and definitely more mature. However, do not allow your own holiday season to be spoiled by putting the expectations of others, even family, ahead of your own wellbeing. Whatever it takes—you know I do not mean something crazy, but within reason, right? Just checking!
Whatever it takes—have YOURSELF a Merry Christmas!
Once we stopped laughing, I asked Daddy if he really felt he had done the right thing. After all, she would not have stayed long, she is his sister, and he does like to have visitors. He said, “All we do is fuss when she visits. I have not had to fight with her in four months. Are you kidding? I’m already working on my next plan in case this one stops working!”