Dear Margo: Straight Cred

How should I respond when people tell me that homosexuality is a choice? Margo Howard’s advice

Straight Cred

Dear Margo: I belong to an LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) group at my university. I understand that kids my age have it a lot easier than homosexuals did, say, 20 years ago. I do, however, have a problem — still — with people who take it upon themselves to try to “change” me, as if changing me were necessary or even possible. I’ve been told there are therapists who could “turn things around,” and even that praying could make me straight. Well, I am happy the way I am and, of course, do not believe anyone or anything can change the proclivities with which you are born.

If I wanted to be rude, I could cite for these people the number of clergymen and politicians who are not out, who support homophobia and who are then caught publicly in a same-sex encounter. I have tried very hard not to do this. Is there something I might say when people (uninvited) tell me that my sexuality is all a matter of my choosing and deciding? — Michelangelo

Dear Mike: I, like you, have about had it with people who have “decided” that homosexuality is a choice or an “alternative lifestyle.” This thinking is flat-out ignorant of both science and human nature. I think a fairly gentle way to make your point would be to ask, “So tell me. How old were you when you decided to be straight?” Or: “Can you imagine there’s anything that could turn you into a homosexual?” If either of those responses does not settle their hash (for you young ‘uns, that’s an old expression meaning “close them down”), then I don’t think these people are worth dealing with. –Margo, realistically

Just Cluck No

Dear Margo: My husband is the youngest of six, and two of his sisters rule the roost in the family. They take over planning every holiday, every party, every shower. I don’t mind this, but my husband and I are expected to help pay for these parties, showers, etc. We are told when to show up, what to bring and how much we owe for helping to host … even though we have no input about what parties get planned, dates or times, and sometimes we haven’t even been able to attend. Part of me sees this as “taxation without representation,” and part of me is just glad someone else does the work. We have always given the money because it seemed best to keep the peace.

However, his family is now demanding that we host Christmas, since they have all done it for many years. Since I am an introvert, not a planner or an entertainer, the thought alone brings me to tears. But the reality is this: We live in a 1,200 square-foot townhouse, and the family is 25 people. While I appreciate that his sisters have hosted holidays for a long time, his sisters do not work and have wealthy husbands. We are the least financially equipped to do this. In fact, having this type of gathering would mean forgoing gifts for other family and friends. We explained the situation and bowed out this year, but I fear at some point we will be expected to host. How do I impress upon these people that unless our circumstances change drastically, we will never be hosting Christmas? — Exhausted in Advance

Dear Ex: Tell the hens, I mean the sisters-in-law who rule the roost, that it has become such a tradition that they handle the family events that it would be a shame to lose their golden touch. Tell them of your tiny house, your introversion, your lack of expertise, the stress of your job, your temperamental oven and anything else you can think of. In other words, just say no. Happy hols. –Margo, defensively


Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


Every Thursday and Friday, you can find “Dear Margo” and her latest words of wisdom on wowOwow

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104 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Mandy McNalis says:

    Spot on Margo, on both counts!
    The “When did you decide that you were straight?” line is one of my personal favourite shut-downs.  I like to follow it up (while they’re sputtering) with “exactly,” then smile, and walk away.  The follow up also works when they simply say, “I didn’t decide,” or “I didn’t have to decide.”

    • avatar moonrevenge says:

      There’s a YouTube video where a man goes on the street and asks people whether homosexuality is a choice. I found it!

    • avatar Adam Corder says:

      I am a gay man and I have had the misfortune of encountering a few people who are “prepared” for these retorts and will continue to argue. Sometimes it’s necessary to be much more blunt if these people persist. I have found that, “No, your logic is faulty and I didn’t ask your opinion in the first place,” is a pretty good follow-up if the offender doesn’t take the hint initially.

      I am sometimes astonished that strangers presume to know more about my life than I do. After all, I’ve made something of a study of it.

    • avatar Karleen S says:

      I’d be more inclined to say, “Talking to your imaginary friend isn’t going to do anything for me, but there are therapists who can help you.”
      Seriously, there is much more proof that homosexuality is scientific fact than there is proof of an a magical interdimensional being who created everything.

  2. avatar Gerri Lynn says:

    LW2, Dear gods. Say no. Keep saying no. And they CHARGE you for parties? Seriously? I hear chicks in the family roost, and they’re chirping “Cheap cheap cheap.” That’s a whole load of BS. Unless they’re serving caviar and expensive wine, the party givers should be bearing the bill, not the whole family. If they don’t want to cook everything, they should be asking around for extra dishes. *shakes head* I suugest putting your foot down slowly by at least stopping your paying for parties that you don’t go to. At that point, they’re just taking advantage of you, and there’s that saying about people not being able to take advantage of you unless you let them.

    Showers? The host pays for. Weddings? That’s up in the air now, but charging the family members? No way. Holiday parties? Asking for a bit of help might be reasonable, but that should come from the attendees, not as a bill at the end of the night. Birthdays? That’s on the host again. Some things are just tacky. Charging for parties is one of them. Blech.

    • avatar CanGal says:

      Not only should the host pay for showers, but it is in very bad taste for family members to host a shower

      • avatar Lindsey M says:

        I agree with your first statement, but the second statement.  It’s in bad taste for a mother, sister or sister-in-law to host a shower for her sister/daughter/sister-in-law?  Perhaps you meant something else, but if not, I think you’re way off here.  Friends certainly can host, but so can family (and oftentimes, I’ve seen female family members host showers more than friends).

        • avatar CanGal says:

          look it up.  It is in all the etiquette books that family members should not host showers.
          Traditionally, hosting the bridal shower falls to one or more close friends of the bride, often one or more of the bridesmaids. Mothers and other close family members should not host bridal showers, as it is rude and greedy for the family to ask for gifts for their own members.

          • avatar Nancy Pea says:

            what if like my daughter when she was pregnant and didn’t know many of her own age was i supposed to do? i wanted her to have a surprise baby shower. everybody was happy to bring a dish and a small present (if they couldn’t afford one, that was cool. just being there with a card or a hug was fine). i don’t care what etiquette books say on the situation. this isn’t the 50’s where everybody knows everybody. as for showers i have hosted many in my time and many for relatives. why is it considered greedy for a family member to ask for gifts, but not a friend or the person themselves? i find it the height of greediness to go to a registry. we never TOLD anybody what to give her as a gift for my grandson. they gave what was in their hearts. anytime somebody gives me a gift registry to check on, i throw it away. i will give what i want them to have from my heart. one former friend asked (and i thought quite greedily) for a $500 leather recliner. of course, she didn’t get it. but i thought it was horrible to even put it on there. if you cannot afford to purchase it yourself, then you should expect anybody else to. showers are supposed to be fun and happy events. etiquette can kiss my big white ass and bite it!!!

          • avatar amw says:

            Amen sister! People are too caught up in “reputation” nowadays.

          • avatar Nancy Pea says:

            thanx, before all this etiquette business, this is what families did. they put on showers, made hope chests (i had one when i was young, which shows you how old i must be), made presents from what they had on hand to give to those getting married, having a baby and anniversaries. it’s called a shower because you SHOWER them with gifts. so i’m not sorry i’m old school south when it comes to showering my family, friends and loved ones with a party. really!!!

  3. avatar jadedragonfly says:

    For the first letter, when someone makes such a comment to you, you need to consider the source. Those who see it as their “mission” to counsel you definitely aren’t qualified to speak on this matter. I’m with Margo, ask them when they decided to be straight, vice gay. After all, if being gay is a choice, so is being straight, right?
    As for the latter letter, a nice, resounding no will do very nicely. They don’t need any reason, but your husband needs to be the one to tell the SILs this, not you. Stay out of the fur flying contest that will undoubtedly ensue, for your own mental health.

    • avatar Cindy Marek says:

      “…your husband needs to be the one to tell the SILs this, not you. Stay out of the fur flying contest that will undoubtedly ensue…”

      Right. But he probably will chicken (pardon the pun) out. Ever notice how men just suddenly clam up or fade into the wallpaper when they SHOULD speak up and take a stand? But no, when it comes to female relatives of theirs, they suddenly go mute and cop out. Then it’s up to the women to settle it (who else will?) and so we’re always “cat fighting”. That’s thanks to cowardly men who any other time WOULD man-up and say something.

      Guess it’s like that pesky “selective hearing” thing. It’s never at your convenience – just his.

      • avatar Gerry Schwartz says:

        “Ever notice how men just suddenly clam up or fade into the wallpaper when they SHOULD speak up and take a stand”
        Ever notice how women make absurd generalizations?

        • avatar Anne Talvaz says:

          Well, yeah, we do – rather absurdly, I admit – make assumptions, perhaps based on that altogether misleading expression “man up”. Maybe we should take to saying “person up” ;-)?

        • avatar Diana Danh says:

          NO ITS TRUE! Most men are so sick and tired of their moms and sisters nitpicking every single detail of every get together that they just kind try to disappear into the wall paper! It’s not that they aren’t manly men, my hubs is a Staff Sargeant in the Special Forces, but when his mom starts trying to control everything and his sister is adding her two cents, the men of this family just kind of leave all the detail hashing between their female family members and their wife! Problem is they are really jealous so they get upset if we have made other plans for other holidays with other family elsewhere so we can’t even tell them we are going to see great aunt Millie because of the feud between MIL and Millie. I’m a woman and I’m saying that some family members make things difficult and the men just kinda have to dance around all the possibilities of hurt feelings erupting so they just clam up. I don’t think our family is any more or less dramatic or dysfunctional than others, its just that life is politics and you have to know how to play the game to keep everyone on an even keel. I think this is the whole point of Dear Margo and her Advice columnist ilk, to help us navigate the treacherous waters of communication with the people we care about.

          • avatar Sianne S says:

            Or they’ve learned that it’s pointless to argue, because most women tend to disregard what the man says and do whatever they like anyway.  It’s true.

      • avatar stateoflove_N_Trust says:

        Stupid response regarding men not taking a stand.  I bet you would be all over a man who says something that imbecilic.  Just a guess because people who make such foolish statements tend to be the most offended when it applies to them.

  4. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    L #1: A polite cold shoulder might do the trick. I’m flabberghasted by people who presume to inquire of or lecture others about their sexuality. That is SO private. And frankly I don’t care about another person’s sexuality (provided it’s not inclined to rape nor pedophilia of course).

    L #2: Bow out gracefully and stick to your guns. It’s your home after all. Good luck.

  5. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    LW#!:  I love Margo’s advice.  I was taught, by a very enlightened mother over 40 years ago(nothing in her bible belt Protestant converted to Catholic religious beliefs would predict this understanding), that your sexuality is what you are born with and that is that.

    LW#2:  I am a little confused.  On the one hand, you complain that your sisters-in-law have taken over all the family gatherings and on the other hand you don’t want to host one yourself.   I agree that asking for cash donations is crass.   It is fairly common, however, for family members to contribute something to family get togethers (flowers, wine, a dish of some sort) particularly holiday gatherings. As for them choosing the time and place for the parties they plan, prepare their house or other location for…are you suggesting they should take a vote and have the party at your convenience?   Maybe your husband’s family has too many parties (I know some families like that) and obviously you can decline the invitation and the accompanying request for cash. 

    Sounds to me like your sisters-in-law are tired of the hosting burdens.  *Ordering* you to host the Christmas party is out of line.  Suggesting or requesting that you consider it, is not.  Just because they don’t work outside the home and their husbands have more money than yours does not necessarily mean it is any easier or more convenient for them to have these parties than it is for you.  Since the norm in your husband’s family is everyone contributes cash and brings something, your financial issues with hosting should be solved.  The space issue seems surmountable.  (My niece had 30 or more people at a recent party in her 800 square foot house and it was lovely…she also works 40-50 hours a week, is pregnant and has a year old baby).  The real issue seems to be that you are uncomfortable being a hostess.   That is reason enough to say no, I suppose, but give those who DO undertake the burden a bit of a break.

    You could, of course, see this as an opportunity to practice your hostessing skills on a friendly group of people and at the same time wrest a bit of control from the sisters-in-law.    

  6. avatar Jrz Wrld says:

    I don’t generally believe that homosexuality is a choice. Your sexuality just “is.” The only people who get to “choose” are bisexuals sitting in the middle of the Kinsey scale (which is also where I think most of those “cured” gays come from). But here’s my thing – I feel like the argument that homosexuality is a choice is a total red herring EVEN IF you are one of those people who accept the idea that homosexuality is a choice.

    Religion is a choice, yet we are not allowed to discriminate based on it. Oddly enough, it’s the strongly religious who most often argue that homosexuality is a choice, but shriek the loudest at any hint of “anti-Christian” bigotry. As an atheist, I think religion is a fairy tale concocted in prehistoric times to maintain social order and cohesiveness. Christianity/Judaism/Islam, with their more efficient single god are just streamlined versions of the original myths. By the standards of the “choice” argument as made by the right-wing with regards to homosexuality, I COULD dismiss anyone who deludes themselves with the rituals and rules of a religion as weak-minded dupes and refuse to hire them/rent property to them/serve them in my place of business/whatever. THey could do the same to me for my immoral beliefs.
    However, chosen religion (or nonreligion) is protected. Yet whom we love and how we love or who we spend our most intimate moments with is somehow MORE of a choice than religion? That, to me seems the most personal “choice” of all and for the government to fail to protect the rights of consenting adults to form relationships with their peers without suffering for it at the same time that it diligently supports the individual’s right to participate in a mass delusion with no professional or legal repercussions is an utter failure of logic.

    • avatar Cady McCowin says:

      Good point. People are free to believe whatever they want about homosexuality (that it’s a sin, a choice, etc.), but they aren’t free to deny equal rights to homosexuals any more than they are free to deny equal rights based on religion, race or physical gender.

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        Unfortunately quite a few in this country believe they are free to deny equal rights to anyone for any reason they choose and in fact are because few are held accountable. In “right-to-work” states like Texas, discrimination of any kind is perfectly legal just as long as it cannot be proven that the discrimination was sole reason someone was discriminated against.  We’ve come a long way in this country with regard to the ideal of equal rights but unfortunately we’ve a long way to go yet before the ideal becomes the reality.

        I’ve played that wonderful scene from “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” where Katherine Hepburn’s character tells her nosy and nasty employee who makes the mistake of assuming Katherine Hepburn’s character shares her shock over an interracial relationship to drive to the office, write herself a check, and then get back in her car and keep driving many times in my life.  The one thing I will not tolerate in my life is prejudice and if there’s one “sin” above all others it’s prejudice and as I have grown older I have learned the wisdom of someone who told me once that they best way to avoid going to hell is to avoid those you know are headed there. At least half this country is headed there. 

        One of the most memorable moments of playing the scene was with a “woman of color” as she liked to call herself who also liked to call herself a “good Christian” and who made the mistake of telling me once that that the Bible says homosexuals are cursed and so she really didn’t want to be around homosexuals and who I hope turned quite “colorless” when I informed her that I was a “good Christian” as well and pointed out that the Bible also said she was cursed and so I really didn’t want her around me and walked off. 

        All these “good Christians” through the years is one of the reasons why I finally started looking around at all these “good people” who believe in the god of Abraham and began to realize the big lack rock probably didn’t fall from the sky but was thrown. And god missed. 

        You cannot deal with ignorance.  And religious prejudice is the worst of ignorance.

    • avatar Morgon64 says:

      “…at the same time that it diligently supports the individual’s right to participate in a mass delusion ”  ROTFL! I couldn’t have said it better myself.

      Sometimes it is so hard to live in a society that seems to absolutely celebrate this mentality of delusion, isn’t it? The one that never fails to make me want to vomit is the declaration by one of the sheep that the U.S. “…is a Christian nation”…GAAAACK! 

    • avatar Mishy Smith says:

      “The only people who get to “choose” are bisexuals sitting in the middle of the Kinsey scale”
      We don’t get to “choose” who we love anymore than anyone else.

      • avatar Jrz Wrld says:

        Maybe that was poor wording. But if you restricted yourself to the opposite gender, you would have a way better chance of finding happiness than someone who was on the gay end of the scale. I think most of the people who claim success with those “ex-gay” programs are just bisexuals who forced themselves to stop looking in one part of the pool and go on to claim sexuality is a choice, because they made one.

        • avatar Gerri Lynn says:

          Honestly, bisexuals don’t get that good of choice, either. The heterosexuals tend to consider them to be homosexual, and the homosexuals tend to shun them because  they will play with the other team. These reactions are by no means absolute, but are still part of the reality that bisexuals face.

  7. avatar Lila says:

    I love Margo’s response for LW1.

  8. avatar Tulip O'Hare says:

    LW1: Never mind the number of clergymen who are not out, who support homophobia, and who are then found out to have spent their entire careers molesting or raping children. That usually shuts people up pretty fast too (unless they’re so daft they think Catholics are in the same boat to hell as gays, and/or that gays also categorically molest and rape children… and some do).

    • avatar Tulip O'Hare says:

      I meant “some people are so daft,” not “some gays also molest and rape children.” Wow, that was bad diction.

    • avatar valry says:

      Most child molesters are not gay, they are straight men who are pedophiles.  It’s a big difference, so saying that will just add fuel to the ignorant homophobes’ fire.

  9. avatar D C says:

    For LW#1 — my husband has a great line he uses when encountering the “choice to be homosexual” debate.  He’ll say to the guy, “So what you’re saying is, it’s a choice, right?  So that means that you could choose to be gay.  I mean if he was really handsome, totally rocked out (muscled) and had a really amazing package?  Would that do it for you?  Or do you think instead it would be maybe that he’s more feminine and artistic?  Which one do you think would have the best chance of turning you gay?” 

    That usually shuts them right up. 

  10. avatar D C says:

    For LW#2 — I get the feeling from your comments about being expected to pitch in even though you get no input, that maybe you’ve let your unhappiness with that situation show a bit and those relatives are now calling you on it by telling you it’s your turn to host.  Kind of a put up or shut up situation.  If you don’t want to do the work, then I surely hope you are nothing but complimentary to those who do it.  I have the smallest house in my family of holiday hostesses, and we did it last year, but our place is bigger than yours and our family smaller.  We have 18, and my house is 2400 square feet, so we were quite comfortable.  I’d be happy to host EVERY year because of the 5 families involved, I’m the one who loves to cook and tries to make things like they were when our matriarch was doing it (she died in ’97).  But this year my nephew is hosting again, as he has the biggest house.  And we’ll have BBQ from some nearby restaurant.  My neice doesn’t like to cook OR host parties — but her inlaws tell them it’s their duty since they have the biggest space. 

    Sometimes a small intimate space filled with people who love and care about each other, is the nicest party of all. 

  11. avatar Messy ONE says:

    One solution I haven’t seen for LW #2 is the one I would pick. I won’t cook for 25 people. Ten is my limit. Period. I refuse to spend what’s supposed to be a relaxing holiday on my feet in front of a stove.
    In her position, I would find a good caterer, rent a buffet table, dishes, flatware, linens and glasses and that would be the end of it. The next day, the catering company takes the whole mess away with them. The LW wouldn’t even have to rinse the dishes, because caterers have to put everything through a commercial dishwasher anyway.
    Since the sisters have always demanded money when family comes for a holiday (and what the heck is THAT about?), it should come as no surprise to them when they get a bill for their share of the catering bill.

    • avatar D C says:

      No more than 10?  I guess I’ve been doing it for so long I just don’t feel like it’s a chore.  My husband is a coach, and we’ve hosted after game parties for years so we’re used to having lots of people around to cook for.  One year my father in law sent out a “corest” — that’s a command disguised as a request, that we all meet in Orlando for Christmas and use his Time Share points for our lodging.  So we got several condo’s in this resort property that had small kitchens and kitchenettes.  For my family we had a 3 bedroom unit with the small kitchen and a tiny kitchenette connected to one of the rooms so it could be rented separately.  So I had a regular sized oven and a half sized oven and a total of 6 burners.  I brought what the unite didn’t provide dish-wise and cooked a full Christmas Dinner (turkey, ham, ALL the side dishes) for our family of 18.  Everyone was appreciative, and the Scrooge sister-in-law who thinks everything is too much trouble just shook her head.  What she doesn’t understand is that although this kind of thing is her idea of hell, it is MY idea of heaven.  I am a mother of 3, have a full time job, AND a coach’s wife (lots of overtime involved with that) and I was born to be a servant.  I’m comfortable with that.  Making others comfortable and well fed and being happy to do it is a gift that not everyone has.  LW#2 doesn’t have it, and she should well let that be known, but she should also no grouse about what others do or fuss over pitching in if that is the family tradition and everyone else goes along with it.  She could certainly bring up a “sliding scale” if money is an issue rather than having everyone pay the same. 

      • avatar Lisa Atwood says:

        There’s pitching in and then there’s extortion.  It’s tacky to demand cash for certain events you are hosting.  I can see requesting people pitch in at the beginning of the year for the big holidays [like a kitty] but things for showers and such being mandatory is crazy.

    • avatar Rita@ Goldivas says:

      Messy One, I love your solution for LW2! I would also add that while I sympathize with having to deal with the bossy hens, whining about being an introvert is immature.

      As for LW1, I think he just needs to draw a firm line with these people who are trying to change him, just as I do with the religious fundamentalists who object to my atheism. The topic is off limits, that’s all.

      • avatar Sianne S says:

        How is it immature to not want to do something that’s causing you physical anxiety?  The rest of my family went skydiving for my sisters’ birthday.  I didn’t because I’m acrophobic.  Does that make me immature?  I don’t think so.

  12. avatar R Scott says:

    Margo – Excellent response to LW1. Elegant in it’s simplicity. Nice job  😉 

  13. avatar Belinda Joy says:

    Letter #1 – Throughout the time wowowow has been up, we have featured many threads of discussion about homosexuality and whether or not it is a choice. I have forever believed (primarily because my father taught me so) that one’s sexuality is based on how God created you. You can and do – choose – who you have sex with. This is true. However, you have no choice over your sexuality. It is hard-wired into your DNA. I’m as straight as they come, and I could go out and have sex with as many women as I wanted, but in my heart, mind and soul I know I’m straight because I desire men, even though I’m making a “choice” to have sex with women.
    My point (and where I part company with 99% of the world’s thinking is) why does it matter “who” anyone chooses to have sex with? That is why I have a problem with people that live closeted lives. Why do they care what others think of who they choose to love or sleep with?
    Letter #2 – Should just be honest and explain that they don’t have a home large enough to accommodate the family nor do they have the income. To be stressed out to tears over this is unnecessary. There are far more pressing and dire circumstances to be stressed out over, this is not one of them. I’m noticing a running theme in many of the letters that Margo posts. They are oftentimes from wives having to deal with their “husbands” family in one way or another. Maybe its just me because I am as independent as I am but…..if her husband agrees with her and understands where she is coming from, why isn’t HE telling his family No?
    Or is this something the “women folk” are supposed to take care of?

    • avatar John Lee says:

      Since you asked “Why do they care what others think of who they choose to love or sleep with?”

      I figure I give you a blunt answer.  While fortunately, it doesn’t matter much anymore who knows if you are gay in most parts of the US, in some parts, it’ll get you harrassed, assaulted, or in the case of the military, legally fired.  So yeah, there’s plenty of reasons why gays may care what others think.

      And to answer your second question, no it’s not something “women folk” are supposed to take care of, but incidentally, it’s something that this particular woman (LW#2) chose to cry over.  She had already indicated that “We explained the situation and bowed out this year”.  So the husband had already done so, it’s just the woman freaking out over next year.

    • avatar R.J.B. Reed says:

      John pointed out some reasons why a person would care what others think of who they choose to love or sleep with.  Another issue is if a person is raised to believe in a religion that tells him (or her) that he will burn in hell for all eternity for loving certain people, it’s not really that easy to just blow it off.  And even if that person does manage to do so, they still have to deal with the opinions of their loved ones.  While I don’t care what the average person thinks of me, I do care about what my family thinks. 

  14. avatar Mary says:

    Margo, I love your suggestion for a reply to no. 1.  Very simple and to the point, and I wish I had thought of it!

    No. 2.   Sounds to me that the writer is letting the two SIL’s bully her.  They probably already know she is a introvert and know her financial situation etc. and are playing the weak button for the writer.  I would say to the writer plan ahead for next year, get it over with and do it your way.  Before the family hens can plan a thing do it your way.  Send out the dates and times you pick.  If they are used to a formal dinner, well too bad, do it your way.  I have gone to both kinds of family gatherings and most attendees have enjoyed the casual so much more.  You are family after all.  Ask for no money, ask instead that everyone bring a dish to pass and tell them the theme is casual family fun.  Decide ahead of time what you want to supply and even if you are just supplying the place, think about how you are going to set the mood.  Games for kids?  Games for adults, maybe charades?  Pictionary, even Bingo can be a hoot! ( I know this sounds crazy to some but realy fun can be a real ice breaker).  Dollar store crazy prizes like silly magnets, hair decor, etc .  If you live in the snow belt, a family snowman or snow sculpture contest,  the possibilities are endless for a less boring, stuffy gathering.  Make sure to let them know this is casual, fun and done your way.  If they bow out, well, ok, you tried and I bet they will not bother again about it.

    • avatar D C says:

      I tried to get our family group to do a “White Elephant” gift exchange with Holiday themed items this year, and you’d have throught I’d asked them to all show up naked.  OK… not all… just that one family of the Scrooge SIL mentioned earlier.  She’s an elementary school teacher, and she’s the one you all remember as being the mean old teacher who hates fun.  LOL  Yeah… her nose really is hooked like the Wicked Witch.  LOL

  15. avatar Lisa Cornell says:

    I am amazed that one’s sexuality should be an issue at all in this day and age, but unfortunately it is. I have never understood why there is a large segment of our society who believes one “chooses” to be gay. If it was a choice, why on earth would anyone ever choose to be ridiculed, ostracized, discriminated against and denied basic civil rights that the rest of us take for granted.

    • avatar chuck alien says:

      “why on earth would anyone ever choose to be ridiculed, ostracized, discriminated agains”
      oh, you mean like the jews?  or the muslims? or christians in any muslim country?
      people choose their lives.  all that other stuff is beside the point. it’s not the sort of thing people consider when choosing their identity.
      jews have been ostracized for centuries… and yet, people still choose to be jewish. you’d think WWII would have made that choice untenable. and yet….

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        Ah, but Chuck, in using the choice of a particular religion as a source of personal ridicule, discrimination and humiliation (not to mention, in some cases, becoming a victim of violence or even one of the dead), you have. perhaps inadvertently, ventured far into the realm of human irrationality.
        Let me first point out that not all practicing members of a given organized religion are necessarily given a choice regarding their dogmatic preferences. In the USA, (in a perfect world), this is probably true for the majority, as it is in Western Europe. Many children and those who have not reached legal adult status are certainly indoctrinated into the faiths of their parents, and many do not have the strength of will to resist this (or abdicate utterly) when they become disenchanted…or disgusted. However, in this country, once reaching legal maturity, one can usually exercise one’s option to choose one’s poison. In many other countries, one cannot simply renounce one’s religion. It may be against the law, and to do so pay be punishable by death. Or, people may be unaware that there even are other choices. Unilaterally stating that “people choose their lives” is a gross generalization.
        Jewishness is not just a matter of following a faith. It actually involves genetics, a long cultural heritage, a way of life and a set of traditions that most people are completely unaware of…and religion, which has many levels of orthodoxy, and a vast array of methodologies and modes of practice in the modern world. What, they should have learned their lesson after the Holocaust? Or Stalin’s pogroms? What a guy you are, Chuckles.
        I am not certain what you mean by the following statements, “people choose their lives.  all that other stuff is beside the point. it’s not the sort of thing people consider when choosing their identity.”. They do not cohere. What “other stuff”, and what “it” is not considered when choosing an identity? I don’t believe for a moment that identity is entirely a matter of choice. We are certainly hardwired in different ways…otherwise siblings raised by the same parents would inevitably turn out to be very similar in personality, character and identity.
        However, if you are speaking of religious affiliation, most certainly many people see their faith a signifier of their identity. A “Good Christian” comes immediately to mind. This means slightly different things to different individuals…including “God”-fearing, humble, righteous, entitled to judge those who are not Christian, selected by “God”, favored by “God”, Saved by “God”, or just modestly blessed by “God”, better than others, more honest, or reliable, or faithful than others…o, the list just is endless. But it can also mean one is part of the norm, or that, if one belongs to certain denominations, that the mainstream Christians are hellbound, and that you are the one with The Word.
        I’ve known people who claimed Buddhism because it made them feel that they were enlightened, or on a more peaceful path (there an awful lot of different sorts of Buddhism, and not all of those practicing have been historically peaceful). There are those who claim that Islam is the One True Path…because they have rejected Christianity for very misguided reasons having to do with racial affiliations and violence. And I have met many who practiced “Wicca” (which is adamantly not an ancient faith, but a fairly recent construction), earth religion interpretations (Druids are the most amusing), and supposed “Old Faiths” such as Norse who were doing so because of the aura they believed that these invested themselves with, and the general peculiarity of it all. Yes, a lot of people choose religion precisely to bolster their identity.
        But, regardless, what an incredibly poor choice to invoke when talking about ludicrous choices people make. Religion is utterly irrational. In a hospital, a team of doctors is forced to drop everything and work on some moron who decided that filling his brain with cocaine and high octane booze and going out for a 100mph spin was a brilliant idea. He ends up with his brains hanging outside of his head like gray snot. The doctors fail to put Humpty together again…and his wife and parents and whomever else is waiting rant and scream and threaten to sue…the surgical team (because God, you see, wanted his child back in his arms). But should the sweating, exhausted team manage to repackage the loser’s brains in his shattered skull, and actually get a semi-reliable response from him…his family declares a miracle not of medical science…but of God, thanks God, runs to the church and throws money in the collection plate…and asks the head surgeon why the scar is so big, then argues about the bill.
        Nothing rational, sensible or even intelligent about it. Pick another example, and we’ll talk about identity choices that have some basis in real thought, not atavisms and myth.

        • avatar chuck alien says:

          you use so many words… and use them to make so many weird conclusions.
          “Let me first point out that not all practicing members of a given organized religion are necessarily given a choice regarding their dogmatic preferences.”

          yeah, we’re talking USA here.  i’m not claiming anything for anywhere else, because part of my entire argument is “protected freedom of religion.” here, you DO have the choice, and it’s protected.  who cares about europe?

          “Jewishness is not just a matter of following a faith.”

          well, it is and it isn’t.  was Sammy Davis Junior part of those “genetics and way of life?”  How about my buddy who converted to judaism to marry a jewish girl? is HE part of that genetic tradition?  and what about the “jewish” guy at work who is Catholic?  WTF do you think he is?

          just because someone is racially jewish doesn’t mean they HAVE to follow the jewish religion.  they can  (and do) choose to follow anything they want.  your RELIGION is your CHOICE, no matter who your mom is.

          “What “other stuff””    – sorry, went too fast for ya there. pronoun trouble.  the “other stuff” is in the original post – discrimination, beatdowns, etc.   The original comment was “who would choose that” and my response is essentially “that’s not generally the sort of thing people consider when they are trying to get laid.”

          then you go completely off the rails in the penultimate paragraph… it turns into some sort of group therapy thing you’re working through.  yikes.  just… yikes.  but maybe you should get out of the health care industry, hm?

          religion maybe be an “irrational” decision.  but it IS a decision.  you are not GENETICALLY a presbyterian.

          • avatar cb says:

            Okay, Chuck, maybe this will simplify it for you.  I am Jewish.  I do not practice my faith or any other.  I did not choose to be Jewish, I am considered Jewish because my mother is Jewish and so was hers and back and back.  That’s the rule.  Let me assure you, that if this were Nazi Germany, any decision I made to convert to Christianity or any other religion would not save me from being put on in the train car headed for the camps.  On the other hand, so long as he didn’t insist on joining his wife, your buddy would be all good.  Get it?

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            Chuck, I have to say that you are an expert at not answering, or addressing, the questions that are asked of you. You also make be the…well, let’s see, I don’t want to give you an overwhelming rank…earl, or perhaps baron of the non sequitur.
            When you are referencing a previous comment, it is permissible to do so in such a manner that your readers are not required to backtrack in order to find some coherency in your prose. As it stands, per your latest literary disaster, I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. Particularly when you state such as, “Who cares about Europe?” following a particularly noxious comment about the Jews and WWII. Are you challenged regarding the location of the Nazi Death Camps? Do you think they were in the American Midwest? Just curious, Chuck.
            And no, Chuck, you didn’t go too fast for me…you were incoherent, unclear in your meaning, and you were using incomplete sentences and and failing to provide references. I would hazard a guess that writing is not your strong point, as you are a bit iffy with respect to punctuation and capitalization as well. Being able to write competently will really help your case.
            I’m not in the health care industry…but I have seen what people will do, and it never fails to amuse me. I also assure you that I am not “working through” any sort of group therapy. This is what people do, and how the human condition works. I didn’t create homo sapiens. Maybe you ought to question “God”, or consider my opinion on the sheer irrationality of religion just a bit more. I have obviously seen a lot more of humanity than you have…your experience seems to be infinitesimally small. Either that, or you warp everything to fit your personal rules. Good luck with that.

        • avatar Baby Snooks says:

          “It has repeatedly been pointed out (by myself and in particular by Theodor Reik) in how great detail the analogy between religion and obsessional neurosis can be followed out, and how many of the peculiarities and vicissitudes in the formation of religion can be understood in that light. And it tallies well with this that devout believers are safeguarded in a high degree against the risk of certain neurotic illnesses; their acceptance of the universal neurosis spares them the task of constructing a personal one.” Sigmund Freud. The Future of an Illusion (1927)

          He probably would say the same thing about “devout” political associations.  In layman’s terms, what Freud was saying is there is something wrong with the “devoutness” and that it is an indication of mental illness.  It certainly indicates a propensity towards hatred towards others who do not share their beliefs and a propensity towards committing acts of hatred committed against others believing the acts are justified because some mean old man in the sky hates the person they hate. Jews, Christians, and Muslims have been killing each other for centuries believing “their” god “instructed” them to do so.  Never mind they all believe in the same god. Buddhists and Hindus and others aren’t much better when it comes to “rational acts by rational people with rational minds.”  Reason and religion simply do not mix. Man created god in his image.  And then created religion to “validate” it and then force it on others by forcing them to live in ignorance and submission to authority of religion. Rather than any real authority of any real god.  As for “sin” it is always in the eye of the beholder. “If thine eye offends thee, pluck it out.”  Unfortunately everyone plucks someone else’s eye out. 

          Again you cannot deal with ignorance. And religious prejudice is the worst of ignorance.

          • avatar Lunita says:

            I won’t even bother to respond to your other intolerant and generalized comments regarding religous beliefs, but please get your facts straight: Christians, Jews, and Muslims do not believe in the same god. In case you weren’t aware, one of the major factors differentiating Jews from Christians is the fact that Jews do not believe Jesus (the god of Christianity) to be the Messiah and god.

          • avatar Baby Snooks says:

            Excuse me but they do. All three religions worship the god of Abraham.  As for intolerant I am not intolerant at all and you are free to worship, or not worship, anyone or anything you wish but you are not free to demand I do the same or live my life according to your religious standards of morality. Which many in this country do not understand.  And which, you are correct, I have no tolerance for.

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            Lunita, Jesus is not the “God” of the Christians. He is considered the Messiah, or the Savior, and, depending upon the interpretation of the Scripture, either the physical Son (or Manifestation), or metaphysical (Spiritual) Son of God in the Holy Trinity. In the Q’ran, Jesus is mentioned as one of the Prophets. Judaism rejects the coming of the Messiah, and states that this has yet to happen.
            In Christianity, mankind is able to ascend to Heaven after death due to the martyrdom and sacrifice of Jesus (as Savior) at the Crucifixion. In Judaism, there is no Messiah or Savior, and when a person dies, their soul cannot  ascend, and they remain in the ground to decay into dust.
            The “God” of Christianity, Islam and Judaism is indeed the God of Abraham, and is known, respectively, as God, Yah-weh, and Allah. They are one and the same, and the interpretations of the deity itself are strikingly similar at the fundamental dogmatic level of each religious institution. Different denominations (Christianity), orthodoxies (Judaism), and sects (Islam), may interpret the nature of god in the abstract differently, just as their indivual dogmas vary enormously.
            I hope you aren’t Christian, but it would not surprise me if you are. I myself am not.

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            Actually, Baby, there is probably nothing worse than an extremely pious and righteous religiously intolerant person who wants to demand you live by their dogmatic principles…but is pig-ignorant about their own dogma. Sort of a double whammy of willful ignorance, isn’t it?

          • avatar Baby Snooks says:

            Christians are many things. United is not one of them.  It was many years before the Southern Baptists “let go” of the Curse of Ham. Although some still maintain it is “god’s law” but are smart enough not to state so publicly.  They and Protestants along with many Catholics fought repeal of “chattel law” in many states. They would take exception to my stating that. But history bears it out.  Almost all have fought “equality for all” mainly because they don’t believe in “equality for all” for anyone.  Beleving that only white men have any rights under god’s law. Why be polite? That is what they believe. Including, amazingly, some white women who are obviously suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.  The worst of them of course believe only white Protestant men, aka WASPs, have any rights under god’s law.  Bottom line of gays and lesbians is they are just part of the chattel along with everyone else. The last of the chattel actually.

            The US Senate moved beyond the usual rhetoric yesterday and repealed DADT which probably will do more to ensure equality than anything else could have the way Truman’s courage and wisdom did for African-Americans. I fault Barack Obama for not following in Truman’s footsteps. It would have spared us the hateful rhetoric, and possible court challenges, to come.

            We will be told today by ministers and assorted other “men of god” today that we are on our way to hell. We are but mainly because of them and their “fire and brimstone” and “god’s law.”  The only law this country was founded on was “man’s law” as it is clearly stated in the First Amendment.  People simply cannot read.  Freedom of religion means freedom from religion.

            Tomorrow we have a lunar eclipse coinciding with the Winter Solstice. The last time that happened was at the beginning of The Reformation in 1554.  Here’s to history repeating itself. Maybe this time we will just dump religion instead of attempting to reform it. Which might make for a more peaceful planet. 

            Progress. Ain’t it grand?  In ten years the question will not be “When did you choose to be gay?”  It will be “When did you decide to join the military?”

          • avatar Baby Snooks says:

            And to be fair, quite a few believed, and still do, in the Curse of Ham. I grew up in Houston where not once but twice the call in synagogues was “The blacks are coming, the blacks are coming” followed by the calls to the realtors followed by The Exodus. They will deny that. There is the historical record. And newspaper archives.  The broker I “learned the business” from, Jewish herself, got rich off The Exodus. Both times. Now her god smiled on. Particularly after she sold the first house in one of Houston’s most exclusive “WASP Only” neighborhoods to an African-American couple and had the wisdom to show up at the closing that the sellers and the title company and their attorneys intended not to happen with an attorney from the US Justice Department.  The wisdom and the wit.  She waited until someone asked who the attorney was before introducing him. After they had explained to her that they would not be closing and the seller was removing the house from the market and returning the earnest money. They closed.

            Baby Snooks has been around.  Maybe Baby Snooks isn’t very polite about some things. But maybe it’s because Baby Snooks has been around. 

    • avatar Jo H says:

      I agree, Lisa. Using me as an example, I am straight. There is no way I would ever choose to go against my instincts and desire for men to choose a woman to sleep with. It frankly just doesn’t appeal to me. Secondly, as if I need to elaborate, why in the world would I do what I don’t desire to do knowing that I would be ridiculed for it? It’s not rocket science.

      I think religion (and some fears that stem from it) is a real culprit in homophobia.

  16. avatar Maine Gal says:

    Regard LW2 … it seems to  me that a lot of people are responding to her and her dilemma from their own circle of comfort, i.e. giving her tips how to “just do it” and host Christmas or “just say  no” and don’t do it and stick to her guns.  But I don’t think either one of these options is viable for her, based on what she writes.  Any time an adult is moved to tears at the the thought of having to do something, that’s a big red flag that something’s wrong — not with her, but it’s a clear indication that she can’t just suck it up and host Christmas.  She seems deeply unhappy and on the verge of panic over hosting Christmas, and unhappy with the status quo of having the sisters arrange everything and giving money “to keep the peace.”  So some sessions with a counselor to develop some coping mechanisms and communication skills might be in order, both to help her own her choices and to be comfortable with them even in the face of in-law ire.

    Re: LW1 — right on!  People should do what they think is right in their own lives and leave other people alone.

  17. avatar chuck alien says:

    I myself do not understand why if it’s a choice or not MAKES ANY DIFFERENCE AT ALL.
    we are asked to accept and respect many, many things that are people’s CHOICES.
    religion is a CHOICE.  and yet the federal government protects my right to CHOOSE my religion, and says other people can’t discriminate against me because of that.
    so why is sexuality different?  why is it BETTER if it’s not a choice?
    “oh, those poor gays.  they don’t have any choice… they are FORCED to be that way. just like the negros.”
    respecting sexuality ONLY if it’s NOT a choice is a backwards and hypocritical viewpoint.

    • avatar CanGal says:

      I totally agree with you.  I made the same point in last weeks column and was jumped on. 

    • avatar Jrz Wrld says:

      I too think it doesn’t matter if sexuality is a choice or not, but I also don’t believe it actually IS a choice for the vast majority of people.  I mean, when did you choose to be straight (or gay)?
      But I believe the gay rights movement was forced into the “It’s not a choice/It’s a choice” argument because there has been such a movement to reprogram or “cure” gays. From the religious right wing’s perspective, if it’s a choice, then that means it’s not an error on God’s part but a result of man’s free will. That’s so much more reassuring to them, ya know.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      To a great many people, it makes absolutely no difference whether or not one’s sexuality is hardwired from birth, or a choice. I personally don’t care what people do in relative privacy…as long as they are not inflicting harm on those who have no ability to protect themselves, no choice, and no voice. This would include rapists, pedophiles (and I do know the difference between pedophilia and hebephilia, and the gray areas of the latter), true sexual sadists, and those who harm animals for pleasure. Beyond that, have at it, people.
      O, the reason I mentioned “relative privacy”? There is a point at which exhibitionism becomes a deliberate attempt to offend and disgust, which is the literal definition of obscenity. When people engage in this behavior, they cause the kind of uproar that is actually detrimental to sustaining basic rights and freedoms for those with a modicum of common sense.
      The religious, fundamentalist right don’t respect sexual orientation regardless of the reasons for it. Some people use the fact that people are born into their orientation as a rationalization for what they consider a perversion. “Well, they can’t help it, so it isn’t their fault” makes it easier to deal with a loved-one’s loathsomeness. If they can’t help it, and they were born that way, why, it isn’t your fault either. Think about it. The human capacity for rationalization is phenomenal.
      The reason that the religious right cannot accept homosexuality either way is simple. If it is fundamental to an individual’s nature, from birth, then “God” designed that person that way…which is totally unacceptable. Because, hey, “God” wouldn’t do that, being benevolent, and having created man in his very straight and heterosexual image. If it is a choice, and you peer into Leviticus (and ignore the approximately 500 other less convenient rules regarding mixing fabrics, planting, adultery, sacrifices, beating your wife, etc.), well, faggotry is clearly a sin and therefore either caused by Say-tan…or a reflection of a deviant exercise of personal Will. Which means that said person is going straight to Hell unless they change their ways, or are Saved, or whatever dogmatic f***ery the particular righteously endowed blowhard wants to invoke.
      It isn’t better if it’s not a choice, CA, it’s just that a certain percentage of the population who really are incapable of thinking for themselves can rationalize away the reasons for their sons and daughters and friends and siblings sexual orientation by A): saying that they can’t help it, it isn’t a choice, it wasn’t done to them…and therefore they are themselves blameless (a sort of perk, as it were), and B): it kills the idea of Sin as a reason for homosexuality, allowing forgiveness.
      I’m not sure how the comparison to, ahem, “negroes” works in your mind. I do not know a single person (and I know a lot of extremely varied people, all sorts, trust me)…who believe that American Black People behave (I am guessing that is what you are implying) in a certain way simply because of their race. Not. One. I know people who believe rather more strongly than I do in the idea of sociological and cultural pressures being insurmountable, but not for one, single race. And I live in Houston, Texas…and am acquainted with many Southern (ooo, I just had to say it) individuals.
      I realize that once upon a time, the popular belief was that “Negroes” were not even human (learn your European history, if you doubt me), and therefore were not expected to behave any better than, well, animals (it was not generally accepted at that time that human beings were, in fact, animals themselves). Later, once white Europeans and their American descendants were forced to grudgingly admit that those Nigras were human, it was understood that they were of much lower intellectual capacity. I do believe that this has been disproved (that was sarcasm, for those who might be impaired). There is a Conservative conceit that all Liberals cozen and cater to American Black People due to a humiliating and condescending belief that they need tending to because they really are inferior, and truly can’t help themselves…but even the most knee-jerk, left-of-left, obnoxious, irrational of Liberals I have known and do currently know would be shocked at this idea.
      Perhaps you need to broaden the scope of people you associate with, or, alternatively, gain a better understanding of human nature. You seem a bit obsessed with the idea of hypocrisy, without understanding that for many people, what appears to be hypocrisy to your very judgmental self is completely involuntary on their part. It isn’t conscious or deliberate. A man who has been taught from birth that gayness is a sin, and filthy, and unnatural…who finds out his son is gay, and can take refuge and comfort in the fact that his child has no choice in his sexual orientation…and can therefore accept and continue to love and support his son is not conscious of what you term “hypocrisy”. For better or worse, not every human is an intellectual giant, is capable of self or situational analysis, can move beyond rationalization to enlightenment and realization…and can leave behind a lifetime of dogmatic brainwashing for rationality and fact.
      So, does it matter whether it is a choice or not? To me, not a bit. To you, perhaps not. But to many, whether it is healthy, ethical, right or wrong…yes, it does.

      • avatar chuck alien says:

        wow, you agree with me on every single thing i say… and still manage to wrap up with an insult.  nicely done.
        respecting someone’s religion (that they choose) but only accepting something like homosexuality if it’s forced on someone… IS hypocrisy.  i don’t care how you justify that poor hillbilly to yourself, it is what it is.  sorry, i don’t make up the rules.  consciousness does not affect culpability.
        you agree with me.  it doesn’t matter.   people “take refuge” in all sorts of bullshit, but that doesn’t mean i have to give a damn. i’m only concerned with what’s real and what’s right, not what nonsense i can rationalize to myself.
        but maybe, just maybe… if you’d used a few more words, we’d be on the same page.  maybe.
        i do love that you end with “not every human is an intellectual giant” … indeed sir, indeed.

        • avatar Briana Baran says:

          Well, Chuck, there are no “rules” when it comes to actual behavior versus socially acceptable (or not) ideas such as “consciousness” and “culpability”. You may have your own set of rules, which most people do. Be aware that having stated yours, you reveal a tendency to inflexibility, and intolerance, which is antithetical to what you are promoting as your own version of “real and right”. Especially when you use pejoratives such as “hillbilly”. That reveals a rather narrow range of human experience, as there are many exceptionally well educated, erudite, and apparently sophisticated individuals who might easily fall prey to the same sort of dogmatic versus emotional/factual trap.
          There is a difference between justification…and acceptance. I know that there are people who are incapable of flexibility, who cannot be changed, who will not be changed. But if such a man, for example, rather than drive a vulnerable young person away, can effect some understanding of that son through some means, and love that son, and support him…rather than driving him to suicide, I do believe that a certain something has been achieved. I can accept the man’s stubbornness, what I perceive as irrationality, and yes, his “hypocrisy” if you will…but why condemn him if a life worth living is saved? You may have my portion of righteous indignation, Chuck, to hold against this kind of hypocrisy.
          I am actually pretty damn smart, Chuck, though I was referring to neither myself nor you when I made the “intellectual giant” comment. Yes, indeed, I am. In fact, I have the kind of intellect that actually made life when I was young absolutely miserable (nope, not whining…but I spent a lot of time being scared shitless of the things that I knew). Nor am I bragging, because I consider myself a kind of a freak of nature. This isn’t a talent…it’s like having a superior athletic ability, or being strikingly beautiful…except that no one can see it, and people really are offended by it for some bizarre reason. I’m not offended by super-athletes (pretty common) or the breathtakingly beautiful (vanishingly rare)…but being a lunatic brain-box makes people want to snarl and bite me. I am also iconoclastic, cynical, sarcastic, and sometimes terminally rude. And I love humanity, warts and all. Go figure.
          O, and Chuck? About that “Sir”? Others have made the same mistake…As long as we don’t stray to anything too noxious, any feminine from of address would be appropriate.

          • avatar chuck alien says:

            oh good lord.  yes i said “hillbilly”  i can’t believe that you open with that. a narrow range of human experience.
            you are comically high-handed for someone arguing that i’m being high-handed.
            ” I do believe that a certain something has been achieved.”

            i’m not arguing utilitarianism here … there may or may not be practical positives to the guy not turning on his gay son.  not my argument, not my point. i’m saying there is false rationalization in believing it’s ok if it’s forced upon him by god.  there may be positive side-effects of that rationalization. again, not my point, not my argument.  it just IS hypocrisy.

            not sure why you want to throw “righteous indignation” at me.  i’m neither of those things, i think it’s pretty clear.

            and yes, i’m sure you are quite sure you are very smart. hence all the WORDS.  and the purposeful misunderstandings. and the digressions. and the utterly pointless distractions to your non-argument.  hallmarks of smartness, all.


          • avatar Deeliteful says:

            I am so glad I was unable to log in earlier today because I would have missed this very interesting back and forth between the two of you.  I must admit that I am often confused by what Briana writes.  Chuck, I always understand what you’re saying.  I can’t think of a single thing to contribute to this conversation, except thank you.

            BTW, I know we were asked to not mention duplicate letters, but either I’m very psychic or soe of the answers to LW #2 seem awfully familiar, too.  Seriously, is it just me?

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            You are just so sweetly naive, Chuck. You have so little concept of exactly how arrogant, self-righteous, and woefully limited you appear based on your own presentation.
            It is “hypocrisy” (someone really should kill your CAPS key, too). You’re not arguing “utilitarianism”. O, my, o my. Neither was I arguing for it. I was arguing for compassion, and for the sake of saving lives, you know, that sort of thing. You see, Chuckles, it doesn’t matter what your personal rules are…because, as strident, rigid, righteous, judgmental and inhumane as they are…they are unique to you, and they are (o so fortunately) not binding on all of humanity.
            You are a Cyclops of a beast, Chuck. You have no depth of perception, and you see only along the narrow tunnel of your own self-conceived “reality”. But, human nature being what it is, the inflexibility of your own ethical code forces you into an inability to see any sort of person but yourself as being valid, worthy and right. I am not referring to myself. If a person does not think as you do, accept as you do, believe as you do, and move along the plains and paths of your self-imposed reality…then that person is, by your judgment…wrong, and deserving of a pejorative label.
            In this case, hypocrite. You are so rules-bound, you can only grudgingly acknowledge that some good might be done because of what you perceive as hypocrisy and rationalization (because you are incapable of comprehending…or unwilling to do so out of spite or hubris…that not everyone thinks and processes as clones of Chuck), and this is only good in the practical, or utilitarian sense. What, so if a life is saved, or a person remains loved and supported, this is only valuable and moves beyond the mundane if it is accomplished in your recommended and approved manner? And you say that you are not high handed or righteous. Think again, boy-chik.
            There have been no misunderstandings, deliberate or otherwise, and if you are having difficulty interpreting my comments (which leads you to the erroneous belief that I am trying to distract you or digress…Did you have to actually think for a moment? Or are you better at reading things with words of no more than one syllable and only very short sentences?) perhaps you ought to sharpen your reading for comprehension skills. They teach that in Middle School here now. Did you miss, somehow?
            Others on this website have no issue with my comments, per comprehension, but your difficulties seem to be consistent, and they never fail to bring out your childish belligerence and jejeune insults. Of course, I was not aware that you thought I was a man…but I just knew your rudeness would increase tenfold when you found out that I was female.

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        Houston. We elected a lesbian mayor in a runoff because the Republicans for the most part threw a hissy fit when faced with a choice between a Democratic lesbian and a Democratic black man. Having some Republicans endorsing both of them added to the melee. “But she’s a lesbian.” “But he’s a black.”  And so they had a hissy fit and didn’t vote.  You have to enjoy it when Republicans have a hissy fit.  The Democrats of course all wanted to be politically correct. But were politically incorrect regardless of who they voted for.  Some of them didn’t vote either. For the same reason the Republicans didn’t. 

        The piece de resistance was when our “pillars of the community” at least up until that point, most of them members of a particular Southern Baptist church that interestingly prays under stained glass windows that were a gift from two brothers who had a little problem with little boys as they say and one of whom spent some time in prison because of it, decided Houston would go to hell if it elected a lesbian mayor and played the homophobia card.  Not realizing that people who are prejudiced against homosexuals are also probably going to be prejudiced against African-Americans as well.  

        I have no idea why I always came back here. It’s really an odd city to be honest.

        • avatar Baby Snooks says:

          I should add that both candidates were not much better than our “pillars” and while both maintained a “I won’t go there” facade their campaigns and supporters did go there and so regardless of which one you voted for, you were still a bigot.  It was not anyone’s finest moment.  Including the voters who elected someone on the basis of political correctness which unfortunately is what most did in 2008 in the presidential race.  Not that it is a bad thing.  We do want to believe in hope and change.  The problem is we end up with the same old, same old regardless of their “political correctness.”

        • avatar Sianne S says:

          That’s why I registered as a Whig.

          • avatar Baby Snooks says:

            We don’t register by party in Texas although voting in a primary serves as a form of registration.  The Democrats and Republicans “estimate” how many Democrats and Republicans there are based on primary and general election results. Neither really reflective of reality which is that most are probably more Independent than anything else. One state representative switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party after this last election which has stirred up quite a hornet’s nest since he has guaranteed an “absolute majority” for the Republicans in the Texas House of Representatives. Everyone is demanding he resign and that another election be held so he can run as a Republican so that his constituents can elect a Democrat as they thought they had instead of a Republican. Well, everyone but his constituents are demanding it who apparently voted for him rather than his party. 

            Everyone of course is watching to see how our two senators, referred to by even Republicans as the Bush lapdogs, are going to vote on DADT today given the change in climate so to speak within the Texas Republican Party which is very blatantly homphobic in its platform.  Both had at one time or another supported the DREAM Act but of course both voted against it in the end. Afraid of the Tea Party which has managed to gain considerable power in Texas to everyone’s dismay. 

            Hopefully the majority in the Senate will move beyond the diatribe and the dogma so to speak and we will have moved a little more forward in this country and can more easily ignore the ignorant even if it’s not so easy to do so in Texas. 

          • avatar Sianne S says:

            So, after the repeal of DADT, how DID your people vote?  It holds no bearing, I suppose, but I’m just curious.  Everyone from my state voted against it….then again, everyone in my state voted to teach evolution as an “optional theory”, so I’m not really that surprised…

          • avatar Baby Snooks says:

            Our two lapdogs are now in the lap of Governor Goodhair aka Governor Perry who firmly supports the Texas Republican Party platform which “affirms” that we are a Christian nation and makes it very clear that the US Supreme Court erred in striking down the sodomy laws and makes it clear that homosexuals will not have rights in Texas while the Republicans have anything to say about it.  Our governor at one point stated that if homosexuals didn’t like it here, they could move elsewhere.   Of course he’s a little miffed to begin with after someone decided to spread a rumor that he was gay.  But generally believes in “out of sight, out of mind” with regard to gays and lesbians and others who aren’t into missionary position Christian sex. 

            Everyone should read the 2010 Texas Republican Party platform.  Keeping in mind that he wants to be president. And probably will run. And might win.  He is the wild card for the Bushes and for Jeb. The Bushes backed one of the lapdogs during the primary. She got 30% of the vote. Can’t carry your own state you can’t carry the general election.  

            No Republican who wants to stay in office in Texas is going to vote for any form of “gay rights” at any point.  

            The lapdogs are fun to watch. They prefer the Bush laps. More lucrative. But have learned to jump in the governor’s lap when the occasion calls for it. Which of late is whenever there’s a vote in Congress. At which point they jump in his lap and swear allegiance to the Texas Republican Party platform.
            No doubt the Texas Republican Party will demand all the military bases in Texas be closed down. Can’t have homosexuals serving on military bases in Texas.  Unheard of.  Why it would turn Texas into Sodom and Gomorrah.

            Our major export is what it has always been.  Ignorance. 

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            One of the most curious things regarding Texas and its peculiar reputation for excessive homophobia is that Houston supports the third largest gay/lesbian community in the United States. It does present one of those ineffable conundrums, doesn’t it?
            As for Governor “Goodhair” and the missionary position, that might explain why I’ve always been suspicious of the mealy-mouthed rat bastard. If a man doesn’t believe in the cowgirl position, he can’t be a real Texan.
            ‘A course, I’m not a real Texan. I’m a Damn Yankee. But my sons were born here, and my husband was a military brat whose daddy listed Texas as his official residence, and who was born in Colmesneil, Texas (pop. approx. 600, in East Texas), and whose mama was born in Big Spring, in West Texas, the only one of 11 children to not be born at home. So I guess that allows me a certain latitude to express my displeasure with our Secessionist Governor. Of course, I also voted Democratic, and I’m an agnostic (which many people suspect is a crime, a perversion, and a sin), and a bisexual. I’ll have been spreading my subversive sinfulness ’round these parts for 28 years (over half my life, the first part having been spent in and around Chicago), and even though I sometimes can’t really figure out the why of it, this is home now.
            Maybe someday, when my very liberal and tolerant son goes off on paleontological expeditions, he can change the nature of our exportation just just a bit for the better.

          • avatar Baby Snooks says:

            And don’t forget Dallas which elected a lesbian sheriff.  “Dallas?” as everyone gasped throughout Texas.  

            Rick Perry really isn’t so bad. He just really isn’t so good at times. And the “gay governor” rumor was really out of line. That was the result of a congressman who got “redistricted” out of a job and what some refer to as his “gay mafia” who thought it was cute. Never mind that according to other rumors he should have outed himself. Politics indeed makes for strange bedfellows in Texas.

            Despite the platform of the Texas Republican Party I don’t think most Texans really care what you do behind closed doors.  They just don’t want you scaring the horses or the children.  As always the “moral majority”is really a minority. Even in Texas. Still Texas will never be a liberal oasis. Never has been, never will be. Even the Democrats from the rural areas tend to be socially conservative.

            There was a gay couple years ago that everyone who didn’t know better thought were just two more good-looking cowboys hanging out at Gilley’s.  Some knew better.  Just as long as they didn’t decide to hit the dance floor with each other everyone was fine with it. 

            I voted for Rick Perry. Houston is on its way to becoming Detroit thanks to Bill White.  So I said “no thanks” to Bill White. And our “politically correct” mayor who was controller while he was mayor. She kept the books but didn’t know what a mess it all was?  We probably will have a new mayor in a year. A Republican. They always liven things up.  The last one became quite famous with his “shoot the queers” comment.  His mouth was always an hour ahead of his brain. Which still seems to be a problem with Republicans in Texas.

            I’m not sure who wrote the platform. I suspect Phyllis Schlafly. 

      • avatar Mary says:

        Briana, I esp. like your 3rd paragraph relating to funtamentalist religions.  I live in the center of it and the topic of homosexuality frequently comes up, as well as other hot religious topics and they most often come up in a sly and obnoxious way.  Little statements made here and there, obnoxious jokes, etc.  Most of the time, I choose to ignore this behavior and move on, but it is nice to have a short comeback.  I have no objections to anyones lifestyle and find the most objectionable is the religious , judgemental zeolot.  The scripture quoter  who can recite verbatum the passage(s) relating to any subject of objection but cannot acknowledge their own shortfalls as they pertain to the biblical book of their so called law.    So I often use my own comback in situations that realy get under my skin.   If God knows all and is all powerful then when he created Adam and Eve he (she) knew that they would commit sin.  After all why would he (she) plant a apple tree within reach of Eve if God didn’t already know she would reach for it?  Seems to me to be a bit of a set up. 

  18. avatar Briana Baran says:

    Re: L#2: I gather that there are a lot of people for whom hosting an enormous holiday fete would be a pleasure…the more complex and lavish, the better. But for some of us, obviously including LW2, this is has a nightmarish quality to it.
    I did not infer that LW2 was in any way objecting to the style of her SIL’s gatherings, or even to the fact that they were the ones doing the organizing. She did say that she did not have an issue with them doing so. However, it seems that the sisters have no compunctions regarding asking for money for their soirees (which may or may not be catered, a lot of assuming is going into exactly how much home cooking and personal effort these women are putting into these things. They may also be hiring a service to clean their homes, and even decorate them. And provide flowers…and even entertainment at times. One person’s idea of proper entertainment for the family may far exceed the capacities, and desires, of another) which can get expensive. They apparently don’t bother to consult with other about times and dates either, which is rather inconsiderate…yet still expect contributions even if the LW and her spouse are unable to attend.
    She may well have said something, particularly in objection to having to pay toward an event she and her husband weren’t even attending. For some people, this would be like waving a red flag, and could very well be the reason for the sudden command that she run the show. There are those who see any criticism of their actions as a challenge (regardless of how justified it might be), and, full of righteous indignation, must retaliate in a way guaranteed to cause the most discomfort. If LW2 has been in the family for a while, then her unease with large gatherings has probably been noted. I would venture that this is her SIL’s way of attempting to put her in her proper place.
    For those of you who think she should learn something about entertaining, or being a good and proper hostess, or adore cooking for a tribe of people…may I politely remind you that your pleasures and socially acceptable habits are not for everyone? I do not entertain, nor do we venture out on any sort of social circuit. I can comport myself beautifully in…mmm…so-called polite company, and cope with my DH’s company parties with grace, a smile, and pleasantly vapid conversation. But I have only hosted one “party” in my home…and that was for very relaxed friends, and was completely casual, and had only a dozen or so attendees…and I still was tense and uncomfortable. I can’t imagine having 25 people in my home (and it is 2500 square feet, all wide open and roomy), some of whom would be watching for a slip, or a fumble. The noise, the heat, the press…no, the anxiety would be far too much. Especially if I was being ordered to do it. Not everyone wants to be Martha Stewart.
    As for those criticizing her husband for not standing up manfully between his wife and his evil sisters…are you literacy challenged? LW2 stated that “we” had given the money for the events hosted by the demanding siblings, and that “we” had avoided hosting Christmas when the command came down from on high. Not “I”…”we”. I would suspect that “we” would indicate herself and her husband presenting a united front as…gasp…partners. You know, the way a marriage is meant to be, mutual support, communication, that sort of thing. She wrote the letter, but she never even suggested that he isn’t fully supportive and available as back up. Really, people.
    I do believe that they need to make a united stand, and clearly and firmly state that they will not be hosting any large gatherings in their home. And that, in the future, they will be happy to help with those gatherings about which they are consulted regarding their ability to attend…and the amount of financial input expected. They might even offer physical help, such as with setting up or breaking down, bringing an appropriate dish…but, again, only when they are actually allowed some freedom of choice…not given inflexible marching orders. I have been asked, for example, to bring a bottle of wine to a gathering. I haven’t touched alcohol for 26 years, and given the current (sometimes faux) expertise regarding wine, and the baffling plethora of current brands and types, I was very uncomfortable with the request. I politely asked if there was something else that I could contribute, with a brief explanation. The hostess was delighted, and I brought a nice variety of cheese and gourmet crackers.
    I see nothing wrong or peculiar with not wanting to entertain, or be at the beck and call of those who wish to do so. I wish LW2 well. This seems like a bullying problem of long standing. Perhaps a quiet Christmas at home with her husband, just once, would be lovely and relaxing, and ease her spirit.

  19. avatar ebbs says:

    For the reluctant hostess, an alternative: Host the party, enjoy the pleasure of extending hospitality, learn a little about happy entertaining, and take your place as a contributing member of the family. Being an introvert is a poor excuse for failing to take part in life.  Have the celebration you can afford—-everyone else may enjoy a picnic-style party with cider rather than champagne. Besides, you can’t keep moping your way half-resentfully through years of others’ celebrations. Your generous festivity could change the entire family dynamic. Time to grow up, branch out, and offer what you have to others! And have a Merry Christmas!

    • avatar Javamonster says:

      What, are you an extrovert? “A poor excuse” for not socializing? Wow, what a judgemental, priviliged attitude.

      If she’s not up to hosting a huge party, she’s not up to it.

    • avatar R Scott says:

      Chirpped like a true extrovert. Thanks for letting all of us introverts know that all we have to do is grow up, branch out and offer what we have to others. Gosh. I’m so enlightened now.

      People who don’t like throwing parties and hosting shouldn’t have to do it. It really is that simple.

  20. avatar Claudia Marek says:

    As I tell my patients who are often subjected to unfeeling comments… There are still many ignornant people who believe folks get cancer because they secretly want it and die because it was a choice and other hurtful things.  It’s hard not to take it personally when it’s directed to you but the fact is that comments like this are made by people you shouldn’t listen to! 

  21. avatar Justme says:

    LW#1 Putting myself in the LW1’s shoes, I would take the the question “So tell me. How old were you when you decided to be straight?” and bend it a little. When people strongly aver that sexual orientation is merely a choice, it implies they know because they have made that choice. Thus, my question would be “So you have strong gay desires and simply choose to ignore them?”. In most cases I would expect a resounding “NO!” I would then be tempted to add politely, “If you have never had to make that choice, how can you be so sure that there is a choice? Personally I have never felt any urge or ‘choice’ to be heterosexual.”

  22. avatar vikingprin says:

    Yes, that is a snappy comeback to a rude question… but does it help to respond to rudeness with rudeness? Sexuality is one of many many issues that people feel the misguided need to offer “helpful advice” about, and we could spend eons coming up with snappy answers. They can all be answered in the same ways : the blank stare followed by “wow… so, um, how about those yankees?” “I’m sorry you feel that way.” “You’re welcome to pray for me, I’ll let you know if it works.” “Excuse me??” or the old Miss Manners favorite “I think it’s time for me to freshen my drink.” The goal is to shut down topics that are really nobody’s business or are offensive.

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      I don’t think it’s rude so much as inviting unpleasant discourse with fools which produes foolish discourse.  And usually the equally unpleasant diatribe of religious dogma.

      Ask someone when they chose to be straight, most will reply they didn’t. “I am what god made me, what god intended…”  And it’s downhill from there. 

      The blank stare and then walking off works best.  I’m still working on the blank stare.  In that sense, I do believe in “rude for rude.”  And walking off.

  23. avatar wishuponafallingstar says:

    LW#2: I think that maybe it’s your turn to host the holidays. Perhaps the sisters just want a break. Attending parties comes with the social responsibility of reciprocating. I know what it’s like to be an introvert– it’s a good experience to get out of our comfort zones. Try out hosting– you might actually enjoy it!

    • avatar Javamonster says:

      The woman who wrote in may have a more severe case of introversion than you do. It may NOT be a good experience for her, along with the judgement of her SILs. Perhaps she’s also a hoarder, or someone who really doesn’t want to expose her home to outsiders.

      I think, if she MUST host a party, she should rent a room in a restaurant, and then tell her SILs what their part of the cost is going to be.

      Why hasn’t anyone suggested a restaurant rental?

  24. avatar Sarah Dinges says:

    LW2: In some families, hosting these events becomes a family duty. You are assuming these women enjoy every second of hosting a beautiful event, as well as the work involved, but in fact they may simply feel obliged. Perhaps their mother is to blame. Obviously, if they demanded that you have a turn, it sounds like they view this as a chore.
    So, it will be crowded, and it may be relatively unpleasant for you (do ask your husband to help host HIS family), you may wish to recruit back up by inviting a friend to help you. Then host a potluck. Everyone brings something, it’s not a particular financial burden to you, and no one gets a bill later. If your SIL’s hate it, they won’t ask you again.
    And as for his sisters not working and having wealthy husbands, you are presuming that they have nothing better to do with their time or money than host enormous and costly parties. First, you likely have no idea what fills these ladies’ days, or what other obligations they may have on their time. You also are not privy to their personal finances or budget. Frankly, if they truly enjoyed it and could truly afford it, you wouldn’t be asked to contribute financially.

    • avatar Gerri Lynn says:

      “Frankly, if they truly enjoyed it and could truly afford it, you wouldn’t be asked to contribute financially.”

      If they can’t afford to pay for the parties, they shouldn’t be throwing them at that expense level. Also, keeping up with the Jonses is a lousy excuse to have parties. Making the family members pay for them is still tacky.

      It’s one thing to be asked to chip in for the parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. It’s another to present a  bill for the latest baby shower.

  25. avatar Katto says:

    ebbs and Dinges…totally agree!  L#2…if you feel that hosting Christmas would financially be impossible, offer to host next year’s Fourth of July picnic or your husband’s parent’s anniversary brunch.  Or create your own tradition of hosting a cookie exchange party….something that would be affordable to you and you would be comfortable with.  I feel we all must take our turn at hosting family gatherings.  If you don’t want to host, then be grateful to your sil’s for doing so.   

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      To all of you so vigorously, and righteously declaring that LW1 ought to grow up, get a grip, do her part, expand her horizons, pull her weight and become a good little contributor and host her in-laws for Christmas, I say back off.
      LW1 never said that she resented her party maven SIL’s for hosting all of the family events. What she clearly is upset by is that they do so without consulting anyone else regarding dates and times (which can be extremely inconvenient if one is working at the sort of job that requires significant advance notice to receive time-off, or requires week-end or night-time hours), and that they demand apparently nonnegotiable contributions from the attendees…and the latter whether or not the LW and her spouse can attend or not. The lack of consideration, and the demands are rude and unconscionable, and I would be offended as well.
      It is also clear that several of you are unclear as to what “introverted” means. It doe not mean that one is a hoarder, a slob, incapable of normal relationships, impossibly shy, agoraphobic and unable to leave the house or incapable of having people in to visit. There are different types of introversion. Most introverted people don’t dislike others, but they don’t require constant contact with them. They don’t need or want the support of a group, as in a club, or church, and they sometimes do not identify with a given group as mode of supporting self-identity. This doesn’t mean that they are unfriendly. Not all introverts mind having guests in their home…but some limit this to a choice few, prefer to have only a limited number of people, or both. There is nothing anti-social, peculiar, immature, weird or innately wrong about having no desire to entertain in your home. be a hostess, or deal with the stress of large gatherings. Those of you who are suggesting otherwise are the ones with some growing up to accomplish.
      Nor should LW1 be expected to be grateful to her SIl’s for their decision to play perpetual hostesses, nor should she feel obligated to contribute one red cent, or a solitary item, if she and her husband cannot attend a family event. Frankly, this sounds like bullying. If her husband wishes to attend family parties, then she should probably bite the bullet and do so with him (and it seems that she does so) out of respect for him and their marriage. However, he appears to fully support her in her utter lack of any desire to host such an event…and having just said, “No” once, they both should remain adamant regarding their choice. They do not have to give any reasons other than, “That isn’t something we’re going to do”, and leave it at that. People really shouldn’t get it into their heads to decide what might be good for someone else, such as learning to play at being the graceful hostess, or turn out tasty hors d’oeuvres, or figuring out exactly how many Valium one will need to partake of to get through a miserable day in an airless apartment crammed with unwanted guests. And it is very inconsiderate to volunteer other people for such things. This sounds like a cruel bit of putting someone in her place. Ugh.
      If all else fails, plan a banquet at an embarrassingly pricey venue, then tally the bill in advance, and send a statement to every adult family member for an equal share of the cost, to be paid in full prior to the event in question. Include enough to cover the inevitable (and generous) gratuity. She and her husband get a lovely dinner (with no muss or fuss or bothersome twerps in her home), and it may teach the hens not to peck at this particular chickie again.

      • avatar Javamonster says:

        Briana, I was NOT conflating introversion with hoarding–merely pointing out that it could be ONE of a few issues the LW *might have*.

        I know full well what an introvert is, since I’m one myself, and resent extroverts expecting introverts to be just like them.

        • avatar Briana Baran says:

          O, Javamonster, I was only commenting on that because it’s like waving a red flag in front of those with issues regarding those of us whom they perceive to be different. With different to be equated with weird, immature, freakish, lazy, self-indulgent, whiny…well, I suspect you fully understand what I am talking about.
          I was trying to head off the inevitable, “O my god, Hoarders!”. Being an introvert myself (actually in a personality type that involves less than 1% of the population), and having a clean, neat, comfortable house that I really dislike strangers invading, I can only sigh in disgust when extroverts think that we ought to just begin behaving like rational people. I was not in any way remarking negatively on you.
          They (there are a lot of them, aren’t there?) just don’t need the ammunition, whether it is real or blanks.

  26. avatar Catherine Gallagher says:

    LW#2 doesn’t want to host because she doesn’t want to be troubled with the incredible time, work, and expense of hosting. And believe me, hosting is an incredible amount of time, work, and expense. On the other hand, she resents her two SIL, who for years put in the incredible amount of time and work to host a multitude of parties for every occasion—not just Christmas. The only thing the SIL’s asked is all in the family share the cost of these very large and very expense gatherings. Frankly, I think it’s quite generous of the two sister to do all the darn work and front the costs for the family. Twenty-five people are a lot of people to provide for year after year. And do the sisters really need to consult everyone over party details—I mean really, too many planners lead to disputes and family feuds. Besides, LW#2 has a mouth; if she really wanted to be involved, all she had to do was assert herself.
    Maybe, just maybe, the two SIL’s have been hosting all these years because LW#2 was more than happy riding the gravy train. Maybe, just maybe these two sisters are sick and tired of doing all the hard work; and maybe the entire family is now seeing how baby brother and wifey poo have contributed no labor over the years. Thus the entire family is now “demanding” they host this year because not only are the sisters sick and tired of doing Christmas and every other special occasion and would like a break—just this once, but the entire family has grown weary of baby brother and wifey poo’s lack of contribution to the family gatherings. I find it interesting that wifey poo feigns introvertedness as an excuse to get out of hosting Christmas. Give me a break. How introverted can she be—she goes to all that darn family parties for crying outloud. I mean really, who’s buying that load of crap?

    • avatar R Scott says:

      Wow. Calm down. If it’s all that much work and such a chore and the SIL’s are exhausted, etc., etc… then quit having the damn parties. How about everyone just stays home and relaxes.  Throwing a party is not up there with oxygen, water and food and if baby brother and wifey poo (that was pretty petty by the way) don’t want to host a party they don’t have to.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      Ms. Gallagher, did you actually read L#2? She does not attend all of the parties, nor does her husband…and even when not attending they are still expected to pony up whatever is demanded of them by the two family entertainment mavens. Nor did she say she wanted to be involved, but when one is asked to contribute to any sort of family event, one is usually given choice of items (if this involves food, drinks, flowers, etc.) or is asked how much of a monetary contribution one can make. It is considered the nadir of bad manners to demand a set amount of money (not everyone can always afford the same amount), or that the guest have no options as to physical contributions…especially in family situations.
      Also, if the sisters insist on not inquiring as to dates and times that people are available, and set these completely unadvised, and the LW and her husband cannot attend, they are in no way obligated to donate a thing…nor should the sisters have nerve to even ask.
      If the poor, enervated, misused, over-worked, slave-sisters are tired of playing hostess, they should stop doing so. Period, end of story. To put the situation in its more probable perspective, consider that these two females are the type who put on a quite a show of “Look at all of this effort I go through every year for the holidays (all of them, including any obscure days no one else would possibly remember), showers, birthdays, anniversaries, etc., etc., etc., with no help, and how gorgeous they are, and the food! And what thanks do I get? None for my effort!” (with eye roll…and perhaps a little chest beating. And a hair shirt, or some sackcloth and ashes). Because not only do they thoroughly enjoy having absolute power over the family gatherings, putting on the show, and watching people enjoy…but they also perversely delight in the guilt they inspire in most (not all), and the accolades they receive, and the pats on the back, and the, “O, you poor things, you must be exhausted!”, to which they can bravely reply, “Ah, it’s no trouble”. Feh.
      O, and Ms. Gallagher, introversion is real, but you are obviously ignorant on the subject. Allow me to enlighten you, please. I am an “introvert”. I engage in many activities which range from tolerable to excrutiatingly miserable (ie: my husband’s company Christmas parties through attending both religiously biased Cub Scout meetings and my older son’s Church services…only once. The latter proved too much for this woman). However, I most emphatically feel that my home is my castle, my sanctuary, and my zone of peace and comfort and tranquility…and I am in no way inclined to have in packed with people, especially those who make me uncomfortable, and who have forced me to attend to them. I can leave a party at some venue, or another person’s home. At my own home, I would be trapped, and suffering. Does that help?
      LW2 never said that she and her husband did not contribute to parties and events that they attended. You pulled that one from…the ether. You do seem to have a personal stake in the situation, are you one of the Party Spetsnaz Sisters?

  27. avatar Rita@ Goldivas says:

    LW1, you might ask your friends to curb their voyeurism.

    • avatar R Scott says:

      This reminded me of a diversity workshop I participated in years ago. We discussed many diverse groups and activities, etc. One afternoon when we started a discussion about Gay issues one on the participants exclaimed that just thinking about what two men did with each other in bed made her sick. Without the missing a beat the facilitator said, “Knowing that you sit around thinking about what other adults do in bed disturbs me”.  I loved it!

  28. avatar Nancy Pea says:

    LW#2: if you ever decide to do any festivities, just make it a pot luck. i have done this many a time. my bridal shower was a pot luck affair. everybody brought a dish. if they wanted and could afford it, they could bring a present. i get a nice bit. but it was the friendship and fun that was important to me and my new husband.
    the christmas season shouldn’t be a hard time for you. but also if they are going to charge you for their parties, you should damn well charge them back and make sure they pay or their invites will get lost in the mail. lol! pot lucks also work well for christmas dinner. we used to go to thanksgiving dinner and christmas dinner at my in-laws before we moved out of state. we always brought a dish. usually a desert or side dish. even deviled eggs (omg, i love those). the point is, that if you do ever decide to do it (and it’s a good way to get to know more of the family in YOUR setting) make it a pot luck. you make the main dish. everybody else brings something. no money is required.
    entertainment is really easy. cards, board games and movies. (ugh, sports to for the men and some women). never had a bad get together and i’m about as poor as they come. so don’t totally give up on hosting your own holiday. just don’t let a controlling hen spoil your nest!!!

  29. avatar R Scott says:

    Baby Snooks, Briana Baran, and chuck alien  – I loved reading your posts. You’re all very smart, very passionate and very good with the written word.  I always learn something. Thanks!

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      I don’t know that I’m smart given I’ve been stalked four times in my life but I am passionate. But I keep that part of my life behind closed doors.  I like to kiss and not tell.

  30. avatar Leajmom says:

    LW1:  I would recommend the response advocated by another advice columnist.  A stone-faced, “Wow.”
    LW2:  I love MessyONE’s idea, and suggest a specific caterer:  Pizza Hut.