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February 25, 2015

Removing the 'Joy' in Joint

Last week my aunt in Florida emailed my two sisters and I and inquired about whether or not we might be hosting a joint graduation party this summer.  She needed to reschedule a cancelled flight and hoped to coordinate it with the date of a potential family party.  Maria will have one high school graduate up in Milwaukee, and Ann has a high school-er and an 8th grader graduating not far from me in the Western Suburbs of Chicago.  My Eddie is graduating from 8th grade as well. 

Ann emailed all of us which weekends she would prefer based on when she had custody of her four kids.  Maria shared that she planned to attend her college reunion on one of Ann's proposed weekends.  Although Ann hoped Memorial weekend would win out, it wouldn't work for Maria.  Maria's husband comes from a small family.  His mother and sister from the east coast would be in town for her son's actual graduation in Milwaukee.  I chimed in with the suggestion that Maria plan to attend a graduation party on the Sunday of her college reunion.  Driving from Indiana to Milwaukee, she could stop off at a party in Chicago.  Could she handle showing up to hang out with family after an exhausting weekend?  At the end of my email I offered to host the party at our home, which seemed to make the most sense since I was the only one of the three of us with a local in-law side to invite.

Ann responded eventually after she and Maria took a side bar (that is my polite way of stating that despite the email chain we were building, my two older, practically Siamese sisters managed to squeeze in a phone chat on topic).  Ann passed the news along that Maria had agreed that the Sunday of her reunion weekend would work after all.  She had checked the list of events and nothing seemed to be taking place at her college on Sunday.  Ann went on to suggest that she host a party for 'our side'.  Her plan was to honor the four cousins on our side of the family, and invite only family members on our side.  That way, she was so good to point out, 'Ernie could host her in-law side whenever she pleased, and there wouldn't be so many people.'  Swell.  Except for the fact, that I had no intention of selecting and sacrificing another summer Saturday or Sunday to celebrate Eddie's graduation all over again.  As a co-host to the joint party concept, I would be contributing financially for the food, drink, etc.  Did she really expect me to follow that party up with another party at my home on a different day with more food and drink to purchase?  As far as people over load is concerned, she is assuming that everyone will be available on the first Sunday in June.  Coach has three siblings in town.  Eleven kids between the three of them, most of whom are very young.

I responded that Coach and I weren't interested in hosting two parties.  She insisted in yet another email that she host only our side.  I was somewhat surprised.  Enough was enough.  I called her.  Had she not read thru my email?  If I was to host, Coach and I would contribute to the food for our side in addition to paying for the entire in-law side to eat.  She shouted into the phone that I wouldn't be hosting two parties, because she would be hosting the first one.  I suppose in her vast social experience she has never encountered co-hosting something.  Splitting the bill?  Ever heard of it?  That argument null, she shouted that she wanted the party at her house.  Her rant continued.  Her kids wanted the party at their house.  My kids aren't spoiled, so that was simple for me.  Tell them 'NO'.  Finally she tried to pull rank.  She had two kids graduating.  I only had one.  I was done.

Please understand that the party we speak of doesn't differ in any way based on whose address it's located at.  Swing set, basketball hoop, deck, kids running and playing, beef and pasta catered.  Casual.  Both houses can hold a good number of people.  Now, if one of us were insisting on building a stage and hiring a DJ and attempting to lure a phenomenal teen idol while contemplating hiring an outside valet service, then I could see how we would be in disagreement. It's a family party, and for the record, Coach's siblings went to high school with some of my siblings and typically everyone enjoys catching up when I host both sides for a First Communion party, etc.  The kids are all interested in similar things:  chasing a ball, chasing each other, eating, laughing, playing.  Good times. 

I decided to be the bigger person.  I got mad first.  Frustrated.  Stomped around the house at the stupidity of it all.  Then I decided to just let her host a party, so long as Patrick's graduation wouldn't be celebrated.  We would plan his party separately, because despite all attempts to stream line the party process a consensus couldn't be reached.  The semi-joined sisters (Ann and Maria) could co-host a joint party.  Have at it.  I'm confident that Ann's kids will be with their father when we celebrate Eddie's party, and Maria's family will be too busy to make another trek in from Milwaukee.  My two brothers families will most likely be busy, or exhausted by the multiple invitations.  So . . . in the end, Ann will have her way.  Why should this day be any different than any other day?  We will end up with a party attended by whoever can make it from Coach's family, just as Ann suggested.

I still need to share the new plan with my sister.  There is just so much I'd like to say, yet I know I should keep it simple.  One thought:  'Good news, crazy wins out . . . again.  Have fun at your party.'  I vow to devote an entire post to the responses I would like to send her way along with additional facts from past non(sister)sense.  Look for 'Possible Responses to a Sister's Love.'

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