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Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Wedding

My nephew is getting married in October. Now, in and of itself, that sounds like such a joyous and benign sentence. Oh, a wedding in Margalit's family! People will get together and celebrate the simcha, what fun! Um, no. Not going to be like that at all.

First, I've never even met the Bride to Be, and all I've heard about her, well, let's just say it's not all roses and lollypops. My nephew is a great kid, smart as a whip, and funny as hell. He just graduated from a great law school (where he met B2B) and got a job in some big Philadelphia law firm. She also is an attorney and also got a job in an even bigger, more prestigious Philadelphia firm. Apparently, they've both decided to live in Philadelphia. He went to Penn as a double legacy, so that's kind of a natural landing place for him. They're living right downtown, doors away from her office. Evidentally, she's not into commuting more than 20 feet, which seems to be a family issue. I am not sure why.

Second, B2B apparently is from a rather pretentious family. Again, never met her, never met her family, know all of this second hand, mostly from my brother, but also from my nieces who have commented upon B2B several times. Not feeling the love. Said pretentious family has determined that there is nothing better than a black tie wedding in Philadelphia in October. Besides the fact that nobody LIVES in freaking Philadelphia, meaning everyone has to travel, stay in hotels, etc., who the hell in OUR family wants to attend a black tie affair? It's so not us.

Third, and probably most importantly, this means that we will have to find our way to Philadelphia, pay for a hotel, buy clothing and shoes, and we cannot possibly afford this. It just isn't going to happen without help, and we have nobody to help us. Never mind that we are clueless as to what one wears to a black tie wedding. Does this mean a tuxedo for the Boy (heaven forbid!) or just a suit? Does this mean long dresses for the Girl and me? Does one wear those to the wedding itself, or just the reception? Call me clueless.

Fourth, and maybe equally important, the Evil One, my mother, will be attending said wedding. It's her grandson, she will want to be there. Additionally, my sister will be there. And even worse, my other brother will be there. Now, you ask, what could be so bad about this family reunion of sorts? Oh man, such a freaking saga you just cannot imagine.

My mother is nuts. Certifiably nuts. Untreated bipolar nuts. My sister is equally nuts. Also bipolar. Not a nice person. REALLY not a nice person. My other brother. Let us say he has some issues, some of which are justifiable, others of which are definitely not. So we've got the nutsoid family members all gathering together for the first (and hopefully last) time since, oh, maybe 1970. Yup, you read that right. My younger brother and my sister have not seen each other since he was about 3 or 4 years old. He's 45 now. I haven't spoken to him since he was just out of high school. I haven't spoken to my mother since 1980. Or my sister since I had to have her thrown out of my home by the police in 1993.

Now, isn't this sounding like a fun filled family reunion? Yeah, I just cannot wait. Squeeeee!

We don't like each other. Nobody likes each other. Thankfully, my father is no longer alive and won't be accompanying all this family fun. He would be likely to start punching. Probably starting with me.

Now, some of us have actually been in the same room as others. I've been in the same room with my younger brother and my mother and avoided them. I know how to do it. But the children, the children, they might not be so willing to be passive. My kids don't know their aunts and uncles. They certainly don't know their grandmother. She's way too toxic to ever allow her near my kids. However, now that my kids are near adulthood, they have a tendency to speak out and I am fearful that they might just say something utterly untoward to my mother and/or sister.

Nobody wants a fistfight at a formal wedding, do they?

Oy vey! I am so not looking forward to this wedding. The problem is, we HAVE to go. We can't just opt out of a wedding, can we?

So, to recap: formal wedding, no $ for clothing, travel, and hotel, wacky family that can be extremely volatile.

Any advice?

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21 Comments:

Anonymous AmyB said...

I know you feel obligated to go, but it might be kinder to yourself and your little family to send a nice card and a lovely vase. This just seems like a nightmare, and why should you subject yourself to that for folks who haven't been decent to you in 14 years or more? I know they are family, and that makes it harder. I hope you find a solution that doesn't cause you stress.

1/8/07 11:52 AM  
Blogger Tanya said...

This is my first time commenting but we just had a wedding in the family wedding. Even though it's probably mild compared as what might happen at your nephew's, it was still stressful. (I blogged about it a couple of days ago.)

It sounds like you're going to have to fork out a lot of dough for something that just sounds like a TON of stressfull/tense moments. How do you think your nephew would be if you called him and explained that you would love to attend but it's just not possible at this time? When we lived in WA state we missed quite a few family gatherings but everyone understood because of the cost.

Whatever you decide I hope it's what you want to do!!

1/8/07 11:54 AM  
Blogger Rhiannon said...

I guess I'd ask how close you are to your nephew? If you aren't that close, it sounds like it would be a big fat financial hardship and also emotional draining. So, stay home and do something fun!

1/8/07 11:59 AM  
Anonymous boogiemum said...

You can totally opt out, I would. Of course, I am a rebel like that. My family sound eerily familiar to yours, except my oldest brother is in the pen right now... You have to do what best for you and your immediate family and this does not sound like it would be the best. I would talk to your nephew & let him in on the $ situation or whatever you feel comfortable telling him and suggest taking him and B2B out of dinner next time they are in town (if its not too far for B2B to travel!) for your own little celebration. Either that or take part of the $ you would have to spend on travel and everything else and give them an awesome gift or money towards the honeymoon. Good luck, I know family situations like this are so volatile and stressful!

1/8/07 12:00 PM  
Anonymous LVGurl said...

Here are my two pesos:

If you are fond of your nephew, you should go to the wedding to support him. ONLY you. It sounds like you want to shield your children from the family dynamic. It could be more cost effective, you spare your kids the potential strife, you can be a fly on the wall to this whole thing, and you support your nephew. But I don't know if traveling without your kids is an option.

As for the black tie component... (blech, I hate that!!) Does the invite say Black Tie Optional? If it does, then you just need to look nice. No prom dresses or penguin suits needed.

1/8/07 12:09 PM  
Anonymous Barbara said...

I'm new but wanted to try to offer my thoughts. Do you like your nephew? If you do and want to support his marriage because he is worth it, then your decision is tougher than if it's a free-floating family obligation that you're thinking of. If it is about supporting him, can you go before the wedding or after so that you can focus on him? You could tell him that, given the costs of travelling, you want to have a more meaningful visit than could happen on a wedding weekend. Wouldn't it be better for your family and him and his bride to spend more time together? It would be true (if not the whole truth) and a good compromise.

Good luck.

1/8/07 12:23 PM  
Blogger Robin said...

Yes, you can absolutely opt out. Given everything you've said it's more than reasonable. Send a lovely card and a nice gift and be done with it. You do not have to expose your own family to this if you don't feel right about it, nor do you have to go through financial hell and high water to celebrate with someone you've never met and who probably wouldn't notice anyway (B2B). If you're close with your nephew he'll understand, and if not, well then you've just answered your own question. If you need a good excuse blame it on ill health. File it under the "life's too short" category.

Stay home.

(PS In the interests of full disclosure, my own husband and son left this morning for my sister-in-law's wedding in the States. We couldn't possibly afford for all four of us to go, so M and I stayed home, despite the fact that I AM close to my SIL and do really wish I could be there. I have also blown off haredi weddings (baal tshuva cousin) right here in Israel, because said cousin never ever bothers to be in touch unless one of his kids is having a simha, and even then he can't remember how the hell we're related.)

1/8/07 12:46 PM  
Blogger Poppy Buxom said...

Simple. Wait to see whether you get an invitation. When you do, reply promptly in the negative, regretting that you and your children won't be able to attend.

If you want to be gracious, find out where she registered for gifts and send her something she wants that you can afford. (If everything she wants is too expensive, skip that and send her a note wishing them happiness.)

You will then have proven yourself to be miles better-behaved than your other family members. And that may very well end up helping, in some small way, to heal the breach.

Honestly, no bride who opts to have a big travel-ly out-of-town wedding really expects all that many members of the groom's side to make it. As someone who did the big wedding thing, the groom's connections, family members you barely know, and aged friends of your parents all end up swelling the bill and don't add up to a whole lot of added enjoyment.

Recognize a duty invitation for what it is. And Skip the wedding. Nicely. You'll be glad you did.

1/8/07 12:58 PM  
Blogger Thumper said...

Yes, you can opt out of a wedding. I did not go to any weddings of my nephews and nieces--we couldn't afford it. I was not about to go deeper into debt over joyful chaos (in my case, it would have been joyful) because the stress it would have meant later simply would not have been worth it.

Plus...if your family is already volatile, does it matter if they get ticked off if you don't go? Send a nice gift along with your regrets, and don't feel guilty. Invitations are not obligations, no matter how important other people make them seem.

1/8/07 2:34 PM  
Blogger HRH Courtney, Queen of Everything said...

Who says you can't opt out? Sounds like a nightmare, and if it's going to financially strap you, why bother?

1/8/07 3:02 PM  
Blogger Jendeis said...

I wrote earlier about how lovely the dress is and you can tell The Girl that to fancy up the dress, you should match it with black heels or sandals, a black shawl or wrap, then some jewelry and makeup.

Now that we know more about the wedding...
You can choose to not go, even thought it's family, even though you knew the date way in advance. Certainly, this event will be a major hurdle for you financially as well as emotionally. Those are both good excuses -- just write that unfortunately, you are unable to attend but all the best, good wishes, etc.

If you do opt to go, The Boy need not wear a tux, a dark suit would be appropriate. You and The Girl don't need to wear long dresses, but a nice dress or fancy slacks with a dressy blouse would be fine.

Further (man, I am so a lawyer), I would discuss the situation with your family with The Twins (doesn't need to be specifics, just "bad feelings") and exactly what you do/don't expect from them (The Twins and the crazy family).

Hope that helps.

1/8/07 3:39 PM  
Blogger Major Bedhead said...

I second Amyb's suggestion. I wouldn't go. If I was invited to an out-of-town wedding right now, I wouldn't be able to afford it. Actually, now that I think of it, I was - my stepbrother's. It was in Atlanta and I couldn't afford to go, so I didn't. Sent my regrets. Gave him a present when he was up here in May. No harm, no foul.

1/8/07 4:14 PM  
Blogger margalit said...

Thanks, you guys. Very helpful comments.

Now, for a bit more info. I do like my nephew. A lot. He's a great kid. I diapered him as a baby, I've taken care of him and his sisters for weeks at a time at Camp Aunt Margalit (complete with t-shirts) when his parents went away (not that they returned the favor, but...) and I've got really good warm feelings towards him.

I also adore his sisters. ADORE them. So do my kids, especially the Girl, who very closely resembles one of her cousins not only in looks, but in personality. They all facebook and IM each other and this is literally the ONLY family my kids have other than me. I don't want to completely isolate them from family due to my craziness. They need family.

Plus, both kids REALLY want to go. They've never been to a wedding. They are dying to go. They love their cousins. Their cousins keep telling them how they can't wait to see them at the wedding.

I feel like I'm screwed either way. My kids really want to go. They're curious to see the Evil One and my sister, who they do not know. They want to see their cousins. They want to go to a wedding.

OTOH, I have no interest in going and if were just me, I'd send my regrets in a flash. But I feel obligated to make an attempt to go.

Oh, and one other thing. B2B's family isn't from Philly either. EVERYONE has to travel. It's the destination wedding from hell. If it were Bermuda or the Bahamas, I'd be happier. But Philly? Um... ugh.

1/8/07 5:09 PM  
Blogger cape buffalo said...

We've been to two "destination" weddings in the past 6 weeks and we have another in October. We were willing to drive to a location NEAR the quite expensive destinations and that saved us a ton on hotels. We gave modest gifts. Next wedding's on the Vineyard on a holiday weekend. It's not really possible to stay nearby- unless nearby means underwater. Still trying to decide if we'll go to that one. Either way, I feel no guilt- there will be plenty of people there and we can still send our love.

1/8/07 8:02 PM  
Blogger sarah cool said...

WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My instinct is to say, DON'T GO! DON'T GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But I understand that you really care about your nephew, and that might balance out (.... kinda) the other stuff.

Good luck!

(If you go, I can't WAIT to read the blog about it)

:-)

2/8/07 11:23 AM  
Blogger The Hotfessional said...

OPT OUT! Truly. It's possible to opt out. Why put yourself or your children through all of the pain?

Send a present if you want (and ONLY if you want).

2/8/07 11:53 AM  
Blogger eema said...

To clarify, destination weddings are when everyone has to travel to the destination, including the bride and groom. Since b & g both live in Phil, its not a destination wedding. It makes perfect sense to me anyway, why they'd want to get married in Phil, they live there, they work there, and probably are establishing their roots there. Why not?
Even after what you wrote in your comments, I still wouldn't go. I also probably wouldn't have taken my daughter dress shopping until I knew 100% that I WAS planning on going. Sort of a tease. I would suck it up to the kids and just tell them you did the math and its all going to put you way over the top financially. They can still have a nice relationship w/their peer cousins and will get to see one another at a different time, perhaps less informal, more enjoyable teen friendly, and you can start the discussion on when/where that can happen. Or when they can travel alone, like as a high school graduation present or something like that. They're all so young and have many years of building relationships w/their cousins. It would probably traumatize them to have to deal w/the drama of your family, despite the good stuff they have w/their cousins. Keep those relationships separate and don't expose your kids to that bad stuff. Keep it positive and start the ball rolling for when they can all get together w/the cousins at a different time.

2/8/07 9:02 PM  
Blogger barbie2be said...

don't be silly, Margalit... it is completely acceptable for you to opt out. you don't even have to use the excuse of not wanting to see the "evil one".

all you have to say, if anyone asks is "i'm so sorryt, it's just not possible for us at this time. have a lovely wedding."

3/8/07 12:41 PM  
Blogger ISHKABIBBLE said...

Your kids will have plenty of opportunities to attend and participate in weddings as they grow up, so missing this one might be a disappointment but won't be the end of the world. Why not make arrangements to visit with nephew and his new wife after the wedding, without the mishagoss of tux rentals and family animosity? It's a given that he'll be so busy during the wedding weekend that he wouldn't be able to devote much attention to you anyway, so you'd be left cringing and hiding from all your other relatives.

4/8/07 7:38 PM  
Anonymous Pretentious Mother of the Bride said...

Nobody talks about my daughter this way! I am pulling your invitation to the wedding. I don't want you there!

8/8/07 3:56 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

New reader to your blog, but allow me to comment anyways. :)


I think you should send a lovely gift and thoughtful card. Your kids will have time later in life to meet relatives/attend weddings/etc.

13/8/07 6:47 PM  

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