Dear Carolyn: I’m getting married soon and am a vegetarian. Our menu has one meat option and one vegetarian option, as well as appetizers (a mixture of meat and veggie), sides and dessert. My fiance and I feel this is sufficient.
But my parents are paying, and my mother is brought to tears every time we talk about the wedding because she thinks some of her friends will be offended without two meat options for an entree. As a vegetarian, I’m already not thrilled to be serving meat at all, and I’ve tried to explain that another entree will cost a lot.
She insists that she’s paying, so it’s fine, but we’ve been through this before with wedding plans. She asks for something more expensive and then complains about the overall cost. (Note that many of my friends aren’t being invited because her friends are so numerous and her family is being given preference over my father’s).
Am I being too rigid? I feel like her friends will be fine if they have to eat a vegetable or two.
Anonymous: You can’t say this, but I can: Your mother is being ridiculous. (I can still only say the printable version.)
To ask omnivores to eat a vegetable is a lot less radical than to ask a vegetarian to serve meat at her wedding. And, while there are still some holdouts in the “vegetarians are exotic weirdos put on Earth to judge me” camp, I feel confident they aren’t as legion as your mother apparently fears.
Were I to guess, though, I’d say these points are beside the point. Your mother sounds worked up in general — about costs, the passage of time, being the center of attention, not being the center of attention . . . the menu of possibilities is diner-esque — and has fixed on the undead entree as the Stick With Which to Beat You.
Regardless, the best way to deal with it isn’t to impress her with the cost-effectiveness of eggplant. You don’t reason with the unreasonable. Instead, just be the anti-stress. “Oh, Mom.” [hug optional] “It’ll be beautiful. Thank you for all you’ve done.” Be otherwise impervious to tears.
Have Plan B ready, though — to pay for the food yourself.
Dear Carolyn: How do we deal with my siblings who celebrate their kids with parties that everyone is expected to attend? Birthdays until 18 or 21 in some cases, eighth-grade graduations, high school graduations, a celebration for one nephew every time he gets a degree/goes to another college (he’s going to be a doctor, so there are a few), going-away parties when they are spending six weeks in an exchange program, coming-home party when they return, etc., etc., etc. When kids from the same household have events near each other, they have separate parties.
With eight nieces and nephews, we are so done! But not going costs us hostility that extends to our nieces and nephews because the parents have taught them to expect everyone to come celebrate them. We are exhausted!
Anonymous: There are only two answers, go or don’t go — and “so done” cuts it to one: Don’t go. (Except, of course, when you want to.)
Settle in to ride out the complaints. Your time is yours, not theirs, so treat it as such.