Friday, May 9, 2008

What Would Emily Post Do? *Edited*

I find myself in an unexpected position involving shower etiquette - I am the jerk.

Without calling me out-and-out rude, please weigh on in the following two situations.

First situation: I have a girlfriend I will call Kam. She and I met about six years ago, through a job neither of us work at any longer. We were never close friends, but talked on the phone at regular intervals (monthy to bi-monthly) and got together maybe a couple times a year. She knew about the miscarriage troubles (though not in great detail) and I knew about some problems that she was having in her marriage. About a week after Gummy Bear died, right before Christmas, I ran into at the grocery store. I remember feeling strange about the conversation - it seemed strained, but then again, I wasn't in the greatest mindframe. I should also add that it was the night of a huge storm, the power kept going off and on, and I was trying to buy batteries and some last minute supplies. It was just hectic.

So, after Christmas, maybe a month later, I called and left her a message. I told her that I had been glad to see her and wondered how she was doing. She never called back. I sent her an e-mail a few weeks after that, asking about her family, and received a brief reply that all was okay.

About six months later, I ran into her again at the same store. We talked, again briefly, but to me, everything seemed okay. I sent my usual Christmas card to her family this year, I am pretty sure that she sent one back. I have copied her on all of our baby updates and she has written back very nice responses.

I am gathering addresses for my upcoming baby shower and putting her name on the e-mail list was something that I debated about. I knew we hadn't talked in awhile, but I also felt that she was someone that I wanted to keep in touch with. Looking back, it was a mistake to add her, but I did.

She e-mailed me back, very hurt that I was asking her to come "just for a gift." She thought that I had been rude to her a year and a half ago, and no longer considered us friends. I sent back an e-mail, explaining my state of mind when I had seen her that time in the store, and asking forgiveness. She wrote back, again saying how rude it was to ask someone to a shower that you haven't seen for over a year. Reviewing the situation, I agree with her, I was out of line. How should I handle this situation without making it worse?

Second: This one is tricky in that I can still change it before too many people are offended. It has to do with registry length. I have a pretty long registry at two major stores, BRU and Tar.get. I like to give people a lot of different options in what to buy, in a lot of different price ranges. I find it frustrating when I look at a registry and there are only expensive things or a small amout of things available, especially if I procrastinated and it is close to the shower. With that thinking in mind, I have made my registries very "complete," including putting a lot of toys and books on them. I think I have around 140 items on each one. I am not sure how many pages it would be if I printed it out. I am going to try that at the store and see, but probably 10. I was thinking that it was good to give people options, but now I wonder if I look greedy. Will people print the registry out and think "Geesh, this girl is a gift grubber."?

The thing that is sad about both of these scenarios is that the last thing in the world that I want is to appear greedy or as if I am only after a gift from my friends. This is part of what makes me uncomfortable at showers for myself, I really feel badly when people bring me things.

Again, please don't make me feel worse than I already do. Just let me know what you think about these situations and how I can resolve them.

Edited: Thank you for your thoughtful responses. I can always count on you guys to show me the way. I will work on paring down my registry this weekend and I sent my friend this e-mail.

I have been thinking about the right way to phrase and handle this situation. I have been very upset over it, simply because I can easily see why you would be offended by being invited to a shower, and I feel awful. I never wanted to come across as a gift grubber or just wanting to see you for your wallet.

You are a person that I really enjoyed having in my life. Losing so many babies and dealing with the process that is infertility was a lonely and isolating thing. I lost touch with many friends during this time, and that is completely my fault. Please know that it was not a reflection on you. I was so depressed for so long that I couldn't even see family members for some time in there. I truly felt as if I was burdening people with my sadness, especially when in the past, I have been typically an upbeat person. This does not excuse rudeness in any way, I just want to make it clear that I realize the situation is my fault. I truly did not realize that I was brushing you off that night at the grocery store, if nothing else, please know that was unintentional.

Now that I finally have something wonderful to share, I really wanted to include you in what is a happy time for me again. When I put together the e-mail updates on our son and then the shower invite, I really was trying to make an overture of being back in your life when I included you. However, looking back, I realize that it was out of line and probably did not come across that way at all. I regret my decision, but there is no way that I can take it back now, I can just apologize for it.

Again, I am sorry for letting go of our friendship. I hope that you can still remember it fondly and forgive me for my lack of etiquette.

Take care of yourself and your family. I wish you only the best.


Mel said...

The situation with your friend is hard. I always love being included on party invitation lists, even if I don't particularly feel close to the person being honored, just because I like feeling that someone thought of me! If I don't feel like they are close enough to me to warrant a gift, I just don't go. I think it sucks she emailed and called you out like that but we are women and all so sensitive! I would tell her that you didn't intend her to come for gift purposes, but more for friendship purposes and were hoping to reconnect. Apologize for the impression but assure her that was not even in your line of logic. If she doesn't understand, then she's not worth the effort.

As for the registry thing I would probably scale it back some. I only say this because I attended a shower last year and when the registry list took 5 minutes to print I simply had to roll my eyes and snicker to myself about how carried away this particular person had gotten. I also find that a LOT of people just bring cash or shop off registries for shower gifts anyways! I would count your invitees and adjust your registry accordingly (allotting like 2-3 gifts/person or something).
Am I making sense?
I wish you the best figuring all this out. I know you aren't greedy or rude! You are just trying to give people options and while some people would completely understand that, others will inevitably be offended. Women suck!

Jen said...

I vote that for the friend situation, you email her something nice saying exactly what you told us. You weren't sure, but she was someone that you wanted to keep in touch with. And lots of sorrys that you offended her, that was certainly not your intention and all. (In fact, I would tell her to come and not bring a gift at all, but that would probably come off sounding rude.)

I think you should check the store for the registry. See how long it is when it is printed out and ask them whether it is normal length or not. I shopped for a shower gift off of a short registry a while back and it was really frusterating. There was nothing to get on it. I ended up being a bunch of the cheap items, but I felt bad because nothing was a special gift. So, my vote is that long is better than too short.

Don't feel bad. None of this is anything to feel bad about. I think it was awful of your friend to email you and say that. Maybe you caught her on a bad day or maybe she's someone not worthy of being your friend. But I don't think you were out of line at all.

thepromiseofourlove said...

I agree with mel on the friend situation.

For the registry thing, I would take a peek at the registry and make sure that there are still enough items left in each price range.

Good luck!

Kim said...

Yeah, that's a tough one. I think your friend is being a tiny bit out of line also, though. If she knows you at all, then she would know that your intent was not to make her feel like you were 'using' her for a gift. If you really want her there, then I would tell her so and say something along the lines of 'your presence is your present'. But if you've never been too close, then I would just let it go.

Honestly, your registries seem huge *to me*. Unless you have a TON of friends and family! Then it's spot on :O). Personally, I would try to limit it to just 2-3 things of each category on each registry. Maybe 30-40 items total. I barely have a registry this time and we have nothing from B... but I fully expected to be buying everything myself, so any gifts would just be a bonus or can be exchanged if needed.

Emily said...

I totally understand where you are coming from with the registries. I've been in the position of having to buy someone a gift (and I always shop from the registry) and it's so short that nothing is in my price range. Perhaps scale it back and then check it 2 weeks before the shower and add things if you feel there are holes for those last minute shoppers.

alison said...

For the friend situation, I would personally just let it go - don't try to make amends with someone who is putting up a wall. This is not your fault - it was incredibly shady of her to send such a rude email. If I ever get invited to something that I just don't feel comfortable going to, I just don't go. You are going above and beyond to try to smooth things over with her, and she's not having it. It's her loss, you're obviously a very good friend that anyone would be lucky to have.

And the registry list - I agree that I can't stand it when there's either a really short, incomplete list or a really long, everything is included list. For the purpose of your shower, I think a list that is around 3 - 3 1/2 pages (at least at Target, I don't know what the BRU registry looks like) should suffice. You can have a close friend watch the registries to make sure there's still items left leading up to the shower, and you can always add some back on if you need to. Also, after the shower, I'd add everything back onto both lists and take those handy dandy coupons they give you for "completing your registry" back to the stores and have a party! Best of luck!

PamalaLauren said...

Honestly not sure what you could do about the friend situation. Tell her she doesn't have to come and that you never thought the friendship was over. That you're sorry that you're losing her friendship but if that's what she wants, so be it.

As for the registry I did the same thing. The thing I hate on any registry is when you look at it and it's short with expensive things. So I put everything and the kitchen sink on it. Just make sure you aren't duplicating anything, because I accidently did so and came up with three of the same thing at my shower. I don't think you'll seem greedy, just excited. Most people don't think that way.

wanttobeamom said...

First, I would like to echo the thought that you really shouldn't feel bad about either situation!

It sounds to me like your friend over reacted a bit. At this point I think you need to decide if you want to keep in touch with her. If it is still important to you to keep in touch with her then I would email her back and explain that you did not invite her for the gift but because you wanted to keep in touch with her. I would also tell her that maybe instead of her coming to the shower you two could just get together and have coffee (or something similar and low key). That way she would know that you really didn't want a gift but just wanted to stay in touch. If she's still offended then I would drop it and move on. If, however, you decide that it's not that important to you to keep in touch and you are able to, I would just drop it. I tend to want to try and smooth things over, even if I'm not going to keep in touch, but she sounds like she may not be very open to changing her mind about the situation.

As for the registry, I would probably scale it back a bit. When I registered for my wedding I registered at 2 stores. I tried to make sure that I didn't duplicate anything between the 2 stores and that I had a decent variety of price ranges available. I think my Target registry was 2 pages online and 3 pages printed out in the store, but I'm not 100% sure about that. I have only felt annoyed by an overly long registry list once (my crazy cousin's wedding) but that was because she registered for EVERYTHING at 2 stores and had multiple duplicates between the stores and even within the same store (i.e. different brands of the same item). And, even with all those items, most of the stuff was high for my price-range (except for a few dinky $5 items that made me feel like a cheapskate to buy). I think the idea of scaling back some now, and then checking the registry a couple weeks before the shower to make sure there are still a range of prices to choose from is a good idea.

Having said all this, if people really know you then they should know that you are not greedy or just out for gifts. Hopefully your friends and family will give you the benefit of the doubt if their approach to registries is different than yours. Try not to stress about this stuff! In the whole scheme of life, these are just minor blips on the screen (if they're even blips at all)!

Waiting Amy said...

You've gotten good advice. The friend was out of line to be so vocal. If you'd like send a personal handwritten note explaining that you know the two of you sort of lost touch but she was someone you pictured still in your life and you wanted her to be part of this special time for you. Then leave it in her lap. If she doesn't make an effort, she is not worth it.

I agree with you about the registery -- I hate when there's nothing left or it's all expensive. But if you are really worried, check just how long it is and maybe knock off duplicates or similar items to shorten it a bit.

And don't worry too much what people think! They know you are excited!

Baby Steps to Baby Shoes said...

Ditto what Jen said on the friend situation.

As for large registries, please do not feel bad. I dont' think there's such a thing as too big a registry. I cannot tell you how many times I have been frustrated by skimpy registries that give me no options to buy. I say leave them alone. It never fails that a store is out of half the things anyway.

Polka Dot said...

For the friend, I agree with another poster that you should write her back and tell her just what you said. And considering you've sent e-mails and christmas cards and such, how were you to know she was mad at you? Gah.

For the registery - personally speaking, I do the eyebrow raise at ones that have tons of things on them. That could be wedding or baby or whatever. And I do have a tendency to wonder why someone would want books or such for a two yr old when the baby hasn't even arrived yet (a friend had toddler type things on their registry and I just didn't get it).

I would just make sure to have things from various price ranges and maybe even list a couple of things more than once - such as 3 or these or 5 of those. That way it comes out as more options and you're more likely to get the things you need / want, especially if the shopper doesn't have much money.

Jen said...

Personally, I'm just shocked that your friend actually called you out on just inviting her for the gift. Regardless of whether or not that were true (and I sincerely doubt it is true) why didn't she just decline to attend and leave it at that? But perhaps I'm just to anti-confrontation.

Personally I find the whole gift registering thing overwhelming. At first I didn't even want to do a registry at all since it felt selfish. Then I realized I'd probably end up getting duplicate stuff, etc. and that I should just do it. But all I really want is to have a big party with family and friends to celebrate that I'm actually going to have a baby. It's hard to convey that sometimes though.

K @ ourboxofrain said...

I very much agree with what has been written before -- you've gotten good advice. I'm so sorry that your friend took your invitation the wrong way, but I think her reaction was rather over the top. When I've been invited to events where I didn't feel close enough to the person to attend/bring a gift, I've just declined. That said, I would probably still send one additional note just expressing that your intent to reconnect/maintain the connection clearly didn't come through. If she still doesn't get it, then it may be time to let go, as much as it sucks.

As for the registries, I'm rather clueless. As others have suggested, I would probably pare them down a bit but monitor them in the weeks leading up to the shower to make sure there are enough things in each price range remaining.

Fertilized said...

Hey katie- weighing in my 2 cents:

#1- let it go- move on - abnd do not look back. You know your intentions, you cannot explain or show them to people who refuse to see them. It is a bit sad, no it's very sad, but some people just don't get it.

*if it helps you: I did the opposite for my shower. I barely invited anyone - and now i am dealing with many hurt associated friends and aquanitance that feel as if i didn't care enough for them to be there. Moral of the story- sometimes you just can't win them all.

#2- I only registered at one store - but I told a few people about other items that i wanted from another. My advice- make sure there are not duplicates on the big items. Such as register for only 1 swing, high chair, bouncy seat, storller, etc. high dollar items. All others are fair game. i think it is great to give choices. I have 111 items on my registery and I am very well aware that I do not need that many - it's just items and the more the merrier.

Tracy said...

It sounds like I'm coming in late on this one. I think you handled the situation with your friend with grace, and if anybody showed a lack of etiquette, it was her. If she had concerns about your friendship, she could have handled it much differently...I've been invited to showers that I thought, "huh, why are they inviting me?" But you know what I do? I DON'T GO. And leave it at that. Well done, girlie.

Re: the gift registry, I don't think there's anything wrong with having a lengthy registry. At the end, you can purchase anything still on there at 10% discount, and most people know that. All the mommies I've spoken to say to put everything on there...if you don't get it all, you don't get it all, but I HATE a short registry...and so do most people.

Kathy V said...

I think the e-mail is very tactful and it explains exaclty what happened. Maybe after the shower you can invite her out to lunch also. No gift just the tow of you reconnecting. If she is not interested it is sad but atleast you know. If she has forgiven you, then maybe you can rekindle the friendship. I don't know if that helps any.
While you are right I hate seeing a lits with only expensive things or a few inexpensive things, a list that long might start to scare me too. If you go on the lighter side, people will get you something anyway and if you honestly didn't want it, then you can take it back and get what you wanted anyway.

Julie said...

I think your email sounds great. It's too bad that your friend counldn't have just dropped it, but I suppose it's better to have clear air. (maybe a little of tact woudld've been nice!)

Sounds like you're well on your way to resolving these issues!

btw, awesome bargains from your previous post! I'll have to go check out that store too!

Fertilized said...

Katie- as always - grace, humility and elegance.

Well done

Joy said...

I'm sorry but I honestly think she was being the jerk. All she had to do was politely decline the invitation to the shower. I've been invited to many things from people I've lost touch with and I always politely decline, maybe send them a card.

I feel as though if you HADN'T invited her she would have been hurt. And yet when you do invite her she's a total snob. I would never dare tell someone I think they just want a gift from me! That's just AS rude and I feel like you're being INCREDIBLY gracious to her.

My Reality said...

Wow, I am impressed with how gracious your response was to your friend. If you had been including her on the email updates and she had respoded to them, the I say it is fair game to invite her to the shower. It isn't like she had no idea you were pregnant.

I don't really think you have to cut your registries down at all. A registry is a wish list, and if you wish for all if it, then leave it.

Adriane said...

Oh, Katie. I am just coming to this update. I really feel for you. My take on both situations:

1. Your friend. Personally, I think it was crass of her to approach you in that sense. I honestly do. Who really invites someone just for a gift? I mean, seriously. There are plenty of people I am inviting to my shower that I haven't seen in some time, but at least have spoken with/emailed. Lives are busy. Things come up. Please don't be hard on yourself in this situation. Frankly, I think it's quite rude of your friend to have accused you of inviting her only for a gift. If she really felt that way, she could have easily declined the shower invite and left it at that. Enough said. Your responses to her are more than polite and gracious. You have been through so much. Anyone who knows you would understand that. I commend you for being a bigger person than I would have been!

2. Registry Items. This is tough. I know where you're coming from. I have been to my share of baby showers and been at stores just pulling teeth to find a reasonable gift on the registry. Over registering (within reason) is my personal preference - at least, that's what all my girlfriends advised me to do and I trust their judgment. Give your invitees a variety of choices on the registry. Nothing is worse than being at BRU trying to find one of four things left on the registry.

Hope you are doing well. And, I hope the friend situation comes to a resolution. You're a wonderful person!!

nutmeg96 said...

Oooooh, I'm so mad on your behalf. Honestly, I think that woman is a jerk. If she cut you out of her life because you were in a hurry one day -- AND because you were just going through the motions after a loss -- then she's not worth investing any time in. I am sure you have plenty of real friends who are understanding about what you've been through and do not hold a minor thing like that random meeting against you. She is *not* your real friend. Write her off.

Life's too short to waste time on jerks like that. I almost hope she doesn't respond to your email, so it will make it really easy for you to walk away.

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