Scheduling: A Tiny Rant

When I was a kid, family get-togethers were scheduled and consistent. A place was organized, what various people were bringing was arranged. We knew there was going to be a big family thing at a specific place on several major holidays, and those schedules remained in place for long enough for my young mind to register them as traditions. Thanksgiving was at Grammie and Grandpa’s house in Monona, until they were too frail to host. Christmas Eve was an evening service at the Giard United Methodist Church and then snacks afterwards at The Farm, and Christmas Day dinner was at The Farm again in the afternoon… Really widespread family reunions were scheduled months in advance (usually in the summer at a public park) and arranged as potlucks. The Fourth of July was an enormous potluck that included not just our family but the entire church and was a truly impressive event, from the view of a small child. With that tradition of huge get-together meals in my past, I don’t mind and certainly enjoy having all my loved ones in one place at on time. I would even welcome the entire church to my home and property… If I had time and a whole church to help me prepare.

For as long as I have welcomed people in to my home, my qualifier has been that I will not clean specially for company. If “company” cannot deal with how my family lives, then “company” can go home to their own – undoubtedly much cleaner and less chaotic – houses. Or they can hover over their children lest they touch something that’s not allowed. Or even better, they can clean my house themselves. All of this is not my problem. If you come to my house, you deal with my dirt.

At the same time, I recognize that I have the home that is most likely to fit the entire extended family, and I enjoy the family get-togethers in that space. We tend to absorb the cost in time, space, emotional effort and much of the food for those family functions. With certain specific exceptions (like exotic dietary restrictions – and those with interesting food requirements tend to bring their own food), we feed our family when they’re in our house.

What I don’t like is when people assume that they’re welcome in m house en-masse for family functions that exceed the total volume of my household, and for which no one has gained permission.

Recently, I was informed that we were having a get-together that ended up involving 15 people. I found out about this plan third-hand over Facebook Messenger from my sister-in-law, who wanted to let me know about her family photograph plans (she’s an amazing photographer). That’s all fine, except that she let me know that it was happening AT MY HOUSE. In like 48 hours. That was the first time I had heard anything about it.

My m-i-l’s response was “Oh, Tim said that was fine, he should have told you.”

Heads up: I live with this man. I asked him about it and actually trust his response. He said that he did NOT give a definite answer. I will honor the people showing up at my house because I’m not a jerk, but I am simply not going to trust someone else’s word over his. And even if he was somehow amiss, it’s still poor planning and bad manners not to tell the hostess when she’s expected to be hostessing. Or, you know, even perhaps asking first.Yes, the answer will pretty much always be yes, but asking is still nice.

In any case, I ended up with a HUGE houseful of people that I was expected to entertain AND feed with very little warning, and I ended up feeling thoroughly taken-advantage-of.

I have an unexpectedly big house that I love to use to entertain my family because I know it will fit us, NOT because I want to be a jerk about my big house. It’s cluttered and dirty, and we don’t have nice things. But we love our family, and love to share what we have with other people, even if it’s not all gluten-free or vegan… That does not mean we want to be taken advantage-of. Thank you for asking rather than assuming, and scheduling things with the mistress of the house in future! Short-notice get-togethers are totally fine! (If they work.) Zero-notice get-togethers where I am hosting and don’t know anything about it are NOT. I sort of can’t even believe that I should ever have to say that. Apparently, though, I do.

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