Dear Amy: When my parents divorced a few decades ago, they understandably stopped organizing family beach vacations.
As soon as I started making a little money (in my 20s), I stepped in and began pulling the vacation together. I was also footing the bill for my siblings and our children.
It was important to me that we all get together at the shore once a year, and I continued to do this for about 30 years, paying between $2,500 and $10,000 a summer — without asking for any help.
This summer both of my children are in college and my budget priority is tuition. This spring I let folks know I wasn’t going to be able to handle the family beach vacation.
When asked, I shared the rental catalogs and budgets with members of the family so they could handle the details if they wanted to.
There won’t be a beach vacation this year because no one stepped up.
While I’m sad not to have time in the sand, I have exactly zero guilt over this.
The problem is that there seems to be some resentment that I wasn’t able to do the planning and that it was out of my budget to even share expenses this year.
What do you think I can say to my family — other than that I have other priorities right now, and if they want to organize a beach vacation they need to do it on their own?
— Vacation Buzzkill
Dear Buzzkill: Sincere congratulations on providing summers at the shore for your family for an impressive 30 years.
Congratulations, too, on your “zero guilt” stance. Zero guilt over your choice is the surest sign that you were doing the right thing (for you and others) over the years, and that you are doing the right thing now.
Sibling groups are something like ocean liners — changing direction extremely slowly and occasionally causing a little nausea when someone rocks the boat.
Of course there is some residual resentment as you take this annual gift away! The resentment stems from the fact that they don’t want to take on this annual financial and organizational burden. They also don’t like this “guilt-free” business. How dare you?!
There is some likelihood that after a year off, one of your siblings might pick up the slack for next year. Or perhaps one of the younger generation will choose to do as you did all those years ago. (Wouldn’t that be great?!)
You are saying the right things. You might also add: “I was so happy to be able to do this for such a long time. It was my pleasure. I hope someone else will choose to step up. But if not, we had a good run.”
Dear Amy: I attended a memorial for a relative and was surprised to see an elderly man there wearing a T-shirt and sweatpants.
I did speak with the man, and he made it clear that he knew about the service ahead of time, so it wasn’t as if he just found out and showed up at the last minute.
He just decided that this was what he was going to wear to a memorial service?
What is your opinion about someone attending a wake dressed like this?
Dear Anonymous: I agree with you that sweatpants and T-shirts are not “appropriate” for a memorial service.
My opinion is that this elderly individual might not have been able to manage getting dressed more appropriately for this event. Some people cannot manage buttons and zippers.
Some people don’t have any dress clothes.
The kindest reaction is to look past what this man was wearing, and appreciate the fact that he showed up.
Dear Amy: “Expecting in AZ” didn’t know how to react to her in-laws’ demands to be present for the birth of her first child.
I 100 percent agree with your answer.
As a retired OB labor and delivery nurse who also taught birthing classes, I cannot stress enough how important it is for the new family to bond with each other.
The prospective mother has the right to determine who she wants with her for the delivery.
As I stressed in my classes, 20 people were not there when the baby was made and so they do not need to be there when the birth occurs.
Give the new parents time and space until they are ready to introduce their new little one.
— Been There
Dear Been There: It can be extremely challenging for expectant parents to advocate for themselves.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at email@example.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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