Here’s a recent Christmas-themed letter from Dear Prudence you might enjoy, with my advice to follow:
Ahhh… the thought of having less time with your grandchildren makes you extremely sad? That’s too bad. You know what else is extremely sad? BEING BANNED FROM YOUR OWN MOTHER’S HOUSE FOR THE HOLIDAYS. Shame on you. You’re a disgrace. Why “Gertrude” (such an uglier name than “Ivy” and “Holly”!) even bothers to maintain any contact with you at all, let alone come visit you on multiple weekends, is surely a testament to the solid foundation and self-esteem-building love her father must have given her because I can’t imagine it’s a reflection on YOU, the mother who bans her own daughter at Christmas for no other reason than because her presence is inconvenient.
If you want to take advantage of Gertrude’s seemingly warm feelings for you and avoid a change of heart on her side, start behaving like a loving mother and open your home to her whenever she would like to visit, holidays included. Tell those other daughters of yours that starting immediately — yes, NOW — Gertrude will be invited to all family gatherings since she is, after all, family. If they have a problem with that, they don’t have to come. Or they can pick up the phone and work things out with their older sister, either agreeing to be cordial to each other or choosing which holidays to alternate their visits with you. They’re all adults, so let them work it out amongst themselves. Your job is simply to open your home to all your children and to never exclude one, especially, ESPECIALLY when you don’t even have one solid reason why her presence would be unwelcome. (And if you cared at all to know, you could just ask your two younger daughters — the ones who seem to have a problem — what the problem actually IS. And then you could even go a step further and discuss their feelings and try to reason with them why it’s important for your sake that they at least try to put their feelings aside during the holidays and make an effort to tolerate their older sister. But I suppose that would take effort on your part and why would you want to expend any effort when you already have “picture perfect” holidays without your oldest daughter and you’re so busy baking pies).
If your decision to welcome Gertrude to your home during the holidays means you’ll miss time with your grandchildren, you’ll just have to find some other time during the year — like maybe the weekend before Gertrude comes or the weekend after — that you invite them to visit or you go see them. Not all grandparents get to see all their grandchildren at every holiday every year. Most don’t, actually. That you apparently have had the honor to spend so many Thanksgivings and Christmases in their company is a rare privilege — one I would hope fills you enough with the spirit of the season to throw some compassion, love, and respect to poor Gertrude, your one daughter who doesn’t have her own family to spend the holidays with. If you’re lucky, she might just have enough compassion and love for you to overlook your appalling indifference to her emotional well-being.
You can read Prudence’s advice here.
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].
Christy December 20, 2013, 9:17 am
I really think that everyone has that secret that could “ruin Christmas”. A few years ago, my uncle was surprisingly drunk at Christmas dinner, and it turns out it was because he and his wife had already decided to separate but hadn’t told anyone, so they still hosted the dinner! So he (not wanting the separation) just decided to have 17 beers that night to get through the meal.
He later talked to gf (who’d never met him before) and me about the bar where he had his bachelor party, and kept trying to persuade us to go there.
It all made a lot more sense after they separated.
lemongrass December 20, 2013, 9:32 am
Back when I was 17 and living with my SIL, her cousin stayed the night at our place. We went out and all got fairly tipsy, him more than us. That night I woke up to him stroking my hair and told me I should come out to the living room and hang out. I said no and he left my room and that was that. 2 years later, Mr. Grass and I got together. Having to see him again was weird but now it’s way back in the memory hole and I do really like and get along with him. Only the 4 of us know that story but man would that ruin Christmas if it came out (he’s married with teenage kids)
lemongrass December 20, 2013, 9:34 am
Also, let’s make this a thread where everyone tells their dirty family secrets.
Christy December 20, 2013, 9:36 am
That was my goal 😀
lemongrass December 20, 2013, 11:04 am
C’mon guys! I can’t be the only one! It’s just awkward and weird then.
Fabelle December 20, 2013, 11:15 am
I’ve been trying to think, but I can’t think of any. Maybe nobody lets me in on the family secrets…
Addie Pray December 22, 2013, 4:41 am
This means YOU are the family secret hahahahaha
katie December 20, 2013, 11:16 am
i wish i had stories to tell, there are apparently tons of them from my family, but i dont know or speak to any of them but one uncle/aunt/2 cousins, so i only know bits and pieces.
i do have this though- we went through a box of very very old pictures from my late grandmother once at the uncle/aunts/2 cousins lakehouse. my mom was there as well, so i had 3 people who all were there telling me the stories about the pictures and letting me know who was in them (it was amazing, and my uncle let me keep a bunch of the pictures!). anyway, there is this one picture of my grandmother, grandfather, and like 3 other people out at a dinner together somewhere. and my mom goes, oh, here, this is funny, this is your grandmother, thats your grandfather, and that was your grandmother’s lover! apparently they just all hung out. haha
MMcG December 20, 2013, 11:46 am
Sorry but we are too loud and upfront in my family to have secrets at this point… I wish I was kidding but stuff doesn’t stay hidden for more than a few months at most… which is sometimes good, sometimes not 😉
barleystonks December 20, 2013, 12:03 pm
unfortunately most of my family’s secrets are of the dark, evil, criminal, disgusting kind and sharing them would only make me (and everyone on here) mad.
Except we have this really fun not-really-incest thing going on right now.
My mother’s sister died of a heart attack about 10 years back, and my uncle recently remarried- to my mother’s (3rd? very distant but still traceable) cousin who was formerly married to my mother’s first cousin and they started living together before the cousin-ish marriage was fully dissolved and also first and second wives were totally best friends their whole life.
Nobody actually cares about any of this but trying to explain it to my husband and stepdaughter was fun because too many cousin-ish labels.
iseeshiny December 20, 2013, 8:55 pm
Right? Mine too. All our family secrets are gross. I wish we had fun ones.
CatsMeow December 20, 2013, 1:07 pm
I’m not sure if this is a “secret” or not, but I find it funny. All the old people in my family used to date each other. Like, they’re all connected in some way and I can’t remember the intricacies now. For instance, my grandma and my uncle’s (by marriage) mother both dated the same man before they were married. They obviously didn’t know each other at the time, though. There’s more like that, but I doubt it’s interesting to anyone else so I’ll stop here. 🙂
csp December 20, 2013, 1:12 pm
Ok, I have a weird one. So my cousins’ grandfather on the other side. Like 10 years ago, it came out that he molested his kids, so like my aunt by marriage. The thing is, this grandfather is still at family events and weddings. This man is in his 90s and my aunt is in her 60s. But I am like, how can this side of the family stay in a relationship with this man? I mean, he will be dead soon but I think it is weird that everyone knows what he did and we go to a wedding and pretend nothing happened.
Holly December 20, 2013, 9:28 am
YAY You’re doing a new “In Other Words”! That makes me so excited since I requested more of those. 😀
I haven’t read Prudy’s advice yet, but I’m so in agreement with Wendy. This is ridiculous and mean and I’m all kinds of angry on Gertrude’s behalf.
SasLinna December 20, 2013, 9:29 am
This made me sad. It’s painfully obvious that Gertrude is less loved by her mother because she’s the child of her “difficult” ex husband. I commend Gertrude for speaking up and saying she’s hurt rather than either just giving up on her mom or getting angry. And definitely those who have a problem (Ivy and Holly) should be the ones to offer an explanation, not Gertrude.
Fabelle December 20, 2013, 9:30 am
Ugh I saw this yesterday, & yeah, wtf is this woman’s problem? I mean, clearly “Gertrude” is a terrible reminder of her first unsuccessful marriage or something? but she shouldn’t punish her daughter for being a scar on her otherwise perfect life. Because that’s a fucked up mindset to have. But unfortunately, that’s the mindset she has. Sooo WWS.
Also where is everyone? It’s so quiet this morning.
katie December 20, 2013, 9:32 am
geez, wow. this is so sad, and we see this theme repeated in letters more often then not. the whole, i have a perfect-now family now, my mistake-then family was before, but for some reason the mistake-then family is trying to ruin (read: be a part of) my perfect-now family!
very sad. appearances simply do matter more then family, apparently.
lets_be_honest December 20, 2013, 10:13 am
It is so sad. There’s a part of me that’s really glad my dad and stepmom never had kids together because I know there’d be some of this (not to this extreme, but still). People suck.
csp December 20, 2013, 1:25 pm
So, I also just wonder if it is as simple as how long do you keep a really difficult person in your life? I mean, the mother might be directly responsible for Gertrude’s chip on her shoulder. But it also might be that every holiday becomes such an ordeal that you tip toe around someone.
My SIL went through a bad time after her divorce. We begged her to come to Thanksgiving one year and she sat at the table and said the nastiest, passive aggressive things ever. She then said that we should be grateful that she even showed. It was a mess. The next holiday, she started to pull the same crap and we said, “if you don’t want to come, then don’t. We don’t feel like begging you anymore.” She ended up coming and having a better attitude. However, if you have someone who is a real pill, how long do you put up with it before you say, we are better without you.
jlyfsh December 20, 2013, 1:29 pm
shouldn’t the daughters then have had something to complain about specifically? not just eh we don’t like her. but, rather last time she said or did x and we can’t handle it. instead it seems like they’ve never gotten along and Gertrude has never been invited.
is Gertrude the difficult one or has the mother always treated her like an outcast and added fuel to the us vs. her mentality that seems to exist there?
csp December 20, 2013, 1:47 pm
So, this is a bad example but it is all I have. I had two friends that stopped being friends. The one is quiet, nice, and maybe passive aggressive while the other is outgoing, funny, and a little in your face. So the passive aggressive one, broke off the friendship but couldn’t really give one example of why. She gave examples of harsh things said at her expense over the years and the final straw was a side comment like all the others. If you have someone who “can’t say anything nice” then it is hard to give one defining reason. This might be a terrible LW like everyone thinks, but it also might be a pill of a daughter or both.
jlyfsh December 20, 2013, 2:00 pm
there is a difference between children and friends. and even if the daughter is a pill, the adult thing to do is try and work it out. not make your mother choose between children.
csp December 20, 2013, 2:39 pm
Fair comments. I agree with everything you are saying. However, I remember once whining to my mom, “But why do I always have to be the bigger person?” why isn’t Gertrude just as responsible for trying to make the relationship better? We have no proof that Gertrude has tried to mend the fence either.
jlyfsh December 20, 2013, 4:37 pm
nor do we have proof that gertrude is the problem. other than the mother assuming it’s because she has a bad personality compared to her two other loved daughters. and honestly if it’s nothing more than personalities that don’t mesh well, you suck it up. it sounds like it’s once a year, not all the time. and i mean i’m sorry but you better have a actual, damn good reason to ask a mother to exclude her child from her house. not just we don’t get along, i don’t enjoy being the bigger person.
TECH December 20, 2013, 9:32 am
So, this is probably going to sound judgmental, but I’ll just say it — What kind of mother excludes her daughter from holidays for no good reason? What kind of mother is that?
I could understand if “Gertrude” had committed some crime or done something horrible, but the LW herself admits she doesn’t have a solid reason. This just makes me sick. There are some pretty despicable parents out there.
TaraMonster December 20, 2013, 9:40 am
Prudence was not mean enough. My blood was BOILING reading that letter.
MMcG December 20, 2013, 11:50 am
The comments section, at least on Slate, went bonkers over this letter. And yes I ready Prudy on slate because I hit my WaPo free articles limit like a week into the month… and that’s how I get around it.
This “mother” sucks so bad. and I like the name Gertrude for the record, there was so much hate over the name!
Fabelle December 20, 2013, 9:43 am
I agree— Holly & Ivy were like, “We’re not coming if Gertrude is there”, so the mother just excludes her, no questions asked? Fuck that. It seems like she was almost looking for reason to exclude her.
kerrycontrary December 20, 2013, 9:51 am
Who is so childish to refuse to come to the holidays if their sister is there? Unless a sibling threatens someone or abuses a child, I can’t imagine ever behaving this way. Suck it up and be cordial if someone gets on your nerves or says the wrong thing, but don’t exclude them from your family.
Christy December 20, 2013, 10:05 am
I skipped Thanksgiving one year because I couldn’t stand my mom’s husband at the time. I stayed at school and went to Thanksgiving with a friend. But siblings, I can’t imagine.
emily85 December 20, 2013, 11:21 am
I don’t get along with my brother at all. He has systematically cut different people off in my family for no reason, including my 90 year old grandmother. I would love to be able to avoid him, but he does come to one family gathering for Christmas and I would never skip it just so I didn’t have to see him.
katie December 20, 2013, 10:00 am
oh that answer is easy, its the kind of mother who is only worried about how “picture perfect” her christmas’s look with her “whole” family (ie. only the mother and father, bio children, their bio children, ect).
kerrycontrary December 20, 2013, 10:06 am
Yup I think this is really the crux of the problem. She’s been so fixated on having this perfect nuclear family instead of acknowledging that she had a previous marriage and child.
muchachaenlaventana December 20, 2013, 9:41 am
This just makes me so incredibly sad. I agree with Wendy and I hope this sort of deluded and obsessed with appearances woman (who has seemingly no remorse over her blatant favoritism or how much she is likely hurting her first daughter) takes Prudie’s advice and invites her eldest daughter to celebrate with them before its too late (although for the life of me I can’t imagine why Gertrude would actually want to go).
Kate B. December 20, 2013, 10:36 am
Really. If I were Gertrude, I’d find someone else to spend Christmas with, or plan the perfect “me” holiday. Who needs a mother like that?
cdobbs December 20, 2013, 9:41 am
Way to go Wendy!!!! Perfect response!!!!
ktfran December 20, 2013, 9:44 am
I so wish this was a letter actually sent to Wendy. And I so wish the writer could read Wendy’s, and I’m sure most of our responses.
Because I mean, she needs to be called out for being a horrible person.
It’s letters and people like this that makes me realize how truly lucky I am. Yes, I complain about my family. But really, I grew up with one of the “good ones.”
kerrycontrary December 20, 2013, 9:49 am
Yeh…I don’t know why a mother would treat her children so differently just because they have different fathers. Or play favorites so obviously. So not only does the LW like her other 2 daughters more because they come from a “better” father, but also because they have grandchildren. That’s just wrong. I’ve actually seen this scenario play out a lot where a parent has a child from a first unsuccessful marriage, and then favors their “picture perfect” 2nd family because it fits their mold of what they think a family should be. The first child is slightly ostracized and can’t find their place in either “new” family. It’s really sad.
starpattern December 20, 2013, 9:59 am
UGH I can’t even. Gertrude is welcome to celebrate Christmas with my family if her mother can’t find it in herself to stop being such a selfish hag!
Stonegypsy December 20, 2013, 10:13 am
I thought Prudy gave a pretty good answer to this as well (though I agree that she probably wasn’t harsh enough) and did call this woman out for what she was doing. Hopefully this woman realizes what a horrible mother she’s being and begs “Gertrude’s” forgiveness (you can feel the dislike she has for her daughter by the fake name she gave her)
jlyfsh December 20, 2013, 10:32 am
I hope that the OP updates Prudence about this!! You would think that the act of writing this letter would have made the mother think about what she was doing and instead of sending it off throw it in the trash and invite her oldest daughter to Christmas. And I mean who DOESN’T have a family member who not everyone gets along with? Or rather maybe a better wording of that is, who doesn’t at times not get along with everyone in their families? Hopefully the OP reads Prudence’s advice and that of the commenters on Slate and realizes that she needs an attitude adjustment. As do her two daughters. I’m going to guess this isn’t the first time that there has been a clear division between her children. Which is just sad.
Fabelle December 20, 2013, 10:36 am
“You would think that the act of writing this letter would have made the mother think about what she was doing…”
RIGHT?? Like how do you write this, all “Holly… Ivy… GERTRUDE” & not be like, “hmmm…”
rainbow December 20, 2013, 11:37 am
Honestly, I’d rather be a Gertrude than an Ivy or Holly. But I agree that LW wouldn’t.
ChemE December 20, 2013, 10:32 am
Yep, this letter pissed me off too. I’m that kid from the mistake family, so I’ve always been treated differently. My mother has never been able to separate her hatred for my dad from me.
Gertrude has one up on me in that I’ve given up on trying to have a relationship with my mother and sister.
I think the woman in the story should leave Gertrude alone and stop with the fake weekends at other times in the year. Gertrude should’ve stopped spending time with a long time ago especially when she found out you were inviting the sisters over. How you ever thought that was acceptable is fucking ridiculous. How do you get sleep at night knowing you INTENTIONALLY exclude your daughter?
I’d also like to point out it sounds like you have never had your first daughter to your house for the holidays. Even before the sisters initiated the ban. Just, wow. I hate you and you aren’t even my mother.
I can’t even say anything else because this feels too close to home. Having the family I do and then letters like this makes me wish one day you’ll have to be licensed to have kids.
Miss MJ December 20, 2013, 10:45 am
Wow. This woman might actually be a more self-absorbed, shallow and useless cunt than the woman who wanted her future DIL to tell her disfigured father that he couldn’t come to the wedding because his scars would “scare the children” (read: “be unpleasant to look at”) and I didn’t think anything could top that.
Way to go humanity.
Addie Pray December 20, 2013, 10:53 am
I haven’t read any of the advice yet so let’s see how I do “solo”: Tell H&I to suck it up. You’re the mother to all three girls, and their making you choose in a sense between them or Gertrude for the holidays is really, really shitty, especially when they can’t even articulate to you why there is a rift. If H&I are too stubborn and still won’t come home for the holidays, that’s on them.
Addie Pray December 20, 2013, 10:56 am
Oh Wendy’s advice was even better and stronger. LW, my mother just said Gertie is welcome to our house this Christmas.
KMJ December 20, 2013, 11:00 am
Absolutely shameful. Cannot believe a mother could treat her child this way.
Wendy said it well.
painted_lady December 20, 2013, 11:05 am
The only possible way it’s not completely shitty that the LW took sides is if she knows Gertrude’s been abusive and Holly and Ivy feel unsafe. She says she doesn’t even know what Gertrude did. And why is it that the other daughters say they don’t want her around and the LW automatically assumes Gertrude did something?
It also sounds like one of the reasons for preferential treatment is the grand kids. I wonder if Gertrude had a kid or two, the LW wouldn’t magically change her mind about standing up for her daughter.
Look, LW, if Gertrude is honestly unpleasant to have around – if your problem is with her – then you need to address it with her. You didn’t mention it in your letter, though, so I’m going to assume it’s that Holly and Ivy are spoiled little whiners and expect Mommy to fix everything. You can demand Gertrude be pleasant to them, and you can demand that they be pleasant to her, while all three are in your house, and if any of them isn’t, then you can ask them to leave. If how they interact outside the house is unpleasant, that’s on them as adults to fix. If they genuinely can’t enjoy the holidays when they’re in the same house, you need to figure out a compromise that doesn’t end up with Gertrude being unwelcome in her own mother’s home.
Christy December 20, 2013, 11:17 am
I just don’t understand why people feel entitled to grandkids.
kerrycontrary December 20, 2013, 11:30 am
I know! People get really weird about grandchildren. Like they would prefer to see their grandchildren instead of one of their children. My fiance’s parents keep “joking” that his sister can move out, but their grandchild needs to stay in the house. Except I think they are serious.
Pamplemousse Rose December 20, 2013, 12:30 pm
My MIL is already a being over the top about having a grandchild, and the baby hasn’t even been born yet.
WAPS December 20, 2013, 3:51 pm
YES. My husband’s parents are like this. When they moved to the city that my husband and his older brother live in, they chose to live 10 minutes away from them and 1-2 hours away from us so that they could always go see their grandkids (we don’t have kids). Then all of them insist that we come to them always because it’s too much hassle to travel to us (or even meet us halfway!) with kids. His parents refuse to speak up when their other son and his wife are being ridiculous because they’re afraid that they’ll restrict time with the grandkids, even if it means that my husband won’t be able to attend a family event. So although they don’t know it yet, this will be our last Christmas with them.
painted_lady December 20, 2013, 12:23 pm
Well, and in so many families, the adult children with kids themselves are the “good” kids.
MMcG December 20, 2013, 12:39 pm
Exactly! unless you have Downtown Abbey to try and make sure you keep in the family… and even then it’s really not ok.
Plus I imagine all these grandparents were not exactly feeling the same way when their in-laws and parents tried to tell them what to do when they started having kids. It’s like you get amnesia or something and all of a sudden your need/entitlement to control is perfectly fine. F that!
painted_lady December 20, 2013, 11:25 am
In disagreements between adults, short of one party being abusive or similar to the other party, you stay the fuck out of it. Don’t manage their conflicts for them, and maybe Holly and Ivy will learn to act like adults. Ugh. Helicopter parents of children are bad enough.
mandalee December 20, 2013, 11:10 am
This letter is just awful and it especially hits home because this woman sounds like a nicer version of my maternal and paternal grandmothers. They have no problem excluding their adult children in favor of others. It hurt very much when I was a kid and my mother had to explain to me that we couldn’t go to Christmas at my grandmother’s house for three years in a row because your aunt, who was my grandmother’s favorite, didn’t want our family there due to some stupid family disagreement. The disagreement being that my aunt had gotten knocked up by my uncle’s friend and named her son after him (!!), but her poor husband was completely in the dark about the whole thing. How wonderful.
Honestly, I feel bad for Gertrude in all of this. I mean, disagreement or not between the sisters, this is their mother. By not inviting Gertrude she is clearly taking sides here, and that’s honestly the most petty thing a mother can do with her children. If anything, she should be interested in bringing them together in hopes that the family can be on good terms one day, rather than focusing on her own narrow view of the current state of her family.
Amanda December 20, 2013, 11:15 am
WTF WTF WTF? Why are people like this breeding? To channel BGM, NEWSFLASH LW: If you didn’t want to have children with your shitty ex-husband, you didn’t have to. In fact, you didn’t have to get married in the first place. Fuck you. You truly are scum.
CatsMeow December 20, 2013, 11:17 am
Only one word came to mind when reading this: Despicable!
CatsMeow December 20, 2013, 11:18 am
(And of course I heard it in a Daffy Duck voice in my head)
Addie Pray December 20, 2013, 11:29 am
Re-reading all our comments from yesterday, it sounded like we were all high on crack cocaine. (Can you be “high” on crack cocaine?) We were on something though, riiiight?
Also last night I had a dream that I asked my neighbor for weed, and he brought me a joint but then stuck his hand up my shirt because he wanted to make sure I didn’t have any lumps. (Very nice of him.) The impromptu medical exam turned sexual and he dropped his pants but instead of a penis he had a blue rabbit. I mean a vibrator rabbit, not a rabbit rabbit, and it was blue and had flashy lights and it vibrated and circled around. I asked him if his penis was natural or if he had a penis job and he said nope, all natural. And I believed him.
Sorry, back to Team Gertrude.
CatsMeow December 20, 2013, 11:35 am
We were a little crazed, weren’t we? I think we were high on DW.
Awesome dream, by the way.
Addie Pray December 20, 2013, 11:39 am
The weed sequence was obviously inspired by the DW letter. But can you imagine if a guy had a blue rabbit penis? If women get boob jobs it’s only fair that men get penis jobs.
lemongrass December 20, 2013, 11:51 am
He wouldn’t be single if he did.
CatsMeow December 20, 2013, 12:01 pm
OK, so a blue rabbit for a penis, I can see that. But flashing lights? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a vibrator with flashing lights, although I don’t doubt that they exist.
Fabelle December 20, 2013, 12:05 pm
I had one once—the lights didn’t FLASH, but it lit up? It actually kind of frightened me, because I was afraid the bulb would blow as I was using it (it would get really hot)
CatsMeow December 20, 2013, 12:08 pm
Fabelle December 20, 2013, 11:53 am
I thoroughly enjoyed you guys’s (guyzezzz) (how do you spell the possessive of “guys”?) high comments from yesterday.
Christy December 20, 2013, 12:03 pm
Addie Pray December 20, 2013, 12:04 pm
No it needs four Z’s.
Fabelle December 20, 2013, 12:06 pm
Thank you for validating me, AP 😉
(@Christy thanks– I am an embarrassment to my major, apparently)
Addie Pray December 20, 2013, 12:17 pm
don’t listen to christy. her mind is poisoned by all the books and schooling she’s had.
Christy December 20, 2013, 12:25 pm
You GUYZZZZ. I have a coworker who’s trying to correct me on my grammar and it’s KILLING me.
Edited to appease AP.
lets_be_honest December 20, 2013, 12:32 pm
Does it bother you as much to have spelling corrected?
Addie Pray December 20, 2013, 12:35 pm
whoa, four Z’s, christy, just four. let’s not overkill.
what’s the grammar issue? tell us, i’ll fix it. i’m the queen of grammar, at.
Christy December 20, 2013, 12:44 pm
It’s honestly usage that bothers me. Like, when people think I’m spelling something wrong and I’m not. (affect/effect is a big one here.) Quite frankly, I’m not wrong with spelling unless it’s a typo. I check if I’m not sure, and I’m usually sure.
And the big thing now is pluralization, AP. Like I said in the hell thread, mothers-in-law vs mother-in-laws.
CatsMeow December 20, 2013, 12:54 pm
OF COURSE it’s mothers-in-law. Idjits.
Northern Mermaid December 20, 2013, 1:08 pm
I don’t know why there’s not a reply underneath Christy’s, but Christy taught me the difference between affect and effect and changed my life.
lets_be_honest December 20, 2013, 1:10 pm
I’m pretty sure I never get that one right. Share your knowledge Christy!
It does drive me crazy when people misspell. And I WANT to tell them but they get offended. I’d want someone to tell me so I stop looking dumb.
Addie Pray December 20, 2013, 1:54 pm
It drives me bonkers when people get effect and affect wrong. But know what is really frustrating? insure v. ensure. I see it wrong in contracts all day long it just is so dumb. Oh you want to take out an insurance policy to “insure” that we are on the same page? No, ensure.
I make errors ALL THE TIME but it’s because I am typing fast and not thinking and I hit send and then I think.
katie December 20, 2013, 1:55 pm
i also need to know the difference of affect and effect. i know i learned it at some point, but its way to abstract for me to really think about while im trying to write stuff.
honestly… i dont really care too much about my spelling. i care much more about what im saying, how its phrased, ect.
Addie Pray December 20, 2013, 1:58 pm
effect is a noun. a cause and effect.
affect is a verb. how things affect you, you’re affected….
but i dunno, i was always more math-oriented, less english-oriented in school.
lets_be_honest December 20, 2013, 1:58 pm
I found this:
The majority of the time you use affect with an a as a verb and effect with an e as a noun.
Yea, I’ll never remember that.
Addie Pray December 20, 2013, 2:04 pm
know what i fuck up all of the time? expressions. i can’t think of one right now but i never get them right.
katie December 20, 2013, 2:22 pm
ok i think if i think about that noun/verb thing i get it, but while im typing i am not going to stop and think about what is a verb and what is a noun, you know?
i need a much more paired down easy version. haha
Addie Pray December 20, 2013, 1:53 pm
oops wrong reply
CatsMeow December 20, 2013, 2:21 pm
My biggest pet peeve is your/you’re. Their/there/they’re gets me, as well as to/two/too. Affect and effect bother me a bit but I understand how it can be difficult for people to remember.
Bad spelling *does* bother me, but I don’t equate it with being dumb. One of my best childhood friends can’t spell for shit – never could, probably never will – but she’s really smart. I try to keep that in mind.
Addie Pray December 20, 2013, 2:40 pm
I try to keep you in mind, alll niiiight longgggg.
(i dunno. it is crack o’clock yet?)
Fabelle December 20, 2013, 2:44 pm
@AP I declare it crack o’clock
Lemongrass December 20, 2013, 3:51 pm
When people mix up lose/loose it drives me up the wall. That one should be easy.
rainbow December 20, 2013, 11:43 am
I bet Gertrude kicks ass. If she didn’t she would have bratty Ivy and Holly face to the ground by their snotty pigtails by now.
This LW makes me sick. Even my monster mother wrote to say I could come for Christmas if I wanted to, this is terrible. I hope she doesn’t come calling Gertrude when she gets too old and sick with the excuse that Ivy and Holly have kids to look after.
I miss you guys. I’ve been having some problems at work so I decided to for a while not open any personal stuff on my work computer as a rule to get more stuff done (lunch break now), but I’ll be back. Don’t say anything interesting while I’m gone.
Addie Pray December 20, 2013, 11:45 am
We should round up all the “rejects” — Gertrude, Ramona, the toothless groomsman, etc. — and throw a big DW party in their honor.
Morgan December 20, 2013, 11:45 am
Remember last week when I asked if it would be rude to call someone the most selfish human being on the planet because the LW was jealous her boyfriend was a good father or some shit like that? Yeah, I take that back, because this beeyotch is clearly the most selfish human being on the planet. So congrats other LW, you’ve been demoted.
Hey LW. Your first marriage? It happened. And your daughter is a product of that. And you can hate her father from here to high heaven if it helps you sleep at night, but to hold against your daughter that her father is a man you chose to marry and sleep with but no longer love is such bullshit. News flash. You are not entitled to some perfect 2 kids a husband with a 9 to 5 a picket fence and a lab. Sorry your life has been a little messier than that. Most people’s are. Deal with it. What you can do though, is not neglect your adult daughter who for some reason still wants your love. She is your daughter, just as much as Holly and Ivy are. And maybe the reason you say Gertrude is unpleasant isn’t that she takes after her father. Maybe its that her unloving bitch of a mother made it clear her whole life how she was the unwanted kid ruining her fantasy of a perfect family.
Geez. Why is the world the worst today? Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good riddance.
Bittergaymark December 20, 2013, 11:54 am
I always read Prudie. What’s interesting here is both she and Wendy ignored two small baby elephants in the room. One — the whole half sibling issue, which I would bet plays SOME role here. And two) how judgey mcjudge/judge the LW clearly is that Gertrude (God forbid!) never got married or has kids…
Also to me, one sign of a difficult personality is making Ultimatums and thus demanding that your half sibling be forever banned from the reindeer games. Actually, to me such a move is more than “difficult.” Hell, it’s more than bitchy. Oh, fuck it — there truly is no other word — it is downright cunty.
PS — This disgraceful behavior on the mother’s part is precisely WHY I think its FUCKING gross when breeders feel the need to drop litters of kids with each spouse. The first kids ALWAYS get the fucking shaft. Seriously — has anybody ever read a letter ANYWHERE about how the first kid(s) from a prior relationship is favored over the second and third batches? Um no. I think not. New rule — if you fuck up your first marriage / baby spawning relationship — that’s IT. No more fucking kids for you. The world is WAYYYY too overpopulated for you all to keep desperately trying to validate your relationships by making babies you can like more than your first, more difficult children. End. Of. Rant.
Addie Pray December 20, 2013, 12:01 pm
When people use the word cunt (or cunty or cunt-whatever) as a pejorative it doesn’t bother me, and I feel bad about that. Like it should bother me, but it doesn’t. Oh well. Sometimes CUNT is the only appropriate word to use to describe the situation.
Bittergaymark December 20, 2013, 12:06 pm
Don’t. Don’t feel bad. It’s actually just yet another sign of your intelligence and emotional maturity, Addie.
Addie Pray December 20, 2013, 12:16 pm
^ objectively the best BGM comment ever ^
CatsMeow December 20, 2013, 12:13 pm
I’m not particularly offended by “cunt” either. I’m not sure why the word carries so much weight! (Maybe someone can clue me in?) It seems like people in other countries (like Australia?) use it all willy-nilly and no one seems to care.
It’s odd to me that there isn’t a male equivalent. I mean, we call guys dicks all the time – using a male genital slang as an insult – but it doesn’t carry nealyr as much weight. Thoughts?
Fabelle December 20, 2013, 12:27 pm
I think it’s the “power imbalance” thing– “dick” isn’t as insulting as “cunt”, because when calling a woman a cunt, you’re reducing her to her genitals (which is a way that women have been historically been oppressed?) Also, penises are generally thought of in positive terms—powerful? & vaginas are not.
I mean, these are the arguments I’ve HEARD—but personally, I can’t find much in them that resonates with me. The gendered insult issue is just not something that bothers me—maybe because I fucking curse all the time, & want the entire dictionary of curses at my disposal? I use the word “cunt” a lot, like mostly when I’m driving, or sometimes when I’m angry at a particular person (“she’s just a CUNT. A. FUCKING. CUNT.”) I also call people dicks, & pricks (the latter of which I feel is worse, somehow?)
CatsMeow December 20, 2013, 12:49 pm
The word “prick” makes it sound small. So you are taking the power away from the penis!! (Yes, I know that sounds ridiculous. I’m going along with your above reasoning, ha).
Lemongrass December 20, 2013, 1:29 pm
But penises are so wimpy, kick them and they’re down! Vaginas are amazing.
Addie Pray December 20, 2013, 3:54 pm
Isn’t it funny to think, when I read this letter, I really had no idea “But penises are so wimpy, kick them and they’re down! Vaginas are amazing” would be one of the comments, you know? Love it.
lets_be_honest December 20, 2013, 12:08 pm
Eh, I have “half” siblings and so does my boyfriend. I don’t our parents love any of us less or different. Obviously I’m sure my stepdad feels differently about his own kids, but not my actual parents.
csp December 20, 2013, 2:49 pm
so, I knew this guy who was divorced with a 6 year old son. He made the comment, “My ex wife hates me and my best revenge is that my son is just like me. So she is stuck with me every day.” I wonder if parent resentment of their children can happen because they can see the ex they hate in their child. Where your parents don’t have those childish hang ups.
Imsostartled December 20, 2013, 12:11 pm
I’m with you Mark. I felt that the LW was taking “Ivy and Holly’s” side simply because they spawned her grandchildren. So gross.
CatsMeow December 20, 2013, 12:15 pm
Yeah, I was thinking that too. Ick.
ktfran December 20, 2013, 12:25 pm
Oddly enough, my cousin – my aunt’s only child from her first marriage – is obviously the favored child over her younger half sibling. I could see it when we were growing up. And it sucked for the younger one, a product of my aunt’s second, crappy, falied marriage.
But I do agree that whatever child comes from the “bad” marriage is the one that gets the shaft.
AKchic_ December 20, 2013, 12:15 pm
I saw this yesterday and felt bad for “Gertrude”. Never have I treated my children differently because I hated the father. Nor would I. It’s not the kid’s fault I chose poorly in the father department.
The sisters need to work this shit out themselves and mom needs to have an open home. Mom needs to nut up and tell the girls to grow up and work the shit out themselves or behave properly. Mom’s house, mom can invite who she likes. Unless she secretly doesn’t like Gertrude. I think it’s obvious she doesn’t since she didn’t get a Christmas-themed moniker as well. She had to be separated out. How incredibly sad for Gertrude. I hope Gertrude finds some happiness elsewhere.
painted_lady December 20, 2013, 12:44 pm
I think not liking Gertrude is at the heart of this. And if that’s the case, LW needs to go ahead and own that she is the kind of mother who doesn’t like her own daughter. Don’t pawn this off on your daughters when it’s about you. And then decide if you’re okay with being the kind of mother who leaves her daughter out of holidays, intentionally, because she dislikes her. I don’t think it’s in any way okay, but it’s something LW has a right to do. Everyone has the right to be a shitty parent to adult children and a shitty person in general…and at least then Gertrude can get the message that her mother is an asshole and MOA. Gertrude, go find yourself a family-by-choice to spend the holidays with and kick your asshole birth family to the curb.
Bittergaymark December 20, 2013, 12:32 pm
Amusing side note tangent. The LW clearly shows disdain for poor Gertrude by choosing such a non-festive, non-holiday alias for her “other” daughter. And yet, on a subconscious level, this move is rather revealing in that Ivy can often be poison — and Holly? Those berries are toxic…
lets_be_honest December 20, 2013, 12:36 pm
Holly berries are toxic? How bad are they?
mandalee December 20, 2013, 1:12 pm
Yep they are! Extremely Toxic for dogs and children, more so because they’re more likely to put them in their mouth than an adult.
lets_be_honest December 20, 2013, 1:16 pm
But not for cats? This is what I get for trying to be Martha Stewart. We have a holly tree in the backyard and I put that shit all over my house in vases. And now my whole family is going to be poisoned.
mandalee December 21, 2013, 1:26 pm
Whoops, I left out cats. Yes, them too. They aren’t poisonous to be exposed to, but the threat of someone picking them up and eating them is the problem. If they’re just sitting around in the backyard or on a table it’s fine. It’s when you ingest them, it’s a problem. Usually not a life threatening situation, but definitely a throwing up/diarrhea type problem at the least.
AKchic December 20, 2013, 6:41 pm
Every Gertrude I’ve known has been a sweet person.
However, you are right. And it’s something I noticed too. A “jolly”, yet deceptively poisonous name for the favored daughters and a seemingly old, ugly-sounding name for her less-than-favored daughter. It makes me wonder just how true the names actually ARE in real life.
applescruffs December 20, 2013, 12:43 pm
It makes me wonder just how unpleasant poor Gertrude is. I have a lot of very unpleasant people come through my office who are estranged from their families, and usually for good reason. I mean, it doesn’t sound like this mother is handling the holidays well at all and Holly and Ivy are probably entitled and awful, but I wonder.
painted_lady December 20, 2013, 12:52 pm
Yeah, true. I mean, my aunts are no longer welcome at my parents’ for the holidays because they are completely terrible and they cause everyone to be stressed and uncomfortable. I was one of the first people to speak up about how awful I think they are…but it never occurred to me that it was in any way my place to force my mom to make a choice. That’s some crazy entitlement right there.
csp December 20, 2013, 1:38 pm
I am right there with you. I am wondering if the Gertrude snub wasn’t one big event but a million tiny cuts over years.
applescruffs December 22, 2013, 1:02 am
Exactly. My grandmother is not welcome in my home, and it’s not for any one reason but for a lifetime of reasons. I will see her when she visits my mother, but she hasn’t seen my house because I don’t want her terribleness polluting where I live. Still, I would never tell my mother that I wouldn’t be coming to a holiday dinner because my wicked grandmother is there. I just can’t help but think there’s more to the Gertrude story.
captainswife December 20, 2013, 12:51 pm
I was in a converse situation. I had to tell my parents that I didn’t want to go overseas with my multiple children for a week if my sister would be there with her family. To some degree, I’m Gertrude, but I was at least invited. However, if we had gone, I would have been subjected to nasty side comments on everything (my parenting, my core values, my marriage, EVERYTHING), as well as constant one-upmanship and criticism of my children by not only my sister but my mom in concert.
I told my dad in confidence that the vacation just with THEM sounded great, but that I really didn’t want to spend that much money, vacation time, etc., for what would end up being stressful, not just for me, but for my children as well…in other words if it was them and my sister’s family.
He asked why, I explained, and he said that he could understand why I would feel that way.
My parents ended up going, invited my sister, and then a TON of other relatives…turned into a family reunion. My mom spent a VAST amount of time telling me how much fun they’d had, showing me the album, etc… at one point I said, “I wish I’d known you were planning to invite everyone!” with a friendly voice, and she just coldly said, “Well, you didn’t want to come.”
Well, okay, then.
End note…my cousin who went said it was majorly stressful and everyone was snarky the whole time…
meadowphoenix December 20, 2013, 3:28 pm
Well I’ll be the unsympathetic to Gertrude cunt and say I’m really uncomfortable with the notion that a) you’re a bad parent if you don’t like your adult child or b) your role as parent should always supersede you own personal wants even after the child is an independent adult.
I also think that the grandchildren are the only actual people that LW can stand, since not having Ivy and Holly over sometimes only evoked sadness that the grandchildren would be missed, not apparently Holly and Ivy.
lets_be_honest December 20, 2013, 3:32 pm
Its one thing to not like your adult child, its another to try to make them feel like shit and choose your other kids over them.
Wendy December 20, 2013, 3:37 pm
Not just a “bad” parent, but an incredibly shitty parent if you actually ban a child — whose company you enjoy even — from your home during the holidays for no other reason than because your other daughters won’t come visit if she’s there. To not even bother to find out why the bratty sisters won’t come if gertrude is there? To just say, “Oh, okay! I’ll just tell her she’s unwelcome” just like that? Just because? Yep, that’s SHITTY!
meadowphoenix December 21, 2013, 1:55 am
Well, I guess I have a different philosophy on parenthood then. If my mother, who generally enjoys and needs my company decided that she was going to spend the holidays with other family members, I would feel like her raising me to independent adulthood gave her the right to do whatever she wanted with her time. That’s all she owes me as a parent.
Everything after childhood is the relationship we discover together as adults and has no bearing on her value as a parent. But I generally think family confers no entitlements in adulthood.
Wendy December 21, 2013, 7:37 am
Yep, different ideas of parenthood. I happen to believe parents who stop being loving just because their child turns 18 — or because they have additional children they like better — are shitty.
something Random December 21, 2013, 11:28 am
Meadow, I wasn’t going to share this but my sister is married to a 300 lb angry, paranoid, guy who constantly makes violent threats. It’s a very long story but the gist is that he went off on a tirade on my five year old when they were visiting my mother’s house (unexpectedly) and she was babysitting my son for a couple of hours. Obviously, I was super pissed and went up to talk to him even though my sister was afraid he would blow up. He was in full on crazy mode talking about protecting his two year old daughter and how he would end up in jail for doing something stupid and so on. I will never feel comfortable around my him again. My relationship with my sister will probably never be what is was. I will not get to know my niece and nephew well and that breaks my heart. My niece’s middle name was named after me and she is so smart and sweet and wonderful. But I will NEVER let my kids play with their without my own STRICT supervision and that is taxing and stressful. So it limits the time we see them at get togethers. All that being said, I would NEVER give my mother an ultimatum telling her she isn’t allowed to invite them to holidays. I can’t imagine doing that to my sister but more so I can’t imagine doing that to my mother! How incredibly inappropriate! And to leverage 6-10 people not showing up if one does? What horrible bullying! Perhaps the mom doesn’t have as much in common with her eldest daughter. Of course she is still obligated to be a mother! No, not a caregiver or even a friend, but she is still a mother. And she is doing a horrible job at it if she is willing to ignore her daughter’s simple request to be included and what may be a very lonely time.
I will say there are people in my extended family who I refuse to be in the same room with except at a wedding or funeral. But a sister? Or a daughter? Unless she’s a psychopath that is just plain cruel.
Ammie December 21, 2013, 1:40 pm
It’s a nice, modern sentiment… that we owe nothing to one another and expect nothing, even within families. Sort of Randian, and it appeals to me on some levels. It’d be nice to feel no responsibility toward my children once they turn 18… it limits the level of commitment. I don’t think I’ll be that kind of parent, though… in my family, our love is messier than that. There are basic expectations of being loved and welcome around your parents, if you’ve done nothing to warrant being shunned. So I’d be really hurt if my mother said that my sister had suddenly decided, apropos of nothing, that she didn’t want me at Christmas, so she was going to have to ask me to stay away. It’s Christmas, not a random weekend gathering. Being asked not to come for no real reason would be the rough equivalent of being told that my mother sees me as less-than-family.
Wendy December 21, 2013, 3:22 pm
Ok, story time. I have a cousin who doesn’t like me (loyal readers may remember a shakedown we had in the comments of the essay I wrote about our grandfather’s death). Well, several years ago — 2006 — my immediate family (mom, dad, and sister, and I) joined the extended family for Christmas for the first time ever (we usually did christmas in germany, where my parents lived until this year). Long story short, I did something very, very, VERY innocuous that royally pissed off my cousin who was looking for a reason to get bent out of shape, and she told her mother (my mother’s sister) that if we were ever invited to Christmas at her mother’s house again that she would no show up. My poor aunt, faced with having to choose between her own daughter and her sister/ sister’s family, told my mom that while we could come over for family parties, we were no longer welcome to actually stay/sleep at her house while her daughter was there. My mom handled it well, but I was livid and it took a few years before I was able to let it go (I was and am still pretty close to my aunt). I remember how hurt and angry I was just as a niece and a cousin, so I can only imagine how awful it would be to have your own mother pull that on you. Poor Gertrude.
SasLinna December 21, 2013, 3:42 pm
I would have at least a tiny little bit more respect for the mother if she herself had decided she doesn’t want to be close to Gertrude anymore (event though I’d still think a parent should at least have a good REASON for doing that9. But it’s not even that she doesn’t want to see Gertrude – she’s fine seeing her at other times – she just doesn’t want her to interfere with her precious nuclear family Christmas celebration.
csp December 20, 2013, 3:49 pm
This is exactly what I was thinking. I couldn’t articulate this but this is it. I was talking to my mom and she was in a tizzy about Christmas and making all the presents equal. I was like, “we are in our 30s and we don’t care.” I told my mom that we weren’t looking for a payday and we were all adults. I just wonder when your childhood can stop being an excuse about your adult relationships.
rieux December 20, 2013, 5:46 pm
Someone in the Slate comment board posted that you should google image search “Gertrude.” And they were right. It is pretty awesome — gives you a little psychological window into the LW’s choice of pseudonym.
Kim December 20, 2013, 8:04 pm
I do not know LW but I wish we could all write her letters telling her how F’d up it is that she behaves this way and that her younger daughters who are clearly pampered b*tchs to even say they won’t come if she comes…..I agree the LW seems to look down on Gertrude for not having a spouse or children.
This letter made me so angry and horrified and it all started with the “naming” of her girls – I think the LW is just like her bratty horrible younger daughters and that is why she doesn’t even realize what an asshole she is.
I want to find Gertrude and invite her to my family’s house for Christmas…..
JenjaRose December 21, 2013, 12:18 pm
I have a sister who is a terror to get along with. She throws temper tantrums, holds grudges, and posts horrific things online. This past year, she has stopped talking to me and my other sister and we have stopped talking to her. She has done some heinous things. But guess what? We’re all at my parents’ house on the holidays. While we don’t chat or anything, we don’t fight and just civilly coexist for the sake of being with our parents on the holidays. My mother knows that this sister is the reason for the rift, but she would never DREAM of not inviting her, and we would never expect that of her.
This letter writer sounds like an absolutely horrible mother towards poor “Gertrude.” I think she’s pushing her away from her newer family unit, as though she wants to just erase her past from memory and keep it separate from her “new” life and family. Despicable! Letter writer, get your act together and be a real mother. Let your daughters work things out. They are adults. They should be united with their family for the holidays, and YOUare the uniting factor. So act like it!
Ammie December 21, 2013, 1:47 pm
“They should be united with their family for the holidays, and YOUare the uniting factor.”
This is actually a good point, if you’re someone who believes in certain basic familial duties. What kind of jerks can’t suck it up and be nice to their half-sister for a few hours for the sake of their mom? It’s their MOM. Of course, apparently they realize she doesn’t much love her daughter either and isn’t going to hold the line, so they can get what they want – why compromise? Ugh.
bethany December 21, 2013, 3:04 pm
This is so sad. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to know that your own mother essentially loves her other 2 kids and grandchildren more than you. The LW is a huge asshole. Huge.
JMM January 7, 2018, 7:00 pm
Late to the party:
LW hates her Ex, so she dislikes Gertrude; because Gertrude is a permanent blot on her Norman Rockwell fantasy of her, Hubby and two perfect children, Hemlock and Poison Ivy. (Someone else thought up those on another board.) It’s telling that she has a ‘lovely time’ with Gertrude during other visits (perhaps because she can pretend Gertrude is just a cousin who is visiting?)
It’s also telling that she (and her bitchy daughters) never give any reason; most LWs can’t stop telling us how bad the other person is.
Hubby is not really mentioned except in passing, but he probably only tolerated Gertrude because she came with LW , who he wanted to marry for some damn reason.
Hemlock and Poison Ivy grew up with their parents’ contempt for Gertrude, so feel fine telling Mom that they don’t want her around. (And not giving any reason for it.)
I also bet anything that LW expects Gertrude (as the contemptible unmarried daughter with NO kids) to be her (and Stepdaddy’s) caretaker when they get older.
I wish LW had just been honest enough to tell Gertrude “I don’t want you around because you are an embarrassment and blot on my perfect life” and let Gertrude find people who care about her.