On Thanksgiving my sister called me and asked us to please come to her home across the state for Christmas. My husband is a firefighter and could not take Christmas, or New Years, off this year. So we thanked her for the invite and assured her we would get together in the Spring. My parents went to her home for Christmas and she wanted us all to be together. They left two days later.
After Christmas my mom told me my sister planned a 50th anniversary trip with just my sister’s family on my parents actual anniversary in another state, but just as dangerous for everyone to travel to. My mom said they didn’t want to go but felt obligated to accept the gift. I was completely shocked and hurt. I cried over the phone with my mom as a reaction. Something I rarely do. I felt terrible being excluded and terrible for crying!! After all, its THEIR anniversary and a happy time!
Now I am sitting here over a week later feeling guilt, anger, resentment, and bitterness. Yes, I contacted my sister after the fact on Christmas and asked her if the trip was a Christmas present or for their anniversary? She said it was for their anniversary but was fine planning a party with me later in the year. I responded that our parents did not want a party but for us just to be together. Her response was “They say that..but…”.
She wasn’t planning on telling us either. I feel like it was a big secret. She would be angry with me if I excluded her from such an important life event with our parents. We have had a strained relationship in the past for similar issues but recently have been pretty close in communication. — Feeling Excluded
I get that you feel excluded, and maybe even embarrassed that your sister has now gifted your parents this anniversary trip while you seemingly haven’t given them anything yet. And given what you say has been a strained relationship with your sister, I can understand why it’s probably hard not to take this personally. But you can’t take this personally. It really isn’t about you. It sounds like your sister really wanted to do something to celebrate your parents’ milestone anniversary — and 50 years is quite a milestone — a little closer to the actual date. Should she have included you? Of course. But, she probably assumed you wouldn’t be interested — dangerous travel time and all — and didn’t want to give you an opportunity to encourage her to not plan the trip.
Look at the bright side: Now there is zero expectation of you making the trip — a trip you yourself say you would not want to make. And you can still do something for and with your parents in the spring, which is what you were planning all along. The only issue here is that you feel excluded and maybe like you haven’t done enough to celebrate your parents on their actual anniversary. So, do something for their actual anniversary if it hasn’t passed yet. (I’m a little confused about the timeline of events here; has the anniversary and anniversary trip already happened? If not, contact your sister and let her know you’d like to pay for your parents’ anniversary dinner if she will tell you where they’re planning to eat. Or you can arrange to have a nice bottle of champagne sent to their table). I’m sure your parents do NOT feel like you blew them off, but, if that’s a concern of yours, write them a nice letter expressing genuine congratulations on their milestone and express how excited you are to celebrate with them in the spring. In fact, do that anyway.
As for the spring celebration, I’d just plan whatever it is you think your parents would enjoy or what you want to do for them–and THEN let your sister know what her role or contribution can be if she’s interested (or just invite her to whatever it is you plan and pay for and if she offers to help contribute, great, and if not, just be prepared for that and plan accordingly). Clearly, she’s already given her anniversary gift to your parents, so I would just assume the spring celebration is your gift to give. You seem to differ on what you think your parents want anyway, so maybe it’s best that you just do your own thing for them.