Tuesday, February 21, 2017

RSVP's and the Decline of Common Courtesy

Birthdays have changed since I was a kid.

When I was little you picked a date, sent out some invites, kids showed up with presents for cake and ice cream.  There was never a question as to whether or not people would attend or not.
Was I the most popular kid in school?
Not at all.  I was totally middle ground when it came to popularity.

These days I'm terrified of my kids' birthdays.  

This is how it goes:
Invites go out.
No one RSVP's.
The day of the party I tremble with fear, hoping that ANYONE will show up.
A handful do- the kid is happy.
My alternate plans in the case of no one showing are abandoned.
At least that's how things have gone down thus far.
It sucks.

It's not that they are outcasts- they're not at all.
This is just the way things are these days, at almost every party for every kid I've ever been to.

There seem to be two exceptions: the ├╝ber  popular kids and the kids whose parents have sprung hundreds upon hundreds of dollars for the A-list Birthday locations.

What the hell has happened to us??!

I'm not going to lie- I've been part of the problem.  When an invite comes home I'm not 100% thrilled at the prospect of giving up my Saturday.  However I've written about the time we kept my daughter home from a party and found out later that she was THE ONLY KID WHO WOULD HAVE BEEN THERE.  Yes, that's right- a child had NO GUESTS at their birthday party.  BECAUSE OF ME.

Lesson learned- many times over.  From that point forward if we could possibly make a party, we did.

Somewhere along the line we have forgotten not only how to appreciate hospitality, not only that our choices impact others, but- and I say this strongly and clearly- that we have completely lost touch with common courtesy.

Gone are the days where an RSVP was something worth spending the time on (despite the fact that you can literally spend 10 seconds on text responses these days).

Gone are the days of intentionally not inconveniencing others.

Gone are the days of making plans and sticking to them- even if a better offer comes along.

No ladies and gentlemen, we are currently living in a "me first" age.
A time when we wait until the last minute to make plans- simply because we might not feel like following through with plans we have committed to at the last minute-so why commit at all?  After all, something better (even if it's a glass of wine on the couch...) might present itself day-of.

I grew up in a time, not all that long ago, when people were still social.
Parties and get-togethers were thrown.
We knew our neighbors.
We connected to the people around us.

These days?  We.  Are. Failing.

I'm so not immune to this.
I'm crazy anti-social.
Anxiety-riddled, and it's getting worse with age.

But you know what?
I push past it.

When it comes down to it, I can't live with the thought that a kid might have a traumatizing, embarrassing party just because I wanted a few hours to myself.

 In the end my selfishness comes behind being a decent human being and taking into account the feelings of others.

A few days ago I went to a little get-together thrown by a lovely lady.

This was her second attempt at hosting- the first event was canceled the day before because everyone bowed out without notice citing various reasons.

She pushed forward and rescheduled, giving those who had cancelled the benefit of the doubt.

Want to guess what happened on the new date?
The same people who opted out at the last moment did the same the second time.

Our hostess was so gracious.  She spent so much time planning...and then re-planning.

She put time into making far more adorable favors than it turned out were necessary.

Here's the thing guys...I love a Saturday in my pj pants, relaxing on the couch, sipping red wine.

Or a vodka soda, depending on the weekend.  ;-)

But there are two *very* important things to remember:

1) Other people matter.  Other people's time matters.  Other people's efforts matter.  Other people's feelings matter.  When we forget that we are not always #1 we are cheating both others and ourselves.

2)Socializing is NOT wasted time.  Human connection outside of screen time.  Face to face, person to person.  Connecting with our neighbors IS IMPORTANT.  I don't know how we have lost track of that in the past  20 years or so but we have.  Check in, connect, plug in, love your neighbor.

 It's easy to consistently put ourselves first these days, and to justify it in our minds as well- JUST STOP IT.  Go to the kids' party, even if it's modest and you have to sacrifice your afternoon.  Invited to an event?  WRITE IT ON YOUR CALENDAR (or dictate the event to Siri, whatever works for you!) and make your word mean something.  RSVP is a request for a response- if you truly can't make an event- or even just really, truly have no desire to go- let the host know in advance.

Being responsible matters.
Being trustworthy matters.
Being someone who can be counted on matters.

I don't know about you, but I want to be the kind of person who is all of those things.

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