because life doesn’t fit in a file folder

Just Say No (Thank You): Bar Mitzvah Tales, Part 3

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When replying to a formal event – where the hosts have sent you an actual printed invitation and provided you with a pre-stamped return envelope  — it’s proper etiquette to return that card with a yes or a no response, preferably by the date that is requested on the response card.

The whole point of providing reply cards is so that your host can receive a pretty accurate count as to how many guests will attend the event and begin to figure out table arrangements. It also helps us figure out how much booze to order and how many chickens and cows we’ll need to kill.

If people don’t send in their cardy-card-cards, your hosts are stalled in their planning.

Since we have just completed this stage of Tech’s bar mitzvah, it occurred to me that people are having trouble completing their response cards.

Never fear. I am here to help you.

It’s super easy if you plan to attend.

Here, let’s practice.

We’d love to attend.

(Check appropriate box. Stick envelope in the mail.)

And things are just as easy if you can’t attend.

Watch.

Sorry we can’t make it.

(Check appropriate box. Stick envelope in the mail.)

You can even write nothing at all.

(Just check appropriate box, and stick the freaking envelope in the effin’ mail.)

Getting people to return their reply cards is one thing, but I can’t tell you how — upon receiving a reply card — I’ve wanted to holler like Meatloaf: “Stop right there!”

For the life of me, I can’t understand the people who feel compelled to tell me more than I need to know.

But this is why I know that in lieu of celebrating with us:

  • 2 people will be on a fishing trip
  • 2 people will be attending a rock concert
  • 2 people will be catching up on an entire season of The Voice
  • 2 people will be at home because they “wouldn’t feel comfortable around so many Jews.”

I know, right?

Is your mouth hanging open?

If these fine folks had just stopped at “Sorry we can’t make it,” everything would be much less…

…uncomfortable.

At least we know where we rank with these people: somewhere below sea bass, Roger Waters, and a DVR filled with forgettable television singing performances.

Also, I learned that while a few Jews are acceptable, apparently, there is a tipping point.

(Still wrapping my brain around that one.)

In all seriousness, ‘tis the season of special occasions. If you are invited to a formal event, remember, the people who invited you, actually want you there, so don’t be a schmuck and make your hosts track you down and find out if you are coming.

People planning a big party know not every invited guest will be able to attend, so if you can’t make it, no worries. We understand. People make plans: often long-standing plans.

My son’s bar mitzvah falls on June 23rd, the first weekend where school is out for the summer in these parts. There are a zillion graduations. And weddings. And plenty of other conflicts. We know this.

If you know you can’t attend a party, just send the dang card back. Your hosts will be sad, but they will simultaneously love you for having such good manners.

But.

Think about the way you reply. Choose your words carefully.

Channel the minimalists who seemed to understand less is often more.

What is the most lame RSVP decline response you ever received?

A Confused RSVPer: Bar Mitzvah Tales, Part 2

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Self-made Star of David in Adobe Illustrator.
Self-made Star of David in Adobe Illustrator. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The invitations went out without a hitch.

The thank you notes arrived.

The RSVP’s immediately started to roll in.

(Which is totally fun.)

But yesterday we received one reply card that made my jaw drop.

Tech Support has friends who represent many different ethnic backgrounds and religious traditions.

Not everyone has attended a bar mitzvah before, so I expected there might be questions about what to wear to the synagogue and how long the service would last. I anticipated lots of other things, too.

But I did not expect issues with the reply cards.

Our reply card looks like this:

It seemed very clear when we designed it.

And when we addressed our envelopes, Tech’s friends received invitations with their names on the envelope.

So I was baffled when one very smart boy (let’s call him Wu) wrote six names (not in English) along with his own (in English) and then penned in the number 8 in blank line adjacent to “Number Attending.”

At first, I thought Wu was screwing with me.

But I realized he wasn’t.

I freaked out a little searched to find the school directory to try to locate Wu’s telephone number.

Unlisted.

(Of course.)

I called the school to see if they might help me.

“We can’t give out phone numbers or email address if they are not listed in the directory,” a voice on the other side of the line explained.

“Can you call the family and have someone contact me?” I begged. “It’s kind of important.”

Fifteen minutes later, the woman from my son’s school called me to tell me that she had reached the father.

She assured me that he would call.

Any minute.

I waited by the phone.

For hours.

No one called.

Actually, that’s not true.

The phone rang constantly.

But it was never *them*.

Eventually, I composed a letter that so so awkwardly explains — while Wu’s family is welcome to attend the service and the light luncheon which will be served after the service — the evening invitation and party is reserved for Tech’s friends and family members.

And people we know.

Now I have to figure out if Tech should give my note to his friend in school and have him pass it along to his parents…

…Or if I should just send it in the mail.

I’m thinking the mail.

Oy.

It’s official.

I’m flailing.

And I’m pretty sure I’m about to be considered inhospitable.

Please share your special occasion snafus here. I need a laugh.

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