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HS Graduation etiquette question

helpingmom40helpingmom40 199 replies6 threads Junior Member
My friends and family are sick of hearing me ask about this and I have gotten great advice here before. We have a very bad, toxic relationship with DH’s parents and sister. He takes D20 to visit her grandparents (4 hours away) once a year and his S always turns up unexpectedly (from 6.5 hours away) to monopolize the conversations along with her husband and son. The visits are uncomfortable and DH and DD have a miserable time. DH and his S do not communicate at all other than one sentence emails for birthdays so she is obviously informed by their parents.

D20 has said she needs to invite her grandparents to her HS graduation because it is the right thing to do. I have made one hotel reservation for the night of the ceremony. D20 flat out refuses to invite her aunt, uncle and cousin and says it is her special day and she gets to decide what she wants to do, choosing her guests and celebration plans. I agree with her 100%. DH does too, in principle, but hates confrontation. When do we let the grandparents know when the ceremony is and about the hotel reservation? Too little notice is rude especially since they are getting older and will need to plan the trip. Too much notice gives a heads up to the others who would have no issue getting in the car and showing up uninvited.
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Replies to: HS Graduation etiquette question

  • thumper1thumper1 76087 replies3353 threads Senior Member
    We had very limited tickets for HS graduation. The only ones who went were our immediate family (DH, me, and whichever sibling wasn’t graduating), and both sets of grandparents. We invited NO extended family to HS graduation...at all. We only got 6 or 7 tickets...so it wasn’t even a discussion to have.

    Your post has me a little confused. Are you saying your husband has a son he doesn’t communicate with? Is the son invited to the graduation?
    DH and his S do not communicate at all other than one sentence emails for birthdays so she is obviously informed by their parents

    And who is “she” in this sentence?
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  • TdoesCollegeTdoesCollege 140 replies0 threads Junior Member
    DHs sister?
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  • socaldad2002socaldad2002 1735 replies33 threads Senior Member
    “Too little notice is rude especially since they are getting older and will need to plan the trip.”

    Tell the grandparents as soon as possible. What your other relatives do or don’t do should not be your primary concern.

    Your D20 graduating should be a positive experience, invite who you want and give them plenty of notice. Period.

    If the “unwanted” relatives call or even show up let them know that your family wishes to keep the celebration small and they should honor that.
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  • helpingmom40helpingmom40 199 replies6 threads Junior Member
    Yes, the S is his sister. Sorry for the confusion.

    I suggested saying we only had 6 tickets but the event is at an outdoor performing arts center with 5,000 seats and the class has 300 kids. DH thought it was bad form to get caught lying.

    Thank you for the input. I will have DH tell his folks at the end of May.
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  • EmptyNestSoon2EmptyNestSoon2 60 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Most schools have a rain plan. If it’s sunny it can be in the stadium, but if it rains, it may move indoors to a smaller venue and you will get limited tickets. Nothing wrong with saying you have the 6 (or 4) tickets that you will be assigned for an indoor ceremony; you can only really count on that. If it turns out to be sunny and outdoors, that’s a bonus.

    Separately, am I the only one who sees the sister showing up at the grandparents when her brother (your husband) is visiting as a nice thing; an olive branch if you will? She may not be trying to ruin your husband’s visit by monopolizing conversation; she may be trying to bond with her brother and niece. But regardless, I don’t think it’s necessary for an aunt to travel over six hours to a graduation; just grandparents is fine
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  • helpingmom40helpingmom40 199 replies6 threads Junior Member
    @EmptyNestSoon2 In another family, perhaps it could be seen as extending an olive branch. Unfortunately, the dynamic is so dysfunctional that it really isn’t. DH’s nephew is 8 and doesn’t even know DH or DD by name even though we send him bday and holiday cards and gifts. He refers to them as “the guy in the green shirt” or whatever and “the girl with the curly hair”. When Grandma refers to them by their names, he stares blankly. DH and his sister don’t even talk to each other she just sits and gives him dirty looks and rolls her eyes whenever he says anything. Last time it was so awkward and uncomfortable, DH and DD came home half a day early.
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  • oldfortoldfort 23087 replies293 threads Senior Member
    I don't know what is to discuss here. You don't want the sister-in-law's family at the graduation, so don't invite them. Just tell her you guys want to keep it small. It's nice your D wants her grandparents there.
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  • thumper1thumper1 76087 replies3353 threads Senior Member
    edited January 1
    I will have DH tell his folks at the end of May.

    When is the HS graduation? Most around here have happened by mid-June. If that is the case in your town, i would send the invitation by March so that the grandparents can plan.

    I agree with @oldfort. Invite the grands and that’s that.
    edited January 1
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  • helpingmom40helpingmom40 199 replies6 threads Junior Member
    Ours is the last Thursday in June. I meant to say the end of April or early May.
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  • Groundwork2022Groundwork2022 2658 replies55 threads Senior Member
    You folks are lucky! We get four tickets to graduation, even if the weather is cooperative. It's a big school.

    Anyway, it is perfectly fine to limit it to GPs only. We have never gone to any of our nieces and nephews graduations, although our family is on good terms. We are usually invited to a celebration party at the house, usually a different day than that of the ceremony. Similarly, when DD graduated 8th grade we had grandparents only to the ceremony and invited extended family to a dinner the next evening.

    If DH is not on speaking terms with his sister, it would be extraordinarily rude of her to show up expecting seats at graduation and to be wined and dined at your expense in celebration. Is she really the clueless type who will risk embarrassment just to tick you guys off? If so, I would not think twice about emphasizing to grandparents that this is a ticketed event and students are very limited in their allotments. By the time they notice any empty seats at the venue (the location of which they do not need to be told in advance - tell them you'll pick them up at the hotel), it will be too late.
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  • SJ2727SJ2727 2168 replies7 threads Senior Member
    What if it’s not ticketed? D19’s HS graduation wasn’t.

    I’d agree with invite the grandparents and provide them with the hotel room, the sooner the better. And just don’t invite the sister. (Would they really drive all that way and pay for a hotel just to be annoying?) if the grandparents ask if the sister is invited/why not, you or your husband are just going to have to be frank with them. It occurs to me, if the family dynamic is as I understand it, that you may need to be prepared for the sister to get the grandparents to “side with her” and not come either if she’s not being invited.
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  • helpingmom40helpingmom40 199 replies6 threads Junior Member
    I appreciate all of the suggestions so thank you!

    The funny thing is that isn’t outside the realm of possibility for Sis to just show up, not that she would spring for lodging but she would arrive with sleeping bags. She did that exact thing (plus a list a mile long of her latest food restrictions and demands to not serve certain foods for dinner because they would contaminate her plate) without an invite on Thanksgiving Day 2008, which is the last time I saw her. It’s hard to detail 25 years of bad behavior in a forum like this but just know it causes angst just thinking of her stunts and the possible ways she can ruin this momentous occasion.

    I like the suggestions of telling the grands not to tell sis and if we can’t trust them to honor our wishes they won’t be invited to anything else. They are toxic, too, mostly because of the vast amounts of alcohol they consume but I will share that MIL told me it was a good thing they made maternity wedding gowns because my her son wouldn’t marry me unless he had to (which wasn’t even the case but she is venomous). That was the second time I even saw her.
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  • SarripSarrip 304 replies17 threads Member
    Honesty is the best policy. Regardless of whether there are 5000 seats if there are tickets, I would mail them with the invite to grandparents. Let grandparents tell her that they have tickets. i would not put the grandparents in a position to keep my secret and if she showed up at my house I would be prepared with the information for the nearest hotel. My policy is if I wasn't expecting you, you don't get in,
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 8291 replies70 threads Senior Member
    I would be fully prepared to turn the sister away if she just shows up. They can sleep in the car if they have to.

    I'm sorry you have this stress.

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  • mom2andmom2and 2977 replies20 threads Senior Member
    The real issue is what happens when sister finds out. Even if the grands don't mean to tell her, what if she asks what they are doing that weekend? Do you expect the grands to lie? What happens if she shows up. Not that hard to find out that xyz HS is graduating on a certain day by looking at the website. Do you then turn her away? Not invite her to dinner? It is likely that the grandparents would guilt you into including her or you would end with a scene!

    I think you need to discuss this with your dd. If she doesn't want her aunt there the options are to not invite the grandparents or to invite them and explicitly tell the sister you don't want her to come for some made up reason. You dd may decide not to invite the grandparents to avoid the conflict. I don't think it is required to invite grandparents that live 4 hours away to the actual graduation. Especially if, like here, there are a lot of graduates and they all go off to an all-night event.
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  • AlwaysLearnAlwaysLearn 343 replies17 threads Member
    If they are all toxic, I wouldn't invite any of them. Why make for a stressful day for all of you?

    If the grandparents ask about the graduation between now and then, I would say, "Let me check because we may be limited on how many tickets we can get." And then come back and say you were able to get 2 tickets. They may not even ask about it.
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