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Unwanted birthday dinner

Let's say it is your birthday, and your family wants to know when/where you'll come-in to go to dinner--yet they have been complaining a lot about money. Now you could just bring them dinner or pay for the entire dinner (I have no problem doing that), but you know they won't allow that and dinner for five or six will get expensive. On top of that, you would need to drive to them--at least an hour each way, plus traffic--so you explain that "No, thank you. I don't need to celebrate this year." In terms of financing the dinner and the exhausting travel, I just think it sounds easier to not celebrate. They have argued that this is selfish. Am I selfish to not want the dinner?

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    1. I think you are very considerate and understandably frustrated. In this situation, I would probably ask if the birthday dinner could be at the home of the family members who are pushing for it (or go and fetch/return them if necessary and do it at my place instead). Then I would turn up with a crockpot full of pulled pork or chicken, some cole slaw, buns, and sauce. I myself would probably lie and say I found a new recipe that I've been wanting to try. Easy, cheap, family could contribute chips, cake and ice cream, quick, easy, cheap. Happy Birthday!

      1. I think they are the selfish ones in this case... they're making your birthday all about them.

        1. I wouldn't call it selfish, but I can see how they would want to spend time with you, maybe its more about being together than the actual dinner. Possibly you could meet halfway at a pizza place or something, just keep it easy and fun!
          I feel the same way every Valentine's Day, I do not want to go out to dinner, but men feel like they must take women out. And when the man is tight on cash it just makes everything awkward. I would be so much happier with a pizza and bottle of wine!

          6 Replies
          1. re: WhatsEatingYou

            We have done romantic dinner at home for V-day for six years. Worst day to eat out except perhaps Mother's Day!

            1. re: WhatsEatingYou

              Valentine's Day, I do not want to go out to dinner, but men feel like they must take women out

              Men don't want to go out on Valentine's Day. They feel that the women expect it. If you told you guy that the last thing you wanted to do was go out on that day, I would expect you would make him very happy. Tell him next time you want to stay home and he should bring pizza and wine. I don't expect you will get any complaints.

              1. re: Bkeats

                DH and I don't go out on V-Day anymore either. That is the day HE cooks for ME! That's my gift I asked for and I love it (I also don't want a dozen roses either). But he will pick up a special dessert.

                1. re: Bkeats

                  Pizza and wine for dinner. S'mores and cava for dessert. Perfect in-home valentine's day dinner.

                2. re: WhatsEatingYou

                  Oh what a good idea re the pizza place! Pick a town in between or whatever - research it on chowhound and yelp then tell them you have been dying to try the place because you saw it on the boards. Easy Peasy.

                  1. re: WhatsEatingYou

                    What'seatingyou, after working many holidays in restaurants, I will not go out to eat on holidays again. The kitchens are for the most part a zoo, the help would rather be home with their families, and the food is never as good. It is more fun to plan a simple romantic dinner at home and go out on non-holidays. And I keep in mind that Mondays & Tuesdays are the days that much of the higher-up kitchen staff is off.

                  2. Want to tell a little white lie? Purchase a gift certificate to an easily accessible restaurant and tell your family you won it or were gifted it, and your birthday wish is to treat them. Let them buy dessert.

                    1. Would you be able to say "Mom, what I've really been craving is your (insert simple dish or dessert. Would you do me the huge favor of making it for my bday? It's so much better than going out!"

                      1. You're being self-ish, not selfish. Do what's best for you.

                        1. If it is a tradition for your family to celebrate together just tell them a date that works for you and make them decided where.

                          If it is not a tradition than stick with your "I don't need to celebrate this year".

                          Sometimes it's okay to be selfish

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: viperlush

                            Just because it's a tradition, doesn't mean it must go on in perpetuity against someone's wishes.

                            1. re: Leonardo

                              No, but it might not be worth the battle trying to change at this time. Go along with it this year, but let it be known that in the future a family celebration is not desired. I've found that it a lot less painful/stressful to slowly introduce change and not try to force it. Especially when dealing with family.

                              Another thought for the OP. I don't have any money, but I do save change to buy the BF a Xmas gift and birthday. So maybe your family has done the same and does have the money for a birthday meal. Also, if your family is one that exchanges gifts could you possibly ask them not to give you gifts this year and that dinner is enough? Or say that you are too old to be treated to a meal, s how about everyone pays their own way?

                          2. As a Mom, I will defend the parents' position. If you have a good relationship with them, please indulge them. As we age and begin to feel things winding down, we reflect more on the past and enjoy reliving happy pastimes with our children. This day is special to a Mom too. Indulge her. Let her tell the story of your birth again, for the nine hundredth time. How she had to call your dad to come home from work to take her to the hospital. How unsure they both were those first couple days at home with you. Ahh. Your Mom has done so much for you, helped with homework, fed you, shopped for your school clothes, loved you. Is one evening too much to ask?

                            FYI I know the OP didn't specify parents.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Jerseygirl111

                              The OP could always use the excuse that she wants to treat the family to a dinner as a thank you to her mom for giving birth to her. I've always thought that Mothers Day is useless holiday and that instead you should just celebrate with your mom on your birthday. That way OP can control the cost, location, and date.

                              1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                Jerseygirl111--it sounds like you are/will-be a wonderful mother. Although a mother is involved, I cannot say she exactly fits the description of the lovely mother that you portrayed. But definitely, you sound like you would be or are a great mother for doing all of those things!

                                1. re: GraceW

                                  Thank you for your kind words. It comes from being a rotten daughter laden with guilt. I wish I had spent more time with my mother and now it's too late. My own mother was not...the easiest person in the world to spend time with but I still have regrets.

                              2. Indulge your family. One day they will be gone, and you will regret every lost opportunity to celebrate with them. If money is an issue, suggest a pot-luck at their place. Pinehurst's suggestion is great that this is the time to request anything special they make, or maybe inexpensive food from some restaurant you liked when you were a kid, under the cover of nostalgia.

                                As for the travel... look, like many people these days, my family is over 1,000 miles away. You're calling an hour's drive "exhausting"? You're losing me on that one. Heck, a lot of us commute that far to work every day. Your family won't be around forever, and you will have plenty of birthdays on your own in the future. But for now, no, your birthday is not all about you. You wouldn't even have a birthday if it weren't for these folks.

                                2 Replies
                                  1. re: MelMM

                                    I did commute an hour each way for 11 years and am so happy to be done with that. But in those years, there were many times when the thought of a non-work hour drive added on to that was exhausting to me. Soul crushing.

                                    Much of my family lives 1,000 miles away, too, so I get that. But our missing far away family doesn't preclude the OP from having other but reasonable feelings about this birthday celebration.

                                    Sometimes we just need to go into our own space for a bit. Sometimes we don't want to compromise for family. If that's all the time, perhaps it's a problem. If it's an occasional thing, a birthday here, a Sunday supper there, well, that's okay, too.

                                  2. Suggest takeout at someone's house as an alternative, assuming you have good takeout places nearby.

                                    Or, consider that they really want to do this. Perhaps some family members really want to have an occasion to celebrate at a restaurant.

                                    If this is truly the case, not just the sentiment of a couple of members, then choose a budget friendly place, and don't worry about how much it is costing. Sometimes you just have to decide not to worry about stuff.

                                    1. Your call. But you ask if you are being selfish and my answer is that, yes, you probably are. Your family want to celebrate your birthday - to show they care about you.

                                      Now, I understand about the money. My extended family usually expects that birthdays will be celebrated but they end up being paid for by only a couple of family members as others cannot afford to contribute (and don't even make an attempt to offer a contribution). Yes, it pisses me off that I am always paying for half the dinner for eight people - but such is family life.

                                      1. I think your gesture is selfLESS... you're considering the dinner expense is out of their reach. If they want to celebrate, tell them to bake you a cake instead and you can celebrate on the weekend before or after your actual date to make it easier on travel.

                                        You can tell them that you don't want to burden them financially and that their time is more important to you talking instead of in the car!

                                        1. Meet them, but suggest breakfast or brunch. Just as celebratory, and cost won't be as much of a factor.

                                          1. Sometimes people need a legitimate excuse to splurge a little bit, even if it means they have peanut butter sandwiches for dinner three times next week. The memory of the special meal for someone they care for more than makes it worthwhile. And while it is the day of your birth, that doesn't exactly equate to it being your birthday in the possessive sense. Even if no one else does, your mom has a certain claim to that day as well.

                                            1. It sounds more selfish of them to try to insist on doing something you don't want to do. Just say no thanks and let them deal with it.

                                              1. I don't understand the "come-in to go to dinner" part. Do you live an hour away from them? Where would you be driving them, to their house, pick them up, and then to a restaurant an hour away? Is this your immediate family, several generations? What did you do last year?

                                                1. I would let them treat me to a place of my choosing, which would be someplace very informal/cheap, or alternately, have them to my place for something I prepare but they bring dessert. My parents get a lot of satisfaction out of fussing over birthdays and other of life's significa, and I wouldn't dare deny them that satisfaction.

                                                  1. Thank you to every one for the suggestions. The individual seems relieved that I do not think I will make it for my birthday. S/he already has plans for part of the day--so I could tell, s/he wanted to celebrate for the sake of fulfilling the tradition but does not 'really' want to be together (and probably relieved s/he won't have to worry about the money).

                                                    --I will probably say, we can celebrate when my other relative comes into town, during an upcoming month. That way they don't have to pay for dinner or make dinner twice, and I'll probably bring them dinner. Maybe a small cake for myself.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                      1. We have a similar situation - In laws live an hour away, want us to come down to dinner for every birthday event. For the most part we've been able to meet them half way at a restaurant we all enjoy. It's been a little more difficult lately, due to MIL's mobility issues, but hopefully we'll get back on track with that soon. I hate to go there for meals, because she is NOT a good cook, and because it's very difficult for her.

                                                        1. Just tell them you will be sick that day and every day there is a family function in the future.

                                                            1. Why can't / shouldn't they drive to you?

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: LA Buckeye Fan

                                                                It "too far for them." In almost five years, they have driven out here once. I understand (to a degree): why should multiple people have to commute instead of just one person (me)?

                                                                1. re: GraceW

                                                                  Fair enough. Either way, I hope you have a happy birthday.