Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

March 25, 2013

All it takes to prevent this is a little courtesy

Traditionally the phrase “RSVP” is included in any written invitation to a party or get-together, and indicates that the host/hostess would appreciate hearing from the invitee as to whether or not  that person will be attending the planned event.

This allows for gauging the necessary amount of food, beverages, space, favors, etc., and indicates that, even if you can’t attend, you have received the invitation and appreciate being invited.

Understanding of this common practice seems to have completely disappeared in the Cumberland area.

My 8-year-old son recently asked to throw a midwinter “Star Wars” party, just for fun. We sent out the invitations two weeks in advance. The party is tomorrow, and as of this morning, one person has RSVP’d.

Fortunately in conversation with me about a different matter another parent mentioned that he had instructed his son to tell my son at school that he would be coming.

I appreciated that RSVP, but since my 8-year-old frequently operates on the theory that wishing makes it so, I can’t always trust him when he tells me that someone is planning to attend his party.

Hearing from the parent directly is more reliable.

So the “party” tomorrow will consist of my son and one lone guest.

Unless some others show up unannounced.

This is not an isolated incident, it happens literally EVERY time we give a party, and I’m frankly sick and tired of it!

I would estimate the average number of RSVPs we have received for any party to have been about 2 percent of the number of people invited. At BEST!

And worse instances have occurred. When my eldest son was six, he invited 21 children to his birthday party.

Only three bothered to RSVP at all. Only one of them showed up, and he came an hour late.

My little boy was devastated.

His party was only saved by the fact that his birthday falls near his cousin’s, and they had a joint party, so some of her friends had brought gifts for him, and their presence and the attention they paid him somewhat consoled him. Without them, it would have been a tragedy for a 6-year-old boy.

Because this lack of courtesy so angers me, I have made a hard and fast rule for myself: the moment we receive an invitation (or as quickly thereafter as possible) I check the date on the calendar, telephone the RSVP number, write the party info on the calendar and staple the invitation to the calendar.

The entire process takes about two minutes.

It’s not rocket science.

I have encountered other parents who are just as angry as I am about this issue — but oddly enough, some of them were parents who failed to RSVP for invitations we’ve sent them in the past!

It is such a simple thing to do. Even if you don’t want to or can’t attend, at least have the decency to respond to the invitation. And do it in a timely fashion, don’t wait till the night before the party.

Frankly, I’m sick of seeing my sons’ hearts broken because their friends or their friends’ parents can’t be bothered to make a simple phone call.

The hurt to a child of not knowing if his party will happen, or that his friends don’t care, is agonizing.

There’s enough stress in life as it is.

Throwing a party should be fun and exciting, not an unpleasant chore or a source of pain for a child. Please, take the time to RSVP. It matters.

Ellen McDaniel-Weissler

LaVale

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