Social Etiquette and Good Manners/Dinner cancelation


Hi, I invited my son, his wife and two children to Easter dinner. In addition to dinner, I was planning a birthday celebration for one of his daughters ( my granddaughter) with a birthday cake and other members of the family were also coming. That morning I received a phone call from my son saying that the other daughter woke up that morning sick and they would not be able to come.
I felt he should have said that he and his daughter ( the granddaughter, I was planning the party for) would be coming instead of the entire family canceling. I indicated that in our conversation but gave him the option to talk to his wife and let me know later that day.

My question is, should I have just accepted they were not coming? I was disappointed because that would mean I probably wouldn't get to see them again for several months later as their schedules are too busy for visits. I'm just not sure what the appropriate response should have been for both sides. Thank you!

Dear Fran:

I am sorry that your plans for Easter dinner and your Granddaughter's birthday party were cancelled but I cannot fault your son for deciding that for his other child and family's sake, it was best to cancel the trip.  Maybe he and his wife didn't want the sick daughter to feel left out of an event that the whole family was supposed to partake in together?  Just speculation on my part.  If they didn't feel comfortable leaving one daughter sick at home while the other celebrated with family it was their decision and should not have been questioned, no matter how disappointed and put out you felt.  The most gracious thing you could do as the hostess is to accept it and wish them well, offer to help if possible and plan another gathering.  

Social Etiquette and Good Manners

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Cynthia W. Lett


Proper manners with friends,family,colleagues,neighbors and everyone else you know.


I have been an etiquette expert teaching and consulting on the subject worldwide since 1983. I started and serve as the Executive Director of the International Society of Protocol & Etiquette Professionals and am considered a leader in the field of etiquette and protocol training and execution. I edited "Etiquette for Dummies" and have recently written "Lett's Talk - Everyday Etiquette Dilemmas and What to Do about Them". My book, "That's So Annoying:An Etiquette Expert on the World's Most Irritating Habits And What To Do About Them" was published in 2009 and is available wherever books are sold. I taught the Business Protocol class to Master's level students at the George Washington University, Washington, DC for seven years I served as Chief of Protocol for MCI Telecommunications for three years.

International Society of Protocol & Etiquette Professionals, ASTD, PCMA, National Speakers Association

I have been quoted over 700 times in the past 5 years worldwide. Publications include Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Washington Times, NY Times, Washington Business Journal, USA Today, Associated Press, London Times, Newsweek Japan edition, Newsweek US edition and many many more.

I am a Certified Etiquette Professional (CEP) and Certified Protocol Professional (CPP) earned by examination through ISPEP. I have a Master's degree in hospitality law and undergrad degrees in Restaurant & Hotel Management and Public Relations/Interpersonal Communications from Purdue University.

Awards and Honors
Who's Who Worldwide,Who's Who of American Women, Distinguished Darden Professor (Purdue University).

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