Dear Ann Cannon • I’m thinking of eloping with my fiancé. Should I tell my parents ahead of time? On the one hand, they may be upset to be left out. On the other hand, they may feel conflicted about attending my gay wedding anyway because they are very old school Mormons and us eloping gives them an out. They haven’t told us they don’t want to come to a wedding, but they don’t respond to any social media posts unless they’re just about my kids, and my dad has still not acknowledged my fiancé or impending marriage directly.
Dear Bride • Should you tell your parents that you’re eloping? No. What’s the point of eloping if you’re going to tell people — especially parents — beforehand? But I don’t think that’s even your real question here. It seems to me that you’re actually wondering which type of marriage ceremony would be easier on your parents.
While I commend your consideration of their feelings, I’m guessing they’re not going to be happy with any of your choices right now. So, go ahead and have the wedding that you and your partner want to have. Meanwhile, treat your parents with the kindness with which you’d like them to treat you. This situation is hard for them. But with time, their attitudes may change. Good luck to all of you.
Dear Ann Cannon • Since the holidays are coming up (including some birthdays in our family), how do we deal with loving grandparents whose love language is gifts when our house is bursting at the seams from said gifts? They bring lots of gifts for our kids every time they visit — special occasion or not! I want to show appreciation, but our kids don’t need anything other than a good time!
— Bursting with Gifts (and Appreciation)
Dear Bursting • I’ve had versions of this question before but because the holidays are indeed coming up (Yikes! Where did 2019 go?!), it bears repeating.
Tell your children’s grandparents how much you appreciate their generosity. Then gently let them know you think they already have enough material possessions and suggest they give your children gifts of experience instead. Ask them to take your children to a park or a movie or to buy ice cream when they visit. The grandparents may miss the immediate (and highly gratifying) squeals of delight kids make when they first receive a gift. But in the end, those kids will probably remember moments spent with their grandparents more than they’ll remember the toys they’ve received.
The same holds true for birthday and holiday gifts. Ask the grandparents if they’d consider giving you and your children memberships to something, like the zoo, the planetarium, a children’s museum — any place you think you’ll enjoy visiting often. Memberships are the gift that keeps on giving.
Finally, I’ll mention something my own mother did for our kids’ Christmas presents. She always gave them a savings bond and a book. And on the fly leaf of each book, she’d write a personal letter to our boys, detailing the highlights of the past year. The books, frankly, didn’t attract much attention in the morning as the kids tore through their gifts. But I did notice at night that those books went to bed with them. Now, all these years later, they still have access to those books and their grandmother’s memories of them when they were little boys.
I hope this helps.