Dear Ann Cannon • My nephew and his darling fiancee have had to postpone their over-the-top big fat Greek wedding, with optimistic plans to have a scaled-down version of the wedding in August. It is a “destination” event for most of us. His father/my brother has suggested that we all give them the money we would have spent on the trip to the festivities. In our case, a large group of eight adults, that would be thousands of dollars.
I made him really mad when I asked if they were giving the kids the money not spent on the wedding, which is into the tens of thousands. My brother and the future in-laws are all doing OK, so no financial worries. And even though I think the idea has a lot of merit and we will increase our gift, some of us will still try and attend the smaller wedding (if it happens). I am still paying for college(s) and rents, etc. So how do I make up with my brother, and how much should I give my nephew and future wife?
— My Nephew’s Aunt
Dear Aunt • Wow. This is such an interesting scenario on a lot of levels. The whole pandemic thing has really changed the way we’re going about our business, hasn’t it? Anyway! I do think giving the couple cash isn’t a bad idea. Meanwhile, I’m wondering — are you annoyed at some level with your brother for asking you to gift them the amount you would have ordinarily spent on the trip, especially since you plan to attend a smaller, scaled-back event if it happens?
I wouldn’t blame you if you were, given that the couple’s families seem to be financially secure. And then there’s this: A destination wedding isn’t only a good time for the couple, it’s a good time for the attendees, as well, and you’ll be missing out on that.
As for your brother, he may be mad at you for asking what he’s going to do with the unspent money earmarked for the “over-the-top” wedding because he thinks you’re prying into his personal business. My recommendation if you want to make up with him? Even if you don’t feel like you were in the wrong for asking, go ahead and apologize to your brother. An apology may go a long way to mitigating his anger.
Meanwhile, how much money you give your nephew and his future wife is entirely up to you and, frankly, not your brother. I’m sure the couple is very disappointed that their wedding won’t be the event they’ve dreamed of, but I gotta say the cash will come in handy as they start this new chapter of their lives.
Dear Ann Cannon • How do I let go of my fear for, worries about and desire to advise my grown kids?
— Concerned Mama
Dear Concerned Mama • So, my kids range in age from 26-39 and guess what? I still worry about them and at times attempt to give them unsolicited advice, which they mostly ignore. My mother does the same thing with me.
What I’m saying here is that I’m not sure parents ever really let go of anxiety where the kids are concerned, even when things are going well. Meanwhile, as you’ve noted in your letter, these are uncertain times (to borrow every current television commercial’s favorite line), and it’s only natural that your anxiety level has increased. Dramatically.
What can you do? Go ahead and acknowledge your feelings, recognizing that they’re totally normal. Then do your best to step back and give your adult children the space to make their own decisions. So easy to say. So hard to do. I wish all of you the very best of luck.