Hostessing Already

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I’m the house where people land. When my son was in high school,
mine was the TV room that was filled with sprawling teenagers. In
college all his buddies made for my home like a magnet during
holidays. I pick up strays the way other people pick up pets. One of
my personal friends used to come for Thanksgiving, Passover, Rosh
Hashonah, etc. Then she slowly began not to attend, one event at a
time. I kept inviting her until two years ago when we started being
less social, though we still go to a movie once a month. Last week
when we got together she intimated she had nowhere to go for
Thanksgiving. It may be my last holiday with my mother, who is dying.
Am I obligated to invite her?

Hostessing Already

Dear Hostessing:

You’re not obligated to invite her but it would be a kind thing to do.
Unless the table is already filled with relatives and well-wishers coming
to be with your mother, you should be able to squeeze in another chair
and place setting. Holidays are both a time for sharing friendship and
gratitude and a tine to forgive old slights and hurts. That’s not just the
High Holidays.

If you do not want this person to attend and aren’t willing to stretch
your holiday cheer, I question why you are social with her at all.
Unless there’s active bad feeling between her and your mother and
other guests, give her the chance to accept or decline an invitation. If
you want to make her squirm a little, you can tell her it’s somewhat of
a family gathering because of your mother’ health, but that you don’t
want her to be alone. If she does come, make sure to say you have
missed having her attend your special gatherings and that you hope
she continues to attend. Ask her bring a special bottle of wine and
perhaps a pie.