Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
Tell me if I am being too sensitive. My (older) sister and I (two of four
sibs, two of three sisters) live across country from the rest of the
family. Sarah helped my family get started twenty years ago by letting
us live with her for a few months but since then I have started a
successful business, my husband has gotten retrained and is high on
the local food chain of school district computer guys, and our sons are
applying to med school and in junior college.
Last week when we discussed hosting a family reunion on one of the Keys, she said, “I’ll help if money is a problem.” This from a woman who was on the verge of bankruptcy a year ago, to me, a woman with a vibrant IRA and a
plan to have the house paid off within eight years. I know for a fact I
make at least $50K more than she does, and her husband is only part-
time electrician. I don’t want to rub her nose in it but I am tired of Big
Sister thinking she’s always ahead of me.
I think you have some unresolved childhood issues with your older
sister that’re getting in the way of your adulthood. Your life sounds
pretty well together, in contrast to hers. It may be that she needs to
reassert her seniority to equalize the obvious imbalances in your
lifestyles. Or it may be that she is truly oblivious to her own issues and
unconscious about your financial situation. Her offer is generous,
though unlikely to be backed up with money, so really an empty
gesture you shouldn’t get too worked up over.
Reply simply. Say We have plenty of money to carry our share of this
trip. What you may see as limited resources are part of our voluntary
simplicity and savings plan. I probably make as much as you do so
we’re game if you are. Do not, repeat not, and tell her what you
actually make. It’s in bad taste if you know it puts her in a bad light,
and simply an unnecessary show of one-upmanship. Unless of course you want to be the one she turns to when she’s bust. In that case
you’ll reap the just rewards of bragging.