Q: My husband and I have a dilemma and we need your advice on the proper thing for us to do. For the last five years, we have been going out for Thanksgiving dinner with another couple. They don’t have a lot of relatives who live close and we don’t either, so it works out fine. After we eat, we go to one of our houses to watch football and enjoy our time together for another couple of hours.
When I called a couple of weeks ago to discuss which restaurant we were going to go to this year, the response was rather stiff and nebulous. We talked a little small talk, then I asked her again and she stuttered a bit and said they might be doing something different this year. I probably sounded a little surprised and unfortunately I asked, “Like what?” It was then she said she had to go and would get back to me.
We still have not had a call back. We have received another invitation to go next door to our neighbor’s house, but I haven’t committed to them yet. I want to call the couple we usually go out with and find out what’s going on, but my husband doesn’t want me to. He thinks we should just accept our neighbor’s invitation and forget about them. What’s the proper protocol?
A: The proper protocol is, yes, you should have had a return call by now. You have patiently waited long enough for their call. However, before you possibly create another dilemma by accepting your neighbor’s invitation and then getting a call shortly thereafter from this couple with their restaurant suggestion, call them as soon as possible. I suggest you begin the conversation with something like this: “John and I have been concerned that you or (husband’s name) are ill or something since you have not called to finalize plans for Thanksgiving this year. Are you both OK?”
Such an approach allows this couple to provide an excuse for not calling back sooner and the opportunity to tell you whether they are going to go with you as usual; or if, for some reason, they cannot and have made other plans.
If, however, the conversation goes vague again and non-committal, rather than continuing to try to find out what their plans are, politely advise them you and your husband have received another invitation and will be accepting that invitation. End the phone call by cheerfully wishing them a Happy Thanksgiving.
Then put this couple and whatever issue they have out of your mind. Immediately accept the invitation so nicely extended by your neighbors and concentrate on having a wonderful Thanksgiving Day with them.
Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Lifestyle Editor Patrick Kuhl, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.