Dear Annie: Your help is needed to resolve a family problem. One of my granddaughters, "Mackenzie," called to say she is getting married in a few weeks. This will be a small wedding, as she and her fiance do not have a lot of money. Only 45 guests are invited. Now here's the problem: Mackenzie is not inviting my son and daughter-in-law, as they do not have a close relationship and she has not seen them in two years. I was upset with the news. He is her uncle. She also said that she will not be notifying him to tell him he is not invited and that if I want, I can call him to inform him.
I understand this is her wedding, but this exclusion is really upsetting me. Now the question to you, Annie: what does one do in this situation? -- Angry in Connecticut
Dear Angry: As you said, this is your granddaughter's wedding, so she can invite whomever she'd like. But she's also in charge of informing family members that they're not invited. Don't let that fall to you.
That said, if the issue is truly just the expense and you have the means financially to help, you could offer that option to your granddaughter. She might really appreciate the help, and your son and his wife would no doubt appreciate being included in their niece's special day.
Dear Annie: I'm 64, so in six more years, I'll be in my 70s (if all goes well). Writing from that perspective, I disagree with your advice. Telling people our age to "lose (themselves) in helping others" is a way of suggesting that our own interests don't have value or validity.
I'm not saying there's anything wrong with volunteering. People of any age are free to do so. But the belief, often stated, that old people should putter around doing volunteer work and focus solely on helping others is selling us short. It's like telling someone who's dissatisfied with being a housewife and raising kids who are almost grown that she just needs to have more kids or adopt foster kids or something along those lines.
A sense of purpose can also come from doing creative work. We could paint, draw or sculpt; write stories, novels, screenplays or memoirs; spend time with friends and family; hike and build our health; travel and explore this wonderful world; or join groups that are working to "heal the world."
None of these activities is focused on giving up on our own interests. Call me selfish if you will, but I'd like to go on living my own life for as long as I'm around. The notion that we need to lose ourselves in helping others suggests our lives aren't fun anymore or aren't worth living. A strange attitude, in my estimation. -- Sarah M.
Dear Sarah M.: I'm printing your letter because you make a great point. There are plenty more ways for retirees to spend their time than just volunteering, and self-enrichment isn't selfish in the least. Thanks for writing.