One of the nicest afternoons I spent this month was at a friend’s Christmas lunch. Her invitation SMS and phone call were both intimate and personal; a feeling of the festive spirit laced her words. There were 12 ladies invited. Eleven showed up, (and one for a short while despite being needed at her son’s school). It reminded me that RSVP’s are important and respected and my dear friend’s efforts did not go to waste. The Christmas carols which played gently, the pink champagne served in tall crystal flutes, fresh salads, pastas and chocolate cakes… all complemented beautifully turned out women, well heeled and well mannered as we sat around her lovely Marine Drive apartment. When we were leaving, we were handed little red packages with personal handwritten notes, evoking nostalgia for the year that is almost over and for the friendship that shared it.
I felt good. My hostess was happy. It was an afternoon well spent.
RSVP means Répondez s’il vous plaît, meaning, “please respond”. Almost every single SMS invite we receive, phone call we make, begs for a response. But do we do it? How many of us just ignore that invite, as we mull over what we want to say? We are not thinking of our hosts who are catering for us, or putting down a deposit for their minimum count. Perhaps because your name was on the list, another couple had to left out.
Come the evening of the event, we may be excited, ready and happy and we may go. We will enjoy the efforts and a wonderful evening (or day) and leave happy. Or we may decide we are too tired, we’ve had a long day. We want to stay home and cuddle our children and just be in bed. We’ll send an SMS saying, “Sorry darling, not going to make it.” And we’ll turn in.
Our host might be on their way to (the location of) the party. They may be in their very own living room where they’ve displayed their best china, and most sparkling crystal, to add to your evening of joy. They may be putting the finishing touches to the decor, and lighting the last of the candles.
Their hearts will sink as they see four or five messages with last minute cancellations. They’ll wonder why their friends couldn’t make it and if they’re being taken for granted. They’ll try to push it out of their minds and hide their phones away. It is too late now anyway. Their mind is directed to the ‘other’ friend they could have invited if they did not have to cap ‘the head count’. They’ll remember a time when they came to one of your parties in spite of a severe cold and a headache. They hadn’t wanted to ‘ditch’ but they didn’t.
We may ‘drop in’ for a friend, because we feel they wanted us there. We’ll put on a smile and the host will be happy and we’ll have a great time… because it’s all so perfect, and it’s such a wonderful effort. Or we may make an effort to attend, but grumble all the while. Resent the invitation and an evening out. Crib about getting dressed and make sure to tell everyone we speak to that we were chased to attend. We were pushed and begged and hence, came out of no choice. We are those people. Those people who will be hurt, maybe mildly, but hurt all the same if we’re not invited somewhere, and yet, we take making it there for granted.
This time of the year is so crazy. We all know that. But let’s take a second to RSVP honestly. Let’s try and analyse if we want to attend someone’s birthday, in spite of being tired. Let’s also understand that we may not be invited to everything and should perhaps appreciate that. Let’s gracefully exit the lists we’re sitting on without wanting to show up. Of course sometimes we’re unwell or over extended. Let’s make that up to our hosts some how. Be gracious. Let’s have fun.
Let’s enjoy the season. Isn’t this what we wanted—a social calendar buzzing with good parties?
Whatever we decide, let’s start by RSVPing. That’s the very least we can do. We fly high and party hard. Let’s do it right. Let’s respect our friends. Yes, it’s easy to buy the good life, but to live it; we have to know the way to do it right! To revel in all that goodness, we have to know to be polite.