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Home > 90th birthday dilemma, partly about money

90th birthday dilemma, partly about money

June 30th, 2007 at 06:17 am

Warning - Long!

Got a message from a family friend, asking if we were doing anything special for my mother's 90th birthday.

Back when DMom was 80, we did have a fairly large party--and now that I remember it, it was at the instigation of this same family friend. We dug out old photos and things, and put them on display. It was a nice group of guests, a mix of family and friends, and overall a very nice memory for everyone. But it also cost several hundred dollars at a time when I was using credit cards and spending money like water. This family friend whose idea it was did make a nice memory book, but didn't contribute to the cost of the party. She just made me feel like I ought to do it, if I were any kind of daughter.

So here we are 10 years later. I was planning on keeping things small, for a myriad of reasons.

My MIL turns 90 the same month, and we probably won't even be seeing her. We'll send her a larger gift than usual, and talk to her on the phone, but that will probably be it. It doesn't seem fair to go overboard for my mother if we don't do it for both.

Many of the people who attended the 80th birthday party have died, or have moved away to live with or near their children. Or they're in assisted living. Also, there really aren't many blood relatives of my mother to invite. I'd end up spending hundreds of dollars to feed distant relatives like my cousins' grandchildren on my father's side, so that other older relatives would have a ride to the event.

If I were still spending money like I used to, I might not think twice about it. (And if I weren't already devoting a fair amount of time and mental energy to my mother and her situation, maybe I'd be more willing, too.)

But right now my gut answer is "No, I'm not doing anything special for my mother's 90th birthday. If you'd like to do something yourself, feel free."

It makes me feel kind of guilty and cheap, but I just don't want to be roped into trying to recreate an event that should stay a nice memory. Or spending money because someone else thinks I ought to. (Someone, by the way, who is much better fixed than we are! And who is retired and has a lot more free time.)

10 Responses to “90th birthday dilemma, partly about money”

  1. monkeymama Says:

    I think: "No, I'm not doing anything special for my mother's 90th birthday. If you'd like to do something yourself, feel free." nails it on the head!!!

    Don't worry, it is not cheap.

    We had a beautiful bash for dh's grandma's 80th and we were just commenting how wonderful it was we got so many of those people together on video, etc. Since then her brother died and her SIL just passed away last week - why we were talking about. We were commenting how it was nice we had the party while they were still alive, etc. AND still able to make the trip.

  2. jennlem Says:

    For my grandmother's 90th we just had a photographer come over and take pictures of the whole family and the generations. Dont feel guilty for not caving into demands.

  3. scfr Says:

    There are many ways to define "special" and many of the most special ones don't involve spending a lot of money.

    Special could mean having just immediate family, cooking your mom's favorite dishes, and then sitting around watching family videos and talking about happy memories.
    Or, if it is in your budget, taking your mom out to her favorite restaurant, but again keeping it just immediate family.

    You have done a big birthday bash for your mother, when she turned 80. It has been done. No need to do it again. No where did you mention that your mother is asking you to do it for her.

    It sounds like you are a loving and caring daughter, and I'm sure you will do something very SPECIAL (as in loving, not as in spending lots of money) for your mom.

    I would probably reply to the relative that "Yes - we do have something very special planned for mom, but we're going to keep it small and won't be inviting anyone outside of the immediate family."

  4. Thrifty Ray Says:

    I totally agree with scfr that 'special' doesnt have to equal big and expensive.

    You know what would be truly special? Have everyone that you can think of write a note or letter to your mom about thier favorite memory with her and for copies of any pictures that your mom would enjoy...and make a scrap book out of those letters and photos. This would not only be a special and inexpensive way to celebrate, but would also become a family heirloom.

    Tell the relative what you are doing and ask if she'd like to contribute to the special gift by way of a nice memory.

    I love the idea of making moms favorite dishes...or even finding out a dish that she loved as a child or young adult...and perhaps download music that was special to her to play while youre visiting....Then, follow up with a framed picture of the day.

  5. nance Says:

    I love Thrifty Ray's idea about the memory letters.
    Can you have a pot luck supper with family and a few close friends. Maybe a picnic in the back yard? Everyone could bring something to grill and a dish to share. Youl could bake a cake. Fun, but not expensive.
    At 90, she probably doesn't want a big celebration anyway.

  6. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    What would our Mom want?

  7. Bookie Says:

    . . . And who are we planning to impress?

    At that age, fatigue is a real concern. Keep it intimate and loving. That's what matters.


  8. baselle Says:

    Once of the best skills to develop in life is the ability to say "no" with grace. Don't let someone else guilt you into doing something that the recipient might not want anyway.

  9. debtfreeme Says:

    if this person is truly a good family friend they wouls know how much work and effort you are doing with your mother now.

    your answer is perfect and needs no furhter explanation.

  10. Aleta Says:

    I think at that age that the best thing is just getting family together and maybe a couple of her age over. I would ask everyone to bring a special dish that she loves and for it to become a family event not for you to foot everything. See how that goes. You can just take pictures. Some people do park things depending on the weather. Tell the friend that you are glad that she asked because you were about to call her and the rest of the family to get their help.

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