Here’s something I hate. I hate it, and I think it’s disrespectful.
I got an e-vite last week to a friend’s 50th birthday bash. At the bottom, she asked that in lieu of presents, she’d like people to donate to a charity — in this case Equality Now, and organization that works to end violence and discrimination against women and girls. She provided a link. Today, she sent a reminder about the party, and reiterated that even if you aren’t coming to the party, please don’t send a gift. So I did what she asked, and clicked to the site.
She means it. Because she knows people don’t listen. They figure you don’t mean them, and that the gift they have planned for you is different.
It reminded me of when my mother died, and I requested — in the newspaper and by word of mouth — that in lieu of flowers, all donations go to a women’s homeless shelter. I love a flower, I have a garden, but how quickly they go: my family would be supplying more than enough beautiful flowers for the service. My mother had had a rough childhood, shuttled around among family and strangers both, and was finally taken in by her aunt, uncle, and two boy cousins. It was a family made in heaven. But if this hadn’t happened? No home, no future, no Erin, that’s for sure. It meant a lot to me for people to do what I requested. And the shelter got some donations, sure. But what did we get more of? Flowers, flowers, flowers.
It’s a slap in the face. If people ask you to think of someone else beside themselves, they probably mean it. If they gently prod you to turn your generosity elsewhere on their behalf, do it. They don’t want your bottle of champagne or even a cashmere sweater. They want you to do what they asked.
Honor someone’s wishes.