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Email Mix-Up Causes Cousin to Send Mistaken Invitation

DEAR ABBY: I recently received an online invitation to a New Year's Eve party at the home of a dear cousin. Having not heard from her in a while, I decided to call her to express our delight at having been invited and let her know we might be able to come. (They live 350 miles away, but we plan to be in their town earlier that week and could potentially stay a few days longer and go to the party.)

Well, when I called, she told me that our having been included on the e-vite was a mistake! She said there must have been a mix-up because my email address is similar to a friend of hers who is invited.

Although she then said we were welcome to come, we declined saying, "Thank you for your flexibility given the awkward circumstance. Forgive us, but I think we'll stick to our original plan to come back north around Dec. 28."

Could this have been handled better? It has put a strain on an otherwise lovely relationship. -- EMBARRASSED IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR EMBARRASSED: Your dear cousin was clearly caught flat-footed by your phone call, but she should not have blurted out that your invitation was a mistake, although she did try to clean it up by telling you you were welcome to come.

I don't blame you for telling her you would stick to your original plan because I doubt you would have felt comfortable had you chosen to attend. The way to handle this going forward would be to make a New Year's resolution to forgive her for the breach of etiquette, not allow it to create a rift in your relationship and let it go.

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