DEAR ABBY: We invited our 5-year-old son's entire class to his birthday party. Unbeknownst to us, another child had one scheduled the same day. Because my son was new to the school and hadn't made friends yet, he wasn't invited. Imagine how he felt when only one child showed up. Had even one parent RSVP'd and said there was another party that day, we would have rescheduled. Because good manners were disregarded, our child was hurt.
I mentioned it to my parents, and to cheer our son up we decided to take him to the beach. When we returned and opened our front door, we found assorted wrapped presents with cards attached wishing our son a happy birthday and saying, "We're sorry we couldn't come to your party."
My folks did not tell us they were going to do it. They said they had "found" the presents on the porch and brought them inside while they were house-sitting. Their thoughtfulness and caring -- not to mention their creativity -- took away much of the hurt. I get tears in my eyes thinking about it. Our son is now in his early teens and has never been told the story.
I would like to thank my parents again and tell them how much their gesture meant. Also, please advise parents that when they receive an invitation to a child's party -- or any party, for that matter -- to RSVP! No child should have to feel that kind of hurt. -- STILL GRATEFUL IN ROCK HILL, S.C.
DEAR STILL GRATEFUL: Your parents are loving, generous and resourceful. Your letter raises two important issues. Because your boy was new to the school was no reason for him to have been excluded. Many schools require that when the entire class is invited to a party, if the party invitations are issued at school, that all students be included.
Also, there seems to be confusion about what "RSVP" means. Some people think it means they should respond only if they plan to attend the gathering. Not so! The rules of etiquette dictate that if a prospective guest cannot attend, that he or she contact the issuer of the invitation and offer regrets.