Regular readers may remember that for some time I and daughter in law have been trying to arrange a large family gathering to celebrate a fortieth birthday.
Well, all was going well. After days and days and days of research and planning I had a short list of people who I understood were committed to attending: We had found an Elizabethan Manor House which had secret doors and passages, a World War II bunker in the basement, miniature house under the stairs, giant chess sets with thrones to sit on, games room, music room, hundreds of TV channels, five reception rooms, four poster beds in each bedroom, a library, suits of armour, huge grounds etc. etc.
Video clip of the house:
I had organised a Murder Mystery evening for the first night, a ceilidh and party for the second night, and a treasure hunt for the last day. It worked out at $77 a night per person which is not cheap I know, but neither is it expensive for that kind of experience. We also had a cheaper package of $77 per person for the whole weekend for those happy to sleep in sleeping bags rather than a four poster bed!! Several of the younger members opted for that of course.
The Manor house was near Stonehenge, Cheddar Gorge and its officially paid resident witch, and Longleat Safari Park, so many outdoor experiences were available as well as those in the house and grounds.
(Cheddar Gorge from the air.)
Some people did not fancy all staying together in a group for three days but said they would drive down to the actual party. I was sorry but of course that was fine, and I appreciated them being clear with me from the beginning. I kept everyone else up to date with progress and then booked and paid the deposit. And while I was away last week, only three days after I had booked, people began dropping out. In the end four people said they were not coming who had earlier indicated they would, and rumour had it that two others would like to drop out if they felt they could, which made the event financially impossible since I could not cover the hire of the house without their contributions. So we have had to cancel the weekend, and I have lost my deposit.
You may imagine how I am feeling.
Doubtless everyone had a good reason for cancelling: times are hard. And it was probably my fault somehow, perhaps my communication skills are much worse than I thought, although I had tried hard to be clear with everyone. But I refuse to believe that something drastic happened in the few days between my confirming the booking and them cancelling. They must have known earlier that there might be a problem and perhaps they were not going to come, but had just not bothered to let me know. When I told them the booking was firm, they finally focussed their attention and took action. Not kind, fair or responsible.
The money I have lost means a great deal to me since we are counting every penny. I don’t believe that any of these people are less well off than we are. And I had wanted to help give everyone a really wonderful time when life is a bit bleak: I had worked extra hard on this for that reason too. So I am left feeling a fool – taken for granted, slighted and not worthy of thought, by people of whom I have always thought highly. Never again will I try to organise a fun event for family members.
Interestingly enough, when I had to let everyone know I had cancelled, the youngster who is the poorest in the family and who had not cancelled, e-mailed me when he had received his monthly pay cheque to offer to contribute to my lost deposit. He was most upset and he and his partner had been really looking forward to the event. Of course I refused to accept but I was very touched by his thoughtfulness.
Some others then followed suit but I was so angry with them that I refused their offers: I did not want them to salve their consciences, if they have any, by paying me.
I rarely get angry, once about every two to three years, but it stays with me for a while when I am finally roused to that pitch: I know it will dissipate eventually and if I find that there were seriously mitigating circumstances that I know naught of, then I will doubtless feel guilty for being so cross.
Thanks for letting me rant at you!!
PS I have just received an e-mail from one of the people involved asking what else is being organised!! Give me strength.