Dear Amy: I am not from India, but I had a traditional Indian shirt, called a kurta, made when I was invited to an Indian wedding. The shirt is made of Indian silk with gold embellishments. Would it be appropriate to wear this shirt to a Halloween gathering at my office? I know that there are some people from India working in the same building.
Dear Colleague: No, this would not be appropriate; it would be appropriation. Cultural appropriation is when you take something that has cultural meaning or significance for someone else, and use it for your own purposes. You choosing to wear this beautiful shirt as a Halloween costume could be quite offensive.
I think that anyone wondering how to dress for an office-related Halloween gathering should just pick a character from the TV show “The Office,” and go with that.
Dear Amy: I’m a wife and mother of two. I do a lot of volunteer and activist work in my community. Recently, I won an award for some of my activism. The ceremony where I would be recognized was during a brunch that cost $100 per person. My husband and I were invited (our tickets were comped). I am very close with my family and my husband’s family, so I invited all of them to attend and watch me receive my award. My family members are well-off, so even though $100 is a lot of money, all of them could easily afford it. My mother-in-law told me that, “One hundred dollars is nothing to see you be recognized for your work.” That made me feel really good. My parents, however, hemmed and hawed about going and told me they would get back to me, as did my sister. The next day, my sister called me and told me that she had spoken with my parents and they had decided not to go to the brunch. “One hundred dollars is a lot to pay just to see you get an award,” she told me. She then recounted some recent unexpected expenses she’d had.
The evening after the brunch, I called my parents. Inside I was feeling really sad that they had not been there for my important moment earlier that day. Without prompting, my father immediately told me that he had made a big mistake and that they should have been at the brunch. I thanked him, but in fact, that made me feel worse. If he had known he was wrong, then he should have bought tickets to the brunch a day or two earlier, instead of simply apologizing when it was over. I am so sad that my family wouldn’t come watch me be honored simply because of a slightly large price tag that they could easily afford. And, had they come to me and said they couldn’t afford it, I would have bought their tickets. Instead, they just refused to go.
I love my family and don’t want this to get in the way of our relationship. But, I’m having trouble letting go of my sadness about them not coming. Any thoughts?
— Sad in Suburbia
Dear Sad: Your father immediately apologized for not attending this brunch and seeing you receive your recognition, but you have taken what seems like a sincere apology and are now doubling down on your blame.
Your parents would have had to pay $200 to attend this brunch. I believe that for some people who are not accustomed to the way these things work, $200 would seem like an exorbitant amount that they would have a hard time justifying — even if they could afford it. And it would be difficult to ask the honoree to pay for her own guests.
Regardless of the circumstances, they messed up and have apologized for it. You’ll feel better if you accept their apology.
Dear Amy: I couldn’t believe your heartless answer to “Friends Until Kids.” The question concerned a couple who couldn’t have children, who announced that they didn’t want to be friends with people who did have children.
Your analogy of being childless to losing elderly parents is wrong. You obviously don’t know what you’re talking about.
— Disgusted Reader
Dear Disgusted: My analogy was meant to compare one heartbreaking life-loss to another. Mature adults, I said, need to learn not to blame other people for their own unfortunate circumstances, and the resultant sadness.