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‘I’m cursed’: My friend canceled Christmas lunch — now we’re on the hook


Dear Quentin,

It’s happened again — I’m cursed. 

Last year, I was left with a Bûche de Noël for 10 friends — and nowhere to go for Christmas Day, and this year a friend canceled Christmas lunch, leaving me holding a 50% deposit I gave to the restaurant ($55 for each of us). I booked the restaurant at least a month ago, and my friend said he had an invitation to a brunch, and wanted to switch to dinner instead. 

I will now be spending most of the day alone, and I will be left scrambling for a more expensive dinner reservation. My friend says we can both suck up the deposit. I disagree. I wasn’t the one who canceled, as I’m obviously not going to have lunch alone on Christmas Day. He got a better invitation, and clearly thought this would be a minor inconvenience. Well, it’s not.

What is wrong with people? Should my friend pay all the deposit — or should we split it down the middle?

Not a Grinch

Related: I want to ask my family and friends to contribute $50 toward Christmas dinner. Is that bad etiquette?

“I apply the same principle to your friend as I do to holiday toys that arrive incomplete or without batteries: Some parts are missing — in this case, a sensitivity chip.”


MarketWatch illustration

Dear Not a Grinch,

I agree with you on one key point and disagree with you on another. Yes, your friend should pay the $110. And, no, you are not cursed. Your friends are cursed — with bad manners. 

If you book lunch a month in advance for Christmas Day, and it’s just you and one other person, they should have a bloody good reason for canceling: that means flu, RSV, or COVID, or a death in the family. But receiving a “better” invitation does not cut it. It’s the holiday equivalent of a slap in the face with a Bûche de Noël. I’m sorry this happened, especially two years in a row.

To answer your other question — “what is wrong with people?” — there are people in this world who simply lack the understanding of how an 11th-hour cancelation might make you feel, and there are people who would never dream of ditching a date on Christmas Day to take up another offer. I apply the same principle to your friend as I do to holiday toys that arrive incomplete or without batteries: Some parts are missing — in this case, a sensitivity chip.

Like I said, I also apply the old adage to your friend that a store might use when a customer breaks a valuable vase: “You break it, you bought it.” Your friend broke this engagement, so he should pay for the…



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