Dear Prudence

Help! My Sister’s Family Visited My New Home. After One Look, They Cut Their Visit Short.

Am I out of touch?

Retro TV set surrounded by chickens.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Getty Images Plus.

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Q. Entertainment Free: During the pandemic, I (45/F) used my savings to move to a rural property and live out a dream I’ve always had about having a small hobby farm. I have some chickens, some beehives, I grow a lot of vegetables, and I’m looking forward to getting some larger livestock soon.

I’ve been so happy in my new home, so when my sister asked if she, her husband, and their children could come and stay with me for a week—their first holiday since the pandemic—I eagerly agreed. I have ample space to host guests and plenty of room for the children to run around.

However, all four of them were incredibly disappointed—the children, to the point of tears—when they arrived.

They noticed, much to their dismay, that I do not own a television. Between work and taking care of my little farm, I usually prefer to read or bake in my spare time. And while I do have a laptop and a tablet on which I can stream TV series, my sister said she and her family specifically wanted a television they could sit around and watch together.

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t under the impression that the kids would want to help me weed the garden or clean up chicken poop. I have fast, unlimited internet on which they could play games, call their friends, or use streaming services; and the woods around the property are safe to play in or explore, so long as they stayed within view of the house. The nearest town is two hours away, and I would’ve been happy to drive us all out there for a day or two of exploring.

My sister’s family didn’t want to do any of this, and on their second day, my brother-in-law actually suggested I could buy a television and have it express delivered to the home. I shut this down, and they left the next morning. Prudie, I don’t consider myself out of touch, but was I in the wrong here? Is it unusual to not own a television—and is it a faux pas to not inform one’s guests of the fact before they arrive?

A: Not at all. No judgment about this family’s passion for television, but they could have 1) propped a laptop up on the coffee table and gathered around to watch it or 2) placed their own order for a new flat screen. It was incredibly rude of them to make you feel like you failed in some way. I’m just glad they left instead of subjecting you to whatever breakdown they were all going to have if they couldn’t watch their shows. This goes without saying, but they’re not invited back. I hope your next houseguests appreciate your beehives and take the opportunity to unplug.

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