It’s a good point. “Of course we can participate, it just takes a little extra effort” is one way of thinking about it, or maybe more precisely, of not thinking about it too much. Like I said in my OP, I know I’m kind of overthinking it. Actually, that was kind of deliberate. I find that writing is not so much a way of transcribing what I think but of investigating and figuring out what I think. It was kind of a case of sitting there feeling annoyed when the email came, but the feeling came first, not the explanation, so I wanted to see if I could look at it and unpack what was driving it. Maybe woulda been more appropriate as a blog post, but I guess I also wanted to vent a bit.
In practical terms, yes, of course I sometimes make exceptions. We also have the occasional wo-worker farewell party at the bar across the street, and I’m much more inclined to bolus for beer than ice cream. I find it easier to predict, for one thing, but more importantly because: BEER.
But @Pixari’s comment echoes my feeling a lot of the time. I’ve made it clear within my own department that the last thing I want is for people to avoid bringing cupcakes or whatever to our staff meetings and I’m ok with just not having it. Twenty years on R/NPH was pretty good training in the art of “Just say no.” But there are times when I really really wish it just wasn’t there in front of me at all.