weekend free-for-all – November 28-29, 2015

Eve in bagThis comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. (This one is truly no work and no school. If you have a work question, you can email it to me or post it in the work-related open thread on Fridays.)

Book Recommendation of the Week: The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4, by Sue Townsend. This is the diary of angst-filled and unintentionally hilarious teen Adrian Mole, who is dealing with troubled parents, acne, and an enticing classmate. If you’ve never read this, you need to. Also, if if you like it, there are a bunch of sequels to read too.

* I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 800 comments… read them below }

  1. Tiffany*

    Any advice for living with male roommates? I’m 27, the roommates are 24, 28, & 29. I moved in 2 weeks ago. I’m finding it very hard to deal with the disgusting-ness. They’re nice guys and all…but they don’t clean. The bathroom is gross. There is more talk about male parts than I ever anticipated (and other typical guy talk, mostly jokes). I get along with them fine, but I can only handle so much. I don’t want to stay cooped up in my room all the time either though.

    1. nep*

      You have my sympathies and best wishes. I can’t really think of advice; I wouldn’t abide it.
      Did you know these guys prior to having them as roommates / how do you know one another?
      Hope they’ll take it upon themselves to be more respectful — and, really, grow the hell up.

      1. Tiffany*

        I had a couple mutal friends with the owner of the house, but no, did not know anyone here prior to moving in. I had a bit of a crazy landlord situation, so had to find somewhere pretty quickly.

        1. Jazzy Red*

          Don’t consider this a permanent housing solution. Think about moving in a certain amount of time, into a place of your own or one you will share with people you know who have hygiene standards. Make sure you see where you’ll live, and if you end up living with someone, check that place over really well before committing to anything.

          In the meantime, the idea of getting a housekeeper in once a week is an excellent idea. Don’t be afraid to get pushy over this. Be the one to interview potential candidates, and make sure they know what they’re getting into. The cost should be split 4 ways. You should NOT end up BEING the housekeeper, which is what these guys might think is what should happen.

          1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

            I did this when I lived with three guys. We paid $60 every two weeks (when I moved out they went to every week), it was incredibly helpful and kept the bathrooms from getting disgusting.

      1. Edacious*

        I will third that about the house keeper. Me and my partner had a male room mate that was a slob at the best of times. Since we had a double sink, I relegated one side to him a told him once the dishes peak the top not the sink it’s time to wash them. That seemed to work and we always had one side open to use.

      2. Tiffany*

        Idk. My gut feeling is they wouldn’t be down with thaat. I’m tempted to have one come in and at least deep-clean the bathroom and kitchen for me, and then I’ll just try and keep it clean after that. It’s not what I really want to do…but I also want to take bubble baths without feeling like I need to be wearing a hazmat suit.

    2. KarenT*

      Ugh, I did that once. Had two platonic male roommates. The day I came home and found someone’s socks in the kitchen sink was the day I decided to move out.

      1. Winter is Coming*

        I had a female roommate who used to wash her underwear in the kitchen sink. Unfortunately women can be just as bad.

        1. KarenT*

          Oh definitely! I’ve had many male and female roommates, some tidy and some gross. But these two boys were particularly gross.

        2. Anon the Great and Powerful*

          Are you my old roommate?? I did it because the kitchen sink was the only one with a plug and I was too poor for the laundromat. Ah, college…

        3. Anonyby*

          At my old house, if something needed to be really hand-washed, it was generally washed in the kitchen sink. (Both my mom and I did it.) Now, we didn’t wash all of our underwear there (most of it was run through the washer, either with normal loads or as a special load on the handwash setting), but sometimes you’d need a certain bra washed, or need to was a shirt separately or something like that.

          We didn’t have a wash sink out in the garage by the washer/dryer, and the sink in the bathroom was too tiny to give anything a good soak. That left the kitchen sink as the ONLY option.

          1. KarenT*

            I feel like washing in the kitchen sink is different when it’s family. Something about roommates felt like everyone should be on their best behaviour. And my roommate wasn’t wadhing–he just needed to ice his injured ankle and chucked his dirty socks in the sink.

            1. cardiganed librarian*

              Plus if you need to wash your clothes in the kitchen sink, no one should find them there! They should be washed, and then taken away to hand dry. No soaking, no tossing them in the sink to wash later. Just wash them.

    3. fposte*

      Gender regardless, I think it’s going to be tough to move into an established situation that’s okay for the three people who are already living there and insist they change it. That doesn’t mean you’re wrong for wanting to–just that I don’t rate your chances of success as very high.

      1. Tiffany*

        Right. And I don’t necessarily want them to change anything just because I’m a girl. So I’m mainly looking for suggestions for handling it all. I don’t really want to move again anytime soon (I’ve moved twice since July now), so I want this to work.

        1. fposte*

          Well, it’s not because you’re a girl; it’s because you have different standards of cleanliness. My dad would have freaked in a place like that, whereas it sounds like about my level :-).

          I think your notion above to focus on the places that matter to you and just assume that it’s up to you to keep them to your standard is probably the most pragmatic solution.

          1. Pennalynn Lott*

            Yep, I lived in a house full of rotating guys for a couple of years (and also 1:1 guy roommate situations off and on throughout my 20’s and early 30’s) and I realized I had to pick my battles. So I took over being responsible for a clean kitchen sink, clean bathroom sink, clean toilet, and clean shower/tub. The rest I ignored. Every now and then the dust and grime would get to me and I’d mop the floors, vacuum, and do a general cleaning, but I did it without resentment because it was something I wanted and they didn’t. Also, my room became my safe haven. I loved hanging out with them in the den, but I was grateful to have a tidy space to retreat to with my own TV and computer. :-)

          2. Connie-Lynne*

            You do have to pick your battles — but as you settle in I think its OK to ask that some standards be kept.

            I had a male roommate and I was initially surprised that my “so I cleaned the bathroom yesterday and it smells like pee already; please clean the toilet and floor” conversation went so well.

            It turns out that, just like with coworkers, clearly setting and stating reasonable expectations works out.

            1. Pennalynn Lott*

              Yes, this too! I would tell them when it was time for one of them to take the garbage out, and then when it was time for another one of them to bring the bin in from the alley. When it was time to pick their stuff up off the den floor and “find a home for it”.

              The key, of course, is negotiating what a “reasonable” expectation looks like. One person’s “reasonable” is another person’s OCD (or massive slobbiness).

    4. Ruth (UK)*

      I’ve mostly shared with male housemates. I most recently lived with 2 guys. My first shared situation was at uni with 11 guys and 3 girls in a ridiculous flat. However, I also grew up with brothers which I think made it feel a bit more normal for me.

      I am not a super tidy person myself. At my last share, one guy was cleaner than me and one was messier. The main complaint I got from Cleaner Guy was that I didn’t help him bug Messier Guy enough about cleaning and he didn’t wanna feel like the bad guy.

      Anyway, I have discovered the best tip is to ask them to do very specific things. So don’t say ‘can you try and clean up after yourselves more?’ or even vague stuff like ‘can you clean the bathroom’.

      Instead say, “can you wash your dishes today? [they’ve been there for [x] time]” or “Can you take the bin out today?”

      Always tack a timespan on it. I usually just say ‘today’. And I usually preface it with, “I cleaned the sink and shower the other day, so can you…” or “Are you busy right now? I’ve just mopped the floor in here. Could you wipe the surfaces?”

      (also bear in mind they will tend to believe none of the mess in communal areas is their own!).

      Other things I did:
      * Keep my own personal plates/bowls/cutlery. I kept them in the cupboard with my food. I did not share plates and I made it clear my plates were not communal plates. Be aware that if you do this you MUST wash up immediately after eating AND put them way immediately. In all the shares I’ve lived in, people will be totes ok with nicking my plates off the draining board (and then never washing them after use) but won’t take them out of my cupboard.
      * In my 11-guys situation I also had my own pots and pans. At my most recent place this wasn’t necessary.
      * Keep my towel [for the shower] in my bedroom, not in the bathroom [or else it got used]. Actually, in my big share at uni, I kept NOTHING in communal areas. No toiletries, no shoes, nothing. It would be used, made dirty, or vanished.

    5. Fifi Ocrburg*

      Why don’t you chip in for a cleaning service or person? I wouldn’t worry about their language–do you want them to go all “There’s a lady present”?

    6. Diluted_TortoiseShell*


      I’m sorry I shouldn’t laugh but. ROFL.

      Uhh. I lived abroad for a year and in my infinite 20-something wisdom I decided to pile a gender disparity on top of it all.

      My advice:

      Don’t clean up after them.
      Clean items before you use them so you know it is nice.
      Know that their talking about masturbating/privates/porn is a good sign. It means your accepted.
      Try to relax and repeat “not my problem” when you see the sock in the sink.
      Renuizits are amazing for smells is this is a problem.

  2. Samantha*

    Car buying advice! Car selecting advice, really.

    I’m in the market for a small to mid-size SUV. I’ve only ever driven small cars (I have a Yaris and before that I had a Saturn coupe) so I don’t want anything too big.

    I’ve looked at the Ford Escape and Hyundai Santa Fe and would love to hear experiences with those vehicles as well as any other suggestions.

    I don’t have any emotional attachment to cars and don’t really care about all the bells and whistles – I really just want something that’s going to be reliable.

    1. Cruciatus*

      I drive a Honda CR-V which is considered a compact crossover. I really like it. My mom and sister both drive CR-Vs. They are well rated, reasonably priced, and lately come with more and more standard features (though this is true of probably all of them these days as deadlines draw near). My family has had a bunch of Hondas throughout the years and we’ve never had a problem with any of them.

      Can I ask why you’re wanting an SUV? I only ask because if you’re looking for something like AWD, you can get that in sedans more and more (my dad got a Subaru Impreza for exactly this reason. Hondas don’t have AWD sedans unfortunately–this is the main reason I got the CR-V. I live in the snow belt).

      1. FiveByFive*

        Right – are you sure you need an SUV? I know everyone has one, but I’ve always had small cars and probably always will. Granted, parking is a pain in the butt surrounded by all those behemoths, but I still won’t change :)

      2. North*

        +1 to this. I drive a CR-V and really quite like it. Definitely quite reliable, pleasant to drive, and there are enough of them that you can get them for a good price point. Like you, I don’t get overly emotional about my cars. (Not since my first one anyway.)

        That said, if I didn’t have to drive in Vermont in the winter, I would have either a Toyota Matrix or a Honda Fit, both of which offer a roomier feel with reliability and style. The Fit in particular is a brilliant little car, and everyone I know who owns one loves it.

        1. Victoria, Please (Laid-Back Stepmom)*

          I would like my Fit a lot better if it got better gas mileage. :-/ It’s not nearly as economical as one would expect of a car that tiny with such little power. But I do love the way the seats move all over the place.

          1. olympiasepiriot*

            Which year do you have? Loverman has a 2008 Fit that gets great mileage. (Even better once I got him to keep the tires properly inflated.)

      3. Samantha*

        Well, I need more back seat space. We have a toddler, whose car seat takes up practically the whole back seat of my little Yaris, and we plan on having another child in the near future.

        I’d also like some cargo space to haul larger items. My husband has a small car too so we are always having to borrow vehicles to pick up furniture, home improvement supplies, etc.

        My mother-in-law actually has a CRV, which I like but my husband doesn’t care for, that we frequently borrow and it seems to have enough cargo space for most of our needs. That’s why I’d like something of similar size.

        1. Edacious*

          My husband is a mechanic and his advice is to buy fully loaded. If you can’t afford this year’s model then buy last year’s. Also take in the car seat and put it in the car you are thinking of getting and drive around for a while. He likes for Honda and Hyundai. Also we had our large car seat in a 4 door jeep (wrangler type) while on vacation and enjoyed ithe as there was space for him to sit in the front and have his seat back as far as he wanted.

          1. Yetanotherjennifer*

            I also brought my collapsing box tha I use for big shopping trips and my favorite coffee mug and put them in every car I test drove. I have a 2014 crv and found it very similar to the Mazda CX-5 and the Toyota whatever. Like flip a coin similar. I’m happy with my crv, but may have been equally happy with the others. Btw, I have one child and I find the extra cargo of a mini suv very handy when driving carpool. I have the same # of seats as when I drove a sedan but the backpacks and dance bags stash much easier in a hatch than in a trunk. And I get better mileage.

            Once you get your options down to 2 or 3, go to one of those mega dealers where you can test cars from different brands in the same trip. A side-by-side comparison is very helpful.

          2. The Cosmic Avenger*

            Hm…Can you explain a little more about his reasoning, Edacious? I usually try to buy a model with the fewest features that I can live with….but back in the 80s, when I first started driving, power windows and door locks were still not that reliable, and often broke after a few years. Plus, in general I prefer to buy a better quality base product with fewer bells and whistles than a cheaper base product with more add-on features. But we may be replacing a car soon, and I’d be interested in his thinking on this.

            1. blackcat*

              I’m not Edacious, but the fully-loaded cars hold their value better.

              I got into an accident in a 12 year old car that was fully loaded. It cost a bit less than 20k in 1999. When it was totaled, the insurance company gave me just over 10k for it, which is less than 50% depreciation. So even though it was never resold, the extra value mattered. I had intended to drive it until it died. I was very sad when it met its untimely demise. It had ~90k miles on it but was in really excellent shape–it’s first accident was its last. It probably would have gone another 100k miles. If that had panned out, the extra value wouldn’t have mattered in the end. But given the accident, the $500 extra for the moonroof came directly back to me in the end. The bells and whistles somehow just never depreciated.

              1. The Cosmic Avenger*

                Interesting, because my first thought was the resale value, but we drive our cars until they die and keep saving up towards new ones while we do. But it’s good to know that it increases the resale value.

                1. blackcat*

                  I think we all hope that the insurance claim amount doesn’t matter. But you can’t stop someone from running a red light and T-boning you :(

                  (Also +1 for side curtain air bags, which where optional at the time. Increased the value of the car AND protected me. I will not buy a car without them.)

        2. Random CPA*

          I have a GMC Acadia and I love it. It’s a crossover, and the inside is set up like a minivan: second row has 2 captain’s chairs and third row seats 3. The 2nd row seats can fold down or be pushed all the way forward. The 3rd row can fold down too. Even without the seats folded down, I can fit all my groceries in the back. It also has remote start so I can cool down the car as I’m buckling the kids in it, but keep my keys on me so I don’t have to worry about my car being stolen with my kids in it. In the same family with the same interior and features is the Chevy Traverse and Buick Enclave.

    2. JJ*

      I’ve owned/driven both and loved them both. The Santa Fe is larger, heavier, and took me through snowstorms in the Sierras safely and comfortably – and without chains!!! The Escape is a little smaller and therefore easier to part, heavy enough to feel safe driving through bad storms, light snow. Haven’t had the opportunity to ‘test drive’ it in heavy snow, though. The Santa Fe had more back-seat space, if that’s a concern. IMO, both are great to drive, good value for the money.

    3. LoveMy CX-5*

      I love my Mazda CX-5. I bought it used last year.

      I drove a Honda Element for YEARS, but they stopped making them. I still may buy another Element one day if I can find a good used one. Best vehicle I ever had.

    4. Alicia*

      I just went through this three weeks ago. I drove a VW hatchback for the past nine years and it was written off due to me being rear-ended. I wanted to get some bit more height (snow clearance) and also AWD for the crappy winters we have around here.

      I’ve been drooling over the Hyundai Santa Fe for the past 3 years or so, so I always had that in the back of my mind, but I went and looked at pretty much every non-domestic manufacturer out there. I knew theyou were all relatively similar price wise, so I went for esthetic and got utility downtown a short list. That list was: Mitsubishi RVR/Outlander, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tuscon/Santa Fe and the Ford Escape.

      I drove them all. Compared warranties, the feel of driving it, financing rates, etc. Turns out I found the bigger versions (Outlander and Santa Fe) too big. I really liked the Escape surprisingly (we aren’t domestic car people), but I found the dash and all the navigation stuff over the top. Plus, the back seat was pretty uncomfortable.

      I was down to Honda CR-V and the Hyundai Tuscon by that point. They both drove amazingly smooth. Honda has super reliable vehicles, but they were a couple grand more expensive, the warranty was shorter, and the interest rate was higher… plus, the back of it looks so silly to me. I think if they had more selection of 2015 editions, I might have entered that way because of the name. Sadly, there wasn’t a lot of time to go to another dealer 5 hours away since I only had a rental for a short time.

      I ended up with the Tuscon, and I’ve only had it for 3 weeks, but I really love it. They just came out with a new body that looks like a baby (90% of the size) of the Santa Fe. I think it’s the best of both worlds in that I get the look I have loved with the Santa Fe, but a vehicle size I am comfortable driving.

        1. Mkb*

          Seconding the Tuscan. I bought one over the summer and love it. I went to the dealer with the True Car price and the stuck to that exact price, it made it pretty easy.

    5. Sandy*

      We have the Toyota RAV4 and love it. It’s our first SUZ after years of small car driving.

      I love love love it. It has a high enough clearance (unlike some we tried) and it’s not as long some of the others, do it’s easier for parallel parking. No issues with car seats either (we have a little one too), and the back seats fold down completely flat if you need them to.

      I only have one quibble and it’s highly specific. If you parallel park a lot in a place where people pack in pretty tightly, the trunk door isn’t ideal. It opens from the side rather than the top. Great for my shoulders, not great when someone has squished in too tightly behind the vehicle.

  3. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Linen sheets. Who has them, and what can you tell me about them? I’ve been coveting Matteo linen sheets for years, and they’re having a 50% off sale this weekend, so I just took the plunge and ordered some, and now I’m second-guessing myself. Do they get really wrinkly? If one shares a bed with a princess-and-the-pea type, will they be too scratchy? What do I need to know?

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I’ve never had these, but I could not care less if my sheets wrinkle. If you make the bed so the pillowcases show and the top of the flat sheet peeps out, however, you can always iron just those bits if necessary. I would imagine they are blended with something for easy care, though, and that should make them softer and smoother?

    2. KarenT*

      I have linen sheets and love them. They’re very lightweight and very soft. They have a different feel than linen clothing.
      I will say they do wrinkle horribly. If you care at all what your bed looks like you’d have to iron them after washing. But since I don’t care, I don’t! Mine aren’t Matteo though, so your experience may be different.

    3. Blurgle*

      You can wash them two or three times before first use to reduce scratchiness, but only time and use will render them baby soft.

      Don’t fold them along the same folds every time you put them away. Linen fibres are more delicate than cotton and will break if folded in the same place time after time.

      Wash white linens on hot with a mild detergent, and line dry if you can; otherwise use the lowest dryer setting you can get away with.

      Do not use any kind of fabric softener, ever, as the wax particles adhere to the fabric and glom on to dust, etc. that will abrade the fabric and weaken it. (This is actually true for all natural fibres. Dryer sheets were designed to tame static buildup in synthetic fabrics; they shorten the life of cottons and linens.)

      Do not use chlorine bleach, as it can on occasion turn linen yellow.

      Those home ec courses I took in university back in the Paleolithic Era come in handy all the time.

    4. Nurse-To-Be*

      A bit off topic from linen sheets….bamboo sheets are also an amazing bedding experience. And this is coming from somebody who never really put much thought into bedding. They’re by far the most comfortable and softest sheets I’ve ever owned, and they quite literally have made my sleep much more heavenly and peaceful. I had no idea that a different fabric made such a difference in how well I sleep now, and cannot rave enough about them. Will definitely be buying bamboo sheets from now on!

            1. Blue Anne*

              Nice, I might have to try these! I love flannel sheets, but my husband hates them, so I’m trying to find a nice soft alternative to plain cotton.

    5. Pretend Scientist*

      We have linen sheets that are Eileen Fisher, from the Garnet Hill catalog. Watching them while they are in the dryer and taking them out when they are about 96% dry definitely helps with wrinkles. They are good for us because they are cool.

  4. nep*

    Anyone here received or know someone who’s received notification from US Office of Personnel Management that their private information was compromised in that major cyber intrusion?

    1. North*

      A friend of mine had her data compromised. She had done a series of contract jobs & internships with the National Park Service.

      1. nep*

        Right — I think it is millions. Just wonder what success people have had with the credit monitoring, etc services being offered. I’ve read some forums on line and seen quite a mix of experiences.

    2. DebbieDebbieDebbie*

      I received the notification and enrolled in the credit monitoring. I heard that enrolling was a hassle in the first two weeks that the initial notifications rolled out, so I waited an additional two weeks and I think it took 15-20 minutes. The credit monitoring includes several other features –like sexual offender warnings–that I could not care less about. So far, the alerts I have received have been related to these features.

    3. hermit crab*

      Me! I just got my notification the other day, and a few other people I know got theirs on the same day. I will probably sign up for the service they mention in the letter.

      1. Overeducated and underemployed*

        Likewise. Can’t get a permanent job with the feds, can get all of my sensitive personal information leaked! Sigh.

      1. Amy*

        It’s a physical letter that directs you to a .gov web address, so there’s no place for sketchy links or anything

      2. BrownN*

        You can also check OPM for CSID or the Federal Trade Commission website and look under Consumer Information.

      3. DebbieDebbieDebbie*

        My notification came to my .gov email address from a .gov source, identified that my info was included in the breach and specified the vendor doing the credit monitoring. A second email came with instructions to enroll in the monitoring. For my agency the vendor is CSID but I don’t know if they are handling everyone. I would imagine that some credit monitoring companies are trying to capitalize on the situation so be careful if you do get a solicitation to enroll. You could always check w/ the OPM Cybersecurity Resource Center online to verify.

    4. katamia*

      I have a relative whose information was probably compromised, but I’m not sure if he got an official notification or not.

    5. BrownN*

      I have received notification and signed up for the CSID program that they set up specifically to deal with it. You will most likely get something in the mail from CSID, if you haven’t already. They offer online monitoring, will help if you had identity theft issues, and provide insurance to cover identity theft issues. If you didn’t get the CSID or threw it away, I’d contact OPM and ask them how you can sign up.

      Even though my private information was compromised, I have not had any issues at all and hope that I will not have any later.

    6. The Cosmic Avenger*

      What a coincidence! I read this post today, and was wondering why I hadn’t heard one way or another, because the OPM says they’re notifying everyone whether they’re affected or not, and I had my full background investigation many years ago, so I knew I should have heard one way or another.

      Anyway, I took a break and walked to the post office, and guess what I found in the PO box? Notices for both myself and my wife! We’re both compromised, but hey, I’m just happy we finally found out!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      It was 60 degrees here in NY on Thanksgiving. Today is 28. The temp is all over the place here.

      1. FiveByFive*

        Hooray! We can now declare you properly accessorized and ready for the harshness of winter!

        For a while, I thought you were hinting that you wanted a new one for Christmas :)

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Yay! Somehow Alison donning the scarf has become one of the traditional signs of winter, amiright?

  5. Intervention or No?*

    Sorry to be a downer for the holidays (and absolutely delete if this is inappropriate for the thread in some way!), but I have a sort of serious question and don’t know what to do.

    I have suspicions that my sibling has experienced sexual abuse – or something. Some sort of serious trauma like that. I don’t really want to get into the nitty gritty of exactly why, but suffice it to say it’s a combination of many, many different little factors across what I know about and have seen in my life, our family’s life, and them/their life. I am referring to something that most likely happened in our childhood. Keyword there is “little,” though: I don’t have anything concrete, just enough hints that, alone, wouldn’t mean anything, but, altogether, would at least mean I wouldn’t/couldn’t justifiably be surprised if indeed it ended up being true.

    Leaving aside the sexual aspect, the larger problem is that my sibling just…seems to be on shaky emotional/psychological territory as a whole. For the most part, they are able to live a normal life: going to college, has friends, interests, goals, and generally a kind moral code. However, underneath the thin layer of functionality we’re talking social anxiety, tendencies toward isolation – and extreme anger issues: i.e., detailed fantasies of violence toward any stranger they have reason to be angry at, even over extremely petty issues, and not in a “blowing off steam” way. I’ve never seen them direct this kind of anger at friends or family (with the exception of our parents…more on that later), but anyone who isn’t friends/family is fair game. And in their own words during the heat of their anger, “I’d do it, I just can’t. I would get in trouble.”

    To give some background, our childhood and growing up was pretty turbulent. No physical abuse (that I know of), but a lot of emotional abuse, extremely messy divorce. We are on cordial terms (most definitely NOT always the case) with one of our parents. We are estranged from the other parent. Thankfully we are decently off in terms of material/financial. We receive financial support from the remaining parent, but otherwise my siblings and I (we have one more sibling, so 3 of us) are completely independent in terms of parental relationship. We do things together with each other, and that is our “family,” – rarely with the parent. No extended family.

    I’m just not really sure what to do. I have felt this way for years. I first noticed everything when they were a preteen, and although they seemed to have found a way to cope with it better as they grew, all of the problems are still there. I just have this sense that, somehow, they did not cope with all of our family troubles as well as my other sibling and I have? Not sure if that’s the best way to phrase it. But with them, it just seems like…something is really wrong. However, I’m thinking back to comments to the LW from the other day who thought her coworker might be abused, and how sometimes intervention opens up a whole can of worms that could actually hurt the victim, not help. I know this is my sibling, not my coworker, but I still hesitate because I am really not sure what’s underneath there, but I feel there is something, and I worry that potentially bringing it out could actually trigger something much worse.

    Thank you to everyone in advance who replies – I chose this forum because I really think the AAM community has some of the best of the internet in terms of intelligence and maturity.

    1. Susan*

      For what it’s worth, OP, I think in this case you are much more likely to be on the right track with doing something.
      A big part of the issue with the other LW was, that when an outsider tries to intervene in an ongoing abusive relationship, it can play right into the abuser’s ‘us against the world’ type narrative and further the victim’s isolation – you otoh would ‘only’ open old wounds, which don’t seem to have healed all that well yet anyways. I’d probably try to get a professional involved.

      How to go about this? Good question. Maybe wait for an instance of a concrete, observable problem (always better than wild conjecture and speculation), and use that as hook? Like, “Hey, have you considered talking to someone about this stuff? So much pent up anger can’t be fun to carry around” – but that probably wouldn’t fly if your sibling is someone who associates a lot of stigma with therapy.

      Best of luck to both of you!

      1. Intervention or No?*

        Thank you for the response! Yes, I should’ve mentioned – my sibling has had therapy in the past as a child, but nothing came of it. I think they probably do associate stigma with therapy and mental illness :/

        I don’t know. I may end up trying anyway (using the anger as a hook as you suggested). I guess part of me is also worried about the absolute clusterf*ck that finding the right therapist can be (which I’ve experienced firsthand) – and also, that they are a college student under our parent’s insurance. Does this mean our parent would inevitably have to get involved? Because that would be… a disaster, to say the least.

        1. Susan*

          phew… my knowledge of American health insurance fits on roughly half a postcard, so no idea about that.

          Another thing I’ve seen, which is much less conspicuous is sports (specifically martial arts) clubs geared towards kids/teens/young adults with anger management issues, which could be worthwhile in itself, but would also put them in touch with someone(s) who can likely rec a therapist who would be a good fit. Maybe look into that in your area?

          1. Intervention or No?*

            They used to be part of track in high school, though I’ve never thought of sports clubs as being an outlet for potential therapist recommendations! I’ll definitely look into it.

        2. Doriana Gray*

          Your parent might get the bill if your sibling’s going to a non-school sponsored therapist, but the therapist is not allowed to share details from the sessions if that’s what you’re worried about (exception would be if your sibling talked about killing herself – then the therapist would have to report it to authorities and your parent could find out that way).

          When I went to therapy in college, I saw a licensed therapist on campus and my mom never found out until I told her (the session costs were added to my tuition so my doctor was paid that way). If your sibling doesn’t have something like that on campus, maybe she can work out a payment arrangement so that her insurance won’t be billed if she’s really concerned about your parent finding out?

          1. Intervention or No?*

            Actually, I was more worried about the parent being involved in the situation as a whole. We’ve been through the therapy route before, so I know the parent wouldn’t expect to hear details from the therapist. I’m more worried that they would feel obligated or entitled to have input on the situation, or give their opinion on how to handle things, etc., especially if it was coming through their insurance. The relationship is toxic enough (and the parent’s judgment is questionable enough, in my experience) that them having their hand in the situation could really fuck things up if Wounded Sib is already vulnerable and trying to be open. I would definitely be looking into ways to get counseling or therapy through outside payment arrangements.

        3. Today's anon*

          If there is a counseling center on campus, usually that is free and you just need to be a student, no insurance (or fee) needed.

        4. Elsajeni*

          School could be another “in” for you to suggest getting some help — you mentioned anxiety and isolation; has your sibling had any trouble in school related to those issues? Like, procrastination, perfectionism, taking a professor’s comments on their work super personally, feeling generally lonely and unhappy at school… any of those could be an opening for you to say something like, “You know, lots of students have a hard time with that kind of thing. Have you thought about going to the counseling center on campus? They deal with these kinds of problems all the time, so I’m sure they’d have some good advice to offer you.”

          1. Intervention or No?*

            Hmm, yes, I hadn’t thought to look at academic-related issues, though I think they’re generally fine on that front right now. They’re a STEM major taking freshman core classes, so things are pretty straightforward at the moment I think and I think their classes are fairly okay for them (from what I’ve seen at least). I think most of their issues in school are more on the social level – not making as many friends as they could because of social anxiety, etc. I don’t know. I’ll definitely be looking into the counseling center though.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Do you think that your defensive sib would talk to you or your other sib? If your wounded sib won’t talk to anyone, then that makes it reeeally hard.

      Have you talked about this with your other sib at all?

      I have someone that I am trying to help with their anger/temper. It’s not easy, and I don’t know the roots of the anger. I do know he was molested but that he talks about freely. So I am not sure what is driving his temper. Because of seeing this, seeing the anger and the molestation can be two separate issues, my suggestion is can you talk about the anger? Come in on the plane of “You know, sis, you could give yourself a heart attack by being so upset. Do you want to talk about it?” You’re concerned about her health, you don’t want her to end up in the hospital suddenly, and so on.

      What I like about this, is that it presumes nothing and opens the door to any subject. Annd it puts you in a spot where you can be the loving sis and not the nagging sis.

      1. Intervention or No?*

        We have talked briefly about the anger in the moments that it happens – Wounded Sib (to steal your term) is absolutely aware that the people who care about them do not believe the anger is normal, and are concerned and uneasy about it each time it happens. We’ve talked, in the moment, about why the anger isn’t solving the problem or is disproportionate to the issue they’re angry over, with mixed results. It just hasn’t done much to stop it.

        Beyond that, no, I don’t think Wounded Sib is a very open person. I absolutely think their reaction would be to close up – unless they came to a crisis point on their own where things were already out in the open, but, of course, the risk there is that by that point, it may already be too late.

        As Susan also mentioned above, I’ve thought about using the anger to try to talk about it. I would just be really, really surprised if they opened up easily – and am more concerned that they would NOT open up, but would subsequently be alarmed that their family member was taking it to That Level, and it would trigger – I don’t know – something worse, where previously they were using all their strength to just suppress all of this pain.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          It’s tough to use logic on emotions that are running high. Logic and emotions are two different roads sometimes.

          My next thought is, “Is this profound grief?” You know, if we keep sadness bottled up inside us it can do some outrageous stuff- it can attack our minds and our health. There have been plenty of people who have become violent or think about violence because of their profound grief. So grief does not seem like a quantum leap to me.

          I am picturing her as the youngest. I am not sure why.

          She is at college. Is there free counseling services there?

          1. Intervention or No?*

            Yes, I don’t think grief is a quantum leap either. And I think it would be a grief that probably started very, very long ago, when we were much younger, when our family first broke apart. I wish there was a pre-made answer for that, but I know there isn’t. :/

        2. Dynamic Beige*

          Beyond that, no, I don’t think Wounded Sib is a very open person. I absolutely think their reaction would be to close up

          Here’s my thing: when you know that the words you say might be used against you in the future, you become very careful about what you say and to whom. If you don’t trust anyone, then you tell no one.

          So my question for you is: how close are you to WS? If there was a huge flood at college that took out their dorm room, would they call you first and ask if they could stay with you until it’s fixed? I don’t mean in terms of distance, I mean that if they were in trouble somehow (flat tire on side of road is another example) would you be the first person they called, or the last?

          Part of the problem could be — and this is just a guess on my part — that WS hasn’t seen your struggle. They don’t know how long it took you to find the help you needed, or what you had to go through to get better. They may just see you being an adult and older and seem all together and it’s just not fair! IMO, aside from the fact that you can’t get someone to talk if they don’t want to, you won’t get someone to open up if you’re not open yourself — and that means you have to go first.

          Xmas is coming up and I assume that means you’ll spend time together all as a family. I’m going to give you a suggestion of an unusual gift you could get WS, a journal, a nice sturdy toolbox to keep it in and a combination lock. Whether you give this to them in private or in front of everyone else it up to you but I would do it in private, at a time when they are reasonably calm. This next part is only going to work if you indeed found it useful when you were in therapy — tell them that this is for them and the lock box is so that no one can get at it (which may be a problem in shared housing situations). That journaling helped you a lot when you were in therapy (only if it did) because putting your words down on paper got them out/gave you a place to let it go/seeing them on paper made them real/whatever. Admit that you sought help, that you had to and then tell them that if they ever want to talk about your crap-tastic family, you’ll be there (but only if you can listen to whatever they may tell you without denying it or telling them it wasn’t that bad or whatever). Give them a hug and let them think it over. They know that you are concerned about their anger, but as you say, there is much more there than just anger. This isn’t about what’s on the surface, it’s about what’s underneath. Yes, they may break down/get worse before they get better. Yes, they may clam up even more. There’s no way of knowing what is going to happen. If you’re going to be supportive of your sibling, then you have to be there, like the floorboards under their feet. I don’t think about the thickness of the floorbeams as I walk around my house, but I know they’re there and I know that I can rely on them not to break. You cannot offer your support and then fall away out from under them when/if they decide to take you up on the offer. Whether that support is helping them find a good therapist, being a sounding board or a shoulder to cry on, you aren’t going to know until your support is called for.

          Also, if they do break down (and I would bet it will happen one day) would you rather it was now when they are still young enough to not be tied down with relationship commitments or children? If your sibling needs to break down, IMO, now is a way better time than 20 years from now. The longer this hangs over them, the worse they are going to feel when that break down does finally occur because of all the time they lost or wasted.

          1. Intervention or No?*

            Definitely a lot to think about here, thanks. To answer your question, yes, I do believe I’d be the first (maybe second to the police or AAA?) or one of the first that they call if they were in trouble. I think both this sibling and Other Sibling depend on me in an “older sibling and/or pseudo-parent-when-the-other-parents-weren’t-dependable” way. Wounded Sibling has even come to me for emotional help before – e.g. when they were having problems with their S/O – but not with enough consistency that I’d depend on it.

            The fact that they depend on me/look up to me in that way, though, does not mean that we’re very emotionally open. The three of us are close, but we’re all also very independent and the response to distress tends to be to give each other more space rather than less, trusting that the other will deal with things on their own terms. You’re right – they haven’t really seen a lot of my struggle from the “inside.” Also, therapy ironically did not end up working for me – I’ve been through a good handful in my lifetime for different reasons during a couple different crises, and each time, just sort of ended up getting myself out of the hole on my own. I absolutely NEVER advocate that my experience should be the rule – I always say that everyone needs to find what works for them, whether that’s medication, therapy, a combination of both, or something else. But at the end of the day it is true that, other than the fact that I was willing to TRY, to take the meds and attend the therapy, I’m not a very good example for either of them.

            That doesn’t mean I can’t find other ways to open up, though, as you said; I’ll be looking for those opportunities.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I don’t know if this is helpful, but it might be worth including in your thinking that the kinds of issues you’ve described aren’t linked only to sexual abuse, but also to the kind of childhood you’ve described, so it’s possible that the emotional abuse alone is to blame here. It’s possible there was also sexual abuse, but I might argue that at this point, figuring that out isn’t the most important thing; what’s known for sure is that she had a difficult upbringing, including emotional abuse, and now is struggling to be happy, and that tells a pretty compelling story on its own (although of course there might be additional elements too, and I realize we don’t have all the details here).

      I know it’s natural to look at it and think “but I and Other Sibling didn’t end up with these issues, so something must have been different for her.” But it might be be that you’re just different people who reacted differently. (To personalize this a bit, my sister and I both grew up in a pretty dysfunctional household and had basically the same experiences but responded very, very differently to it, both as kids and as adults.) Or, of course, it’s also possible that your hunch is right. I’m just throwing out possibilities here.

      But at this point, it might be less important to pinpoint exactly what’s causing this and more important to just encourage her to get help. Could you point out to her that your (hers and your) childhood was really difficult, that most people don’t come out of that unscathed, that you see that she’s struggling to find happiness, and that the path out of that is much less daunting when there’s a competent therapist involved? And that you love her and want her to find peace?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        “but also to the kind of childhood you’ve described, so it’s possible that the emotional abuse alone is to blame here.”

        Right on. If both parents or the dominate parent could not control their temper then it can be very hard for the kids to learn how to control their own tempers. We tend to gravitate to what we see.

        OP, would she read a book if you gave it to her? I totally agree about seeking counseling. But if she won’t go (or maybe even if she does go) you might want a few more tools up your sleeve.

        1. Intervention or No?*

          Hmm, I’m not sure! They don’t like to read much, but might be good to have on hand anyway. Are there any books you recommend?

      2. Intervention or No?*

        Thank you Alison. Yes, you and the others are right – the sexual abuse aspect isn’t necessarily tied to this in a way that merits it being the main factor in my decision-making. To clarify, there are other factors (besides the social anxiety, anger, and isolation) that made me suspect it – but I think I became so worried about it, like a “phantom” that I was afraid to touch, that it made me hesitant to call any attention to their issues, even though the social anxiety/anger are much more visible and addressable. As Dynamic Beige mentioned above, this is a situation where I would not be surprised if a “breakdown” was inevitable – but I guess I was afraid of being the one to “cause” that breakdown prematurely by being the first one to say something and make it a Thing, where they previously might’ve thought they were doing a good job dealing with it – and what if that breakdown I “caused” ended up being too much for them to handle?

        But this whole discussion has given me a lot of clarity that I have more than enough already visible to reasonably act on, and that, yes, it isn’t so important right now to focus on the ultimate root cause of things (something I tend to get distracted by a lot) as it is to just see if they want help. I really appreciate you taking the time to respond!

    4. AnotherAlison*

      I have no idea what the best course of action is, really. This happened in my family (one of my parent’s F.o.o.) That parent and all siblings were abused by a relative for many, many years. This was in the 50s-60s, so no one talked about it and it was swept under the rug. . .even when the relative faced charges for the same situation with a non-relative child.

      Long story short, over 40 years, many lives were destroyed as the outcome of none of these siblings ever dealing with their issues, so I HIGHLY RECOMMEND the intervention route, but I think I would work at it through the angle of the sibling relationship and ease into it rather than be confrontational. This has become something that my family talks about in normal conversation. I’m wondering if you just talk about these kinds of situations more regularly, if the sibling will open up more, and then you can start recommending therapy.

      1. aNoN*

        You know, I was the sibling who was abused by a parent. One knows the other doesn’t. At least I don’t think he does. The anger and fear that it caused me to develop made me isolated from my family. I’ve always wondered if my brother knows or not and as the years have gone by I have accepted this possible ignorance. One one hand, I’m scared of what he’ll say or think and on the other, I just want to be at peace. I’ve been in therapy for a long time and the anger has subsided but like your sibling, it’s a hard journey to recovery. If you want to talk to your sibling, establish trust if it’s not there and be open and prepared if your sibling doesn’t want to talk about it. It might be that there was no sexual abuse and the other abuse you described has caused this. As siblings, we all grew up in the same house but our perspectives and experiences differ. Thank you for being open about this to begin with.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah, sad story, I know of a brother that was abused by his father. Sis had no clue even 30 years later STILL had no clue. This does happen, people grow up in the same household and never realize. In this story here, a third party verified the abuse so hopefully that helped build bridges in some manner.

        2. Intervention or No?*

          Thanks so much for this. If you’re still reading, I guess a question I have for you would be – would you have preferred back then if your brother knew? Did you ever want them to know? If there really is something that happened to my sibling, one of the things I’ve struggled with is wondering whether they would even be okay with me knowing, or if they’d really prefer to have the “space” that comes with my ignorance right now and if I’d be intruding on that.

          1. aNoN*

            At one point I desperately wanted my brother to know because I was so angry and wanted him to know that my abusive parent was the cause of so many issues. I wanted in a sense freedom because I felt like I was holding everything inside. That was almost ten years ago when I was in highs school. Through therapy I’ve come to terms with how my parent hurt us in different ways. I want to know if he knows because part of me is scared that my parent abused him too because some of his tendencies would make more sense. More than anything I want him to know because I want to be an open and free person with my little brother. If he asked me today, I would hands down tell him.
            I think your curiosity stems from caring for your sibling. If you genuinely want to know, I would set up an opportunity in which you are both comfortable and safe. i really hope you have that opportunity to find out what is really going on. Siblings can be a powerful safety net of support regardless of what the issue is.

            1. Intervention or No?*

              It really helps me a lot to read this, if only for the possibility that, whether we’re talking abuse or not, maybe my sibling feels the same way and wants that same freedom. It also gives me hope that you’ve been able to grow and come to terms with so much and that your anger has subsided. Thank you so much for sharing and I hope you and your brother are able to find that freedom if it is meant to be.

    5. Liz T*

      Do you read Captain Awkward? If she doesn’t already have something about this in her archives, you might consider emailing her for advice.

    6. Student*

      I am in a similar boat with respect to family and a troubled sibling.

      (1) I think it’s okay to try to get a sibling help when something is obviously wrong.
      (2) I think you need to recognize and be at peace with the fact that it probably won’t work.

      Ways to try and get them help include:
      – letting them know when they do something way outside normal, like the extremely violent talk
      – mentioning things that helped YOU cope with the parental units that you think Sibling might also find useful, like counseling or specific coping strategies
      -mentioning resources to get back on a reasonable, normal track, like counseling, medical evaluations, drug/addiction counseling, social services, offering temporary material support

      That said, you cannot ultimately fix your sibling, all you can do is open the right door if she wants to help herself.

      My little brother is on a self-destructive path, largely due to abuse from our parents while growing up. I’ve opened many doors for him. Sometimes he goes through, sometimes he doesn’t. It’s heartbreaking when he doesn’t. I always have to resist the temptation to think I can fix him or save him when I interact with him. I can’t fix him, he can only fix himself. When he wants to get better, I’ll try to open that door for him, provided it won’t jeopardize my own recovery/safety/security to do so. Otherwise, he’d drag me down right with him.

      1. Intervention or No?*

        I’m so sorry you’re going through that with your brother. Yes, your #2 is a big one for me. It doesn’t help that I have a “fixer” personality – and though I’ve, for the most part, been able to make the “I can’t fix other people” paradigm shift when it comes to non-family, my siblings might be the last remaining exception to that. I guess I worry a lot about worst case scenarios. What if they try something drastic? But you’re right – it’s more effective to try to open doors than to harp on saving people. I hope things get better for both our situations!

    7. Intervention or No?*

      To anyone who’s still reading, sorry for the late reply (been sick all weekend)! But I just want to say thank you to everyone who responded. I have been worried about this for so many years without saying a word of it to anyone, to the point that the concern became stagnant – I think writing it out and having this discussion really helped clarify my thinking and affirmed for me that I wouldn’t be off-base in trying to act.

      I will be looking into counseling options, as many have mentioned. I’m still apprehensive about the whole process of navigating that terrain, as my experience has told me it’s often messy, but I’ll definitely also be looking for more ways to let them know it is safe to talk/ask for help in general. And even though I already knew it intellectually, it helps to see that other people have survived/are surviving difficult situations too.

      Thanks again!

  6. Rin*

    I’m thinking of moving to Australia or New Zealand. Does anyone know how to obtain a work visa? I feel like I’d need one before I start applying for jobs. Thanks!

    1. DaintyPaint*

      The best place to start is the Department of Immigration and Border Security site http://www.border.gov.au/

      There’s a helpful quiz that will figure out the general visas you are eligible for. Depending on your age and nationality, there’s a variety of options available.

      Becoming a permanent resident/citizen is quite involved, but with some impeccably completed paperwork and solid research, a working visa is usually pretty straightforward :)

    2. blue_eyes*

      I know New Zealand has a program where US citizens can get one-year work/travel visas. Often the people who get them are young people who go to travel and they do short stints working on farms and such to fund their travels.

    3. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

      Can’t help with the application side sorry, but can confirm that you definitely want a visa here before you start applying. Most employers either ask up front, or aren’t going to hold a job for you while you wait for your visa (unless you’re doing something verrrrrrry specialised).

  7. North*

    Can I get advice or commiseration from those whose partners suffer from mild to severe depression and anxiety?

    My husband has suffered from some degree of both for basically his entire life. He’s been in and out of therapy; currently in, with a good therapist. He has good days and bad, but mostly blah days.

    I am by no means a stranger to not having great brain chemistry, but I work my ass off to catalogue and implement coping mechanisms and to structure my life in order to work with my own issues.

    The problem becomes that I am constantly, every hour of every day, working to help support his challenges. He has basically no coping mechanisms and cannot seem to develop any, or at least not productive, problem-solving coping mechanisms. (What I am trying to say is that playing video games and having a beer are totally fine coping mechanisms but when they are the ONLY things that you do and you are doing them to excess and using them to mask rather than work through I think that gets less helpful and more avoiding.)

    So: I am the one who takes care of every single basic household chore, renovation project, planning thing, you name it. I am a fairly type-A, high-octane kind of person so most of the time this works for us but when I am having trouble basically everything breaks down. I lose the well of patience that lets me find the right ways and the right times to ask him to do things like take out the trash. He literally lost his shit the other night because I didn’t ask him to break down the cardboard boxes in the attic in a way that he felt was respectful of his judgment on which cardboard boxes needed to be recycled. (So that makes him sound kind of like an emotionally abusive asshole, which he’s not, he just gets SO in his own head that he tries to twist around inside of things I’ve asked to find the “traps” and when I am worn out and don’t have time to ask in a way that I know will dodge those things it ends badly for both of us.)

    Anyway. I could go on, but I am mostly seeking advice. How do you handle this in your day to day life? How do you work with the facts that depression lies and with partners who are basically incapable of helping out 50/50? How do you negotiate things going forward? (Kids are out of the picture for us for a lot of reasons, but this is definitely a big one.)

    1. BRR*

      Depending on your situation can you ask him what his preferred method would be for how you can ask him to help around the house (and as I type that out does he know your expectation is to split the household chores)? Speaking from my own situation as the depressed spouse there are likely going to be better days to bring things up than others.

      But I would strongly consider going to counseling yourself so you have a place to let this out and learn coping mechanisms or see someone together so you can learn how you both can work around this.

    2. Camellia*

      I have long said that when one partner is in therapy then the other partner should be in therapy also, if for nothing else than to learn how to cope. Have you ever considered that? A good therapist can help you answer those questions and see where you need to go from there. Just a thought; it helped me.

      1. Winter is Coming*

        Just came here to say just that. My daughter suffers from this, and I can honestly say my own therapist has been very instrumental in helping me develop coping skills and ways of helping her. Best of luck, I know it’s tough.

    3. ten-four*

      I’m sorry, that sounds rotten for you. My husband and I have both worked through depressive episodes, and it’s definitely the worst when both of us are down at the same time.

      Out of the things you wrote, this is the bit that jumped out at me:

      “I am a fairly type-A, high-octane kind of person so most of the time this works for us but when I am having trouble basically everything breaks down. I lose the well of patience that lets me find the right ways and the right times to ask him to do things like take out the trash.”

      That sounds exhausting. Is this relationship actually working for you, on a macro level? I mean, as opposed to being something you are able to slog through most of the time?

    4. Doriana Gray*

      My ex is bipolar (he was diagnosed long after we split) so I feel for you. He refused to get help for his issues when we were together, and he refuses to get help now (he’s stopped taking his meds and stopped going to therapy). He tried to get me to come back to him a few months ago, but frankly, he’s exhausting (and this is said by someone diagnosed with clinical depression) so I nipped that in the bud. Obviously, since you’re married (and presumably want to stay that way), my cut and run approach won’t help, but I can commiserate because I know how hard it can be to deal with someone who doesn’t seem to want to put in any effort to make his situation better.

      1. Dan*

        Why can’t cut and run be a helpful option here? It was for me when I was married.


        Been there, done that

        1. Doriana Gray*

          Oh, it definitely can be, but I was commenting under the assumption that the OP wanted to try and make her situation work. Sometimes you can’t though, and that is a valid point to raise.

    5. mander*

      Is he getting any kind of treatment at all? My husband has gone through periods like this, but he finally accepted that it wasn’t right and started taking anti-depressants. It has helped immensely. He’s definitely not the kind of guy that would ever consent to talking therapy, but through talking to him about it in calm moments over time I was able to get him to see that it wasn’t right. I was also having depression issues at the same time and started taking meds as well, so perhaps having both of us in it together helped.

      I sympathize, though. I’m not very high strung and frankly I’m pretty messy, but when he was having such a rough time it was just intolerable. I can turn a blind eye to general clutter but the piles of empty coffee cups and used tissues really got to me.

      1. Hellanon*

        That was my option too. Could not handle having to be the adult and the husband-whisperer & then get accused of being “no fun” by someone who essentially refused to take responsibility for himself, and who has in the subsequent 15 years found a series of ever-younger women to support him and channel his creativity. I would suggest, OP, that you both need to take responsibility for the solution to this impasse, and if he finds that impossible, that you then decide for how long you are willing to assume it all.

    6. misspiggy*

      Captain Awkward and Carolyn Hax have some useful thoughts. Things that help me include asking him gently whether he finds x not-done thing difficult, and in what ways it is difficult for him. I calmly make it clear what things I find most difficult, including situations where I feel unfairly burdened. I ask him to do the things I find more difficult and he finds less difficult, as something he does for me. I make it clear that I’m happy to do the things I find less difficult and he finds more difficult – out of love, not obligation.

      I work hard to get us started on tasks together, as he gets overwhelmed by thinking about getting a whole task done well. So I say I just want to do x stage of the thing this evening so I can feel productive; get him involved – because I need his help, right? – and before you know it we’ve done the whole thing. Whatever stage we get to, I emphasise how well we’ve moved forward rather than how much there is still to do. I don’t correct his work, redo it, or tell him how it should be done unless he asks. I try to make him feel useful as opposed to useless.

      For things we both find difficult, or where I feel I’m taking on more than my fair share, I get us to talk through any and all ways round it. So say we both hate/can’t do the washing up: should we use disposable plates?

      If there is snark or grumbling as an avoidance strategy, I nicely ask him to be kind. I’ve got better at spotting the signs that he’s genuinely not able to cope with anything, and then I look after him like he’s sick – which he is. But I still don’t do a task if it would make me resentful. If we live in squalor for a little while, so be it. It’s a lot of management but it has worked well, and he puts himself through hell to make me happy and to get more out of life. Having as much fun as possible together is important too.

      Also – Unfuck Your Habitat.

    7. Betty B*

      Acceptance. 30 years with a man who suffers from PTSD anxiety has culminated in pure acceptance. I take on 100% of cooking, cleaning, finances, home renos, etc, etc. He helps out as possible but it’s mostly me. While I can hear the collective gasp from you all, I assure you that I am fine, I do not resent or regret anything. There are people in our lives who simply cannot offer as much. We have to accept what they are capable of. It’s not easy, but it’s possible. Keep things as simple as possible, take time for yourself. Find the joy in your life. We have 1 child, and the most difficult thing about that was that my son had to mature very quickly. At 4 he could cope with his dad having a panic attack. I hope it will serve him well in his life to understand the needs of others. It’s not what I would have chosen for him, but you deal with what you get. Trust me. It’s been work but it’s mostly been lovely. (But not many people truly understand)

    8. I commiserate*

      My partner is in a similar boat, and it is very very difficult. He refuses to want to change anything. He has not been working so sits around all day, barely leaving the house. No interests. Drinking every night. Refuses to go to therapy for himself, or consider anti-depressants. It is draining and depressing.

      I was letting it get me down but recently decided, screw it. I’m not letting this ruin my life. I’ve been spending more time with friends and just not coddling his rants. And I also suffer from depression -but I work hard to make myself feel better. I’m on antidepressants, I exercise most days, I don’t drink too much, I take the dog for long walks so I can get extra vitamin D. Mind you, I’m no saint, I don’t always succeed at all these, but I am trying to be my best self.

      We are dealing with a serious health issue with one of our children at the moment, so leaving is not an option, but I have considered it. However, I do love him and am still hopeful he will one day want to help himself feel better.

    9. Blue Anne*

      This sounds so familiar to me and I wish I had something useful and wonderful to tell you.

      My husband and I have both been through therapy; many aspects of our mental health have improved but he is still a very negative person who reacts similarly to yours when I ask him to do things in the “wrong” way.

      Friends have recommended that I get divorced. It’s not an option right now, because I would have to leave the country – my visa is dependent on being married to him, for at least another year and a half.

    10. matcha123*

      I’m very sure that my boyfriend has depression. He somewhat agrees, “I think that might be,” but he doesn’t know how to work on it. I’m somewhat like you in that while I’m pretty sure I have depression, I have a lot of measures in place to try to deal with it. I’m constantly looking at myself and telling myself to “go exercise,” “listen to that song,” go take a walk!,” etc. to keep myself afloat.

      At the same time, he’s basically asking me to be supportive and happy for him, but admits that the things I ask him to do are too “hard” and that he wants to but can’t. I’m kind of resentful that I not only have to manage myself, but him, too. And my mom has been struggling with depression and I feel like I need to be there for everyone, but when I need someone, they can’t be there for me in the same way.

      I don’t know if I have any constructive advice. Does he really understand how his behavior affects you?

    11. asteramella*

      Regardless of the root cause of the behaviors, this situation sounds like it may be unsustainable for you.

      I’m not a big fan of the “Come to Jesus” talk as a be-all end-all solution, but perhaps it may help to have a significant conversation in which you express your needs and ask him whether, and how, he can try to meet those needs–or if he is interested in meeting your needs at all.

    12. F.*

      As the spouse who suffers from depression and anxiety, I commend you for wanting to work things out instead of leaving him. I agree with the other commenters who say that you should also see a therapist. This will help you understand his illness better and learn coping strategies for yourself. A few couples sessions with his therapist could help you understand his particular depression. You are part of his support system, and you both need to work with his therapist to come up with strategies that work for the both of you while maintaining your mental health, too. It is all too easy to become an enabler despite best intentions.

      As for those who say to cut and run, as long as the depressed person is in treatment, then look at it like any other disease that severely limits the sufferer’s abilities to work and help around the house, etc. Would you abandon a spouse with cancer or severe diabetes or MS? If so, then I question whether you should be married at all. Note that this advice is predicated on the depressed person getting treatment. Otherwise, the non-depressed person may need to leave to preserve their own health.

    13. LilyLou*

      I was thinking of writing a post almost identical to this! I’m in a very similar situation, but we have two small kids as well. I’ve been asking him to get treatment for the last year, and he still refuses. We’ve been in couples counseling since the summer, but nothing changes. I’m about ready to ask for a trial separation, but I’m really scared of being a single parent. If we do divorce, I would want to take the kids back to my hometown, which is in another state. I’m worried that he’ll block me from moving, and I’ll be stuck in this state with no family and no support system. Blerg. So no advice, just sending hugs and buckets of empathy your way!!

    14. OK*

      That IS emotionally abusive. You are walking on eggshells around him all the time and that’s not ok.
      It’s not okay to blow up on people because he cant cope. He needs to fix this and you need to stop enabling it by doing everything so he came game and drink all the time.

  8. Elizabeth West*


    I have almost all of those books! Love Sue Townsend, RIP. She wrote a great book about the Royal Family also, The Queen and I, in which they lose all their money and have to live in a housing estate. I have to say, the first two Adrian Mole books are some of the funniest things I’ve ever read.

    It’s very cold and I don’t want to get out from under my blanket. I went to the fabric store yesterday and found stuff marked down ridiculously low for another skating dress. But I pinned all the pieces on the velvet with the right side OUT, not IN. Derp! I think I can make it work though, and it was so cheap I bought extra, so I have plenty. I’ll still make the black dress just in case, but I wanted to try this. It’s bluish-purple stretch velvet and this really pretty red/blue iridescent stretchy netting. I don’t know what I was thinking–that netting is going to be a PITA to sew. But it looks like a Christmas ornament!

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      I remember reading the queen and I in middle school, I had no idea it was the Same author as Adrian Mole

    2. Windchime*

      I would love to see pictures of your skating outfits that you’ve sewn sometime, if you’re inclined to want to share them. I’m intrigued by the idea that you can sew those fancy costumes like I see on TV. I sew, but it’s things like aprons and quilts and bags, not garments that actually have to fit a human body!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Oh you’re way off if you think they look like anything on TV. If you look at them up close, you can absolutely see they are very very amateur and definitely homemade. I have a friend who does cosplay outfits and she is WONDERFUL. She loves to sew; I HATE it. I only do it because I can’t buy dresses as I’m too tall and they’re too short, and custom-made is way too expensive.

        Here is one for the “I See Fire” program (it’s the front) http://i.imgur.com/rYxAoAR.jpg and here’s the back: http://i.imgur.com/VUjcgXa.jpg. I had all this gold trim that came in a grab bag at the flea market and I just glued it on there, LOL.
        And here’s the tunic I made for my other Hobbit program. http://i.imgur.com/95GHONH.jpg That glitter stuff was scratchy as all get-out. >_<
        Here's one I did for Doctor Who "The Vampires of Venice"; I wear it when I have nothing else. http://i.imgur.com/KoEBsF3.jpg

        IF this dress turns out okay, I'll post a picture of it. I'm going to sew the black one too, just in case it's a huge fail.

        1. Aussie academic*

          These look wonderful! Good on you, you’ve got real skill. I’ve just got into sewing clothing, after really only quilting and sewing soft furnishings, bags and the like in the past, and finding it a bit of a challenge. I’ve just seen an invisible zip into a dress the wrong way for the third time, and getting very frustrated. (On the plus side, my unpicking skills are now second to none.) Love to see how it ends up!

    3. Weekend Warrior*

      Sue Townsend IS the Queen of clever but warm hearted satire and Adrian Mole is a character who captures both so much about particular times in Britain and universal experience. Like Sherlock Holmes, he lives beyond the books. He certainly echoes through Knausgaard’s memorialized fiction and the ” growing pains” of KOK’s character. The terrible rock band playing extra loud and drowning out a beloved Norwegian folk group? Adrian was the invisible member. :)

  9. M.*

    Cried on the phone with my bank today because I don’t understand how when you have nothing in your account how they can allow more money to come out of your account? Had over $100 in overdraft fees. I was like “can I do anything so that this won’t happen?” They said there was nothing I could do to stop money from being taken out even when I had nothing in the account or was negative. One of the other banks I used to use, would not allow this to happen so I’m so confused. They did reverse the overdraft charges but told me that they wouldn’t do that again for me.

    I was overdrawn because even though I keep trying to stop an auto transfer that I set up between my checking and savings account, the transfers happen anyway.

    Also, I explained my situation (I sub, no guaranteed work/too sick to hold down a full time job) the rep was like “I’ll see what I can do, but you’re going to have to manage your account yourself after this.” Um yeah. Okay. I’m trying but your bank keeps screwing me. You want me to do things online, charge me to access a teller, and there is no way I can do things like cancel an ongoing transfer online.

    I really can’t do this anymore. Something has to give. I am secretly (from my parents) trying to pick up another job. I know its just going to land me in the hospital again but I don’t know what else to do.

    1. M.*

      The problem is that I’m making payments with my account and then these transfers are still going through which are making my account go negative. Its not that I’m going shopping and not checking my account balances. I just wanted to clarify that. I still haven’t gone grocery shopping and its been two plus months. But since I’m making money, food stamps and such aren’t an option…. people are now starting to yell at me for not eating. I really don’t know how much of this I can do anymore.

      Plus side? Rents finally able to be paid.

      1. danr*

        I think you’ll have to go to the bank and sit down with one of folks at a desk. Don’t go to a teller. Explain what you want to have the bank do. Talk calmly and precisely. Talk about any options available. And don’t go until you have the result that you want.

        1. M.*

          I think I’m going to have to. They keep treating me like I’m carelessly spending my money, and telling me harshly that I need to be accountable for what I’m doing.

    2. BRR*

      Instead of auto transferring can you manually do it?

      If you’re in the us you have to opt in to overdraft fees. If you don’t like your bank, consider switching ns especially look into credit unions.

      1. M.*

        The problem is that I can’t undo a automatic transfer. The person at the bank ended up doing it for me, but it was insane that I could set one up online but I couldn’t undo it online. I do have a seperate bank account at another bank (one for bills, one for personal stuff), and I’m thinking I’m gonna just switch to the other one.

        1. BRR*

          I may not understand the situation but if it has happened before can you get rid of the auto transfer permanently and do it yourself?

        2. Arjay*

          This may sound counter-intuitive as a solution, but can you set up another auto-transfer in reverse to move the transferred money back into checking from savings?

      2. Lionness*

        Just to clarify, you don’t have to “opt in” to overdraft fees. You have to “opt in” to overdraft protection and that only applies to debit card transactions. This sounds like it is ACH which is more akin to writing a check and the bank can and will charge overdraft fees even if the ACH is denied due to lack of funds available.

        OP. Your bank sounds like they suck. I know this is stressful and I’m sorry you dealt with such a rude person. It sounds like maybe the auto transfer is now turned off so hopefully this won’t happen again. It is also very normal for them to only reverse charges once (otherwise people would abuse it, not that I think you would). But I hope you talk to someone about how that person spoke to you. It is really unacceptable to be so abrasive.

        1. catsAreCool*

          And if you’re talking to someone rude at the bank, try asking to talk to that person’s manager. I’m not sure it works with banks, but it works with other businesses.

    3. FutureLibrarian*

      Is there a reason you haven’t just closed your accounts with this bank entirely and switched to a different bank, or a credit union?

      That would be my first step, truly! It sounds like you need somewhere that allows you to set up and have more control over your preferences, and this bank doesn’t offer that. (Which is ridiculous. I’ve never had an issue getting a bank to set up a “decline purchases if account is empty” thing.)

      1. M.*

        I had kept it open so that my parents could transfer money into the account since its at the same bank. But I’m just fed up at this point.

        1. danr*

          Transfers from one bank to another can be done online. Plus it’s always easier to transfer money in than to take it out.

        2. FutureLibrarian*

          I would look into banks that offer transfers from bank to bank. They should be able to do that relatively easily then!

          At this point, even them mailing you a check would make switching from this bank worthwhile.

        3. LizB*

          If you have trouble finding a bank that will do transfers to another bank, you could look into an application like Venmo, which is designed for individuals to transfer small amounts of money to each other (e.g. paying your friend back for concert tickets they bought, that kind of thing). It takes a few days to set up your account, but after that transfers are close to instant.

        4. BrownN*

          I don’t know where you live, but I would suggest opening an account at a credit union, if it’s allowed in your area. Your parents can still transfer funds, even if it’s to a different bank.

      2. Weasel007*

        Cutting and running with a negative balance will not help. Banks have their own credit score system and some may not allow you to open an account with a recent bad history from somewhere else.

        Get yourself current, and go through your statements for the past 90 days to make sure you know of any auto drafts. Then cancel them. Best of luck.

        1. Stephanie*

          Good point. And they will send you a collection notice for any unresolved debts. I had checking account that I forgot about–I had just switched banks. I had my student loan payment auto-debited from it, which was fine until it went into the negative. I had paid the loan that month out the new account, but forgot to turn off the auto-debit. Forgot about it and then got a collection notice for the amount. It wasn’t huge and I was in a position to pay it, so I just got the account to $0 and promptly closed the account.

    4. Audiophile*

      Find out how to stop those auto transfers. Even if it involves going to a local branch of your bank and filling out paper work. If they happen again, I found the quickest recourse was posting to Facebook and then I ALSO went to their website and emailed a bunch of their high level executives. I quickly got the result I wanted, which was getting all of my overdrafts reversed.

      As someone else recommended, switch banks. A lot of online accounts offer overdraft fees in percentages, which ends up being pennies compared to the typical fee.

    5. Yetanotherjennifer*

      An in-person visit with a teller or personal banker to get this resolved is, in the long run, cheaper than the overdraft fees. I’d do that if at all possible and get that transfer removed. Your finances sound shaker enough that you should stick to manual transfers for the time being. Can you move your account to a credit union, which is more likely to have friendlier policies? If you do close your account then make sure you get written proof. Sometimes these accounts have a habit of coming back to life. Good luck!

      1. danr*

        Yes. If you close an account, do it at the bank. Don’t just write a check to take all the money out. We did that at a bank that was fee happy. We sat with a banker and close out everything. We also closed out credit cards that came with the accounts. Doing it that way guaranteed that we got everything. You may have to give a reason for the closure, so take AAM’s high road and give them an innocuous reason.

      2. Izzy*

        +1 to credit unions! They are not trying to make money off of you so are much more customer friendly. (Mine pays dividends but the amount I have in my account is small so it’s like a few cents a month. At least the money is flowing in my direction.) Many commercial banks make a lot of their money from overdraft and other fees, so they are not motivated to help you avoid them.
        Plus some tellers (even at the CU) can be snotty. Talk to a manager. I had a problem with money coming out of my account because I had used my debit card to purchase something from a relative who joined a MLM. She had been trying to cancel her membership, but they kept “losing” her cancellation form. When her debit card was declined for her minimum monthly purchase, they debited my account. While the manager couldn’t ultimately stop it, he gave me a chunk of his time explaining how those things work and how to make sure they cancelled her account. He didn’t blame me at all. Very helpful.

        And, I can cancel an auto transfer online with my CU. Love them.

    6. Stephanie*

      Honestly…I would look into switching banks, unless there’s some reason you need that particular bank (like you get a lower rate on your mortgage). Those sound like some pretty draconian fees. If you’re military-affiliated and in the US, I’ve found USAA to be sort of lenient (they’re still a bank, but there aren’t minimum balances and all that).

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I agree on the USAA rec. “Military-affiliated” can mean many things– I’m eligible because my mother was once in the Navy Medical Reserves (or something like that) and my stepfather was a captain in the Army. My boyfriend is eligible because his grandparents were both in the military.

        1. Audiophile*

          I didn’t know you could be eligible through grandparents. I thought it was only with parents or a spouse.

          1. Amy*

            I just looked it up, it looks like anyone can be eligible as long as their parent had USAA at some point. So if your family keeps getting USAA policies, you could theoretically be eligible with only a very distant military relative.

    7. BuildMeUp*

      That sounds like a tough situation, but this is how a lot of banks operate, and this is how your specific account operates. I know you made the assumption based on your previous bank that the transfer wouldn’t happen if you didn’t have enough money in your account, and it sucks that it went through anyway, but that’s not really the bank’s fault. You had an automatic transfer set up for a certain date, so a computer somewhere processed a transfer on that date. The bank is legally allowed to do that, and it’s spelled out somewhere in your Deposit Account Agreement (which I would get a copy of, either online or in a branch – or if you switch banks, get a copy for your new account and look through everything carefully).

      I’m not trying to sound harsh here. Banks do things all the time that aren’t fair, but it is your responsibility to know exactly how your account works and plan accordingly. The rep’s wording was not the greatest, but to me, this does sound like a matter of managing your account.

      (As far as why they do it – well, partly because they can, honestly. But they also will let ACH debits and transfers go through because, for example, someone’s mortgage not getting paid is a much bigger deal than their account over-drafting – it can have bigger penalties and affect their credit score.)

      1. M.*

        Oh no. I’ve had this account forever. When I set it up, they told me unless I had overdraft protection, that it would reject anything trying to take the money from my account. That with the overdraft it would continue to let things go (I wrote this down). So I did.

        I had set up the automatic withdrawal when I had money. Then I tried to cancel it once I did not have a job. There is no where online to do so. I kept cancelling them individually (as it allowed me to do that, just not the whole schedule withdrawals). I guess this one didn’t go through as a cancellation which was why it was taken out. But I did manage to get the guy to agree to cancel the whole set up on the phone, after he asked me about 50 times if that’s what I REALLY wanted.

        1. M.*

          Wanted to clarify… I had overdraft protection, but I cancelled it because THAT was another headache.

          I have disabilities and I do try to call/visit and ask questions because a lot of it I can’t understand anymore. (I seem to be deteriorating instead of getting better) but the reps always act annoyed and get mad when I have to ask them to repeat something.

    8. Observer*

      If you are in the US, find another bank.

      Decent banks (and they do exist) allow you to stop overdrafts, although they may still charge you something. And they don’t charge you to have a teller do something that can’t be done on line.

    9. Trixie*

      Complete opt out – you’re under no obligation to have any overdraft protection at all. Any transactions that can’t clear will simply be declined. I think this went into effect about five years and most banks/credit unions don’t promote it becaase they’re rather you sign up for overdraft protection service. It’s really shameful the person you spoke with didn’t offer this, after hearing more about situation. You might ask for someone in their customer retention area regarding the current overdraft fee balance to see what they’ll do to keep you as a customer. (Works with cable.) Wherever you end up, completely opt out and have transactions declined if they can’t be covered.

    10. CMT*

      I’m sorry. I have been in this situation. Hell, even know I’m never that far from that situation. It sucks and it’s terrible and I guess the only thing I can suggest is switching to a credit union.

  10. Camellia*

    We had a great Thanksgiving but couldn’t help but talk about our worst Thanksgiving ever:

    Several years ago I took a six month contract in November, 800 miles away from home. My husband flew in for Thanksgiving and the manager for whom I was working invited us, and supposedly the other seven contractors, to Thanksgiving dinner at her new house, and supposedly they had all accepted so, come on and join us for a great Thanksgiving! Since, you know, you are all so far away from your families and such.

    When we got there we were the first ones to arrive and she asked me to help her hang a picture. Okay, I can do that. Then she asked me to help her hang another one. Ooookay. Then she asked my husband to set up her entire entertainment system. He actually kind of enjoys that and he is a helpful kind of guy, so he did. When she asked us to move furniture around I drew the line and said sorry, no can’t do, we both have bad backs. Nor can we assemble the bar stools or check the drip in the bathroom sink. I wish I was joking but I’m not. Apparently she had a whole list of chores that she wanted us to do.

    Oh, and in all this time no one else had showed up. When she served dinner it was obvious that it was only for three people. And it was the worst food we have ever had. Everything was basically inedible. The green bean casserole was burned black; even she didn’t try to eat that. I was trying to figure out how to politely spit out my first bite of the instant mashed potatoes, wondering what the heck was wrong with them, when she casually explained that she had made them with almond milk. The bread rolls were stale. The little thingie had NOT popped out of the turkey’s thigh so we were kind of afraid to eat it. Neither of us managed to eat more than a couple of bites in all.

    We made our excuses and got out of there as quickly as we could. When we got in the car we looked at each other and burst out laughing. When we could breathe again, he asked me what I wanted to do now. In unison we both said, “EAT!!!” Now this is a standing joke; whenever either of us says “What do you want to do now,” we both say “EAT!!!”

    And yes, it turned out that she was whack-a-do in many other ways. I can’t think of interview questions that would weed out her kind of crazy.

      1. Camellia*

        Unfortunately, no. She was just very manipulative in an oddly bad way. She seemed to think that if she did something “nice” for you, you wouldn’t notice when she did other things. Real work examples would be too specific, but kind of like a magician who thought that if he smiled at you and maintained eye contact while he shook your hand you wouldn’t notice him fumbling around unbuckling your watch.

        1. MT*

          > She was just very manipulative in an oddly bad way

          This made me laugh! I suppose I always remember those who are good at being manipulative, because obviously, their efforts have long-lasting implications. It never occurred to me that there are very unsubtle, hilariously bad manipulators running around out there!

          It’s a good thing your husband was a part of your terrible Thanksgiving, so at least the two of you got a good inside joke out of the ordeal.

    1. StillHealing*

      Oh my gosh. Very awkward and just plain scary! So glad you were able to draw the line then get the heck out of there after the food was deemed inedible.

    2. Anonnn*

      That sounds like a terrible holiday, but, uh, I make mashed potatoes with almond milk all the time and they taste great.

      1. Camellia*

        I’m sure they do – to you. But we weren’t used to it and weren’t expecting it and it didn’t taste “right” to us.

        My husband had never had anything other than Uncle Ben’s Minute Rice and the first time I served him my favorite basmati rice he couldn’t eat it. I had to first get him used to eating a good quality plain white rice. Then I mixed basmati and plain for a while, slowing increasing the amount of basmati, and he slowly came to appreciate the taste. But my favorite jasmine rice was just too much; he never got used to the taste of it and we had to stick to basmati. Sometimes new tastes just take time to acquire.

        1. Camellia*

          Heh. I was rereading this and it occurs to me that this is how you switch a cat from one food to another. lol

      2. Charlotte Lucas*

        Based on everything else, it’s possible that this was not a good-quality brand of almond milk (or maybe vanilla-flavored). Also, expiration dates mean something.

        But I totally get the expectation thing, too. I would find it a weird combination, and I think almond milk is delicious. (Especially in cereal.)

    3. Artemesia*

      This is such a great story that it makes the experience worth it. Wow. I have had friends tell me about experiences of being invited for dinner and basically not fed and being treated as if they were unreasonable to expect a meal — but never experienced anything like it. Occasionally the food has not been all that great — but someone has always made the effort.

  11. skyline*

    I had a lovely Thanksgiving with friends, who sent me home with tons of leftovers. Except there was not much extra stuffing….so I am making a batch of stuffing today to go with all my leftover turkey and sides. It is one of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes! The clerk at the grocery store teased me while she was packing up my bag, but I didn’t mind, because I have no shame about this particular obsession of mine.

    Also, I have had pie for breakfast for two straight days. :)

    What are your favorite Thanksgiving leftovers?

    1. Anonyby*

      Pie! And mashed potatoes, turkey, rolls… And most recently stuffing. I hadn’t even tried it until a couple years ago, and now I think it’s super-tasty.

    2. blue_eyes*

      We don’t usually get many leftovers, but this year we took home the turkey carcass because no one else wanted it. Right now it’s simmering away making turkey broth. Tomorrow I’ll use the broth and the rest of the meat to make turkey pozole rojo.

      1. Windchime*

        I made the spare turkey this year (we used it for sandwiches and leftovers yesterday, since we had 15 people both Thursday and Friday). My turkey carcass is also simmering in the pot today; I’m a little mystified at where my leftover celery went since I’m pretty sure I didn’t use it all on Thursday. So the turkey is simmering in broth and onion only.

    3. LCL*

      Turkey and my gravy. For the last couple years we have been buying the whole prepared dinner from the grocery store, and gravy is included, but the store gravy always has onions so I make my own gravy.
      For great turkey gravy, make a roux, add stock until the texture is good, then add pan drippings not filtered or skimmed, a small spoonful of soy for salt, and a splash of vinegar or vermouth or sherry. I didn’t have any left over this year…

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Mashed potatoes–because potato patties fried in butter. Mmmmm. The potatoes have to be very dry for this to work, however; you can’t do it with very moist mash.

      1. skyline*

        Hard to go wrong with potatoes in any form fried in butter. I’ve also made patties/croquettes with leftover stuffing, which are yummy.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I love leftover everything, but stuffing is my favorite. However, we usually don’t get leftovers– our Thanksgivings have been out of town or in homes where the food wasn’t that great (or the hosts didn’t give out the leftovers, which is their prerogative). So I go grocery shopping right after Thanksgiving and but all the stuff that’s on sale and I make our own Thanksgiving dinner. That’s my plan for tomorrow. I WILL HAVE ALL THE STUFFING. :)

      1. Arjay*

        Yum! Everyone I know laughs at me when I make that exact sandwich. I don’t care; more cranberry sauce for me.

    6. Ann Furthermore*

      Stuffing — for sure!! I add sausage to mine and it is sooo good. We finished off the turkey today. We had 20 people, so we smoked 2 turkeys. I also made a salted caramel apple crisp, which was fantastic. I made my own caramel sauce, which was really yummy. I had to make it twice though…got the stove too hot and burned the crap out of it the first time. There was quite a bit of caramel sauce left over, which I’ve been eating over vanilla ice cream.

    7. MT*

      Pot pie for daaaaays. It’s every food group wrapped in a delicious puff pastry. I will never get sick of it.

  12. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    This Thanksgiving was by far the most relaxing *knock on wood*. Next on to-do list: Christmas shopping for the boyfriend. We’re hitting the 2 year mark in a couple months. What do I get him? (He says anything I get him is fine with him). (Bf hinted he might get me a necklace).

    I actually got him tiny mini silver metal bookmarks because he’s in grad school, plus an inspirational quote book, and a mini Brookstone-esque item for his car because he needed it.

    I told my dad, and he freaked out a bit and said guys want something other than inspirational quotes. He said he’d help me find a good wallet for my boyfriend.

    Tl;dr: What do guys generally want for Christmas? (I’ve had very limited experience–ie. only have girl cousins, and have only ever shopped for my dad previously). Also, last Xmas, I got bf a nice scarf, but I didn’t want to repeat a gift item..

    1. FD*

      As I get older, I tend to prefer practical gifts. For example, I asked my parents for a briefcase. We’re giving my parents and siblings who live at home a nice vacuum.

      One thing that we like to do to make ‘boring’ gifts more exciting is we get creative with wrapping. For example, my dad likes to stuff gift cards inside balloons. We give my brother his gift card inside a VHS copy of a Barbie movie. We gave my artistic sister a gift card to a craft place hidden in the cheapest-looking kids’ art set we could find.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Pocket-sized notebook (Moleskin has really nice ones). For someone who likes to jot notes down by hand, this is a great gift. And a new one is needed every year! (Also, a nice pen is a great addition.)

    2. the gold digger*

      The best present my husband ever got from me – this is his definition, not mine – was tickets to a show about Patsy Cline (whose singing he really liked). We had just started dating and he had mentioned in passing that he liked her. Turned out there was an upcoming play in my town (we were long distance) so I got tickets. He still talks about that, ten years later.

      I also got him time in a recording studio so he could make a CD and some flying lessons. (Not in the same year.)

      I like to give and to get experiences more than things. Is there a band or show on tour your boyfriend really likes? He’s in grad school, so probably not a lot of cash. Would he want to have his car detailed? A cleaning service once or twice? A meal-delivery service? Beer of the month? What does he like to do that he can’t afford right now? What services would make his life easier?

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        He’s in grad school, but do you live near one another? Or is he far from where he grew up? When I was in grad school, a really nice gift one year was some food that a local restaurant packaged and shipped anywhere in the US. (Lou Malnati’s pizza, if you’re curious.) Something like that could be nice.

        Or a gift certificate for something he might not be able to easily afford right now but would like, such as for a restaurant or coffee shop.

        Of course, you’re the one who knows best what he’d like. For example, sports paraphernalia would be wasted on my guy, but I know a lot of people (men and women) who would love that kind of thing.

    3. Lindsay J*

      Honestly, I feel like a wallet is a bad idea for a gift unless you know exactly what he wants.

      Maybe it’s just the guys I’ve been with being extra-picky, but they’ve all shopped around for months until they found the exact right one – bifold vs tri-fold, where the ID pocket is, how many card slots, material, texture, color, stitching. They all had very specific preferences on all of these because they expected to carry them for several years.

      It depends on what he’s into. My guy likes whisky (and I know his preferences) so I usually get him a nice bottle of whisky.

      Then I get him some other things. He likes to travel so last year for Christmas I got him
      a travel journal with scratch off maps to show where he’s been, and a power brick so he can charge his phone if he’s stuck in an airport, plane, etc where he doesn’t have access to a charger. And a big box of exotic jerkys (alligator, ostrich, and buffalo along with regular beef I think?) because he was trying to eat low carb and they were am allowed snack.

      This year for his birthday it was a new iPhone case (he had commented about his getting ratty after a few years so I got him a duplicate of what he had) and a couple books I wanted to share with him.

      This Christmas it might be Star Wars Legos.

        1. Marcela*

          Yeah, we are both very, very particular about the wallets we use. I had to give DH the wrong wallet (based in similar advice from my dad) to discover he is just like me in that…

    4. Stephanie*

      At this point, I like practical gifts. I asked my mom for money toward new bras (so just a Nordstrom gift certificate).

    5. Katie the Fed*

      a battery pack is a good gift for anyone – I just ordered four Jackery ones off amazon as gifts this christmas. Especially good for people who travel.

      In-ear noise cancelling headphones are the best too.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        Ooo, did you get the Bose ones? I have the on-ear headphones and they are great but I wondered how the in-ear ones would work.

    6. Allison Mary*

      Unless he’s the type of guy whose love language is gift-giving (i.e., does he tend to shower you with gifts to communicate his own affection?), I’m personally a fan of giving experiences rather than tangible items. Is there some fun, exciting activity you guys could do together, and could you give him a gift certificate for that activity? Or like, lessons of some kind, for something he wants to learn how to do?

    7. Pennalynn Lott*

      Gifts my boyfriend of 13 years has [said he] loved: A “Madden” Raiders jersey, an electric ice cream maker, a wood-fired steel-drum BBQ thing, comfy flannel PJ pants, comfy house slippers, baseball caps, fly-tying supplies, a counter-top deep-fryer.

      Things he has NOT loved (based on usage): a waterproof radio for the shower, various t-shirts that I never see him wear, the grill set I bought him to go with the BBQ thing, a set of flashlights (except for the really big “OMG, I can replicate the sun on earth!” one), and smoked salmon (despite him telling me over and over and over again how much he loves the stuff).

      At the moment he keeps hinting at how he’d like a “sound bar” for a holiday gift, but I’m already constantly telling him to “TURN THE DAMN TV DOWN”, so it’s not likely I’ll give him a device for making it louder and more surround-soundy. ;-)

      1. Pennalynn Lott*


        (Sorry for the shouting, but it’s the only way I can be heard properly whenever Boyfriend has the TV on).

      2. Dan*

        Sound bars don’t actually crate a “surround soundy” experience. A true surround sound system creates a marginal increase in volume in the satellite speakers, at the expense of lowering the volume in the main front speakers.

    8. CoffeeLover*

      I’ve always had an easy time shopping for my boyfriend. Things I’ve gotten him in our 2year relationship: Sweaters (the only piece of clothing I can buy without him there since it’s hard to find things that fit him), a watch, perfume, tickets to an NHL game (he loves hockey but lives in Europe), a ring, a small sculpture that he wanted. It’s so personal buying gifts though. You know him best and what he needs/would like. All you need to do is keep him in mind and shop to his taste. I hate hockey and the sculpture was way too much money for what it was, but I got it for him anyway because that’s what he liked.

    9. pony tailed wonder*

      I am in the same boat. My boyfriend gets cheap sheets sets and the current ones are falling apart. The dye has gotten everywhere and they are scratchy. I have been researching sheets and I think LL Bean’s Heritage Chamois Flannel ones might be a nice treat for him. I read the sheet thread above this so I need to do more research on the ones that were mentioned there though.

  13. FD*

    (Alison, this is on the border between work and not work, so feel free to delete if it’s too work-y.)

    I’ll be quitting my day job to pursue freelancing fulltime, and my last day is Friday. Due to vacation accrued and a need for emotional downtime, I’m going to take the rest of the month off.

    I actually haven’t had more than a week off at a time since…I guess my freshman year of high school? I’m excited but I’m also increasingly anxious about the prospect of so much free time. Any suggestions for what I can DO?

    (Going somewhere isn’t an option, and I have no kids.)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Before I quit my job to pursue freelancing full-time, I first took two months off from said job to make sure I really wanted to do it, before pulling the trigger. At the start of those two months, I made a long list of things I was going to do with the time — museum exhibits I wanted to see, errands I’d run, stuff I’d fix around the house, day trips, etc.

      I did maybe a third of it. I ended up just enjoying lounging around the house, reading, and doing very little. (I was also coming off of years of working crazy hours, so not having to do anything at all was pretty awesome.) I ended up using the list more as a source of ideas for when I did feel like being productive or getting out of the house. But, for me at least, just letting myself drift and relax and not putting any pressure on myself to make good use of the time ended up being the best way to spend it.

      1. FD*

        That sounds like a good plan. That way I have a list of things I can do if I feel like it, but don’t feel like I have to do. Thanks. :D

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          I did something similar. I took 6 weeks off to just do stuff — which turned into mainly lounging around like a beached whale. I was seriously burnt out. All the stuff I meant to do just never got around to, and for me at least, it wasn’t good.

          So, I’m going to suggest that you spend 1 day a week (or maybe three mornings a week) doing stuff you need to do for when your business will get going. Think about a business name, do you need a logo? What about business cards? What sort of networking is there available in your area? What about your website? Are there any special requirements you need for having a business in your area such as registering for a business licence? How are you going to handle your bookkeeping? Accounting? Invoicing? Keeping track of hours?

          I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a holiday from your 9-to-5… I’m just saying that the time will fly by before you know it. If you want to hit the ground running in the new year, spend some time over your break lining up your ducks so that you can.

    2. fposte*

      Go to a museum. Go to a movie in broad daylight. Do a jigsaw puzzle. Paint your bedroom. Mean to paint your bedroom but take a nap instead and then decide to paint a single piece of furniture in your bedroom. Organize your closet. Cook up a storm. Finally watch Homeland. Call the college friend who you miss and would like to visit but can’t quite afford now. If there’s a beach anywhere near, walk it, especially if you’re in the north and it’s cold. Then go and get hot chocolate or Irish coffee.

      Any of these sound promising?

      1. FD*

        Sadly, I live in a small apartment, so painting, etc. is a no-no. I also can’t really go on any day trips, because although I have a few months of expenses saved, there isn’t much fluff for trips. (No museums close to me, sadly.)

        But I like the idea about walking one of our local frozen beaches and cooking. I love cooking.

    3. Doriana Gray*

      If you like books, you could catch up on reading, you could marathon shows on Netflix, you could try and find free local events to go to during the day (I know my city has a ton of free events leading up to Christmas).

      1. FD*

        I do like reading, actually, and I’m just returning to it after having done almost none for the last two years because of my crazy job.

        Actually, our town does have a pile of pre-Christmas events, so that’s a thing I can do.

    4. Mando Diao*

      When I have weekdays off, I like to check out restaurants that are too crowded on weekends. There are a lot of good brunch and lunch specials out there!

  14. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    Also–a follow-up question, slightly unrelated. I’ve been with the bf close to 2 years, and my close friends seem to make (awkwardly hilarious and mildly amusing) assumptions about the relationship.

    Ie) My friend was making glazed salted roasted grapefruit for a party, but warned me gently ahead of eating that it interferes with birth control. We were the only 2 in the kitchen that time. (Note: said friend is single/no kids/no history of kids, and I’ve never talked birth control/anything with her).
    Ie #2) Yesterday, another friend found out I was with bf for a long time and asked if I was engaged and where it was going/if we talked about the future a lot. (Said friend is single but wanted to know about relationships since a guy our age (also an attorney) was semi-stalking her in a weirdly friendly-yet-pompous way).

    Thoughts? Any anecdotes? (Ie. Friends assuming you’re engaged when you’re not, etc).

    1. Sara*

      Without knowing anything about your relationship with #1, I’d assume she was simply putting information out there, not knowing whether you’d be someone for whom it’s relevant. I have several friends who (like me) are in long term relationships whose family planning strategies I’ve never discussed with them, but if I were going to serve them a snack that interfered with BC, I’d probably mention it.

      Can’t really speak to the second. None of my close friends have ever initiated a “where is this going” conversation with me about my relationship.

      1. catsAreCool*

        “if I were going to serve them a snack that interfered with BC, I’d probably mention it.” This!

      2. blackcat*

        1) Uh, yeah, I mention to all reasonably good friends that high concentrations of vitamin C interferes with BC pills. Sometimes apropos of nothing. I do so because I spent years relying on BC pills with NO IDEA that things like vitamin C supplements could render them ineffective. I really, really wish someone told me earlier.

        2) I’d only initiate such a conversation with a close friend. Since this friend didn’t know you’d been dating for 2 years (so I’m assuming this friendship is newer than 2 years), I don’t think their close enough to make the question not weird.

    2. Lizzie*

      Nobody ever thinks I’m engaged to everybody (much to my parents’ chagrin, I’ve never been asked).

      Everyone does, however, think I’m dating my best friend. Literally everyone. I don’t know if it’s just because we are exceptionally close and huggy and say “I love you, be safe” when the other departs for a long trip or something, but it always comes up somehow, and people are always shocked when we refute the idea. Even when we were both dating men, even when people don’t actively know that we also date women, people were really shocked to learn that we were not romantically involved.

      My current supervisor knew us when I was his intern and he definitely, definitely thought we were an item. It’s still hilarious. He asked me last week if she was going to be my plus-one to the holiday party.

      (She probably is. … I’m not helping our reputation any, am I?)

      1. Lizzie*

        That should have said “nobody ever thinks I’m engaged to anybody, although I suppose the other is also true. Whoops.

      2. Christy*

        Hahahahaha I can relate to this. When I came out, I’d been spending at least two nights per week hanging out with my (lesbian) best friend. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, asked if I was dating her. No! She was in a relationship, even.

    3. Pennalynn Lott*

      I remember being shipped back to Texas (from San Francisco) to live with my mom in the summer between my Junior and Senior years in high school. During the first week or two in my new high school in Texas (as a Senior), I struck up a conversation with a girl in line with me for the lunch buffet at school. I said something about having a boyfriend (still in SFO) and that we’d been dating for over a year. She said — and I quote — “OH, THAT’S SO ROMANTIC! WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO GET MARRIED!?!” I was like, “Whuu? . . . We’re kids. We’re not even 18 yet. Why would we want to get *married*?”

      I then proceeded to have almost the exact same conversation with every under-30 female whom I crossed paths with in Texas. It was the mid-80’s so I guess people were still pretty old-fashioned then. If you dated, exclusively, for more than a few months you were expected to get married and have children, regardless of your age or life goals. So weird.

      (Though one of the girls in my Senior class *was* married. Her parents had to sign off on it because she got married at age 16. I wish I’d stayed in touch with her to see how it turned out. I visited her at their apartment a few times and it was really strange to me that she had a husband who got up and left for work in an office every day at 7:00 am [he was older than she was], and she had to make him breakfast, then she got dressed so she could be at *high school* by 8:20 am. I always wondered how he talked about his wife at the office: “My wife won’t be able to come to the company’s holiday party, she has a term paper due. No, not for college. For *high school.*”).

      1. the gold digger*

        I had the same thing! I went to high school in the Panama Canal Zone. In addition to the Zonian kids and the military brats who attended the school, rich Panamanians could send their kids there if they paid tuition. There was a Panamanian girl in my 10th grade geometry class who got married while we were in 10th grade. I don’t know what ever happened to her, but I am going to email a (Panamanian) high school friend right now to ask.

    4. themmases*

      Assumptions about your relationship can be maddening. It reflects your values and often some of your most personal feelings and behavior, and assumptions and misconceptions about what it means to you are everywhere. It can be hard to repudiate them too because often the person making assumptions wants the best for you and their weird opinion reflects that. I just got engaged with no ring, no proposal, no religious ceremony and we’ve wanted this for a while and just didn’t want to share it yet… So the way off base comments from people who wish us well are coming thick and fast.

      Most of the time, correct people matter of factly, don’t ridicule their assumption or the values behind it unless it’s truly offensive, and stay focused on how happy you are to be doing whatever it is you’re actually doing. Don’t explain your choice unless you’re asked directly and want to share; it just makes you sound defensive.

      All that said, I think you are reading too much into the examples you shared. Most people use contraception at some point in their lives, and I think it’s safe to assume that a woman in a relationship with a man and who hasn’t talked about wanting kids soon is pretty likely to be using it. It might be private, but it’s not exactly a secret. Hormonal birth control also carries other benefits and is used by plenty of women for those reasons or just because it’s a useful personal medication, not a service you offer a man and discontinue if there isn’t any man. It’s just being kind and responsible to tell people if something you’re serving could interact with a common medication. Unless your second friend was acting really pushy, your account makes it sound like she was just interested in your life.

      Grapefruit can interfere with many medications apparently. (I looked it up because I’d never heard that one before.) However, you’d have to consume a lot of grapefruit and it would increase absorption of the hormone rather than reducing effectiveness. It was nice of your friend to tell you but she probably needn’t have worried.

  15. Carrie in Scotland*

    I swear that the big mean cat who rules the building and garden til 7.30 pm (which is when my cat goes out for a while) not only growled and hissed and yowled at me but SNORTED as well as I passing him to call my cat in because it was raining heavily. Wtf cat!?

  16. Random CPA*

    Who here doesn’t push the idea of Santa Claus with their kids? Have you received backlash from friends or family members?

    1. Ruth (UK)*

      My grandpa is against lying (as he sees it) about the existence of Santa to kids. He hates anything make believe including most movies and fiction. He told me and my cousins he wasn’t real when we were pretty young. It was a bit of a debate in my family but since none of us were mega onto Xmas (nonreligious Jewish family..) it kinda blew over pretty fast.

    2. Alice*

      This doesn’t really answer your question, but I can’t imagine not doing the whole Santa thing with kids. The period of my life when I believed in Santa was the most magical time. Christmas morning excitement was hardly about gifts – it was about the magic! And especially today, there’s hardly any magic in kids’ lives, with the access to technology.

      It’s completely harmless and, at the very worst, is a waste of time.

      1. Alice*

        Plus, you’d have to make sure they didn’t ruin Santa for their friends. I’m not sure how you would explain that to a five-year-old.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Jewish kids usually grow up knowing that Santa isn’t real (at least that’s how it worked in my family — I guess I’m not sure how other families handle it). I think my parents just explained to us that our friends believed in him and we shouldn’t spoil it for them, and that it was part of celebrating Christmas and we should leave it alone.

          1. Alice*

            Well that makes sense. I had Jewish friends growing up, but they celebrated Christmas (now I’m wondering how that worked). So I never thought about this. Looks like your family handled it well.

            1. katamia*

              I’m Jewish, and a lot of Jews (in the US, anyway) celebrate it secularly–they might have a tree and do a nice big meal, but no church or anything like that. Actually, most of the people I know who are really into Christmas are Jewish (which blows my mind, honestly–the Christmas season is by far my least favorite time of year). Also, some years it overlaps with Hanukkah or comes close enough that they may have done some sort of combined celebration. Plus a lot of non-Christians are likely to have Christmas off anyway because so many places are closed, so it’s a good time for just getting together.

              I actually do think we left cookies out a few times for Santa, but I think it was more because that’s What People Did (which is odd because almost all of the people I knew as a young child were Jewish) and also because my mom probably just wanted to make cookies, lol.

              1. Lore*

                Or, in my case, because my dad wanted an excuse to *eat* cookies at midnight. But I should clarify with my parents how they intended this whole thing to work. My recollection is that we really didn’t do much of any sort of religious/holiday observances until my brother and I got old enough to ask why other people had Christmas trees and we didn’t, and then they joined a synagogue and started paying more attention. But that’s probably not right. I do have distinct memories of some vaguely Santa-Claus-related activities like the cookies and stockings, and I know we used to go help decorate the next-door neighbors’ tree, and I have no idea how my parents finessed all that with the lack of Christmas gifts. We did a sort of token Hanukkah–mostly tiny presents with maybe one more substantive gift in the mix–and I seriously did not realize until spending Christmas at a college friend’s house that there was such a massive quantity of present-exchanging going on. I was shocked.

          2. fposte*

            My best childhood friend was Jewish, and she was enchanted with our tradition of leaving carrots out for the reindeer; it was something she mentioned as a memory decades later, but I wasn’t sure if this was when I was still in the grip of belief and if she joined me there. (My dad, a devoted fantasist, left stumps of the carrots with “reindeer” toothmarks on them.)

            1. Aussie Teacher*

              My dad did that too – chewed carrot stumps, water bowl for the reindeer knocked over and a strand of tinsel caught high up on a tree branch as the sleigh took off into the night. Amazing man :)

              1. fposte*

                Oh, my dad’s ghost is kicking himself for not doing the tinsel thing. That would have been right up his alley.

            2. SL #2*

              My parents never, ever did any of that (I never left cookies out for Santa either, I just had to trust that he visited), but you bet I’m going to do the carrots thing with my future children. My soft spot is for animals. :)

          3. Aussie Teacher*

            Yep, that’s what we’ve done with our 4 and 5 year old. (We’re the first Christians in our family so my parents did Santa.) We told them about the real St Nicholas who loved God and gave gifts to the poor, and then about how the tradition of Santa Claus grew up around him and now people like to dress up as him for fun and give out presents. We also explained that there’s lots of fun stories about him (flying reindeer, North Pole workshop etc) which aren’t true. And lastly we tell them that some kids think Santa is real, and it wouldn’t be nice to argue with them, so they can just say something noncommittal (like “Oh cool”) if someone says Santa is coming to their house.
            I used to feel sorry for Christians that they would miss out on the ‘magic’ of Christmas by denying their kids Santa, but now that I am one, the whole “Jesus is God’s gift to the world” is pretty magical too.

            1. mander*

              This is a great way of explaining it.

              In my family we all still address presents to each other as being from Santa Claus. We tend to use various stupid puns and so on as well, for instance: my Mom’s name is Sandy, so sometimes things are from Sandy Claus. One year someone got a stuffed felt lobster wearing an Xmas hat, with a tag that said “Santa Claws”, so now lots of things come from him. Dad often addresses presents as coming from various reindeer.

              I think it confuses my sister’s kids sometimes but the rest of us find it funny.

              1. Artemesia*

                We didn’t want Santa to get credit for the big stuff so in our family Santa filled the stockings but we gave the big gifts. When the kids got to be teens they took over filling our stockings and now that we are all adults everyone gets a few things for everyone else’s stocking when we are together at Christmas. Last year we had Christmas/Hanukah with my son’s inlaws and we had stockings for them too and they brought stuff for everyone’s stocking — it was great fun.

            2. DebbieDebbieDebbie*

              I did something similar with my 3 children and we had plenty of fun and Christmas magic as well. My parents would still give the kids gifts from Santa and occasionally took them for pictures at the mall. My daughter (14yo) just asked me today if she had ever believed in Santa because she said she couldn’t remember ever thinking anything other than Santa was a nice story but not the reason why our family celebrates.

              1. Lindsay J*

                Yeah, I don’t recall ever believing in Santa.

                My parents did the whole thing. Heck, until I moved away my parents would still give my little brother and I a gift from “Santa”.

                But they also raised me to be naturally skeptical and from the time I was young all I could do was poke holes in the whole Santa story. How does he get to kids in apartments or other places that don’t have roofs or chimneys? How does he know where to bring all the gifts? How can he possibly stop so many places in one night? Etc.

                Finally my parents told me something about how there was no actual physical man called Santa Claus anymore, but that he had been based off of Saint Nicholas. But that Santa in modern times was the embodiment of the spirit of Christmas – sharing what we have with our loved ones and with the less fortunate. And that it was easier for people to talk about these things if there was a face to put to the idea, so Santa was that face.

                1. OK*

                  He gets in with a magic santa key. We have a big one from hallmark that we’ve been using for years.

                  I should probably buy 3 now to give them when they have kids (if).

              1. matcha123*

                It was a Christian family that told me the “truth” when I was about four or five years old. Santa didn’t visit their house and they weren’t fundamentalist (from what I know).

                This was in the US in the late-80s. I was sworn to secrecy when my sister was born and told not to talk about it in school. So I’d just pretend with my sister and in front of other kids at school. We did some elaborate things for my sister. It was nice to see her reaction. For us, especially my mom, Santa was about hope and magic.

                1. ThursdaysGeek*

                  Yeah, I’m a generic protestant Christian in the US, and we never believed in Santa. Even when we were very little, we knew he was pretend and just for fun.

            3. Lionness*

              I’m confused. Do Christians in Australia not do the Santa thing? Because in the US only the very, very far fundamentalist groups eschew Santa.

              1. Aussie Teacher*

                Totally depends. I know lots of Christians who do, and lots who don’t. It’s more of a personal choice. The ones who don’t do Santa tend to not like the focus on behaviour (ie Santa only brings presents for the good kids, so you have to earn his ‘love’), which is in direct opposition to the message of Jesus (God loves you, just as you are, and you don’t have to do anything to earn his love.) And I guess we don’t want the true meaning of Christmas to get overshadowed by Santa. But those of us who don’t do Santa are certainly not finger-pointing at the other families in and outside our church who are doing Santa, if that makes sense :)

            4. Al Lo*

              That’s about the same way I was raised, and how I imagine I’d raise my kids. It was a great compromise. I don’t recall ever believing wholly in Santa, but some of our favorite Christmas movies in our Christian household were things like Prancer and Miracle on 34th Street that really centred around Santa being real. Santa was never evil, and there was never a disconnect with Jesus and Santa, or a feeling that you could only acknowledge one or the other.

          4. Delyssia*

            On the flip side, a good friend of mine was raised Muslim, and she grew up believing that there was a Santa Claus, he just didn’t visit little Muslim girls.

              1. Lore*

                We had kind of the same thing as a semi-Jewish family though…it wasn’t sad, it was just a thing. We had lots of candle-lighting and latkes and they had Santa; they went to church on Sunday and we didn’t. It was a difference, but it wasn’t like “Santa hates you because you’re Jewish,” it was more like “Everyone’s family has different traditions.” (Of course, having said that, as I mentioned above, I genuinely had no concept of how much giftage we were missing out on! My parents are not big gift-givers, really…they’re very generous, but it’s more in a pragmatic, you need a thing when you need it so let’s just get it and not worry about whether it’s a holiday sort of sense. Also, my mom *hates* wrapping things.)

                1. fposte*

                  There is a delightful new picture book by Amanda Peet called _Dear Santa, Love, Rachel Rosenstein_ about a Jewish girl’s desire for a visit from Santa and participation in the whole tree-and-stocking thing. It’s funny and really lovely. (“I know that you are a fair person and will not mind that I am Jewish,” she writes to Santa.)

                2. Lionness*

                  It isn’t sad that they don’t have Santa. It is sad that the little girl believed in Santa and believed he didn’t visit her because she was Muslim. That is heart breaking. If you can grow up realizing that it is just another faith’s tradition and not something you personally believe in, that is one thing, but to think you’re being excluded. Sad :(

                3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Eh, I don’t think it’s sad. It’s like you probably don’t feel sad that the prophet Elijah doesn’t visit you and drink your wine on Passover as he does for Jewish homes. You don’t really care one way or another about Elijah’s visits, I’m guessing :)

                  It might feel sad to you because you grew up with Santa and/or your kids did and it has lots of meaning to you. But Santa doesn’t really have that meaning to people who don’t celebrate Christmas, even kids, so it’s not a big loss. When you grow up as a member of the non-dominant religion, it’s just a normal part of life that your traditions are different than the people around you. I don’t think most people feel sad about it.

                4. Suz*

                  Yes- it always puts me off a bit when colleagues say, “Oh, that’s sad” when I’m not celebrating Xmas or spending the day with family. Well, I spend the day with family many Sabbaths and festivals- I’m not actually missing out on anything!

                5. Lionness*

                  Hey Alison, if I were a kid and believed Elijah was a prophet (He was a prophet…right?) and knew he didn’t visit me because I wasn’t Jewish, that would be sad. If I didn’t believe in him then I would see it as just another culture’s belief.

                  For what it is worth, I didn’t grow up with Santa, my parents were staunch anti-materialist and not religious so Christmas was not a holiday we celebrated.

                6. Lionness*

                  Suz, I think that is a bit different and a little rude of your colleagues. It isn’t ‘sad’ that you don’t celebrate a specific holiday.

                  I get the impression this was taken very differently than I intended. I just think it is sad a little girl believed in something and believed she was being excluded. If she never believed in Santa I wouldn’t view it as sad.

            1. DebbieDebbieDebbie*

              This. Also, we lived in a (US) community with tremendous income disparity. Some kids got video game systems, sneakers, vacations, etc from Santa and other kids got next to nothing. Were the poor kids naughty and the rich kids nice? Hardly. I was glad that I didn’t have to reconcile that to my kids in the context of Santa. Instead, Christmas was and is about Christ and poverty/social justice were issues we could talk about openly and do something about year-round.

          5. danr*

            Yep, that matches what we grew up with. Plus, when we were old enough, we asked our parents to stop buying us Hannuka presents… the Hannuka gelt (money) was enough. We all got a silver dollar or two and some real folding money. At some point we traded in our accumulated silver dollars for more folding money. Later on I was sorry that I had made the trade. Years later, after my father died and we were cleaning out the house, I found his ‘stash’… All of the silver dollars that we traded in, mint collectibles, and all sorts of other coins.

          6. MT*

            It was similar to us as Orthodox Christian kids.

            We knew about Saint Nicholas (who had an entirely different day) and knew that the Protestant kids had a character based on him that they celebrated very differently, but it wasn’t our business to argue with them about it.

            Kids tend to be pretty matter-of-fact and can handle different beliefs better than many adults give them credit for… and perhaps, better than the adults themselves.

          7. Ezri*

            Yes, this. My husband is Christian, but his parents chose not to do the Santa thing with him and his siblings (I’ve always meant to ask their reasoning, but I keep forgetting). His parents explained it like Alison says – other kids still believe in Santa, and ruining it for them would be a jerk move. They didn’t have any issues so far as I know.

        2. Ann Furthermore*

          My stepdaughter was about 8 or 9 when she figured it out. We told her that there really was a guy named St. Nicholas many years ago who really did help needy people by leaving them gifts. Many people really liked that idea, so they started doing it too, and that’s how the legend of Santa Claus was born.

          We also told her that if she was grown up enough to be in on the big secret, then she was also grown up enough not to spoil it for anyone else. We told her not to tell any of her friends, because it’s something everyone should figure out for themselves.

          When my 6 year old figures things out, we’ll tell her the same thing.

          1. Alma*

            If you Google “Council of Nicea” (which went on for years), you will see the name “Nicholas, Bishop of Myra” (now Turkey) as a participant in the Council.

            There is also a webs that specializes in all things St Nicholas – it has more lore about why he is patron saint of sailors, pawnbrokers, etc.

            BTW the orange or clementine in the toe of one’s stocking was not only because that fruit was an exotic treat in snowy climates, but also because St Nicholas is said to have tossed sacks of gold for dowry money into the socks of three young women. The socks were hanging by the fire to dry. Without dowry money, they would likely have had to live a life of ill repute.

          2. Lindsay J*

            This was how my parents handled it. And they talked about how Santa Claus was pretty much the “face” of Christmas spirit – of sharing what you have with your family and friends and the less fortunate – and having Santa Claus made it easier to talk about and show.

    3. Goliath Gary Willikers*

      My parents neither discouraged or encouraged my belief in Santa as a child. No one in our family hassled them about it, but Santa isn’t a big thing for them, either.

      I ended up picking up a mild belief in Santa from movies and TV anyway, which my parents passively allowed, but it really didn’t mean that much to me. When a kindergarten friend haughtily told me that the Easter Bunny wasn’t real, I worked out for myself that Santa Claus was basically the same idea and must not be real either. I was actually pretty proud of my deduction and excitedly announced it to my parents.

      My parents didn’t make it a big deal, so it wasn’t a big deal to me.

    4. Irish Goodbye*

      My parents didn’t push it, basically it was just another story. I remember being surprised that other kids thought it was real. I don’t think believing in Santa would have improved my childhood.

    5. Allison Mary*

      My parents chose not to raise us with the Santa Clause thing at all – I was only ever vaguely aware of the idea of Santa Clause around Christmas time. We were raised Protestant, so the focus was a lot more on baby Jesus, the three wise men, Joseph & Mary going to Bethlehem, etc., etc. We were also homeschooled when we were young, so there was little risk of us ruining it for other kids.

      I’m not planning on having kids, but if I were, I’d avoid the Santa Clause thing all together. Or at least if I were going to have Santa stuff around, I’d couch it in terms of being a story or a fairy tale, just like lots of other good fairy tales. I have a hard time not seeing the Santa Clause stuff as flat-out deceptive and as taking advantage of very little kids and their lack of knowledge about the world. It’d be more important to me that my kids always knew they could trust me.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        You talk as if it’s malicious to tell them about it; it’s really not. How many children read fairy stories and believe in fairies, even if only for a little while?

        The best explanation I ever heard regarding this comes from Betty Smith’s novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, where Katie Nolan’s mum Mary Rommely is explaining to her daughter why the new baby (Francie, the main character) should believe in Santa and fairies, all the Catholic stories, etc. Katie says, “Why should I teach her lies [re Santa]?”

        “Because,” explained Mary Rommely simply, “the child must have a valuable thing which is called imagination. The child must have a secret world in which live things that never were. It is necessary that she believe. She must start out by believing in things not of this world. Then when the world becomes too ugly for living in, the child can reach back and live in her imagination. I, myself, even in this day and at my age, have great need of recalling the miraculous lives of the Saints and the great miracles that have come to pass on earth. Only by having these things in my mind can I live beyond what I have to live for.”

        Granted, these people are living in NYC at the turn of the century and are very poor, but the whole bit about imagination totally makes sense.

        1. Doriana Gray*

          We posted minutes apart, but this post is brilliant and what I was trying to articulate :)

          I too grew up poor, so my imagination was oftentimes the only thing I had. I’m so thankful my mom didn’t take those fairy tales away from me – they made my childhood bearable.

      2. Doriana Gray*

        I have a hard time not seeing the Santa Clause stuff as flat-out deceptive and as taking advantage of very little kids and their lack of knowledge about the world. It’d be more important to me that my kids always knew they could trust me.

        That’s sad that you see it that way. I don’t have any kids, but I remember my Christmases as a kid and my belief in Santa, and when I discovered he wasn’t real (caught mom wrapping our gifts one year), I didn’t feel deceived. I actually thought it was quite funny and didn’t know how I hadn’t figured out this mystery sooner.

        I also totally understood her reason for letting me and my brother think he was real – she said the world is a hard and cruel place where terrible shit happens a lot, so letting us kids believe in something good for as long as she could was the least she could do. I actually thank my mom for telling me that lie, and the ones about the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny: being immersed in fantasy my whole life was what led me to becoming a writer.

      3. Random CPA*

        I feel the same way regarding the trust issue. I want my kids to know they can always believe what I tell them. My husband and I feel the same way about this. I was devastated when I found out Santa wasn’t real and I felt betrayed by my family members that lied to me and told really elaborate stories (they actually used fear to keep me believing “Santa doesn’t bring presents to kids that don’t believe in him”). I don’t want my kids to wonder why I lied to them.

        1. Allison Mary*

          I totally sympathize with you here.

          This may not be very relevant to you if you don’t actively practice any religious/spiritual traditions in your household, but — as I mentioned before, my family raised us Protestant, and there was a big focus on Jesus being the gift that was supposed to take away sin (I feel weird talking about this now, as I don’t tend to associate with “churchy” people these days). My mom in particular pointed out that the idea of Santa Clause isn’t very compatible with that – by telling kids that they get rewarded for being “nice” instead of “naughty,” it’s contradicting the message of salvation by grace. I’ve been told that Christianity is the only major religion where “salvation” or the equivalent isn’t obtained through good works, or doing enough good deeds – it’s simply through faith. And the idea of Santa Clause could be interpreted as contradicting that message of salvation through faith.

          Yikes, I feel weird talking about this now. Anyway! If you identify as Christian/Protestant or anything like that, then that whole argument may be another valid reason to consider rejecting the Santa Clause thing. If not, then ignore my whole diatribe here, as it’s totally irrelevant to your situation. :)

          And to the other commenters who judged my perspective as “sad” and thought that this perspective is robbing kids of their need for “magic” – here is where I stand on that… (potential trigger warning: I’m about to get SUPER theological here, so if that’s a trigger or uncomfortable, you might want to stop reading)

          I actually strongly encourage fairy stories. C.S. Lewis said that the importance of stories is that they can help you see the everyday world more clearly or in a different way – but the importance of fairy stories (like any kind of sci-fi, fantasy, fairy tale, or supernatural-type story) is that they can arouse in us a deep sense of longing for something that is beyond our reach – like perhaps another magical world. The Chronicles of Narnia fit this idea for me, as do stories like Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings. They all involve magical worlds or settings where something more is there. And C.S. Lewis would say that stories like that are important because they remind us that we are not meant to be satisfied with everything that THIS world has to offer – the implication is that there is another “magical” world where we truly belong, and C.S. Lewis would say that this world is “heaven” or whatever you’d like to call it. Again, I feel slightly weird talking about this publicly, but I still ultimately subscribe to this very deeply held and very personal belief.

          So again… if I had kids, I would be truthful above all (no Santa Clause, at least not presented as factual), but I would strongly encourage fairy/fantasy stories, and I would explain to my kids that these are just fictional stories, but they’re important because they remind us that we as humans need and want something bigger (this is just my own personal opinion, and I’m not trying to say this is a universal belief that everyone else ought to have). And, personally, I would choose to link this idea of “something bigger” to the idea of Jesus/heaven/etc – and I would be telling my kids that that is where the real magical world is, and that it’s just beyond our reach while we’re on this earth.

          But everyone has different convictions, and this is just my own very personal conviction and how I would approach it, if I were ever to have kids. To be clear, I’m not wanting to declare that “this is how everyone should do this!” but just “this is how I would do it.” Hope that helps!

          1. Aussie Teacher*

            Love your comment – so well articulated! C.S. Lewis is a Christian and he included Father Christmas in his Narnia books :)
            I also love his quote, “If I find within myself desires that nothing in this world can satisfy, I can only conclude that I was made for something more than this.”

      4. Kristina L*

        My parents also told my siblings and I that Santa was a story and about the original Saint Nicholas and told me not to tell other kids. We’re Christian and Protestant, but this wasn’t something they felt they had to do. I was terrified of Santa Claus when I was a kid, and they were uncomfortable with the idea of telling us that Santa was real anyway, so they just told us the truth about Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy. We still got Christmas gifts and Christmas stockings and Easter eggs and tooth money. We just knew our parents were doing that.

        People sometimes say that I missed out, but actually I loved knowing. Knowing stuff that a lot of other kids didn’t was cool. I also liked knowing that our parents were telling us the truth. When we had to get vaccinations, I remember dad telling us that it would hurt less if we relaxed the arm. Neither of our parents told us that we “wouldn’t even feel” a shot. I appreciate that they were up-front about that kind of thing. I know Santa and shots aren’t really the same category, but to me, it was important knowing about both.

        If I had kids, I’d want to do the same thing for them – let them hear the stories, tell them what wasn’t real and what was, and still celebrate.

    6. Clever Name*

      We never did Santa with our son. I’m sure my mom expressed some kind of dismay, but it really wasn’t up for discussion.

    7. EvilQueenRegina*

      When I was about 8, I finally told my parents I no longer believed in Santa. I had figured it out because Santa was wrapping his presents in the same paper my family bought every year. (They had used separate paper for Santa at one time but stopped it).

      Well, they were having none of it and kept insisting he existed. At one point I had mentioned a girl in my class who said her parents had woken her up putting the Santa presents on her bed and they tried to argue that she had obviously been so naughty that Santa wouldn’t go to her that year and her parents hadn’t wanted to disappoint her! In the end it was just easier to keep the peace by playing along for another two years. Finally when I was 10 Mum accepted I didn’t believe, but that year I was spending Christmas with my cousin who was six and still believed, so I had to play along again for her sake.

    8. Tomato Frog*

      My parents never told me that Santa Claus existed, and so being an observant little kid I never believed in him. Christmas was magical for me; no Santa necessary. When I was 5 I told a friend Santa didn’t exist, thinking he would be interested to know. I was shocked when he yelled at me and ran to his dad to be reassured, and then his dad said right in front of me that of course Santa was real. It was humiliating and I was so ashamed. After that I never talked about Santa unless asked but my classmates would tease me. In second grade I overheard some girls talking about me and one came over to ask me if I believed in Santa, so they could laugh at me. I was ready for them and answered “It depends.” Seeing her go back to her friends, thwarted, and say in a puzzled voice, “She said it depends,” was one of my great second grade triumphs.

      Also, I was told a number of times that if I didn’t believe in Santa I would not get any presents, which was super irritating because it was demonstrably untrue.

      I don’t think my parents got any guff — they never really pushed Santa but they didn’t deny him, either — but I sure did.

      1. Lindsay J*

        Yeah, my parents went through the motions – having us put out cookies, giving us gifts from santa, etc, but there was no real emphasis on it.

        More emphasis when I was growing up was placed on being skeptical, using the scientific method, using context clues and making inferences, etc. And so I was naturally skeptical. I never really believed in religion. And I never really believed in Santa Claus.

        I poked holes in the idea from day one. How does he get to see kids in apartments or other places without roofs or chimneys? How come I got lots of things from Santa and my friend Sally only got one thing? Why did Jennifer get the Barbie Dream boat when you said that was too big for Santa to carry? How does he know where to go? How can he possibly visit so many kids in one night? How can he be at the mall and at Burger King at the same time? Etc.

        When I was 5 or 6 I think I went to my parents with my suspicions, and they pretty much told me that there is no real Santa Claus, but that Christmas is about sharing with your family and other people and that Santa Claus was a symbol of that. But that lots of other kids believe in Santa as a real person and that it would be hurtful to tell them that he wasn’t, and that since I was old enough to know that he wasn’t a real person I was also old enough to know not to ruin the Christmas spirit for others.

    9. Rubyrose*

      My coworker had a four year old daughter. Coworker and her husband flat out told the kid that there was no Santa Claus. The kid decided her parents were lying to her because she could look around and see all the proof that Santa existed! Parents did not know what to do…

    10. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

      We don’t plan to push Santa onto our kids. I suspect some backlash from family, but it’s not their decision.

  17. Anonyby*

    So, for the first year in as long as I can remember, there was no family Thanksgiving dinner. So I accepted an invitation from friends and joined theirs. Met two new awesome people (one of which I recognized from a site we’re both on!), and I had a blast.

    In fact, I had more fun than family Thanksgivings ever were, and took home a bunch of leftovers. I think I might just make this my new tradition, and I think I’ll try to bring some more dishes next year. It just so happened that the two dishes that were my responsibility for family dinners happened to not be filled for this one.

  18. Sara*

    Ladies (but I guess also gentlemen) of AAM: who has an anti-perspirant/deodorant that they swear by? I don’t think I need something prescription strength, but I’ve bounced around a couple different brands/products in the past year and haven’t really found anything that I love all the time. I feel like nothing I’ve tried holds up to my most stressful days (when I sweat buckets). I’m a woman but I’m definitely willing to try men’s products that don’t have overwhelmingly masculine scents.

    1. Anonyby*

      Honestly? I’ve given up trying to stop myself from sweating. I sweat when I’m hot, warm, cold, anytime. Not even the heavy-duty ones could stop it. Now I just try to keep it from stinking up. I make my own deodorant, and it works decently for me.

    2. Gingerbread*

      I wanna know what other people are using too! I’ve been using Secret Clinical Strength and add some baby powder on top and it seems to work well as a deodorant, but it definitely doesn’t stop me from sweating.

    3. Lindsay J*

      For men’s products I like the Old Spice Wolfethorn scent. It’s really nice.

      I’m currently using Lady Speed Stick 24 hour protection or Dove Advanced Care 48 hour. Both seem to hold up while I’m doing manual labor in the Texas heat.

    4. Stephanie*

      Me too! Although I live in a hot climate, so I kind of just gave up and assumed I’d sweat. I tried men’s once–it was a little stronger, but it smelled super masculine (if that makes any sense).

    5. Audiophile*

      I swear I’ve used everything I could find on the shelves. Lately, I’ve used Secret Clinical and that seems to have worked well. I’ve also used Dove Advanced 24 and 48 hour versions. I’ve used Degree Clinical and regular. I mainly use solids, because gels make me develop abscesses and those hurt.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, that’s me. I’ll find something just doesn’t work like it used to and try something else. At this point, I just look for something reasonably strong that doesn’t have a funky odor (like why would I want my armpits to smell like fake watermelon?).

        1. Audiophile*

          Ugh, I know. There’s a Dove that has pomegranate mixed with something and it just smells awful. I usually buy lavender scents, those tend to smell nice.

    6. Key to the West*

      I don’t know where you’re from but I’m in the UK and swear by Mitchum for Women. I swear loads and find it amazing!

      I also put it on at nighttime out of the shower as apparently anti perspirants take time to kick in to action!

    7. Bookworm*

      A friend from FL told me she puts deo on at night before going to bed. Putting it on then allows it to work better. I’ve never tried it though.

    8. FD*

      Arm and Hammer has a deodorant that I swear by–Essentials Natural Deodorant, I think? I’m pretty sure it’s just baking soda in some sort of waxy suspension, but it works for me, doesn’t stain my clothes, and doesn’t give me a rash.

    9. Allison Mary*

      I gave up on commercially-made deodorant and started making my own. I seem to sweat less, and I can customize the recipe to work best for my own skin.

      Plus, I hear there’s all kinds of toxic stuff in most mainstream commercially made deodorants. And from what I’ve read, anti-perspirants are pretty bad for you – your body needs to sweat, and it’s not good to try to stop that biological process. And since switching to more “natural” brands or making my own, I sweat much less, anyway.

    10. OP*

      I use degree and in general, avoid all gels. There are a few others that work well for me but I like the scent of degree best.

    11. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m a sweaty lady. I use Dove almost exclusively, BUT– I have to change my deodorant brand every few months. Even if it has a similar amount of the aluminum hydro-whatever stuff (I am too lazy to look it up), a deodorant will stop working on me. Switching it up (even from Dove to Secret) helps.

      I used to use Certain-Dri, which you apply every other night. Itched like crazy, and I still wore a deodorant in the morning, but I didn’t sweat at all. It was a miracle. I only stopped using it because my hormones decided to level out and I started sweating quite a bit less.

      1. Today's anon*

        I have this itchy issue too – the only one that doesn’t make me itch is Tom’s of Maine deodorant.

      2. Artemesia*

        Mitchums used to have this really good solid but they discontinued it for a bunch of gels and soft creams and such and all of those either reek (nothing like smelly unscented deodorent) or are icky — so I have switched to Dove solid — it isn’t quite as good as the old Mitchums.

      3. Arjay*

        Yep, I have to change brands periodically too, so I just bounce around from Secret to Dove to Suave. They all work fine for a few months, but then I start getting funky and pick a new brand.

    12. CMT*

      I stopped using deodorant with an antiperspirant because it makes me sweat more. Not to mention that it’s bad for your clothes. I just use Arm & Hammer deodorant.

    13. Noah*

      I gave up on antiperspirant because one time I forgot to buy anything and all the hotel sundries had was regular deodorant. Amazingly I seemed to sweat less with that and I’ve been using that ever since. My current favorite is Dove Mens+Care.

      If you really want to go nuclear you can try CertainDri. You put it on at night. I tried it long ago, but I found it burned and left a rash, but I have pretty sensitive skin.

      1. Neruda*

        I’m in Australia and there’s a pharmacy only brand called driclor (I think that’s how you spell it). It’s hard core though- when I’ve used it I’ve done it max 2 days in a row or it burns! But the effects last for a while when paired with my normal roll on. My husband and I used it before our wedding as we thought we might sweat a lot and we both stayed dry!

    14. schnapps*

      WRT to the clinical strength things. I was using Degree Clinical strength for a bit and it worked really well.

      Then I started having some issues in one of the girls, went for the whole ultrasound/mammogram, etc. All tests came back negative, but I was still hurting quite a bit.

      I ran out of the degree clinical and had a bunch of regular lady speed stick around so I started using that. And about a month later my breast pain went away. Now I know correlation does not equal causation, but it scared me enough to not go back on the clinical strength stuff.

    15. BrownN*

      I’m a woman and found that Burt’s Bee Deodorant with Oil of Sage works for me. I’ve always found it in the men’s section and am VERY happy with it. You can also order it online.

  19. Gingerbread*

    How do you deal with a family member that always expects help? Backstory: My mom’s brother asks to borrow money about every week. He and his wife both work full time, but it’s obvious that they don’t know how to manage their money. They will ask for money one day and then will post pictures of themselves at Disneyland the next day. Then, the next week, they’ll go crying to my parents for money and will sometimes even ask me for money.

    My issue: A few weeks ago, my uncle’s wife called my mom and told her that I agreed to babysit her kid (my cousin) since my cousin’s grandparents, who usually babysit her, are going out of the country. She also told my mom that my mom has to help take care of my cousin too. Wtf???? I work full time and I take classes a few days a week. I also have to do laundry, cook, clean and, you know, live my life. Also, my uncle’s wife NEVER talked to me about this. You can’t just volunteer someone to take care of your kid. My mom also lives about an hour away from my uncle and his family, so the fact that his wife thinks my mom (who also works) should drop her whole life to drive two hours a day to care for their kid is ridiculous.

    What do I say? I know my mom is partly to blame for them constantly asking for money because she won’t put a stop to it. She says she feels bad for her brother, but I don’t, because I see how they spend and I know they could survive if they weren’t making monthly trips to Disneyland. But how do I address this babysitting situation? My uncle’s wife still hasn’t talked to me about it, but her parents are leaving the country in a few days so I don’t want her to be depending on me to take care of my cousin.

    1. fposte*

      Well, I wouldn’t say your mom was to blame, but you’re right that it’s not going to stop without her changing her approach, and it doesn’t look like she’s going to.

      One possibility is to ask if your mom is willing to let you act as her agent and decline the whole thing on her behalf–since they involved you, you actually have some agency here that you might be able to use as “no” leverage. “I’m afraid Mom and I aren’t able to do this for you after all. I’m sorry.” But I’m betting there are two main problems there: one, your mom is going to be unwilling to say no even through you, and two, if they contact her later on her own, she’ll just agree again.

      If that’s true, you can’t save her, at least not in the moment. But you can make sure you don’t get sacrificed along with her. “Sorry, Mom, I can’t do it; I wish you’d checked with me before accepting this.” It’s a shame this is a no to your mother and not to your uncle and aunt, but it’s better than no no at all. And then in a calm time when this isn’t emergent any more, maybe you and she can talk about how difficult she finds it to say no to her sister-in-law’s unreasonable requests and see if she wants to start finding some ways to politely say “Oh, hell, no” where appropriate.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I agree that since no one else seems to have boundaries in place, then, unfortunately, you will have to make your own.
        I’d start by telling mom that she must verify with you anything that your aunt and uncle say about you. Clearly, they cannot be trusted to report the truth, so mom should check with you for clarification.
        When they do finally call, just tell them that you are not available and in the future you will need two to three months notice if they want extended childcare.
        If you have been saying yes for awhile, be prepared to stand firm. Setting up boundaries can be tough. Once in place, things get under control so that makes the rocky start worth it. (Remember no means no. No does not mean, “Argue with me for a long time and I will wear down.” No need for big long discussions.

        1. Ruffingit*

          (Remember no means no. No does not mean, “Argue with me for a long time and I will wear down.” No need for big long discussions.

          This. No is a complete sentence. If they ask why, just repeat “I can’t help you” and hang up the phone. These people are major takers. You do not have to be a major giver to their unreasonable requests.

        2. Noni*

          I wouldn’t leave the door open for future child minding either. ” No I can’t mind your children. You will need to make your own arrangements”

      2. Jen*

        I am not even sure I am following the babysitting thing. If they didn’t ask you, how is it that they think you’ll be doing this?

        I’d call them immediately and say, “my mom mentioned to me that you were looking for a sitter- I don’t remember talking to you about it but wanted to let you know I won’t be available because of X engagement/Y whatever. Have fun!” If your mom does it, to me, that’s your moms business.

        1. Marcela*

          Probably they think Gingerbread’s mom will take/”guilt trip” her. That’s what my sister has been recently trying to do with me. She decides I have to appear in certain family event she is organizing, and she tells my mom, but not me. My mom then proceeds to tell me how important is the event, that I can’t avoid it, specially since I am only visiting for one month (they are all in my home country), so the rest of the family want me there. The fact that I had another engagement or that I was never directly invited (as if I am just an object belonging to my mother) doesn’t make any difference to my mom.

          I had to go to the family meeting last time, because it was in the middle of a very specific set of circumstances. But next time, if I am not explicitly invited or called, I simply won’t appear.

      3. Kristina L*

        “you can make sure you don’t get sacrificed along with her. ” This!!!

        Captain Awkward has good scripts for this type of thing.

    2. FD*

      Actually, Captain Awkward just had a very similar post on this topic. It’s the second from the top right now, entitled #800: F is for “Family, Finances & Feelings.” D is for “Disengage”.

      I think the key lessons are this:

      1. You can’t change your mother’s decisions. If she decides to give them money, and/or time, then that’s her choice. However, you should not enable that decision by giving her money or helping her take care of your cousin.

      2. You don’t have to feel bad or explain yourself for not being willing to give into your uncle and aunt’s Loony Toon demands.

      A good script for both of these would be something like:

      [To your mother] I’m not sure where Uncle Wakeen and Aunt Jane got the idea that I can babysit Cousin Aerith, but I’m not able to do so. I’ve also decided not to provide them financial support in the future. I know I’ve disagreed with what you’ve done for them in the past, but I realized that I should just step back and respect whatever decision you decide to make.

      [To your uncle and aunt] I heard from Mom that you are thinking I’ll be able to help take care of Cousin Aerith, but I won’t be able to do that. (Be prepared to hang up if they try to pressure you, be a jerk, pull the BUUUT FAMILYYY card.)

    3. Artemesia*

      Time to step up and fix this for good. I would call the Aunt and say ‘I heard via the grapevine that you expect me to babysit for you. That will not be possible; you will have to make other arrangements.’ then don’t budge. What good comes of you being the doormat? Does it bring joy to your life? Make your relatives love and cherish you?

      You can’t affect how others bail out your uncle — but you can affect your role in the family as family drudge. If you have trouble saying this straight up — make some specific plan for the holiday and say ‘This will not be possible, I have other commitments.’

      Give your mother a heads up but if she wants to take vacation to serve as their servant don’t let that guilt you into being the family drudge.

      The parents of these kids should have asked you directly. And they should have offered a hefty fee for doing it.

  20. Eva*

    So, I don’t drink alcohol for medical reasons. Usually it does not bother me and I can still enjoy myself at parties where alcohol is involved. I am at an age where people mostly drink to be merry rather than drink to get drunk, which is nice. There are usually a few others not drinking due to driving afterwards or being pregnant or some reason like that… so it’s not a big deal.

    However, last night a “friend” told me that he never sees me “loosen up” and “join in”. For some reason it really hurt me. I have tried so hard to fit in and have a good time at parties where I am always the sober one, and I thought I was doing pretty well. To hear that I don’t fit in because I am too uptight and not fun enough really hurt. I am naturally quite shy and introverted and I have actively pushed myself out of my comfort zone to be social and join in, which is especially hard without the facilitation of alcohol.

    Does anyone else get this kind of criticism? Does anyone have any tricks / tools to help them fit in more at parties when you are not drinking and it seems everyone else is getting past the point of tipsy/merry to drunk?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Any chance you’re putting more weight on this one person’s words than you should? It could have been an idle comment, it could have been made while he’d been drinking and not something he really thinks the rest of the time, it could be his own issue where he feels he needs to drink to relax, or he could be an ass, or all sorts of other possibilities!

      1. Eva*

        Yeah I think I might be putting too much weight on this one comment. I think it hurt more than it should have because I have been making such an effort lately to “come out of my shell” more. I took this one comment to mean that all of my friends think I’m too uptight but that’s probably not true.

        1. catsAreCool*

          I agree. I’m not sure this person is that much of a friend. Or maybe he just wasn’t thinking or felt guilty for drinking too much.

    2. fposte*

      I think there’s some anxiety about fitting in that’s causing you to take one person’s random statement as a referendum on you, and it’s really not. You’re also catastrophizing the statement–he didn’t say you were too uptight and not fun enough, you did. Are you maybe worried that you’re uptight and not fun enough?

      As it happens, I’m definitely uptight and I’m absolutely fun enough for the people with whom I socialize. I don’t have to be fun enough for everybody; I’m not an amusement park. (I initially wrote “board game” and then thought that I’d be a really great and intensely frustrating board game.) Are you having a good time? Isn’t it a little weird that he thinks you’re not having a good time if you are and thinks your good time should look the way he wants it to? (I also think he wouldn’t say this to a man and this is the party equivalent of telling a woman to smile.)

      And no, I don’t really drink socially either. I’ve only been questioned about that a few times, and it’s generally been from people who see drinking as a symbol in a way I don’t. Most people really don’t care; they mostly just want you to have a good time and not spill on them. I bet you’re up to that standard and are doing just fine.

      1. Eva*

        I agree that I do have some anxiety about fitting in, especially since I am usually the only sober one so by default I don’t fit in with everyone who’s drinking. So yeah I probably did catastrophise the comment because I’m worried about being too uptight and not fun enough. I guess I have just been trying to work on it lately so it hurt to hear that comment.

        I do have a good time and I was having fun, so it was weird that he thought I wasn’t.

        1. Alma*

          I have found that I have a much better time at gatherings if I don’t drink, or if I have one glass of wine that I probably won’t finish.

      2. Clever Name*

        Such a good point. As always. I wonder what would happen if you replied, “What makes you think I’m not having a good time? Because I am.”

    3. Ruffingit*

      Yes, get some better friends. Anyone who would say this to you is not a good person to hang out with. Keep in mind that some people who drink think those who don’t are “uptight” and not fun when really, that isn’t the case, it’s just that person’s perception.

      I don’t drink and none of my friends say crappy things about it. Hang around better people, you don’t deserve this kind of thing.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        LOL, I very much agree. Get new friends.

        You could tell this dolt–er– PERSON– that if he were a more interesting conversationalist, had a better sense of humor , and picked better places to go to you’d actually might have a good time. But it is what it is.

        Okay, I know. You won’t say that.

        You could say, “Oh, I had a lovely time. I am sorry to hear that you did not.”
        When he says, “I did not say I did not have fun” then you say, “Oh good. Then what I drink or don’t drink has no impact on you. So leave it alone.”

        Sometimes people say stuff and, man, it’s just salt on an open wound. I think these things happen because we are supposed to square up in our own minds who we are and what we are about.

        This seems like an unrelated thing but here is a story of a “gotcha remark” that happened to me. I went to see my aunt and my cousin. I loved these people. They were one of the older relationships in my life. I just loved them. Every time I went to leave, I would start blatting. It was kind of embarrassing but it happened for [reasons]. My aunt understood [reasons] and almost cried with me. Cousin went the opposite way entirely- he missed a lot of the underlying story. Finally one time he said, “Why do you always cry like a baby when you leave?”


        Dragging our demons out into the light of day is humbling and liberating all in the same stroke. I said, “Because I never know when I will see you guys again and it makes me cry.”

        The next visit (years later) I did not cry. My cousin said, “What no tears?” I said “You dragged my demon out into the light of day.”

        Okay so your demon is out in the daylight. First thing is to tell this friend to take a long hike. Second thing is to invest in yourself a little bit. What do you think you can do to help yourself to feel more confident about being an interesting person? Don’t answer here, just ponder it. And if you answer changes from time to time that is okay. Roll with it.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I agree too. I’ve been the recipient of these comments because I can’t drink if I’m driving myself home, and I don’t want to spend $$$ on cabs. Nine times out of ten, it’s someone who cannot function in a social environment without drinking. They can’t imagine not doing it. It’s their limitation, not mine; I have plenty of fun without being wasted off my ass, thanks.

    4. Alice*

      I don’t drink, either. Since I wasn’t there, I can’t tell if he didn’t want you left out or if he was genuinely criticizing you. Although it doesn’t really matter – sorry he made you feel that way.

      I’ve dealt with this to some extent. Without fail, someone always feels they have to get me a drink. A “no thanks” usually works. If people pester me, I say something like, “Well *I’m* enjoying myself, thanks” or “Nope, I’m having a great time, thanks for [offering to get me a drink/making sure I’m having fun]”. And then sometimes I get a soda water with a lime (looks like I’m drinking).

      Honestly, when people start getting drunk I find it’s time to leave. Conversations get pretty difficult. Unless I have a friend there that I’m driving home (in which case I’ll stick with him or her), I say my goodbyes.

    5. Cruciatus*

      I don’t drink much mostly due to it just not really being a big thing in my house growing up. My parents did/do drink, but very lightly and I just always hated the taste and was told it was “an acquired taste”. I never understood why anyone would drink enough to acquire that taste so I never really got into it (see also: coffee. I was once asked, in a shocking tone, “WHAT DO YOU DRINK WHEN YOU WAKE UP!?” Um, juice usually?).

      I find my not drinking (which I especially don’t do if I’ll be driving afterward, even if it’s, like, 3 hours later) makes certain people (not most people, but specific, certain people) uncomfortable. At a wedding I was having a good old time: I was dancing, I was mingling. But a coworker was just very uncomfortable with it and kept making sure I had a drink in my hand and kept telling me I needed to drink. It was bizarre. Eventually I just put water in one of the bar glasses and got her off my back. I don’t say anything about other people’s drinking at all, but I think some people view my not drinking as some sort of judgement on them (that’s all I can come up with anyway). Some people don’t know how you can have fun without alcohol. I can! All the time! It’s not my problem if they can’t understand that.

      You only heard it from one person, so perhaps that person was like my coworker and feels your not drinking is some sort of judgement on them (which is their issue, not yours). If you’re giving lectures about the evils of alcohol then maybe don’t do that anymore, but otherwise, I kind of think your friend is a dick for bringing it up. You are under no obligation to tell anyone, but does he know that you’re sober for medical reasons and that your health depends on it? Might be a good way to get him off your back about it (if it comes up again).

      Otherwise, I don’t have any great tips–I don’t know that there are any. You’re not doing anything wrong by not drinking. If a friend of mine brought it up again I would ask them why they were so concerned when, in fact, I am actually having a good time so what’s it to them?

      1. Alice*

        I don’t like coffee either! And I have a friend who is the same. I read a study once that talked about how the the flavors of coffee and alcohol are linked to the same taste buds … but I can’t find it. Grr.

        1. Doriana Gray*

          Really? ‘Cause I’m not a big fan of alcohol unless it’s mixed with something else (preferably juice or soda), but I LOVE coffee.

          1. bkanon*

            Heh, generally the only time I drink alcohol at all is if I put a shot IN my coffee. Otherwise, not much. I just don’t like the taste of it.

      2. Eva*

        Definitely not giving lectures on alcohol, and I don’t make a big deal of not drinking at all… I just find that I probably don’t “lose my inhibitions” as much so perhaps it’s perceived as not having as much fun… who knows

      3. Soupspoon McGee*

        You’re right that some people view not drinking as a judgement, when it’s not really about them at all. I get the same thing as a vegetarian. I don’t eat meat, but I don’t make a big deal of it–but invariably, somebody tells me, at length, that they don’t eat much, only a few times a week, but not veal, and by the way, how do I get my protein? Dude, I don’t care.

    6. The Expendable Redshirt*

      Oh yes. I’ve gotten that. (clear introvert over here!). The comment I heard was “You’re pretty quiet around my friends.” And here I am making a dedicated effort to converse with people I don’t know very well and have nothing in common with!

      1) Don’t care. Do not give two figs. Not even one fig. Some people just don’t get that other humans have different levels of talkativeness and alcohol consumption. Plus drinking alcohol is not a requirement for enjoying a party. If someone else doesn’t understand that, tough cookie for them.

      2). Hold a nonalcoholic drink (such as cola) and smile vaguely. Putting cola in an alcohol glass helps. This can be convincing camouflage for pretending to drink. It looks like a Rum and Coke.

      1. Merry and Bright*

        +10 for the soft drink in an alcohol glass. My own favourite trick. The number of times my mineral water and lemon slice have let me socialise in peace is amazing. I enjoy an alcoholic drink sometimes but not to someone else’s instructions.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        My friend who doesn’t drink says that her trick is tohave the bartender put a cherry or a lime wedge in her coke or sprite. Apparently the illusion of an alcoholic beverage is stronger if three drink looks like it’s had something done to it.

        1. Lindsay J*

          Yup, was just going to say this. If I’m not drinking I get a lime in my diet coke. I like the taste and it makes it look like a Cuba Libre or something.

    7. FD*

      This is colored by a friend’s experiences–but I get very twitchy around any guy who tells any woman to ‘loosen up’ in a drinking context. At the very best, it’s an unkind thing to say to someone–you don’t know why they don’t drink. At worst, it can be used to try and prod someone into drinking more than they usually would to make it easier to get them into a vulnerable situation.

      If you are concerned about it, you could ask one of your other friends if you seem too tense or forced at events though, especially if you have any you know would be totally honest with you.

      1. FD*

        I did notice you don’t identify your gender, after the fact. I should add a disclaimer that any gender can use this towards any other gender; I’ve simply seen/heard it used most often by men towards women. This may be indicative of my own bias-glasses.

        1. LCL*

          Ha. Not bias, reality. Seriously, to the OP, the people that make issue of someone not drinking/drugging are often the people with a bit of a problem the self.

      2. Eva*

        I don’t think he meant it like that, and I was standing next to my boyfriend at the time so not vulnerable. Also, he knows I don’t drink at all, so I’m not sure what he would have been hoping to achieve.

    8. Not Karen*

      All the time. I don’t consider these people friends. Why do I need to “loosen up”? Why do I need alcohol to do so?

      Once I told someone at a party I didn’t like beer and he immediately went to “Are you a Mormon?” Like where did that come from??

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Yes. Someone who exerts social pressure on someone else like that is just being a jerk. Most likely they drink too much, and having everyone else drink makes them feel OK about it. Now, I drink a lot, probably a bit too much sometimes, but I would NEVER do more than make a very no-pressure offer of a drink once or twice.

        There was a lot of good advice around pressure to drink in the 11/17 post about “mandatory” happy hour, but basically anyone who pressures you to drink is doing it for very selfish reasons, and you should feel free to ignore them or blow them off appropriately.

    9. Today's anon*

      I don’t drink either but usually interpret these kinds of comments as the person feeling guilty, on some level, about the amount *they* are drinking so they want you to join in so they will feel less guilty. People who are fine with their own drinking or behavior don’t usually care what you are drinking.

    1. Doriana Gray*

      Best: I got my hair and eyebrows done today so I feel very put together again.

      Worst: See below post about my burning scalp (yikes!). And the person who lives in the apartment has gone back to blasting her shitty music at all hours again (after being told by the police and our builder manager to knock it the hell off). I really wish this person would move – for two and a half years, I had no problems, then she moves in. *sigh*

    2. Stephanie*

      Best: did a 5k this morning and was able to set a PR.

      Worst: Blah, work. We’re busy. And as I mentioned in the open thread yesterday, I’m doing a supervisory role for the busy season (in my normal role, I’m a technically a supervisor, but more like a project supervisor). I’m kind of learning on the fly. And I’ve got about 20 employees I’m overseeing (albeit these are low-skilled manual labor jobs, so there’s not a lot of complexity to the jobs, but there’s just a lot of different things hitting me at once). Also…no dinner break. So I’ve been eating Cliff Bars for dinner all week.

    3. Lu*

      Best: the bae is coming home tomorrow

      worst: ex boss stops and talks to me even though we mutually hate each other at my work (retail).

    4. Cruciatus*

      Worst: Some work was done on the back porch against the house and I find myself oddly super pissed that the workers cut the sensor to the weather thermometer (the wire going from inside through the trim/side of the door to where the sensor hangs on the light on the porch). There was no reason to cut it (and then they just left the cut wire/sensor it on the porch railing without saying anything). No one asked “hey, is it OK if we cut this? We need to for reason X.” And it’s impossible to pull the leftover wire back into the house so we’ll have to cut it at the thermometer inside and have this piece hanging out of the wall. It was just some dumb Radio Shack thermometer, but it’s been working perfectly for 20+ years. I realize I can be too sentimental about things sometimes….but seriously, why the hell did you cut it!?

      Best: This 4 day weekend has been so nice–it’s actually felt nice and slow (we’ll see if I still think that tomorrow night). I haven’t had a lot of time off in a long time. I was frustratingly unable to take much vacation time this summer, then in August I started a new job so no time off there. But at this new job, I will also have off between Dec. 24-Jan. 3rd! At my old job I only got Christmas Day and New Years’ Day off. I haven’t had this specific time off since college/grad school so I’m pretty excited about that too!

      1. danr*

        Yes, workers can be idiots sometimes… and brilliant other times. To replace the thermometer look at the Oregon Scientific remote thermometers. I have three remote sensors and two displays, one upstairs in the bedroom and one downstairs in the kitchen . I’ve put the extra sensors in the refrigerator and freezer when we’ve had extended power outages so I’ll know how warm things got.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          The freezer is a good idea.

          Unfortunately, we’ve bought those and not only are they not made in Oregon, they tend to give different numbers when they work at all. If they were reliable enough to show both inside and outside temps, we wouldn’t have bought more and found out they don’t agree on the temps either.

          Thermometers with a wire between the gauge and display have proven to last longer and give better numbers (for us).

      2. catsAreCool*

        Would it work to call the manager of the workers and ask that this be fixed? They broke it; they should fix it.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      BEST: We had a wonderful Thanksgiving and really enjoyed spending time with my cousins and their guests. The bf was made to feel so welcome, and we just had a great time.

      WORST: During my choral concert today, my friend’s mom (who was in the audience) had some kind of cardiac episode and had to be taken out on a stretcher. She is stable now, several hours later, but it was scary as hell, and I feel so terrible for my friend (who is quite pregnant).

    6. Elizabeth West*

      Best: Four days off! Hahaha! I’m not nearly as productive as I wanted to be, probably because I got the cleaning done on Turkey Day and now I apparently think I can laze around the rest of the weekend, LOL.

      Worst: IT’S COLD.
      Also, this NaNoWriMo is a bust. I will not finish Secret Book by the time it’s over, and I really don’t care, though I think I can finish it by the end of the year. I’ve sort of given up blogging about it.

    7. Hellanon*

      Best: no more housemates, ever. The last one just moved out, saving me having to initiate a *very* awkward conversation and – that’s it. I’m done. Moved stuff back into the second bedroom and re-colonized the bathroom medicine cabinet. And got the good china back out, just because I could.

      Worst: my father, after a year of AA (6 meetings a week; he’s been an alcoholic for a long, long time) is drinking again. Am I surprised? No, not really. Do I think it’s going to end well? No. I really, really don’t. But he’s a grownup, sort of, and I learned long ago I can neither fix nor change this.

    8. danr*

      Best: Our Thanksgiving dinner was a hit again, but we had some brief panic when the power went out for about an hour just as we were setting up to start. In the end we put the dinner off by about a half hour, and everyone was late because it messed up their timing too.
      Worst: we both have bad colds and are sniffling and coughing. We made it through the dinner, but the colds came on strong yesterday.

    9. Ruffingit*

      Best: Quitting my job.

      Worst: We’re moving next week and it’s a huge hassle to get everything done that needs to be done.

      1. StillHealing*

        So many changes for you all at once! But, it sounds like the changes are for the better. I hope your new job is rewarding and that your coworkers are truly a joy to work with. (Hopefullynot too overly work related, but for the past year, I’m finally working with “adults” in a Healthy work environment and there doesn’t seem to be trouble maker in the whole building! (Secure floors though so that may make a difference) No one sabotaging your work. No one stealing lunches out of lunch room refrigerators, everyone cleans up after themselves in the bathroom and kitchen, etc. )

    10. Ann Furthermore*

      Best: Hosted Thanksgiving for 20, like we do every year, and I think it was the best one yet. The turkeys were done to perfection (in the smoker) and the stuffing and all the side dishes were awesome. I’m not crazy about the green bean casserole (not being a fan of green beans in general), but the dish was just about empty. I also made pumpkin pie truffles, which I did for the first time last year, and they came out perfectly. And I finally found an apple dessert worthy of Thanksgiving — salted caramel apple crisp. OMG. Fantastic. And I still have a tray of bacon-wrapped dates in the fridge that I think I’ll cook up tomorrow. YUM.

      Other best — today is my b-day and my hubby got me a jewelry armoire. I spent this afternoon organizing and cleaning my jewelry, which I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.

      Worst: Worked on Friday, which wasn’t bad. The office was completely deserted. The worst part was that it was FREEZING outside and I really didn’t want to get out of bed to venture out!

    11. Merry and Bright*

      Worst: I had to get a locksmith to replace a broken lock on my front door.

      Best: I looked after my niece and nephew in Saturday and they have stayed for sleepover. The weather is cold, wet and very windy so we have stayed cosy indoors. We have played Kerplunk and memory games, baked potatoes, made lots of hot chocolate and made pancakes and gingerbread men.

    12. schnapps*

      Best: went to bright nights at Stanley Park last night with my daughter, a friend of hers, and the friend’s dad and little brother (husband-type was feeling under the weather). The train ride was awesome (if a little chilly) and all the kids fell asleep in the van on the way home. And I didn’t have to drive because the friend’s dad drove.

      Worst: pretty much the entire rest of the week. It was just the longest, most stressful week I’ve had in a long time for no one single reason. I ended up close to an out of control anxiety situation at work on Friday until husband-type talked me down from the ceiling. That was a double dose of anti-depressant night (my doctor has ok’d this).

    13. Anonyby*

      Best: Two of them! First one is the Thanksgiving I mentioned upwards in the comments.

      Second is that I’m doing babysteps with self-care. I’m walking to build up my feet for an upcoming Disneyland trip, and I’ve actually managed to be pretty consistent about it. Another is giving up on waiting for Dad to get his stuff together so we can swap recreational spaces. Instead I’ve started working on turning the area where my craft and other stuff is being stored into at least a semi-functional craft space. My stuff has been just sitting in boxes for a bit over a year now, with more of Dad’s stuff piled up in front of it. Yesterday I moved his stuff out of the way, and then set about finding my fabric and sewing patterns so I can put them in the dresser that’s been sitting empty next to the boxes, waiting for me to have a craft space so I can unpack and fill it with fabric.

      Worst: There’s been a couple times that Dad and his gf have gotten in after I’ve gone to sleep and woken me up. (And I don’t go to bed early!)

    14. StillHealing*

      BEST: Two Thanksgivings for me and three Thanksgivings for my son, this year! Son had to work Thanksgiving Day but said they made it worth it by also paying all of them while they ate a big Thanksgiving meal with the whole kitchen crew. Friday, we had a Friendsgiving on the Washington coast at a friend’s vacation home. We spent the night then drove to my step-daughters for a family Thanksgiving on Saturday evening.

      My son asked me which Thanksgiving I liked the best and I said I loved them both for different reasons. I then asked him which one he liked the best and he said, “All three!”. Our conversation was in the car on the hour drive home from my son’s half-sisters, my step daughters. I said, “It’s fun starting new traditions and having a couple different Thanksgivings, isn’t it?” And he agreed saying more fun than in years past.

      That said, it really felt like NO ONE is missing the lying, cheating, soon to be ex. Not his daughter from his first marriage. Definitely not his first wife, in fact his first wife and I talked more than we have during past holidays. She and her husband seemed so much more happy and relaxed with him not present at the holiday meal. Since I will soon be his ex wife #2, I get that. I really understand just how much more I can relax without him are. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it but everyone seemed actually more relaxed without stbx present. No one even mentioned stbx. As we were giving goodbye hugs there were some heartfelt exchanges that brought tears to my eyes. Happy tears for I feel more loved and supported than ever in my life.

      WORST: Can’t think of a single thing.

    15. Jazzy Red*

      BEST: My sister and brother-in-law arrived safely to their new homes. Sis needed to go into nursing care, and Bro-in-law is staying with his daughter, sil, and 3 grandkids.

      WORST: I miss them.

      2nd BEST: My best friend, who was facing homelessness, is house sitting for the next few month for my sister and bil. They moved before the house sold, and they’ll probably wait until spring to list it again, so BFF has a chance to save up some money and take her time finding a new place to live.

    16. Ada Lovelace*

      Kinda late but best: Friendsgiving (as I mentioned below) and I have a new job starting Dec 1st!
      Worst: My anxiety regarding new job and this school term is riding up and is compounded by my mother’s refusal to follow her doctor’s orders.

  21. Hey, Christina!*

    THANK YOU for the Browned Butter Vanilla Ice Cream recipe you mentioned last weekend! My heavens it is WONDERFUL!!

    If anyone missed it, here’s the link:
    https://myhomespunhome.wordpress.com/ on Nov 10; second entry from the top of her blog now.

    You won’t be sorry.

    With gratitude,
    Belle di Vedromo

    1. fposte*

      OMG that looks *amazing*. Browned butter can change the world, and I never thought of it in ice cream. Thanks for the repost!

  22. Audiophile*

    Anyone ever had this issue before? Our post office is refusing to deliver mail because they don’t like where our mailbox is placed. It’s been in the same place for 15 years. For the entire month, he’s refused to deliver mail. First he claimed he was worried about hitting one of the cars in the driveway, then he just said he didn’t like where it was placed and he wasn’t delivering mail until it was moved. The mailbox isn’t relocatable since it’s in concrete and it’s not just our mailbox, the neighbor’s mailbox is attached to the same post. The post office has now marked our address as undelieverable and is having all mail sent back to the sender. It was amusing in the beginning but now it’s just become a nuisance.

    1. fposte*

      Have you talked to the local postmaster about this? That’s where I’d go.

      It is possible that you’re out of line with current standards and they’re within their rights to stop delivering; if so, you just have to get a new mailbox put in that’s in line with the standards, as does your neighbor. (We’re threatened with this on my block.) But it’s also possible that the postmaster has no clue about what’s going on between the letter carrier and your mailbox.

      1. Audiophile*

        The postmaster agreed with him. I can say for certain fposte, that it’s not out of line. It’s on a raised curb, which is within the guidelines on the website. Our house is at the bottom of the hill and it does get slippery/icy during the winter, but it’s not winter yet and it’s been unseasonably warm for NY this time of year. And what’s interesting to me, is this wasn’t a problem until a month ago when he suddenly threatened to stop delivering mail if it wasn’t moved.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, if the postmaster agrees then that’s tough. So where is the postmaster saying the mailbox needs to be instead? (And this is happening to your neighbor too, right? Have you put your heads together on this?)

          1. Audiophile*

            Well, the neighbor isn’t getting any mail because no one currently lives at that house.

            The postmaster initially said, the car being in the driveway an issue (it’s a big SUV, so it was moved to the other side of the driveway). She also said, they wouldn’t deliver mail in the winter, because we’re at the bottom of the hill. She suggested we relocate farther down the street, which doesn’t make sense, because it would be lower down to the ground. Right now it’s on a raised curb. Plus, it being in blacktop makes it unmovable. IF it was relocated, there’d be no way to keep the post up, the other side of the driveway is where the garbage cans are, you can’t put a post there, it’s just dirt.
            This will likely involve the city/town hall to get this fixed. I could see if he had made continuous complaints, but up until last winter, he delivered mail in all weather conditions without issue. And for him to refuse to deliver in the middle of the fall is just ridiculous.

            1. fposte*

              Well, you *could* put a post there; you’d just have to sink it into concrete. But that doesn’t change the fact that the whole thing is pretty silly. (Is this the same letter carrier as last year? Can you ask him what’s changed?)

              1. Audiophile*

                My sister said it is. He delivered mail one day, and he admitted later it was because he forgot to take it out of his truck before he went on his run. My other sister got into it with them yesterday and they’re now claiming no one has ever been in to address the issue with them. That’s simply untrue, since I had a conversation with the postmaster myself. So it’s not going to be easy. But it really isn’t movable. I can understand not delivering mail in the winter, if it was the entire street. But everyone else is getting mail, he’s only refusing to deliver to our address, as far as I can tell.

            2. danr*

              My mailbox is a rural mailbox and is secured in dirt, with no problems. Look for cedar mailbox posts with drive in anchors. You start the anchor in the ground where you want the mailbox. Be sure to take the mounting of the box into account for the distance to the curb or edge of the street. Put the post over the anchor and carefully pound it in. A small sledge hammer and a piece of scrap wood does the job. Mount the mailbox. I use reflective numbers on both sides so the snowplows can see the box and aim to miss. I’ve had two of these mailboxes over the years.

              1. Audiophile*

                I appreciate the suggestion, but it’s just not doable. Years ago, we had an issue with the grates failing on the street because of too much rain and all the dirt and blacktop from the houses up the street wound up in our driveway. Getting the town to fix that, was a huge headache and it was their fault. In fact, that’s probably how the mailbox wound up on the raised curb, because the town came and installed new grates and blacktop. But it’s still been in the exact same spot. There really isn’t anywhere else to put the mailbox, the other side of the driveway is where the garbage cans are. If it was moved there, the garbage men would refuse to pick up the trash. There worse to deal with than the post office.

                As for getting a PO Box, that’s not cheap, all the small slots are taken, so we’ve have to get a larger one and my mom is retired on disability and on a fixed income. My income isn’t much better, which is why I still live here. I’m sure it will get sorted out. We’ll be escalating it to the town and local politicians.

                They were holding the mail, and someone’s been picking it up. Most recently, they start marking things as “wrong address” or “undeliverable” and having them sent back. Obviously, this is not true, he’s just refusing to deliver.

                1. the gold digger*

                  wow. Whereas the PO is falling all over itself to send us all the junk mail that used to go to my husband’s parents (which was a lot of junk mail), despite his reporting his parents to the deceased registry months ago. Your postman is a jerk. I am sorry.

    2. Jillociraptor*

      WTF? That’s so bonkers. Maybe an interim solution would be asking them to hold your mail at the post office so that at least you can get it but jeez!

    3. Rebecca*

      Yes, I did. I live on a rural route, and once we had the mailman from hell. He drove a giant Chevy Suburban 4WD, but would not deliver the mail unless the mailbox was completely shoveled out. That meant on days that it snowed while I was at work, no mail arrived, and I was tasked with the pleasant job of chiseling out the frozen snowplowed slush, in the dark along the road, to suit his royal highness. What really angered me is that he was able to leave a copy of the postal regulations regarding such things BUT NOT THE DAMNED MAIL. He also left diagrams about the mailbox being vertical to the ground, so many inches high, but again NOT THE MAIL. A lot of us complained. I mean, when the ground is frozen, and the snowplow hits the post, obviously it’s not going to get fixed properly right away. We all did the best we could. A bunch of us complained to the postmaster, but that didn’t work. I ordered 1 cent stamps once when postage went up, so he stuck them to the back end of the mailbox. Relief came when he either switched routes or retired. I know the people in my neighborhood don’t care, we’re just happy he’s gone.

      Good luck. Really, just do what they want and hope you get a new carrier.

      1. catsAreCool*

        That’s frustrating. The mail deliverer where I live puts mail in the wrong boxes every so often. I don’t know if he or she needs glasses or what, but I don’t like it.

    4. Cereal Killer*

      I’m assuming you have a new postal worker who decided they don’t like the location. I haven’t had that exact issue, but I did have a problem years ago with them leaving my mail in a pile on my porch. I had a mailbox on my porch and a mail slot in my front door. For years they would leave it in one or the other. Then all of a sudden I come home day after day to find it in a pile near my front door. On windy days I got to pick it out of the bushes or chain link fence.

      Have you tried calling their customer service number? I had to assure them my mailbox was not blocked (there might have been a snow shovel or two on the porch but that was it, no furniture, no way you could have missed it!). Fair warning, it took three (fun) calls over the course a few months to get it fixed. But once it was properly documented they took it to the local manager and the problem was solved for good.

      If you’ve already tried this and they still aren’t delivering I’d talk to the city/town hall to see if there are any specific ordinances you aren’t following.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      If you request a hold put on your mail they have to hold it at the office for you. I would tell the boss that if I have any problem with paying my bills on time because of this, I will be back down to visit.
      My mailbox post is in concrete too. One guy can dig it up and move it, though. You may have to get a new box and post entirely, if you cannot get the old one out. However, you might save some money by reusing the box if that is possible. I know mailboxes are really odd they way they screw together, so I realize you might not be able to get it apart.

      Yeah, I have seen the PO dig their heels in on something and it’s almost an act of Congress and a prayerful petition from the pope to get them to change their minds. It can be done, though.

    6. Soupspoon McGee*

      YES! I had this issue when I moved to my current house, only on postal worker delivered mail on his days, and the regular guy did not, so I had no idea I wasn’t getting all my mail until a bill went to collections. The reasons for not delivering to my box were like yours, and there weren’t good options to relocate it either. And the box had been in the same place for years.

      This was an eight-month ordeal, but I contacted the postmaster, looked up regulations about where mailboxes need to be, and went to the central postal delivery station every week to pick up my mail, each time filling out a form requesting the hold be lifted. I did not get straight or consistent answers, and finally the very nice postmistress at the central station escalated it for me and got them to deliver mail again.

      1. Audiophile*

        This is probably what it will come to eventually.

        I personally spoke with the postmaster, and then suddenly no one had any memory of that when one of my sisters appeared to discuss the issue. I’m sure it will get sorted out, it’s just a hassle for no real reason.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          First, document document document. Write down everything you remember about when and where and how you contacted them, and what was said, and going forward make sure to make a kind of journal entry each time you try to talk to them about it. It might prove crucial later on…or it might all be for nothing, but you won’t know if you need it until it’s too late.

          Next, I’d say if you aren’t getting anywhere with the local postmaster general, try the USPS Consumer Affairs office that covers your post office, or the Postal Regulatory Commission’s Office of Public Affairs & Government Relations (PAGR).

    7. Jen*

      Talk to the postmaster. We moved and ran into a similar issue. Previous owners allowed mail truck to drive around behind the house, we do not (we have kids and installed a fence). I met with the postmaster and he asked that we move our mailbox, which is very reasonable since without turning into our driveway/back yard, idling on the street is dangerous (it’s right near a blind corner). Our mailbox is in concrete but we’re just going to hack the wood post down, build a new one and stick the box on the other side of the property.

      In theinterim, I just pick up my mail at the post office. In fact the post master offered a 1x week Saturday delivery as part of the compromise but the post office is across from my kid’s school so I swing by a few times a week. Not sure why they wouldn’t give you that option… If worse comes to worst, could you buy a PO box?

  23. Doriana Gray*

    So my scalp is burning like crazy. I went to wash my hair yesterday and just having water touch it set my scalp on fire. This has happened before (after dying and flat ironing my hair), but I haven’t done either thing in almost a year. What in the world could possibly cause this?

    1. Lu*

      I have seborrhoea dermatitis and trichollomania. The dermatitis is what irritates and makes my scalp feel hot. It’s like aggressive dandruff with red scalp and irritation, makes it sticky like.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        I looked up both, and the dermatitis might be it. I guess I’ll have to give myself some scalp treatments to see if it helps. If not, I think Neutrogena may have a shampoo that deals with this. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

        1. Lu*

          Try the tar shampoos they help enormously with cooling down the scalp. dermatitis and eczema can occur with change of weather.

        2. ThatLibTech*

          My derm recommends a ginger shampoo from The Body Shop (I don’t know if they have that in the States?) for SD, which apparently I have but it never seems to bother me, so I rarely if ever use it.

      2. Alma*

        Is it all over, or just on one side? It could be shingles, which apparently only affects one side at a time. I have had shingles behind my ear (where the earpiece of my glasses sit) and down to my hairline at my neck. And yes, I am way too young to get the shingles shot.

    2. Bookworm*

      Sounds like some kind of an allergic reaction. Did you use new hair products? And it is possible that you’ve developed a sensitivity to something you’ve been using for years.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        I haven’t changed hair products in almost a year, and I use gluten free, organic shampoos/conditioners. Man, I hope it’s not one of them – they work wonders for the health of my hair.

    3. Legalchef*

      I had something similar happen after getting my hair colored – I think a combo of an allergy to the particular brand of dye and the fact that I think the hairdresser left it on. My scalp was burning and irritated for months. Have you tried a new shampoo or anything?

      This might sound weird, but try brewing chamomile tea, letting it cool, and soaking your scalp in it. I ended up getting a scalp treatment with chamomile in it and it helps when my scalp is so irritated. I’m not home and can’t remember the name of it but if you are interested in it I will let you know its name when I get home.

          1. Legalchef*

            Eek! I didn’t know it would do that. Well, my hair is dark brown and hasn’t gotten any lighter using the chamomile conditioner, though YMMV of course. If your scalp is really bad it might be worth trying a couple times anyway. It’s made by Shea Moisture and is called African Black Soap Dandruff Control Hair Masque. It feels like thick conditioner but I rub it right into my scalp and let it sit for a few minutes. I hope your scalp starts to feel better!!

            1. Doriana Gray*

              I love (and use) Shea Moisture products so I’ll order this one online (they don’t sell it in stores by me). I noticed that when I used their Jamaican Black Castor Oil hair masque and their Yucca and Baboa shampoo yesterday, the burning somewhat subsided. But it’s happening again (after getting my hair done in two French braids), so maybe my scalp is just rebelling from all the braiding I’ve been doing on it lately.

              1. Legalchef*

                I would definitely avoid ponytails, braids, or any other style that pulls the hair, because that can continue to irritate the scalp!

            2. Not So NewReader*

              Yeah, I should have added: my hair is salt and pepper. Okay, mostly salt. I think that with dark hair it would probably not show or just make the hair look like a richer brown. I did get compliments when I used the chamomile- so it’s not a bad thing, it’s more of a personal preference thing.

    1. Belli di Vedremo*

      Didn’t mean to double post; forgot that the link would send it into moderation so resubmitted. Thanks, Alison.

  24. Belli di Vedremo*

    Question for Allison Mary

    We talked about cat diets for kidney support, and you listed Standard Process’ Renafood tablets as something you use. Went and looked, and wanted to confirm that this is a “human” supplement, rather than one for cats, right?

    I’ve saved the info you provided last weekend, to use to upgrade my girl’s diet, thanks very much.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Not Allison Mary, but I have used Standard Process for twenty years plus. Yes, Renafood is a human supplement. There is lots of cross over and I have successfully used many SP products for humans to help my animals and my friends’ animals.
      SP started coming out with more and more animal versions of their products and they developed a whole veterinary line also.

      SP products are made from food. This is key because when the animal smells it his brain says, “food”. Might not be obvious, so I will say, I put my SP stuff up where the animals cannot get it. My dog has taken them out of my purse/tote bag and he knows how to get the lid off. He can successfully dump out the contents of the bottle and eat them. all.

    2. Allison Mary*

      Hi! Yes, the one that I’m using is actually for humans, but it works for cats, as well. The vet that I go to carries both the human version and the feline version from Standard Process.

      It’s worth noting that my vet doesn’t actually place much value on the Renafood supplements, as far as supporting renal function – she thinks that their main value is that they sometimes seem to make food more palatable for cats, and for my cat, that does seem to be true. Or at least, my own cat is so accustomed to the taste of Renafood in her meals that she’s taken aback when it’s not there.

      A dosage of between 500 and 1,000 mg of high quality salmon oil per meal, however… my vet was very much in favor of that, and that was a significant increase to what I had been giving her before. So you might try that.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        “Or at least, my own cat is so accustomed to the taste of Renafood in her meals that she’s taken aback when it’s not there.”

        Yeah, I am not sure how much it helped my cat, either. But she did like it and she seemed less stressed by her problems so that made it worth it. Looking back on it, I think she spent less time being really sick and more time having some quality to her life.

      2. Belli di Vedremo*

        Thanks, both.
        I know some times human formulations translate well, and sometimes they don’t. It looked as if there was a feline version, but I couldn’t actually find it on their website.

        My girl really dislikes salmon, so that doesn’t work for her. I can try her with cod, if that might work as well. She loves white fish.

        My vet’s not interested in holistic/alternative stuff, but knows that I am.

        1. Allison Mary*

          I would recommend simply starting with almost-undetectable amounts of salmon oil and slowly working your way up to a larger dosage. That has been the trick to getting my 17 year old to eat anything medicinal that I need to give her.

          I’m doing that right now with a particularly nasty-tasting herbal tincture – it’s seriously awful. But I just started with three drops mixed into her wet raw food, and now I’m up to six or seven drops per meal. Eventually I’ll make my way up to giving her a full dropper squeeze per meal.

  25. Lu*

    I am eating strawberry fizzy laces and drinking Tesco lager. Life is good lol. My dad is American and came over for his brothers funeral, it was good but I realised how much I don’t like him. Is that bad? I’ve had to interactions with him in public in about 16 years and I don’t know what a father daughter relationship is. I get uncomfortable at the thought. He left the UK when I was 9/10.

    1. Stephanie*

      No, I don’t think it’s bad. If you haven’t had much of of relationship for at least 16 years, I wouldn’t guilt yourself over something that’s not there.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Well, if his visit for your uncle’s funeral made you realize how little you want a relationship with him, then there’s nothing wrong with that. He’s your biological father, but you shouldn’t feel like that automatically means you have to treat him like a dad. If it’s just because you think it’s expected, I’d recommend spending some time examining your thoughts and feelings on that first. But if you’re uncomfortable because you feel like you want to give it another chance, you can email or chat online or even Skype to see if you feel like developing a relationship with him. Start slow, and remember that you can cut it off at any time.

    2. Not me*

      No, it happens. Sometimes relationships are just different than you expect.

      I don’t know what strawberry fizzy laces are but that sounds good.

  26. Weekend Warrior*

    Holiday films to love or hate watch on TV?

    There’s been a whole lot of C list made for TV movies already on, plus Elf and Home Alone on endless loop on some channels but Scrooged is on CBC in Canada this Sunday. Vintage Bill Murray! Eighties shoulder pads! Buddy Hacket as Scrooge! Mary Lou Retton as Tiny Tim! “sea urchins”! Can’t wait.
    I also really love Family Man, Family Stone is OK, and Love Actually is Meh minus. :)
    And Holiday Inn, so charming…except for the blackface that is key to the plot. Yikes! That one is now a can’t watch for me.

    1. Lu*

      It is without a doubt tradition to watch Muppet Christmas Carol every Christmas. In fact I am now watching it on Sky Disney.

      There’s some films I avoid because I feel like a child when I watch them, they haven’t translated to my adult self yet.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        My brother and I love The Muppet Christmas Carol. Frankly, I think that’s the best version of that story.

        1. Alice 2*

          Yes! Its the best one! We sing the songs when a phrase or similar phrase pops up in conversation. “tis the season to be jolly and joooyous!”

          1. Doriana Gray*

            Lol! I love that song, and the Marley and Marley song. My brother and I love singing along to it and then shouting, “HEY!” at the end with them.

            1. Alice 2*

              You mean when they disappear down the stairs? I could have sworn they shout “CHANGE!” at Scrooge.

              Also, I loooove Michael Caine in the movie. Ok, I love every little part of the movie.

    2. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Our family tradition (honestly) is to eat Christmas Eve dinner, then watch Die Hard before Midnight Mass.

      If Die Hard is not available, The Sound of Music, which I know is not a Christmas film, is an allowable substitution. I also usually watch Bad Santa every year, although it’s not exactly a Christmas-eve type movie.

    3. Sydney Bristow*

      We watch Christmas Vacation every year. Normally multiple times beginning on thanksgiving night.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I always miss the standards when they are on TV, but I have nearly everything on DVD. Some I watch every year without fail, either on DVD or TV, include:

      –A Christmas Story
      –Home Alone
      –Charlie Brown Christmas
      –Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
      –My dad gave me a boxed set of The Santa Clause films; I try to at least watch the first one. They’re dumb as hell but I actually like them.

      I like Love, Actually (it’s my Christmas show music!), because it shows all kinds of love and also that love doesn’t always work out. I only saw it for the first time last year. It’s the only rom-com I like. And I neeeeeed to get a copy of The Polar Express. I saw it all the way through last year and LOVED it. :)

      1. Weekend Warrior*

        Yes to the Polar Express! Christmas Story I watched too much but after a few years off, I could be ready again :). And maybe I’ll try Die Hard in this context. I know lots of people swear by it. :). Oh, and the Alister Sims Christmas Carol, preferably in b and w.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          My favorite Christmas Carol is one with George C. Scott. It’s very atmospheric and actually scary. It took years for me to find it on DVD (Wikipedia says it didn’t come out until 1999 because the Scott estate owned the copyright). I love George C. Scott; he was always one of my favorite actors.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            Scrooged is good, too. It has the creepiest Christmas Future scene when Bill Murray confronts his own mortality.

    5. Swoop*

      ‘A Christmas Carol’ with Alastair Sim :D
      If I can find it again, ‘Bernard and the Genie’ with Alan Cumming and Lenny Henry

    6. Mimmy*

      My yearly favorites are: A Christmas Story and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Jim Carrey’s version).

    7. Weekend Warrior*

      I forgot that there will be a Victorian Sherlock Christmas special. That will be my #1 watch.

      1. Allison Mary*

        Yes! The Sherlock Christmas special for sure, and also for me, the Doctor Who Christmas special this year reportedly has Alex Kingston in it (River Song). So that is high on my list. :)

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          I’ve enjoyed when “Grimm” does Christmas specials. (I want to go to Christmas at Monroe and Rosalee’s house!)

    8. Noah*

      My favorite Christmas movies are The Family Stone and Surviving Christmas. The Family Stone is a bit sad but I like the family aspect of it. The other one is a really dorky but sweet Ben Affleck movie that I’m 99% certain received horrible critical reviews. I love them both though and watch them every single year.

    9. Clever Name*

      My favorites are:

      Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas
      White Christmas

      Really only those 2 are mandatory for me.

      Husband likes Scrooged and Die Hard (NOT a Christmas movie)

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        White Christmas

        I always want to force feed Vera Ellen a bunch of fatty stuff… and I covet Rosemary Clooney’s black dress.

        1. Clever Name*

          I know. Every year we talk about how inhumanly skinny she is. According to a rumor reported by Wikipedia, she had an eating disorder.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            Somehow, this is not surprising to me. It’s funny how much they repressed back in those days. I also like the scene where Bing and Danny are lip synching pretending to be “the girls” and really camping it up. I have a feeling Bing is genuinely laughing his arse off — if there are outtakes of that, I bet they are awesome.

    10. Auntie J*

      Some older Christmas movies I watch every year:
      The Shop Around the Corner (my favorite)
      Christmas in Connecticut
      Holiday Affair (it is not about an affair)
      It Happened on 5th Avenue
      Meet Me in St. Louis

      And some other not-as-old Christmas movies that might not have been mentioned:
      Christmas With the Kranks
      Deck the Halls
      Four Christmases
      Jingle All the Way
      The Holiday

    11. Carrie in Scotland*

      Mine is While You Were Sleeping with Sandra Bullock. Sometimes I go through all the Christmas themed episodes of Gilmore Girls or ER.

    12. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      For me, it’s not Christmas without Miracle on 34th Street (The version with Maureen O’Hara and Natalie Wood). I watch it every year and if it’s not on TV, that’s cool, I got the DVD years ago :-)

    13. Kara Zor-El*

      My family and I love Holiday Inn! We do cringe during the Abraham scene, though.

      Other must-watches:
      – Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
      – A Muppet Christmas Carol (light the lamp, not the rat!)
      – Mr Magoo’s Christmas Carol (I humor my dad by watching this one with him)
      – The Christmas Toy — the original Toy Story before Pixar was a gleam in anyone’s eye!)
      And any terrible Lifetime movie. I’m particularly fond of Holiday in Handcuffs with Mario Lopez and Melissa Joan Hart… Soooo cheesy!

    14. Elsajeni*

      I love White Christmas, for reasons that don’t actually have much to do with it as a movie — my dad and I are neither of us great at Feelings, but have similar taste in movies, and White Christmas is one of a bunch of movies that he introduced me to as a kid that I now register as, like, signs of love and warmth rather than just… movies. Unfortunately, my husband DETESTS it. But I now live pretty close to my parents, so I can go over there and my dad and I can watch White Christmas while my mom and my husband roll their eyes and do something else.

      Also, I don’t especially like it, but I encourage everyone to watch The Santa Clause five or six times this year! My husband had a small role in it and still gets residuals. :)

    15. So Bad It's Good*

      You can never go wrong with Santa Clause Conquers The Martians; it’s completely awful, but in a good way.

      It’s never on TV, but it’s not too hard to find online.

    16. Heartlover*

      Only on TV? I don’t always see them on the air, but try to watch all the Rankin/Bass in my collection and also any and all Christmas Carol/Scrooge versions I can. My new most FAVORITE came out in 2011: Arthur Christmas!

  27. Katie the Fed*

    Can I revive my “favorite things” post from last year, so we can all post our favorite things when looking for gift inspirations?

    OK, here we go. I love traveling and cooking, so I have lots of ideas on those :)

    For Traveling:
    Bose in-ear noise cancelling headphones
    Battery pack for charging when traveling
    Plug extension for traveling (gives you three outlets instead of just one)
    Eagle creek zippy travel bags. Incredibly useful and spill proof. I have several and we use them a lot.
    Platypus water bags/bottles- nice to fill with potable water for a day out, and they roll up nice and small. These don’t have that plastic taste either.

    Tree hugging:
    Reusable produce bags – I have Bahr Eco – they’re really great and washable. I’ve tried to completely stop using single-use plastic
    Contigo coffee mugs – love these so much

    LeCreuset 3.5 quart braiser – so beautiful and useful. Outlets have great prices.
    Kuhn Rikon garlic peeler – it’s this weird silicone tube that looks like it would never work and it totally does
    InstantPot – I’ve gotten into using a pressure cooker and love this. Also useful as a yogurt maker and slow cooker. Amazon has a great sale on them right now.
    Rosle Garlic Press – yes, it’s like $40 but the best garlic press ever.
    Potato ricer – another lovely gadget that’s so useful on Thanksgiving

    OK, that’s it off the top of my head. I would love if Santa brought me a Japanese Gyuto knife but probably not in the cards this year :)

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          I love them. I just wish I could throw the coloured ones in the dishwasher. While I don’t drink coffee, just being able to fill it with hot liquid and not burn my hand is magic.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            We have a red and a blue Contigo, and they always go in the dishwasher! Uh-oh…are they going to suddenly disintegrate?? ;)

            1. Dynamic Beige*

              The set I bought, one was plain silver metal and the other has some clear colouring on it in orange, so it looks metallic orange. There were instructions in the box that the plain ones were dishwasher safe but the coloured ones weren’t. I guess that whatever that coating is, it will crack/peel after being sent through the dishwasher. Perhaps it was just that line and other ones are more sturdy? I have found that Costco can be a place where all the “oops!” wind up — products that didn’t make it or were damaged in shipping somehow. I bought dishwasher gel that turned to water after a few months, and I thought it was a fluke. I bought another, same thing happened, so I asked the manufacturer. Turned out that lot number had accidentally frozen somewhere. “Normal” people with big families would run their dishwasher so often that there wouldn’t be time for the gel to un-gel and they wouldn’t notice.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      I do love my Le Creuset Dutch oven. That and my food processor are hands down the two wedding gifts that get the most use.

      How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. If I could have only one cookbook for the rest of my life, it would be this one.

      Jewelry from Melanie Auld. Pretty but with a bit of an edge.

      Rumble Roller foam roller. Can’t live without that thing to work all the kinks out of my back.

      1. Victoria, Please*

        How To Cook Everything plus wooden spoons and maybe mixing bowls, is my standard wedding gift! I must have given 10 copies by now. Everyone loves it.

    2. SL #2*

      I have a Contigo travel mug! I think it was like $11 (on sale, maybe?) at Target when I got it in May, but it’s been so nice for work.

      Also YES to a battery pack. Always. I bought mine before I bought my new phone, and now, even with my year-old “new” phone, it’s been a lifesaver.

    3. Merry and Bright*

      Great post!

      My favourite Christmas gifts:

      Giftcards for Lakeland (my favourite kitchenware shop).

      Amazon giftcards (there is always something else I can add to my Kindle, and there are Nina Bawden novels now available that I haven’t read yet).

      Anything from Neal’s Yard (repeats always welcome on this).

      Loose leaf tea from Fortmum & Mason (because it is Christmas). Or any really good tea for a special treat.

      A really nice notebook from Paperchase or a museum gift shop because I am always writing things down, and love collecting stationery.

    4. Soupspoon McGee*

      What a great post!

      *Powell’s gift cards (amazing NW bookstore) for those who like to touch books
      *Audible subscription for those who like books on the go
      *Netflix subscription
      *Etsy giftcard

      *Small silver hoop earrings (I wear mine almost daily; they’re my go-to when I don’t want to paw through the pretty, colorful earrings) https://www.etsy.com/listing/211973924/petite-gabriela-hammered-sterling-silver?ref=shop_home_active_9
      *Beeswax candles like these: https://www.etsy.com/shop/PeaceBlossomCandles
      *Hemp hand cream from the Body Shop

    5. ginger ale for all*

      Avon bubble bath in nice scents for me. I am a bubble bath junkie and Avon is the best one I have found yet. Good performance at a great price point.

      I would love it if my family could contribute to my Roth401k this year. I am trying Dave Ramsey’s approach and getting step 2 completed and not contributing is getting to me.

      I want a Barnes and Noble gift certificate.

      I would love a new shower curtain like the one that the hotel I stayed in recently for a business trip had. Fabric and the top part was more sheer on top and there was a more heavy duty fabric buttoned from the middle to the bottom.

      And lastly, I would love it if my boyfriend would come over and assemble my bed for me. I can’t figure it out and it seems to be a two person job. I hate sleeping on my couch and pretending that it’s fine, no big deal. So, essentially, I want a set of muscles and brains who can figure out hardware. Don’t ask how long I have been on the couch, I am now counting the months.

  28. Ruffingit*

    Where has Jamie been? Haven’t seen her for awhile, though I’ve not been able to read as thoroughly as I have before recently.

  29. mander*

    So, today is my 41st birthday. I spent a good hour this evening sitting at the kitchen table coloring in a coloring book.

    I’m not sorry.

    1. Mimmy*

      Happy birthday!

      No need to be sorry about coloring – adult coloring books has been getting popular in the past couple of years. I’ve thought of taking this up myself.

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      Happy birthday! Today is my 48th birthday. My hubby got me a jewelry armoire (as requested) and I think it’s going to be just about perfect.

  30. nep*

    Books. What do you recall as your favourite books as a young child? I’ve not looked at these in ages, but I remember absolutely adoring The Boxcar Children and The Velveteen Rabbit. (As I write this I’m thinking we may have already discussed this here…)

    1. Cruciatus*

      Ramona books, Wayside School is Falling Down/Up/Sideways, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Island of the Blue Dolphins (I remember somehow thinking this was “grown up” in some way), The BFG/Witches/Matilda, Lizzie Silver of Sherwood Forest, Encyclopedia Brown, Miss Nelson is Missing, Garfield comic books, and various Babysitter’s Club, Nancy Drew, and Boxcar Children books (though I never read the entire series for any–but I remember exactly where they all were at the old library and taking many out over the years).

      I apparently had a lot of favorites! Oh, add Phantom Tollbooth somewhere in there. But sadly, around probably 12 I started switching to more adult books (Stephen King’s Pet Sematary, for one. Not sure that ended well… But I thought I was “too grown up” for kids books at that point and yet now I read a lot of young adult and children’s books–there are way more now than back then–they’ve really improved the genre!)

      1. Stephanie*

        Ha, we had similar tastes. I started reading Stephen King as a teen, too and also enjoyed Roald Dahl. I think Island of the Blue Dolphins did feel a bit more grown up because there were multiple deaths, colonialism, etc.

        1. Lindsay J*

          I didn’t like Island of the Blue Dolphins when I read it because of the deaths, etc.

          I read it on my own, then when they assigned it as a school reading I refused. So I got to read The Egypt Game instead. I liked that one a lot more.

      2. nep*

        Oh my gosh — Ramona. I now recall Ramona the Pest. Had not thought of that book since, well, years and years ago when I read it.

      3. Doriana Gray*

        Are you me?! Seriously, almost all of your favorite books as a kid were my favorites (loved Roald Dahl and Beverly Cleary). I also started reading Stephen King novels at four (don’t worry – I probably didn’t comprehend 75% of what I read in his books so I wasn’t scarred), but I also read and loved R.L. Stine (even though he was for kids) and Christopher Pike as a kid. I think I still have the latter’s books on my shelf…have no idea what happened to my Goosebumps and Fear Street collections.

        1. Cruciatus*

          R.L. Stine! I remember thinking he was a bit too young for me (I was reading Stephen King, after all), but I actually did like them, though I thought the Goosebumps books were “too kiddie” so I only read a handful of those (I really was always a kid going on 35-years-old). I really hope when I finally go through everything in my parent’s basement that I find a hidden treasure trove of all those books I read as a kid.

          I knew if I saw the covers of Christopher Pike books I would remember them–so bright! The ones I remember reading are the Chain Letter ones.

          1. Doriana Gray*

            I think that’s why I liked Pike’s books – I’m a coverholic, and his book covers looked great to me as a kid. They looked like B movie horror posters from the ’50s.

          2. FD*

            /laugh/ I know what you mean there. I remember looking at Goosebumps books from the lofty age of eight or nine and thinking how they were clearly for little kids.

            1. Charlotte Lucas*

              I always liked Lois Duncan, who wrote for a slightly older demographic. Unfortunately, she had a tragedy in her life that makes her work more difficult to go back and read for me now.

        2. Kimberlee, Esq.*

          Christopher Pike is STILL one of my favorite authors. He just came out with a new book, actually, and is active on his Facebook page, so if being Facebook friends with your favorite childhood author is something of interest to you, look him up! :)

    2. Stephanie*

      I remember really liking Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. Which, rereading the plot summary, was kind of a heavy YA book. I don’t know what this says about Young Stephanie. I think I liked how independent the main character was.

      1. anonanonanon*

        I remember really liking that book, too! I read that one and Julie of the Wolves around the same time, and I do think I liked them because they had independent female characters. Both were pretty heavy for a YA book, though.

        1. fposte*

          They weren’t even considered YA at the time, either; we’ve gotten more conservative about what subject matter is for kids younger than YA since then.

      2. catsAreCool*

        I read Island of the Blue Dolphins for a class in maybe 5th or 6th grade. Too heavy for me, but then again, I felt that about a lot of the books I had to read for English. I remember resenting the kids who got to read one of the Three Investigator books instead – those books were fun :)

    3. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      My entire blog is devoted to looking back at the reams and reams of YA historical fiction I consumed as a kid and young teen….but besides that, I’ll second the entire works of Beverly Cleary, all of the Baby-sitter’s Club books, all the American Girl book, some (but not all) of Roald Dahl, the Enchanted Forest books, the entire collected works of L.M. Montgomery, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, the Chronicles of Narnia, Shel Silverstein’s kids’ poetry, everything by Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Giver and Number The Stars (Lois Lowry), Birchbark House, From The Mixed-Up Files Of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Pippi Longstocking, all of Judy Blume’s books, oh man, so many more!

      For picture books, I don’t really remember, but I know the Eric Carle books were a big hit, as were Madeline, Curious George, Goodnight Moon, Dr. Seuss, Strega Nona, and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.

      1. fposte*

        I’m pleased to see Birchbark House in there. Did you process that as any kind of complement to the Wilder, do you remember, or was it just cool historical stuff that you loved?

        1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

          By the time it came out and I read it, I was old enough to get that it was a parallel, but I don’t know if I would have gotten it if I had read it for the first time at seven or eight. Also I will confess that I haven’t read any of the three (!) sequels, but they’re on my list to obtain at some point!

      2. Cruciatus*

        For pictures books, the one my mom loved reading and can still remember vividly was “Stand Back,” said the Elephant, “I’m Going to Sneeze!” She still brings it up once in a while!

        Ooh yes, Number the Stars! I know for sure I still have that one around somewhere. I can still remember the part where the Nazi dogs sniff the napkin the main character is carrying that renders them unable to smell the Jewish people who are hiding on the boat.

      3. Doriana Gray*

        I loved Shel Silverstein’s poetry. I can’t wait until my niece is old enough to sit still so I can read them to her.

        Oh – and I loved the I Can Read books, especially the Amelia Bedelia books. I think I still have those on my bookshelf too (to be passed down to my niece).

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Edward Lear’s poetry also lent itself to some nice children’s book. (“The Pobble Who Has No Toes” is a good one.)

      4. Bibliovore*

        Just went to your blog. Lovely. Thanks for the shout out for Jean Little. I had one of the loveliest experiences of my life sitting next to her at the Newbery/Caldecott banquet. Her guide dog spent the evening laying on my feet. (with her permission)

        1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

          Lord, I am INSANELY jealous. That sounds like a phenomenal experience. I really do think Jean Little is an absolute treasure in Canadian literature and it’s a crime she isn’t better-known in the States and elsewhere.

      5. FD*

        Aah, the Enchanted Forest books. I didn’t find those until high school, but they’re so great. Morwen is my favorite.

      6. Charlotte Lucas*

        I had a beautiful book when I was a kid called “Everyone Knows What a Dragon Looks Like.” I loved it. Also, the lovely illustrated Russian fairy tales that my sister and I had.

    4. anonanonanon*

      Anne of Green Gables! I adored those books and then feel even more in love with the Canadian miniseries (and I still watch it every year).

      Also Little Women and Nancy Drew. I also went through a pretty heavy phase of historical fiction when I was a kid. I read a lot of pre-colonial era and Revolutionary War era books, and I remember liking The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle , Time Enough for Drums, and The Witch of Blackbird Pond the most. I also had a lot of WWII YA books and two that stick out the most are Number the Stars by Lois Lowry and Briar Rose by Jane Yolen. I ADORED the Dear America series, too.

      Looking back, I mostly read some pretty dark YA novels about female characters, but I think the 90s was a great time for female-focused YA novels and when YA really started to become mainstream. I moved onto classic lit when I was about a teenager, but I still have fond memories of the YA books I loved.

      1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        The 90s really were a time when female-focused YA started to come into its own in a non-romance setting. The Sunfire novels were 80s vintage, and it shows, but the 90s and early 2000s really started to swell the market with a ton of good, interesting fiction that didn’t necessarily have a romantic subplot or if they did, it wasn’t a major factor in the book. Like the Dear America books, actually, and all of their spinoffs. (I’m going to take a second here to mention my blog again, linked in my username, because the Dear America books are basically half of what I review all the time!)

        1. Lindsay J*

          I was just thinking of the Dear America books, but couldn’t think of the name! And I didn’t think anyone would know what “The historical fiction books about girls growing up in different time periods, that were hard cover with a ribbon bookmark and had a circular picture of the girl on the front” were.

      2. the gold digger*

        Trixie Belden series
        Caddie Woodlawn
        A Wrinkle in Time (the only book I have owned and moved since I was a kid – I still have it)
        Pippi Longstocking
        Anne Frank’s Diary

        My church had a small library that had all these biographies of women, so when I was in third grade, I read about Harriet Tubman, Babe Dietrich, and Barbara Jordan.

        1. the gold digger*

          Karen (about a girl with cerebral palsy)

          And then I, too, graduated to the adult section, where I discovered Taylor Caldwell, Arthur Hailey, Alistair MacLean, Rosemary Rogers (Sweet Savage Love was quite an education), and other pop fiction writers.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I got on a roll, sorry! :)

      –Beverly Cleary’s books, especially the Ramona books. I still have them all. :)
      –Nancy Drew, though now they bug me because stupid Nancy gets knocked in the head Every. Single. Time. You think after the first time, the great detective would learn to look behind her once in a while.
      –Charlotte’s Web.
      –I used to like and have a crapton of Trixie Belden, but I got rid of them because I couldn’t read them anymore. They’re just too goofy.
      –The Little House books. I still have them and reread them once every year or so.
      –Scary non-fiction stuff about ghosts, vampires, werewolves, etc. Ghost stories in those little Scholastic books like Boris Karloff’s Tales of Terror. This included a collection called Shudders that contained stories I still can’t read at night (The Monkey’s Paw, The Whistling Room, and something horrifying called Second Night Out.)
      –Ripley’s Believe it or Not!! I devoured those!!
      –Charlie and the Chocolate Factory/Great Glass Elevator. Though I love these to death, I didn’t fully appreciate Roald Dahl until I grew up and learned what a master of deliciously terrible irony he was, LOL.
      –The Hobbit, though not LOTR until I was older.
      –A crapton of picture books, some of which were for Catholic children about saints and such. I still have them and read them because I like the pictures. Also one of my favorite books as a child was the biography of St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower.
      –A bio of Abraham Lincoln with pictures. I liked bios; there was a series at the library and I read about Clara Barton, Eugene Fields, Florence Nightingale, and many others.
      –A ton of those old Dick and Jane readers, which I don’t have anymore and really regret getting rid of (space issues).
      –Island of the Blue Dolphins.
      –The Witch of Blackbird Pond. This one made the rounds in primary school; all the girls loved it.
      –King of the Wind, by Marguerite Henry. The story of the Godolphin Arabian!
      –Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Greene. It has a sequel, but I didn’t know it until I was an adult.
      –A book called Light A Single Candle, about a blind girl, by Beverly Butler. Also had a sequel I didn’t find until recently.
      –A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (this is one of my all-time favorite books ever).
      –Anything by Barbara Brooks Wallace.
      –Tom Sawyer.
      –Pippi Longstocking.
      –Judy Blume’s books!
      –The Winnie the Pooh books.
      –Vulpes, the Red Fox by Jean Craighead George (same author as Julie of the Wolves).
      –LASSIE COME HOME by Eric Knight. No, I am not joking; this is a fabulous book.
      –Bambi by Felix Salten. It’s very brutal. Also Bambi’s Children.
      –The Diary of Anne Frank (we had it in middle school and I’ve never stopped reading it).
      –The Ginny and Geneva series by Catherine Woolley and her other books as well.

      I have too many more to list. But these are the ones I read most frequently.

      Because my parents were readers and I had a twelfth-grade reading level in second grade, I also read stuff like Kipling (Rikki-Tikki-Tavi!), Shakespeare, my mum’s Gothic romances, the Reader’s Digest, the Wall Street Journal (not the financials), Ambrose Bierce (though I didn’t understand him until later), Gone with the Wind (read that one at twelve, after I was told not to), and novels and non-fiction books in Reader’s Digest Condensed books. Oh, and National Geographic. I was allowed special permission to check books out of the adult section of the library, but that was mostly non-fiction I read from it. I discovered horror early on, and found Stephen King, Anne Rice, and HP Lovecraft in the library. I read Frankenstein before we got to it in college and also Dracula.

      Many of the books I had as a child I still have. There’s a whole shelf of just kid stuff in the back room, including all the picture books. Oh this post has made me want to go dig them all out and read them!!!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Oh cripes, how could I forget all the books my mum had!? The Thornton W. Wilder books about animals, the Bobbsey Twins, and the Dana Girls mystery books, and Vicki Barr, airline stewardess! I actually collected a bunch of those as an adult. :)

      2. nep*

        Indeed, Charlotte’s Web. Remember liking that one.
        Later, yes, Judy Blume’s books and S.E. Hinton.

      3. Ann Furthermore*

        I read so many of these!

        Every so often, a book that I read when I was 11 or 12 (late 70’s/early 80’s) pops into my head, and I’ve tried so hard to remember what it was called and I just can’t.

        It was a spooky mystery, and it has stuck with me for all these years because it was the first book that ever really creeped me out. I don’t remember much of the plot…somehow a girl summons a ghost or an evil spirit. What I remember most are 2 pictures from the book (it had a few full page illustrations here and there). One is a figure in a black cloak walking down a deserted road, and the other is the same figure standing beside a big cauldron or something with his hands in the air, mid-spell.

        Any chance anyone here has any idea what I’m talking about?

          1. Ann Furthermore*

            OMG. It was The Figure in the Shadows, by John Bellairs. I looked it up and as soon as I saw the cover, I knew that was it. It was not the cover from your link, but another version.

            THANK YOU!!! I have been wondering on and off about this for years!

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I remember seeing those but I never read them. I should go back and do so!

              Also, I looked in the bookcase today and found the Dick and Jane books! I got rid of some other readers I had, and I thought those were gone too, but they’re not! :D

      4. F.*

        I read Gone With the Wind at age 12, too! I also had special permission to check out books from the adult section of the library at a very early age. After GWTW, I discovered James Michener and read everything of his I could get my hands on. I also read R. F. Delafield (not sure about the spelling), a British author. We were poor, so I didn’t own many books as a child, but I still have my Laura Ingalls Wilder books. My ancestors were pioneers in Kansas, so I grew up hearing stories of those days.

      5. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        Hahaha, you’re like the only other person I know who has read Summer of My German Soldier! I picked it up randomly; my older sister was obsessed with books, and had just boxes and boxes of them, and I’d occasionally rifle around and find one whose cover looked interesting. Also how I discovered Vonnegut, incidentally.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          It was also a TV movie starring Kristy McNichol (remember her?) and Bruce Davison. I can’t remember if I saw the movie first or read the book first. I might have seen the movie and then gotten the book from the Scholastic flyer. I do think I bought it in school.

          The sequel, if you’re at all interested, is called Morning is a Long Time Coming.

    6. Liz in a Library*

      As an early reader, the Dorrie the Little Witch books! It pains me that they aren’t more widely read. Physically pains me. Later on, I loved Hillaire Belloc’s Cautionary Tales and Verses.

      Once I got to chapter books, BSC all the way! :) Also Charlotte Sometimes, the Little House books, and Mary Downing Hahn!

      1. katamia*

        Oh, man, Hilaire Belloc. I had Rebecca memorized as a child (am actually pretty sure I could still do it from memory if pressed) and actually recited it for the elementary school talent show one year. I was this tiny little girl gleefully talking about a girl getting killed by a statue, lol. WTF, parents?

        I was a huge BSC fan, too.

      2. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        That reminded me of a book some relative gave me as a kid, called Little Witch by Anna Elizabeth Bennet–I loved it, and it was a funny little story about a little witch girl who wanted to be normal. Originally published in 1953, I must have gotten one of the reprint editions in the 90s, but it was so cute!

      3. Arjay*

        Dorrie! With the mismatched socks! I also loved the Jenny the Cat series and the McBrooms.
        And I can still recite from memory The Chief Defect of Henry King.

    7. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      Island of the Blue Dolphins. I’ve read it at least 20 times. And i do not re-read books.

    8. skyline*

      I’ll try to limit myself to things that I read in elementary school. I reread books a lot when I was growing up, since I was fortunate to grow up in a house with lots of books. I was also already starting to read adult fiction, especially mysteries, in fifth grade or so (like Agatha Christie), but I also still read plenty of middle-grade and YA as a tween/teen (L. M. Montgomery, Christopher Pike, etc.).

      The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
      The Trumpet of the Swan, Charlotte’s Web, and Stuart Little by E. B. White.
      The Velveteen Rabbit.
      The BFG, The Witches, and Matilda by Dahl.
      The Phantom Tollbooth by Juster.
      A Wrinkle in Time by L’Engle.
      The Incredible Journey by Burnford.
      The Westing Game by Raskin.
      From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by Konigsberg.
      The Chronicles of Prydain and Westmark Trilogy by Lloyd Alexander.
      The Dark is Rising series by Cooper.

      I, um, also read articles in our junior Encyclopedia Brittanica for fun, mostly biographical articles of presidents. I don’t know why! But I read and then re-read them. Maybe it was all preparation for understanding the musical Hamilton today!

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        Oh man, I read SO MANY Agatha Christie books in elementary school. Hercule Poirot was my favorite. Of course, I never, ever figured out the mystery before it was revealed. It was still fun!

    9. Nina*

      Yay, book post! I was a huge bookworm and very into series, so I read a lot of Ramona Quimby, Alice McKinley, Anastasia Krupnik, Baby-sitters Club, Boxcar Children, and American Girl.

      It’s interesting to view these books as an adult. I give Ramona a lot of credit for basing a lot of their stories about a blue-collar family who constantly had money issues. I thought a Crock Pot was something they made up for the series, I was shocked to learn it was real!

      Alice McKinley dealt with a lot of interesting themes (divorce, suicide, periods, etc) although I didn’t complete it. But I know it had a happy ending. :)

      Honestly, Baby-Sitters Club doesn’t hold up well, and I say this as someone who devoured those books. They’re not poorly written, just…kind of stuck in time. The first 20 pages are the same in every book and I feel like it took several books for something concrete to happen. Some of the stories are just painfully corny and the characters get more two-dimensional as the series progressed. The California Diaries were quite good, though. You could tell they were trying to “adult” things a bit.

      American Girl will always have a special place in my heart. It’s amazing how much I learned about history from reading those books. I also pored through those catalogues every month, even though I didn’t buy anything. The products were expensive then, and they’re expensive now, lol.

      But I feel that it really lost that magic once Pleasant Rowland sold the company to Mattel. They’ve implemented some good things (more diverse dolls and cultural aspects for example) but Mattel downplayed the historical aspect in favor of more current trends, and the historical characters made the series special, imo. I was aging out the series by the time the company was sold, but it didn’t matter because I didn’t care about the “American girl of today” anyway. I probably sound like an old grump, but it’s so commercialized. That said, it’s fascinating to see so many little girls carting the dolls around now when they seemed to be so “rare” when I was a child.

      Books I could NOT get into: The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and Harriet the Spy. Nothing against them, they just didn’t connect with me, although they were huge favorites of my classmates.

      Also, didn’t care the Wrinkle In Time series. At least not enough to finish it. The scientific aspect is incredible, but honestly, Meg Murry was such an annoying protagonist and that pretty much kept me away from the rest of the books.

      1. katamia*

        Oh, Samantha was my favorite American Girl growing up. I still probably have her books somewhere.

        And the BSC books don’t hold up well at all, but it’s kinda fun to look through them and marvel at all the weird logic/non-logic that went into them.

        1. Stephanie*

          Yeah, Claudia’s outfits sound absurd now. I’m also sad American Girl lost its more edgy side–I thought the Addy books did a great job of explaining the horrors of slavery, but still making it kid-appropriate (I remember her having to eat a bug).

          1. katamia*

            Replying super late so I don’t know if you’ll see this, but, yeah, American Girl was my first exposure to the concept of child labor and, like you said, what slavery was really like (other than “bad,” which I was taught in school but which was rather vague).

        2. Nina*

          Samantha was my favorite as well, followed by Addy. I wanted all their accessories!

          And I know I went on a tangent about BSC, lol. I really did love them, but wow, those girls went through so much at 13.

        1. Nina*

          Thank you for the link! I don’t know if I would have described the original AG as radical, but the article does detail a lot of the issues once the company was sold. I still remember reading about the horrors of WWII from Molly’s books, Addy being forced to eat the worms off the tobacco leaves, Felicity rescuing her horse from the abusive Jiggy Nye, etc. And as a kid you don’t realize you’re learning anything, but that stuff still sticks with me as an adult. I think the last historical character that really impressed me was Josefina. Even though Mattel is clearly making $$$ from the franchise, it really is to the detriment of the series that they have taken it in such a different direction.

          IA about Claudia. She could have worn a trash bag with tissue boxes for shoes and the girls would have claimed it to be high fashion. Oh, youth.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Historical stuff, I love it. I totally forgot to mention the books of Lois Lenski, who wrote a series of books about kids in very specific cultural settings, such as the Florida settlers, Amish kids, a prairie family, and one called Indian Captive about Mary Jamison, who was taken by a Native American tribe during a raid and who lived with them for years (true story).

            I read a bunch of the American Girls books; wasn’t there a Titanic one?

            1. Nina*

              I probably would have liked those books a lot, had I known about them.

              I don’t recall a Titanic-themed AG book, but there were other similar historical series that emerged once AG got really popular. “Dear America” had a Titanic book. Perhaps that’s the one you’re thinking of?

    10. katamia*

      The Chronicles of Narnia. I’ve probably read them hundreds of times, if not thousands.

      Also D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths and Norse Gods and Giants. I read the Greek myth one literally to pieces, and was well on my way to doing the same to the Norse one.

    11. Carrie in Scotland*

      Can’t believe nobody has mentioned Sweet Valley High!

      But also:
      Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys
      Classics such as Little Women, Secret Garden/Little Princess, Black Beauty, What Katy Did etc
      Goosebumps, Point Horror/Crime/Romance, Chris Pike
      The Chalet School series (I still read these, they are quite collectible now)

      I remember reading my mum’s copy of Flowers in the Attic when I was 12 or 13 (and subsequent sequels until I realised that almost all of them were the same). I was another child who had their library access upgraded to ‘adult’ early as I’d read everything in the children’s section.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        I know! I read ALL the Sweet Valleys… the Kids in elementary school, Twins in Junior High, of course Sweet Valley High, and I read a bunch of the University ones too. Loved them all!

        1. Nina*

          I remember the University series. There was a roommate story that was basically the script of Single White Female, lol. Just without the sex and stilettos.

    12. Merry and Bright*

      By title and author:

      Carrie’s War
      Ballet Shoes
      The Diddakoi
      Charlie and the Chocolate Factory/The Great Glass Elevator
      Susan Coolidge
      E Nesbit
      L M Montgomery
      Fantastic Mr Fox
      Just William
      The Secret Seven Books

      I could go on…

    13. Aussie Teacher*

      Did anyone else read and love The Brothers Lionheart or Ronia the Robber’s Daughter by Astrid Lindgren (yes, the Pippi Longstocking author)?
      They touched me so deeply as a child – beautiful storylines but some deep themes of loss & betrayal and loyalty and love – gosh they are wonderful.

    14. Ask a Manager* Post author

      In addition to pretty much everything others have mentioned, I loved (and still love) E Nesbit (Five Children and It, The Enchanted Castle, etc.), and also Edward Eager, who was more of a modern-day Nesbit (Half Magic, Seven Day Magic, etc.). I loved how in Edward Eager’s books, the kids were always reading E. Nesbit.

      Also, the 21 Balloons by William Pene du Bois, which I believe to be one of the greatest kids’ books ever and still charms and delights me when I re-read it now. Fposte, I know you work with children’s books — I would love your take on that book.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        E. Nesbit is mentioned in “Skinny Malinky Rides Again,” the sequel to “The War Between the Pitiful Teachers and the Splendid Kids.” Both are great books, written by a teacher, but I think they might be out of print.

    15. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I’m so shocked that nobody has mentioned Choose your Own Adventure! I owned like ALL of them. They were amazing!

    16. Soupspoon McGee*

      I loved Ramona the Pest.

      I really got into Alfred Hitchcock’s Three Investigators series, and when I asked the librarian for more, she led me Alfred Hitchcock in the adult horror and mystery section, so I blame her for how I turned out :-).

      Now my niece and nephew love Blumpoe the Grumpoe Meets Arnold the Cat, Rudyard Kipling’s Just So stories, and various Dr. Suess (“But not in the stupid voices!”). I always do the stupid voices.

    17. Alistair*

      One of my favorites was (still is) My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead Moore. I bet I’ve read that book over a hundred times. The sequel was just ok.

      Also the Hardy Boys, pretty much everything by John Belairs, the Bunnicula series, and any and every book with dinosaurs.

    18. FD*

      Little Princess was the first chapter book I ever read on my own. I think I was about 7? I was a very precocious reader, and I know I’d read everything in my parents house that was even slightly age appropriate by the time I was 8 (at which point I started in on a box of back issues of the Readers’ Digest).

      Other than that, some of the favorites I remember included:

      – Anne of Green Gables
      – AA Milne, including Winnie the Pooh and various poetry collections
      – Wrinkle in Time, Wind in the Door, and Swiftly Tilting Planet
      – Chronicles of Narnia (I attempted the Space Trilogy, but they were a bit over my head at the time)
      – Phantom Tollbooth
      – Nancy Drew (the original 60ish books)

      I didn’t discover Animorphs until I was in 7th grade or so, but I was totally hooked once I did!

      1. Nina*

        Oh, snap. Can’t believe I forgot Animorphs. That was everything when I was a kid. It’s so dark but so well-written. For a series about guerilla warfare, alien invasions, family dynamics, death and destruction, they really tailored it well for a kid to understand.

        The TV show was meh, but I can’t blame them. It’s technically a kids series so it was styled as a typical kid show, but none of the darker themes translated well. If it was ever revived (and it probably will be) it would be amazing on SyFy or even HBO.

    19. Felicia*

      I loved the Boxcar children! I also liked the Chrestomanci series, Half Magic by Edward Eager, Roald Dahl. I went through a big Nancy Drew phase when I was 9 or so (and did a 30 page Nancy Drew research paper in university!), and had an Agatha Christie phase around the same time.

    20. Victoria, Please*

      I love all the stuff everyone’s said already. But by the time I was 9, I was reading “Roots” over my mom’s shoulder. At 12, it was “The Good Earth,” and “Gone with the Wind.”


    21. Lindsay J*

      Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary
      Wayside School
      The Baby Sitter’s Club
      Pine Hollow (about girls that liked horses and worked at a riding stable)
      Thoroughbred (about girls that like horses that work with racehorses)
      The Egypt Game
      Bridge to Terabithia
      Roald Dalh
      Maniac McGee
      Dear America
      Sweet Valley Twins
      Babysitter’s Little Sisters (before I was old enough for the real Baby Sitter’s Club books)
      Misty of Chincoteague and the rest of the books in that series
      The Black Stallion and spin-offs (can you tell I liked horses?) lol
      Anne Rice (why did my parents let me read this?)
      Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories
      The Something Queer series (they were mysteries, titled things like “Something Queer at the Library”.
      Weetzie Bat etc by Francisca Lia Block

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        If you mention Bunnicula, I have to add Frankenstein’s Aunt, which came with it as part of a three-book set in the 70s. (I think the other book was the Bunnicula sequel.)

    22. Charlotte Lucas*

      Any takers for “All of a Kind Family” or “The Bridge to Terebithia”? Also, I discovered E.M. Delafield’s Provincial Lady books in high school and they are still my go-to feel-happy reading.

  31. Stephanie*

    So update on the computer thing from last week…I just ended up replacing it. The quotes I got for replacing the LCD (I have a touch screen, so the digitizer plus labor wasn’t cheap) were close to the same price as a replacement machine. *sigh* I couldn’t get the repair covered via the credit card or through Costco. I also couldn’t find the right replacement part (Alibaba had the model I was looking for, but I had to buy at least five since it was only being sold wholesale and the five would have taken a month to arrive from China…) My mom said she’d split the cost with me. (I did purchase the accidental damage protection this time…)

    Er, so what should I do with the “old” laptop? It still works well, just needs the new screen. I am toying with eBay and just selling cheaply with the caveat that it has the cracked screen. Anyone done this? There’s not much on it, but how I would I ensure everything’s off it?

    1. Doriana Gray*

      You could try selling it on Amazon or maybe donating it? I’m interested in responses to this too since I’m still housing a laptop I no longer use and don’t have a clue what to do with it.

    2. Audiophile*

      I’ve sold a bunch of “old” and “broken” things on Amazon. I sold my broken LG G3 on Swappa. (I don’t think they will let you list laptops.) Amazon is really easy to work with, for buying and selling. You can easily search for your model and see if they sell it, if so they’ll let you list it without any issues. The only downside is their shipping prices, they don’t really account for weight, so I usually list a little higher to make up the difference.

      I’d definitely do Amazon over ebay. I discovered when trying to sell the G3, that I’d have to wait up to a month to get my funds, because they wouldn’t release them without the buyer confirming they’d received it. Maybe this was because I had a new account, but I wasn’t comfortable waiting that long. I’ve had no trouble selling items on Amazon, just sold my XTi sans battery with no problem.

      1. November*

        If you’ve never sold anything on Amazon before, there is also a wait to get funds released (up to 90 days rolling reserve on new accounts). Also, Amazon doesn’t permit “broken” stuff to be listed on the Marketplace (it’s against Marketplace condition policies), so something that needs a replacement screen is technically not allowed.

    3. Cambridge Comma*

      Have you considered hooking it up to an external monitor or a TV and using it e.g. a media centre? Might get more out of it that way than the cash you coukd get selling it online. Second hand monitors are pretty cheap these days.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, I thought about it, but I don’t have the space (and we have a Roku already). May still consider that if I don’t find a suitable place to donate or sell it.

  32. Getting Rid of Bad Habits*

    I am currently working on getting rid of my bad habits, and it has not been easy. My bad habits include procrastination, impulsiveness, being too quiet, etc.

    For the steps to help break my bad habits, I am thinking of first identifying why I am making these habits, then finding out is there any triggers that make me fall into the habits, and recording various trial-and-error results of trying out methods to change these habits and see which ones work for me.

    If there anything else that I should consider while forming a plan to getting rid of bad habits?

    So far I am finding myself falling off the wagon a lot.

    1. DebbieDebbieDebbie*

      If I have ever been successful in changing a habit, it has been through changing my behavior in small, practical and thoughtful ways rather than thinking about the underlying motivation to my bad habit. For instance: procrastination- Make a to-do list every morning while I drink my coffee. Messiness- make the bed every morning. Nail biting- rub cuticle oil every morning and evening.
      None of these little behaviors are the end of the bad habit but they lead to other behaviors that help me to get a handle on the problem. Whereas if I think about root causes, I end up calling myself lazy and awful in my head and get stalled.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Just my opinion and what I have found in myself- so feel free to take it or leave it. My habits usually develop for more than one reason. My habits serve some purpose- albeit shortsighted, not well thought out, perhaps detrimental in the long run, etc, these habits do serve an immediate purpose of some sort.

      It takes some doing to collect up all the reasons why I have a particular habit. So I have to go one reason at a time and rethink/rework that reason. I had a big soda habit. BIG. For health reasons, I had to quit with the soda. OH Boy! The first thing I did was add in better foods and more water. (Sometimes you have to add something into the mix before you can remove something.) Then I started backing down from soda. I decided not to keep it in the house, but if I was out and wanted a soda that was okay. (This gave me wriggle room to allow some failures.) Well, sometimes I did not have time to pick up a soda or did not have cash on me or whatever. So I started buying less and less even when I was out. I started realizing that soda was my “beer”. I did not drink and this was kind of a way to kick back and relax for a short bit. I added in more breaks in my day, short spells of down time. I found myself drinking even less soda. THEN, I noticed that I felt crappy for days after drinking one soda. How come I never noticed before? Not sure. Finally, I just lost interest in having a soda, it takes me ten minutes to drink it then I feel lousy for three days. Not worth it.

      Be sure to add something into your mix that will support your endeavor to kick your old habit. Start by adding something, but not subtracting anything. I think this is an important step because it helps give a sense of self-worth and of feeling your own self-respect.

      Anticipate that as you go along you will get more insight as to why you are doing Old Habit and you will figure out a new responses to that newly exposed reason as you go along. Your plan should flex to fit the new insights.

      Build it into your plan that there will be days that you fail. Just make that part of your plan. Each day is a clean slate, start again. It doesn’t matter that you fell of the wagon, what actually matters is that you start up again IN SPITE of falling off the wagon. Congratulate yourself for jumping right back on the wagon because that IS an accomplishment.

    3. Tex*

      Read “The Power of Habit”. Explains how to identify the trigger points and the “rewards” we seek and how to use substitutes. Really helped a lot.

    4. Roly Poly Little Bat Faced Girl*

      Another book suggestion, although I haven’t finished the book myself yet (about 2/3 done): “Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives” by Gretchen Rubin. You might find some useful tips in there.

  33. Cruciatus*

    I’m taking the weekend to catch up on important things like…Fargo Season 2. Everyone is in this! Jeffrey Donovan! Jean Smart! Jesse Plemons! Brad Garrett! Colonel Tigh! Kirsten Dunst! Ted Danson! One of the Culkins! The Mother! No sophomore slump here. But I wish I had been watching the episodes weekly because all this intensity is not great (for me) for watching so many episodes in a short time period.

    What are you all enjoying lately? I think next will be to finish Man in the High Castle on Amazon.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Ooh, I really want to see Fargo. I saw the first episode of Sn. 1 on the flight over to London in April and meant to finish it coming back, but it wasn’t in the entertainment listing! Grr!

    2. Carrie in Scotland*

      The Leftovers (still to start S2)
      The Bridge (Swedish/Danish police drama)
      How to get away with murder

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        Aaaaah The Bridge is sooo good. It’s in my top 3 or so for “best TV dramas ever made, including The Wire.”
        Have you seen the American version? It’s a pretty close retelling, so you’ll know most of the big plot points, but I thought it was great. Sonia is not as good at Saga, but I think I might have liked American Martin (can’t remember his name) better than Dutch Martin.

        1. Carrie in Scotland*

          Not seen the US version yet. Maybe when the 3rd series has finished here I’ll give it a go.

    3. katamia*

      I’ve been rewatching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and The Office, and then after that it’ll probably be Jessica Jones or a Bollywood binge.

      1. anonanonanon*

        Jessica Jones is AMAZING. It’s really dark and heavy, but it’s absolutely fabulous and, in my opinion, the best thing Marvel Cinematic Universe has done. Their Netflix shows are blowing most of their movies out of the water.

    4. Mkb*

      Fargo season 2 is sosososo good. My husband and I both walk around talking in Minnesota accents for days after each episode.

    5. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      If ya’ll aren’t watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine, you should! It’s the best workplace comedy since The Office.

      I’ve been binge-watching Going Deep with David Rees, that’s a pretty fun show.

      I was watching Empire but I just totally lost interest. It’s a bunch of bad people doing bad things, and a handful of OK people slowly (or quickly) turning into bad people. There’s nobody to root for anymore, and I just don’t care what happens to any of the characters.

      Oh! And You’re The Worst. I’m loving that show.

  34. Swoop*

    fposte – wanted to thank you for the links to the article on the English language and being polite you posted last week/the week before! They’ve been fascinating reading :)

    1. fposte*

      Oh, I’m glad! I’m basically a version of the grandma with a ton of email forwards, I think; I can’t resist posting links to stuff I enjoyed.

      1. Kali*

        I hate to ask you to repost, but I’ve been searching all weekend for the link to the polite article and can’t find it. I glanced at it when you posted, but didn’t have time to read it and, apparently, forgot to save the link. Help?

  35. Graciosa*

    Does anyone have any casual game recommendations? Lately, these have been a (mindless) break from work.

    This weekend, I’ve been working on parts of the Delicious series (I just finished Emily’s Childhood Memories and am moving on to Emily’s Home Sweet Home). Before that, I was toying with Megaplex Madness 2 (you can see the definite time management theme here).

    I have also done hidden object games, but while I enjoy the hidden object scenes, I tend to get irritated at some of the other story or puzzle elements (how the heck are you supposed to know that you can use the rooster weather vane to retrieve the necklace from the pond?).

    If anyone else is willing to admit to playing these, I’d love to know what you enjoy in the casual gaming category.

    1. periwinkle*

      I’m a Big Fish Games veteran – the oldest game that shows up in my Purchase History (which I believe had been reset at some point in their history) is Mystery Case Files: Ravenhurst purchased in October 2007. I don’t even want to think about how much money I’ve spent with them over the years… Anyway, I love time management games but not the frantic click style (which I think of as the “Diner Dash-esque” style). My addiction is the strategic kind. Favorite series in that line: Monument Builders; The Timebuilders; Green City; The Tiny Tale; Royal Envoy; and Build-a-Lot. I also love the hidden object/adventure games – anything from Blue Tea Games is a favorite (Enlightenus and the sequel, plus the amazing Dark Parables series). Oh, and match-3 type games like the Fishdom series. And nonograms! World Mosaics is my favorite series of anything since I can play just one game and stop.

      1. Neruda*

        I loved Royal Envoy and Build a Lot. I feel like I haven’t been able to find anything recently that I’ve enjoyed as much. I wish they’d release new versions!

    2. Delyssia*

      I play them, but I’m not sure if I have recommendations in line with what you like… I’ve barely tried any of the time management ones and just could NOT get into it. I tend to like the hidden object/adventure ones, particularly ones that don’t seem too linear in the gameplay/storyline. I totally get the frustration at not knowing that you should use the weather vane to get the necklace out of the pond, but I bring at least a little of it on myself, since I turn off pretty much all help in the game.

      So while my recommendations may not help much, here are a few of the series that I’ve found to be really well done… Mystery Case Files–several of the games are not really directly linked (though you’re technically playing the same detective character in all of them), but they’ve also got a few in the “Ravenhearst” sub-series. The older ones are more heavily hidden object and a little more linear, but they’ve evolved over time.

      Dark Parables: these are pretty loosely linked, though like in MCF, you’re playing the same character (again, a detective) throughout. The games in this series are all twists/retellings of various fairy tales, which I enjoy.

      Awakening: this one went through a few games to completely wrap up the storyline, and then they came out with another game or two afterward that were more tenuously linked. A human princess with no magic has to save the kingdom from magical enemies.

      Those are all storyline ones, which can be fun to replay after some time has gone by, but I don’t tend to want to replay the same game again right away (while I’m guessing that time management games you might want to play again to do better). So some games with more immediate replay value: Bejeweled, Cubis, various solitaire variants.

      Once upon a time, I would’ve referred you to the general forums at Bigfishgames, but they’ve done away with those (now they only have forums for individual games). I was never particularly active in their forums, but it was a good source for recommendations. I don’t know if there’s anything else out there like that now.

    3. katamia*

      Kongregate is a good site with lots of different games on it for you to try. My personal favorite there is Continuity, but it doesn’t seem to be all that similar to the games you mention so I don’t know if you would like it.

    4. bkanon*

      I love casual games! I especially like anything with a garden/farming or fashion theme. Gardens Inc, Farm Up, JoJos Fashion Show.

      Buildalot, Diner Dash, Wandering Willows. Patchworkz. (I’m trying to remember what’s on the desktop in addition to the laptop LOL). Too many! But I give highest marks to anything from Big Fish. Great quality, good gameplay.

  36. Little Teapot*

    My partner and I are both obsessed with (USA) The Office, and a few months ago we discovered that there are Monopoly & Clue versions of The Office!! We purchased them for large amounts of money, waited patiently for them to be shipped, I waited patiently for my partner to come back from Europe and finally FINALLY last night we opened the boxes together and played both! Man it was incredible. So much fun. So much thought when into crafting both games it was incredible. The only problem now is we are both so anal and wanting to keep them in perfect condition we don’t want anyone else to play haha. We are both game junkies and have various versions of Monopoly. Anyone else like The Office? That’s what she said!! :D

      1. dragonzflame*

        You’re in luck then – it ran for two seasons, plus I think there were three? Christmas specials.

  37. Lionness*

    I’m just really, really sad at the news of last night/today. I wish there was real hope that we’d make a change in this country.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I know. :( But I think all the unrest is signaling a shift. Things often get very riled up before they change—think about the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. Granted, we really should have been further along by now, but I think the internet helps because information can spread faster, good as well as bad.

      1. Lionness*

        I just worry the shift will be for the worse. It is hard to say what will happen but I’ll say this: we’re in a dark time and I think this election will be very telling for where we are headed.

          1. Lionness*

            Now that I do believe. The key will be getting those good folks out to the voting booth in twelve months. Here’s hoping!

            1. SaraV*

              There are good people on the left, right, and in-between. Just because someone may have a different political leaning from you doesn’t make them bad.

        1. mander*

          I worry the same. Being overseas I’m a bit removed from things, but that PP shooting was in my home town. :-(

          I don’t think that people with different political leanings from me are bad people, necessarily, but I’m very worried about the extreme polarized opinions, the proliferation of guns and gun violence, the utter lack of respect for scientific knowledge, the racism, etc. Heck I live in one of Europe’s prime terrorist targets and I feel safer here than I do when I visit my parents back home.

    2. Weekend Warrior*

      There are some uniquely American problems in the current and other cases but no country is immune from murderous individuals. The terrible massacre in Norway for one, and here in Canada we’re coming up to the anniversary of a horrible event, the 1989 murder of 14 young women engineering students in Montreal – https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/École_Polytechnique_massacre

      It seems our societies take two steps forward and one step back always. But we must not lose faith that we are moving forward.

      1. CMT*

        Yeah, but in both those cases they were really, truly unusual events. This kind of thing happens in the U.S. every week, and that is not an exaggeration.

  38. Mimmy*

    Had a lovely Thanksgiving with my family. Some random thoughts:

    -My sister is so extraordinarily insightful. She is the only other person besides my husband who really “gets” me and all my quirks.
    -As a short person, almost all of my 9 nieces and nephews are taller than me, even the 11-14 year olds!! The 9-year olds will probably have me beat by next year.
    -There are WAY too many people on this planet!!! Traffic was an absolute nightmare coming home from Boston today!

    Looking forward to relaxing the rest of the weekend.

    1. Clever Name*

      Awww. I hope you’ll tell your sister that someday soon. I’m sure she’d love to hear it. :)

      So how tall are you? I’m 5 ft 3 in, and my 9 year old is about collarbone height on me (but he’s on the shorter end himself, poor guy)

    2. Sara*

      I think the problem might just be that there are too many people in Boston/the Boston metro area. Traffic was much worse than usual, for me at least, this whole week.

      1. Mimmy*

        It was ridiculous!! But not just in Boston – driving through Connecticut and New York state was bad too.

      2. anonanonanon*

        It’s gotten increasingly worse in the past few years. This is why I either stay int he city and take the T to a Friendsgiving or leave early Thursday morning and return Thursday night (I’ve never had traffic then) because driving anywhere on other days is a gridlock nightmare.

  39. Anon & Lonely*

    Sorry this is so long but a little back story is necessary.

    During the Thanksgiving thread I was reading about how many of you prefer to spend the holiday with friends instead of family. Now I TOTALLY get it because my Thanksgiving sucked.

    I was in a mood before leaving the house due to special things I had to do in order to appease my mother which made me feel resentful. Then I get there only for her to make a passive aggressive comment indicating I hadn’t done enough. I ignored it like I always do because in my family no one ever sees your side of things so saying something starts world war 3 (aka it’s not worth it so I do a lot of tongue biting). Then she kept getting on my father’s case like she always does. It’s so irritating. He’s not perfect by ANY means but he can’t do a single thing right in her eyes and she has to make sure to point it out EVERY SINGLE TIME. This has been going on for as long as I can remember. I begged them to get a divorce when I was a kid because I just can’t understand why two people who hate each other so much want to stay married. Anyway…

    On top of that my youngest brother was there and for reasons I am not privy to, has had no desire to speak to me since the beginning of the year. He’s ignored my texts so I stopped reaching out. Nothing happened between us, but he’s held resentment against me ever since I can remember. I’m several years older and he took my moving out personally. He told me he wanted to have a closer relationship so I’ve had him over several times over the past few years and invited him and his girlfriend to do things with my husband and me but he’s never reciprocated even when I find out later he was literally minutes from my house at a place he knows I enjoy visiting (he lives with our parents over an hour away). When we would hang out he’d stay late so it’s not like he didn’t have a good time. So I really don’t get it. But he has barely spoken to me this year any time we’d visit my parents (he mostly speaks to my husband).

    Needles to say, I left Thanksgiving dinner feeling depressed. Everything just hit me at once – my parents always arguing and talking shit about each other in front of me (even when I was a child), my brother shunning me, no one in my family ever being supportive of me, etc. At that moment I decided I don’t want to spend Christmas with these people.

    But I don’t have the kind of friends many of you do so Christmas at home would just be me and my husband… and that feels so lonely to me. I wish I had a group of friends to hang out with occasionally. I’m an introvert so social interaction once or twice a month is all I need, but I can’t even get that. The few friends we do have all have family obligations and I can barely get them to hang out even on non-holidays.

    Also, I’m not even sure why the brother thing upsets me so much – he’s such a narcissist who’s never shown ANY interest in my life so he wasn’t the best company anyway. But it still hurts when I’ve always bent over backwards for him.

    I guess I’m just tired of being dismissed by people. I show interest in others and let them dominate the conversation to the point where I’ll let them go on and on with their stories but when I try to talk I get cut off. They come to my house for game nights and gush about what a great time they had, but they never reciprocate. I’m tired of feeling lonely!!!

    Don’t get me wrong, I have my husband, who thankfully is my best friend or I’d really be screwed, but it would be nice to have friends too and a family who treated me (and each other) more considerately. It has really depressed me to the point where I hid everyone on my Facebook feed because it was making me even sadder seeing everyone so happy and together while I sit here feeling like no one but my husband truly cares about me.

    I’m tired of friends saying they miss me but when I try to schedule even a lunch to catch up the excuses immediately come out. So clearly they are empty words. Social media is not an adequate replacement for face time in a friendship!

    Anyway, I don’t know what I’m looking for by posting this. Maybe to know I’m not the only one who feels this way? Because right now I’m feeling very broken.

    1. WinterE*

      I’m lucky that I largely get along well with my family, so nothing there personally. But I do know many people who do consider family holidays an obligation/chore for similar reasons. You’re not alone, and I hope you find other people to spend the holidays with. (Is your husband’s family an option?)

      But I did want to add, re: Facebook, that with social media, you have to remember that everyone always presents the best side of their life. They’re not going to put the shouting match they got into with their mother, or the fact their sister didn’t come because she’s not talking to their parents anymore. (They might say: “She just couldn’t make it this year, and we really missed her! But work, you know?”) Or even if there aren’t huge, serious problems, it doesn’t mean it was all drama free. I’ve mostly enjoyed the holidays, but my sister has rather pissed me off more than once this weekend with her snide comments. It didn’t blow up, because I’ve gotten much better at not engaging her as I’ve gotten older, and realizing it’s more crabbiness than cruelty, but it still hurt, and was a damper on the festivities, to the point I wished I were home chilling with my roommate a few times. But none of that will ever show up on Facebook.

      Basically, nothing is as perfect as it seems on social media. And with so much of life increasingly presented that way, I think it increasingly helps to remember that everyone is always putting their best stuff out there, not the whole sum of it.

      1. Clever Name*

        Definitely. Facebook is the highlight reel of people’s lives. A personal example: we are really struggling with our son right now. We have multiple appointments with therapists and psychiatrists, and we’re about to add another into the mix. I’m in therapy for various things, and all of this puts a real strain on our marriage. But do I post about all of that on Facebook? Of course not! We post photos of us going on hikes and of our nice-looking thanksgiving table and funny things the kid says. I’m not posting this for a pity party or a “I have it worse” contest, but to illustrate that everyone has shit they’re dealing with, and we all post the best aspects of our lives on Facebook

        1. Anon & Lonely*

          Oh, I totally get the whole highlight reel of Facebook. We all do it. I was just using that as an example of just how thoroughly hurt I am by everyone hanging out and not inviting me to participate. I’m ALWAYS the organizer for get togethers (if they happen at all) and it would be nice to receive some reciprocation sometimes.

      2. Anon & Lonely*

        I wish my husband’s family was an option because a) they love me and I love them and b) they are far more supportive than my family. Unfortunately they live several states away and we are not game for holiday travel, although we are planning to travel to see them next year.

    2. Clever Name*

      From reading this, it sounds like your family is a bunch of jerks and you need new friends. My husband and I have spent plenty of Christmases just the two of us. I wonder if reframing it in your mind as cozy rather than lonely would help. And being a little lonely may be the better deal than being with family that treats you like crap.

      1. Yetanotherjennifer*

        Yes, this! If you think of if as sad and lonely then it will be. Look at it as a chance to celebrate *your* Christmas. Eat the foods you want, start some goofy traditions, get some fun Christmas music, go to some sort of holiday performance, etc. It may be a bit awkward at first but worth it, I think. Or do an un Christmas and go to a movie and eat Chineese food. Check and see if any organizations are doing a community meal and go to that. You’ll meet lots of people in the same boat and maybe some friends.

        You know, I’ve often thought about the fact that if we had chosen a different town when we moved to this area I’d have almost a completely different set of friends. Not that i don’t love the ones I have, but rather that they’re all due to choices of geography and activities. I’m not suggesting you move, but maybe start a monthly tradition of you and your husband (and sometimes just you) doing things and going places outside your habits. It will get you around different people and you’ll probably find some you click better with. I think most of what’s left with your friends who don’t have time for you is nostalgia. Plus you’ll get experience trying new things and some great shared memories.

        1. Anon & Lonely*

          That community meal thing sounds good. Thanks for the suggestion!

          One year we did go to the movies on Christmas (although we still celebrated with my family as they do Christmas Eve) but would you believe that all the Chinese places where we live were closed? What a disappointment (we both loooooove Chinese)!

          I agree that location definitely plays a part. My husband and I have talked about moving to a different state for years now. I was hesitant to leave family but at this point I’m not feeling so sad about the thought anymore. Every year I feel more like I need a change. I’ve lived in the same state my entire life and I’m growing tired of the same old landscape.

      2. Anon & Lonely*

        When I read your first sentence my knee-jerk reaction was “that’s not very nice, nor helpful!” but you know what? You are absolutely right! My family IS a bunch of jerks and I DO need new friends who actually appreciate what I have to offer.

        Also, I agree that reframing is necessary so I don’t feel lonely. So thank you!

    3. Dang*

      Are you me? Because that sounds like my thanksgiving, except I’m an only child. My parents have the same dynamic and I never feel like I have any agency around the holidays. And finding friend groups as an adult is so hard.

      I’m sorry it sucked this year.

      1. Artemesia*

        I am an introvert who recently retired and moved to a new city where I knew only my child’s family. In a little over two years we have created a small social circle and have people to do things with including holiday dinners. We did it by getting involved in some meet ups related to our interests e.g. book groups for me, neighborhood walks, a photo group. And then I would follow up with people who seemed interesting. I’d get their phone number and then follow up a day or two later with plans to get together to go our for dinner or lunch or whatever. It took a surprisingly short time to acquire a handful of friends. It took effort but the main thing was the follow up. Chat with someone — if you like them then get their phone and follow up.

        1. Dang*

          That’s lovely! It’s tough to make that first step and, like you said, the follow up can be intimidating… But I’m glad it worked out well for you, and you’ve inspired me to give it some more thought.

      2. Anon & Lonely*

        Thank you for your kind words. I’m sorry your Thanksgiving sucked as well.

        I agree that it really is difficult to make friends as an adult. There was someone at work who was so friendly with me I was certain they’d want to be friends outside of work but when I invited them over it was really weird and they blew me off so I backed off. Ugh!

        1. Dang*

          Ah, it’s so disappointing when that happens. Rejection is really tough, especially when you read the person wrong. I hope you don’t let it deter you from reaching out to others though. There are alway people out there open to making new friends.

    4. Artemesia*

      Start creating some holiday traditions with your husband and add friends as you can over the years. If you must see your family at all,choose other weekends to visit. When you can do it head for Paris for Christmas. In the years that is out of reach consider renting a cabin in a state park or heading for a B&B in a rural area or for Florida or wherever would be feasible. If you don’t have the time to get away, then think of a special meal you cook with him, or a local event, or a tradition of a walk to look at Christmas windows — etc etc etc i.e. create a positive fun time for your own little family and don’t subject yourself to misery each holiday season. And it is easier that first time to say when you mother says ‘I expect you to XYZ’ to be able to say ‘oh we are traveling for Christmas and won’t be there this year.’ The first time is the hardest.

      1. Anon & Lonely*

        We actually discussed that today – being out of town so that could be the easy excuse. Small problem – we love to explore new places, we just dislike the process of getting there (particularly if a flight is involved for me as I am a fearful flyer). So I’m not sure whether we will go that route. I haven’t entirely ruled it out, however, so thank you for the suggestion!

        1. Rana*

          Take a train! It’s pretty relaxing and you can see some gorgeous country if you choose the right route.

    5. knitchic79*

      Sweetie *hugs*
      Just a thought…why not start visiting some of the seniors in assisted living in your town? So many are estranged from family or just don’t have any. I know they would just love it and the bonus is it’ll make the holidays feel less lonely for you guys.
      You don’t have to be especially extroverted…just offer to read or listen to them tell you their stories. When my grandmother was closer to us I’d make it a point to sit with one of the other residents while I was there. I’m pretty shy with new people but it made them happy so…
      Your family sounds tough…even if you stay home with hubby it has to be better than a repeat of thanksgiving.

      1. Anon & Lonely*

        That’s a very thoughtful suggestion. I will look into it. Thank you, and thanks for the virtual hugs. :)

    6. ginger ale for all*

      Perhaps you can focus on the relationship that makes you happy? Would you be up for planning on a romantic just the two of you Christmas with your husband? Just take that time to spoil each other silly.

      As for the brother, make yourself scarce. Play hard to get. It can have two results, one he might want to chase and connect, two, he might not and you won’t be disappointed because you pinned so much hope and energy on it.

      1. Anon & Lonely*

        I have made myself scare after he started ignoring my texts and not acknowledging my invites to get together. Still nothing. He’s quite narcissistic. I was just hoping at his age (late twenties) he’d grow out of it. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s ever going to happen.

        If there’s one thing my family is good at, it’s being stubborn and stuck in their ways. Trying to have an open discussion about how I feel they treat me never works because it’s just not possible for them to step back and look at a situation objectively. They are right and you are wrong and that’s it. I’ve seen two therapists and they pretty much agree that I’ve done everything “right” and there isn’t much else I can do. I guess the one thing I haven’t been able to do is accept it and move on. I continue to hold onto hope that one day things will change and we’ll have a balanced relationship where they show real interest in me instead of, like my brother has done in the past, ask me a question only to immediately turn the conversation around so they can talk about what they’ve been doing. My youngest brother does it the most, but even my mom will ask to see my vacation photos and yet not say anything when I show them to her and often even become distracted in the middle of the exercise. So why does she even ask? It’s obviously not genuine interest.

        The funny thing? My family has called ME selfish (among other things) which couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, I only stopped exchanging gifts during the holidays with them years ago because they put ZERO thought into mine. I have more money than they do, so it wasn’t about equality to me, just some actual thought instead of throwing a Target gift card at me and calling it a day. I couldn’t care less if the gift was worth $10 or $20 while mine was $50 as long as it was something they thought I’d like. It’s not as if I’m hard to buy for! I would always select stuff I knew they’d love and yet I couldn’t get the same consideration in return. It really hurt and the only way I could think to avoid those hurt feelings every year was by not exchanging gifts at all.

        Seems I went on a tangent there. Sorry about that. It just hurts every time I think about it. I think the worst part is I’m the type of person who sees a problem and then does everything they can to fix it, and this just cannot be fixed.

  40. INTP*

    Does anyone else hate Dirty Santa as much as I do? I’ve had fun with it approaching it as a gag gift thing (my Bill Clinton corkscrew was worth every penny when the COO opened it), and see the purpose when you’re dealing with people that don’t know each other well – but my extended family has decided to do the family gift exchange in that manner this year and I think it’s a horrible idea. In my experience, there are a few gift cards in the rotation that everyone tries to go after. Everything that’s not a gift card is essentially a consolation prize. Most people leave disappointed because they saw these things they wanted and wound up with something they plan to regift or toss or because they put effort into their gift or went above the price limit and no one wanted it because it wasn’t a gift card. And this was in fairly homogeneous groups like work parties – in this case, ages range from 10 to 81. I’ve been told that “just get things people will like, like mugs and blankets” and people won’t leave with stuff they don’t want but that’s not how it plays out in my experience. And to make the social dynamics of the whole thing complicated, we have a preteen, a very sensitive young teen, and people who are sentimental/sensitive about gifts to the extreme as well as people who are practical to the extreme.

    Is it just me or is this an annoying switch and a bad idea? I’ll go along with it because my mom is covering my gift and I was already shot down quite swiftly when I gently suggested we do secret santa instead, but I’m not into it. I think as a gift exchange it’s a waste of money (the price limit isn’t high but isn’t insignificant) and as an experience it will be awkward. (The dramatic stealing of gifts can be tense enough, but when it’s from a 14 year old who might pout about it the rest of the day, particularly so.) I’m probably bothered by it more than most because I’m purely practical about gifts and hate money being wasted, but I feel like dirty santa is one of those things that a lot of us probably hate and never say anything about IRL.

    1. Clever Name*

      It’s not just you. If your family must do it, can they at least exempt the kids? That just seems cruel to make kids grab for stuff they want. And really, not everyone wants mugs or blankets, for example 14 year olds.

      1. INTP*

        The ringleader of the whole thing is the mom of the kids, and I’m pretty sure the purpose is to teach them a lesson about appreciating gifts whatever the gifts are because she thinks they’ve become entitled and demanding. (That’s why it was NOT taken well when I suggested secret santa instead of dirty santa. I initially assumed the whole thing was just to switch to a one-gift-per-person thing.) I don’t really appreciate the whole family’s gift exchange being a lesson for her kids, but whatever. At least this way I can play to win without feeling guilty about a kid crying because I took her target gift card or whatever. (She is the only person in the family with kids under 18.)

        1. Clever Name*

          Yikes. I have a sometimes entitled and ungrateful 9 year old, but honestly, this seems like a misguided way to teach them a lesson.

        2. Yetanotherjennifer*

          Oooh, yeah. It felt awkward when my husband nabbed the daypack that everyone wanted and we were all adults. That is not the way to teach kids anything productive.

    2. could be anyone*

      The age range is definitely a problem. My family does this for the adults. Most of the time it’s okay. But it’s no fun when your contribution is the butt of all the jokes. We did a gift exchange for the children. When they got a little older the kids had their own gift Dirty Santa. What works for an adult doesn’t work so well for kids. The younger ones don’t always understand what’s going on and a 10 yr old doesn’t want/can’t have what a 40 yr old would.

      1. INTP*

        Our family is reaching an awkward stage where the youngest generation ranges in age from 10-30, and then there is generation 2 in their late 40s-late 50s, and then my grandparents at 79 and 81. So the whole thing would be awkward to split up by ages, because there are only 3 who are under 18 and they are all sisters. Then the 18-30 group includes one boy in college, one 29 year old girl who currently is living at home (me), a couple who just got married and are lower-income and just starting out, and a couple with a house and established careers and plans for kids in the near future, so some would fit well with the older generation’s gift exchange while others have no wants/needs in common with them other than gift cards. (Frankly I’d rather get some nail polish in the teen girls exchange than a decor item for the home I don’t have right now.) If we separated it into under 30 and single or over 30/married, my 18yo brother would be the only male in the younger group.

        So, we’re all just doing it together. Fun times.

    3. Lore*

      When we used to do it at my office (when I had a smaller department), you did the whole thing *before* unwrapping any gifts. So all the stealing was based on the packaging only, and it encouraged people to be really creative about the wrapping, to the point where the gifts themselves were pretty much incidental. It meant people tended toward the generic–wine, chocolate, candles, teas. The most interesting gift I ever got out of it was a set of travel games and the best one I ever gave was a small French press and a pound of nice coffee (it had a $20 limit)–but some years the gifts were utterly silly, and it really didn’t matter. If you got something that was utterly useless to you–like one year someone who was lactose intolerant ended up with a cheese board and some nice cheese–you could quietly trade at the end but that wasn’t part of the game.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Dirty Santa? So… this is where people steal gifts from each other? Not able to picture this-so you buy a gift for someone and you know that person won’t get it? This is a bit mind-bending.

      It could be the rebel in me. I would just buy a gift and then refuse to participate in the stealing. TBH, I can’t think of something further removed from the spirit of Christmas. I’d stay long enough to be polite and then leave. I can’t control what others do but I can control what I do.

      1. Delyssia*

        You buy a gift in general, not a gift for someone specific. Generally speaking, everyone draws numbers to see what order gifts are chosen in. All the gifts are piled somewhere, and the first person can choose any gift. The second person can choose to steal from the first person or any other gift. The third person can choose to steal from either of the first two, or any other gift. And so on. If your gift is stolen away, you choose another, and again, that can be someone else’s gift they’ve already chosen or a new one from the pile. You can’t steal back a gift that was taken from you, and I think there’s usually a limit on the number of times a specific gift can be stolen.

        You can refuse to steal from anyone, but if you’re participating, you can’t exactly keep people from stealing from you.

        I think it can be fun if it’s a white elephant/gag gift sort of exchange, but as a family thing with what are supposed to be “real” gifts, I’ve seen feelings hurt and as INTP mentioned above, certain gifts are really, really popular and those are what everyone wants (though in my family it was lottery tickets, not gift cards).

      2. INTP*

        As Delyssia said, you buy one generic gift, not knowing who will go home with it. No one’s gift is really “theirs” until after the game is over, but you can’t avoid all the stealing without refusing to participate in the game. (And it’s the mother of the child and teens who is the ringleader of all this, so frankly, if I have to play, I’m playing to go home with the best gift I can – if her kids pout, that is on her imo.)

        I said “the 10 year old girl gift” thinking that someone might bring a gift geared towards her, thinking “Oh, she’ll like this so she’ll wind up with it.” Except, if it gets opened after she opens her gifts, then she has no chance to steal it, and the person who opens it is stuck going home with it. And even if she has a chance, she might go for a gift card instead, so whoever opened it is still stuck with it.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Thanks, folks. I guess it might be okay in some families. But Christmas can be really complex for others.

    5. Colette*

      My extended family has done this for years. The limit is low ($10), and we arrange it so that it goes oldest to youngest, so if the youngest really wants something, they get it. (It’s rarely a problem.). There’s very little stealing – we like unwrapping gifts – and nerf guns and junk food are popular gifts. (The sled was popular one year, too, and promptly made a few trips down the stairs.)

      After it’s over, people swap if they want to.

      It works well for us, but that doesn’t mean it’ll work for everyone.

  41. A Dispatcher*

    Does anyone have a recommendation for eye makeup remover? Mine never seems to get all my mascara, and it’s not even waterproof. Not normally a thing I’d think to ask here but there were so many great comments about makeup last week, so…

    1. Shell*

      I usually use a few drops of jojoba oil and wipe with a cotton pad. I imagine any light oil suitable for skin care (sweet almond, apricot kernel, etc.) would work.

      1. Allison Mary*

        Second this! Jojoba oil is the best, and doesn’t feel super “oily”. But I also have sweet almond oil, and that works well, too. You can even use plain old baby oil, which would probably be cheapest, although I’m not sure how healthy it is for the skin, compared to jojoba oil and sweet almond oil.

        1. cosmetics queen*

          I really, really would not recommend using mineral oil (which “baby oil” almost always) is on your face at all. It’s pretty terrible for your skin.

          1. fposte*

            I don’t think it’s any worse than any other oil, though, and it’s performed well in research tests.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              You can use it on a baby–though I probably would go easy on it if you’re prone to breakouts. I used to use it after a shower and rub it on while still wet, then pat dry. Made me nice and soft. I should get more.

    2. Gingerbread*

      I use Neutrogena Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover or Maybelline Clean Express, depending on which I have handy at the moment. I wear a lot of waterproof mascara and both products do a good job at taking it all off.

    3. Claire (Scotland)*

      Clinique’s Take The Day Off is the best eye makeup remover I’ve ever found. It gets everything! Lots of my friends have started using it after borrowing mine on trips etc. I wouldn’t use anything else now.

    4. Yoshi*

      Have you tried a micellar water? They’re pretty trendy right now, so they’re pretty easy to find. Bioderma is the gold standard, used & recommended by makeup artists, but its a bit pricey because its French. I was also very impressed by the Garnier brand one, which is much more affordable. Ive been using micellar waters for about a year, and I’ve been very happy with them.

    5. Clever Name*

      Google “oil cleansing method”. I use it as an overall makeup remover, and it works really well to remove mascara and liquid eyeliner. The blend I use is either olive or sweet almond oil and a little castor oil (for oily skin) and a small amount of tea tree oil (for blemishes). I put in a few drops of essential oils as well, and it smells heavenly. It removes my makeup cleanly and I get fewer blemishes.

    6. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I haven’t seen it carried in my regular places in a minute, but there was a makeup remover that worked so well for me, and the big reason is that it’s NOT oil free. I’ve never had a problem with oily products clogging my pores or causing breakouts (and I’m breakout prone), but everyone is stuck on the idea of Oil Free Only For The Face. Find one that it’s oil-free, and it will work way better!

  42. Amber Rose*

    I don’t know if this counts as work, but my husband got the owner of his company as his secret Santa and we’re kind of at a loss for gift ideas. Last year was wine, which I guess we could do again? But seems a bit cop out.

    On an unrelated note, is it possible to buy gluten free cookie crumbs? I wanna bake for a celiac.

    1. Athena C*

      I personally think consumables are always perfect for stuff like this. I have a good, good friend who my mother likes, but she doesn’t want to start a gift burden, if you know what I mean. So she looks for consumables, whether edible or maybe something like lotion or bubblebath. Stuff that can be used up and disappear. So wine is good, or a fancy cheese assortment, anything like that (barring any known allergies).

    2. SL #2*

      Re: GF cookie crumbs… I would probably buy certified GF cookies and crumble them up yourself. GF flours are pretty common (my celiac friend lives in Arkansas and has no problem getting them from her local WalMart) but I’ve yet to see crumbs as a baking ingredient! Are they for a topping?

      1. Amber Rose*

        I usually buy graham cracker crumbs. I make Nanaimo bars every year and the base layer is cookie crumbs and chocolate.

          1. Yetanotherjennifer*

            They also aren’t crumbly. I get the kimmick brand and they’re pretty solid and won’t work like you want them to. I’d go with a nut-based crust.

    3. Cristina in England*

      If your recipient has celiac disease then the best thing to do is not to make anything yourself in your own kitchen. The threat of cross contamination is so high that your friend will be incredibly wary of anyone else’s homemade creations and you will be putting your friend in a very awkward position. Best thing would be to buy a nice GF cake or something online and leave it in its packaging. In case you’ve ever wondered why GF cookies and brownies etc are nearly always packaged in cafes, etc, it is to protect from cross contamination.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Ugh, I was tired and screwed up. Person is not celiac she’s intolerant. She can eat quite a lot of gluten and it won’t kill her, just send her to the bathroom to suffer for a couple hours. Any tiny bit of contamination shouldn’t be an issue.

    4. INTP*

      I’ve never seen GF cookie crumbs, but I’m sure you could find gluten free cookies and crumble them. Trader Joe’s has a lot of affordable options and Sprouts might have some on sale. There are GF cookies at “normal” grocery stores, but they tend to be very expensive.

    5. Dynamic Beige*

      My thing with alcohol as a gift is that if the person who receives it doesn’t like it, there is usually someone out there they know/have to buy a gift for who does. Alcohol is soooo regiftable.

      So if it’s not a bottle of wine, you could buy vodka, rum, scotch depending on how much you want to spend. What’s great about wine is that you can get something really good for not a lot of money.

    6. danr*

      There are so many different wines that getting wine again wouldn’t be a problem. There are good wines at all price levels.

    7. ginger ale for all*

      For the boss, maybe a gift certificate for a car wash? I am dating a car guy and I had no idea that there are several categories of car washes. Apparently the hand wash is very desirable over the drive through at the gas station. And waxing is all that as well.

  43. Jazzy Red*

    A few months ago, I posted about the problems in my church. We are a community church and our new pastor was trying to make it into HIS church. There was a lot of fighting (regretfully) and many people, more than 100, left our church. I kept trying to make it work with him, but eventually hit that last straw and started visiting other churches in the area. One day, one of my friends called to tell me about a “Save Our Church” meeting which I attended. These people wanted to get a congregational vote about keeping our present pastor, or firing him. It took a few months, lots of paperwork/phone calls/meetings, until it worked out. Our pastor was asked to resign, and he did.

    Our two associate pastors agreed to fill in until we could hire a new lead pastor, and many of the people who left the church came back. A lot has happened since then: many people have stepped up to take leadership roles; we have a whole new Children’s Worship and Ministry; and we have a prayer evening once a month followed by a “PotFaith” dinner. Our associate pastor was offered the job of lead pastor and accepted. The whole church cheered and applauded when we voted to accept his acceptance. We feel renewed in God, and we’re working to be a real Community church. It’s wonderful to be a part of this now.

    1. fposte*

      Wow, JazzyRed, that sounds great. I remember your disappointment in that church, and the fact that you guys got together and turned the community back into what you were hoping is really impressive.

    2. Clever Name*

      That’s great! Something like that happened at the church I grew up attending. A new dean took over, treated the assistant dean like crap and tried to make everything about him. My parents stuck it out and said dean is now retired, and the assistant dean is now the bishop for the diocese. So guess who looks pretty foolish?

    3. Not So NewReader*

      This is wonderful news. And people came BACK, hurrah! Our pastor here has been saying that churches start failing when people stop praying together. This sounds like a good point to me. So with that in mind, may your group continue to pray together so they never have to face such upset again!

      1. Jazzy Red*

        One of the couples who came back were long-time, very involved members. They swore they would never set foot in our church again. After all the dust settled, they came back. I was so happy – they are wonderful people, and are very encouraging and inspiring.

        We really needed to be shakened up. We grew complacent and started just going through the motions. We needed something like this to bring us together and figure out exactly what are we supposed to be, and do. We are truly blessed with this renewal.

  44. Dang*

    So, one of my best friends is pregnant with her first child.

    We are 31. I am single and gay. I would like to have kids one day and realize that might not be in the cards. This doesn’t tear me apart (it’s not a burning desire and I wouldn’t be devastated I’d it never happened).

    But. She keeps bringing up age in the context of pregnancy. Almost gloating that she doesn’t have to worry too much about age related pregnancy issues and that she will have her second very soon after because she wanted to be well under 35. And constantly adding the detail of someone’s age when pregnancy comes up (which is obviously frequent at this point)

    It’s getting me annoyed and honestly I’m taking it personally, since I’ll clearly be on the older end of the spectrum if/when I have children.

    I feel like if I bring this up she’s going to think I’m nuts and just trying to get her to stop talking about the baby, which is not the case. But honestly it hurts a little and feels like a jab/gloat.

    I don’t even really know what I’m asking, maybe I just needed to vent since I saw her this weekend and came home on edge and kind of sad.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, I’m sorry. I know it can be weird when other people are doing something that we have some complicated wants for.

      It occurs to me, though, that she may be really talking about her own anxieties and not you at all. That she was afraid that she was going to face age-related pregnancy problems, and that maybe she’s still even worried that she might, given that 35 isn’t some magic watershed that all the reproductive system is officially on board with. (And that this might not be her last child, for that matter.) Maybe that would be a way to raise the subject with her–“You talk about maternal age a lot. Is that something that worries you? Because most babies are fine no matter what the mother’s age is.”

      1. Dang*

        Thank you. I think you’re right that she isn’t really thinking about what she’s saying, jut talking about her insecurities. She’s been obsessed with maternal age since way before she was pregnant, and I’m going to try to look at it as her own insecurity, not some statement about my situation.

    2. Anon for this*

      *hugs if wanted*

      The subject of fertility is tough and it’s okay to be hurt by this. I really don’t get why anyone would make such comments. I had three miscarriages within the last 12 months and this kind of comment would probably make me cry.

      I think that any decent person would stop making these kind of comments if you explain what’s bothering you.

    3. Clever Name*

      Speaking as a formerly pregnant person, pregnancy does some pretty weird stuff to your emotions and thought processes. I was very inwardly focused the entire time; I could barely pay attention to drive towards the end. So I guess what I’m saying is that-as terrible as it sounds- she probably isn’t thinking about you at all. As fposte said, it likely reflects her own insecurities

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Maybe you could just ask her, “Are you talking about yourself or me?” OR maybe you could just quietly ask yourself, “Why does she have to convince herself this is such a good idea?”

        I would find the repetition alone irritating. Maybe you could just focus on how she is repeating herself and say, “Yep. You mentioned that the last three times I have seen you. “

        1. Dang*

          I think that’s part of it, the repetition. It’s probably a good idea to approach it from that angle.

    4. Artemesia*

      If it keeps happening, say something. ‘I know you are pretty obsessed with your own pregnancy now, but constantly talking about age to someone your own age who had no chance of getting pregnant any time soon, is like a constant assault. Could we talk about the nursery or something else?’

      An old friend of mine form college had her first at 44 and second at 48 — people can’t always do that and of course risks are higher — but she now has two wonderful adult kids.

      1. Dang*

        Thank you..l I like the idea of redirecting it that way, and to another topic about the baby so it doesn’t read as “I don’t want to hear about your pregnancy.”

        My own mom was almost 40 when she had me and to be honest, I always figured that if I were to have kids, I’d probably be an older mom as well. I just didn’t anticipate the biological clock ticking before then, or being around someone who constantly brings up maternal age.

  45. Mimmy*

    Bloggers – need some advice!

    I think I’ve asked about this in an open thread a long time ago, but lost the nerve to start a blog, but I’m now thinking about it again. This is something my family, particularly my brother, has wanted me to do.

    As much as I’d love to write – WANT to write – about my life experiences and my thoughts on things around me, I’m mixed about sharing it. One, I don’t know if it’s interesting enough. But two, I’m a little skittish about having this online and searchable.

    Here are my thoughts / questions:

    – I’d probably use WordPress, since that seems to be the most popular.
    – I have a name in mind, but it’d incorporate my last name, which–again–I’m not sure I want out there unless I limit my audience to people I know in my personal and professional circles, at least at first.
    – What about comments? Can that be tweaked? I’m worried about weird people finding me. You never know these days.
    – My siblings mentioned that I could eventually get to a point where I could have ads on my blog. Wouldn’t that mean that I’d have to open it up to the public?
    – I don’t have a particular theme in mind like most bloggers. I’ve seen some that have a mix of topics / categories.

    I’m not looking to have a massive audience – I just thought it’d be cool to have a space to share my experience with a unique disability, but also share my thoughts on current events or even review a show or movie I watched or attended. My stile would be informal, respectful, and sometimes witty. I’ve always wanted to share my funny musings about American Idol! lol.

    Thoughts from the hive mind are appreciated :)

    1. Nicole*

      I say go for it! Having a personal blog is very fulfilling and I love using mine (not the site linked here) to look back at what I was thinking and doing years ago. I’m a natural cataloger so it really appeals to my organizational and tracking tendencies.

      If you end up using WordPress you can prevent your blog from being picked up by search engine robots which would make it less discoverable (but would also negate the need for ads since the number of visitors would be so low you probably wouldn’t make any money that way if you were considering that).

      Also, you can add extensions to WordPress so you could choose to make certain posts more private than others in different ways: you can make posts completely private for just yourself, you could make posts password protected, or you could make posts viewable to only those logged in and at a certain level which you select yourself after they’ve created an account. Side note: you can also choose to only allow comments from those who have an account instead of opening it up to just anyone who comes across your site, which would greatly cut down on trolls.

      In other words, there’s a lot of flexibility within WordPress so you don’t have to commit to sharing everything or nothing at all. I have more than one blog and the one I don’t link to here is where I share more personal things. The super private stuff isn’t visible at all to the public but I keep it all in the same place because it’s easier than trying to keep a separate paper journal (which I did for many years prior to starting a blog).

      Good luck!

  46. the gold digger*

    Does anyone else’s cat pick up a toy or a binkie in her mouth and then yowl this mournful meow – but only when nobody is looking? We have been trying to understand this behavior for a while!

    1. Cruciatus*

      My one cat 20+ years ago would pick up this knitted cat face pillow, carry it around, knead it, and yowl. My current older cats don’t have any object (that I can tell), but they will go upstairs, out of sight, and just yowwwwwl. The first few times I raced upstairs fearing what I was about to find–which was nothing. They just needed to yowl for a bit. Then it’s over and they go to sleep. They don’t do it every day, and the minute they see me they stop. I haven’t yet been able to pinpoint what exactly is happening. I don’t know if they are trying to get my attention, or are in some sort of pain, or just releasing some pent up energy.

    2. periwinkle*

      Yup, it’s the Hunting Yowl of Triumph. “Behold mere mortals! I have conquered the mighty and feared Catnip Carrot!”

      One of my cats used to do this a lot when she was younger, but only when she defeated The Shoelace.

      Cats are weird.

    3. Clever Name*

      YES! Our cat has this little stuffed toy that my husband bought for me once upon a time. It is a little alien from one of the Star Trek movies. It’s really adorable, kind of like a hamster. We are nerds. ANYWAY, she carries it by it’s throat and will wander around yowling. We rarely see her with it anymore, but we know she still plays with it because it moves around the house.

      1. Anon For This*

        Aw. Mine did this too (she passed away last year after a long and happy life of yowling and being adorably weird). My mother stayed at my place one night and thought the cat was in pain somewhere — nope, just a proud kitty showing off.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Yes, but in our house this is most often announcing the catching of an actual mouse. (I don’t say “live mouse” because it often isn’t by the time it is brought to us…or by the time we find the parts that weren’t brought to us!)

      I’ll never forget the time we heard that yowl, then “tink-tink-tink-tink-tink-tink-tink!”, and had a mouse and mousetrap dropped on our comforter. (The stair railing is made of metal.)

    5. Dynamic Beige*

      We had a cat who not only would pick up a stuffie and carry it around yowling, but then he would put it down in front of us while we were watching TV and give us another show… of a neutred male cat loving on that stuffie like there was going to be no tomorrow. We didn’t have the heart to throw it out since he loved it so much (at least not at first because eventually it was all Ew.) but we would try putting it in another room, thinking he might get his freak on in private but nope. He would find it, drag it out and start up the show.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          It’s a shame this happened before cameraphones. At first, we were all in stitches. The stuffie was a grey bear that was shaped like a real bear would be (not a teddy bear style) and he would give it to that thing in every direction. A piece of it in his mouth as he alternately kneaded it and humped it. Oh, if only there was footage, he would be internet famous today. Sadly, he has long since gone over the Rainbow Bridge. That aside, he really was a sweet boy.

    6. Lore*

      My 16-year-old cat has just developed the new habit of post-meal yowling like she’s being mauled by bears. She’s not allowed in the bedroom and the first few times I fed her before I went to bed, I came running out at the yowling to see what horrible thing had befallen her. At which point she gave me the side-eye and jumped up on he couch. Now I ignore it and it lasts about a minute.

    7. skyline*

      Yup, both of mine do! They tend to do it at night, when I’m reading in bed before going to sleep. Sometimes they abandon the toy in the hallway, and sometimes they bring it to me in bed. (More than once I’ve woken up to find a small collection of toys on top of my blankets.)

  47. 25yo*

    Hey, I love AAM and read it regularly. I’m wondering if anyone knows any AAM-equivalent advice column for friendships or non-romantic relationships?

    1. Claire (Scotland)*

      Captain Awkward is my favorite for those sorts of issues. It’s not limited to those types of relationships, but there’s tons of posts on them.

      1. Jillociraptor*

        Second Captain Awkward. Mallory Ortberg from The Toast just became Slate’s Dear Prudence, so I think that column will be pretty awesome going forward. Carolyn Hax is also great.

  48. Katie the Fed*

    Does anyone here do pilates or barre? I’m a mess after my accident – I’ve gained weight, I’m out of shape, etc. I really want to gain strength and balance and these seem like a good idea. But I picture myself next all those lithe, bendy women and I get intimidated :(

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      My friend does Zumba and Pilates and really enjoys it. She’s never been very sporty or athletic but she found some beginner classes where everyone was learning together, from what I’ve been told everyone is really friendly, supportive and encouraging.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        I think this is key — finding a class where everyone is at the same level as you are. When I tried to do aerobics every so many years ago (never again!) I would go to a basic class that was after school. But then the instructor would get up on the platform and ask “Who’s here for Basic” — about 7 hands would go up. “OK, then we’ll be doing a level X today” which was then followed by a lot of stuff I simply could not keep up with. Virtually everyone else there was in those 80’s spandex unitards and they were just nasty, sneering and tut-tutting through their teeth (or more) as the few of us who weren’t like them flailed. I tried a few times after that, but it was always the same thing Basic turned into Advanced because there were more people there looking for a harder workout.

        1. nep*

          Sounds like poor management at the facility where you were doing that class. That’s about the opposite of how things should be offered to members / participants. Bummer.

    2. Belli di Vedremo*

      I’m a big fan of physical therapists. Some of them also teach classes like yoga, pilates, etc. I highly recommend being on the lookout for a class with a PT instructor. Working with someone who looks at both form and function is always good, but when recovering from injuries makes a world of difference. Are there classes at any of the local rehab places led by PTs?

      I took a yoga class at one point, with the bonus of a PT for the instructor and asked lots of questions. He wanted to know my current physical restrictions, what I could and couldn’t do made sense to him and he and then tailored exercises for me throughout the class. Eg, “Everyone do XYZ; Belle, do X with this modification and hold it as long as you can.” “Belle, skip this one, do H instead.” He was terrific. Now, I’d look for that and talk with the PT upfront about joining a class.

      1. CMT*

        I go to a Pilates class taught by a physical therapist and I love it!! She is so good at conducting a class in a way that all those little tiny muscles you never think about get worked hard. And because she’s a PT, she’s very good at explaining just what to do to get those muscles engaged. Oh, and she teaches at a local yoga studio, not at a clinic or anything. I chanced into taking the class and know idea who the instructor was before I showed up for the first one.

    3. NDR*

      I do Pilates and have for 5+ years. I am not at all lithe. But over the course of the last few years, I have become stronger and more flexible than I ever imagined I could. There is a total mix of body types and fitness levels in all the classes I attend.

      Good instructors will always keep your abilities – overall and even that day – into account and give you modifications and alternatives to anything that won’t work for your body.

      I lucked into my current studio, in that they are affordable and really accommodating. If you want to try it out and get your bearings before joining group classes, I recommend a private lesson or three. You can familiarize yourself with terminology and the main exercises, and the instructor can assess what would help you most.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I did one barre class a while ago, and… never again. In your position, I would start with Pilates or yoga. I used to go to yoga classes every week, I’ve just been super lazy and swamped at work. Anyway, the reason I won’t do barre again is that it exacerbated a latent hip issue and even though that class was a loooong time ago, I’m sitting here with ice on my butt. Granted, barre wasn’t the only thing that did this, but it didn’t help.

      However… the class I took was at a Flywheel and had loud house music and lots of swingy ponytails. A class that involves ballet-inspired stretches at a barre? I would totally do that. So YMMV. :)

  49. schnapps*

    Vent: I hate November especially after daylight savings ends (or begins, or whatever it does in the fall). It’s dark, it’s cold, and people are idiots on the road.

    I need to get to a point where I am financially able to pick up and leave Vancouver for the month of November for warmer, more tropical climes. Leave October 31, return Dec 1 or 2 and just be done with it.

    I am feeling quite dramatic today so I will just sulk into my glass of wine.

    1. Dynamic Beige*

      When it’s dark out here before 5pm… I just remind myself that in X more weeks, the days will start to get longer. I totally get why ancient peoples watched so closely for the sun’s return. Dec 22 — and within a couple of weeks of that, you should notice the turn. Today I saw one of those Facebook inspirational things people post and I said “Oh yeah” — it was “if I ever win the lottery, I won’t buy one gigantic house, but perfect little apartments in all the places I love.”

    2. BuildMeUp*

      Ugh, I hate this time of year too! When it gets dark so early, I start feeling run-down and ready to go to bed by about 5:30.

      Have you considered getting a “light therapy” lamp? I got one recently but I haven’t been using it regularly enough to notice a difference yet.

  50. Ada Lovelace*

    Friendsgiving has come and gone and we are alive. Overall it went better than we thought even though we didn’t get to do a sit down dinner. We have a bunch of extra wine and leftovers and some awesome cake/pie. And the fried turkey breasts were amazing! I can’t wait to do it again next year.

  51. WorkingFromCafeInCA*

    Late to the thread, but maybe a few of you are still poking around here?

    Anyone have tips for lower back pain? Do I just try to rest (standing hurts, sitting hurts), or make an appointment with a chiropractor or doctor? This is new for me (early 30s). It stinks. Last week my back went out and I went for acupuncture, which I think helped. Rest for a 2 more days helped. Then, 3 days after I thought I was mostly better, I walked around for a few hours. Big mistake. Lots of pain again. Not unbearable, but definitely painful. Any recommendations?

    1. Not So NewReader*