weekend free-for-all – December 23-24, 2017

This 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.)

Book recommendation of the week: Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee. It’s a four-generation saga of a Korean family living in Japan. Someone recommended this last week and it’s fantastic.

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

{ 1,108 comments… read them below }

  1. Foreign Octopus*

    **********Spoilers ahead********

    I mentioned in the open thread last week that I’d just started reading Watership Down for the first time and a couple of you (Ramona, and Thlayli) wanted to know what I thought of. Well, I finished it this week and thought I’d give you my impressions.

    It surprises me that this is a children’s book. Not so much with regards to the story, which was fairly simplistic, but rather with the style of writing. There was no dumbing down of language to make this appeal to children and the author didn’t shy away from introducing new vocabulary from Lapine and also using Hedgerow and dialects for human speech. I wish that I’d come across it as a child, and I’m not 100% sure why I didn’t.

    My initial impressions (first couple of hundred pages) weren’t particularly favourable. I felt that the story was a little slow and dull, and I really didn’t like Fiver. I felt he was deeply annoying, and incredibly unhelpful. However, when the gang finally met the Efrafa, I felt that this was when the story picked up and I raced through the second half of the book.

    I absolutely loved Bigwig. He was definitely my favourite character. He was so brave and when he made his stand against General Woundwort, I was terrified that he was going to die. I understand why he wasn’t Chief Rabbit though. He didn’t have the temperament but he and Hazel made an excellent team.

    I didn’t enjoy the stories of El-Ahrairah. I don’t enjoy mythology being info-dumped on me like that. The chapters where Dandelion told the stories of El-Ahrairah and Rabscuttle (who totally seems like a ride or die friend) just pulled me out of the story. I also found the characters annoying and failed to see why they were held up as legends to the rabbits because, to me, they were just thieves and rule breakers.

    Overall though, it was really interesting and I’m glad that I’ve now read it. Will I read it again in the future? Maybe. Maybe not. It’s not something that I’d curl up with for comfort reading but I might read it in ten or twenty years to see if there’s something I’ve missed.

    1. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize*

      Richard Adams also wrote The Plague Dogs. It’s rather dark though the ending is good without giving away details. It is definitely not a children’s book. There is animal testing and lots of human cruelty. It’s told from the point of view of the dogs which can be very distressing but still a very good book.

      1. Thlayli*

        Oh god when I was a kid I loved watership down so much that when I saw a movie by Richard Adams called the plague dogs I insisted we rent it. Cue lots of crying children! Disaster.

    2. bunniferous*

      I love anything bunny related but I hated, hated, hated that book, and will NOT watch the movie. (I am not a fan of The Velveteen Rabbit either as that one leaves me sobbing and depressed….) A lot of people really like it though.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I was not impressed with the punchline on Velveteen Rabbit. I remember when it came out everyone was awed, so I guessed I had missed something.

    3. Ramona Flowers*

      Thanks for letting us know how you found it! I think I need to reread.

      I have seen the film but much prefer the book.

    4. Reba*

      Ha, I remember being very into that book around age 11 or 12! I was reading a lot of very long intense saga-type things at that time. I wonder how I would approach it now–I seem to have less tolerance for annoying characters and books with hardly any women or girls in them.

      Wrt to the legends, El-Ahrairah is a totally classic trickster god. I actually love those kinds of ambiguous mythologies/culture hero stories! I have a children’s cross-cultural collection of them someplace: Coyote, Hermes, Anansi, Loki, Eshu, Gwydion, Maui, some Irish ones I can’t remember… Lewis Hyde has a whole book (for grownups) on the literary and cultural histories of tricksters. I remember that as one of my favorite aspects of the book.

      Still love the name Hazel, too.

      1. The Ludaeig*

        I read this when I was about 10 but then we read it in freshman English class, and I enjoyed it much more. It was easier to understand some of the undercurrents of the story and how you can read it on one level (about rabbits) or on another level (about politics, power, etc.). I agree that it’s not really a children’s book for little kids, although more mature readers might enjoy it. Admittedly, I have not read it in a while, but should revisit it.
        For readers who like Adams’ writing style, but may not have warmed to Watership Down, his book Shardik (which is, admittedly, about a sacred bear — but not just a bear story) is pretty good.

        1. fposte*

          Watership Down came out before YA was really a construct; it would probably have been classified as YA today.

            1. Ceiswyn*

              When I was a little child who loved bunnies, I read my copy until it fell apart. Loved all the mythology, too. And I have the animated version on DVD :)

              I was a pretty unusual child, I know, but I suspect that children can handle much more complexity than we adults assume or remember.

              1. neverjaunty*

                It’s not really about kids being able to handle complexity; it’s about adults thinking “oh, it’s got bunnies in it, it must be a children’s story!” Which, no.

              2. Thlayli*

                I definitely read it when I was a Pre-teen. I think it’s a kids book. Kids books these days are much more sanitised.

                1. fposte*

                  In some ways they are and in some ways they’re not–a lot of things that were brushed under the rug in the 1970s are in books now, for instance. Generally adults don’t read books for youth the way they did when they were kids so they’re not necessarily aware of what’s out there these days, and there’s sometimes a gulf perceived between YA and children’s that’s much more of a spectrum in practice (I think sometimes people forget that there are plenty of complicated and serious novels that aren’t YA, for example, and in publishing they’re often not really differentiated anyway).

                  The main concern for Watership Down now would likely be the length, not the content, and even that would be pretty mild. It would fit neatly alongside other children’s-to-YA fantasy titles ranging from Redwall to The Underland Chronicles to The Giver.

      2. hermit crab*

        Me too, I read it about a million times when I was around 10 years old (and my cousin and I loved scaring ourselves with that creepy-as-heck animated movie adaptation). In a way, it’s a classic apocalypse story; I like it in the same way that I like The Stand and Justin Cronin’s Passage trilogy. It’s definitely something you can come back to with renewed appreciation as an adult, though it’s certainly not a feminist work.

    5. NeverNicky*

      It’s one of my favourite books. I have re-read it endless times but I confess I quite often skip the El-ahrairah parts (although I appreciate them more since reading more about Anansi and the like).
      The epilogue has me crying and crying every time but I find it comforting too.

    6. AMT*

      I love Watership down, but I feel similarly about almost all history/mythology info-dumps in literature. I’m a big fan of Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series, which is another non-dumbed-down YA book, but I’m always tempted to skip the “here’s this world’s version of the Greek gods, prepare for a ton of exposition” sections — which is a shame, because it’s otherwise terrifically paced and plotted. The only exception I can think of is Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, probably because (a) the exposition is entertaining, (b) it’s short, and (c) it at least somewhat relates to the plot.

    7. Thlayli*

      I’m glad you liked it – though not as much as I did though!

      The reason bigwig wouldn’t have been a god leader is coz he was too abrasive and pushy. The story is actually a really good explanation of what makes a good leader. Hazel isn’t the best at anything (unlike bigwig, dandelion, blackberry, fiver – they are all the “experts” in their fields). Hazels strength is in getting on with everyone, recognising who is good at what and pulling them together so their team works cohesively. It’s a book about how goodbye social skills make a good leader – written long before “social skills” were a thing.

      It also makes a lot of sense if you remember he wrote if after coming back from fighting in world war 2. Hence efrafa which is basically a rabbit prison camp.

      I’m glad you like the bit where he fights woundwort. The bit where bigwig finally acknowledges hazel as chief rabbit (“my chief rabbit told me to guard this run”) – I love that bit. I cry every single time.

      1. Thlayli*

        Haha just reread your comment and realised you said you DID understand why bigwig wasn’t leader! For some reason I read it the other way round first time!

      2. The Foreign Octopus*

        I definitely agree with your points about Bigwig not being leader material, but I didn’t know the context for the story. It does make more sense knowing it comes after the war. I think Hazel was a good leader, although I did wander about his decision to go and get the hutch rabbits while Captain Holy was away. I felt that he was just trying to one up his people.

        I loved the “my chief rabbit told me to guard this run.” I was so proud of him, and his dedication to Hazel. The two of them made a fantastic team.

        I wish I could have enjoyed it more but I am glad that I read it, and that I finally get what your name is now!

        1. Thlayli*

          I think all that “rabbits are tricksters” stuff makes more sense when you remember that during and after the war vegetable gardens were pretty much a necessity in Britain if you wanted to give your kids any vitamins and minerals. And rabbits are total tricksters and thieves and constantly find ways to get into vegetable gardens. So all that tricksters and pranks and el-arairah so on makes a lot of sense when you think of it like that.
          Also el-arairah makes sense as a leader in a wartime situation sacrificing himself for his people – that was a dark story.
          the black rabbit was pretty scary too but death was a constant presence for everyone until very recently. Kids would have been more used to seeing their friends die especially during the war but even in the 50s and 60s there were still lots of childhood illnesses. So it’s a book of it’s time in many ways.

    8. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Oh, man. Watership Down was recommended to me very enthusiastically, when I was in in fourth grade, by a boy I really liked. I always meant to read it, just out of pure friendship, and I’ve never gotten around to it yet. Every time, back then, that I’d consider checking it out from the school library, it always lost out to some other, more appealing alternative and would be pushed into the “later” category.

      Now it’s forty-some years later, and that book is still on my “to-read” list out of friendship (and because I still appreciate when someone wants me to read a book they love). I always think of that boy when I think about the book. He loved it so much and I feel a Little Sad* that I didn’t read it when we could still talk about it.

      *Sadder than I realized as now I’m crying about it.

  2. nep*

    Has anyone tried either cupping therapy or IV therapy? I’d love to hear what the experience was like…what impact it had. For either one — Have you gone back for more? Do you recommend it?

    1. Middle School Teacher*

      I’ve done cupping. I really liked it, I found it helped a lot. It does leave those giant marks, though, so be prepared for that.

      1. nep*

        Indeed those are some crazy marks. I’m not thinking of trying either — just interested in them and want to hear about people’s experiences.
        (Incidentally, I read up a bit on IV therapy after passing a local place the other day. I was stopped in a line of cars waiting for a train to pass and I was right in front of the business. There was writing on the window about their services and therapy was spelled therapey. I nearly emailed them about that; not a big deal to many, I’m sure, but I do think mistakes like that undermine a business’s credibility. Also, the woman working there stood smoking a cigarette right outside the front door before going in and opening the shop. Not judging her or smokers in general…It was just not a great image for this place promoting wellness.)

        1. fposte*

          Yikes. I usually cut places a pass for misspellings, but you really don’t want to suggest that criminal assault is part of the package.

            1. fposte*

              I’m circumlocuting because the word gets posts sent to moderation. “Therapey” has a crime word in the middle of it. (By “you” I meant the signmaker, not you, nep–I bet that wasn’t clear, sorry!)

              1. nep*

                I see. I did take the ‘you’ as directed at the business, not me — but I didn’t dissect the word or think long enough to see that. Got it.

        2. Middle School Teacher*

          For me there were no needles involved, just the flame and the cup. I found it worked because it was very localised and it seemed to get the blood flowing in a specific area to help ease a lot of tension and pain.

        3. the gold digger*

          No thank you on the IV therapy. I don’t even want needles stuck into my veins for removing blood or adding to my blood when it’s medically necessary. I am getting queasy just thinking about someone doing it for fun.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            I don’t mind needles and I regularly donate plasma. But I wouldn’t want my veins breached by anyone in an unprofessional establishment like that. They have two strikes that a passerby can plainly see from the exterior, so lord knows what-all they’ve got going on inside.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian*

              PS if the smoker smoked out the back door, I wouldn’t even mind. It’s the fact that the optics of professionalism aren’t even a thing for her that gets me.

    2. Quickbeam*

      Cupping is really ancient. When I was in training for pediatrics, they warned us that these marks on children were not abuse. A lot of the Hmong in my area practice it. I’ve had it done for joint pain and felt it provided solid temporary relief.

      Different from percussive treatment for the lungs, many people also call that cupping.

    3. super anon*

      I’ve done cupping in conjunction with acupuncture. It was fine I guess. The giant marks it leaves are inconvenient, especially if (like me) you end up with one near the nape of your neck where people may be able to see it depending on your shirt. It’s a strange sensation, like your skin is a bit mad at you for being sucked into this cup, but it eventually subsides and you can start to enjoy it in a strange way. I don’t know if it really did anything for me, but it was interesting to try it a few times to see what it was like.

      I went back to getting IMS treatments done and found them much more effective for managing my muscle tension and soreness.

    4. Minta*

      My massage therapist will incorporate cupping occasionally. I have found that it improves the efficacy of the massage’s ability to fully work out the muscles in the cupped area.

    5. KAZ2Y5*

      It just annoys me greatly that the IV therapy places are doing business. As a hospital pharmacist I deal every day with shortages of different hydration solutions (the main manufacturing plant was in Puerto Rico). Every hospital I know of has to ration their supplies and … well, I can’t think of anything else to say without getting this comment moderated for one thing or another! Anyway, I just don’t like those businesses!

  3. Emily*

    (Glad this thread is open. Really needed somewhere to talk this out but don’t really want it to be with anyone I know in real life.)

    Essentially: how do you stay positive/cheerful- or at least appear to be – during the festive season when you’re going through personal turmoil?

    Maybe that sounds a bit melodramatic, but (without getting into identifying details) something happened recently that pretty much throws my next year into uncertainty. Since it’s happened I’ve been researching what could be done and making contingency plans, but at this point, there’s nothing I /can/ do until the Christmas period is over.

    So for the next few days I’ll be around people (made Christmas plans before this thing happened) who are happy and celebrating. I really don’t want to share details of this because it’s so personal (and there’s not much they can do about it in any case) but I also don’t want to be glum all the time.

    I’ve tried to put my situation into sort of a ‘suspended animation’ for a while, but it’s hard to pretend nothing’s changed. At times I’d actually be having a good time and feeling normal and suddenly I’d remember I had this to deal with and the crash is so hard to deal with – I actually wonder if it’d be less exhausting just to feel sad all the way through to avoid the mood swings. I worry I’m going to start tearing up in the middle of talking to someone.

    The past few years have been incredibly stressful, but for most of it I’ve had /some/ control over things. Things finally started falling into place a few months ago and for the first time in a long time I felt like I was where I wanted to be and I could finally see where I was going. I thought the hard part was over. Then it’s just getting the rug pulled out from under me with barely any warning.

    (It’s like those pranks people have mentioned here where someone tricks someone else into thinking they’ve won something wonderful only to reveal it was all a lie. Except this time it was like they’d actually given this wonderful thing to the person they’re tricking, letting them get used to having it, and /then/ taking it away.)

    It’s /so/ hard when you feel like you’ve put in so much effort and did everything right, but because of something completely outside your control all of that might amount to nothing. Of course I’m hardly the only person this has ever happened to, nor will it be the last time it will happen, but…in this moment, it’s hard to accept.

    So…yeah. If anyone wants to share experiences or advice about how to get through getting dealt an unexpected blow, especially if it happened during a time when people are expected to be all cheerful all the time, that’d be much appreciated. Otherwise, thanks for letting me vent for a bit for now, and hope you’re all having a happy holiday season.

    1. nep*

      Thanks for sharing with us.
      So sorry you’re facing this. It is indeed tough since you’ve already made plans that will have you among people celebrating. I know just what you mean — one simply cannot force being, or even appearing, happy and festive.
      One suggestion that comes to mind — probably stating the obvious, but — in any social setting/conversation, make it so others are doing most of the talking. People generally enjoy talking about themselves and what’s going on in their lives — you could ask questions that lead to that. Granted, it won’t be easy hearing others go on in a cheerful way, but I think it’s at least easier just to listen than to put sentences together when you’re feeling so down.
      Keep in mind also, though, we never can know exactly what everyone’s dealing with privately. You probably won’t be alone in your camouflaged pain and stress; might be helpful to have that in mind.
      Can you get out of any of the holiday plans you have without causing more stress for yourself? Be gentle with yourself and put your needs first. If you need to stay away from something because it would just be too much, I say do it.
      Last thing that comes to mind — you never know in any interaction what might happen to change perspective or give you a lead to something you need. I guess just to say, be open to that.
      We’ll be thinking about you. Let us know how it goes.

      1. just another day*

        nep wrote, “Keep in mind also, though, we never can know exactly what everyone’s dealing with privately. You probably won’t be alone in your camouflaged pain and stress; might be helpful to have that in mind.”

        omg, THIS!! It’s so easy to forget that most everyone around us is fighting their own battles.

        I’ve gone through very challenging times (grieving losses, depression, anxiety…) and I have two suggestions:

        1) find things to be sincerely and deeply grateful for – no matter how deep you have to dig to find something that is good. Sometimes the best I can do is being grateful for being able to breathe freely (as compared to that stuffed up, painful sinuses, congested feeling of not being able to breathe when you have a terrible cold).

        2) do as many nice things for other people (preferably anonymously!) as you can think of – again, no matter how small! Something as small as stealthfully pulling lint or a hair off a co-worker’s sweater, or washing a co-worker’s coffee mug will make you feel better. I know it sounds ridiculous, but when you’re really feeling lost and struggling the teeny, tiny efforts made for others will help.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      I’m sorry you’re struggling. I’m doing fine this year, but have found Christmas horrendous in precious years. I am okay this year largely because I had some brief therapy in the run up to the festive period.

      Here is a brain dump of things I have found helpful:

      Self-care. Be kind to yourself. Do little things that make you feel good. For me that’s a nice bubble bath or hot drink.

      Let yourself be sad and do what you can to comfort yourself – wrap up in a blanket, cuddle a pet or a soft toy or a human.

      Distraction. Non festive films. Mobile phone games. Books.

      Try to think of one person you can tell about how it’s hard right now. When you’re struggling around other people remind yourself someone knows you’re not okay.

      Last year for the first time I started telling people I was finding that time hard. You’d be amazed how many people said: me too.

      Lastly, check out befrienders dot org for helplines in your country. Last year I made it through largely by emailing with the UK Samaritans.

      And of course you can keep talking to us here. Sending internet hugs, if wanted.

    3. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I’m so sorry! I’d get out of what you can. Take lots of breaks. Be the one who runs to the store. Take a walk every day if you can. Get lots of sleep. Limit your treats and double up on the veggies. Same goes for alcohol and water, respectively. And for the rest, don’t strive for happy–you aren’t there and that’s tough to fake. Just try to have good party manners. Find little things you can enjoy–your favorite carol, favorite treat, seeing things through a child’s eyes. It’s also a safe bet that someone else in your group is pasting on a smile, so don’t assume you’re the only one. Hang in there, you can do this!

      1. Say what, now?*

        Yes, this is a good suggestion: be the one who volunteers to run out for things. Or even just be the one to take out the trash. It won’t be a 20 minute break but sometimes just getting a breath of fresh air is a good way to center. And yeah, if you don’t feel like spilling your guts about any of this I would skip the alcohol. You could say you’re staying sober to DD or that you’ll be leaving early (if you can) and need to stay sober for the ride home. Speaking of which, leave early if you want to and are able. It’s ok to just make an appearance.

    4. First Snow Fall*

      First, I’m so sorry for whatever you’re going through and I wish you all the good fortune in the world that you can come out the other side and still enjoy the holiday season.

      I have not been through this situation myself but these year I do actually have a friend who is going through a work/financial crisis right before the holidays began. I posted about it a few weeks ago because I didn’t know whether to get a practical gift that would be useful during her difficult time or a fun gift as a pick me up kind of thing (this after asking if she even wanted to exchange gifts at all and she definitely did because she wanted things to be as normal as they are every year). So I’m very aware of being mindful of her feelings this holiday season.

      But then, I just had a party with friends and no one was really ‘celebrating’ anything other than spending time together. It being the end of the year, I can see that many would be reflective, but if you can divert the conversation away from what came before and what is to come, will that help focus on the here and now? My friend has done that. At the party, she was very focused on the right now and avoided questions of what was going on in her life.

      I always think it’s okay to have a conversational safe word; when I was going through my second year of job searching, I stopped all ‘How is your search going?’ Conversations in their tracks because I was so sick of it. So I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying ‘Oh, I’m not up to talking about that, let’s talk about something else’.

      Good luck with everything! Hope things take a turn for the better soon!

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Holidays can be so brutal this way. I am so sorry you are dealing with this.
      You have some great suggestions here, so I will try not to repeat.

      One thing I have done is make a list of things I am grateful for. Don’t be afraid to think of baseline stuff such as food and heat, throw them on your list also. You can hand write the list if you like or you can decide to take a time out randomly and think of a couple more things you keep on a list in your mind. This is not easy, so if it’s not working at the moment skip to another idea that might work

      Another one I have done is to reframe everything as a gift. This one I end up with tears in my eyes, because it forces me to think about the fact that no one HAS to do anything for anyone. What can happen next is that little gestures take on additional meaning. I do this to an extreme sometimes, for example, some one holds a door for me, they don’t have to do that, I make myself think “oh isn’t that nice they held the door for me.” Take nothing for granted and look at everything with fresh eyes.

      And here is one that will make the other ideas seem easier. I don’t know your circumstances and that is okay because this is general enough: Promise yourself that you will take good care of you. This means everything from good self-care to advocating for yourself in a difficult situation. This means asking others for help where it makes sense. If you have problem X and you know that Friend Sally is really good at remedying problem Xs then go talk X through with Sally. If you have problem Y and you realize, “I can google some ideas” then do that. Promise you to take good care of you.

      Alert: This may be hard to read.
      With some situations the light at the end of the tunnel IS an oncoming train and all we can do is lessen the damage. If you know you are going to take a hit, figure out how you will soften the fall that comes with the hit. I remember one time my very sharp aunt asked how my husband was. Her tone of voice was that she knew something was up. I said, “If he continues making the poor choices he is making he will not be with us much longer.” Very wisely, my aunt said if we see an oncoming problem then we have also been granted time to prepare to protect ourselves.
      I think that problems force us to reach out to connect with others when we would not have otherwise reached out. The trick is to chose these people wisely. Look at the person and kinds of things they think of to say. Do you respect their opinion, do they surprise you with the strong/workable ideas that they come up with? These are the type of people who will be effective in guiding and supporting you. Key point: The people who we think owe us and should help, probably won’t. It’s in our own best interest to let go of those assumptions and look for people who do help.
      I wish you all the best in life. I hope you are able to come back and give us a general idea of how you are doing.
      I hope that if you have a specific question about anything, you post it. Probably someone here will at least point you in a good direction.

      1. Persimmon*

        I just wanted to say I think the thing about choosing who you reach out to for help wisely is really good advice. I realize that when I’m struggling with something, I often ask for advice or discuss it without much thought to whether these people are actually going to respond in a helpful way, and I think that makes the whole situation more confusing.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yep. I remember as a kid or teen some folks would say “suck it down” and some folks would give me actual advice I could use. I was oblivious to the differences in people, it took me years to figure out that I should be careful about who I get advice from. Those suck-it-down people have no idea how damaging they can be with their words and their lack of caring.

    6. Jean (just Jean)*

      Good for you for reaching out. That’s always the first step in coping with an uninvited challenge.

      As others have said, take care of yourself and take some comfort in knowing that others are also facing unwanted difficulties. Learn your limits and how to maneuver within them. Protect yourself from being overextended. Each of us has to figure out our own best equation of sleep, nutrition, social and alone time plus whatever else you need to stay as well-cared-for as possible. It’s possible to survive a certain level of chaos, but try to minimize it (e.g. neglect the dishes, but get enough sleep) or at least change it up (e.g., if you can’t avoid spending two hours with a difficult person, can you literally walk off some of the stress by walking to or from the appointment, or go home and go straight to bed with a good book?).

      Once you’ve absorbed the initial impact of “holy cow, this is really happening” you’ll begin the ongoing process of regaining and losing and regaining your balance. I think this is normal so don’t be alarmed. If you feel totally unable to re-regulate yourself, reach out for additional support (this site, real-life people, mental or physical health care providers, specialized online or real-world groups that deal with your particular situation).

      I find it tremendously comforting to see that life goes on despite my own circumstances. Infants become toddlers, school children turn into teenagers, and ordinary-looking adults rack up unknown merit badges in their not-always-talked-about life experiences.

      I also find it comforting to give to others, when it’s possible. Be kind to yourself here because it’s not always possible to muster the right blend of free time, personal energy, mental creativity, emotional bandwidth, and/or sufficient funds. It counts just as much to support someone you already know instead of volunteering for or donating to an Excellent but Rather Anonymous Cause. Both kinds of good deeds raise the level of happiness in the world. You also get the private satisfaction of saying to yourself “Although I am suffering because of X I was also able to make my friend smile / send dollars to this charity / knock on doors for this good politician.” YMMV.

      Good wishes to you. We’ve just passed the solstice, so our nights will literally be getting shorter. I hope you begin to have the same thing happen metaphorically.

    7. All Hail Queen Sally*

      I’m so sorry to hear you are going through this and hope that things work out well for you.

    8. neverjaunty*

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

      Maybe it would help to try and separate the general “happy” atmosphere from your own expectations – treat it like reading about any other happy news that happens to other people. Like you were reading an upbeat Buzzfeed story. “Oh, how nice for those folks, they look happy.”

    9. Libervermis*

      I’m sorry that you’re struggling, especially now – what would be hard enough at any time gets even harder with holidays and cultural narratives about how everyone is happy during this time. I send you lots of hugs if you want them.

      I had a Big Bad Lifechanging Thing happen a couple years ago just before Christmas. The things that helped me through that period were:

      – self-care: sleeping enough, drinking lots of water, reading favorite books, watching favorite movies/TV shows, long showers/baths, caring for my body (this means everything from massages to dance to exercise class)

      – opting out of things: perhaps you are “sick” or “not feeling well, just gonna stay home and sleep” more than usual this time around. It’s okay to decide that you just can’t face cheery gatherings (also okay to decide you want to be there! Totally your call)

      – having a couple people you can confide in: you don’t have to bear your burdens all alone. Even if you don’t want to go into details, having someone you trust to say “Big Bad Thing happened, this is hard, I just needed to tell someone and get a hug/ pat on the shoulder/understanding nod/whatever it is you need can really help.

      – therapy: whatever your reason, it’s not silly or not worth therapy. Having a neutral, trained person to talk with can be super helpful, especially because they can ask things like “why do you have to go to that party you’re dreading?” and “how are you taking care of yourself” and “would you tell a friend that was going through a hard time that she needed to just fake it through?” Hotlines are another option if therapy isn’t for you for whatever reason.

      – recognizing that there is no “right” way to handle this: maybe some days you just need to pretend everything’s fine and put Bad Thing out of mind. Maybe some days you need to stay in bed crying for a while. Maybe some days you need to talk to a friend or pet or deity about all your feelings. Maybe some days you need to look at Fiona the Hippo videos online. All are fine, and what you need on a given day might change. Let it, without judging or berating yourself for that.

    10. Les*

      OMG I hear you. Grin and bear it is what I plan to do. I had a freak out yesterday and had a quick look at flights overseas as it just hit home I will be spending Christmas with the two people I detest most in my family. Only doing it for Mum and for my two little cousins who are the kids of the detested. It wouldn’t be so bad if I hadn’t just been made redundant from a job I enjoyed at the start of December. Completely blindsided. Then had to fight to get them to live up to their responsibilities as employers on top of brushing up the resume, LinkedIn, Seek and Indeed profiles and get in contact with recruiters.

      It was my first real job in my field, I could bike ride to work, I could play with the bosses dogs, and I brought them results, but apparently none of that matter when you can pay uni students who haven’t even graduated less, so I’m out and the kids are in. Close to 2 years I went above and beyond and that’s the thanks I get. Before that I had a string of part time and contract jobs with plenty of greedy and entitled employers to boot.

      On top of that, my favourite Grandad died a few months ago (Alzheimers) and I had to clear out his nursing home room alone as Mum was overseas on holiday.

      I am awaiting a greyhound adoption finalisation but now that, along with whether or not I can take a holiday at some point next year is all up in the air. As for jobs, job searching in December is just terrible. I will have to start digging into savings by mid January and am upset at the thought of asking Mum and Dad for help if need be (even though they said of course they’ll help) because I’m 28 years old and should be able to stand on my own two feet. Unfortunately it seems no matter how I try to do the right things and treat people well, I’m always the one who ends up getting screwed over through no fault of my own.

      Tomorrow Mum’s brother and his ex will rub salt on the wound – they’re mere presence instils a simmering rage-pit in my stomach. The brother has not worked since about 35, had a heart condition which allowed him to access a pension and since then he has been sitting on his butt in Thailand claiming to be Buddhist. He is the furthest thing from Buddhist – he’s an egoist, bipolar, homophobic, bigot who I strongly suspect is a narcissist.

      His ex is the opposite side of the same coin – a gold digging, superficial, quite religious manipulating drama queen who is an expert at putting on the waterworks when she wants something. To think I have to spend 2 days with them while he waxes lyrical about taking a 1 year holiday in Switzerland mooching off friends and relatives I will likely blow-up.

      Trying to stay calm and not fall off your emotional tightrope when you’re basically feeling like, yes, the rug has been pulled out from under you, you’re in a rut despite doing everything right, and you have to look up and see your surrounded by undeserving cretins who have made a ton of bad choices and still get to come out on top, ahead of you in life, is just acid on a festering wound.

      Stay strong and know you’re not alone in feeling like Christmas has become Halloween, but not in a fun way.

    11. Les*

      I hear you. Grin and bear it is what I plan to do. I had a freak out yesterday and had a quick look at flights overseas as it just hit home I will be spending Christmas with the two people I detest most in my family. Only doing it for Mum and for my two little cousins who are the kids of the detested. It wouldn’t be so bad if I hadn’t just been made redundant from a job I enjoyed at the start of December. Completely blindsided. Then had to fight to get them to live up to their responsibilities as employers on top of brushing up the resume, LinkedIn, Seek and Indeed profiles and get in contact with recruiters.

      It was my first real job in my field, I could bike ride to work, I could play with the bosses dogs, and I brought them results, but apparently none of that matter when you can pay uni students who haven’t even graduated less, so I’m out and the kids are in. Close to 2 years I went above and beyond and that’s the thanks I get. Before that I had a string of part time and contract jobs with plenty of greedy and entitled employers to boot.

      On top of that, my favourite Grandad died a few months ago (Alzheimers) and I had to clear out his nursing home room alone as Mum was overseas on holiday.

      I am awaiting a greyhound adoption finalisation but now that, along with whether or not I can take a holiday at some point next year is all up in the air. As for jobs, job searching in December is just terrible. I will have to start digging into savings by mid January and am upset at the thought of asking Mum and Dad for help if need be (even though they said of course they’ll help) because I’m 28 years old and should be able to stand on my own two feet. Unfortunately it seems no matter how I try to do the right things and treat people well, I’m always the one who ends up getting screwed over through no fault of my own.

      Tomorrow Mum’s brother and his ex will rub salt on the wound – they’re mere presence instils a simmering rage-pit in my stomach. The brother has not worked since about 35, had a heart condition which allowed him to access a pension and since then he has been sitting on his butt in Thailand claiming to be Buddhist. He is the furthest thing from Buddhist – he’s an egoist, bipolar, homophobic, bigot who I strongly suspect is a narcissist.

      His ex is the opposite side of the same coin – a gold digging, superficial, quite religious manipulating drama queen who is an expert at putting on the waterworks when she wants something. To think I have to spend 2 days with them while he waxes lyrical about taking a 1 year holiday in Switzerland mooching off friends and relatives I will likely blow-up.

      Trying to stay calm and not fall off your emotional tightrope when you’re basically feeling like, yes, the rug has been pulled out from under you, you’re in a rut despite doing everything right, and you have to look up and see your surrounded by undeserving cretins who have made a ton of bad choices and still get to come out on top, ahead of you in life, is just acid on a festering wound.

      Stay strong and know you’re not alone in feeling like Christmas has become Halloween, but not in a fun way.

    12. Persimmon*

      Hi, I haven’t read through all of the replies so I apologize if I’m repeating.

      The most helpful way I’ve found to feel better in/after a crisis is, upon meeting up with a close friend or two, tell them about it, discuss it for about 15 minutes (ideally over a drink or food, sitting by the water, or in some other relaxing situation where you can concentrate), let them see how upset you are, and then move on with the conversation, laughing, joking, etc. That way the positive stuff doesn’t feel fake- you are with people who genuinely care about you and know what’s going on, and are trying to cheer you up, rather than with people who are oblivious to your suffering. You get to make that emotional connection and get their support, but also not spend the whole occasion dwelling on misery. Of course, it takes particularly socially adept friends to pull this off, and there’s no guarantee that that’s how they’ll react.

      If that doesn’t seem like a possibility, I would try to practice gratitude. I don’t know if you’ve ever done this before, but I’ve found writing down three things I’m grateful each day (related to the last 24 hours, such as “I’m grateful I made my flight,” “I’m grateful that Sally seemed excited to see me,” “I’m grateful to have a warm, dry place to stay in this bad weather,” etc.) really helps me feel better, especially when it seems like there are fewer things to be grateful about. When you’re with people, try to dig deep and focus on the aspects of the situation you are grateful for, like that your friends or family are healthy, or care about you, or there is good food to eat, or that Aunt Mary remembered you’re allergic to dill, etc. It can also be helpful to focus on other people, like imagining they might be going through something and you can help, and asking yourself what that person needs from you or what you can do to help them. It’s kind of a way to get out of your head a bit. Almost a “distraction” but is actually a way of engaging you more in the present.

      If you can, you might try avoiding new people or people who you don’t know very well, and just stick around close friends who care about you, whether they know about your situation or not. Once, when on a business trip, I received some bad news. We had the afternoon off and I was supposed to meet up with a friends’ relatives who lived in the city so they could show me around, but I just couldn’t bring myself to get into meeting people/upbeat mode and told them I couldn’t make it. I knew if I stayed in the hotel room by myself I would just spend the whole time crying, so I convinced a colleague who I was close with to go visit a sort of garden/park with me, without actually telling him about the news. Even though I was in a sort of shocked state, it was really nice to go there with him and just felt very peaceful and soothing, even or especially because he didn’t actually know about the situation, so we didn’t spend the time talking about it.

      Finally, if all else fails, take a hedonistic approach. Recently I traveled to a wedding of a(n extended) family member, despite feeling very nervous and stressed about it because of some major issues in my immediate family. A few hours before the rehearsal dinner, that immediate family member caused a big scene, yelling at me and acting aggressively toward me in public. It left me pretty shaken, and I didn’t know how I could go to the rehearsal dinner and socialize with people after that. My significant other gave me a pep talk, basically telling me there is free good food and drink and relatives who I do like and get along with, so focus on taking advantage of that and interacting with them; it’s not all about my relationship with that one troublesome family member; I’m here to see other people and show them my support, so focus on enjoying myself (trying not to think about the family issues).

    13. Persimmon*

      PS Kudos on bringing up an excellent topic for discussion. The holidays can be such a difficult time for so many people and I think it’s great to have a discussion on how to get through it and also just get support and commiserate. I can tell by the replies that this is a situation a lot of people can relate to and are interested in figuring out.

    14. Gadfly*

      I think I have holiday ptsd. This year (details are still too raw to share) is currently tied for 3rd worst with the year Mom’s appendix exploded while pregnant with my youngest brother (and lead to his disabilities.) First place is tied between the year Dad technically died on Christmas eve (and was in a coma through concerns that y2k might shut down the hospital) and the year we were hit on the freeway, ramped the guardrail, rolled/bounced down a cliff, and mom was partially scalped by the sunroof.

      I seriously get a bit ill every time I hear jingle bells.

      All I can suggest is that you do what you need to to take care of yourself. You can choose to bow out. You can choose to spend a night in. It is better than attending something and being grouchy or worse.

      1. Indie*

        I’ve done this and my strategies were:

        A) Keep busy with fun. Be the one who suggests charades, pictionary, video game tournament..anything but drinking and feelings-talks (unless you decide that you want that).
        B) Bring funny films for movie time! Laughter really is the best medicine and you can relax your faux-expression in the dark.
        C) Look up a few kooky news stories to talk about and keep the conversation away from yourself
        D) Nominate one person to tell and enlist them as an ally in helping you through.
        E) Take breaks. Go read a book, have a walk, run errands or just develop a ‘headache’.

    15. Belle di Vedremo*

      One thing that has worked for me is to find a place and then figure out times to easily get there to go cry. At one point, there was a church open during the workday near my office. I could go there at lunchtime, and sometimes again during the day, find a corner and just cry. Knowing I had a release place & time gave the grief more room as I wasn’t trying to cram it down, which meant that it didn’t feel as encompassing or as explosive.

      A tip I learned along the way is that if you cry in the shower you don’t have the tell-tale eyes when you’re done.

      You said ” It’s /so/ hard when you feel like you’ve put in so much effort and did everything right, but… all that might amount to nothing.” It’s not nothing, it’s a lot. It’s not getting you where you want or need right now, but it’s always worth doing things the way you know are right. It helps us in so many ways, in the long run, as it’s more about who we are than about what we get in return. Keep making those choices, as it builds us up in sometimes invisible ways and increases our resilience.

      Many people have a tough time with holidays, thanks for opening the topic for conversation here.

      Hope you find some peace breaking into your heart from time to time over the holidays.

  4. CatCat*

    I can’t believe I’ve made it this long into December without having any egg nog because I loooooooove it. (I’ve still managed to gain holiday weight though and am at DEFCON Yoga Pants.)

    We’re spending Christmas Eve with family so I think I’ll whip up a batch that day!

    1. Middle School Teacher*

      I started seeing eggnog in stores here in September! Which is a bit ridiculous, even thought I also love eggnog. I made myself wait until Dec 15 before I bought some. My friend gave me a bottle of pumpkin-spiced rum liqueur and it is AMAZING in eggnog. So I’ve had … a lot of eggnog over the last week.

    2. hermit crab*

      Can you explain what you like about eggnog? (Sorry, I don’t think there’s a non-snarky-sounding way to ask that question…. but I am genuinely curious! Everything about eggnog seems unappealing to me. But obviously lots of people like it!)

      1. Middle School Teacher*

        It’s so creamy and sweet and the spices taste like Christmas to me :) and with a shot of spiced rum it’s just marvellous!

        I went to a performance of Handel’s Messiah last weekend and I had a rum and eggnog over the intermission and I sat in a beautiful space with amazing music in my ears and gorgeous decorations and people all dressed up and happy, and I thought, this is peak Christmas.

      2. CatCat*

        Pretty much the same as Middle School Teacher said! It’s sweet, creamy, and spiced… it all just tastes like Christmas. We called it Christmas milk when I was a kid. (But now I like it also boozy as an adult!)

        1. hermit crab*

          Hmm, ok, thanks. Maybe it’s just too rich for me? I guess I’d rather go straight to the rum. :)

          Though Middle School Teacher’s description of Peak Christmas does sound lovely!

          1. The Other Dawn*

            I used to love egg nog, but I haven’t had it in years. It just has too much sugar for me nowadays (I’d be sick from it). I guess what I always loved about it was the creamy, sweet thickness of it. And yes, it’s VERY rich! I used to be good with just a few sips. I think I need to see if there’s a low sugar recipe somewhere.

    3. Free Meerkats*

      Back at the end of October I made two batches of Alton Brown Aging Eggnog. I’ve given away most of one batch worth and started drinking it myself, starting on Thanksgiving.

      Yeah, it takes up fridge space at a time when it’s at a premium, but it’s worth it to me.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        Weve done a similar recipe in the past and its INSANE how good it gets with some aging. So much fat but so, so good.

    4. Persimmon*

      I love eggnog! I wish I had some! I’ve only had the store-bought kind though. Homemade sounds great!

    5. Sara*

      I got very excited this year when I found a non-dairy egg nog! Ever since I realized I’m lactose intolerant I’ve missed it.

  5. Ramona Flowers*

    Hey everyone. I finished my last bits of shopping – hope my friend likes her procrastination pencils (they say things like “you probably need another coffee”) and cosy bed socks. I also got two free coffee vouchers in the post from my favourite local coffee chain after I wrote asking them to consider giving people a discount for bringing their own cups. Now to read everyone else’s posts!

    1. Middle School Teacher*

      Hey, Ramona!

      I just wanted to say I always like your posts. You’re thoughtful and kind and I enjoy seeing what you have to say.

      Have a great holiday!

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          This? Oh, it’s just some dust in my eye…

          I seriously cannot express how much I appreciate these kind comments!

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Because you’re procrastinating from getting them? (I know it’s just too close to Christmas, but ssh.)

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      I would also like to make a public service announcement. If you like a) gingerbread thins and b) brandy butter you need to combine them. You can thank me later.

    3. Chaordic One*

      Yes, Ramona. You are thoughtful, sympathetic, encouraging and usually have something interesting to say. You are much appreciated.

  6. Loopy*

    Thanks for everyone who helped me with my ate guilt last week. The gate was fixed shortly- the next day. Hopefully this provides some perspective for next time!

    Now let’s talk about all the holiday junk I’ve been eating!! Thanks to gifts, our ratios of sweets to “real food” seems to be ten to one!!! Ideas for healthy, super easy vegetarian snacks??? My body hates me right now. It’s revelling against my lack of will power and it’s not been fun!! I need to get off the holiday eating already!!! Oy!

    1. nep*

      (A bit of ‘foreshadowing’ there, with ‘ate’ guilt in the first line, instead of gate guilt.)
      Glad the gate was fixed promptly and all worked out.
      I hear you about the body turning against us when we feed it junk. Keep in mind that it takes just a bit of stepping back, easing up some on the junk, and providing water and good nutrients for the body to start thanking you again and feeling markedly better.

      1. Loopy*

        Oh man, what a typo! Hahaha. Yes should have been gate not ate.

        I think I’m having trouble on the easing up. I ate a cookie and brownie between that post and now :/

        1. nep*

          All will be fine. It’s a crazy time of year for that kind of thing.
          I kind of like the expression you’ve created — ‘ate guilt’.

        2. paul*

          Totally having ate guilt myself…and epic stomach ache. Tomorrow is spinach for lunch, maybe with some green yogurt.

    2. Book Lover*

      Vegetarian, not vegan – I love hummus with carrot sticks or celery sticks :)

      Popcorn is always a good choice, with or without nuts.

      1. Loopy*

        I like hummus but I get bored with it halfway through the container. I think I need to explore some new hummus flavors to inject some excitement into my hummus! Any suggestions?

        1. Jules the First*

          Hummus options:
          Smoked chickpeas
          Chili coriander

          Don’t be afraid to go for other dips too – I love olive tapenade (green or black); pureed lentils and sundried tomatoes; smoked eggplant puree; green or tomato or red pepper pesto…

          Also ants on a log (celery sticks filled with peanut butter or cream cheese topped with raisins).

          1. Loopy*

            That’s a great idea! I’ve always gotten stuck on thinking of dips as cheese or ranch based (think tailgating parties) but these are great ideas.

        2. Snark*

          I like to make it with roasted green chiles sometimes. And you can mess around with different legumes and vegetables – it’s not hummus then, obviously, but I’ve made delicious dips combining citrus and tehina with ayocote and tepary beans, beets, green peas, and roasted eggplant (which is obviously just baba ghanoush, so I’ll not claim originality there.) And you can top hummus with sauteed spiced beef, mushrooms, lamb, or whole chickpeas.

          1. Loopy*

            I haven’t made my own in a long time but now I remember I used to use curry powder to add a little twist. Man, I had completed forgotten until you posted! Maybe I need to go back to making my own!

    3. Girasol*

      Fruit always seems to be my most effective first step out of the junk food hole. Hooray for peaches and blueberries put up in the freezer last summer!

      1. Loopy*

        Ahhh maybe I’ll splurge- most fruit around here is expensive right now but it seems I might have to bite the bullet and pay extra!

      2. Persimmon*

        Great advice! Not sure where you live Loopy, but in my snowy location, citrus and pomegranates are in season right now. Apples store so well that they’re still good too. Oh She Glows has a good vegan recipe for a “Creamy Pumpkin Pie Smoothie for Two” that tastes great (and festive) but isn’t junk-foody.

      1. Loopy*

        Clementine’s sound so good right now! As our normal clementine season wound down though I noticed they got very very tasteless and blah. I wish fruit was better this time of year! It’s when we need it most!

        1. Anono-me*

          Here is the recipe I use, there are lots.

          Preheat the oven to 425.

          2(15 oz) cans chickpeas – rinse and pat dry
          2 tablespoons olive oil
          1 tablespoon minced garlic
          1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or other larger salt)
          1/2 teaspoon ground cumin.

          In a large zippy bag or storage container with a lid combine every but the chickpeas, then add the chickpeas and shake to coat well.

          Spread chickpeas out in a single layer on a large RIMMED baking sheet.

          Bake until crisp. Usually about 20-25 minutes.

          The recipe also suggested curry, ground chili peppers or cayenne pepper instead of the cumin. (We like cumin, so I haven’t experimented.)

          1. working abroad*

            I do close to the same! Same temp and method. I use organic canola oil spray from Whole Foods so I can evenly coat all of the beans in a few short blasts.

            Other spices I’ve used:
            hatch green chili powder
            ghost pepper salt
            smoked spanish sweet paprika
            indochina seasoning
            piment d’espelette paprika (expensive but if you’re a spice junkie I highly recommend)
            black canyon chili powder (for a lovely, mole-esque sweet heat)
            any variety of curry powders
            and of course pantry staples like garlic and onion salt

            I’ll often mix the roasted chick peas with some toasted pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, or slivered almonds and a splash of some good olive oil and thick balsamic.

    4. Loopy*

      I just found some delicious leftover cheesecake… and has some curry veggies and rice instead. Thanks to this thread. I feel like it’s keeping me accountable!

      In other news I wish those instant tastybite meals were a little healthier! I really enjoy how easy they are.

    5. Kj*

      Popcorn is a great snack. Tasty and feels fun. Add some spices to make it different. If you are near a Trader Joe’s, they have nice flavorful pre popped options or pop your own.

  7. hermit crab*

    Hi friends! Last weekend, I threw a (very) small Hanukkah party for my pets. I thought you might like to see this clip from the rockin’ dance floor: vimeo.com/248574745.

    (I don’t comment here very much, but I read all the time and really value this community. I hope you all have an enjoyable and festive weekend, in whatever way you choose!)

    1. Elizabeth H.*

      This is great, your pets are so neat! We had some as classroom pets briefly when I was in 3rd grade and I remember that so clearly. Thank you for sharing!

        1. hermit crab*

          They’re Madagascar hissing cockroaches! They’re very good sports about this kind of thing. :)

  8. Someone's Knockin at the Door, Somebody's Ring in the Bell*

    Interested in getting someone else’s take on this to solve a disagreement with my husband.

    If your new neighbors (both the husband and wife – they have no children) came to the door to offer a tin of Christmas cookies, would you feel obligated to invite them in or just converse for a few minutes at the door before you all go on your merry way? And would it be different if it was just one of them stopping by? In this particular case it is in a co-op in NYC, but I am curious about what people in homes and other apartment buildings in other cities think too.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      I would just converse at the door, because ‘if I don’t know you well, I won’t invite you in when you randomly show up’ is an important boundary to me.

    2. Don't Blame Me*

      I would just talk to them at the door but I’m extremely introverted and really dislike having people over to my house. I would have a fit at the thought of asking essentially complete strangers to come in, it would be so awkward. My husband on the other hand would think I was being rude, but since I would be the one who would be expected to play host, I don’t care! They’re not coming in! LOL

      1. Nines*

        Yes! I would love to invite them in, but my family hasn’t been offered an invite inside in the last year. The place is just THAT messy…

      2. Persimmon*

        Here, here! Also how I’m dressed, whether I’m in the middle of something, etc. I don’t think it’s an obligation, but it’s nice if you’re in the mood for it. I am used to living alone though, so I’m not sure how you judge mood if you have another person to consider. How do you know if both of you are in the mood to let the person/people in? But I guess married people know each other well enough to pick up on that kind of thing. In any case, I don’t think it matters whether it’s one or two people. Obviously, if you have any safety concerns, don’t let them in or eat the food! Safety is always a higher priority than etiquette.

    3. Merci Dee*

      Yeah … if there was a really good connection after a moment or two of talking at the door, I may invite them in. No matter whether I invited them in right that second or not, though, I would definitely invite them over for dinner within the next week or two before they left the door. Even if I’m not prepared to entertain right then, it’s still important to welcome new folks to the neighborhood.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Thinking about it from the visitor’s perspective, I don’t think anyone should stop by with an expectation of being invited in, as even if you would like to talk, you are not asking ahead of time if it is a convenient time. The person may be busy, or preoccupied, or just out of spoons.

      I think it does indicate a desire to chat and associate a little more than just waving as you pass by, but it doesn’t mean you’re obligated to do it then and there. (Although I probably would, I’m very social and will talk to strangers at length.)

    5. Book Lover*

      I would invite them in and expect them to say no :). And be horrified if they said yes. Because I hate talking to people I don’t know.

      1. Jill*

        I hate when people do this crap. If you don’t want them to come in then don’t invite them. Don’t play this game where you think you have to invite them in to be polite, and then expect them to do what you think is polite and turn you down. Because a lot of people would think it would be impolite to not come in after you invited them.

        1. Book Lover*

          It seems like a standard social contract here. You come by to drop off a card and they offer for you to come in and you say no, and same the other way around. We don’t drop in unless we have an advance agreement. I’m sorry you took my comment that way – it was intended to be lighthearted and does actually reflect behavior here.

          1. Book Lover*

            Thinking on it a bit more, I think the expected reply is no, and then if you actually do want them to come in, you ask again. Anyhow, I can see how it would sound passive aggressive, but I never answer the door any more unless I am expecting someone so it doesn’t really come up.

            1. Jill*

              I’m glad I don’t live there because I would offend everyone by thinking they actually mean what they say.

      2. Lissa*

        Gaaah I would have no idea I’m expected to say no! I know this is probably regional but considering how many people move around these days I can’t imagine this wouldn’t at some point cause problems!

        1. Lissa*

          Sorry, that probably came off as sort of rude, I didn’t mean it that way. I just have a personal nightmare of thinking someone means what they say and taking it literally, then making everything awkward. I’m very bad at reading between the lines…

          1. Jill*

            Right. Don’t expect people to read your mind. If you invite someone in, you have no right to be annoyed if they accept.

    6. Ron McDon*

      I would invite them in, but really, really, really hope that they would say no :)

      Our neighbours are all really keen on getting together for drinks at each others’ houses, my hubby and I go when we feel we should but try to have ‘other plans’ most times (even if those plans involve sitting in front of the tv eating junk) as we both find socialising exhausting.

      I also hate being invited in when I’m dropping something off at a neighbour’s house, but I am super-antisocial…

      1. Someone's Knockin at the Door, Somebody's Ringin the Bell*

        I feel the exact same, which is why I insisted just one of us go so we could avoid the invite entirely.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Either way is actually fine.
      It’s just a friendly gesture as long as you were friendly, too, I don’t see that it would matter if you invited them in or not.
      Think of it as an opening for conversation/waves hello/whatever in the future.

    8. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

      I don’t invite people in who I don’t know. Wouldn’t make a difference how many there were.

      But then I don’t answer the door if I’m not expecting someone either, so this situation would never come up for me, lol.

    9. the gold digger*

      Not only would I not invite them in, when I deliver cookies/brownies/whatever to new neighbors, the last thing I would want (it has never happened) would be to be invited in. I want a cordial, friendly relationship that involves no time together. I didn’t even know people did that! (Invite in.)

      1. AnotherAlison*

        When my neighbors have brought by cookies, they are making multiple deliveries. I wouldn’t invite them in because I expect they need to move on to the next house. I expect to make small talk for 5-10 minutes, and then for them to excuse themselves to get the other cookies delivered!

    10. Loopy*

      I would be flustered and anxious. I don’t like unexpected things. Especially drop ins. So I’d be friendly but not invite in. I like people when I prepared for them. And my house always takes preparation for guests. I’m not disgustingly gross but I am not Martha Stewart. I have enough clutter that I’d worry about their impressions.

    11. Elizabeth H.*

      I would definitely invite them in and I would definitely actually WANT them to come in! (I wouldn’t be offended if they didn’t though.) according to my personal values it’s just basic politeness to invite someone in and offer them a glass of water or a cup of tea.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Why do you have to politely invite them in when they haven’t checked if it’s a good time?

        1. Elizabeth H.*

          If I were in the middle of something important or really stressed out working on something I’d probably not invite them in and explain I was in the middle of something – but if I were just chilling out reading or doing paperwork or talking to my boyfriend or something I’d probably stop what I was doing. My reasoning is that neighbors stopping by is a really uncommon occurrence so it’s not going to throw a huge wrench in my lifestyle to potentially disrupt whatever I’m doing for fifteen minutes one (or so) evenings a year and I’ll enjoy an unexpected convivial social moment more than whatever low key thing I was in the middle of, as a change of pace. But again, that’s just my personal take on this – I know I’m more socially inclined than some other people who have commented, everyone has their own way of doing things which is cool too!

    12. Jules the Third*

      I would never feel *obligated* to invite them in. No one who stops by without warning or an invitation has the right to come in my house, not even my parents. And I have great parents.

      I might *choose* to invite them in, if we’ve waved enough times in passing. But I would feel no guilt about not inviting them in, and if I were the neighbors, I would feel no expectation of being invited in.

      I am sure that different cultures have different expectations, and I’m actually going against both my childhood cultures here (US Midwest and US Southern), I think. I know Southerners would perceive an obligation, I *think* Midwesterners would. But I’m now in the ‘messy house and frisky dog’ phase, and nobody’s getting in without a chance for me to pick up.

      1. Lissa*

        This is me, too! If I wanted to cultivate a closer relationship with them, I might invite them in if I wasn’t “super feeling it” but still liked them, but 6/10 times I’d probably be really friendly at the door and not invite them in.

      2. Moonmodule1998*

        Thinking about it, I live in the south and I wonder how much of this is an age / generational thing. I’m pretty young and would not care to invite strangers into my home, for various reasons, and I wouldn’t be able to understand / sympathize with someone offended by that. I can’t think of anyone my age who I think would get worked up about it (but I very much could be wrong). I bet there are other factors at play here too. This is a late reply to this thread but I like seeing how other people feel about it and I’ll continue to think about it.

    13. Triplestep*

      I crew up on a NYC co-0p, so I know there are very few opportunities to get to know your neighbors. That’s why I would have invited them in.

      I now live in a mid-size Northeast city in a single family home. My neighborhood is composed of homes like mine, plus two- and three-family homes, pretty much all owner-occupied, all close together and right up on the street. A few neighbors starting getting together one night a week one summer around a fire-pit, and it just continued and grew. It’s turned into a year-round multi-generational gathering (the kids leave when it’s their bedtime) hosted mostly by middle aged and older folks. I think those cross-generational relationships are important, and not always easy to cultivate. Luckily, there’s never any pressure to go, so no excuses needed if we just want to bow out.

      1. WillyNilly*

        I find this a strange reply :)
        I grew up in a single family home, on a block with multigenerations, owner-occupied, etc, in the Northeast (eastern Queens specifically). Now I live in a coop.

        I find there are much *more* opportunities to interact with my neighbors now. We all use the same building doors, get our mail in the lobby, use the communal laundry room, ride the elevators, etc, so our daily comings and goings are, well, communal. In a house, a person has to make a point of approaching a neighbor.

    14. quikaa*

      We give out holiday cookies with a card to neighbors and would not want to be invited in either- we have a few to deliver plus doing this is more of a generally neighborhood thing (not a be your best friend thing). Our neighborhood is a suburban one. We want to be on good terms with the neighbors- they have our contact info so can alert us if an issue (helpful when the dog got out and they found her wandering about) or to exchange info about good service providers and sometimes we chat if outside and it happens organically.

    15. Bryce*

      I would just converse at the door because my apartment is a big personal space bubble where I can (mentally) just relax and slosh around a bit without my usual anxieties of getting in people’s way. I don’t let people in that bubble easily, it kinda defeats the purpose. But other folks may have different responses.

    16. Persimmon*

      Wow, reading the comments on here, I would just like to add that I don’t think it’s so much about what you are obligated to do, as deciding what kind of neighbor/person/community member you want to be and being that person. I don’t think you are under any obligation to invite them in- they know they are there unexpectedly and the goal is to make you feel more comfortable around them, not less. Their goal is not to inconvenience you; they assume that if it’s a good time (also read: you are comfortable with people you barely know in your house/ you feel comfortable with the level of tidiness/ etc.) you will invite them in, and if not, you won’t, though hopefully you’ll slip a little thank you note into their mailbox or under their door. In any case, one of my favorite blogs/sites, the Art of Manliness, as a number of interesting posts about being a neighbor, from a list of things you can do to be a better neighbor, to a more philosophical take on the issue: https://www.artofmanliness.com/2013/05/23/on-being-neighborly/

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This is kind of where I am at, I put it under the heading of “what will be, will be”. Years ago, my husband and I went door to door in our community collecting signatures on a petition. Probably 75% of the people invited us in and made coffee. It did not take us long to figure out we cannot drink all that coffee. Additionally, at this rate we were getting 2 signatures every hour and a half. The subject of the petition was a great conversation starter.

        I learned a lot though. Women living alone were less apt to invite us in, which made sense to me. Clutter was a non-issue. People did not care if I saw their cluttered house. I was pleased to find out that about 50% of the homes in my area look like mine. With one exception, everyone was very polite and kind. The exception was the one person who hid when we rang the bell. They finally did talk to us and it was only long enough to tell us our petition was baseless, there was no problem. This was very funny, because everyone else said “Yes, this is a HUGE problem.” This person said they were afraid of their taxes going up. (Even though the problem was never solved, taxes increased anyway. I am not sure what they were thinking.)

        It drove the point home for me that people who randomly come to the door probably do not have any expectations of what the home owner will do. Most people understand we live in a era where inviting strangers into your home is probably not a great idea. People with good intentions want the home owner to do whatever they are most comfortable doing.

    17. Falling Diphthong*

      Both are acceptable.

      I would probably default to the ‘at the door’ one without thinking about it (introvert; accustomed to other ‘here is your kid’s parka, kthnxbye’ drop offs). The one that leans me slightly toward the other is “new” as in “trying to reach out and make some neighborly connections here.” But I actually have the opportunity to think it over in a thread; in the moment not sure which I’d do.

    18. Anon anon anon*

      I think this varies by region, but it’s always fine to say, “I would invite you in, but the house is a mess and I’m already late for work! Let’s get together some other time,” or something like that. The only obligation is to be friendly. (Unless you don’t want to be friendly with your neighbors. In which case, don’t answer the door.)

    19. Flower Gleam and Glow*

      I’m in the “converse at the door” camp!

      If I don’t know you very well, you’re not coming in because a) safety and b) my place is going to be messy and I’m going to be embarrassed

    20. WillyNilly*

      I live in a NYC coop. I would not invite my neighbors in, but I would chat at the door.

      Its not uncommon for me to prop my door open, as my kids play with the kids next door and I feel like they should be able to come & go and the parents next door should be able to feel they can walk in to retrieve their kids as needed (to me, a wide open door says “its ok to walk right in” more than a simply unlocked door, and I am talking about kids 6yrs and under). But even with the door wide open, unless its a parent coming in specifically for their child, I expect all adults to stop at the threshold.

      When I deliver chocolates to my other neighbors down the hall, I specifically pick a time they are out and hang the gift bag on their doorknob so I won’t have to deal with even the possibility of being invited in.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, bummer, Bibliovore. I hope you feel better soon, and I think Christmas is a pretty robust construct that really is pretty hard to ruin.

    2. Lcsa99*

      It sucks being sick this time of year. I remember one Christmas I had bronchitis. I was coughing so much I couldn’t sleep and ended up getting out of bed to sit on the couch for a while until it calmed down (ostensibly so I wouldn’t wake my husband, but he was sweet, woke up and brought blankets and his pillow out so he could lay on the floor by my feet) .

      I hope you at least have someone to take care of you.

    3. Temperance*

      Of course you didn’t ruin Christmas! You now get to sit in bed/on the couch and watch TV. I demand it.

    4. Amadeo*

      My sister’s youngest has the flu, so it seems to be a running theme. She called our mother a little distraught about it, but we’d also planned some hang out time for New Year’s Eve, so all is not lost. I did the flu thing about 5 years ago at Christmas too.

      As my mother said, if you live long enough, eventually you’ll be sick at Christmas.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Thanks guys. I guess that I can’t break Christmas but it sure feels like it. Can’t read. Feels like I am choking when I am horizontal. So, so, so sick of ginger lemon tea. Wish I had something good to stream. Going to heat up some broth now.

        1. Gadfly*

          So far exploding appendix while pregnant, pulmonary arrest/technical death/coma, car accidents with scalp ‘degloving’ injuries, and emergency gallbladder removal due to likely cancer have failed to put much of a dent in it (and that’s just my nuclear family…). I think it will survive.

    5. Anion*

      Even the Grinch couldn’t ruin Christmas, Bibiovore. Do you think you’re better or more important than the Grinch? Get over yourself, man!

      (I’m teasing, of course. But seriously, I doubt you’ve ruined Christmas–I was sick as a dog a couple years ago and even that didn’t ruin it, we just had fewer cookies and treats and earlier bedtimes. Please take care of yourself and I hope you feel better soon!)

  9. Britt*

    I posted here awhile back that I was working on a “Happiess Plan/Guide” of some sort. Well, it’s taken some shape, and I’m excited about how it’s going.

    I’m wondering: What would make your life happier?

    1. fposte*

      Things that I can’t fix: physical health. Things that I can: getting my butt out of a chair and doing something more often.

    2. The RO-Cat*

      Me. Actually, it’s something I’m working on right now. I made myself a gift at my 50th anniversary (I don’t care much about birthdays, particularly mine, but the kinda-round, half-circle number inspired me): a years-long inner transformation into the best variant of me. This includes (among other things like “stop procrastinating and do what you dream of doing for this world” and “stand up for yourself, will ya?”) detaching “happiness” from “environment”. Now, that’s (way) easier said than done, but that’s (part of) what makes it so appealing to me. I got myself a plan and I’m in its very early stages (I think I’ll need 8 -10 years to reach the first plateau; I imagine the evolution as several plateaus separated by periods of growth). If you’re curious, maybe I’ll report back in, say, 2023.

      1. Belle di Vedremo*

        Oh, RO-Cat, I love this: “stop procrastinating and do what you dream of doing for this world.” Thank you so much for putting it into words and posting them, here.

      1. The RO-Cat*

        What you said might sound corny, but everyone: it is not. I managed to empty my brain for a short time and somehow return it to “factory reset” and the sensation doesn’t fit into any amount of words. Later I came across the idea that brain’s “default state” is peaceful and happy, it gets muddied with instinctive, un-checked thoughts and it seemed completely acceptable to me. Before my experience, though… I would have had a hard time acceptin it.

    3. Ms Ida*

      A few weeks ago after reading the comments to the letter writer having trouble waking up I took a few of the suggestion. I ordered a Philips alarm clock with wake up light and a sunlamp. I am sleeping better and feeling happier already.
      One of the suggested purchases Amazon made was book called “The Depression Cure: The 6-Step program to Beat Depression Without Drugs”” by Stephen Ilardi, I took Amazon’s suggestion and got it at the library:) Just getting started with the chapter on how sunlight impacts sleep and mood, from the few weeks I have been using the sunlamp I can really see an improvement so I think I will try all the steps. This year I have felt like I am getting more into SAD territory from the usual PNW winter blahs and a lot of the steps(sun exposure, exercise, social interaction) are things I will drop from my self-care.

    4. All Hail Queen Sally*

      Britt: I would like to hear more about your Happiness Plan/Guide. Earlier this year I had a milestone birthday and ever since have been reflecting on my life trying to figure out how I got to where I am today, and why I don’t feel satisfied/ happy.

      1. Britt*

        It’s a step-by-step sort of blueprinting thing. (I’ll come up with a better tagline when it’s finished.)

        Basically, it asks questions about your life like, “What are you afraid of?” and then uses that emotion to walk through your psyche. Your emotions are learning tools, so all of the answers are there, so it’s about discovering them.

        It’s also based on the premise of practice, and that your subconscious/unconscious can do the work for you. It’s like push-ups; if you spend just one minute doing push-ups on Monday, your body will literally make you stronger over the next two days, even though you are literally doing nothing. The amount of time you did push-ups (one minute) vs the amount of time your body heals your muscles (48 hours is 2,880 minutes) is practically inconsequential. Then you do push-ups again for a minute on Wednesday, etc. It’s the same with your brain. Minimal focus over time produces long-term positive effects.

        It’s going to be a bound journal-looking thing, and I’ll sell it on Etsy. It’s all hand-written and hand-drawn in lots of pretty colors.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I am a big fan of confronting one’s fears. However, this can be done slowly and deliberately. Sometimes friends will pitch in by helping with one or more aspects of the issue. Fear imprisons us and we don’t even realize.
          I am not a fan of extreme fear confrontations such as rope course and rock climbing. The reason is the person needs direct relief that addresses their own fear and actually cleans up their immediate concern. If I am worried about finances, then doing a ropes course will not fix my finances. The ropes course would be a temporary lift in empowerment but doing nothing for me in the long run. Other people have a different experience though, so ymmv.

      2. Britt*

        I replied to this… either my comment has been sent for approval or the connection glitched out… this is a test comment…

    5. Woodswoman*

      Affirmations that you visit several times a day are powerful. These aren’t wishes and saying affirmations about yourself isn’t some fluffy suggestion–there is documented evidence that daily affirmations can rewire your nervous system. (Google “affirmations cognitive behavioral therapy” for more info.)

      The key is finding language that is positive and customized to your own life. For instance, don’t use the word “not” because that negative stays rooted in your brain. When I was having a hard time emotionally, a few repeated affirmations said out loud or silently during the day made a big difference within a couple weeks. One suggestion I received from someone well-versed in cognitive behavioral therapy was prefacing each affirmation with “More and more…” That takes away the pressure of feeling like you’re repeating something that doesn’t fee true if you’re not yet in the place you’d like to be, and instead focuses on it as a journey. Hope this helps!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Adding, sometimes affirmations said in a half-hearted and half-baked manner can be very powerful. I would hate for people not to try this because they cannot throw their all into the affirmation. You don’t have to throw everything you got into your affirmation, you are not a cheerleader for a team, you are a human being having a human experience. You do have to try. The key is our willingness to try even when we are just not feeling it.

    6. Nic*

      One of the things that I did when I was trying to pull myself out of a depression was to write down every good thing that happened to me that day and save it in a container. The idea was on my next birthday I would pull them all out and read how many wonderful things that happened to me that year.

      I made a choice to write everything down in the moment if I could rather than try to remember the good things later. This calls me to focus on everything I considered good for a little bit longer. I also put no lower limit on what something had to be to be “good”.

      I ended up not reading through any of them at the end, but spending the time to focus on the positive every single day multiple times a day impacted my entire world view.

    7. Britt*

      Thanks for your comments; I’m not looking for suggestions though!

      I’m wondering what things you’re struggling with?

      What do you wish you had answers to?

      What do you wish were different about your life?

      1. Nic*

        Ah, thanks for clarifying what you’re looking for!

        I’m struggling with trying to have a social life while working a night shift, 12 hour shifts, and being an introvert. When I do schedule to meet up with the friends I have, I’m so exhausted I don’t actually want to get out of bed.

        I’m also struggling with being too nice. I’ve gotten much better about boundaries, but I am not what anyone would call strict or stern. While I don’t want to be those things all the time, I want to get good enough at them so that I can when I need to.

        1. Paquita*

          Check out the Etiquette H*ll forums. (* = e) They have some good suggestions for working on your “Shiny Spine” and other things.

      2. working abroad*

        Things I’m struggling with:
        -self doubt that is crippling at times
        -running through increasingly unlikely “what ifs?” too often
        -in a similar vein, being my own harshest critic and own enemy, especially when I’m gearing up to try something new or hard

        What I wish I had answers to:
        -when I’ll figure out what I really want to do with my life
        -where I’ll be in 5, 10, 15 years
        -how to maintain relationships that are important to me, even though I live about 10,000 miles from the people I care about most and we’re all busy with our own lives
        -how to find motivation to change
        -ways to improve my leadership

        What I wish were different:
        Mostly things I can’t change, mostly “if I could turn back time” things. I wish I’d finished my education sooner, majored in something with more job opportunities, gotten started in my career field earlier, built my credit more, volunteered more
        Things I can change are mostly physical fitness, mental health, and (on a smaller scale) just trying to be a more positive and less neurotic human on the daily

        Would love to hear more about your project when you’re ready to share :)

    8. Anon anon anon*

      I’ve been feeling a lot better since I started avoiding things that make me feel bad and doing more things that make me feel good. It seems simple, but we tend to get tangled up in obligations and taking for granted that things are the way they are. It’s taken some social and financial sacrifices, but it’s been a good change.

    9. Persimmon*

      Employment. This would give me the opportunity to have a home, which would allow me to opt out of unhealthy relationships (with the various people currently providing me shelter), be healthier (via control over what I eat), and end the social stigma of unemployment. Basically a chance to take back control over my life and get it back on track. Freedom.

    10. Jackie*

      I think just asking yourself what would make you life happier can put things in perspective. It’s a great question.

    11. Her Grace*

      At first this may seem shallow, but right now more money would make me happier.

      I’m pretty good at the whole ‘go out and do’ thing. However it comes to a point where I need funds to finish things.

      I need money to buy the paint to finish my mural. Freelance editors like getting paid to edit the books I want to indie publish. Happy to change the oil on my own car after I buy some 20w-40.

      Everything I want to do that doesn’t cost money I am doing or have done. Everything else requires fiscal lubricant.

    12. Spice for this*

      I would be happier if I had one or two very supportive female friends that I could go to the spa, shopping, etc.

  10. fposte*

    Hey, Sparkly Librarian! It was very cool to see you on Jeopardy–I was impressed with your poise and your unexpected knowledge of the Phoenicians :-). You fought a good fight–it was a fine show!

    1. Paquita*

      Congrats! I finally watched it last night. DH is all ‘how do you know her’! He doesn’t understand computers and the internet.

    2. Sparkly Librarian*

      Thanks, fposte and all! “Poised” is apparently how this former theatre major looks when petrified, competitive, and trying to reduce extraneous sensory input while standing on stage in front of a live studio audience and millions of potential viewers. (My best friend saw only still shots and immediately said, “Oh, that is not a relaxed Sparkly.”)

      This week has been full of people from my distant past popping up to say how proud they were of me (?) and a lot of friend requests from absolute strangers. I must thank a former contestant here (who remained anonymous while giving advice in a previous thread) who reminded me that the worst outcome would be winning $1ooo. That helped a bunch. Also, it’s been fun to have some people with whom to share developments during the audition/taping process while I was still keeping my lip buttoned irl. Hope you all have an excellent weekend!

  11. Pick a Number*

    If you could go on The Price is Right, what game would you want to play?

    I’d be happy playing Cliffhangers (because the yodeler is awesome and it’s easy to win), Ten Chances (far and away the easiest game played for a car), Rat Race (who could pass up a slot car race with fuzzy rats!), or pretty much any of the cash games (Grand Game, Punch a Bunch, It’s In the Bag). I’m not as much of a Plinko freak as everyone else — most people only seem to win $2000 to $2500 or so — but I certainly wouldn’t complain if the curtain went up and it was Plinko!

    I’d be terrified of getting any of the games where you have to make changes really quickly – the thought of playing the Race Game puts me in a cold sweat. The other one I definitely wouldn’t want to play is Lucky Seven; that game is demonic. Or any of the lame games where you just have to pick between two prices, but that probably goes without saying.

    1. Middle School Teacher*

      I also love Cliffhanger. I think I could do ok on the Clock Game if I didn’t trip over my own tongue. The one with the ball and the shell I could win, too. I wouldn’t like now and then, or pay the rent, or pathfinder.

      1. Pick a Number*

        I have the same fear with the Clock Game, but it’s one of my favorite games.

        I never liked the Shell Game, for some reason, but at least it seems pretty easy to win.

        Pay the Rent would be cool, the way it’s set up it’s pretty much a guaranteed $5,000, and it’s even pretty easy to win $10,000. But there’s no way I’d ever go for the full $100K.

    2. Reba*

      This is my moment to say that my grandmother was on The Price is Right! Wayyy back in the day. At the moment I can’t remember what games she did, though I watched the tape one bazillion times as a kid.

    3. Come On Down*

      I would be terrified to go on the show cause I get stage fright. And there is no way I could muster as much energy as most of these people do, but if I got on I’d love to get on the Hot Seat. That’s another great way to win a lot of money.

      I don’t drive so it would be absurd if I got Triple Play.

      1. Pick a Number*

        I’m right there with you — terrible stage fright on my end too, so going on the Price is Right would never ever happen. But this is a fun hypothetical exercise! (I also really like Hot Seat, which I think is pretty new, don’t remember it when I watched the show years ago)

    4. BeautifulVoid*

      Yeah, you have to really try to *lose* Cliffhangers (though some people pull it off). Figure out if the first prize is closer to $15 or $20, and then guess $15/$25/$35 or $20/$30/$40, since the prizes are always in ascending order. For the car games, I like the Dice Game, though a lot of that one really is up to luck! Pass the Buck is pretty good, too.

      Lucky Seven is tricky, but at least I’ve seen some people win it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone win Stack the Deck, even if they get all three given numbers, which is rare. If I happened to be on The Price is Right and that turned out to be my game, it would be hard not to yell NOBODY EVER WINS THIS ONE.

      Fun story time, since you mentioned it! When I was in college (back in the Bob Barker days), a group of my classmates went out to California from New York on spring break to go to The Price is Right and one was picked to be a contestant. He did have to play the Race Game, and he won two out of the four prizes. We had class together from 10:00 – 10:50, and I remember everyone running out of class the day his episode aired so we could watch it.

      1. Lcsa99*

        Re: trying to lose cliffhangers, I am weird. Though the prizes are always cool, I do get a kick out of seeing him happily fly off the edge of the cliff. I would have a hard time not giggling if I was standing there.

    5. Mimmy*

      Price is Right was my go-to game show on a sick day when I was little! I still watched it years later – just cannot get into it with Drew Carey as host. That Cliffhangers game used to scare me.

      I could never handle being on the show though – all the shouting of prices by the audience members would send me into super sensory overload in a nanosecond! If I had to choose a game to play, though, I’d probably enjoy Plinko.

  12. Lcsa99*

    This is fun. I would want to play the one that’s like yahtzee (Let it roll?), and I agree, rat race is cool. I would even like the easy math one.

    I think I would be disappointed if I got the card game or the grocery game.

      1. Hardwood Floors*

        SO and I had a good experience being in the Price is Right audience. Neither of us were picked but the entire audience was given a $250. gift certificate (together we received $500.) because we lucked out and they were taping ‘cyber Monday.’ Was good fun.

  13. WellRed*

    Snowstorm yesterday, icy rain today. In a car north of Boston headed to Christmas on the Cape. Drive safely, those of you traveling and Merry Christmas! (Uh, if you’re into that ; ))

    1. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Just South of Boston and the roads are a little slick but not too bad. Hope you get to the Cape without incident!

  14. Schmitt*

    How crazy are we to consider…

    adding two more cats to our two-cat household in a ~750 sq.ft. apartment?

    Two small rooms are usually closed off to the cats (kitchen, dining room) but we have a large cat-safe roof terrace, which is more relevant in summer. There’s a lot of vertical cat space: two tall cat trees, one medium one, two short ones, plus a wardrobe they can go atop, perches on the bathroom windowsill, a hideyhole in the hallway, and a three-element cat wall.

    Our cats are females 2.5 and 3 years old, the possible additions are males around 1.5 years.

    Our older male cat died in October and the girls have settled into a new routine, with Mo being more social with us than before. Meggie withdrew for a while but is back to normal after the addition of Feliway & herbal supplements, but is jealous of Mo.

    We had considered adopting a third again, but had more or less decided to wait until we were in a position to adopt a bonded pair on down the road when we were down to a single cat household – but our friends have to give up their pair due to serious & worsening allergies.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Having been raised by…er, with cats all my life (college was the only time I didn’t live with cats), I think that the vertical space adds a lot. There are lots of ways for them to escape each other and retreat that don’t require a separate room or a lot of linear distance.

    2. WellRed*

      I was gonna say no way, but that it’s your friends having to give up their kitties, maybe you should.

    3. neverjaunty*

      Not crazy, but hard on the cats. Even with vertical space it can be stressful to them not to have enough ‘territory’.

      1. Schmitt*

        We’re making a list of reasons we’d consider it failed – one being that our girls stress out and don’t settle down. Any tips on a reasonable time for that? I’m thinking two months?

        1. working abroad*

          I lived in a large studio with similar square footage. At one point I was fostering nine kittens from a high-kill shelter in addition to my two forever kitties. It was…a lot. Thankfully they all got adopted out to wonderful homes fairly quickly using Pet Finder, and my two forever kits were pretty chill about it.

          Rhetorical questions to consider:
          Are you willing to have 4-5 litter boxes? Most vets recommend one for each cat plus an extra, although I’ve been fine with just two. Are you willing to scoop all of them daily?
          Health costs: flea meds, vet checkups, shots, unexpected illness
          Travel costs: I moved to a new country and it cost a little over 4 grand to relocate my cats. Even if you know you’ll never move abroad, consider boarding or sitting costs if you were to want to travel.
          General costs: food, especially if you use a nice brand; specialty food or meds if an illness were to arise

          Any chance you could keep the new additions in the dining room for a bit so they can get to know each other through the door for the first few weeks? I’d honestly give it longer than two months, even though it will feel unbearable at times. Get a few Feliway diffusers (I know you mentioned you had one) and plug them in a week or so before the new guys arrive. Kudos to you for wanting to take them in!

          1. Schmitt*

            Thank you for such a detailed answer! Eleven is *definitely* a lot, ha!

            I think we’ve covered all your questions, so I’m feeling a little more secure that we haven’t forgotten any big considerations. Finding places to put the extra litterboxes and plug in the extra Feliways is going to be the fun part.

    4. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      Give it a shot, but if you can’t get all 4 introduced and comfortable, don’t feel bad about rehoming the males.

      1. Schmitt*

        That’s what we’re thinking. If we try and fail, they won’t be in a worse place than they are without us. :-/

    5. Stellaaaaa*

      If applicable, consider the preferences and allergies of your wider social group. I’ve had to essentially let a few friendships die because they got too many pets and I could no longer visit them anymore…and the pets at home meant they couldn’t leave the house for long social events. And be aware of the smell issues. Even if you’re clean, 4 is a lot of cats in a very small space. Again, it’s just something to think about if you want to be able to have people over. I’m not the only person in the world who subconsciously phases herself out of friendships when friends make lifestyle choices that make it hard for me to hang out with them. Plus, taking your friends’ cats (because they are allergic) means that you can’t have those good friends over.

  15. Ann Furthermore*

    My daughter is 8, and is still all-in with Santa. I’ve been trying to step up our elf’s hijinks this year, because by next year she may have figured things out. She’s been impressed by some of the pranks she’s pulled. I’ve got one more thing planned for tonight, and then tomorrow night, the elf will leave with Santa.

    On Thursday I picked her up from school a little bit early, and we went to the mall to see Santa. I was hoping to beat the after-school crowd, and we did. We were only in line for 20 or 30 minutes, and part of that was so Santa could take a break…even he needs to use the bathroom sometimes! The guy playing Santa was pretty young, but he did a really good job. Then we walked around the mall a little bit and did some shopping, and got something to eat. It was really fun.

    I’ll be bummed when she figures out the deal with Santa…it can be a pain, and trying to find things to do with that damn elf is enough to send me over the edge sometimes, but overall, I’ve loved doing all that stuff and I’ll be sad to see it end. I was 8 when I figured it out. I came home from school early one day, my mom wasn’t expecting me, and there was a pile of toys sitting on the dining room table. On Christmas morning, I found that Santa had left me a pile of stuff that looked very familiar. It didn’t take much for me to put 2 and 2 together.

    1. Reba*

      The first year that I knew but my lil brother still didn’t know, my parents really went for it, using fake snow to leave Santa’s footprints around the house leading to gifts. It was awesome.

    2. fposte*

      An enduring family story is when I was little and went to see Santa with my dad. Santa was late, and my dad, being one of those dads, said that Santa was in the bathroom. And apparently I then yelled in delight at some length to the rest of my family about Santa being in the bathroom. Which did not go unnoticed by all the other families waiting in line, and apparently some parents were pretty amused, but some . . . not so much. (My dad fell into the amused category.)

    3. SAHM*

      That’s great! My eldest is also 8, but my 6 year old is coming up with conspiracy theories about our Elf already. We’ve had a “Naughty Elf” this year (climbing up ceiling fans, eating all the marshmallows, tying up toys, etc) and my 6 yr old is CONVINCED that my brother stole our elf and traded ours with his. Because Uncle Nate is naughty so it MUST be his elf! Doesn’t help that Uncle Nate has played along with it, sending pics of an elf getting tied up, etc. So we’ve asked the other two uncles to help on Christmas, the boys are bringing their nerf guns and the uncles and Daddy are going to “tie up” Uncle Nate so the boys can shoot him and “rescue” their elf from his truck. I think it’s going to be a blast.

    4. Jules the Third*

      My 10yo asked me around Tgiving, very very seriously: “Is Santa real? Please tell me the truth.” So I did, and reminded him not to discuss it with his friends, as many of them still believe. I’m quite relieved, but we’ve always focused a lot more on the ‘friends and family’ part than on ‘snow and gifts’.

    5. Middle School Teacher*

      There was a OMG on Facebook the other day about a mom who bandaged her elf’s foot, and then wrote a note from the elf saying he tried to come in, but the kids left their toys all over the place and he broke his leg and had to rest for two weeks. Then she plunked him on a shelf and thought, now I don’t have to move him for 14 days!

      (That backfired when she just chucked him in the oven because the kids said he hadn’t moved… then forgot and turned the oven on. He melted and the kids were horrified.)

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        OMG, that is hilarious. There was a picture floating around Facebook of the elf lowering lotion in a basket to Barbie in a bucket. So, so wrong, but it made me laugh so hard.

    6. EvilQueenRegina*

      I caught on to the fact that Santa bought the same wrapping paper as my parents every year. It wasn’t a massive shock as I had already been told about one classmate being woken up by her parents putting the stocking on her bed. I told that story to my parents and they wouldn’t have it that I might have stopped believing, kept insisting that “Cersei was so naughty that Santa refused to visit her and her parents didn’t want to disappoint her”. They made so much fuss that I didn’t dare bring up the wrapping paper and in the end I pretended to believe for another two years. Then the next year when I was 10, while Mum had finally accepted I knew, I was spending Christmas with my cousins, one of whom was 6 and still believed, the other was 11 and his parents thought he did, so I had to continue to play along. At the time I thought it was hilarious that he still believed at that age. Later I wondered if he really did.

      1. SAHM*

        See, that’s why Santa uses the GOLD wrapping paper and ONLY the gold wrapping paper ;-). Trick I learned from my dad, one of the few good things he taught me, lol.

        1. TL -*

          This how my brother (6) and I (4) figured out that Santa and the Easter Bunny weren’t real – the Easter Bunny always left us clues for a scavenger hunt and my brother figured out that his handwriting was Mom’s handwriting! The first question out of his mouth after Mom confirmed it was her handwriting was “Then Santa’s not real either?!”

          I remember having this conversation with my parents (at 6 am Easter morning; they were still in bed!) but I don’t have any memories of believing in Santa Claus.

      2. Peggy*

        My mom used to say that Santa just used our wrapping paper… his elves get so busy making the presents they couldn’t wrap them before Christmas Eve. So he’d bring our unwrapped presents and wrap them when he got to the house to drop them off. We’d leave paper out before bed and cookies for him to eat while he wrapped. Looking back, it was kind of a genius story. We never doubted it and my mom could wrap everything without worrying about slipping up.

      3. Ann Furthermore*

        That’s funny…Santa didn’t wrap gifts at our house, and he doesn’t at our house either. When I was a kid, we would go to church on Christmas Eve night, and then open presents from each other when we got home. Then Santa would come, so it was sort of like having Christmas twice. My husband informed me in no uncertain terms that all gifts are opened on Christmas morning, and anything else was completely unacceptable. He was quite adamant about it, so I let it go. You have to pick your battles in marriage. LOL.

        1. DArcy*

          My family’s tradition was my sister and I got to pick ONE present each on Christmas Eve, and check our stockings when we woke up on Christmas Day. The rest of the presents were reserved to open at the two big Christmas parties with the whole extended family (one for Mom’s side of the family and one for Dad’s), which were scheduled for one on the evening of Christmas Day and one on the weekend between Christmas and New Year’s.

        2. Anion*

          Ha! We do the same thing (although we stopped going to Mass when I was eight or nine). Christmas Eve was cold cuts, crackers, etc., and then we open presents from each other–which was most of them.

          In the morning, kids can open stockings before parents are up (my parents were genuises) but anything wrapped from Santa has to wait.

          When my husband and I first got married we did “everything Xmas morning” one year the way he was used to, but he agreed that opening gifts at night with the tree all lit and everything felt more special and fun. At least he said he agreed, lol, but we’ve been doing it that way for almost eighteen years now!

          So Santa was never *that* big a deal in our house anyway, so finding out he wasn’t real–with the Yes, Virginia caveat, of course–wasn’t a big deal either.

          I’m pretty sure our kids know there’s no Santa, but we all enjoy pretending differently.

          One year when they were little we changed my MIL’s info in Hubs’s phone and told our kids that all parents have a scheduled phone call with Santa. So when she called (she was in on it) the phone said “Santa Claus” was calling. The girls were so excited! (We took the phone into another room so they couldn’t hear us have just a normal conversation with my MIL.)

      4. Gadfly*

        I have a friend in her forties who swears she still believes because Santa always brings the good gifts. The second she stops believing, its socks and such for x-mas (as per her father.)

    7. Rookie Manager*

      My mum confided to me when I was about 11 or 12 that when my youngest sib stopped believing, we would stop getting stockings/havibg Santa… so as my younger siblings started questioning Santa I passed on this important piece of information.

      We’re all now in our 30’s and my youngest sib will still claim Santa is real. We all still get stockings, and our partners do to!

    8. Intel Analyst Shell*

      I don’t remember when my younger brother and I figured out Santa wasn’t real. I do remember somewhere around the age of 14 being hormonal and annoyed at my parents and shouting something about Santa not being real. They then acted completely shocked and taken aback that I would say something that was a total lie and then literally sat me down and told me all the reasons Santa was real, how Santa is real as long as you believe, etc. I went to bed second guessing myself for a couple hours.

      My parents live in a two story house. My husband, myself and my younger brother all stay the night Christmas Eve so that we’ll be there Christmas Day when Santa has been by. At the ages of 31, 28 and 23 my dad STILL MAKES US WAIT AT THE TOP OF THE STAIRS UNTIL HIM AND MOM HAVE HAD COFFEE. All the while raving about all the gifts Santa has left. It is corny and ridiculous and I love the tradition to this day.

      All that to say, don’t let Santa die. Ever.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        That is so cool. I love hearing about other people’s holiday traditions. My 8 year old has a slumber party with her big sister (my 20 year old stepdaughter) on Christmas Eve — they watch a Christmas movie in her room, and then I get a text when she’s fallen asleep so Santa can come. On Christmas morning she wakes us up, and insists that we all walk downstairs together, holding hands, to see what Santa has left.

        She’s still talking about how she heard Santa’s sleigh bells last year and heard him walking around in our house.

    9. The New Wanderer*

      My mom is bummed that we didn’t keep up Santa as a Thing with the kids (four and eight yrs old). But the older one never fully bought into it, although she will still write a letter to Santa and muse about how he’ll know where we’ll be on Christmas morning. The younger is vaguely aware – we visited Santa kind of by accident the last two years and he was fine chatting it up with Santa but that’s about it. (The accidental part was being by a Santa’s village when no one happened to be in line and just walking in.)

      Their cousins were all for it for years – I think the older one was 12-ish before he stopped writing to Santa. So we were careful with our kids to explain that Santa is real to some so they wouldn’t spoil it.

      I think I once put “From Santa” on a few gifts but it didn’t seem to matter, and now I usually leave the From part blank.

    10. JDusek*

      We told our 11 year old after Easter this past spring. We felt that with him entering middle school that we didn’t want him to get made fun of. But, the first thing that he said was that he still wants to believe in Santa.
      On a side note, after hearing, “I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus.”for the first time since finding out, it clicked for him that mommy was probably kissing daddy.

    11. Cruciatus*

      First–I found out The Truth by my “best friend”. My mom is still mad about it. I don’t even remember it really. She was a year older but I think was shocked I still believed, told me so, and I came home and asked about it. I think I was 8 or 9.

      Second and related to some of the other posts, Santa also doesn’t wrap gifts at our house. I always thought it was weird he wrapped them at other people’s houses. My sister and I would get up at 4am or thereabouts to get our stockings. Santa (and the Easter Bunny in our baskets) leaves rhyming clues where to find the presents (a few are sometimes under the tree already). We have to quietly go through the house to find them. And those presents were the ones we were allowed to play with while the annoying adults were so slow to get ready to open presents Christmas Day. I’m in my late 30s and my sister in her early 40s and we still do this, though we get up at maybe 8am now, the clue hunt is much shorter, and we’re less impatient about opening presents later.

  16. Wannabe Disney Princess*


    Does anyone here have any tips? Everything on me is either too pink or too orange. Even the ones that are supposed to be neutral Any suggestions on finding something that doesn’t make me look like a cartoon character would be much appreciated.

    1. nep*

      I’ll be interested in suggestions here too.
      Many I’ve tried will not blend in at all and it’s horrible.
      I’ve had pretty good luck with Maybelline Dream Fresh BB cream. Then again money’s tight and I’ve never tried any of the more pricier products; I’ve often wanted to try one just to see whether worth it.

    2. Reba*

      I used to do well with the L’oreal tru match ones — as I recall the neutrals are truly neutral, and none of them are all that pigmented. These days I am happy with Nars.

      Best suggestion is to go to Sephora (maybe after the holidays :) ). The matchy machine thing is just ok (in my experience) but more importantly there’s lots of things to try and they will make up little sample pots for you so you can try over a few days, see in different lights, etc.

      1. Reba*

        To add: look at tinted moisturizers and BB or CC creams. There are really nice light formulas out there now. They should be more forgiving since some of your skin shows through.

    3. Ann Furthermore*

      It’s worth it to go to a department store and have one of the makeup saleswomen (or I guess it could be a guy) spend some time helping you pick out the right shade. Foundation is counter-intuitive. If your skin has pink undertones, then you want to go with a foundation with more yellow to counteract that. And if your skin has yellowish undertones, you should go with pink to balance that out. If you use a foundation with colors that match your skin’s natural undertones, then it will be too much.

      I needed some while I was traveling recently, so I stopped in a MAC store at the airport, and got some foundation and pressed powder. I’d never used MAC before, and I’ve been very pleased with it. If you’re on a budget, I would still go to to the department store to see if someone can help you find the right shade, and then get a sample that you could match up with a less expensive brand.

      1. Triplestep*

        I think I need to do this department store thing. I went to Sephora, and the young woman who helped me was very nice, but I feel the foundation “match” I got makes me look like a cadaver. I’m supposed to strategically place bronzer on after, but I feel like that ends up looking like orange blotches.

        I’m 54 years old. It’s possible that even a very knowledgeable Sephora associate is just not going to get my skin and/or look. My mom swears by Clinique, so maybe I’ll try that at a department store counter in January.

        1. Book Lover*

          I have liked Clinique and MAC. Be careful about the light they use, though – things look good indoors and then you go outside and everything looks weird. I have never had issues returning problem colors to them though.

      2. Ann Furthermore*

        I’ve had good luck with Lancome, and when it comes to pressed powder, in my mind Lancome’s Dual Finish product is the absolute best one out there. The MAC one I’ve been using is a close second.

      3. Emmie*

        I agree! I love Clinique at the department store. I do not recommend Ulta or Sephora for this. I haven’t had good experiences. If you feel uncomfortable with the prices, I’ve spent loyñtsbof money trying to find matching drug store foundation. And, you wear your face everyday. It’s the first thing people see.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I miss Prescriptives so much.

      You might want to start by going to either Sephora or MAC and letting one of their associates help you figure this out. I have red undertones, so I go with a more yellow foundation. I learned that the best course is go with the opposite of your undertones, not match them– which isn’t easy, but it’s a starting tip. After years of department store brands, I started using Neutrogena. I like it a lot, but it took years to feel comfortable before I could find the right color.

      1. Reba*

        Hm, I disagree with AvonLady and Ann’s advice about counteracting your skin tones! That really has not worked for me: if it’s not a good match, it really looks like it’s just sitting on top of my skin (not like, my skin but better looking). Just shows that everyone is different.

        This is a sidebar: it also gets at my annoyance–not directed at the aforementioned commenters but at the fashion-beauty industry writ large–that everything is to fix some flaw about yourself. Like when magazines do “____ for Every Body” each body type is actually characterized by what’s “wrong” with it, the feature you need to hide or “balance”… I wish flattering meant “enhance” rather than “do something to camouflage your given shape or color.” I guess I feel like, my skin is pink and that’s ok! I don’t have de-pinkening it as a goal!

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          That tip may not work for everyone. I learned that from a friend years ago who was in cosemetology school, because I’d been having trouble finding the right color foundation too. It’s so tricky…if you get the wrong shade, it just looks weird.

        2. Makeup Addict*

          I totally agree! I have pink undertones and foundations with yellow tones make me look dreadful. Pink tones look great. I’d never recommend wearing opposing tones, it looks horribly fake and mask-like.

          1. Blue_eyes*

            I think it really depends on how much color correction you need. I don’t have pink undertones so much as just a very pink complexion and I need something to balance out the pink to make my skin tone look more neutral. I’ve been using MAC CC cream in yellow and it really helps my skin to not look too pink. I apply a thin layer of the CC cream all over, then add foundation (not in a yellow tone) and it blends well.

    5. MissDissplaced*

      I’ve recently had luck with Boots #7 Airbrush Away foundation which is super light and blendable. Plus it came in a light enough shade. I’ve notice lately most other US brands are now WAY too dark for some reason!
      There are also some color adjusting options, but I didn’t find them working on me.
      CC’s and BB’s are good options for lighter coverage. I sometimes do use those too, but the built-in sunscreens can irritate my skin. The makeup companies have become a little overzealous with the SPF lately, and it was kind of hard to find a foundation or moisturizer without this.

    6. Middle School Teacher*

      For cheaper, I like the L’Oréal pro-glow. Because it’s reflective and glowy it seems to be a bit more forgiving. For expensive I like Kat Von D tattoo lock-it or hourglass, both from Sephora. I’m really pale and they seem to work well for me without making me look orange.

      I also recommend going to Sephora and talking with an associate. Plus I think you can get a free makeover if you buy $50 of stuff (if it’s in your budget) and it’s returnable if it doesn’t work for you.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Random thoughts about buying cosmetics: Sephora reminds me of Ulta, another chain of beauty-supply stores (in the U.S. anyway). In one of my rare appearances there, I was guided to a concealer stick and powder rather than full-on foundation or bb cream (Tarte brand)–would this work for you instead?

        Middle School Teacher’s comments about returning products to Sephora reminds me… is it Walgreen’s that offers makeup refunds, no questions asked? Or CVS? (Or is this a thing of the past?)

        If you’re looking for less-expensive options, try Target, JCPEnney, or NYX. The latter seems to be creating its own freestanding stores.

        1. Courtney*

          I know Walgreens does – my dad is a manager there and is always very insistent that I should return any makeup I don’t like even though I feel awkward about it since yeah, that’s their policy.

    7. JD*

      Ya. No. If you have pink undertones you use a pink foundation. Yellow, etc. Laura Mercier is my go to. I use the tinted moisturizer when I don’t want to wear makeup and the Flawless Fusion for more coverage.

      I don’t wear drug store brands but I believe that CVS allows you to try makeup and take it back, opened, if it doesn’t work for you. The obvious benefit of department store makeup is the ability to test it. You also may be able to go onto their websites and request samples. I know people do this often and also receive coupons.

    8. Ramona Flowers*

      I’ll just be in the corner about how Benefit discontinued their Playstick in Jax which was the ONE FOUNDATION THAT EVER MATCHED MY SKIN. I wrote to them and got a very annoying response saying they probably discontinued it to make way for exciting new products. Sigh/wail/gnashing of teeth…

    9. Sparkly Librarian*

      I don’t have much advice, but I empathize with the dilemma. I don’t wear much makeup, or wear it often, so mine tends to last a long time. Earlier this fall I decided to toss out the items that were waaaay beyond the recommended expiration, and replace them. In the case of my foundation, I have seen some sun since I matched that shade, and I don’t care to look ghostly when I get all dressed up. So last night when I was at the drugstore with my wife, I decided to pick up new mascara, eyeliner, and foundation. After 20 minutes, I literally texted my wife “Makeup SOS”. She found me sitting in the aisle rather overcome by the multitude of options.

      1. Effie, who is worth it*

        I’ve heard tons of good things about Fenty (it even has makeup for albino people). I recommend going to a Sephora and asking a salesperson there to help you with Fenty.

    10. super anon*

      Do you have a Sephora near you? Sephora is great because they will make samples of any product in the store for you, and you can get 3 free daily, even if you don’t buy anything. When I still wore foundation I went to Sephora to have them match me and browse all of their foundations, and then I would take samples of the ones I thought would be the best match rather than buying anything. This works well because each pot gets you a few days worth of wear so you can see how the foundation will wear through out the day, if it will oxidize, how to settles on your skin and if you skin likes it.

      Also, don’t let them use their colour id thing on you. It’s not that great and rarely ever works. I’m lighter skinned (around a NW13 in winter and a NW15 in summer) and they would consistently match me with shades that were in the midrange section (around NW25 and up!!) and also the wrong undertone when using that tech.

    11. Courtney*

      My skin is also a tricky shade like this! I’m super fair skinned and neutral, though if I have to go too pink or too yellow, pink looks more natural on me.

      My favorite is Lancome’s stick foundation in their lightest shade. They make it in a liquid too, I just like the consistency and the way their stick foundation blends.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I love stick foundations – when Benefit made one in my skin tone it was perfect.

        I now use Stila liquid foundation here and there.

    12. Anion*

      I bite the bullet and spend the money for Dior; their palest shade is the only one that isn’t too pink or too orange on me (it looks awesome, actually, I love it, but it ain’t cheap so I’m very careful with it). L’Oreal has a good close second shade.

      If you have the opportunity, you can go to a Sephora and they’ll give you a little sample pot of any foundation to take home and try. It usually lasts a week or so.

    13. Bespectacled elephant*

      I found it helpful to google beauty bloggers on youtube/instagram and find the ones closest to my skin-tone and see what they use. I found Tarte to be the best. Drugstore foundations were difficult because they seem to get orange later. Maybelline True Match is the best out of the lot, I think.

    14. only acting normal*

      It’s best to match to the skin at your jawline (bottom of your cheek, not chin) and *in daylight* not artificial light. If it’s invisible in those conditions it should be a decent match.
      I like Lily Lolo loose powder foundation: not sure how readily available it is outside the UK, but they do tester pots by mail order, so you can try a couple of shades.

    15. Anon anon anon*

      Invest in something of quality and use it in very small quantities. With the good stuff, a little goes a long way. Lower quality foundation isn’t really worth it. Ideally, go to a makeup store, give them your price range and how you’ll be using it (outdoors? being filmed/photographed? able to touch up during the day or needing something longer lasting? trying to cover up freckles or wrinkles or something like that?). Then test the products. If it’s too expensive, look for it cheaper online or see if you can get a free sample somewhere.

    16. WillyNilly*

      My advice is hit up YouTube first and watch some review videos on the brands and products you are interested in. Take note of the reviewer’s coloring, and techniques, plus of course their review. From there you can narrow your search so once you go into a store you already have a good starting point.

  17. Red*

    So, I posted last week about possibly taking up yoga with a friend so I could get out more. Well, now that’s on hold until I see a cardiologist in January because something’s going on with my heart and we aren’t sure what. My resting rate is usually around 110, and that’s ridiculous! So, now I have no social plans and a potential problem. Yay.

    1. Bluebell*

      That’s too bad! Could you do a super gentle type of yoga? Restorative is generally non stressful on your heart. I had to take a break from yoga when I developed some back problems last month. I’m really looking forward to starting up again.

    2. JD*

      You have my sympathy. I am on year two of a resting 120. I feel like I am about to pass out ALL the time. Ruined my daily running, social life, etc. I have had every test done to man and tried numerous medications, all of which make me violently ill. The final answer is simply “ya your HR is really fast see another Dr”. I would give almost anything to end this. It literally started suddenly one day and has been an issue since. If I get anxious or stressed I am in the 140s plus and since that isn’t sustainable for long I then feel faint and there goes my day. I truly hope this isn’t the case for you and would be interested to hear any results as any idea is helpful to bring up to my doctors.

      1. Easily Amused*

        Have you heard of POTS? I know of 2 women who have been diagnosed and this sounds similar. I figured I would mention it if it helps at all. I hope you can figure out what is causing your high heart rate and get it under control! My husband’s rate became high suddenly as well but he’s managing it with medication.

    3. Anion*

      Hey, IANAD, but I hope it helps to know my mom had the same thing; it was her thyroid and was very simple to take care of. I hope very much that it’s the same for you. I’ll keep my fingers crossed!

  18. AvonLady Barksdale*

    Our car is all packed, we’re getting ready to go, the dog is freaking out… we’re heading to the Outer Banks for a week of rest and relaxation. This is especially necessary right now because, as I mentioned in yesterday’s open thread, I was hit by a car on Tuesday morning while walking my dog. I am fine but bruised, and I’m only just recovering from a torn meniscus and all that comes with it (the meds from the accident are helping immensely with that). I really, really want this rest, which will consist of a week of nothing but reading, Netflix, hot boozy drinks, and the ocean in the off-season.

    But…of course there’s a but. We invited my boyfriend’s family to join us for Christmas. I am making Christmas dinner (I am Jewish, so this will be interesting). They were invited for one night (they live two hours away from where we’ll be). They announced that they will now be staying for TWO nights and my boyfriend let that slide. Whatever, though I did let him have it. But then his stepmother, who is difficult on the best days, starts in with all of these things she wants to make and do. I wanted to scream, “We are HOSTING you, I have been planning these things for MONTHS, so you ought to ASK before you steamroll my plans.” But I am trying to put a nice face on it, as if she’s trying to contribute, and get through their stay as best I can, even if it involves cheesecake made with low-fat and low-sugar everything and the worst potatoes I have ever had, because the woman doesn’t know how to season food. Deep, hygge breaths, y’all.

    I haven’t mentioned my accident to them, and I don’t plan to. It will get one-upped in no time. However, boyfriend is on alert to make sure I get some rest and help.

    1. Wrench Turner*

      Best of luck to you in finding some time to yourself and your boy and your pups. I’m taking up making time for reading again but starting with classics like the original Sherlock Holmes. If you’re in the kitchen when others ‘help’ cook you can always just throw your own seasoning on it or give them tasks like chopping, etc that speed up your production but don’t affect the taste.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      It sucks when you have to be the grown-up with inconsiderate jerks, doesn’t it?

      Can you tell her that you can let her have the kitchen for an hour, or you will leave her room on the table for three serving dishes, or some other way of setting a boundary that you can live with and then enforce? (Because you know she’ll try to trample all over it, but then you have stated a clear boundary that you know you need, rather than the one you wanted, which is STAY THE HELL OUT OF IT. ;) )

      And boyfriend needs to learn to respect your boundaries, too, even if it is a second-hand violation. He was still the one okaying it, and that’s not OK. (I had a close relative unilaterally decide to extend their stay by DAYS, and it was 20 years until they were invited back. And they did it again, and will never be invited to stay with us again, despite the fact that we are at the midpoint in their seasonal NY/FL migration, and they really want to save money by staying with us instead of paying for a hotel!)

    3. Lady Jaina*

      Let her make one thing even if it tastes horrible. As long as she brings the ingredients. I feel for you. Every time we are with my (much younger) SIL and by BIL it is a constant one up on their part. Just sucks the energy out of every living thing around them. This time of year I am grateful we live on the West Coast, and they all live on the East Coast.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        That’s my strategy. I got sick of trying to choke down burned fish and raw pierogi dough on Christmas Eve, so I host at my house now. My MIL (great lady, awful cook) has a mind to try two new recipes this year, one of which is NOT a dish for beginners. I am a decent cook, and I wouldn’t even attempt to make and serve the dish on a holiday without trying it at least once beforehand when I could throw it out and order takeout if it turned out badly. I am just planning to make enough sides that it doesn’t matter if her dishes turn out terribly.

        I know this sounds mean, but it really sucks when you’ve been looking forward to a holiday meal and everything you’re served tastes awful. My MIL refuses to follow recipes/directions and thinks she can just do whatever she wants, but the end result is always terrible. A few years ago, we got to her house at 11:00 a.m. for a 1:00 meal. She already had the potatoes (for mashed potatoes) cooking on the stove…she cooked those potatoes for over two hours. As you can imagine, it was like eating starch soup when we finally ate dinner.

    4. Gala apple*

      Oh no I’m so sorry to hear about the accident. Hope you have a speedy recovery. I was thinking the week at OBX sounded like the perfect recovery until I heard about all the relatives.
      Can you use the time stepmom is in the kitchen to rest in your room?

    5. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I was fed up with Christmas the other day and yelling to other half that NEXT YEAR FOR SURE we are NOT staying in town but should get away and Im not doing gifts/shopping/mailing and I’m already exhausted and DAMNIT LETS JUST RENT A HOUSE ON THE OUTER BANKS and we can see family there AND get out of town.

      I have NO idea where that idea came from since I have never been to the Outer Banks but it always seemed kinda like a neat place to go. It would be easy for Midwestern family to get to and easy-ish for us to get to from the UK and I like moving water. We are usually Anna Maria Island people for the summer, but why not try something new. And going home to parents I feel like there is all this pressure to make it The Most Amazing Christmas Ever but honestly I just want to sit and play board games, read a book, drink, and eat ham.

      What is the weather like and is it amenable to at least walking on the beach? Are there tourists or is it fairly low season? Is there stuff in easy car reach so I get unload my mother and aunt somewhere? Is one place quieter than others?

      Best of luck with the sugar-free relative, I’ve been there with a diabetic cheesecake from a great aunt who is one of the worst cooks ever and oh man, that was 25 years ago and we still talk about it to this day. Like eating chalk.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        So far, it’s very quiet. We’re in Corolla, so not very close to much that’s open (you want Nags Head or Kill Devil Hills for that), but the house we rented is lovely and close to the beach. I will give you more info later in the week. Plan is to walk the pooch on the beach tomorrow and get a better sense of the weather.

        For what it’s worth, we went to Duck for a week in the summer and I found it way quieter than I expected.

  19. Wrench Turner*

    I took off from Solstice to New Years and am couch surfing around Brooklyn visiting family and friends. It’s a much needed break where I can wander with my books and brushes and paint in the heart of my favorite city. This time of year is always hard for me but for some reason the usual depression isn’t there (I’m not complaining!) and instead is much more introspective with planning for the future.

    I spent all last year with my nose down at the drastically underpaid day job while putting together a small but cohesive collection of paintings to start shoving at galleries this coming year. It’s been hard -really hard- but instead of the usual desperate, depleted and panicked, I feel worn but tempered and ready. I’ve got almost concrete plans for developing my art, my day job certifications and taking care of my (mental) health.

    In the coming year I hope to see more support for and embracing of the Trades; there is an unquantifiable confidence in having a trade certification (mine is NATE and I’m working on my Journeyman’s license) that if things get to toxic I can get another job in a week. The trades are dirty, difficult and sometimes dangerous but there is immense dignity in the work and the demand is always there.

    I’ve read AAM for maybe 4 years and am grateful for all the advice, camaraderie and support I’ve seen. While I transitioned from white to blue collar, a lot of the advice still applies. In fact, sometimes I think the powerful professional office diplomacy tips have given me an edge in what can be a sometimes brusque field. Simply not getting ruffled and maintaining an unimpeachable by-the-books position can be amazing leverage. Thank you one and all for your supporting this here humble wrench turner all this time.

    1. Reba*

      Thanks for sharing, Wrench Turner. I really like the idea of being “tempered” by experience.

      Happy New Year.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        +1 on “tempered” and new year’s wishes!
        Thanks for offering another way to positively redefine a difficult time in life.
        Good luck to you and all of us who are climbing our own particular hills or mountains. (It beats falling off the edge of a cliff, ha ha!)

    2. fposte*

      I always like your posts, Wrench, and I agree with you on the trades. I didn’t know you were a painter–that’s seriously cool! What kind of media/subjects?

      1. Wrench Turner*

        On the good advice from a gallery I got rejected from, I’ve focused my painting to a few narrow subjects: Skulls/bones and plants these animals lived in (sort of like memento mori I guess?) and cityscapes/landscapes but from my perspective (so like an ‘airport’ but standing at the end of the runway, looking up at a plane passing really low overhead, or a bridge but a close up of the texture of the old painted iron rivets, etc). I take a lot of photos and then paint them from later. To develop my skill set I’m trying to fit in drawing/painting people because it’s REALLY REALLY HARD OMG. I also do animal/pet portraits but those are really just for fun. This year we’re also investing in a good DSLR camera so I can actually add high quality photography to my list but also as a tool to take good photos of my larger paintings to make poster prints out of. It’s impossible to fit a 3ftx4ft painting on my 11x17in scanner!

        1. fposte*

          Wow, that sounds really fascinating–I like both those ideas a lot. I like a lot of printmakers’ work (I know you’re talking about painting; bear with me), and some of the nature studies have a similarly interesting slant.

        2. Ms Ida*

          That all sounds very cool. I am sure the pet portraits mean a lot to the people who receive them even if they are not your main focus. My mom received a miniature of her dog from an artist that rented space from my mom right after her dog passed away. It is a lovely little portrait and mom treasures it.

      1. Wrench Turner*

        I’m grateful, really, but for Reasons I’d prefer to keep my name separate from just being another Wrench Turner. Instead look to support your local artist community. I bet you know someone who draws, paints, or makes pretty things. Ask to see their work and think of buying something that inspires you or you know would make a great gift. Support artists while they’re still alive.

        1. fposte*

          That’s been one of my favorite things to do since I got into a salary level that allows it, but I also found that you don’t have to pay a lot to get something special. There are so many beautiful things! And so many galleries do a great job of displaying their art online, so you can window-shop for ages. I’ve actually started buying some work without seeing it face to face, based on experience, and it’s worked out really well (it helps that one of the nicest galleries for artist’s prints actually lets you have the art on approval, but I’ve never sent anything back).

  20. Sarah*

    Looking for help with an issue with a friend.

    Since graduating college four years ago, my best friend, “Eve,” and I have lived in different cities. This year, my boyfriend and I settled in the same city that Eve and her boyfriend live in. Eve, her boyfriend, and I also all work together, and hang out outside of work, which is great! They’re both awesome to work with and I love spending time with them.

    The problem is that my boyfriend isn’t interested in hanging out with them, and they won’t let it go. He’s been to dinner with them once, and is going to their wedding this year, but other than that isn’t bothered about seeing them all the time. He’s introverted like me and only needs a few close friends. I really could care less, but Eve and her boyfriend bring it up all the time, both at work and outside. They have a running theme that my boyfriend doesn’t like Eve’s boyfriend and it hurts his feelings.

    Last night my friend told me it bugs her that she’s only seen him once since we moved here in summer, and she wants my boyfriend to see them as family. I want them to take the hint and let it go. (Side note: my boyfriend treats me like gold, so it’s not that they’re worried about me.) What do you think?

    1. fposte*

      I think that if they were going to take the hint, they’d have taken the hint, and that you need to be more explicit. “Jane, it’s nothing to do with you or Bob–SarahBF just isn’t a hanging out guy. That’s not going to change. It sounds like maybe you had a vision of a double couples friendship, and while I like the thought too, it’s not going to happen and we need to find another pattern that works for us. Can we let go of the subject at this point?”

      1. Lady Jaina*

        +1 Fact of life is not everyone in your life is going to like each other or want to hang out all the time.

      2. Ron McDon*

        Great script fposte. Clear, direct but not rude, and opens a dialogue.

        I wish I could come up with words that eloquent :)

      3. Myrin*

        I agree completely. And kudos to you, Sarah, for not “forcing” your BF to go hang out with you all – I can totally imagine myself in his shoes, where I like the people in question just fine but don’t want any closer contact and it’s an absolute horror scenario to imagine my partner pestering me about it. So, yeah, don’t be afraid to be explicit!

        I’m also not impressed with the mental gymnastics Eve and EveBF seem to be doing; “[t]hey have a running theme that my boyfriend doesn’t like Eve’s boyfriend” – is there any reason for them to suspect that at all? Has your boyfriend, the few times you’ve all seen each other, been warm towards Eve but rude towards EveBF? I’d assume you’d have mentioned that, so it seems like they’ve just kind of spun this fantastical story for themselves?
        Also: “Last night my friend told me it bugs her that she’s only seen him once since we moved here in summer, and she wants my boyfriend to see them as family.” From what you’ve said, they don’t even know your boyfriend; they have literally no way to tell if they’d even want to be family-like with him! A few clear words are definitely in order here!

      4. neverjaunty*

        THIS. It is amazing how much more relaxing life can be when you make people stop hinting at you :)

    2. Wrench Turner*

      I understand your Boy and can relate. I’m very much the same way. One thing I had to learn, and it is a difficult thing to do even years on, is that sometimes you suck it up and go these events and things because it makes Her happy. It’s not an every-time thing but it is way more than I’d like to. Her (your) friends are good people. I may even enjoy their company. I’m just not interested. But, to be a good boyfriend, a few times more than I’d like, I go and be a good sport about it. Your friends also need to get the hint that Boy just has his own agenda, and it’s not them, he’s just an independent adult with things to do.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      It’s a couples thing. She wants a guy for her guy to talk with. Otherwise from his perspective he is hanging out with two women. You might suggest that if her BF doesn’t want to hang out all the time that is okay, but as fposte says this is who your BF is and it probably won’t change. You can go as far as saying, it’s not personal, he doesn’t hang out with anyone. I have a few friends here whose men I almost never see. Friend is happy, SO is happy, so it’s up to me to just realize this is what it is.

      1. Jules the Third*

        Could also consider finding a slightly larger group to hang with more – regularly inviting another couple?

        1. Anon anon anon*

          That’s what I was thinking. It sounds like you’re close with these friends. If these were my close friends, I’d explain the situation and suggest expanding the group to include another friend or two.

          Someone posted something about being a good sport and hanging out with your SO’s friends even if you don’t enjoy it. I think that can be good at times, but does anyone really want the company of someone who doesn’t want to be there? I wouldn’t. I know it’s different for everyone, but I would reserve that rule for family and rare special occasions and otherwise honor the SO’s preferences.

    4. Stellaaaaa*

      Your friend is being really weird about it. She is your friend, not your boyfriend’s. He has his own friends, and is frankly making a very good show of not abandoning his life in favor of only being friends with your friends. Ask your friend how she would feel if a woman gave up her friends and only hung out with her boyfriend’s social circle. That’s what she’s asking your boyfriend to do.

      1. Temperance*

        I actually don’t think that’s what she’s doing. It’s natural to want “couple friends”. I think that’s what she’s looking for.

  21. Lore*

    I forgot that I’d given away all my cookie runs this year until Thursday when I started assessing ingredients for baking. Two things I’ve learned in the past 48 hours: nobody in retail has heard of cookie tins and Christmas is already over at Target. They were stripping down even the clearance items (even all the fancy cookies and such) and setting up Valentine’s Day.

    Are tins not a thing anymore? They had some very pricy ones at the fancy kitchen store but everyone at Target (where I usually get them) looked at me like I had two heads. I found the last two on clearance at Stop N Shop but they too were mostly switched to Valentine. I pity last minute shoppers this year!

    1. Pick a Number*

      If you have either Michaels or Rite Aid near you, either store is good for cookie tins. The Rite Aid near us (NYC) has plenty of cookie tins for 50% off. Michaels sells them year round, though they’re on the pricey side.

      As you’ve found, Stop and Shop can be good for tins, and if you go REALLY early in the season (think October, which is absurd) Christmas Tree Shops can be good too. Otherwise, yeah, they’re not a thing, which is sad. We, too, make a ton of cookies and struggle every year to find tins!

      Putting up Valentines displays and taking down the Christmas displays before it’s even Christmas is ridiculous and sad, especially since stores now start to build up for Christmas shortly after Labor Day!

    2. PlantLady*

      Do you have a Joann’s Fabrics near you? The ones around here still had a bunch of their cookie tins on the shelves yesterday, and they were 70% off.

    3. Jean (just Jean) (who secretly loves gift wrap)*

      Other retail possibilities: JoAnn Fabrics (also carries craft supplies), Container Store, AC Moore or other craft supply stores, or party supply stores (for gift bags). Depending on the size you need and the amount you want to spend, you might even find Rubbermaid or other brands of food storage containers. My local Shoppers’ Food Warehouse carries ones with red lids at this season. Sometimes a manufacturer will put out a collection with seasonally-themed decorations (e.g. holly leaves or snowflakes). The container store also sells plain old cardboard gift boxes (atypical but useful) and paper cartons a la old-style Chinese take-out containers (cute but I think their size range stops at about a six-cookie capacity).

      I found a bunch of mini-loaf pans on sale for half-price at my local Michael’s. I was going to bake in them but maybe I’ll use them to hold a stack of cookies. The pans are safe for microwaves and ovens but I’m not sure about the dishwasher.

      If circumstances force you to think waay outside the box (sorry), you could buy small-sized plastic storage boxes with lids and insert your cookies on a waxed paper liner, with colored tissue paper underneath (between the wax paper and the inside of the box, to look pretty without transferring god-knows-what colored ink chemicals into the baked goods). Or you could put your cookies into plastic food storage bags (zip-closure or plain ones tied with a ribbon) and then inside a paper gift bag.

      If you can’t find any Christmas-y gift bags, look for red, green, white, or brown-like-a-paper bag and add red/white/green tissue paper. If all else fails go for happy, bright colors. Who’s going to argue about getting holiday cookies in, say, a fuschia bag with orange tissue? (Or a yellow bag with bright blue tissue… etc.)

      There’s also the tried-and-true method of cookies-on-a-paper (or plastic)-plate covered with aluminum foil. I’ve also seen people use a foil-wrapped piece of cardboard instead of the plate. (Use the big sides of your cereal boxes, or beg a couple of boxes from your local grocery or liquor store.) If your energy level is up for this, you could even scout out Christmas-themed plates at a thrift shop (and then wash and dry them, so maybe too much work & running around on top of cookie baking on top of everything else?).

    4. Lcsa99*

      I bet you could find those disposable pie tins or bread pans at the dollar store. Some of them come with lids but if not, you can stick it in a bag and just add lots of pretty ribbon to make up for the decorations you’d get with a tin. Hell, in a pinch you could use party plates and just wrap those in plastic with lots of ribbon (unless of course you’re shipping them).

      1. SAHM*

        I second that, I pick up a few every year at my dollar tree, although I use them to gift handmade soap and bath bombs.

    5. Lore*

      Michael’s is a great idea, thanks. I wasn’t thinking of baking as a craft but of course it is. And there’s one near me. Maybe I’ll go after Christmas and stock up for next year! I don’t have Joann or any dollar stores close by sadly. The red tupperwares are also a good thought. I had my heart set on metal for some reason but I can branch out! I have to travel by train with them so I’m worried about crushing of a box or bag.

      1. WillyNilly*

        Just FYI Michaels will have stripped their stores of Christmas by New Years. They were already clearancing and marking down (60% off) on Christmas last week.

    6. Ms Ida*

      At the rate stores are moving onto the next holiday we might have Christmas stuff back by February .

      You might have good luck at Goodwill or thrift stores. I see cookie tins year round.

      1. copy run start*

        Right about now is when I usually see the swimsuit display go up at the local Target… nevermind that it’s about 10 degrees outside. You can either buy 6 months in advance of the season or you can buy clearance and expect to wear it next year these days.

        The only thing I like about the holiday/season creep (because it’s gone far beyond holidays) is certain delicious Cadbury easter candy that appears in February.

    7. Sherm*

      Does anyone buy Valentine’s Day-related items in late December or January? When I worked at Target 15 years ago, Christmas was out and Valentine’s was in on December 26. After all this time, this means that 1) the strategy is paying off for Target, or 2) it hasn’t paid off but they keep on trying. I suppose #1 is more likely, but I don’t know anyone who thinks about Valentine’s Day until February rolls around.

    8. RL*

      Well, they must be a thing because my aunt sends me a tin full of home-made cookies every year. Agreeing with the others that crafty stores probably have them.

    9. Circus peanuts*

      How about using the Tupperware like containers they have in the grocery stores that are meant to be a bit more disposable/recyclable? I have seen holiday themed ones. You could snap some up for next year easily now.

    10. Peggy*

      I’ve never seen Valentine’s Day stuff out before Christmas, ever!! I was out today and every store was still Christmas everything, including Target. I also saw cookie tins in multiple places!

      1. Also a Three Pines visitor*

        The Goodwills in our area always have tons of cookie tins, from overpriced school fundraiser popcorn size right up to big Harry & David treat size.

  22. The Ludaeig*

    My husband and I are planning on starting a new Christmas Eve tradition in our family — ever since I discovered Jolabokaflod —https://www.npr.org/2012/12/25/167537939/literary-iceland-revels-in-its-annual-christmas-book-flood —- so very excited to settle in with a good book tomorrow!

    Reading recommendation for this week is “The Only Girl in the World: A Memoir” by Maude Julien — for readers who liked The Glass Castle. It is kind of horrendous, and I’m about 3/4 of the way through and finding it hard to put down.

    And a recommendation for 2018: Coming out in May, 2018 (at least, according to my galley copy) is “Our Kind of Cruelty” by Araminta Hall. The back cover blurb by Gillian Flynn says, “This is simply one of the nastiest and most disturbing thrillers I’ve read in years.” Flynn says she loved it and I did, too —- this is the kind of book where you may want to take a day off work, or settle in on a weekend and just read, read, read.

    1. caledonia*

      I read Hall’s first novel and it was really good and disturbing. Will have to look out for the new one!

  23. PlantLady*

    Husband and I are both down with the creeping crud this year, oh joy. I stocked up on a ton of Christmas baking supplies, but didn’t get anything made because of this Martian Death Flu or whatever it is that’s going around. Would it be weird to do New Year’s cookies for people instead? It would just be for a few of the neighbors…and they already think we’re a little weird. ;)

    1. All Hail Queen Sally*

      I think New Year’s cookies is a great idea. I too had this horrible “Martian Death Flu” (love the name!) recently, but am feeling better and trying my best to get my Christmas cards done by tonight. I didn’t have the energy to think about making cookies this year. I have done that in the past and know how much work it is.

    2. nep*

      Not weird to do that at all. Holiday-season cookies.
      Sorry you’re down with the flu. Wishing you both a quick and sound recovery.

    3. Jean (just Jean)*

      Thanks for the LOL–not at your misery but at your vocabulary (hee hee hee):
      – creeping crud
      – Martian Death Flu
      Maybe you can improvise martian-shaped cookie cutters and use a lot of green icing? Or just turn out little green men (women, angels, devils)?
      I hope you both feel better soon. Meanwhile enjoy lying around with or without soothing books or TV.

    4. Overeducated*

      We have it too. Froze the cookie dough we made and chilled before we got sick. They will be winter cookies for a cold weekend in January.

  24. anon24*

    Any advice on dealing with a spouse who is a slob? I’m sort of a neat freak and there are times when I feel ready to snap because I’ll spend hours cleaning and within a day my apartment looks like someone broke in and trashed the place. I spend so many hours a week picking up after him because he won’t clean up his stuff and I’m too stressed looking at it.

    He seems to think that since he works a physically hard job that he should get to come home and chill. I get that he’s tired but for goodness sakes take 5 minutes to pick your stuff off the floor! There is a bag of stuff next to my front door that he has been promising me he’ll deal with… since June. His idea of cleaning the kitchen is filling the dishwasher and leaving everything else sitting out on the stove or counter (and if it can’t be put in the dishwasher it doesn’t get cleaned until I do it). As for actually cleaning the stove or counter? Nope, he leaves food spills and crumbs there and won’t wipe it down.

    The obvious answer is for me to do the cleaning. And I do. And he will help me with things like trash and vacuuming – but only if I tell him to. I am getting resentful of having to constantly pick up his dirty laundry and his paperwork and all the other stuff he leaves lying around everywhere. Some days I feel like the only adult, hey, can you pay this bill, can you take out the trash, this needs done and why do I have to remind you.

    I know I need to let this go. I don’t want to end up like my parents where the obsessive need for cleanliness played a big role in destroying their marriage. I’ve tried talking to him about it, I’ve cried in pure frustration, I’ve gotten angry. He gets better for a few days and then is back to his slob self. I’ve accepted that he isn’t going to change, and I love him, so how do I get over this and deal with it?

    1. Elkay*

      Get a cleaner. It won’t solve the picking stuff up off the floor but vacuuming/counter wiping etc. will get dealt with.

    2. Call me St. Vincent*

      I don’t think you “letting it go” is the right answer and I’m not sure it’s possible. It sounds like a major recipe for resentment. If you have tried discussing it rationally (without crying in frustration) and he isn’t listening, that’s a problem. Maybe a potential solution is engaging a cleaning service? I think working through it with him may also provide some insight. Is it because he just doesn’t see it as a problem (to him)? As in, his ability to deal with dirt is different from yours? Or does he simply not even notice it’s dirty enough to clean? These are different issues with different potential follow up. Anyway I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. If you guys can find room in the budget for a cleaning service it might help things out, but if he really just doesn’t care that you’re upset about this and unwilling to change or make an effort after knowing how much it bothers you, that kind of attitude and resulting justifiable resentment on your part may spill over into other areas of your life. Good luck!

    3. LibbyG*

      Oof! How difficult! It doesn’t seem like “anon24 does everything and sucks it up” is an appropriate, sustainable solution.

      It sounds like he has some motivation to be a good household citizen. Does he have any ideas about how to share the load? Like, if he really needs to chill after work, can he do a little housework before work when he has more energy? Can he see channeling his clutter to some limited spaces? Can he embrace a team cleaning blitz for an hour on Saturday mornings?

      A 50/50 split of both the housework and the mental load may not be feasible, but you have legitimate needs for a moderately clean and tidy home and your spouse’s participation to achieve it. Good luck!

    4. Wrench Turner*

      You don’t need to let it go. He’s an adult and should be able to take care of himself. Just bringing a paycheck isn’t enough. You two need to sit down and have a chat about what your expectations of cleaning are (you will probably have to compromise a little yourself) but then set up a cleaning schedule that he agrees to stick to. Each of you cleans the bathroom every other week, alternating weekends so it gets cleaned weekly but not just one person. Whoever cooks, the other does the dishes – all of them- and I guarantee it will be less time than making a good home cooked meal. Put on a calendar that rubbish pickup is every Thursday, so Bins Night is Wednesday. Alternate weeks. It’s his house too. He needs to take care of it like an adult. This is what adults do.

      It’s not just ‘oh he’s a slob’. This is fundamental disrespect of your time and energy. You’re not his mother, you’re his partner. Yes, it sucks after a hard day’s work on hot rooftops with heavy machinery all day to come home and clean the bathroom but it’s my bathroom too. Tell him a fellow hard-worker says suck it up and start pulling his weight. No excuses. Now I’m angry, too.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Very well said, WT. And adding something I learned that was a little mind stretching. It’s not ethical to work so hard at work that there is nothing left of us when we come home. This means we are giving all of our energy to our employer and none to the family, who ALSO supports us but it’s a different support than an employer gives.

        As you are aware, OP, this is not a small issue. I know one couple where the husband left everything for the wife to do and she was the slob. After decades of this he found himself with a house that he could no longer live in. So he moved out. For her part in this story, she believes him to be an able bodied adult not a child.

        Since you have tried everything, my only ideas are to suggest that he get a job that is not so tiring OR suggest that the two of you go for counseling as this can be a marriage killer.

    5. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      This “you shouldv’e asked” cartoon has been helpful for some women I know who have similar issues with their SOs! https://english.emmaclit.com/2017/05/20/you-shouldve-asked/

      Also, this is a bit misnamed because only a small sliver of this is actually true “emotional labor” but this piece also lays out the problem reasonably well in a way dudes can sometimes understand: http://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a12063822/emotional-labor-gender-equality/

      And, yes. Get a cleaner. Even if it’s just once a month. Ultimately, it might be that the two of you just have different thresholds for what constitutes an acceptably clean apartment. This is the problem for me and my dude, who is way neater than I am: I just don’t care if dishes are on the counter for a couple days, whereas it drives my dude nuts. I try to help from time to time, but ultimately, if he wants the counter to be clean every night, that’s on him.

      1. SAHM*

        Can I just say thank you for posting the comic? I checked it out and two things hit home so hard was the Managing AND Executing household stuff and the “cleaning the table” bit. It was an AH-HA! Moment, mostly bc whole my husband DOES refer to me as the Household manager I never really saw myself empowered by that role? Bc it’s been my job so I just do it vs. I’m the boss of all things household and of course I’m going to delegate tasks to others in the household (ie assign chores) bc the IT manager doesn’t actually fix Big Boss computer, he just assigns it to someone to make sure it gets done.
        So anyway, thank you for posting!

        For anon24, yea. I agree that you’re being taken advantage of, whether intentionally or not, you need to have a BIG discussion with SO. When I worked hubs and I split the house stuff fairly evenly, now that we’re lucky enough for me to stay home with the tiny people I do all the housework-but! That’s my job. And he doesn’t say a single word about how I do my job (unless it’s to request a specific meal or to continue our 9 year argument about how to “properly” load a dishwasher :-P ), he just walks in that door before 8pm most nights, eats dinner, and helps me put the tiny people to bed. On weekends he takes care of naptimes, plays Daddy monster, and talks with me/kids (while I let the dishes pile up bc I want to spend every minute possible with him, dishes can wait till Monday). We’ve actually been talking about me going back to school to get a masters and potentially work in the school district as a SLP, the childcare, meals, laundry/cleaning that would all have to adjust and he’d have to take on more tasks or we’d have to hire someone. But he’s 100% working with me to make sure everything gets taken care of. So yea, talk to your dude. Bc talking is most of the battle, once you two put your heads together on a problem (and it IS a problem that you’re doing all the housework) and come up with your battle plan, it’s a huge relief. Bc then you have support, you know where SO is coming from, and you have a plan of attack.

      2. BunnyWatsonToo*

        Thank you for the cartoon link. No spouse here, but a it was a light bulb moment. Mental load is why that thing we don’t talk about on the weekend has been so much more difficult this year.

      3. LibbyG*

        That article is great. Like the author, I have a spouse who shares the day-to-day stuff equitably but I’m still burdened with HH management. The author’s point that initiating the conversation(s) about emotional labor in fact compounds the emotional labor and it may or may not pay off.

    6. Junior Dev*

      So I am 1) a woman and 2) a Messy Person and while there is certainly a gendered component to this, I can share some things that have helped me for what might be a different side of it.

      My brain is not good at translating “there is a thing on the floor” to “I should put the thing away.” What DOES work for me is having a few very specific tasks that are to be done every day or every week.

      When you sit down with him as others have suggested, I would recommend trying to come out of the conversation with a few things each day and each week that are His Job. Examples: wipe down the kitchen counter, take out the trash, clean the toilet.

      Of course, it’s also quite possible the problem is him having an entitled attitude that cleaning is Your Job, but if you can think of very specific things you’re doing every day and make them His Job, the random stuff it doesn’t occur to him to do may become less of a burden.

    7. neverjaunty*

      No, you don’t need to get over this. The issue isn’t his chill – he could just as easily drop his dirty laundry in a hamper as drop it on the floor, and wiping up spills takes literally thirty seconds.

      Can I be direct? I think you are making this about your supposed failings because it’s painful to acknowledge that your husband is being selfish and disrespectful.

    8. Sylvan*

      I don’t have a slob spouse; I am the slob. I don’t think you need to get over this and I don’t think it’s your problem. It’s his.

      However, one quick tip (more for him than for you): Put obvious receptacles in the most frequent dropping-shit-on-the-floor locations. I have a hamper in my bedroom and in the bathroom, a small trash can in every room, and hooks for my keys and bag near the front door. I also moved my bookshelf beside the bed to prevent the bedside book/magazine/”I’ll open the mail before I go to bed tonight”/??? hoard from accumulating.

      1. Sylvan*

        I want to add that this is something you could suggest to him. It’s really going to work best if he’s the one who sorts it out, as he’s the one who knows why he has his current habits. I’m not suggesting that you reorganize yourself.

      2. KR*

        This! My husband loves to drop everything everywhere when he walks in the door so we have key racks and a shoe caddy in the closet. The stuff doesn’t always make it where it’s supposed to go but I don’t feel as naggy when I’m asking him to drop his shoes on the rack instead of the living room and he doesn’t have to remember to put them away every day. He also has designated spots for his clutter to accumulate (as he has much more clutter than me and it is much less organized). So I tell him, you have space a, b, and c to stick your miscellaneous stuff. It cannot be on the kitchen table. So all the random stuff he doesn’t want to go through or give away, or random doodads he won’t ever find homes for, he has designated spots where I won’t bug him if it’s there because at least I don’t have to look at it every day.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          I also went through a phase of following my husband around, picking up the things he dropped, handing them to him and telling him to put them away.

    9. Drama Llama*

      This was a huge issue between me and my husband as well.

      We made a plan where he was responsible for a specific set of jobs. Some of the tasks were ones that would affect me minimally if he failed to do them (for example, cleaning his own desk area and doing his own laundry). If he left a mess, I simply picked it up and left it on his desk. That way I didn’t need to nag, or resentfully clean it up myself, and it was easier for me to ignore the pile of mess on his designated corner of the house.

      He eventually got in the habit of doing housework to a point where this is no longer an issue. I also had to learn to tolerate some mess. But the main part of the solution was him actually stepping up to do a reasonable amount of housework. You really do need both spouses to compromise here. You accepting his slobbiness and doing almost all of the cleaning is not a sustainable solution. It’s unfair and disrespectful; and it breeds resentment.

      My husband has a demanding job. He regularly works long hours. But if he were living alone he would still have his own share of housework to complete. So I don’t accept this crap about busy husbands not having enough time to clean up after themselves. Unless you’re Beyonce and have gazillions of dollars to spend on in house maids, adult life requires you to do boring chores. No one is born with a natural talent or affection for cleaning and washing and ironing. You just have to do it.

      Oh, we also got a cleaner to come in every two weeks. It’s a lot of money, yes, but it’s totally worth it for the sake of marital peace and my sanity. I’ll happily cut back on other expenses and continue having our cleaners.

    10. Anon612*

      As I looked at the fur covered carpet today, as I pulled out the vacuum, I asked my SO, in a calm manner, why he never vacuums. I asked, “Do you not notice? Does it just not bother you? Do you not care that it’s dirty?” I continued, “I’m just trying to understand,” because I just auto vacuum every day or at least every other day. I was calm and legitimately curious, because I just don’t get it and wondered what’s going on in his head. His response? “Why are you trying to start shit with me?” …which is why he’ll be single sooner than he thinks.

    11. Regular anon*

      Your question is a good one. I’m another sufferer–and a slob married to another slob. I cycle through suck it up and clean (because nobody else is gonna do it); sulk, don’t clean, and live in clutter/filth; and blow up and clean while still furious.
      SO has made some changes over the years and is willing to do sporadic tasks or errands but I’m the fallback for almost all nitty-gritty and the problem-solver of non-routine situations (hand-wash dishes, weird recycling).
      I hate that SO won’t respond to reasonable requests and that I’ve adopted SO’s habits of sulking post-blowup and throwing away stuff that could and should be recycled. I also hate spending my free time this way instead of pursuing my non-paying interests.
      Neither one of us wants to be single and we couldn’t afford it anyhow.

    12. WillyNilly*

      I am a slob but also the cleaner in my home. A thing that helps me, that I notice helps my husband and kids, and that really jumped out at me in your post is verbiage. You seem to be using “clean” to mean “not dirty” AND “not messy/cluttered”. This will shut down many people’s brains. Clutter can be *clean* (a pile of clean laundry, a pile of mail, stuff on the counters, etc) and uncluttered can be dirty… or clean.
      If you want items picked up, try saying “pick-up” instead of “clean up”. And be specific. “Pick up all the stuff in the living room” is too big. “Pick up all the magazines and put them in the rack, then please put any dirty dishes in the sink” is specific.
      I have to think like this myself. When I am picking up my living room I do it one or two categories at a time (all the puzzle pieces, then books, then fabrics (socks, throw blankets, etc)) if I try to tackle the room as a whole I just shut down; I have to go by category to keep it manageable.
      But also understand that to many people, clean but cluttered is legitimately not at all an issue. (Many don’t mind dirty either, but there is at least a health and hygiene argument for a base of clean.) You might have to find a middle ground.

    13. anon24*

      Thanks all! You’ve given me a lot to think about. I really don’t have a lot of perspective on when to speak up about things because of my background and it makes me feel good to have my feelings validated. This has been bothering me for awhile but I didn’t want to be “that person” and make it “a big deal”, but I guess I can if I want. Thank you! There’s some great advice here and I’m going to bookmark it and reread it!

  25. Jen*

    My toddler and preschooler have been sick with nasty head/chest colds all week. Preschooler has been coughing so hard she vomits, and has been on a nebulizer.

    They’ve turned the corner but are stir crazy. DH is Man Sick and spent last night writhing under the covers complaining of a sinus infection.

    I’m 20 weeks pregnant, have gotten the same chest cold which might be turning into bronchitis at this point. I only feel a *little* guilty that I told DH I don’t give a hoot about his sinus infection, he had all day and night yesterday to rest and if it’s so bad he can go get a z-pack at the walk in. I’m sipping tea in the bath with the door locked and it makes the coughing so much more bearable.

    1. OBMD*

      Jen, I hope you feel better soon. As an OB I can tell you that you need to rest and make sure you take care of yourself. Your immune system is depressed due to the pregnancy and illnesses can last longer. FEEL NO GUILT!!!! Your husband can take care of the kids.

    2. Overeducated*

      Man Sick is so annoying. My preschooler was like that much of the week, I can only imagine how much harder it is with two while pregnant. I hope you feel better soon!

    3. Anion*

      You know, they did a study a few years ago and found that “Man Sick” is a real thing–colds etc. honestly do hit men harder than women! Some biological thing I guess. I thought it was really interesting, and it helped me be more sympathetic when my husband gets sick.

      (Which is not to say you’re wrong to be annoyed, at all!! You’re having a terrible time. But it might help to know it’s not just in his head/he’s not being a baby or deliberately pushing everything on you.)

      1. nonegiven*

        No really, man-sick means he doesn’t have to do anything even if he lives alone.

        When you’re sick, eventually you will clean the puke off the floor if it means you won’t step in it the next time you go to puke.

  26. Gerenuk*

    Does anybody have a smart lock or a keypad coded lock on their front door or other entrance to their house?
    I’m looking for pros/cons for both vs. a standard deadbolt, and any specific recommendations.

    1. Wrench Turner*

      I prefer a standard deadbolt. They aren’t subject to power/battery outages, or me forgetting yet another random combination of numbers, letters or hieroglyphs. There are a million safe places to stash a spare key should you be the type that needs one on occasion (like me). Feel the need to change the lock for whatever reason? They’re pretty inexpensive from your local Home Improvement Store and easy to change with just some basic tools.

      1. Observer*

        There may be a lot of places to stash a spare key for you, but that’s far from universal.

        On the other hand, batteries ARE an issue. Which is why I like ones with a MECHANICAL keypad. That’s what I have on my front door. I love it.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I have one from the garage into the house, and I love it and wish I’d gotten it on all our doors. I guess it’s theory it’s not that much easier than a key, but it feels substantially easier for some reason, especially when your arms are full, and I like that when you leave you can lock it with the push of a single button. It also has a key back-up just in case anything ever goes awry with it.

      We have this one, which was recommended by our locksmith:

      1. Valancy Snaith*

        We have that exact one on our front door. It’s great. It’s easy to lock with a touch, I don’t worry about getting locked out any more, and it has a key backup. I know that theoretically someone could figure out the code and break in, but honestly, if someone is going to break in, they’re going to break in regardless of what lock is there, so I figure we’ll make ourselves happy in the meantime.

        It also will let you know several days in advance if the battery is getting low by chirping while you use it, so it won’t spontaneously lock you out when you really need it. Which is great.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          When I was looking it up on Amazon to get the link just now, I noticed that people were raving about its ability to lock itself automatically after 30 seconds. I had no idea that was an option, but apparently you can set it to do that! So now it is even better.

          1. Beaded Librarian*

            We actually have the type that auto locks on several door at “the thing we do not talk about on weekends” they are great!

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Thanks Alison, I ordered the Kwikset 910 because we have both an Echo and a Smart Things home automation hub, although I think I unplugged the hub because the Echo now can control our Honeywell thermostat without it. (When I got the hub, it was because it was the only way to get the Echo to control the thermostat, but they updated the firmware since then.)

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I got an August Smart Lock on sale, and I had to get the August Connect to make it internet-accessible. I’m glad I did, because I remotely unlocked the door for family members twice. It was convenient, because it fits over an existing deadbolt, can still use the existing keys, and if you can install a deadbolt or doorknob (assuming you don’t need to put holes in the door or jamb) you can install one of these. However, it is not very reliable, as it often can’t completely lock/unlock due to friction, and that could be partially due to the deadbolt/hole but partially due to the smart lock.

      I’m looking to switch to a nicer one now, since we do like and use it, but check compatibility with all phones in your household. Also, if you have cleaners or petsitters or housesitters, look for one where you can grant temporary codes, or ones that still can use physical keys, because they may not have smartphones that can run the app. If you have an Alexa or Google Home, you may want one that can be checked and locked/unlocked with one of those, but I think that will severely limit your choices.

      1. Jen*

        Temporary codes are the best. We have traditional deadbolts on the doors we rarely use, or rarely use as entrances (main front door, sliders, etc). We have a keypad lock on our mudroom door where our housecleaners, pet sitters and other guests enter. Our code stays the same, but the cleaners and pet sitters each have different codes. We have a fourth code for most guests that we change after they don’t need it anymore (eg. We had a one-time housesitter, a friend pop over to water the plants when we were out, etc)

        1. C*

          And whrn we need to make a temporary code, we usually program it to be the last 4 digits of said person’s cell phone. Then, it is a number they can remember.

    4. welp*

      The lady I rented a room from in grad school had a keypad coded lock- it was super convenient for me since I never had to worry about keys (and she didn’t have to worry about people moving out and having made copies of the keys). Plus I gave my best friend my keycode (with the landlady’s permission) so she could just come in early in the morning before class too.

    5. Chaordic One*

      This is a big off topic, but I used to have a car that had a keypad coded lock that let me into the passenger compartment. (It didn’t work to start the car.) The car was a 2003 Mercury. I thought it was silly at first, but I really came to appreciate. It was handy when I had given the car keys to someone else and was waiting for them to come back, and it was also handy on the couple of occasions that I accidentally locked my keys in the car. Eventually I needed a new car, and my new one does not have this feature and I miss it.

    6. Blue_eyes*

      We have some mechanical keypad locks at work (I work in a house) and they’re really convenient. You don’t have to worry about forgetting your keys. You can set multiple codes so different people can have their own code. You can set a code so that someone like a pet sitter can get in, then remove the code later so they won’t have access anymore. The door locks automatically a few seconds after it’s closed so you never need to worry about locking up.

  27. Dulcinea*

    Hi Everyone! In a few days I am leaving for a short vacation in Quebec City and I am just looking for some fashion advice (why yes I DO tend to procrastinate, why do you ask?). Basically: what do people wear if walking around the city ducking into shops/galleries/museums? I am assuming jeans and winter boots are ok given the climate? What about restaurants like Legende or Chez Muffy? Are snow boots and jeans acceptable there ?

    ALSO: What are the laws regarding purchasing alcohol in QC? IE, what time do they open/close; do they have a weird thing like in Pennsylvania where you buy liquor and wine in one place and beer in another; is there carry out alcohol in restaurants, etc?

    Thanks in advance for any advice/suggestions!

    1. super anon*

      I’m Canadian, so I suppose I’m qualified to answer this. In the winter I usually wear jeans/pants with some form of warm and comfortable shoe that is also fashionable, along with my down winter jacket. If you go somewhere with a real winter that understands how to clear roads and sidewalks (and it isn’t snowing when you’re out), you don’t need to worry too much about your shoes being giant death boots with super grip. If it’s snowing the sidewalks can get a bit slick if they’re not being salted and cleared, so for those cases I’ll bring a pair of winter grips with me to attach to my shoes. Depending on how cold it is and if you’ll be outside for a prolonged period, you may want to layer some Heattech leggings under your pants if you don’t have a parka that goes to your knees. I’d recommend a hat and gloves for maximum finger warmth. If you’re going to be going to art galleries, museums, etc, they’ll usually have coat checks to put your winter stuff so you can browse without either lugging a giant coat around or boiling to death wearing it around.

    2. TL -*

      Where are you from? Quebec is cold and jeans and winter boots are fine but lots of people will also be in snow pants (or were when I visited in January/Feb.)
      I don’t know about alcohol laws but everywhere we went was fine with jeans or other casual pants.
      Unless you’re from somewhere with equally cold winters, I’d book in extra time for sleeping or naps – the chill will really take it out of you.

    3. JenC*

      Be warm, whatever it takes! I live in the province of Quebec and wear winter boots and jeans everywhere. It’s usually very warm in people’s houses and in stores so snow pants would be too much for shopping. Not sure about fancy restaurants in Quebec City re boots and jeans, but normal places it would be fine. Often for stuff like that people carry little ballet flats in their purse and leave their boots at the vestiaire or coat rack if available so maybe you could do that. There are lots of restaurants here (kind of medium fancy I guess) that will have a sign saying Apportez Votre Vin, which means you can pick up your own wine and drink it at the restaurant. The biggest liquor seller is called SAQ they are everywhere, not sure of open/close times but you could Google it, and I believe they sell everything. Have a lovely trip, eat some poutine!

    4. Onnellinen*

      In Quebec you can buy beer and wine in corner stores (dépanneur). I think until 11pm, but I haven’t been in a while, so could be wrong about the time. Enjoy! Quebec City is so pretty in winter !

  28. DietCokeHead*

    I am baking cookies! The oven in the new house has an oven light, so I’m taking advantage and sitting on the floor with my coffee monitoring. It makes me think of the contestants on the Great British Baking Show monitoring their bakes. Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! For those upthread who have gotten sick, my thoughts are with you for a speedy recovery!

        1. Amber Rose*

          They are! I limit making them because four cups of icing sugar, but they’re delicious and a family tradition.

    1. All Hail Queen Sally*

      mmmmmmmmmm! Cookies! Enjoy. My days of eating cookies are over thanks to diabetes, but I had hoped to do some baking but got derailed due to the flu. I will be with you in spirit.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      Yum. (And you’ve reminded me how excited I am that GBBO is back for Christmas and new year specials.)

    3. Sparkly Librarian*

      I’m going to make a final batch of fudge today (both to use up half a can of evaporated milk and because it’s my grandfather’s recipe). I will be seeing my (his) family this weekend and want to bring fudge; it is our first Xmas since he died, so I’m hoping it will be pleasant to remember him in this way and not weird. Also I have to pack for a week at music camp! I have a new ukelele.

      1. DietCokeHead*

        I think that is a lovely way to remember your grandfather. I hope your weekend goes well. And have fun at music camp too!

  29. Amber Rose*

    We saw The Last Jedi last night. No spoilers, don’t worry, but I thought it was pretty good, and I don’t get the hate. I mean, it wasn’t my favorite. It had some flaws and some “…really?” moments but those bits were not exactly Jar Jar Binks levels of bad.

    More exciting than that, for me, were the previews. They’re making A Wrinkle In Time! I’ve loved that book since third grade. The preview looked pretty good. I’m optimistic.

    1. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

      We’re going to see it today. I’m hoping that DS likes it. He’s at that age where he’s got very definite ideas about how things should go and gets nerd-raged easily.

    2. Snark*

      I don’t get the hate either. It wasn’t as amazing as Rogue One was, and there were flaws, but the cinematography was amazing and the story/plot was generally strong aside from a side quest that felt shoehorned in to give a particular character something to do.

    3. Emily*

      I didn’t love it, but I liked it! There were some choices I disagreed with, but also some interesting plot threads and worldbuilding. I think it’s easier for me – as someone who isn’t really a Star Wars fan – to come in with few expectations and appreciate the things that the movie did well.

    4. Ramona Flowers*

      I love previews. They’re my favourite part of going to the cinema and I’m often secretly disappointed when the film actually starts!

    5. Lilo*

      I am seeing it tomorrow with my best friend since high school. We both saw it already and both totally loved it, which is funny because I remember getting dragged to Episode 3 with her and just hating it.

      It wasn’t perfect but darn if Mark Hamill didn’t give his best performance as Luke ever.

    6. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      We went last night too and while it didn’t feel 2.5 hours long, there were aspects of the plot I found “challenging to accept” if you will. Also known as plot holes you could fly a dreadnought through :P I felt the writing could have been a lot stronger – some of the dialogue was Lucas-level bad.

      I really thought there was going to be more porg action cause they were cute and all the animals were pretty nifty but overall, while I’m not an OMG STAR WARS type of fan, I still enjoyed it as popcorn film and it did entertain me too so I guess there’s that.

    7. Liane*

      My family & I went last Thursday* & really enjoyed it and so did all my friends. Sure there was stuff that didn’t fit my idea of How Things Should Have Gone in the Galaxy, Far, Far Away and sure there were things that didn’t make sense. But so what? It was a great, fun movie.

      And I also hear you on a Wrinkle in Time! Have loved that book from a similar age, Amber Rose; my husband loves it, College Kids love it. Daughter & I are hoping it’s better than that horrid TV adaptation a few years back. Which it looks to be. (Was the TV one done by the same guy who wrote the “romance” dialog in Attack of the Clones?)

      *for those who missed last week, we had to postpone seeing it because husband was in the hospital. Best laid plans & all that.

    8. Mimmy*

      It wasn’t as good as the last Star Wars (Episode 7??), but not as bad as people have said. I do know that Mark Hamill was not pleased about how Luke Skywalker was portrayed.

      By the way, I am apparently the only human who enjoyed Jar Jar Binks *hides*

      1. Emily*

        I liked Jar Jar! Granted, I was a child when some of the prequels were released, so that might have something to do with it…

      2. Stellaaaaa*

        The prequels aren’t as bad as the popular discourse claims they are. Padme was a great character – her heroism takes the form of civil service. Ewan made a wonderful Obi Wan, and the final few moments of the last prequel were as moving as anything in cinema. But Jar Jar? He was a weird character and his friendship with Obi Wan and Qui Gon was illogical.

    9. Sam Foster*

      The hate is because of one of two things I’ve observed:
      1) the movie didn’t match whatever the complainers had built up in their heads
      2) the same psychos who complained about female Ghostbusters and are starting to complain about Ocean’s 8 are sexist and/or misogynistic.

      Regardless, it was a great flick and people should let themselves enjoy what was created.

      1. Ann O.*

        That’s not a fair summation at all.

        Trying to avoid spoilers, the real argument against the movie is more like: the movie started with a premise that was not a clear continuation of the situation established in The Force Awakens. It then spent significant time on a plotline that was frustrating and didn’t have clear relevance to the rest of the movie (generally admitted, even by fans of the movie). The remaining plotlines had character development that was debatably a retread of the character development in TFA and/or was simply inconsistent. Plot twists felt random and inconsistent with TFA rather than fresh and interesting. The thematic developments also felt like a retread of things already established.

    10. Stellaaaaa*

      It can be hard to follow in JJ Abrams’ footsteps. His projects have their own problems (everything he touches gets a mighty case of The Cutes), but he is a master of fanservice. He gives people exactly what they want with well-calibrated surprises thrown in. From what I’ve gleaned, The Last Jedi may defy enough popular fan theories to make viewers feel disoriented.

    11. all aboard the anon train*

      I enjoyed it. I didn’t think it matched ESB (but ESB is the pinnacle of SW imo), but it wasn’t awful. There were some weird moments and one storyline in particular was a waste and could have been removed entirely, but I actually really liked the main storylines and the growth some of the characters had.

      The hate seems to mostly be coming from fans who expected TLJ to reference the extended universe. The extended universe has never been part of the movie canon, so I don’t know why they’re so keen on having that involved. There’s also a lot of people who feel like they were led to believe certain romantic pairings or plot points would happen that never did.

      People really didn’t like that it didn’t retread old ground and did something new and daring in an established universe. Also, a large contingent of the men whining and rating it negatively are still upset that all the villains are white men and that the rest of the cast is so diverse, sooooooo.

      1. I Love Thrawn*

        I haven’t seen it yet but heard lots about it. Here’s my take… I saw the first one when I was 4 years old, huge impact. So I’m a big fan. What we have now just isn’t Star Wars, only carrying the name. And I’m actually fine with that. SW simply belongs to a different era. I have no quarrel with them trying to re-brand and freshen this for a new time, personally.

    12. Pat Benetardis*

      I saw it last night, too. I’m not a hater, but I did give it a meh. I went into this resurgence of Star Wars with low expectations, because while I loved the original movies as a child, they’re not to my current tastes. Then I was pleasantly surprised at the 2most recent movies, but…the Last Jedi was long and I found my mind wandering. The rest of my family loved it, so that was good. I definitely think this is about me not loving this kind of movie in general.

      1. Mimmy*

        Yeah same here. My husband is more into the franchise than I am. I found this last movie particularly long.

    13. Ann O.*

      I can do a tl;dr version of the hate with no spoilers. For me, the movie didn’t build organically on anything established in TFA and completely tread water with character development. I didn’t think any of the main characters from TFA ended the movie in a substantively different place from where they started it.

      The slightly longer (but still vague and attempting to avoid spoilers) version:

      Rian Johnson said in an interview that he developed his ideas for The Last Jedi after reading a script for The Force Awakens but before seeing the released movie. I think that created some of the problems. A lot gets added by the actors’ and directors’ choices about how to embody the script. I think Johnson thought certain things were clear about the political situation/worldbuilding that was not clear and envisioned character relationships in a different way from what ended up happening on screen in The Force Awakens. (to be clear, I’m not talking shipping here)

      But mostly, the movie left me confused about who/what story was being told whereas the Force Awakens was clear and interesting. If I ask myself how did The Empire Strikes Back advance Luke’s story, I have some clear answers. If I ask myself how the Last Jedi advanced Rey’s story, I don’t. I can list actions that she did or information that she found out, but I don’t know how those actions or that information developed her in a meaningful way. I know from interviews that’s in part because I disagree with Johnson about certain aspects of what TFA set up in terms of Rey’s characterization.

      1. Amber Rose*

        It’s true that the movie felt disjointed. There were too many new characters and POV switches.

        But it felt like they were trying to firmly kill off the books. Kylo Ren’s most repeated line felt like a message to the fans.

    14. Elizabeth West*

      I liked it a lot. I can’t stop laughing at this gif (not a spoiler; it was in the trailer) https://media.giphy.com/media/lDxwNkTqImoFy/source.gif

      Trivia: I found out that the porgs are there because Luke’s island was shot on Skellig Michael and there are thousands of puffins there. They couldn’t remove all of them digitally, and they couldn’t wait until they left before the shoot because the weather would have been too crummy, so they just porg’ed over them and added the little guys for some atmosphere.

    15. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend*

      I loved The Last Jedi! My bias, of course, is that I was never really invested in the original trilogy or the prequels. I really loved the characters (no matter how flawed), and I like the direction they’re going. Not a perfect movie, but deeply enjoyable for me.

  30. Dear God make her cook with salt and pepper please amen*

    I’m not sure hubby and I are going to make it through the next two days without totally losing it at his mom.
    Months ago we told her that as her Christmas present we wanted to cook and clean up Christmas dinner so she could enjoy as much time as possible with her grandkids. We’ve planned out our menu (for once I would be able to eat all but 1 dish, hibby’s favorite holiday dish, green bean casserole) and how to get everything done in minimal time so we can enjoy our holiday too. So earlier this week she calls to ask what we’re making and hubs tells her the menu, she then complains that she’d really rather have broccoli than green bean casserole and she wants to by the meat. Hubby agrees. We get here yesterday and she has not purchased the beef tenderloin she said she would get, she hasn’t done any shopping. So she goes out shopping and says she’s getting a tenderloin (we planned to do beef wellington) and she comes back with a standing rib roast, ok not a big deal we can make a rib roast. So hubby asks to confirm that the rib roast is what we’re supposed to cook not something she wss using for another meal and she went off on a lecture about how we’d better cook it the way she likes it because she spent too much money on it to have it cooked wrong and ruined and she’ll cook it if we aren’t going to cook it the way she wants it done.
    I’m on the point of just telling hubby that she can cook it all because I’m not putting up with trying to do something nice for her and having her dictate to me.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, that sounds really fraught. But it sounds less to me like she’s trying to dictate to you than she’s been the one cooking dinner for a while and she’s having a lot of trouble letting go of that. If you think that might be true, you can even name it–“I know it’s hard to let go when you’re used to doing it.” Then I’d let that free you to cook the dinner *you* want to cook, not the “Everything has to be the way I want it” approach that seems to be happening here; go out and get a tenderloin and freeze the rib roast for her, make the green beans, remind her she’s got to be a role model for the grandkids on politeness about food, and ask her if she’s enjoying spending time with them.

      And maybe next year just get her a gift card instead :-).

      1. Dear God make her cook with salt and pepper please amen*

        Thanks. I had already decided that if hubby wanted green beans he was getting green beans and she could just deal with having two veggies.

    2. Jen*

      Did y’all involve her in the menu planning? It sounds like she’s having trouble letting go, especially if she was still doing all the shopping (I’d have sent DH along, but hindsight is 20/20).

      Could you find small ways to include her but still do the heavy lifting and allow her to spend time with the grandkids? Have her walk you through her recipes, do some taste testing etc?

      1. Dear God make her cook with salt and pepper please amen*

        I wish id sent hubby to the store and he said if any of us had known she was headed to the store he would have gone.

    3. MeM*

      It sounds like what you have all the best intentions, but you’re trying to give her something that she really doesn’t want. Cooking Christmas dinner may be something that she really enjoys and her way of showing her family that she loves them. Now she has other people at her house, they’re not letting her have the Christmas she’s used to having and enjoying, and who knows, maybe feels somewhat like you are trying to usurp her position with her son (I know it’s not your intention, but it could feel to her subconsciously that your trying to take her place with her son, showing him how Christmas dinner should be made, these are the dishes that should be served, i.e., the way she’s been doing it is wrong/inferior). Who knows, depending on the age of your children, it could be too that she doesn’t know how to spend an entire Christmas morning playing with and entertaining them. I don’t know her age (is Christmas dinner physically too difficult?) or if she complains about making it? If she likes doing it, maybe it is best to just let her and it’s not time nor necessary for her to stop. This is probably shadowed by my experiences with my mother-in-law — a large part of her identify was based on the fact that she was a good cook. We’d spend a fair amount of time after a meal praising her cooking, telling her no one else could compare, etc and she would be beaming and enjoying the attention. And we’d then clean up after her.

      1. Dear God make her cook with salt and pepper please amen*

        If hubby’s family had the same tradition I would probably feel much different about even offering to cook anything. But they have a different menu each year and she is always asking me to cook something so I offered to do everything this year.
        I hope she can handle a whole morning with my daughter since she’s asked to have her visit without us for a week.

    4. Damn it, Hardison!*

      No advice better than what’s already been written, but I have to say your “name” cracked me up. My mother in law doesn’t believe in salt so I can sympathize.

  31. Gross Beware - Update*

    I wanted to say thank you for those who gave me some cleaning tips after my cat was sick last week.

    Unfortunately it turned out he was getting sick because he had an inoperable tumor. He was unable to eat so we had to make the decision to put him down. He’s been ill off and on for a couple of months and was elderly but of course it was a very rough week.

    1. nep*

      So sorry. It’s a loss like no other. Glad he’s not suffering anymore — hope you find some solace in that.

    2. All Hail Queen Sally*

      Oh, I am so sorry for your loss. I had to put my old kitty down last month right before Thanksgiving. She had kidney disease and one day couldn’t stand up or walk any more. It is never easy, although it does end their suffering.

    3. Windchime*

      I’m so sorry. Several years ago, I had to put my old 19 year old boy down and it was a really tough decision. They really become a part of the family and it’s a real loss once they’re gone.

      Take care. I’m really sorry for your loss.

    4. Jean (just Jean)*

      I’m sorry you lost your cat. I hope it consoles you a tiny bit that you could ease his way.

    5. Montresaur*

      Oh, GB-U, I’m so sorry for your loss. That’s a difficult but compassionate choice to have to make. I’m sure your cat felt truly loved, and I wish you comfort and catharsis going forward.

    6. Ramona Flowers*

      I am so sorry for your loss.

      “My heart has joined the thousand, for my friend stopped running today.”

    7. King Friday XIII*

      I’m so sorry to hear that, but glad you were able to do the right thing for him. I hope you can focus on happy memories right now.

    8. NaoNao*

      Oh I’m so sorry. Cats really add so much joy to your life. It’s always hard to see one go to the rainbow bridge. Just know he’s in a place where he never feels pain or fear again and he’s always being petted and fed his favorite treats.

    9. Kuododi*

      Oh my….you are in my thoughts…. I’m remembering when we had to have my first orange tabby put down. DH brought her home to help me recover from cancer surgery….she was about six weeks old when we got her but she was a stray so we weren’t sure….she watched over me until she was right at a year old then she developed a wretched intestinal virus that just almost destroyed her digestion….DH and I both were at the vet and cried together when she crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Blessings to you and your sweet family both two and four legged.

    10. Starryemma*

      I’m sorry about your sweetie. It sounds like you did best by him. I hope you can soon remember the good times, instead of just the sadness.

  32. nep*

    Anyone here know a lot about Italian handmade / hand-painted ceramics? Deruta, specifically. I’ve read a couple of things on line about how to tell between an authentic piece and a fake….Just interested in any insights anyone here might have. I bought a lovely bowl for a friend who really likes things like this. I didn’t really think too much about the authenticity till I later read up about how there are imitations about. I really just picked it out because she likes pieces of this kind and it’s a lovely bowl. I don’t want to go back to the gift/consignment shop and ask. I for one wouldn’t care about that if I received this as a gift, but this kind of thing is very important to the recipient.
    I’ve read there are two main things to look for: base is unglazed with rough terra cotta exposed, and there is some kind of ‘signature’ on the bottom — name or initials, sometimes a number, Deruta, Italy. (I guess even imitators could do that, too, though.)
    All in all not a huge deal — just curious whether anyone here’s got experience with this.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I used to dabble in some glassware and pottery. It looks like what you have might be much older than what I am used to looking at.

      Maybe consider going into a shop, far away from where you bought it and asking them. Here we have antique sellers clustered into large buildings. So if you can find a group of antique dealers that might raise your chances of finding out.

      OTH, you could pretend not to be looking for a Deruta piece and just act like you are giving her a nice bowl that would compliment what she has. Then if she thinks it’s Deruta, bonus!

  33. Lcsa99*

    This might sound crazy, especially this time of year, but we are concerned that there might be a bird’s nest in one of our air conditioners. We moved in our new place in October and the air conditioners were part of the deal. We were using it a little when we first moved in, and did see one of our cats sitting by it a lot but it wasn’t too bad. But gradually he has become more and more obsessed with it. We’ve tried blocking it with a towel but most of the time he just yanks it out of the way so he can do whatever it is he is doing there. And he is constantly at the window picking at itand playing with it. When I look closely at the windows I have found random feathers. If it was our old air conditioner I would just pull it into the apartment to inspect it, but this one is huge, so we’d have to have someone do it for us.

    Any suggestions on ways to find out if it is a nest, and either get rid of it, or at least get our cat to leave it alone? This is in a co-op, so just taking a hose to the thing from the outside isn’t really an option.

    1. LCL*

      See if there is a non destructive way to pop off the front grill and look around . Since his interest has increased I’m guessing rodents have now found their way in.

      1. Lcsa99*

        We opened it up to the point where we usually get the filter to clean but didn’t see anything. However, I did see birds going crazy by the window this morning; we now have both cats hanging out at the window and when I hit the side of the ac, birds went flying away so there is definitely something there. Guess we have to wait until it’s a little warmer and have our building super take in the thing and clean around it.

    2. Lcsa99*

      I should mention, this particular cat doesn’t usually like the ac. He found out when he was just a kitten that it can magically turn itself on so he usually gives it a wide berth. I think he’s been gradually got braver because it hasn’t been on in a while.

  34. Snark*

    So my wife and I share an Amazon account. We both ordered Christmas gifts for each other, and I mentioned that I’d archived my order so she couldn’t see it and ruin the surprise. She ordered my present….and didn’t archive the order, so I got a nice notification on my phone blowing any kind of surprise. Do I say something about it, or feign surprise and not mention it? I’m kind of annoyed that she didn’t cover her tracks better, but I think that’s also informed by a little resentment at her kind of half-assing presents over the last couple of Christmases…and I’d rather that not bleed over.

    1. Okay then*

      Dude let it go. It’s really not that big a deal and at least she’s getting you something. To be trite and cliche, Christmas isn’t about getting presents anyway, it’s about giving them and being with people you love and care about. It probably didn’t even occur to her at the time that that was something she should do, even with you saying anything.

    2. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

      I’ll take that over what my husband did a few years back, which was forget about Christmas entirely. No presents, nothing in my stocking (while his and DS’s were full), and I had to ask him to apologize.

    3. nep*

      I would have a tough time feigning surprise. Were I in her place, too, I would not want the recipient to do so. My 2 cents — tell her and it could just be something you both have a chuckle about. (And a reminder to her to cover her tracks better in future.)

    4. Theodoric of York*

      Feigning surprise would be the polite thing to do. You can mention the archiving process in another context, months down the line. More important is your last sentence. You should try to find out what’s going on there.

    5. Ramona Flowers*

      So after reading this I’m wondering what else is going on in your relationship and your lives in general – what lens are you seeing this through? And how important are surprises to her in general? (I say this because I hate surprises and wouldn’t mind having one ruined.)

      I mean, it is just an amazon order, and yet it’s also not just that as it has other meaning for you. Is everything ok otherwise?

      1. Snark*

        Uh….hm. Good questions. She’s fairly indifferent towards surprises, so I guess that explains that a bit. And I do like surprises and put myself through a good deal of heavy emotional labor trying to figure out Just The Thing for The Person. And I suppose that’s why I kind of hate the “make sure to put some stuff you want on your Amazon wish list” approach, because it feels transactional and easy.

        Though, I think your last question kind of gets at the heart of it, because while things are generally fine, if I’m honest, I’ve been chafing a lot at the amount of time and energy her job is sucking up. I generally feel very much that I’m the one who scurries around behind the scenes fixing the toilets and doing the cooking and grocery shopping and shuttling the kid and going to doctors appointments and Christmas pageants at preschool and and and….because Mrs. Snark is at work for 50 hours a week,, or needs to decompress from work, or is working at home and requires silence and solitude to do it, or whatever. And so I suppose, if I’m being brutally self-honest, there’s a little selfish asshole part of my brain that’s like “and you couldn’t even put the effort in to make sure I didn’t know what you were giving me for Christmas?”

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Does she know it’s that important to you? Have you ever talked about it? I know some people who dislike the ‘put stuff you want on a list’ approach also extend that dislike to telling their important people about things that matter. But your feelings on all of these things arent the default and it’s possible she doesn’t know.

          I really care about getting cards on special occasions. I told my partner that because although the ideal would be for him to just know and do it, my available options were to not tell him or to possibly have him not do it. Have you ever talked about what for you is an emotional priority?

          1. Snark*

            I guess what I’m wondering is if it actually matters, or if it’s more what Not So New Reader says and it’s more that I’d like her to show more thoughtfulness towards me in general. It’s not all that typical for something like this to bother me.

            1. Observer*

              The thing is that you need to let her know what you consider thoughtfulness. Among the many possibilities that would explain her behavior are these two: 1. She doesn’t realize how lopsided things have gotten in terms of her work vs the rest of the family, and an honest conversation would be the start towards re-calibrating that. 2. She doesn’t realize that these things mean something to you, or how much they mean to you. She’d put more thought if she realized how much it means to you.

              Now it’s possible that there is something else going on, but whatever it is, you’re not going to get anywhere by stewing in your expectations and resentments. Talking about it in a reasonable manner is generally the only way to move forward.

          2. Lissa*

            Oh man this reminds me of a conversation I had with my BFF, who really wants her guy to get her flowers/gifts spontaneously, but won’t tell him because then there’s no point, because he’s then only doing it because she says so….it’s a cycle I kind of get, but also think it’s a setup for disappointment.

            (also I hate surprises too, it’s so hard to explain that to people….even good surprises can be difficult for me, and luckily my partner knows so will always tell me in advance if a friend wants to surprise me, hehe. I’m pretty good at faking surprise for those people who love surprises.)

            1. Ramona Flowers*

              Ah. Telepathic partners do tend to be in short supply.

              I hate surprises so much. They make me anxious. I don’t mind surprise gifts if they’re from someone I trust to pick something I’ll like, but other types of surprises are actually super stressful for me.

              I would especially hate the type of surprise where someone pretends to have forgotten a birthday or anniversary so you spend time being upset before the surprise. It would not be worth the surprise.

              1. Snark*

                It’s more just that I don’t want to know for a fact what’s under the tree. I don’t need to be astonished or anything, I’d just like there to be a little bit of mystery there.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Sometimes a little thing can become symbolic of a larger problem. Our brains won’t let go of this stupid little thing. However, if you get her to successfully archive your present in the future, remember that will do nothing to resolve these things you are talking about here.

          To me, it seems like you are saying you don’t feel like her number one in life and you are sad/angry about that.
          Two things:
          Can you guys get separate accounts so you don’t have to worry about archiving any more?
          Can you guys decide as a couple to take time out and recharge your marriage? Be silly together, have fun together. Watch a happy, heart warming movie together, you know, kind of like dating but the married version of dating.

          It’s super easy to get swallowed up by day-to-day life and forget to be a couple.

          Disclosure: I am biased. I hate surprises. That is because too many times in life surprises were NOT good. It would be very hard for me to adapt to someone who did enjoy surprises because the negative connotations are that strong. Can you think of other ways that she could show thoughtfulness that would fill in some gaps here for you?

        3. Sled dog mama*

          Holy cow, you could be my hubby. (The only reason I’m 100% sure you aren’t is that I didn’t order his gifts from Amazon this year).
          We had a lot of issues until he said almost exactly this to me. We are working on it but we had to start with a serious conversation (I took the day off work so we could talk without the kiddo at home), and we figured out what was realistic to expect the other to do during the week, (ex. I am responsible for dinner on the weekends and 1 night a week, sometimes that’s leftovers from what I made over the weekend sometimes its a meal i made ahead and froze the he pops in the oven, sometimes I load up the crockpot).
          Our relationship takes at least as much energy as my job which is hard for me as an introvert (i come home totally drained most nights) but we work on it every day and we have a monthly check in with an honest conversation about if we believe the other is keeping up with the bargain. I’m not doing so well right now because I’ve got a certification exam in May and studying on top of the job and home life is even more draining. He’s doing really well and is also doing well with letting me know each day what I can do to support him (pick something up at the grocery store so he doesn’t have to run out, call the school about X, etc.) It’s not easy as you are well aware but you aren’t alone.

          I’m like you on the gift giving i put a lot of thought and time into finding just the right gift and hubby wants a list of what I want. For us I’m pretty sure it goes back to gift giving culture in our families. In my family you never asked for anything for Christmas, there were a lot of us, and we didn’t all give gifts to every single person so giving a gift was always a choice and an expression of love (and when I did get something from aunts and uncles it was usually clothes), since we got all my mother’s and father’s family together on Christmas Day that was our gift giving circle. The gifts from my parents were almost all practical with the one something you want (like a bike because you outgrew the one you had).
          My husband’s family was different, they were expected to have a list for birthdays and Christmas and usually got multiple not practical gifts. My in-laws still ask for a list and have been known to come back and ask a second list if they don’t think they have enough gifts for someone.

        4. Jules the Third*

          wait, honey, I’m sorry! I didn’t realize you read AAM too!

          Just kidding, but also only because of the Amazon thing. We went together to the game store and picked up a game that the whole family has wanted as our present to each other, so the specifics are different, but the ‘a thing Mr. Jules values that Ms. Jules is not getting done’ is at our place too.

          Deep breaths, and we’ll all make it through.

        5. Be the Change*

          Snark, I love you (in a sisterly kind of way). You have put the words in my mouth.

          Can you please publish this on a men’s blog or something, so that every woman who feels exactly the same way about her husband’s devotion to HIS job can say “SEE? THIS IS WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT. And you can’t ignore it because a manz haz sed it!”

          I hope you guys can work through it and come to some good boundaries that give you both what you need.

    6. NaoNao*

      My BF has a near magical ability to guess at and/or ruin his presents, so I feel you in a different way. Christmas will always have mismatchs between gift expectations; what’s the important part, the “thought” (in my mind if it’s not a good gift or not me at all the “thought” is “Who are you? I don’t care.” but I’m a grinch at times) the surprise, the care and effort put into it—if one person thinks it’s the thought or the amount of money, and the other is measuring by “how well you know me” well…there’s going to be xmas sadz.

    7. BeautifulVoid*

      I know this isn’t answering the question you’re actually answering, but I’m looking ahead to the future to prevent this from happening again – is there a particular reason you and your wife share the account? We have Amazon Prime, and while I created the original account with my email address, I was able to add my husband’s email address separately. (A quick look on Amazon tells me you can have two adults and four children sharing Prime.) I don’t get notifications for whatever he does on there, and vice versa.

      As for your actual, current issue, as someone who 1) makes a wish list in the hopes of getting something I actually want and can use, and 2) pays the credit card bills, I don’t remember the last time I was surprised by a gift. I don’t pretend; heck, if I’m the one to get the mail that day, I’ll just hand over the package and say something like “I bet I know what this is, make sure to wrap it nicely”. But while that works for me, I can totally understand the disappointment at half-assing gifts.

      1. BeautifulVoid*

        *answering the question you’re actually asking, ugh

        And while I’m here anyway, I’ll add that sometimes even making a list manages to result in some disappointment and/or extra work. Oh, gift-giving….

      2. Snark*

        Rad! I had no idea. I switched back to my old Amazon account and added it to the Household. So, at least this shouldn’t happen again.

      3. Damn it, Hardison!*

        I was going to mention this as well, but I see many others know about the household option! I just discovered it last week, after having a very similar experience with my husband. On the upside, I know he got me something I wanted!

    8. Sparkly Librarian*

      The resentment over previous Christmases sounds familiar… I blew up/melted down one year over my wife not using the gifting spreadsheet I’d shared with her to make sure all our bases were covered. It was really frustrating that she would not just do the simple thing (in this case, checking off what had been purchased/wrapped/shipped) that would have made everything so much better. In theory. It was all tangled up in my fear that she wouldn’t get me anything/hadn’t gotten it yet and so would have to scramble and then I/we would look bad in front of my family on Xmas. And that her family would think I was awful for not getting their presents sent to them in time. Yeah.

      I would, in your situation, display pleasure (because it’s something from your list and you wanted it) when unwrapping, but not feign surprise. I also wouldn’t mention it beforehand unless she brought it up. Reward the positive behavior. Also, if you didn’t know, you can have individual Amazon accounts that are linked as a household and share Prime benefits without having to share a login. Maybe that can be a task for the new year (of before the next birthday, anyway).

    9. Nom De Plume*

      I honestly don’t mean this in a snarky way, but… isn’t your wife Israeli? I’ll go ahead and assume that she’s not culturally Christian, so the whole Christmas thing may not really be on her radar anyway. I can see how, yes, in a way this isn’t about the holiday but about the thought, but it’s worth thinking about whether Christmas means something very different to the both of you in a more general way.

      TL; DR: You should let it go.

      1. Snark*

        That’s not an unfair point, at least insofar as Christmas isn’t hugely important to her as a holiday. She actually grew up in New Mexico until she was 13 – her mom’s family is Latinx and very lapsedly Catholic – then lived in Israel until she was 19, then came back. So she gets it, but she’s not real into it.

        Ultimately, yes, I should let it go.

        1. Nom De Plume*

          Honestly, I think that’s a factor here too. I mean, I’m Jewish but grew up in Catholic / Christian countries my whole life. I’m well-aware of Christmas (thanks, cultural hegemony) but even if I were involved in it in any real way (id est, married to someone who observes it in its most general sense), it wouldn’t mean much. And also, the whole commercially-mandated thing of buying presents, making a whole big thing out of it, blah blah… there’s SO much expectation placed upon it that the whole thing becomes fraught.

          I’m with Ramona: look at the relationship more generally, and what your expectations are there in the broader sense. Then talk to her about it!

    10. Stellaaaaa*

      It was just a tiny oversight on her part. I’ll add this as someone in the retail/wholesale sector: Amazon has a reputation for having the worst website of any major retailer. Their interface is impossible to use on any tech that isn’t the latest model. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve had to edit the shipping address on an order because the check-out page wouldn’t let me select my current address but my computer can’t handle the scripts on the page to permanently delete the old addresses. The site just sucks but people still buy from them so they have no incentive to fix it. It’s entirely possible that your wife went through the process to conceal her purchase but the website didn’t register that the box was checked.

      There are a million stages of thought before jumping to “My wife doesn’t care about me.”

      1. Snark*


        So this is the thing that I loathe about Amazon: it lets multiple merchants offer the same item, but lets them specify colors and sizes. I was buying some jeans there the other day. Some merchants had “Size 33.” Some merchants had “33×32.” Some merchants had “Waist 33 Inseam 32.” Amazon lets them specify whatever the hell they want, rather than forcing them to select from the same set of sizes and colors.

    11. RML*

      So… this is a risqué comment, please read at your own risk.

      My partner (we are a same sex female couple) used my Amazon account a few years ago to buy me an unmentionable Christmas gift (it was a toy… meant for a body part that is um, not part of the regular love-making rotation, bought mostly as silly joke.)

      I saw it in my email, and instantly clicked “buy it again” to get her one. I wrapped it up and had her open it on Christmas morning right before she had me open up the original one. She almost died of shock, like… how could I have picked out not only a toy but the exact same toy?! We laughed for like a straight hour, she thought she was so funny buying this thing for me and had no idea that I got an email when she bought it, when it shipped, and when it was delivered. I set her up on her own household profile after that so she doesn’t have to order through mine. :)

      Meanwhile now we have 2 of these things, lol. Worth it for the surprise on her face though.

    12. Red Reader*

      I don’t have anything specific to contribute, but I feel you on the “I put in this much effort and emotional labor and you can’t even… ugh.” Solidarity.

  35. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    First Xmas I’ve been no contact with the toxic mom. She’s left a package. I mailed the dad delicious treats and 3 of our engagement photos. He congratulated me over phone. He told my mom, who stayed silent, no congrats, and stated to him it’s my (CS’s) wedding, not hers. As in she won’t bulldoze. Hm. I’m planning a wedding and celebrating Xmas without my parents. I’m sad that my mom is toxic. But the freedom, lack of constant verbal useabay is amazing. The lack of drama is lovely, quiet, serene. No insults, no screaming.

    Those who went no contact with toxic family, how do you handle holidays?

    Stress while event planning and breathing: how do you breathe/relax? I feel like I’m shallow breathing bc I’m busy doing a gazillion things (last minute gifts, etc)

    1. Windchime*

      I handle the holidays with relaxation and being able to sleep, honestly. I went no-contact with a sibling after last years’ Christmas fiasco. The cops were called to the house twice, there was screaming, sibling tore about their bedroom (mattress off the bed, crap strewn everywhere) and some people were in tears. It was horrible. This isn’t a 12 year old, in case you’re wondering; sibling is in their 50’s. Sibling finally got put into a cab headed towards a hotel and that’s the last time I’ve seen them. I’ve had decades of this crap and I am DONE. Not having to worry about that this year has been a huge, huge relief.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      So my number one thing is I have someone else open any unidentified post, and I take good care of myself, and try to avoid films about perfect families.

      I also get myself a present (as of this year as I just decided to start this).

    3. super anon*

      I went NC with my mother 2 years ago. I live across the country from her, so luckily I didn’t have to worry about her showing up on my door or coming to find me after I cut off contact. The Christmas just before I went NC was really difficult. I’d grown up with my Grandparents and my Grandfather had passed away a few months before Christmas. At this point I was already pulling away from my Mother emotionally (after having moved far away from her several years before), and decided not to do much for Christmas. I sent a few gifts via Amazon and made the obligatory call on Christmas that was that, I don’t recall if she sent me anything. My partner and I don’t celebrate Christmas the way most do, so it was fairly easy to tune out. I went NC shortly after that Christmas.

      The first Christmas of NC was really difficult, because it meant it was also the first Christmas I would have without talking to my Grandmother. This sucked because my Mother lived with my Grandmother, so not talking to my Mother meant also not talking to my Grandmother, who I loved and adored. That year I sent a card to my Grandmother, and then went to Mexico for Christmas with my partner. The trip was lovely (aside from some drama with my Mother not telling me that my Grandmother nearly died on Christmas Eve and hearing about it on Facebook), and because it was entirely removed from any other Christmas I had in my life, it worked really well to not feel guilty about not celebrating the holidays with family.

      My grandmother passed away this year, so I no longer have any ties to my mother. While I’m sad my Grandmother is no longer with us, it’s been incredibly freeing emotionally for me.. I’m staying home for Christmas this year, and I feel like it’s the first year I can really celebrate for me without feeling guilty. It’s honestly been a huge relief not to have my mother in my life, and nothing tying me to her. Cutting out my mother meant cutting out all of my extended family (I was told as much when I went to visit my dying Grandmother this year), so I have no family obligations this year and it’s been incredibly liberating. Being able to plan Christmas on my terms and create my own traditions for me is really wonderful. This is the first year I’ve felt excited for Christmas since I was a child, and it’s truly wonderful.

      Throughout all this I’ve been having regular appointments with a Psychologist. Without her I doubt I would be the emotionally healthy and stable person I am today, nor do I think I would have dealt with any of the family related drama in my life as well as I have now.

      1. super anon*

        I wrote you a giant wall of text and didn’t tell you anything I do for the holidays! This year I’ve decided to make it all about spending time with the people I love and the family I do have (in this case my partner, and my absolutely fantastic set of friends). I’ve sent Christmas cards to all of my friends. My partner and I don’t exchange gifts, but we do adopt a family for Christmas and buy all of their gifts for them and deliver them before Christmas. This year I gave cards to my coworkers and brought in Christmas treats before I went on vacation. That was really exciting, because others started following in my footsteps and brought cards and treats, and there was an overall feeling of positivity and merriment that isn’t usually present with our team. Christmas itself is going to be lowkey, with lots of food and alcohol and comfy pjs and video games, with a special dinner out on Christmas eve. I’ve been watching Christmas specials, listening to Christmas music, and going to Christmas events in my city. It’s been stress-free, fun, and I can see why people enjoy the season now.

    4. Ramona Flowers*

      Also, it would be a good idea not to have other people talk to her when you can hear or tell you what she did or didn’t say (not sure which of these is how you know your dad told her). Honestly you’re better off without any info on who said what to her or how she reacted.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Most definitely. Let other people own their interactions with your mother. “Okay that is between you and mom and it should stay there.” If these folks want to continue carrying on a relationship with her that is their prerogative and theirs to handle, not yours.

    5. DMLT*

      I went no contact with my parents three years ago, and I actually love the holidays more than I ever did before. I am amazed at how much better it is without that stress, I had no idea how omnipresent it was until it was gone.

      As for relaxation, take time away to *just* breathe deeply and notice the world around you. I have done this sitting in my car, at home, in the elevator, the bathroom, etc. There are lots of ways to do it, what I do is five to ten deep breaths to slow my breathing (I like to have a gradual slowdown in my breathing, I find I can’t immediately jump to a really deep slow breath.) then I take a minute to notice three things I see, three things I smell, three things I hear, three things I feel. Sometimes there are tastes, too, but not usually. Then another five to ten slow deep breaths where I close my eyes and picture stress falling off of me like snow off pine branches and one extra deep breath when I am ready to move forward again.

      Try a bunch of techniques and find what works for you. The key discovery for me was not feeling like I really HAD to go from shallow stressful breathing to deep breathing just like that. Maybe some people can do it, but trying to made me feel MORE stress.

    6. Anon anon anon*

      I went NC after slowly realizing that a lot of the things I was unhappy about we’re actually not normal and were in fact A) Unusual, and B) Illegal.

      I’m glad I made that choice. I spend my holidays having some relaxing time alone. Sometimes I get together with other people who are in the same situation, but I’ve really come to enjoy having a day off to just chill and recharge. I eat good food, spend time outdoors, stuff like that.

    7. LAM*

      We use Christmas day as a day off from life. We sleep/nap all day, get take out (Chinese typically because they’re open. But we spring for the expensive/good Chinese place around here), I put my phone on “Do not disturb” mode or turn it off and warn people that there’s a very good chance I will not answer if they call. I spend all day reading in between naps, and the BF plays video games. It’s one of my favorite days of the year.

      My dad laughed when I told him about the phone thing. My mother did not and said she’d text first… Which doesn’t do any good if I can’t hear it but ok…

      But I also work in retail. So it’s a marathon leading up to Christmas, and it’s one of two days where the mall is actually closed. Which means it’s one of two days where I don’t have to be “on call” for potential issues since I’m management.

    8. Cor*

      Try listening to Alpha wave music to relax (you can search for it on YouTube or buy cds). It’s music written to trigger your brain to produce alpha waves, the ones that make you happy. I played it during labor and the delivery room folks kept commenting on how calm our room was!

  36. Nervous Accountant*

    UO re: TV characters..

    I feel like Ross was unfairly painted as a horrible person. His wife cheated on him and people laughed it off and basically told him to get over it bc she cheated with a woman. I mean, being cheated on in a marriage is a bfd, no matter the gender of the other person. I get that he was way too possessive of Rachel and I’m glad they broke up, but he was also a good father and once he got over the initial shock of getting her pregnant, I think he treated her well too.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      I’m with you on him being cheated on, but no further. Ross treated Rachel very badly – he was controlling and horrible. Even when she was moving to Paris, he acted like her career was just a big game. Nope. All of the nope.

    2. BeautifulVoid*

      If you haven’t already read “How a TV Sitcom Triggered the Downfall of Western Civilization” on Medium, I think you’ll like it. (Obviously, said sitcom is Friends, but the focus is mostly on Ross.) Link in reply:

    3. tigerStripes*

      I didn’t think Ross was horrible, but he could be annoying sometimes. He tended to act like Rachel’s career wasn’t particularly important, and he would tend to whine over stuff that wasn’t always a big deal.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        Yeah, I didn’t like that too much either and she rightfully dumped him. On another note, I feel like her biggest accomplishment on the show was her career–I mean she went from being a waitress to working her way up to being an exec (I forgot what exactly she did). Was that realistic back then? Is it realistic now ??

        1. Stellaaaaa*

          I think it’s realistic enough, though the show didn’t portray it in a realistic way. I know tons of people who waitress or work in bars after college and are eventually hired into their fields of choice. From there, they work their way up.

          The glitch was that Rachel wasn’t portrayed as someone who was just working a service job while continuing to send out applications.

    4. Stellaaaaa*

      The Friends in general were all lousy people in a lot of ways. Joey was awful to women. If I were friends with him, I would eventually phase him out because I don’t stay friends with men who treat women the way he does. They were all terrible to Ross about his PhD. Who mocks a friend for getting an advanced degree, especially when he goes back to school a bit later in life? On the flip side, I hated his objective stance on the “break” thing. He did something that fundamentally changed how Rachel saw him, and this was after a long stretch where he had little regard for her excitement at achieving her dream career. He ended up not being the person that Rachel thought he was, which is why a lot of relationships end. Monica was unyielding, and Phoebe’s kookiness morphed into frequent unkindness in later seasons. Rachel was generally self-centered. I think Chandler was the only one who evolved in a TV-normal adult way, even if I grew tired of the rhythm of his jokes.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        Yeah the degree!!! Things r so different now, being a science “nerd” is celebrated now lol. have a soft spot for chandler. Probably because the way he feels about relationships (hates the awkward beginning and loves the “settled in” stage) is how I am with people & relationships.

        I really would love to see a reboot of sorts…something like fuller house w the kids as teens/tweens but more of the adults than on FH

    5. Ann Furthermore*

      I thought they missed an opportunity with the relationship between Ross, Carol, and Susan. The episode where Carol and Susan had their commitment ceremony, Carol’s parents refused to come at the last minute, and so Ross ended up walking her down the aisle, and he was the one who convinced Carol not to call it off. At the reception, Susan thanked him for what he did.

      There was an opportunity there for the relationship between the 3 of them to really grow and mature, but they went back to the same tired humor and juvenile jokes. I figured it was because the writers weren’t mature enough to know how to write anything else.

    6. Les*

      I was never much of a sitcom person, but while we are on the subject of tv characters/shows, is anyone loving Wynonna Earp as much as I am? I have not loved a tv show or a character quite this much since Buffy (GoT excluded of course – go Khaleesi!)

      I think I have developed a girl crush on Melanie Scrofano, the hilarious, kick ass chick who plays the main character.

    7. Anon anon anon*

      Huh. I think I only watched the first year or two of that show. I didn’t know Ross and Rachel got married and that Rachel got a different job.

      I was young at the time. 10 – 13 age range, just beginning to figure out what adult life was like. My family was strict. The only commercial television I got to watch was Friends, Seinfeld, and the news. So those shows made an impression on me, and it was a negative thing because Friends especially seemed to cast a negative light on doing interesting things with your life.

      I think Chandler was the only semi realistic and likeable character. The rest of it just seemed to be a big joke about bad things that happen when you pursue acting or music or paleantology or anything else. And there was also the weird implication that chefs and waitresses make the same amount of money as paleantologists so why bother going to school? (Which has a grain of truth to it in that some servers make a pretty good income and some researchers don’t, but those are exceptions and it was still a misleading message to receive as a kid).

      Ugh, and when everyone got the same haircut as Rachel… The 90s were such a disappointment. The 80s were a lot more fun.

  37. Jules the First*

    Phew. Bags packed, small electrical devices backed up and charged, plant waterers lined up, haircut and mani-pedi done, laundry on the rack, and pony-sitter sorted.

    Now I need a holiday from preparing for my holiday!

  38. Windchime*

    A bunch of us from work went down to Starbucks the other day. One of my coworkers abstains from caffeine, but he came along and ordered a drink that was not on the menu. Hot Carmel Apple cider. It sounded good, so I got one too.

    Oh. My. God. It was amazing. Super sweet, so I only got a tall but it was amazingly good. We are going back again the day after Christmas to do it again.

    1. Damn it, Hardison!*

      That sounds delicious! If it was too sweet, you can always ask them to make it with less syrup. My sweet tooth is not what it used to be so I get drinks with just 1 pump of syrup which is enough for a little sweetness.

  39. Luna Lovegood*

    Update from the monthly folk music group looking for publicity methods:

    Thanks to everyone for all your thoughtful comments – some of your suggestions were excellent and I will be putting them into practice.

    The main update on the situation is that I approached the head of a local traditional music organisation and my music group is going to be under their umbrella, so to speak. This means I will get some funding for hall hire and workshops, help with writing a press release and access to the organisation’s resources. This, I think, has filled a gap for them, too, as they have been looking for local projects to support, particularly where there are young people involved. So it has been mutually beneficial and I’m very excited to get going with it in the new year.

    A lot of you raised concerns about safeguarding and the age group I have been targeting. I have spoken to several people about this and not really got any conclusive advice because it is such a grey area. However, since I am now part of the larger organisation, I am able to be DBS checked by them and can use their safeguarding policy.

    All in all, progress is being made and it’s all very exciting!

    1. Anono-me*

      Thank you for the update. I am glad you are able to come up with a win win plan. Good luck with it!

  40. Anon right now*

    Well, I messed up.

    Spouse has bad enough depression and anxiety that they are on SS Disability for 15 of our 20+years together. An ongoing problem is following me around the kitchen while I cook, “cleaning.” Several times they have burned themselves trying to clean a still hot range or pan. I can be cutting something and they will grab scraps to throw them away. No matter how much I ask them to just stay out of the way, it keeps happening.

    Last evening it was happening again and I told them to just get out of the kitchen. They said, “I can’t help it.” Here’s where I messed up, I snapped, “Yes you can, you just choose not to!”

    I tried to apologize, they aren’t having any of it. We’ll manage, but I get so fed up and frustrated.

    1. Don't Blame Me*

      Don’t be too hard on yourself. That sounds really frustrating and dangerous, so I think it’s understandable to have lost your patience about it if you’ve been dealing with it for a long time. Is there anything that your spouse can do that would keep them focused/busy enough while you’re cooking that they couldn’t follow you around? Maybe agree on a time limit (amount of prep and cook time you need plus 15 minutes of cushion) and then say that spouse is to stay completely out of the kitchen until the agreed-upon time and then they’re allowed to come in and deal with any mess that hasn’t been cleaned up yet?

      1. Don't Blame Me*

        Also, I’m guessing spouse is going to therapy? It wouldn’t be out of line to insist that they talk to their therapist about this behavior and come up with coping strategies with them that would keep everyone safe. It isn’t safe for spouse to be grabbing hot things/putting their fingers close to a moving knife, and it isn’t safe for you to feel harassed and distracted while you’re working with heat and sharp tools.

    2. Mobuy*

      It sounds like you blame yourself for anytime you and partner fight or partner is depressed. Maybe sometimes they are just a jerk independent of the depression? It is possible. Not everything is depression’s fault.

    3. JenM*

      We all have our breaking point and it sounds like you reached yours in that moment Are they actually getting help?

      1. The RO-Cat*

        And to continue: are you getting help? “Caregiver burnout” is real; therapy seems to help. Did you try it?

    4. Junior Dev*

      > Last evening it was happening again and I told them to just get out of the kitchen. They said, “I can’t help it.” Here’s where I messed up, I snapped, “Yes you can, you just choose not to!”

      So snapping was not great but it seems like they have set up a dynamic where they get to offload all responsibility for their behavior using depression as an excuse, and you’re supposed to just deal with it. That is not sustainable or respectful of you and it’s understandable you got upset with them.

      I have depression and anxiety and one of the things I try very hard to remember is that while it does make certain things difficult for me, it is not a get out of responsibility free card and it doesn’t make it any less hurtful when I disregard other people’s boundaries.

      You get to have boundaries. You deserve to be treated with respect. You deserve to be able to do normal things safely in your own home–and having to worry your partner will burn themselves if you cook is not safe.

      Is your partner getting treatment for their depression? IMO they need to work with their provider to find coping strategies for whatever is causing them to follow you around the kitchen, and not make it your job to tolerate every dysfunctional thing they do without complaining.

      1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

        it seems like they have set up a dynamic where they get to offload all responsibility for their behavior using depression as an excuse, and you’re supposed to just deal with it. That is not sustainable or respectful of you and it’s understandable you got upset with them.

        This this this this THIS. I have a parent who does this (not the cleaning, but generally trying to make me do things/deal with their bad behavior to assuage their anxiety), and while I have tremendous sympathy for people struggling with mental illness (because I am too), I think I used up my entire lifetime’s worth of patience for this particular dynamic as a child.

        And you know what? You were right, Anon right now. They *can* help it. It probably doesn’t feel like they can to your spouse (and it probably isn’t possible to change the behavior right away), but depression and anxiety do not automatically or instinctively cause people to follow other people around cleaning up.

        In addition to nth-ing the recommendation for therapy to help your spouse find better coping mechanisms, I’d also recommend that, after your spouse calms down, you try having a conversation with them about this when you’re not cooking and when you both are in otherwise decent/neutral moods so you can lay out your reasoning when their anxiety may not be spiking so much. I don’t have high hopes for this (goodness knows it’s never worked with my parent), but it could be worth a shot anyway.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Basically they need to do alternative things to manage their anxiety / distress. And to seek whatever help they need to learn those.

    5. Book Lover*

      It sounds like your were just pushed to your limits. I am so sorry. I think you need to forgive yourself for having responded that way. You must have enormous patience.

      In addition to maybe getting yourself some respite (time away? Even if just lunch or movie with a friend?), what would be a solution to this? Is it possible to literally lock your spouse out? Have them go for a walk while you are in the the kitchen? Any way to get out of this repetitive and dangerous situation? Can they come up with a solution rather than just saying they can’t help it or control it?

    6. Natalie*

      Just want to add to the chorus that I think you’re doing just fine. Frankly I probably would have thrown something hot and/or breakable at them already because I do not like being crowded in the kitchen.

      The only absolute with depression or anxiety is a collection of feelings. The behavior they use to respond to those feelings isn’t autonomic or unchangeable, they have some modicum of control over it. Thus, they absolutely can help it. And if they somehow truly, genuinely couldn’t, that wouldn’t mean you have to just silently tolerate it.

      If you don’t already, I really recommend you start seeing a counselor so you can have a safe place to talk about your feelings about your spouse. Having a disabled partner is so fucking hard and exhausting and being able to offload on someone who won’t resent you for your feelings is pretty amazing.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      That is ALL you said?
      I probably would have blown my top. I cannot stand being followed and I really cannot stand being followed in my own kitchen.
      I fail to understand why you have to give up your freedom of movement in your own house and face potential risk of injury trying to do an everyday task to accommodate his concerns.
      Because this person fails to keep themselves safe, ie cleaning hot things, reaching in front of you while you are working with a knife, I think that this should be escalated to needing professional level help on this point. He is endangering himself and endangering you. (Can you tell I have worked in a kitchen? Professional kitchens have safety rules for a reason.)

      Additionally, because you are his front lines, his primary care person he needs to respect your NO.
      I don’t blame you in the least for being fed up. I have done a lot of care-giving for family members. My rule is if they cannot keep themselves safe, there is nothing further I can do for them. They need to move to a more restricted environment that would be safer for them.

      My mother had many, many, many problems. She just was not right. At this point in the story she had no diagnosis and no one really understood the severity but me. She started that crap of following me around in the kitchen. I am not going to expand on what I said, but let me say this: my words rained down on her. She never did it again. Which is interesting, because it was one of the few times she understood no meant no. While this may not be a thing for you to do it does go to the point that unsafe behaviors are not acceptable. All you need to do is lift a heavy hot pot to dump in the sink and he jumps right next to you. The both of you could be going to the ER with severe burns.

      I hope I have encouraged you that your thinking is correct. And I hope you can speak to his doc about this.

    8. Stellaaaaa*

      So there’s a dynamic that I have zero patience for, and I’ll apologize in advance if I don’t sound sympathetic to people who struggle with mental illnesses.

      I hate when people who have diagnosed ailments default to the assumption that mentally normative people don’t have their own problems to deal with. Someone with depression or bipolar disorder can’t absolve themselves of responsibility for managing it while expecting people like me to put effort into softening the rougher aspects of my personality. At some point, our obligations to be positive presences in society have to stop being other people’s responsibility. You want me to put effort into not being a b!tch? I want you (general you) to work on yourself too. Part of recognizing that mental illnesses are common and just another facet of personality means that we get to treat them like any other personality trait. It is not wrong to ask that someone attempt to make an effort to be pleasant to the people who love them. The alternative is codependency. Do not bend over backward to appease someone who will never, ever make an effort to meet you in the middle. You are allowed to have wants and needs in this arena, even if you’re not the one with a mental illness.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I prefer to call it practical.

          I have an extreme real life example. A woman’s husband died. This lady depended on her husband for EVERYTHING. (She had a very bad childhood.) This is how she got to be 80 years old and still did not know how to cook. She was able-bodied, but she refused to learn even some basics such as boiling vegetables for dinner. When her husband passed, she had no idea what to do about food. This brought on a series of other problems that come with not eating and nutritional deficiencies. Her remaining family did not know what to do. Neighbors kept calling the cops because of things they were seeing. The story just keeps getting worse.

          We are responsible for how our life plays out right up until our final day. Now this lady is in a nursing home where she cries all the time that she does not want to be there. The dots still do not connect that her inability to take care of herself got her to this place. They will probably sedate her once they sick of listening to it. This is the system we have. To portray in any other way is not fair to the person involved, when we refuse to take care of ourselves or worse yet cause harm to others around us then things we don’t like at all start happening. Our right to live on our own and retain our own autonomy is something we have to earn every day.

    9. Observer*

      I don’t really think you have anything to apologize for.

      It’s probably true that they can help it, but it doesn’t really matter. Not the depression and anxiety but the specific behavior – a behavior that is not only difficult for you, but actually dangerous for both of you. (To be clear I say PROBABLY, because it IS possible that they can’t help it.) The fact it that whether they can help it and choose not to, or they really can’t help it, they need to stay out of the kitchen!

      It’s like the “get off my foot” thing. If your spouse’s issue caused the to slap you every time you walked into the house 5 minutes later than they thought you should, would you accept “I can’t help it”? If they started calling at work umpteen times a day and started calling your boss and co-workers every time you didn’t pick up the call would you accept “I can’t help it”? What if they started interfering with your ability to get to work?

      The bottom line is that they owe YOU an apology – both for their behavior and for expecting you to accept it. It’s totally on them to find a way to deal with this issue sufficiently to keep both of you safe. (And please don’t let either your spouse or their therapist, if they have one, suggest that the solution is for you to stop cooking.)

  41. Elizabeth H.*

    I’m in Ireland for Christmas! My best friend has lived here for 3 years and I am visiting for the first time. (she comes to the US for work very frequently so I see her a lot but felt totally unbalanced that I had never made the trip myself) we did some traveling/stuff where she lives and now are at her husband’s family’s house for the Christmas holiday. Everyone is so hospitable and welcoming and it’s great. This is my first time ever not being with my parents for Christmas (we’re 30) which is a little bit weird and I’m sorry that they will miss me for the holiday. But all the same I really appreciate doing something different which refreshes the old routines, and it’s also funny to get the sense of spending the holiday somewhere *as an adult* (as opposed to accompanied by my parents).

  42. fposte*

    One of my Christmas joys last year was a hilarious Twitter thread, apparently a tradition, featuring images of all the horrible places people were housed when visiting family at Christmas. The originator has written a funny Guardian piece about it and about the trials of visiting family–link in followup.

    1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Yes! I read this article on the bus and had to laugh at the “sleep under the ironing board” suggestion :) I think she has a book out too.

    2. Elkay*

      I’d forgotten all about this, very much looking forward to tomorrow safe in the knowledge that I’m sleeping in my own bed.

  43. MechanicalPencil*

    This may not be the right week for this, but sleeping on extended family’s guest beds reminded me. I want a new mattress for myself. I’ve been eyeing doing like a Caspar type situation where I don’t have to lie down on a bunch in a store with a salesperson hovering over. That just feels uncomfortable. However! I also don’t want a crappy mattress. Does anyone have any recommendations or thoughts? I know online mattresses give you like 100 nights for a trial…but I just want a one and done thing.

    1. Call me St. Vincent*

      We got a memory foam mattress (not temperpedic because they are sooo expensive but on my list for sometime in the future) and I don’t think I would ever go back! I think ours is a Sealy or Serta and it is a cooling memory foam (apparently the non-cooling ones can get quite hot). I love it! I’m pregnant right now and it’s soooo much more comfortable than our last regular mattress (which was good quality).

        1. Call me St. Vincent*

          I want one so much! I love the bed we have–very comfy, but I definitely tried the Temperpedic at the store, with the cooling, and I was so ready to drop the money but it was double the price of the one we got. We basically were like–when we don’t have young children in daycare anymore, this will one day be our treat to ourselves.

    2. Lady Kelvin*

      We actually got a Casper. It was half the price if the ones in the store and was delivered to Hawaii in 4 days. I am a side sleeper so I need a softer mattress usually, but this one is firmer and the most comfortable sleep I’ve gotten in a long time.

    3. BRR*

      We got a purple mattress over a year ago and it’s awesome. A nice mix of soft and firm with little motion transfer.

    4. Aphrodite*

      I highly recommend reading the blog “Old Bed Guy” ( http://www.oldbedguy.com/ ) for detailed and honest advice about beds and mattresses. He spent several decades in the industry and talks honestly about what to consider.

      On his recommendation, I ended up buying a Charles P Rogers mattress and foundation, a top of the line one. The total price came to about $2,000. It has been the best bed I’ve ever had. If I can afford it, when I get my next one, it will be from McRoskey, though if I cannot afford it I will definitely go back to Rogers.

    5. Snark*

      We just bought a Leesa mattress and I love the thing. It’s really, really comfortable and doesn’t sleep hot.

    6. Yetanotherjennifer*

      We recently got the firmest roll-up mattress from IKEA and are very happy with it. It’s a mix of coils and latex. I’m a side sleeper too. Mattresses are expensive in our area and we also hate lying down in showrooms. I figured anything was better than what we had and was also tempted by the online ones, but Ikea was even cheaper.

  44. Overeducated*

    I love my family, but traveling is hard sometimes! My kid and I are still low energy from a virus from last weekend, but we’re staying at the in laws’ for a couple days and I am already irritated at everyone. I think a scented candle irritated my cough (which had been getting a lot better) and I got basically no sleep last night, kid has no interest in playing in the room of the house where adults hang out, and we had to cancel a planned Christmas activity with SIL because she woke up at 12:30 pm and by the time she was showered and caffeinated an hour later, the kid started crying and fell asleep. He’s a preschooler who is extra tired this week, so it would have been nice to schedule around his needs for sleep too, but I married into a “when we feel like it” family, not a “what time should we plan for” family like mine. I’m also irrationally annoyed because I feel sicker today, I am constitutionally unable to nap, and I wish I could just curl up in front of the tv at home.

    Also got into a political argument with another SIL last night. I didn’t mean to, since I know a lot of the family doesn’t agree with me on everything, but I am just so mad over recent events, and then she said something that sounded so divorced from reality that I couldn’t stop myself from saying, “What? Do you really think that?” And we were off to the races! She didn’t seem mad, but I don’t think she would express it to my face if she were.

    To family! To not being sick and driving each other crazy. I hope you all enjoy whatever company or solitude you have despite the irritations.

    1. LibbyG*

      Hang in there! I’m not a napper either, and I envy those who can close their eyes for 20 min and feel refreshed.

      Best of luck for the rest of the visit!

  45. Etiquette question*

    I started working out with a personal trainer recently and did not plan to give them a gift because it was so recent. Well, at our session this past week, they gave me a small gift – a gift card! I was totally not expecting that, since in my experience it’s usually gone from client to provider. I don’t celebrate the holidays and tend to give few gifts (doormen, the friend who invited me to dinner tomorrow, etc.). I will see the trainer again next week but it seems well, too late, and if I give a gift card back, a bit silly. I don’t know what to do! Any suggestions?

    1. Book Lover*

      It depends on your trainer, but what I did was take bagels and cream cheese in for all the trainers (small gym). None of them avoid carbs and they were happy, and it wouldn’t look like you were trying to repay the gift, I think, if it were a pre-new year thing. Or wait the extra week and take something in for the new year.

    2. Laura*

      I do a 20% bonus separate from what I regularly pay mine. But that’s cause everybody likes money (and I don’t do potent portables as gifts)

  46. Junior Dev*

    Mental health thread! How are you doing? What are you struggling with? What are you proud of?

    I’ve had some sort of mild crud these last few weeks, sore throat and nausea and sleeping a lot. Fortunately I have time off until January.

    My schedule got messed up between being sick and getting really overwhelmed by work and various holiday parties, so I haven’t been going to the gym consistently. I did roller skate on Monday and I’m proud of how good my core strength has gotten since I’ve been lifting–a lot of people complain of back soreness when they skate but I didn’t have any at all.

    I’m struggling because I have 5 different commitments in the next two days that will all take a lot of social energy. I’m taking today to be a hermit and clean my apartment. I’m also planning to take an Ativan before volunteering on Christmas Day–I’ll be at the homeless teens program I cook at every week, but since it’s Christmas they will have a much higher turnout and I expect it could get very stressful.

    How are you?

    1. AnonAndOn*

      I am so thankful for these mental health threads.

      I’m going to have to vacate my apartment at the end of the month. The landlord wants their money (understood) but I have no way of paying it. Between that and other things I broke down. I’ll be moving in with a relative which is not the best situation but is better than ending up on the street. I am going to miss having space to myself and having freedom. I have thought about suicide but no interest in acting on those thoughts, but if I do succumb to those feelings I’ll call the Suicide Prevention Hotline.

      Long term unemployment has messed up my life and it’ll take a long time to get back on my feet and recover from it.

      1. Junior Dev*

        Hugs to you. That sounds like a really hard, upsetting situation. I’m so glad you have a relative who’s able to take you in.

      2. nep*

        Glad you’ve got in mind to call the hotline if need be.
        Also glad to hear you’ve got a relative with whom you can stay. Understandable — it will be difficult not to have your space and freedom as you want and need. Probably not much consolation right now, but this is a temporary situation.
        I salute your resilience and your attitude about getting back on your feet.
        Keep us posted.

        1. nep*

          (It’s just occurring to me — I wonder to what extent the absence of rent-payment worry will bring some kind of overall relief. A moment to exhale, if only a bit.)

      3. Effie, who is worth it*

        Oh man. I’m so sorry to hear. My thoughts are with you. I wish I could do more to help, let me know if you think of anything :)

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      I’m so grateful for these threads and I always think your achievements are really great, Junior Dev.

      What’s going well: I am continuing to enjoy this period like I want to and not spend it in a huge depression like previous years, which is huge. I decided to start a tradition of getting myself a small gift (this year: hand cream in really cute packaging).

      And I’m proud of coping with a well-intentioned but triggering comment about food at the non-weekend place the other day. A bunch of us went and got fish and chips, and afterwards someone else said “that was quick!” and I almost got tipped into you ate too fast like always because [nasty thoughts about self]”, but instead took a long deep breath or three and said not really, it’s almost the end of lunchtime, and (more importantly) told myself this person had clearly just not noticed the time passing.

      (I eat really fast because I was not fed properly at some points in my childhood and have been homeless twice and even now, however hard I try, I eat fast even when I think I’m being slow, and when people comment on this it can really trip me up emotionally. Which is why I can write two paragraphs about one damn comment.)

      Like you I have lots of commitments and have ended up without one clear day of nothing except New Years Day. I’m both glad of getting to see various people and worried I’ll end up overwhelmed.

      1. AnonAndOn*

        You handled the comment well. Some people (not talking about the person you were with since you acknowledged that the comment was a reference to the time passing) don’t think before they speak and feel the need to make unsolicited commentary on things. They don’t realize that they can be cruel.

    3. Red*

      I’m doing well. Husband is not. I love him so much, but I am about to rip his head off his body if he unloads all his anxiety on me one more time. I just can’t fix it. I feel really bad about it too, but caregiver burnout is a real thing and I’m really feeling it. Because, I’m dealing with my stressful job, college, paying the bills, doing all the chores he says he’ll do but doesn’t, and of course my own serious mental health problems, and secondhand anxiety and depression is just too much. I don’t know how to solve this :( I just want him to be my husband, but right now I feel like he’s my child. I miss him, and I feel like a jerk.

    4. Nervous Accountant*

      I had what I think was a panic attack on Monday morning before work. Couldn’t breathe, feeling of choking, and lots of crying. I’d stop and start. Happened for a few hours til it just subsided. Actually, I thjnk it was a random conversation with a coworker (not even a pleasant one) that distracted me long enough to get through it.

      I have no idea why it happened or what triggers it, I just have to get through it. It’s happened maybe 1-2x a year for the last few years. Twice it turns out I’d been pregnant. And I’m having baby dreams. ‍♀️ So. Idk.

    5. Shrunken Hippo*

      I have had a bit of depression but it’s mostly centered around frustration at not being able to do things because of my pain. Thankfully my anxiety is almost gone and I feel much more chipper and outgoing which gives me hope of landing a job in the future, even if I have limitations on what I can do physically.

      I was worried that I was going to be overwhelmed by relatives over Christmas that would have made me go off the deep end a bit, but they are all waiting until the 30th and we are going to have a meal together at a restaurant. The meal has already been decided on so there will be no arguments about food or who has to cook or clean, which is amazing! My parents are both going to be gone for the next 3 days so I get the house to myself to chill and relax, which is great. I love my parents and I’m very thankful that they took me in this year and gave me support to get the help I need, but I am really looking forward to some alone time.

      I hope everyone has a happy, fun, safe Christmas! (or other holiday, or just time off!)

    6. Lissa*

      Weirdly bad, and the holidays don’t usually bother me. I am struggling a lot with intrusive thoughts, which is a problem for me but I can usually manage it, but lately my thought spirals are *intense*. I got into a ridiculous family drama, and took a comment from a friend *way* too personally – luckily managed to hide it pretty well but I am still stewing over it, and can’t seem to make my thoughts stop going in spirals. I really really want to be able to tell someone about them, but I am terrified to do so because of the content of the intrusive thoughts.

      Tonight is a lot better – partner and I went shopping for our annual tradition of buying an expensive holiday gift between the two of us (yeah it was a Nintendo Switch, ahem) and not worrying about eating healthy for the next couple days…which might backfire since healthy eating really helped my mental health overall, but right now I decided screw it and have just been eating whatever.

      1. Effie, who is worth it*

        I know a couple who splurged on a Switch too! You’re going to love it :)

        Be kind to yourself!

      2. Ramona Flowers*

        I’m so sorry you’re struggling with intrusive thoughts – they sound really difficult. I have some suggestions for you on who you could tell.

        If the thoughts are about harming yourself, befrienders dot org has a worldwide list of crisis helplines.

        If they are about trauma you’ve experienced, it might help to talk to an organisation that specialises in that type of trauma.

        If they are about something you think you could do or are scared you could do, like harming someone else, an ocd helpline or forum could be helpful – they will understand that some people struggle with these worries and there are no known instances of anyone ever acting on them.

        Whatever it is, there will be someone out there who can help and won’t judge.

    7. Effie, who is worth it*

      Thanks for starting and continuing this space within the safe space Alison provides, Junior Dev.

      I’m mixed. I’ve been all over the place in the last couple of weeks. Pretty stable right now, thankfully, but if you’d asked me even a few hours ago my answer might’ve been different. I just stretched so the endorphins are definitely speaking :)

      My heartache just keeps pinging me. I’ve not quite worked it through, apparently.

      I had a great two classes this morning. My students have all worked really hard this week. I feel so proud of them.

      I miss my cross-country friends.

      I’m glad to see certain family members I’ve missed out on seeing for the last 3 Christmases since I wasn’t able to come visit for Christmas while I was across the continent.

      I met some awesome people at a social event this week and also got my heartache shoved/rubbed in my face at the same event ~.-

      I think I’m worth it. I hope I’m worth it. I want to believe I’m worth it. I’m so scared I’m not worth it.

      Comp training is continuing, despite continued back pain, so go me :)

      1. AnonAndOn*

        “I think I’m worth it. I hope I’m worth it. I want to believe I’m worth it. I’m so scared I’m not worth it.”

        You definitely worth it, Effie. :-)

  47. caledonia*

    Who is spending a Christmas alone this year?

    I am spending it with my cat, I have some presents to open and some good food. I now live in a city again and quite a lot of it is unexplored so I might go for a wander somewhere at some point.

    1. All Hail Queen Sally*

      My favorite Christmases (since I am an introvert) are when I sit at home alone watching Christmas movies on TV with a cat or two on my lap knitting or crocheting all day. I wish I lived in a cold snowy area as I think it would add to the atmosphere, but I live in the sunny Southwest.

      1. nep*

        Sounds heavenly.
        For me, I will relish quiet time to read and practice an instrument — two things I’m able to really get into only when no one else is in the house.

      2. JaneB*

        I am home alone with a cat too, not entirely by plan, but I’m very happy it’s worked out this way!

      3. Nana*

        Another one looking forward to peace and quiet. Going to a free meditation / vegetarian supper tomorrow late afternoon…and then nothing to do / no one to see for two whole days. Heaven!

    2. copy run start*

      I am! Not feeling the holidays this year. Thanksgiving was a bit rough. So I’m holed up with a number of new games (curse you Steam sales), a supply of hot cocoa and a big fuzzy blanket.

      1. Lissa*

        omg that sounds ideal. Think that’s gonna be my New Year’s Eve since December has been uncharacteristically (for me) stressful.

    3. London Calling*

      I’m in London and I’m alone by choice and not for the first time. No public transport for two days, unfortunately, so I can’t wander unless I walk, but the cupboard and fridge are full of good things and I have three days to catch up with writing and stuff that has taken a back seat to a job with a brutal commute. Also I have three days to consider where to go with said job. :)

      Three days of silence, if that’s what I want, reflection and a bit of re-grouping emotionally. Best wishes to evryone here, especially those who are by themselves this holiday, choice or not.

    4. working abroad*

      I’m alone, not by choice as I’m in a new country where I don’t really know anyone, but I don’t mind spending the holiday alone. I do feel a tad homesick as I haven’t seen my family in over a year, which manifested itself in my almost crying at the grocery store when a clerk couldn’t understand me. I have my kitties and Netflix. I think I’ll make some good coffee and a PB & J and catch up on The Crown.

  48. Hubby for sale or rent*

    So hubby is barely speaking to me because last night with out of state SIL and family over, he was dominating the conversation, cutting people off, and really monopolizing all speech. Nothing political or heated, but extremely rude; so I was nudging him under the table and he stopped commented on it and made a big deal of ‘why are you doing that’ and then blew up when guests had left. I immediately apologized and again this morning, but yeah. Not a great day. I really just want to nap, but they’re coming back for more freakin family time. Gaahhhh IREALLY just want a nap!!!!

    1. Effie, who is worth it*

      You poor thing! Hope you got at least a power nap in. Was it HIS family that he was talking over, etc? Is that how they communicated growing up? I find that often people revert to old patterns when they’re around family. Ugh, that sounds like an awful situation to be in.

      Take care!

    2. Lizabeth*

      Sometimes ignoring hubby behavior in the middle of it is better than trying to change it. Plus finding something else to do in another room while pontificating is happening.

  49. I'm A Little TeaPot*

    Took my younger cat to the vet yesterday to get checked out, she was either really mad at me or sick. Turns out, she’s sick. And I got her in just barely in time to catch it before it got really bad. Respiratory crap is not fun. Poor baby was working pretty hard to breath last night, but the antibiotics have kicked in and she’s doing better today. If I hadn’t taken her yesterday, there would have been an emergency vet trip today.

    Cross your fingers the older cat doesn’t come down with it.

  50. Kali*

    Spending Christmas with my boyfriend’s family for the first time. His dad’s dog died yesterday.:(

    Also, we’re watching Why Him?. I hate these kinds of father vs fiancé movies. There’s way too much of a women-owned-by-men vibe inherent in the premise.:/. Like Hotel Transylvania, in which a man symbolically gives his daughter to another man.

    1. Kali*

      Oh my god. She wants to drop out of uni to work for her boyfriend’s foundation. That idea is so awful I just cannot even. What if they break up? What if she wants to move on to a new role? What if she actually needs the knowledge/skills from her last few semesters? If she’s trusting that their relationship will last why not trust that it will last long enough for her to graduate?

    2. The New Wanderer*

      In Hotel Transylvania, technically he gives the other man to his daughter (like, literally holds him out as an offering).

      But yeah, I get what you’re saying. It grates on me even watching Disney movies because sure, leave your home and everyone you love at 16 to follow a guy, Ariel. And Belle wanted to travel the world but gave that up to marry the guy and live in that castle just down the road from the poor provincial town she disdained.

      1. TL -*

        Mulan is where it’s at. Save China, have high standards, and weigh your future opportunities carefully, then pick what you really want to do :)

        1. arjumand*

          I love Moana SO MUCH! It’s become my favourite animated movie of all time.


          The last part where she’s walking towards Te Ka has me ugly-crying from start to finish.

    3. Lissa*

      I hate hate hate the trope of “overprotective father threatens daughter’s romantic partner with harm” presented as a positive thing. I will noooot watch anything with it and it makes me so mad.

  51. Anion*

    Setting a placeholder for my beef barley soup recipe, which was requested earlier this week!

    I don’t have time to write it out this afternoon (I have a ton of cookies to bake and a corned beef that’s been brining in my fridge for twelve days to cook) but I’ll come back tonight to post it.

    (Just in case, I also do cure my own corned beef, so if anyone wants that recipe–it’s fantastic–let me know.)

    1. Paquita*

      Yea! That was me. Whenever you get to it is good, next week even. I am NOT a good cook but beef barley soup sounds so good.

    2. CanadianUniversityReader*

      I’d love to read another recipe for corned beef. I’ve tried making corned beef before but it didn’t really turn out.

  52. Language Student*

    I asked earlier in the year about developing relationships as a young adult with older family members, so, update time!

    I have a great relationship with my mum, now. We went from talking once or twice a month to meeting a few times a week and we’re planning holidays together for next summer – I love spending time with her, which is something that teenage me never thought she’d say (or, uh, type). My relationship with my dad and step-mum is great, too, but they’re further away so we don’t see each other as often.
    With my extended family, I wouldn’t say I have a totally independent relationship with them yet, but I definitely have more of an adult-to-adult relationship. I’ve had some great conversations with some of my aunts in particular and I’ve learned a lot more about their lives outside of the family. Thanks, everyone, for your advice!

    1. Incantanto*

      Thats really cool, any tips you can give on grandparents yet?
      My dad can’t travel far atm as he’s on a transplant waiting list so I and my brothers will be doing grandparent visiting without them and last time it was just me and the grandparents I was about eight.

      1. Language Student*

        Ask your dad what your grandparents like and then talk to them about it, or ask for stories on what your dad was like as a kid. Also, at least in my family, my grandparents do a lot of asking after other people (particularly in my generation) but don’t get a lot of questions back, so asking about their life and what they get up to can be nice for them. Hope your dad’s okay and you have a nice trip!

  53. tigerStripes*

    Remember Tara the hero cat? I’ve been wondering lately what was wrong with the dog? I’ve seen the video – the dog just wanders over and attacks the kid with no apparent reason. I grew up with dogs, and I can’t remember ever knowing a dog who did something like that. Are there any dog experts on this blog? Any idea on what was wrong?

    And if you haven’t seen Tara the hero cat, google her – she probably saved the kid’s life. As it was, the kid had to have stitches because of what the dog did.

  54. Dr. KMnO4*

    Update on the anniversary gift!

    A couple months back I asked for advice re: first anniversary gift for my husband. He’d mentioned that he had something planned, and since I’m not a planner I consulted the community for advice. We didn’t have a chance to go to the same restaurant for lunch that we’d been to last year, unfortunately. However, someone mentioned that the first anniversary is paper, so that informed my gifts. I got my husband two posters (Minecraft and Rwby) and a piece of art. It was a dictionary page with a Cthulhu looking thing painted on it. He was very pleased

    His gift to me was amazing. We play table-top games with miniatures. He combined a few kits and made me a completely new type of model. It’s a dwarf (the army I play) riding a bear, towing a giant cart. The cart has a bell on it and a Bluetooth speaker, and runes spelling out AC/DC (one of my favorite bands). It is painted beautifully. I was blown away by how cool it was. I feel bad that my gift to him wasn’t nearly as cool as his gift to me.

    1. Liane*

      These are great! Congratulations on the anniversary.

      And those types of gifts would go over well in our household.

  55. Merci Dee*

    Kiddo and I watched the new Jumanji movie on Thursday. I liked it. Jack Black and Dwayne Johnson were both hilarious. Mind you, it’s not supposed to be high-brow, intellectual fare, and you’re going to be disappointed if that’s what you’re looking for.

    I liked that they included a reference to Alan Parrish, which had been Robin Williams’ character in the original movie. Thought it was sweet that they mentioned him.

  56. Ramona Flowers*

    So I’m worried I’m being a crappy, crappy human being (and disproving the nice things people said up top).

    Please be advised that this post will mention pregnancy loss and difficulties having children, in case that’s not okay for you.

    My husband and I are friends with Major and know his girlfriend, Liv. (I’m also very good friends with Major’s ex-wife and see her regularly. I have no issue with Liv and quite like her but admittedly haven’t gone out of my way to befriend her.)

    Liv had a miscarriage a few days ago. My husband told me – I don’t officially know. (I think it’s okay that he told me. He did it in the context of needing support for himself after spending quite a long time supporting his friend.)

    I went to a pub quiz the next night and would have been able to tell Liv wasn’t okay even if I didn’t know why. If it was anything else I would have said something, and generally I’m good at saying whatever is needed to convey that someone can tell me how they actually are.

    But not this. I can’t conceive, for a bunch of health reasons (I do not want advice on this including about alternatives, as you’ll be missing a lot of important context and because it’s not helpful – thanks for respecting this). I do not have the emotional bandwidth to support someone I hardly know with this. I have found it very, very hard when I’ve needed to support close friends with this stuff.

    I have been trying to tell myself that her ex-wife’s friend who she hardly knows is probably an unlikely choice of confidant anyway.

    But I knew she wasn’t okay and I said nothing and I feel like a sh*tty human being.

    1. Enough*

      No you are not sh**tty. Life can be complicated and there are no set rules to follow. As Liv is more in the acquaintance category and not a friend I don’t fault you for not saying anything. And as you knew what was going on it kept you from accidentally saying something that might have pained her. So on the whole I think you did good.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        “And as you knew what was going on it kept you from accidentally saying something that might have pained her”

        That’s a really good point that hadn’t occurred to me. Thank you.

        1. Anion*

          That was my thought, too.

          Please forgive and take care of yourself. You weren’t meant to know, so you acted like you didn’t–which was 100% the correct thing to do. There’s no onus on you to care for someone who hasn’t asked for your care, if you know what I mean.

          I don’t know this woman, but I know for me when something awful happens I generally prefer that everyone around me just act like it didn’t and treat me normally unless I specifically say/ask otherwise. It’s very, very possible–likely, even–that your just acting normal helped her more than anything else you could have done.

          I’m so sorry that it’s impacting you and for all that you’ve had to deal with.

    2. Don't Blame Me*

      Don’t be too hard on yourself. Things like this are so hard to know how to handle. It’s entirely possible that bringing it up would have made her more upset. Do you have the ability to text her? When I found out a neighbor had had a miscarriage – we were friendly but not friends – I sent her a short text saying that I had heard about her loss and I was so sorry. I think an acknowledgement of her loss without any face to face pressure of responding in a certain way would be a kind thing to do.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        We’ve never communicated except in person and I’m not supposed to know. But if it becomes more public I might do that, thank you.

    3. Loopy*

      I’ve never been in this exact situation but I absolutely have been in a position where I felt whatever I would have said and done would have fallen short or flat. With a situation like this I think it’s absolutely okay to make a judgement call on if saying something would ultimately be beneficial and healthy for BOTH sides. If you had said something that would have likely brought up a huge amount of emotions you both would have had to handle. It’s not something anyone should feel they *need* to do without the support and ability to do it in a healthy way.

      I think you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself for making the decision that it was not a situation you felt you could handle. That is everyone’s call to make. For every grief I have ever experienced I have never felt someone other than my closest family/friends was expected to become involved to any extent.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Thank you. Seriously. I just felt selfish because it’s too painful for me – when she didn’t get that choice.

        This was a really kind comment, thank you. I’m trying to remember that I know myself as ‘person who is normally supportive’ but she hardly knows me at all!

    4. Call me St. Vincent*

      Not sh$tty at all. I think it would maybe have been different if she confided in you independently and you didn’t respond. I think it’s totally totally fine not to say something and honestly probably better that you didn’t. It’s so intimate and private that you wouldn’t even know if she would feel her space was violated by someone mentioning it. Also this is so not your burden and it shouldn’t have to be. I’m sure Liv is getting support from her close friends and family. Don’t feel bad at all!!!

    5. Ramona Flowers*

      Thanks so much everyone. I’ve realised I saw this all through my own lens of I Am Not Helping which is of course not how it objectively is. Thank you.

      1. Snark*

        You are not necessarily Helping, but you’re also not making things worse, you’re not jumping any boundaries, you’re not disclosing anything that you got secondhand, and you’re not forcing yourself to Help with something you don’t have the bandwidth to tackle with as much compassion as she needs right now. I think you’re 100% in the clear. Not everyone can be supportive for all people in all situations, and that’s not a failing.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Thanks Snark. I trust the community here not to just tell me what I want to hear which makes all the supportive comments even more valuable.

      2. Yetanotherjennifer*

        It’s also possible that you did help by allowing her to pretend to be normal. She may assume you know, but since you don’t officially know, you gave her the opportunity to not be someone dealing with a loss.

    6. EvilQueenRegina*

      It doesn’t make you that at all. It’s like other people have said, knowing about it kept you from saying something that might have upset her more, and she might have preferred to use the quiz night as a means of giving her something else to think about so as not to have to think about it, in which case “Ravi told me about your and Major’s bad news” might have upset her more.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        And if anything it seems a bit egotistical to even assume she would want my help.

        This is alllll my stuff and not actual reality.

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          I do not have the emotional bandwidth to support someone I hardly know with this. I have found it very, very hard when I’ve needed to support close friends with this stuff.

          You deserve all kinds of positive credit for knowing this about yourself. It’s better to work with rather than against one’s limitations. Maybe if the two of you were alone on a desert island, she would talk and you would listen…but in the here and now she has other people if she needs support. You don’t need to feel inadequate, unhelpful, or guilty.

    7. Stellaaaaa*

      I don’t think this makes you a bad person. All I can do is toss out some examples that check some similar boxes, and hopefully you’ll agree and see that you’re not doing anything wrong.

      – I’ve known quite a few people who stayed friends with their exes but declined to attend the exes’ weddings because they were marrying other people. It mattered to the exes that the friends attend, but the friends felt they would be spending a lot of money and putting a lot of effort into a long event that would only make them feel sad.

      – I have ended friendships with women who stayed in abusive relationships. They undoubtedly need support, but I also cannot be asked to associate with abusive men and interact with them as if they are decent human beings. It’s also triggering me for other reasons. It’s just not something I can have in my life.

      Basically, no one is going to consistently care about your feelings except you, so you’re the one who has to do it. If you put your feelings aside to care for someone else, who is caring for you? Don’t deprive yourself of an emotional caretaker in the interest of someone who already has people caring for her. Your husband has already been drained by this. Major is presumably there for Liv. I don’t think you need to stress yourself out over this when you don’t know if Liv even wants comfort from you. After all, she hasn’t even told you yet.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        “Basically, no one is going to consistently care about your feelings except you, so you’re the one who has to do it. If you put your feelings aside to care for someone else, who is caring for you?“

        I may frame this. It is something I can forget and it was so helpful to be reminded of it.

    8. Someone else*

      Nothing in this story makes me think you’re remotely shitty. Frankly, for someone out and about and clearly not ok but also not sharing their not-okness, especially since it wasn’t known that you knew, there’s a 50/50 shot as to whether her internal monologue were desperately hoping you either didn’t notice something were wrong or would at least pretend you didn’t notice vs wanting you to acknowledge it. There’s a very strong chance saying nothing here was totally the right and more considerate choice.

    9. Starryemma*

      Honestly, she may have appreciated not having to talk thru it with someone she doesn’t know well. It sounds like you were so kind as you could have been in the situation.

    10. Belle di Vedremo*

      Something I’ve found helpful, particularly as I get better at it, is the question: Is this *my* work? It’s akin to seeing which posts to respond to here; which ones are “mine” to respond to and which aren’t. It’s not that I don’t generally care, it’s that they aren’t all “mine.” It’s great, because I am free to appreciate what others bring to their posts that I can’t/don’t.

      This post doesn’t make you out to be a crappy human being, but one who recognized that this one isn’t your work (part of that is recognizing the cost to you of doing it, and the cost to her of your offering it this time) and gave you both room to be together without needing to deal with something that isn’t yours to do together. And even in this post where you are feeling like a shitty human being, your inherent kindness comes through loud and clear.

  57. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

    Tipping in the UK y/n? When I was in the UK in 2003/2004, tipping was a no-go (and the one time I forgot and tried to tip someone, the server refused the tip). Now it seems like a lot of places include space to provide for tips, which is really weird to me. Is there anyone I “need” to tip (the way that although tipping is technically not required in the US you basically do need to tip your servers), or is all tipping in the UK more voluntary than tipping in the US? I live in London, if that makes a difference.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Sitdown restaurants: has been acceptable for as long as I can remember and since before 2003! Don’t hand it to them. Leave it on the table eg on the little plate they bring your change on. If you pay by card you can add the tip there but it’s better for the staff if you tip cash as they potentially see more of it. It is generally a social convention to.

      Taxis: I generally tip a little. You can hand them cash and say “take x” eg give them a 20 and say “take £15”. I know a lot of people who don’t tip taxi drivers but I always have.

      You don’t *need* to tip the way you do in the US eg in hotels you are not expected to tip the cleaners – that would be weird, whereas I gather that in America you have to or they don’t clean the room properly.

      1. TL -*

        Housekeepers clean the room properly if you don’t tip – plenty of people only tip at the end of their stay or don’t tip at all. (Not best practices but rooms still get cleaned properly.)

              1. TL -*

                Neither of those situations is the norm – I’ve always had my hotel cleaned regardless of tipping, as had every friend I’ve traveled with; if the toilet paper wasn’t there I would call down to the front desk and complain and reasonably expect it to get fixed with apologies very quickly.
                In the Las Vegas situation, they definitely weren’t looking for a tip – you don’t tip the front desk. They probably just booked incorrectly and once you complained, fixed it. (You probably would’ve gotten the same response if you’d asked to talk to the manager before seeing the room, honestly.)

                Tips aren’t bribes. They go to service workers as payment for a job well done.

            1. Ramona Flowers*

              Oh and when we checked into our Vegas hotel on our honeymoon (begins with B, famous for its musical fountains) they claimed to only have a twin room and not the double we booked. I don’t know if the person wanted a tip but I was not going to tip just to get the room I booked. So we went up to the twin room and then called and asked very nicely if they really thought a honeymooning couple wanted separate beds and then suddenly a king size room inexplicably became available. The irony is I would have tipped if I had got the basic level of good service.

      2. Anon-MD*

        “whereas I gather that in America you have to or they don’t clean the room properly.”

        This is not the case in decent hotels. Rooms are cleaned properly with or without tips. In fact, most guests tip at the end of their stays, and this would probably not happen if the rooms were not properly serviced.

    2. Elkay*

      I agree with Ramona, definitely expected in a sit down restaurant, 10% is the norm but I’ve had auto-gratuities of 12.5% some places. At this time of year some restaurants will add the gratuity automatically so check you’re not tipping twice.

      If I have cash I tip food delivery drivers but I don’t always have cash on hand so that’s more hit and miss.

    3. UK tipper (or not, as the case may be)*

      I am from the UK an live in London. I tip restraunts where there is table service but only for dinner unless I’m eating with a group (no idea why I’ve made this distinction but I think it is the norm).

      I also tip hairdressers. Even if I hate the cut.

      I would only tip a taxi driver if I or my party had been a bit happy and loud ;) as a thank you for putting up with that.

      I don’t think I tip anyone else. I used to have a cleaner and gave her an extra weeks wage at Christmas but It wouldn’t occur to me to tip a hotel room cleaner. I don’t even tip the person who delivers room service as there is a tray charge already (I stay in hotels frequently for work).

    4. Lau (UK)*

      I tip in:
      – restaurants with table service
      – taxis (The “take £X” approach, rounding up past about 10% is the best one)
      – hairdressers/beauty therapists (it’s a bit hit and miss – my current hairdresser owns her salon and doesn’t do tipping, so she gets fizz and cash at Christmas)
      – pubs if I’m paying with cash (see taxi drivers)

    5. Thlayli*

      Sit down restaurants 10%. You can give more if you thought they did an amazing job or you can give less or none at all. Check the bill – if a service charge is included it’s very common not to tip and most service charge is optional anyway so u can delete it from your bill if you want.

      Some people tip hairdressers.

      That’s about it.

  58. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

    We came back from our brief break in NY last week, but I’ve been so jetlagged I’ve only just caught up with reading this week’s posts (commented on a few). I really appreciated everyone’s comments on transport (the failed pipe bomb incident happened while we were there, so the subway was off limits for a day, so glad no one was seriously hurt.)
    So I’ve just popped on to wish everyone a happy holiday season (in whatever form that may take). Take care peeps!

      1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

        Hi! It was a very full four days! We landed in snow (I’m not a good flyer, so that made me really anxious!), but it definitely made it feel more festive once we were on the ground. Very glad we bought snow boots!
        We did a LOT of tourist stuff – Liberty Island (I’d been warned she’s not as big as she looks on TV, but she’s still an impressive height to me!); The Empire State Building (it’s COLD on the observation deck at 8pm in December! But the night time skyline is amazing!); Central Park, including the zoo which was a big highlight; the Museum of Natural History – joint favourite, and we covered a bit less than half of it Hubby wanted to see dinosaurs! We visited the Ground Zero Memorial Gardens, and I was moved by how peaceful it was there, considering we walked just a little way and saw how many people like touching the… back end of the Charging Bull. NYC is a real mix!
        I’m afraid we stuck to the tourist stereotype, so my favourite eats were a “proper” American breakfast of pancakes and bacon (such a strange concept, and such HUGE pancakes!) And some Juniors Cheesecake – such huge portions that we skipped dinner that night!
        Even with the failed pipe bomb, at no point did I actually feel unsafe – we did use the subway a couple of days after, and it was actually more comfortable than the London Underground (could be a timing thing, I’ve only ever used the Tube twice, both times at the height of summer), and the cab drivers were friendly enough (TVs in the back of cabs is a novel idea!).
        Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed the Holiday Markets – I’m a sucker for these markets, especially with the residual snow, it began to feel a LOT like Christmas!

  59. Fake old Converse shoes*

    My parents met my crush. They appeared when we were buying snacks at the cafeteria. My father talk about me for about an hour without stopping even though my crush mentioned his girlfriend several times, and my crush thought my dad was a teacher, and I could feel I was dying of the embarrassment. Worst of all, both my parents love him (my mother said he’s “handsome” and dad described him as “respectful” and “mature”) and I fear they ship us.
    (Alao, I failed my last final because couldn’t justify some questions properly. I didn’t study as much as I wanted, so it doesn’t hurt that much.)

    1. Effie, who is worth it*

      Oohhh, that’s awkward. At least you didn’t die from embarrassment*? Unless you’re posting as a ghost, which would be really cool; I heard electricity and ectoplasm don’t mix well so let me know how that feels ;)

      Sorry to hear about your final :(

      *I fully understand sometimes it feels like it’d be better to die than to have to deal with the aftermath of said situation. Sorry, it’s medically impossible :/

      Here is an emoji crab for you:

  60. Britt*

    For Alison and other people read a lot of books, how do you consume your books? eBooks? Buy hard copies from Amazon or B&N? Library?

    1. caledonia*

      Library. I couldn’t afford to buy all the books I read….And in some cases, it would just be read and donated anyway.

    2. Loopy*

      Library for most. I tried to start buying books but it was too expensive and then I had (a teeny bit of) buyers remorse when I ended up not liking the book!

      Now I try library first and buy it later if I want to own a whole set of a series or get it signed. Sometimes, rarely, I will also buy if I don’t feel like paying the interlibrary loan fee if it isn’t in my library system.

    3. Ramona Flowers*

      Library, ebooks, secondhand from charity shops, borrowing from or swapping with friends, and I have lots of books on my Amazon wish list. I can’t afford to buy new books nearly as much as I would like to.

    4. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

      Library, both paper and ebook, but I prefer paper. I have a Kindle and it’s very useful, but books I read on the Kindle still don’t feel like real books to me, and I don’t enjoy them as much.

    5. Middle School Teacher*

      I borrow from the library (mostly hard copies, occasionally audiobooks). My library has cards for free so it’s the most economical for me.

    6. Nicole*

      Library for both physical books and digital versions. I will buy a book if it’s something not likely to end up at the library but that’s rare.

    7. Lcsa99*

      A combination of Amazon, eBay (especially if I’ve found a new author I like with like 10 books in the series already out), and used book stores. My husband is a librarian so he pretty much exclusively gets books from the library. I just prefer owning them. We have gotten to the point with our collection that we have to keep a list of what we own, so we don’t buy the same things when we go to used book stores.

      Used book stores are definitely my favorite method. You can find so many older and just odd treasures that way. There is actually a little town in upstate New York that we like to visit that’s nicknamed “the book village” because it pretty much ONLY has used book stores. I think every time we’ve gone we have bought enough to supplement their incomes for the rest of the year.

    8. Sparkly Librarian*

      Almost always in print, from the library. (It’s so convenient — and like receiving presents at work a couple times a week!) Occasionally a friend will loan me a personal copy, but I can’t remember the last time I bought a book for myself. If I wanted to, I could read more ebooks using my library card and Overdrive. I read about a hundred books a year (not counting re-reads or half-reads or picturebooks), so I couldn’t support that volume either with my wallet or with my storage space.

    9. All Hail Queen Sally*

      I used to compulsively purchase hard copies of books and as a result have ended up with boxes and boxes and boxes of books still waiting to be read. Earlier this year I got a tablet that I have been able to link to my city’s library system. I was really surprised to see how many books are available for free download. The best thing is that I have two weeks to read a book before it disappears, so it motivates me actually read more often now.

      Once, I didn’t get a book finished before the two weeks were up and it disappeared. I had to get on the waiting list to get it back, and when I did get it back over a month later, it opened to the page I had last read so I did not have to read the whole book trying to figure out where I last was.

      I am loving it and am saving so much money as books are crazy expensive these days.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, I love downloading from the library! But I wish it was three weeks instead of two. I’m reading a trilogy and each book is about 950 pages. There’s no way I can finish one in two weeks based on when and how I read (in bed at night, and I’m a slower reader). I usually have to download three times.

        1. Beaded Librarian*

          It depends on the library and software/provider they are using but OverDrive allows a patron to choose to check out a book for up to 3 weeks for ebooks and 2 for audiobooks, RBDigital (Which used to be called OneClick) allows up to 14 days for audio with a renewal option, not sure about ebooks as we don’t currently get ebooks through them.

          1. All Hail Queen Sally*

            I also use OverDrive and will be checking into getting it set for three weeks. Thanks so much for the info!

          2. All Hail Queen Sally*

            Ok, it is set to three weeks!! Unfortunately, it doesn’t apply to the books I have already downloaded, so I need to get busy–I have two books due in four days. (They have holds on them so if I return them early, I will have to wait forever to get them back.) Thanks again.

              1. Librarian here*

                Your library system may have decided not to offer the 3 week choice, sadly. Give them a call or email (y’know, next week) – the reference librarian should be able to tell you for sure.

    10. Lore*

      I am the incredibly lucky spoiled person who works in publishing so I am a magnet for free books. Plus we have an in-house ebook app so I can get all our stuff digitally. And…I still read as much, maybe more, from the library than from my own collection.

      It’s a little compulsive. All the branch librarians know me by name.

    11. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I thought I could never give up paper books and felt very smug and snobbish about it, but I started reading on my iPad during a trip and now I prefer it. I like that I can read on it in a dark room, in particular.

      1. copy run start*

        This is how I feel about my Kindle! I bought it for technical books (they’re huge, heavy, twice the price in paper and generally obsolete within a few years) but… after checking out a few free books Amazon has, I kind of like it. I also like the idea of avoiding cramming another bookshelf into my small apartment.

        For my favorite authors/books, I still prefer paper copies. I typically shop at my local used book store (you can trade in paper books, buy with credit from traded books and get a discount on new books so it’s fabulous to browse), Amazon, or Barnes & Noble if the used book store doesn’t have something and I don’t want to wait for shipping/need to do some discovery. I find it much easier to discover books by looking at the covers, staff recommendations and thumbing through the first few pages. Plus not everything has a Kindle version.

      2. Call me St. Vincent*

        I’m going to plug for the Kindle Paperwhite over reading on the iPad (which I have done on the Kindle app on my iPad) because you can read it in direct sunlight! It also auto adjusts to brightness in a number of lighting settings. So it’s great to read when you wake up in the middle of the night and don’t want to have a super bright device on.

          1. Windchime*

            I also love my Paperwhite. I love that I can adjust the brightness, that I can have big font (because I’m old, apparently) and that it can last over a week on a charge.

      3. Ann Furthermore*

        Me too. I’m married to a man who can fall asleep in about 90 seconds, and likes it to be completely pitch black when he sleeps. Being able to read on the iPad is a lifesaver.

      4. JamieS*

        I’m still somewhat of a hold out. For nonfiction reading I prefer my phone or tablet but for fiction reading (or leisure reading) I much prefer a physical book. Might seem odd but I like the whole experience of the book itself. Feeling the weight of it in my hand, flipping the pages, the comforting old book smell.

      5. nep*

        I was like this with newspapers — for a long time I said there’s absolutely no way I’m reading my New York Times on line. Now it’s rare that I get a paper copy.

    12. Intel Analyst Shell*

      Library or eBook for the initial read. If it is a book I end up really enjoying then I have a weird thing where I have to own a physical copy to sit on my bookshelf. Physical copies I buy from Amazon 90% of the time.

    13. The Other Dawn*

      I read on the Kindle app on my phone. Once I tried it, I never went back to paper books. I love that I can read in the dark and not disturb my husband. Actually, I can really read anywhere. I don’t feel like the font is too small–it’s adjustable. So is the page and font color, as well as font type. I either buy my books or use Kindle Unlimited through the Kindle app, or check them out from the library electronically. I find I read way more now than I did when using paper books. And I love that I don’t have to lug one around anymore.

      1. Girasol*

        Yes! Kindle for Android. I agree with Dawn and Alison that it’s nice to be able to read in bed in the dark. It’s also nice that whenever I’m waiting alone, like at the dentist or grabbing lunch by myself, there’s a library in my pocket. I buy Kindle books but also keep a lot of their free classics on hand. My guilty pleasure is Audible. New books are great on long drives and old familiar ones are good when I can’t get back to sleep in the wee hours.

    14. Jules the First*

      My local library is terrible (sob) so I buy almost all my books. I buy nonfiction on paper, because I find I retain it better in physical form; fiction on Kindle because it’s cheaper and then a physical copy if I really loved it. The exception is thick books, which I buy exclusively on Kindle because a hand injury means I can no longer comfortably hold a book that’s more than a few hundred pages thick. I love my Kindle for reading thick books and in bed (love me that light) and travelling (my whole library in my handbag!!).

      My Kindle lives in airplane mode though, as I’m not allowed in bookstores unsupervised with a credit card. Pro tip: spending your rent money on books may seem like a good idea in the bookstore but never is.

    15. Book Lover*

      Library for real books and also library overdrive for ebooks. Mostly I now buy ebooks when I do want to own something. I love real books but so much easier to always have the book I want on my iPad and not suddenly decide I want something on vacation and have to wait until I get home.

    16. Valancy Snaith*

      Library, almost exclusively, for both paper and ebooks. I read too much to be able to afford to buy them all, and I hate buying books when I don’t know if I’ll enjoy them–I always think that since I can get it for free from the library, why not start there? I really only buy books if I absolutely can’t wait until the library gets them, or if it’s likely my library won’t. Luckily, my library participates in free ILL for almost the entire province, so just about anything I want is available if I’m willing to wait! Which I usually am.

      I also patronize Thriftbooks for my used out-of-print book-buying needs, mostly for my blog. It’s great, and free shipping over $10!

    17. NeverNicky*

      Mainly charity shops, the library and secondhand bookshops.
      I’m also a bookcrosser so I have been introduced to many authors that way for free. Many old red telephone boxes have been converted into book swaps so my partner and I travel with a box of books in the car and make a point of stopping at any we see to leave books and browse the shelves.
      Finally, I’m a member of Amazon’s Vine programme and am fortunate to get advanced reading copies from there.
      I have a Kindle but I do prefer hard copies, partly because I like passing them on and seeing how they travel through bookcrossing

    18. Casca*

      I love sharing books, plus I don’t use electronics one day a week so owning physical books is the way for me

      I looove secondhand book stores for finding random gems

      When I want a specific book, I’ll save up a few and then do a big online order

    19. Temperance*

      I tend to do Overdrive from my local library. I have an extensive book collection, and hit my library’s book sale each year, but I try to keep my ccollection to one large bookshelf.

    20. Librarian here*

      I get hard copy books from my library (I love my job), and I always have an audiobook going in the car. I hate fussing with wireless, so I just check out books on CD. It has made my half-hour commute so much better.

  61. Mimmy*

    Finally in the Christmas spirit! Had a really fun Christmas party at work on Thursday and just finished wrapping presents. We’re supposed to go up to see my parents and relatives on Christmas Day, then on Tuesday drive down to see my brother and his family. However, that could all go to crap because my mom is in bed with a bad cold and cough. I hope she’s better by Monday!

  62. Delta Delta*

    At my parents’ house. It’s too hot. The tv’s too loud. My dad is convinced nobody knows anything. Right now the controversial subject is that my brother likes beets and my dad doesn’t. Happy Christmas!

    1. Elkay*

      Sounds like my family! Although it’s my brother who thinks no-one knows anything, if he’s feeling chatty you get a monologue with no opportunity to put forward an opposing opinion. I find it best to position myself next to one of the snack bowls my mum keeps filled during the festive season.

      1. Snark*

        Just jam a handful of caramel popcorn into his mouth when he starts ‘splaining. Problem solved. “Well, actually-HOMF”

  63. A.N.O.N.*

    How much did your wedding cost? How much did you spend on a venue? What’s included in venue fees vs. not included?

    Fiance and I just got engaged(!!!!), but we have no frame of reference for how much these things generally cost!

    We’re fortunate in that we’ve both been able to save a decent amount, but we just have no idea what to expect budget-wise for a ~100-person wedding in NY during prime season. We’ve found some nice venues that seem to have a steep price…but maybe they’re actually reasonable and on par with what venues cost?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated, as would any other wedding-related tips!

    1. Sparkly Librarian*

      Congratulations! My numbers from our 2012 Bay Area budget wedding with 25 guests will not be helpful to you, but I suggest the archives at A Practical Wedding (several posts linked below).


      Decide with your partner what elements are the most important to you, and allot your budget accordingly. Remember you can leave out most things you don’t want. When planning, I found the principles at http://2000dollarwedding.com/2008/07/from-conception-to-reception.html to be very helpful — and I venture to say they would be even for a wedding with a larger scope.

    2. Elkay*

      If you’re not actually getting married at the venue ask for quotes for a birthday party rather than a wedding, a friend of a friend took this approach as apparently the word wedding added extra costs. It didn’t apply to us because we got married at the venue.

      1. A.N.O.N.*

        We do plan on getting married at the venue, but that’s a great tip!! Will definitely keep that in mind for other uses!

      2. Bryce*

        My friend’s wedding reception had the rider “if anyone asks, it’s a family reunion. Technically we’re not lying.”

    3. Bye Academia*

      Congrats on your engagement!

      I got married in NYC, and the venues we looked at were pretty pricey. The venue was the most important thing to us, so we picked the one we liked the best and just dealt with the cost ($30k + tax and tip included the space, food, drink, cake, and a coordinator). We did briefly look at another venue with a lower rental fee, but then once you added in the food and alcohol it would have been almost as expensive. I think what’s included will vary; you’ll have to ask each individual venue.

      We were mostly looking at using nontraditional venues that occasionally do weddings rather than straight up wedding venues (our venue was a restaurant), so I don’t know if that made a difference. We did not get married during wedding season, but the venues we looked at had the same rates year round because closing down for a wedding meant no normal revenue for that day.

      Some friends got married at the Housing Works bookstore, and I think they paid about half of what we did. We had other friends who just rented out a warehouse room for cheap, and then you can do whatever you want for food/drink/tables/etc. As with most things, you can have a great wedding with a low budget as long as you’re flexible. And if you have more you are willing and able to spend, you can certainly find a way to do that too, lol.

    4. Kuododi*

      Well, DH and I got married back at the dawn of time in SE USA. My parents decided to handle it by giving us $5000and that was our wedding gift. We could have used it to pay for wedding, put a down payment on a house… whatever. We probably spent about$3000 on the wedding itself but scrimped everywhere. Got married in our church and had the reception at a meeting hall at our grad school. As alumnus.. I didn’t get charged….my wedding dress was $150at a discount dress shop. My biggest expense was catering and flowers. We had a day wedding and served horderve (sp) and no alcohol. Reception was held at a religious grad school so no alcohol was their rule. No skin off my nose. The rest of the money we used for a week long honey moon in a mountain cabin and we then paid for DH last semester in grad school. Don’t know if that would be of much help but best of luck and congratulations!!!!

    5. Portia*

      We’re planning ours for next summer in New Orleans. I have definitely had sticker shock with how much everything costs. Especially since I was engaged once before back in 2013, and had planned most of our wedding before we broke up. So I had a ton of pricing info saved…and most prices have more than doubled. The venue that cost $2000 to rent in 2013 now costs $5000. The photographer whose cheapest package was $1400 now charges $4000.

      We don’t have all the costs broken down yet, but so far here’s the rough estimate:
      $10,000 for venue rental, dinner, and bar service for around 80 people.
      $1300 photographer
      $595 DJ
      $220 save the dates and invitations
      $280 dress
      We’re planning on Costco flowers and a grocery store cake, and we haven’t figured out groom’s attire yet. It’s a pretty laid-back, bare-bones wedding, and it still costs wayyyy more than I thought it would. I second the recommendations to A Practical Wedding – it’s helpful for hands-on advice.

      1. Portia*

        Oh, and regarding venue: some provide only the space, some provide absolutely everything, some are in-between. Ours provides the space and requires us to use their caterer and bar service.
        Initially I thought of course it’d be cheapest to go with a venue that included nothing and let you bring everything in, because then you can get takeout food, bring your own booze, etc. But after I priced a few out, I learned that having to rent everything (tables, chairs, linens, plates, etc), and having to hire buffet servers, bartenders, security required by venue…well, it was going to come out more expensive, and way more of a headache! So unless you find a venue with a very cheap rental fee and very few rules, I don’t think the total DIY plan is worth it.

    6. SAHM*

      We got married in 09, so I’m not certain how relevant this is, plus we got a lot of freebies bc Big Family. Also, based in the Bay Area. We budgeted 5k toward the wedding and I think we went over by around 1-2k, which was a big deal at the time bc most of the savings were going to house down payment.
      We spent the majority of it on food.
      We had roughly 150~200 people (mostly family) and whoever from the church who wanted to come.
      We had it at the church Grandpa built and was pastor at for >50 years, so venue was free.
      Reception was also at the church, in the gym, so tables/chairs were free.
      Caterer decked out the tables, brought the utensils, etc.
      It was “picnic themed” so sandwiches, salads, etc (not that I got to eat much since I was socializing the whole time).
      My third eldest sister is a wedding planner and pretty much handled everything.
      My eldest sister does cake decorating as a hobby so she made my wedding cake.
      My second eldest sister made my veil, helped with housing stuff (real estate person), and found someone to take in/fit my wedding dress.
      My younger sister was my bridesmaid and held my hand through a lot of nerves, also put together the wedding favors.
      My three brothers and my then- brother in law set up and then cleaned up all the decorations and reception stuff. And snuck booze into my dry wedding *rolls eyes*.

      I think I need to write everyone another thank you note since it’s almost been 10 years and I still appreciate all they did.

    7. Ramona Flowers*

      This is probably going to be of little help, given I got married in England, but we saved a lot of money by getting married on a weekday. (In the summer, so friends who worked in schools could attend.) The actual budget won’t translate, though.

    8. NicoleK*

      Congratulations! My wedding was in 2007, in the Midwest, for about 100 people. The grand total was $5300. Our venue was $1,000 (we rented the place for 5 hours on a Sunday afternoon). Included in the venue rental was the table and chairs, set up and take down of the tables and chairs, and the PA system.

    9. Valancy Snaith*

      Everyone and their brother will tell you something different on their wedding costs–there’s the camp that says “if it didn’t cost over $25k was it really a wedding?” and then the “my wedding cost $10 and we got married under a bridge and we love each other more than people who spent money” and the “I spent nothing because I happen to be best friends with a minister, professional photographer, professional caterer, professional florist, professional musicians, and everyone else volunteered their time to make centerpieces for me” crowd.

      That being said, visit A Practical Wedding, and think outside the box. The best ways to cut costs are A) cut the guest list and B) have a wedding at an off-peak time (think September to April, or any non-Saturday). My wedding in 2014 cost about $10k for 50 people–but that’s including absolutely everything–venue, food, flowers, photography, alcohol, my wedding dress, hubby’s new suit, accommodations for the weekend, boarding our cats for the weekend, all the weird little extras that popped up. We did a Sunday-morning brunch wedding, because it was half the cost of a normal one, in late April, and it was great. The ceremony was in the late morning and then we had a fantastic brunch–both breakfast and lunch food–and open bar, but most people didn’t imbibe too much since it was noon. Everything was done in plenty of time for people to head for home, and people still tell me how pleasant and unusual it was. A+, would recommend again.

      1. Stellaaaaa*

        Oh god, I could easily go the rest of my life without reading another Jezebel article from the “I got married in a Home Depot” crowd.

    10. Ann Furthermore*

      We spent about $8,000, and we got married in 2005. We booked an outdoor venue for the ceremony, and then had the reception at my parents’ house up the street. At the time they were living in this huge, beautiful house with a big back patio, so it was big enough for about 120 people. We picked the things we wanted to spend money on, and then got creative with everything else.

      We found a local caterer for the food, and they recommended a bartending service. We wanted to have an open bar, so people could have a good time, but told the bartenders not to serve anyone shots, since that’s where the trouble/drama/bad behavior usually starts. My parents’ house was in a subdivision at the top of a hill, so we hired valets to park people’s cars so they wouldn’t have to trudge up the hill in uncomfortable shoes.

      After that, we got creative. Instead of hiring a band or a DJ, I loaded up my iPod with all kinds of music. My sister is a graphic designer and very creative, so we just bought loose flowers, and she made my bouquet and flowers for the bridesmaids to carry. She also made our invitations and I ordered some stationery and we printed those ourselves.

      I found my wedding dress at David’s Bridal. It is kind of McWedding Dresses, but there are some pretty things there, and the prices are not bad. And I picked the color of dresses for my bridesmaids, but let them each pick their own style so that they could wear something they were comfortable in. I’m very chesty, and I have spent enough time worrying about my boobs spilling out of a flimsy, strapless, bridesmaid dress — didn’t want to do that to anyone else. My stepdaughter was the flower girl, and we found her dress there, and believe it or not, my mom found a really nice dress there too.

      And one last piece of advice — my husband and I agreed that we’d alternate beer and soda at the reception so neither one of us would end up completely plastered. It worked out very well.

    11. Kuododi*

      Y’all will also save a huge chunk of change by forgoing alcohol at the reception. (Speaking strictly from a budget perspective…). I realize the issue of a “dry” wedding can potentially open up a massive can of worms depending on your particular family concerns. That is for you and your sweetheart to discuss and decide if it is something you wish to tackle. As I mentioned in my other post…our reception was held at a religious grad school meeting hall so their policy was no alcohol. DH and I could have cared less and we both felt anyone who was more concerned with alcohol than coming to our reception could just take their toys and go play in another sandbox. We were able to cut our food and drink budget almost in half by going non alcoholic. Hope that helps…. apologies if I sound a bit like Carrie Nation…. really not my intention. Best wishes…..

      1. Natalie*

        You can also save a lot by self-catering your bar if you want alcohol. We spent about $500 on drinks (alcoholic and non) and had tons left over, because it was all cases of beer, wine, soda, and sparkling water we’d bought ourself.

        1. Anion*

          My brother did that! The day after the wedding every shelf but one in my fridge held nothing but beer. It was awesome.

    12. Kate*

      Saturday night, midsize city in the northeast (think Providence or New Haven, not Boston), 120 guests, full dinner and fully open bar. Cost was around $20k, excluding honeymoon ($5k or so- we went to Europe) and rings (a lot- by choice). We paid about $5-8k of that ourselves.

      We paid $100/head for the venue (included food/drinks). We got married in 2009 when nobody was spending any money and we picked a newish place, so had bargaining power. Negotiated $20pp off the sticker price. Total-$12k

      We used a newish photographer and it cost around $2500. My dress was about $1000 including alterations and was *gorgeous*- checknout Vows bridal (they have a website).

      Rehearsal was $2500ish and fully open bar. Done at a reatarurant.

      We DIY’d centerpieces and bouquets (about $500 in materials) and bought my bouquet and boutineers/corsages ($200).

      We semi-DIY’d invites- I wanted letterpress and very formal, but we were able to do them for about $250 each total. Another $50 or so for misc paper goods (church programs, signs, etc).

      Cake was included in the venue cost, but DH’s parents bought a grooms cake ($150) as well.

      Hair and makeup was another $200 or so. Another $300 for gifts for wedding party.

      We used our own/families cars for transport to/from the wedding venue itself, then the reception was in the same building as the hotel so no group transport provided.

      $500 donation to the chapel we married in.

      I’m sure there were other costs- it’s been a while so I don’t remember!!