Christmas open thread – December 25, 2018

It’s the Christmas open thread!

The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything that you want to talk about — work-related, not work-related, doesn’t matter.

{ 762 comments… read them below }

  1. Turtle Candle*

    The good kind of problem: there is someone at my company who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to make my life easier, as well as just being a joy to work with. She’s in a completely different department and chain of command, but is roughly a peer, and we have a pleasant collegial relationship. I’ve thanked her in the moment and praised her to her boss. We’re going into her busiest season.

    Would it be weird to also get her a small gift at the end of the season? I’m thinking chocolates (I know she likes chocolate) or a book (we chitchat about books and have similar taste).

    We are both married women, if that matters.

    1. Flash Bristow*

      Why not? Lovely idea. My sis in law loves chocolate and I’m gifting her a “make your own truffles” kit. They look great – an adult kit not a childish one – and the cost wasn’t much different to a box of choccies.

      I have already written down that “if you want choccie, you’ll have to *work* for it!

      Gift choccies away to your hearts’ content!

    2. Gerald*

      I’d suggest either writing up a note to go with the chocolates or writing a bit at the front of the book. I have received a few thanks in writing over the years and they are greatly appreciated.

      1. ECHM*

        How thoughtful of you! Definitely a note. How about a small gift card to a coffee place or if you know a restaurant/store she frequents. Then you can’t go wrong with allergies or anything.

    3. WVV*

      Between the two options mentioned, I would recommend the book. There should be nothing wrong with chocolates, but there is always a chance that someone would grab the wrong message. By giving a book, you reinforce the message that the gesture is strictly professional. Not to be misunderstood with anything else. Watch out on the topic of the book as it might carry a message you do not want to convey. For example, if the book is on becoming more efficient at work, you don’t want the person to think you believe she is not efficient enough.

    4. Forget T-Bone Steak, Let's Eat T-Rex Steak*

      I would be so weirded out if a peer gifted me something for just doing my job. If she’s that good a worker, send her boss an email so your company can appropriately reward its employees. It’s not your job to do that.

      1. Thursday Next*

        I think it’s lovely to show appreciation for someone, even if it’s a peer who’s just doing their job.

        Yes, let her supervisor know as well, but giving her a note and small gift yourself isn’t about rewarding her as much as it is about appreciating her.

      2. Grace Less*

        My company has a recognition program. It reminds me of a “caught being good” program at an elementary school the way it is run, but HR receives the nomination and cc’s your supervisor when you’re notified of winning, so in that way it’s a great way to build people’s reputations in anticipation of promotion opportunities or annual reviews.

        1. Clisby Williams*

          My company did that too (I’m retired, but assume they still do). I would have been sort of taken aback to get a gift directly from someone at work, just for doing my job. It would have felt a little … off.

          1. Doodle*

            I think for someone who’s gone above and beyond it’s just fine. My work team got a gift for a tech who saved our asses multiple times on a big project (and fixed problems caused by her incompetent boss), and I’ve gotten gifts now and then too (chocolate, gift card to a local cafe, that kind of thing).

      3. Les G*

        You’ve never given a friend or neighbor a gift for no reason? Sometimes folks like to do nice things for others.

        1. Clisby Williams*

          It didn’t sound to me like giving a gift for no reason – it was giving a gift for a specific reason.

          I have given gifts for no particular reason – but not at work, unless the recipient happened to be a personal friend, with the gift totally unrelated to anything that had been going on at work.

  2. Funny Cide*

    My pets are out of town for the holidays with my partner while I’m stuck here for work and I’m missing them terribly. Please share your pet’s name, along with their nickname(s), and any story behind the name/nickname that you’d like to share.

    1. Working with Professionals*

      I have two cats, one named Sampson and the other Sparkles. Sampson was a rescue found in a local park by my Mom and my nephew and thought to be a Samantha when very little. I came home from work and my nephew met me at the door “can we keep him?” and pointed behind him to my Mom sitting on the couch with a hopeful look on her cute face, holding a tiny orange ball of fur. As Samantha got older, we discovered our mistake and tried to rename him Sam but he wouldn’t respond, so Mom kept trying S names until she landed on Sampson and he would respond again. I also call him Sampsonator, Sampsie, Mew-Mew and Pudge-abito. The second cat came with my new house. The previous owners had to move in with family members and were already taking two kids and two dogs. They asked if I would take their cat and Of Course I would! They thought he was a she at first too and named him MS. GlitterSparkles despite his being jet black. Once they realized she was a he, they shortened it to Sparkles and I’ve been calling him Sparks. Nicknames include Monkey butt for all the climbing he does, little brother, mutant kitty when he opens the bedroom doors by leaping up and pulling down on the handles. Hope your holiday gets better!

      1. Funny Cide*

        The best pets are the ones that come to us not entirely on purpose. They’re Bob Ross happy accidents! Thank you for sharing, and my holiday is already improving thank to this; it wasn’t bad, necessarily, just severely lacking in furry friends (I don’t have any non-furry pets but I don’t want anyone to exclude those from this either as I love them all)!

      2. A Teacher*

        I’m a pet foster parent for a foster based rescue (300ish dogs) and giving them a first and middle name is my big thing. Just like my kid, I use full name when needed lol.

        Personal dogs:

        Sesame Marie: Aussie mix that’s 13+ and her name was show-me/queen.

        Bailey Bea: 14.5 year old long haired chi. Dumped for taking up to much space at 13 so I adopted her. Name was baby so we kept it close. She has the middle name of the first foster I adopted that was a senior.

        Quinby Renee is a 9.5 year old chow mix. Name was queenie and I didn’t like it. Quinnie or Quinn are nicknames

        Mahoney Michael: 5 year American Staffie and his name was Malone so I wanted something close but different. My mom named him.

        Moira Jean: 3 year old German Shepherd and flat coat collie mix. Was unadoptable so she stayed. Just liked the name.

        Currently fostering: Shamus (8 year old lab/pit; Sylvester (2 year old red nose pit mix); Midas (4 year old staffie); and Roy (1 year chocolate colored pitbull)

        Dog sitting: Lucy (7 year old mix).

        Merry Christmas from the 9 dogs!

        1. Funny Cide*

          SO MANY PUPS. And so many great names! We also use full names when needed…they don’t have formal middle names, so they change quite often, but it’s usually a very human name to contrast nicely with their decidedly non-human given names. Thank you for sharing and thank you for fostering!

          1. Sally*

            Our dogs have/had unofficial middle names because sometimes you just need a “full name.” Seven passed away in July, and we still miss him terribly. He was named Seven because it’s a lucky number, and we were so lucky to have him, and, as my former partner used to say, “he puts us in Seventh Heaven.” His full name was Seven Eleven, and we also called him Mister, Big Puppy, and a lot of other nicknames. When we were adopting Seven’s little brother Cody, I told my ex that Cody would need a middle name too, so he is Cody Coyote. He also gets called Mister and sometimes Little Buddy and Cuddle Bunny.

            1. Sally*

              BTW, Seven was a Husky/Golden Retriever, and Cody is a Dachshund/Australian Shepherd/ German Shepherd. Both were rescues.

    2. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      We have a Border Collie mix that we rescued as a pup. His name is Niko, short for Nikoli Tesla.
      Because he’s full of energy.

      One of our cats is named Dyson, from how he inhaled his food when we first got him (street rescue).

      His sister is Saati aka owlkitty (her eyes are owl eyes), aka Princess Fluffy Pants (self explanatory!) aka Skitty because she is a skittish kitty. <3

      1. Funny Cide*

        you’ve come up with very appropriate names for all of them! I think dyson or hoover would be an eerily accurate nickname for my street rescue as well.

      2. Soupspoon McGee*

        We have a border collie mix who is called Molly Danger, the Mollinator, Buttlips Hooligan, Stinkerbelle, Baby baby, and a few things I can’t remember. She is always full of energy and mischief.

          1. Life is good*

            I wouldn’t be able to finish saying buttlips hooligan without chuckling each time. It would come out “ buttlips…..haha haha”

    3. zaracat*

      My cat is called Olivia the Pirate Cat. She is a gorgeous black cat with golden eyes that I got from a shelter. One of her ears has a little tear in it – probably from a fight with another cat but I secretly tell myself is because she was once a pirate cat with a gold earring which was ripped out in a swashbuckling fight.

      1. Funny Cide*

        This is a wonderful image. My parents have a cat with one of those ear tears – absolutely from fighting – and I’m going to have to float the pirate theory.

        1. Delta Delta*

          Great username! I love Funny Cide. I’m a partial owner of a couple NY bred thoroughbreds, partly because of him!

      2. Delta Delta*

        I love it when pets develop their own backstories. My husband has an elaborate backstory for our cat about how her name got changed when she emigrated from Sicily. My brother used to call his late dog “The Wid” as short for “The Widow” and had a story about how the dog had been married to a world famous surgeon who died. Possibly I am related to very strange people.

      3. RUKiddingMe*

        There was a stray male that wandered in and out of our yard from time to time a number of years ago. He had a notch on his ear. I called him VanGogh. I finally found him a forever home but it’s nice to think of him sailing to Tahiti on a ship crewed by kitty pirates.

      4. SignalLost*

        My tuxedo has just a stripe along the side of his chin to his throat (where it opens up into the full white chest and belly). It is his dueling scar, from when he studied at Heidelberg.

        1. Funny Cide*

          I have one with some white spots that actually are from scars, but we aren’t sure what exactly the wounds were caused by. Probably not dueling, but that’s a good thing to think about.

    4. Claire (Scotland)*

      I have a cat naned Hobbes. I adopted from a former colleague when he was a year old – she’d got him when he was a kitten as company for her older cat but the older cat never took to him and was stressed out by him. They tried everything but in the end the vet recommended rehoming him so they started looking for someone to adopt him. I’d recently decided I wanted a cat, so when she asked if I knew anyone looking for a cat I said so, and three days later he was mine.

      Mostly he gets called Hobbit, sometimes Hobgoblin (if he’s up to no good), occasionally Thomas Hobbes (after the philosopher and because tomcat).

      1. alex*

        I have dogs but if I ever got a cat, Hobbes would be a forerunner for the name. Glad you took him and great nicknames :)

      2. Funny Cide*

        Perfect timing! I’m glad it worked out for the best for the other cat as well as you and Hobbes. You’ve done a lovely job of naming and nicknaming him!

    5. L.*

      My partner’s cat is technically named Munchin. Because she looked like a little baby munchin when we got her. However, she shortly learned that if she can get into the closet, she can jump and hook into my work clothes (the only kind I keep in the closet, versus my partner, who hangs up every. single. shirt. they own), and swing like it’s the best thing ever. Since then, we’ve graduated her to “Monkey” as she likes to climb and swing in the closet like we picture a wild monkey climbing a vine or tree. She will only do this to my expensive work clothes, never his cheap cotton tees.

      Because of this, putting away laundry is always a two person chore, one to actually put things away., And the other to guard the closet from Monkey.

      As a side note, when she was a kitten, her tail was the smae length, if not longer than her. It was her best friend. Well, now she’s gotten bigger, so her best friend only makes special appearances. But it is 1000% adorable when it does. She acts as excited as one would seeing a long lost friend.

      1. L.*

        Shortly after getting her, my partner was so in love he went back to adopt any and all kitties left of that litter. There was one. We call him Junior (as he took like a shadow to another male cat we had, never mind that he’s twice as big). When they’re together I refer to them as “bro-bro” and “sissy” because they are legit adorable when they are together. Junior hids from the vacuum monster only because his sister does. And they hid in the same drawer, because that’s where she hides. It’s adorable.

      2. Funny Cide*

        Monkey sounds like a wonderful little terror! I always have to rush in and change clothes when I get home from work because I get greeted with nice hugs, except that claws are not nice for work clothing, so I am very sympathetic to your losses.

        1. L.*

          She is quite a terror. We get concerned when she sleeps all day, because we know we are in for a night of constant door scratches on the bedroom door and, if anyone goes into the kitchen, crying for someone to turn the sink on for her to drink out of (my boyfriend spoils her… If she wasn’t so chubby, I’m sure she’d of figured out how to drink from the fridge spout)

      3. Minocho*

        I have a small cat, Little Bit, who does this. I went to the Container Store and got a bunch of canvas clothes bags to hang my work clothes in. Little Bit can climb to her heart’s content, and my clothes are not damaged.

    6. All Hail Queen Sally*

      I have two cats: Anthony (b/w tuxedo, 14 yrs old). A friend was fostering him as a kitten but he had ringworm so she couldn’t take him to adoption festivals. She was trying to get me to adopt him, but I kept insisting I did not need another cat. I had 3 at the time. So then she said come over and look at my flowers (I love flowers) so while I was over there, she said “this is GT” (short for Goatee as he has a black spot on his chin). My brain, all on it’s own, said ” hmm, if he was my cat, I’d name him Anthony.” And that was that. My other cat is Daisy whom I often refer to as Little Miss Bitch Kitty. She is 10 yrs old, all black, and is the poster cat for the word ‘cattitude.’ Very opinionated! She has singlehandedly managed to shred every item in my apartment. She was born to a teenage kitten who only nursed her (and her siblings) for two weeks, so she had to be hand raised (not by me) and to this day, continues to nurse on fuzzy fabrics. I had to put my good yarn things away and buy her her own fleece blanket.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        “Cattitude” indeed! I said just earlier tonight that I was “sick and freaking tired of all the cattitude in this house and if you guys don’t knock it off and find somewhere to park it and leave me alone for five minutes I will find you another place to live.” I wouldn’t of course, but they don’t know that.

      2. Funny Cide*

        It’s funny how often “I do not need another [insert favorite species of pet]” leads to another one… and also amazing how terrible cattitude can make us love them even more, somehow.

    7. TL -*

      My cat’s name is Webster (after a mountain) and she goes by Webby for those who think Webster is too masculine of a name (sigh) or gatita gordita if she was in a chubby phase (she’s just past kittenhood and she did a bunch of chubby/growth spurt/skinny cycles.)

      1. Wulfgar*

        One of my cats is named Zero for one of my husband’s favorite anime characters. We call her Fuzzy Waddles because she is one fat cat. Napoleon, #6, and Lucky are all normal size. #6 is 18 years old and going strong.

        I have a pit bull named Bearegard and a pit/lab named Inevitable because it was inevitable I’d get another dog. We call her Evve for short.

        I lost Mac, Wulfgar, and Uryuu (Japanese, means rain dragon) this year. All three were great dogs. Our house is a lot quieter without them.

        1. Funny Cide*

          I’m sorry to hear of your family’s losses this year, Wulfgar. It sounds like you have a lovely menagerie! I love the nicknaming you’ve done to make Inevitable work – that’d be a mouthful for daily use.

      2. Funny Cide*

        I don’t think Webster is masculine ( and really, I don’t think your cat is probably terribly worried about it, humans are weird) but I admit I’d trend towards Webby for less formality. Gatita Gordita, however, is a gold-star nickname.

        1. TL -*

          I really feel like she doesn’t give a darn what I call her, but the number of people who have told me she has a boy’s name are astonishing!

    8. Annie’s mom*

      We’ve got what we (affectionately) call a zoo- 3 cats and 3 dogs. Eli, a black short hair cat my husband found as a stray kitten. We happened to be loving the song Eli the barrow boy (The Decemberists), and the name stuck. Katniss, our torbie girl, was hanging out in the backyard as a stray, pawing at my glass door during a storm. I couldn’t not let her in, and she made herself at home. Echo, a long hair calico. Loki & Annebelle, Pekingese/chihuahua brother and sister. The have many nicknames- Loki is often called Loki-pokey, or the polka dot. Annebelle is called Annie or AB. Our newest addition is Spot, a 6 lb chihuahua. He was named at the rescue, and he has a big black spot over one eye, so the name fits. We like to call him Spoticus!

      1. Annie’s mom*

        I forgot Echo’s nicknames! We call her poofy, or poof poof, cause she’s a big ball of fluff!

      2. Funny Cide*

        This sounds like a fun and lovely bunch! I’m glad Eli and Katniss found such a good home with you.

    9. Knotty Ferret*

      Both my pets are rescues, and came with names I didn’t change.
      Jack is a ferret, and sometimes a Jack-in-the-box, acquired from a shelter. He liked beating up other ferrets, so he couldn’t have ferret buddies.
      Roxy is a Siamese cat I took in from a coworker, and sometimes my little cuddleslut. She needed out of a house full of young cats; she was hiding in a hole in the wall even with the door closed.

      They get along with each other better than other members of their own species, generally. Jack understands cats have boundaries (usually), and Roxy figures everything must be fine if her ferret is bouncing around.

      1. Funny Cide*

        This is so fun! I’ve always been intrigued by ferrets, and nothing makes me melt like pictures on the internet of unlikely inter-species friends, so hearing that they have gotten along fine is wonderful. Thank you for sharing!

    10. I Love Thrawn*

      Cats Toby and Leia. Toby is an orange found in a car engine one cold day. Leia was adopted from the vet. Over 14 years now. They have many nicknames but the mains are Monkey Man for him and Lady Bug for her.

    11. RUKiddingMe*

      I have five cats. I had six but Babyboy moved on to his tenth life last summer after a long, long nine lives.

      Cat #1: “Babyboy” was an orange tabby that was being not well taken care of. I shared a roast beef sandwich with him one day (he ate most of it) when he was just a wee little kitty. He followed me home. His owners didn’t care. So he moved in with us. He got his name because he was a baby and a boy. Yeah, I’m original…

      Cat #2: “Princess.” She got her name because of the way she walks with her tail in the air. It reminded me of a princess drinking tea with her pinky finger raised “just so.” She is a fluffy tabby teddy bear cat. My nephew brought her home one day when he was living with us and because she wasn’t a snuggle kitty, he basically abandoned her to me. She was pregnant…yay.

      Cat #3: “Evil.” Same story, same nephew. Also pregnant. (Yes, my family sucks and yes I never learn). She got her name because she would roll on her back and as I rubbed her tummy I would say “you’re an evil little kitty aren’t you…?” Eventually she just became “Evil.” She’s a Maine Coon.

      Cat #4: “Thaddeus Maximus Decimus Meridius.” Note…I did not name him. He was Princesses’s baby. Niece wanted a male cat. He wasn’t a snuggly kitty, so like her brother before her…(I said they suck right?) I call him “Thaddy Man.” He’s a mixture of white, tabby, and calico patterns. He does snuggle…when he’s in the mood.

      Cat #5: “Boyfriend.” He is the one of Evil’s babies that no one wanted because he had a bend in his tail. He is a huge boy now, Grey, long haired Maine Coon and whatever his daddy was. He is named “Boyfriend” because he would climb on me when he was a baby and snuggle and I would tell him “you’re my boyfriend” which eventually just became “Boyfriend.”

      Cat #6: “Lolita.” Short grey haired girl. She was a stray that showed up one day and never left. The vet said she’s about eight years old. Whoever had her wasn’t interested in getting her back (she was already chipped) because the chip people contacted them and they said “nah.” Really? I mean I took her to the et almost immediately. I think they intentionally abandoned her. I didn’t name her, Husband did and I don’t know where he came up with the name. He’d never heard of the book. I explained it to him. He didn’t want to change her name. She’s a snuggle bug. To the point where I hide from her sometimes because…ugh just get off of me for a minute(!!!),” but she’s a good kitty.

      They are all fixed, chipped, vaxxed, and see the vet regularly. And ohhh so needy. What happened to the whole cats are aloof and solitary thing anyway? I’ve had puppies that didn’t demand this much attention. I love them all though. I mean I must. I didn’t even want the hassle of a gold fish.

      1. Funny Cide*

        I’ve had so many more experiences with cats that are the dictionary-defined opposite of aloof and solitary than those who fit the stereotype. Much more fun than a goldfish! Your group sounds fantastic, and even if it wasn’t entirely intentional that you’d end up with them, I’m glad they’ve found a very caring home. I will never get off my “microchip your pets AND keep the info up to date” soapbox.

    12. Grand Mouse*

      I got my boy (likely a Norwegian Forest cat mix, very large and fluffy), from a shelter. I just got out of a bad relationship and I’d been volunteering at a shelter for a while. I was told I could get a cat if I ended this relationship (he was abusive) and well.

      He came from the shelter named Julian and I’ve kept it. It makes me think of a shy Victorian gentleman and it suits him. He’s very polite and dignified, but definitely anxious. His look is quite elegant too. I wouldn’t change his name because I can’t think of something better and he comes when his name is called.

      I give him various nicknames to tease him for how slow or loud or ridiculously fluffy he is

      1. Funny Cide*

        Sometimes they come from the shelter with terrible names (cough, my mom’s cat) and sometimes it’s a great fit! He sounds very distinguished and I’m sure is terribly handsome. I’m also glad to hear you were able to get out of your relationship and enter into a healthier one with Julian. :)

    13. Hope is hopeful*

      My cat is called Penelope, or Penny or Sweet P or Penny Pie.
      She is coming up for 11, is a tuxedo cat and the summer my mother died, I decided I needed a kitten – enter Penelope! The cat has seen me through 2 boyfriend’s, 5 house moves and 7 jobs. She loves cheese.

      1. Funny Cide*

        It sounds like you and Penelope have been wonderful for each other. I hope you’ll let her have some cheese for a holiday treat – provided you celebrate, of course, otherwise I think she deserves some Tuesday cheese.

    14. Leah*

      My dog’s name is Linus because he came from the shelter with a little blue blanket. We call him so many things though. Linus, Binus, Tiny Linus (he’s huge), Tinus, Lucas Bienike (from the Adams Family musical – I don’t know why, it just started one day), Lucas, little trotting Lucas (his trot to us when we come home is adorable), Linike, Bubba, Bubs, Baby Linus, Linnick, Lennis the Menace and on and in and on!

      1. Funny Cide*

        The nicknames that come out of nowhere and make no sense are the best ones! I’m glad Linus has so many. I think Lennis the Menace is probably my personal favorite, for what it’s worth!

    15. NJ Anon*

      I have a guunea pig named Doctor Munchkin. When we brought her home, she was in a box that looks like the ones dunkin donuts munchkins come in. My son’s girlfriend said something like “ooh, looks like Dunkind Munchkins.” My son said ” What? Doctor Munchkin?” And the rest is history. (Her nickname is Piggie)

      1. Funny Cide*

        Children naming pets is the best. I remember seeing a post on HONY that said something along the lines of “we let the 5 year old name the dog, so this is Broccoli” and I think about it quite often. Doctor Munchkin will probably be added to that train of thought in the future, so thank you for that!

    16. Jaid_Diah*

      My cat is named Bella. It was originally Pumpkin at the shelter when I got her, but she is so dang pretty I renamed her. I do tend to call her kittygirl as in “my pretty kittygirrrrllll”

    17. Flash Bristow*

      Awww! So, I have a dog called Commodore. He’s a Golden Labradoodle and as well as being an amazing pet, I’ve trained him to assist me. The other night, I was unwell and couldn’t spot my special, supportive, cushion. He looked quizzically at me. I said “mummy’s looking for her cushion”. He disappeared and after a few minutes returned with it in his mouth, presenting it to me! I have no idea where it was (I’d previously looked) or how he understood. He amazes me.

      His name is a follow on from our last dog, a retired racing greyhound called Cray. Perhaps the next one will be called Dell or Hewlett-Packard…

      I’m sorry you’re missing your furry family members.

      1. Flash Bristow*

        I forgot nicknames! So, Commodore is @cmdr_dog on twitter, so he’s often called Commodog. Or Comm. I also have loads of songs I made up for him like the Best Dog In The World song. If he’s naughty, it’s Commodore Bristow but that’s rare.

        Cray was just Cray (I hadn’t thought thru the wisdom of standing in East London calling “craaaay”…) or Crayzee / Crazy Dog.

        Matilda cat (see below) is Matilda, Matiddleda, Tilly, Tils, Tillycat… But she tends only to answer to Matilda whereas Comm knows if I want him (he also answers to Dog).

        Matilda’s just jumped into bed with me and Commodore, and I instinctively said “Hiya Tils. Chill out, Comm”.

        But thats boring.

        Btw, AWESOME idea for a thread. I’m loving hearing how all these names came about! Dyson in particular. Matilda used to be short of food and hoovered too, but after she decided to be a lazy mostly indoor cat after all (er, that wasn’t the deal, girlie!) she has actually done a thing I’ve never seen before… She asks for food at the appropriate time, and sometimes treats, but say I give her 4 little treats she might eat 3 and then decide she’s full and walk away! The dog *loves* this!

        So cute watching them both sit tho, then I say paw and get a huge shaggy yellow one and a delicate smooth black one in my hand :)

        Anyway, fab idea for a thread – thank you, it’s fun!

        1. Funny Cide*

          Commodore sounds like a fantastic dog, and I’m so glad you have him to help you out! I’ll have to seek out his twitter feed. I like that Matilda seems very much “that is not my name and I won’t answer to it.”

          I know I’ll see them in a couple days, plus they enjoy their “vacations” so I couldn’t take that away from them. I am missing them quite a bit but, really, this thread has brightened my day a lot! I’m glad you’ve enjoyed it, too. :) thanks for sharing, it’s really only been a good thread because everyone has been so open to adding on!

    18. Jules the First*

      My Welsh/Highland cross mare (think Friesian shrunk to pony size with sturdy legs and big feet) is passported as Lady, but she’s known as Bug (short for Ladybug) or the Witch (because she can open any gate, untie any knot, and is usually in a contrary mood) depending on how recently she’s bitten you. I call her Sugarplum when I’m trying to coax her into doing something.

      1. Funny Cide*

        So glad we got some pony action on the thread! Lady sounds exactly like all the ponies I’ve known: absolute rascals yet some of the best friends you could ever ask for. Her cross sounds really interesting! Give her some good neck scratches from me!

    19. Flash Bristow*

      My second furry family member is a cat called Matilda. Since my dog loves cats, but they run away (how surprising!) he asked me to get him one. Now, Tilly’s owners – keepers of a shop whose back yard bordered mine – were about to move away. She was practically a street cat anyway, playing up by prostrating herself at passers by until they gave her food – or walking away in a huff if they ignored her. So I thought “OK, she’s lived here all her life, she’s an outdoor cat, she’ll be no trouble, I’ll just put out a shelter and food…”

      Suffice to say she is currently curled up in bed with me, with her absolutely adorable high pitched squeaky snore…

      She’s pretty bright, so I’ve taught her sit, paw, other paw, wait, take it, etc. – ostensibly so she has something to do, practically so she can’t run rings around me! She’s very bright – and frustratingly cunning!

      Her name arose as I was told her original name was Tiddles. A cliché and I hate it, but she was already 5 so I needed something similar and easy for her to pick up. Hence “Matiddleda” – geddit?

      Turns out, she used to be called Dizzy!

      1. Cat wrangler*

        We have two furballs, Sparkle who is a large tabby male (like a small tiger), and Socks who is a short haired black female cat with tiny white front paws – hence her name. Sparkle was about 6 when we rehomed him after his previous owner was struggling and Socks came as a kitten. One has paws like saucers and the other has paws the size of a small coin. We love them dearly although they often fight which is not great given their size disparity!

        1. Flash Bristow*

          Aw, they sound lovely! Cats have a way of finding you, don’t they? My last cat, Jeremy (jet black, named after a goth friend), found me as a kitten.

          My then-bf and I had a blazing row. It was midnight on the summer solstice. I stormed out, crossed the road into Epping Forest, and marched into the darkness. Bf followed, worried for my safety. We wandered. Then… This little black kitten found me. It followed me home for an hour through all terrain, despite stopping and telling it “go home”.

          So we arrived home, with a kitten, and having made up…

          We planned to advertise it but when we went to the newsagent next day there were other “found: black kitten” ads. We figured a load were dumped and kept him.

          Now as starving students we had to work out what to do. I’ve never been a cat person! We bought him food of course. The rest was improvised. His litter was sawdust which a local fencing shop let me collect; we put it in an old roasting tin. His bed was a spare pillow case that I stuffed with some spare beanbag beans, and stitched up abysmally.

          He lived with me thru various house moves until he died of kidney cancer age 10 – just after hubby and I got back from honeymoon :(

          Jez was a good cat. As I said, they find you.

    20. Red Reader*

      I have two dogs – an almost-11yo bloodhound mix named Angua Grace Puppinsky-Rompanopolis, Lieutenant General of the Red Hound Army and High Ambassador to the Kitten Kingdom, and a 4yo whippet/boxer mix named Alannah Jane Sleepyface Corporal Radar Wigglebottom the Froshus, Queen of the Carrot Mafia an Bane of All Flossiraptors Errywhere. My husband has two cats, 4yo littermates – a one-eyed goofball named Captain Kyna Whitepaws, SCOURGE OF LAND AND SEA, and her sister, Princess Kiara Scaredyfluff the Black Who Lurks In the Shadows.

      They all just started with one name and more just … developed, haha. The cats had pirate themed names in the shelter, which was actually before the Captain lost her eye – she had really bad eye infections for months before we finally said look, this sucks for everyone, let’s just *cork pop noise*? And they did, and I’m pretty sure that they took every scrap of brains she had along with the eye because she is about the sweetest dumbest cat ever. Husband has still not figured out how to get her to wear an eyepatch.

      We have a Christmas tradition – we are all nerds in my house, and all four of the critters have character sheets written from a D&D-esque tabletop RPG where all the characters are dogs and cats (Pugmire), and I have art of the dogs as their characters on my wall (linked in my handle; that version is by webcomic artist Alina Pete). Every year at Christmas, my husband writes me a story about Angua Bloodhound and Alannah Whippet and their adventuring shenanigans. Last year, they teamed up with two pirate cats (guest stars!) to get back the presents that a band of evil rats stole from the orphanage to save Trismas for the puppies and kittens of Waterdog Port. This year, they were investigating a pack of mountain bandits and learned that the Trismas Yeti is real and that they are, luckily, NICE DOGS and not NAUGHTY.

      Last night after I went to bed, my husband sent me a video he took of the Captain and Angua laying together on Angua’s pillow, the Captain grooming Angua’s ears for her. This morning, Angua is sacked out on another pillow in my office (I’m ostensibly working a half day this morning, but I work from home) and Alannah is curled up in her best cinnamon bun impression in my lap.

      1. Funny Cide*

        All of this is amazing. This is exactly what I could have hoped for posting this thread…thank you, thank you. Your Christmas traditions sound absolutely fantastic and I might have to steal that idea! Give all of your bunch hugs for me. :)

    21. The Other Dawn*

      Max AKA Poopers.

      This story is back from when we moved to our new house in July 2014. (July=hot and humid)

      We moved 45 minutes away from the old house. My sister and I transported my 12 (at the time) cats using two vehicles and nine cat carriers. One carrier held two sisters, Thelma and Louise, and another held the two brothers, Max and Bailey. Max and Bailey traveled in her car.

      When we got to my new house, my sister complained that 10 minutes after we left it started to stink really bad in her car. Since this was July, she alternated every 10 minutes or so between closing the windows to enjoy the AC and get relief from the heat, and then opening them because she couldn’t stand the stink.

      We started unpacking the carriers and found that the two brothers had both had an accident. Bailey was facing one way and Max the other way, so basically each cat’s head was next to the other’s butt. Well, apparently Max had an accident…diarrhea…and Bailey threw up, presumably because his head was Right There next to the mess and he couldn’t handle it. Or maybe he was just car sick. So, we had to clean them off, clean out the carrier, and spray some air freshener in the car. And that particular carrier was, of course, one I’d borrowed from the cat rescue I volunteer with and I had to be back down there that afternoon to do some volunteer work. Thankfully the water had already been turned on so I could hose it out and disinfect.

      Max’s new nickname (which I still use)? Poopers. Or Poops, or Poopies.

      Although I know the ride wasn’t fun for my sister or the two cats, to this day I can’t help but laugh every time I think about it.

      1. Funny Cide*

        This sounds so, so unfortunate for everyone involved. I’m glad it’s come to be a memory you can laugh at, but in the moment…yiiikes. Thanks for a good chuckle:)

    22. Lcsa99*

      We have two fur babies we occasionally call (collectively) our oreo, because one is all black and one is all white.

      The all black one is named Gallico the Great (or just Gallico) after a Vincent Price character the Mad Magician. The name works for him! He likes to sort of disappear and blend in with the background. We got him as a kitten, and he is such a timid kitty. He is a little on the hefty side and much bigger than our other kitty but he has the tiniest softest meow that often sounds like there is a question mark at the end. And he is very hesitant to purr, so when he does you know he really means it.

      Our white cat is Marlowe, after Phillip Marlowe. He was originally named after a Boris Karloff character (that Marlowe was a take on Jekyll and Hyde) but this kitty is totally a detective and has to be involved with everything (the second day we had him we found him lounging in the kitchen sink in a different room from where we had put him to separate him from Gallico). He has climbed every surface in our home (including curtain rods) and will give us sad meows if he can’t figure out how to get somewhere. He was dumped at the shelter at just over a year old and we have no idea why anyone would reject him. He has so much love to give and will purr at the drop of a hat.

      1. Decima Dewey*

        My cat is a gray cat with gold eyes, named Chaucer. I got him at a no kill shelter. When I walked in, two cats began meowing at me, a white cat named Polo and Chaucer. The shelter people wanted me to go into the meeting room with Polo, but I insisted on Chaucer. When he licked my hand, he knew he was going home with me. They warned me Chaucer was an escape artist, so I lock him in the bedroom each week when I take out the trash and the recycling.

        There’s a big fluffy gray cat in my neighborhood known as “the Princess of Glorified Alley”, who is confident that everyone she meets loves her and will give her pettins if she wants them. And occasionally I help my upstairs neighbor’s cat Frankie (tuxedo cat) get back into his apartment after he sneaks out and decides he’s had all the fun that’s to be had in the hall and the stairwell.

    23. Gerald*

      I have a Hillary cat. Everyone assumes Clinton or Duff, but he’s actually Edmund Hillary the climber (appropriate for a cat).

        1. Gerald*

          Thankfully no damage! I had him from a very young age, when I also cared for his siblings, and he would lead them all up the cat tree or couch. No scratching or problem behaviour, more a love of heights.

    24. Merci Dee*

      We have a beautiful gray cat that came from the shelter with the name Billy, and it really seemed to suit him so we didn’t change it. We call him tons of other nicknames. “Bubby” came from our former landlady, who called her little brother this nickname growing up. “Nosy Ass” is a no-brainer. “Kamikaze Kat” when he’s running around the house at top speed like a loon. “Fuzzy Butt”, against, self-explanatory. There are more, but these are the major ones. He’s still the best birthday present I ever got myself.

      1. Funny Cide*

        I will never understand the zoomies they get for apparently no reason! He sounds great – gray cats are so handsome.

        1. Merci Dee*

          When they run around the house like that, I think they’re trying to unobtrusively practice their flying skills for the day they shake off their “pet” shackles and take their rightful places as rulers of the universe, since they’re obviously the superior species. I just occasionally ask my cat to remember the many years of loyal service his momma has given him when he ascends to his kitty throne, and that I will always be happy to provide scritches and loves. Sometimes he looks at me and yawns like he’s heard it all before. Sometimes he looks at me through lowered lids while he gnaws his front claws, like he’s wondering exactly what color my guts are.

    25. NotoriousMCG*

      I’m in grad school and don’t live with my husband or dog at the moment. I miss my dog DESPERATELY.

      Her name is Georgie and the origin of the name was a bit of a trick I pulled on my husband. We knew we were getting a dog for a while before we found her and had been brainstorming names. His only stipulation to me was ‘no Pride & Prejudice names’ because I had named my parents’ cat Bingley and their dog Darcy. Well what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him and he didn’t know that Darcy had a sister named Georgianna. So her full name is Lady Georgeanna Darcy, but she goes by George with us ;)

      1. Funny Cide*

        Your naming trick was so sneaky! I love it. I’m sorry you’re away from them – it’s tough, since you can at least talk on the phone/text/email humans, but it’s just not the same when you’re not with your furry family members! Good luck with grad school, and remember, you’re getting that degree so Georgie can have a better life. :)

    26. Nerdgal*

      I on the other hand, have FOUR dogs for the holidays. My own, Tessie. Three others that I am dog sitting for: Chester, Sophie, and Sunny. And my two cats Chloe and Tom, who take a very dim view of all of this. Merry Christmas!

      1. Funny Cide*

        I hope your house is as peaceful as can be with a group like that. Send your cats some sympathy pets from me. Merry Christmas to the lot of you :)

    27. rubyrose*

      First off, what a wonderful thread!

      Hailee came from a rescue agency that found her in a high kill shelter. What I’ve seen with some rescue agencies is that they have an alphabetical list of the names that they assign in order to the animals they take in. I suspect that is what happened with her.

      She was with the rescue for 3 weeks. When I’m at the desk at the adoption event doing the paperwork, they asked me if I was changing her name. I turned to her foster mom and asked if Hailee knew her name. When the answer was yes, of course there would be no name change. She had already been through enough.

      Even though randomly assigned, it is the perfect name for her. She is cheerful and friendly to all species. Her personality is nuanced, which to me is reflected in the spelling.

      1. Funny Cide*

        It has turned into a real cheering-up moment for me!

        Hailee sounds like a great friend for you, and I’m glad her name has turned out to suit her perfectly!

    28. MissDisplaced*

      Two kitties
      Zoey otherwise known as “Little Orange Girl”
      Paulie affectionately known as “Booger Butt”

      1. Funny Cide*

        I’m honestly surprised at the lack of Booger-related nicknames I have seen! Give yours some extra big hugs for me today.

    29. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

      My dearly departed kitty was named Mongoose. I had a summer job working at an animal shelter. When I started, my parents said “work is good, more pets are bad”. So I was really trying to not get attached, but I came in one morning and her this peeping sound, like a bird. I investigated and it turned out to be a tiny tortie kitten with a scratch on her head.

      I immediately fell in love, started calling her Goose, which became My Goose, and because I was took French and was trying to stay unattached, it became Mongoose. I started lobbying my parents and adopted her the day before she was scheduled to be put down.

    30. Autumnheart*

      I have four cats.

      Moocher, age 9. I call him a “Mini Coon” because he looks exactly like a Maine Coon, but he’s only about 8 pounds. I adopted him to be a companion to my older cat, and while I was trying to think of a good name for him, he became “the moocher” because he would horn in on any food, treats or attention I was giving to my older cat. I never did think of a different name, so he’s officially The Moocher permanently. He’s also The Smoocher because he likes to bump his head against your mouth when he’s being affectionate. Mooch, Smooch, Smoocher, pick your iteration.

      When my older cat passed away, I made an insane decision and took in a litter of 3 stray kittens, figuring I could keep whichever one(s) I liked and adopt out the rest. Yeah, they’re all still here. Age 7.

      Lily, aka Lilypants. I used to call my older cat Fluffypants and Sugarpants, and felt that one of these cats had to carry on the -pants suffix.

      Toby, the fattest one by far. He has white toes on his back feet, so he’s Toby Toes, and Toes (I call him Toes more than I call him Toby, but he gets it.)

      Moby, who actually received his name first—the small business where the kittens were found was named Moby Inc. And I thought it made a good cat name. Because Moby and Toby obviously rhyme, therefore Moby’s nickname is Moby Moes to rhyme with Toby Toes. He also gets called Moes and Shmoe.

    31. Liane*

      Bear, a black with white trim* 4 year old Lab mix. My husband and I went to the Animal Village–local public shelter–“just to look”** the day before Easter not knowing they were having a No Fee Adoption weekend. Adopting him was Husband’s idea, surprisingly — his attitude on pets has always been, “Will tolerate because everyone else wants a dog, grumble…” But Bear is a charmer. Next Easter will be his third “doggi-versary” with us.
      Bear was his name in the shelter, and may have been the name his ex-owners gave him, as he knew it. I often call him Darth Noisey. He was totally silent his first few weeks with us, but now can always find a reason to bark–traffic, birds, air molecules, etc. I also sometimes call him our “dark chocolate Lab,” since his black fur has so much brown undertones, and he is my Snuggle-boy. Not quite a nickname, but my son–Bear’s favorite person–calls his back paws Snowtoes because they are white.

      *my dad was a painting and building contractor
      **famous last words, huh?

      1. Funny Cide*

        I didn’t even need the asterisks on the “just to look” to know where it was going. Hey, at least you got him on sale! Bear sounds great, as does the rest of your family. Give him an extra snuggly snuggle today!

        1. Liane*

          Don’t worry, Bear got lots of extra snuggles, and 3, not the usual 2, walks, so is very happy pupper.

    32. Lora*

      Two Great Pyrs:
      Benoit Mandelbrot, AKA Big Ben, AKA Mister Benwhoneedshisearscleaned. 150+ lbs of floof and extremely gentle. He works as a goatherd during the day while I’m at work. The rescue had to shave him because when they found him as a four month old puppy his fur was actually matted into the side of a barn stall. So nobody was sure what color he would really be – he turned out to have a lot of badger for a Pyr. He doesn’t do Sit because when I got him my other dog was an elderly Newf with arthritis and I never made her sit for treats, so he only knows Paw, Whoa, Up, Lay down, Back Up, Left, Right. His rescue name was Paul but it didn’t really fit. He’s definitely a Big Ben.

      Jake, who knew his rescue name thus was stuck with it, AKA Che Guevara as he is constantly threatening to fight or actually fighting something or other and likes to escape to the neighbors’ yards (this is a breed trait…also the neighbors give him treats, which doesn’t help). The things he fights are usually squirrels which have offended him, airplanes overhead, and the goats which weren’t bothering him, so his day job is guarding the chickens from weasels and foxes – he got beat up by an angry hen once and thus is somewhat frightened of chickens, doesn’t bother them. When he comes in the house he turns into a big cream puff love-monster and insists on guarding the bathroom door while I shower, snuggling on the couch, snuggling on the bed, farting on me…he is slightly smaller than Ben at 120+ pounds, but all muscle and not as gentle. He doesn’t lay still with you, he starts falling asleep then flails his paws around while he’s dreaming.

      1. Funny Cide*

        I have friends with a Pyr mix, which is much less two purebreds, and so I’d like to extend my sympathies to your vacuum cleaner. These were lovely descriptions, thank you for sharing :)

    33. ECHM*

      Our first bird, ca. Christmas 1990, was named Squeaky-Rotti, because my siblings and I wanted to name him Squeaky and my musical grandpa wanted Pavarotti.

    34. LizB*

      I have a calico rescue kitty. She was pregnant when she got rescued and had three kittens, and her foster mama named her S’more and the kittens Cocoa, Graham, and Marshmallow. We kept the name S’more for her, and in the intervening years have decided that S’more is a nickname for Smorgasbord, which is now what she gets called when she’s in trouble.

      1. Funny Cide*

        Excellent coordinating names! I always really enjoy having full names for use when they’ve been rascals as well.

    35. SignalLost*

      My cat is the Right Reverend Apollo von Gildershanks, of Merpington-on-Boxshire (the Lincolnshire Merpingtons, not the the unrelated Hertfordshire Merpingtons), and his nickname is Mr Butt, because he’s a tuxedo kitty -> he is a butler who receives you at the door -> he buttles -> he butts -> he butts formally -> he is Mr Butt.

      My chinchilla is Spencer Beckett Wentz McCracken, the chinchilli con queso, the Raging Floof, the Thunder Floof, Rage against the Machine; he hates everyone and everything. He was also named by committee, and is in fact named after Spencer Smith (I hate Panic at the Spambot), William Beckett, Pete Wentz, and Bert McCracken, because my friends know my favorite scene band is MCR.

      My guinea pig is Bear, who is a detective in the Food Police when he is not being a potato, or sometimes a yam.

      1. Funny Cide*

        Everything in this comment was wonderful. Thank you very much for sharing, and give your brood lots of love from me!

    36. ThatGirl*

      Our dog is named Link after the Legend of Zelda character. He is a 15 lb Maltese poodle rescue and a love bug. We brought him on a plane with us to Florida and he was very good. We also call him Linkasaurus, puppy wuppy, buddy, Linky, and many more.

    37. Edianter*

      I got a brand new kitten after Thanksgiving, a very cute all-black baby boy. I named him Percy. (He’s not named after anyone or any book characters or anything, I just like the name.)

      But when he’s in a particularly annoying mood (I mean, he IS a kitten…), I have been known to occasionally yell out a “Percival Ignatius Weasley!” at him… xD

      1. Funny Cide*

        none of mine had formal full names until the moment they got in trouble, so I certainly understand the need for improvisation. It’s true he won’t be a kitten forever but in my experience that isn’t entirely bad. :)

    38. Hippo for Xmess*

      I have a St. Bernard named Bear. He’s just shy of a year old and the sweetest drool machine you’ve ever met. His recent nickname is Dog Butt (because he’s been a total butt lately) and I feel like I shouldn’t be screaming obscenities out my door to him.

      1. Funny Cide*

        I was fascinated by St Bernards for a long time – thanks, Beethoven! I wouldn’t blame you if you yelled obscenities but I think your alternative is totally appropriate. Give him a hug for me!

    39. Canadian Natasha*

      I have an unusual pet; an aquatic snail named Dribble. His predecessor was Flo and he was a lot smaller, thus the name. ;) He’s a super lazy weirdo who decided a month an a half ago that he would never move again. He is perfectly healthy according to the pet store but just lies on his back and waits for food to come to him. (Most of the aquatic snails I’ve had are very curious and energetic. They wander all over the tank investigating the floor and walls and filter waterfall, etc.)

      1. Funny Cide*

        Honestly, I admire Dribble’s lifestyle. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ thank you for sharing your unusual pet! Always nice to have a little variety.

    40. Damn it, Hardison!*

      What a terrific thread!

      I adopted My 18 year old cat Lily (full name Lilian Rose) from a shelter when she was about 6 months old. She was very affectionate and desperately wanted her cheeks rubbed, so much so that she fell over into her litter box in her excitement. That’s when I knew she was my cat. Her backstory is that she is an alien-kitten hybrid from Canada; alien because she has very large bright green eyes and Canada just because. Her nicknames are kitten head (she has a very small face), boo boo kitten, boo berry, and Lil.

      We said goodbye to my 22 year old cat Emma in October. She was named after Emma Thompson and her full name was Emma Frances. I picked her out at a shelter when she was 9 weeks old. She was a master snuggler and like nothing more than to be held like a baby for hours on end. She was the sweetest most affectionate cat I’ve ever known. Her nicknames included Puppa (because she was a puppy of a cat), Mrs Pants/Mrs Fluffy Pants, Best Girl, and Bestie.

    41. nacho*

      I’ve got a dog named Kodi, which is like Cody but my mom thinks it’s less “pretentious”/is short for Kodiak Bear for no discernible reason. He’s not doing to well though, and unfortunately I doubt we’ll have him much longer.

      My last dog was Liz, short for lizard because she ate flies.

    42. Clisby Williams*

      Our beautiful Xiol, king of all cats, came to live with us 12 years ago with his brother Roy – they were about 5 weeks old. A couple of college girls rescued them and their littermates from under their rental house after a torrential rain. They thought the mother was a neighborhood stray, but never saw her again, so they took in all 5 kittens, and found homes for all of them. We got the last 2.

      My daughter came up with the name Xiol – probably some X-men thought. Roy was named after Roy Rogers.

      Sadly, Roy disappeared about 5 years ago. Xiol is still king of all cats, who walks by himself, and all places are alike to him.

    43. Doodle*

      Our three legged rescue tabby is nicknamed Mr. Bubb. When my son was little he would jiggle the loose flap of skin near the missing leg, giggle maniacally, and shout “his bub is swinging!” Hence, Bubb, or more formally, Mr. Bubb.

    44. Doodle*

      I had a cat many years with a rather cobby body. A friend would ask, are you sure that’s a cat? Looks like a dog to me. Confirmed the day we (along with hundreds of other cat owners) got a dog license from the city (or may have been the county). Apparently they went to a new set of abbreviations and DSH (domestic short hair cat) was also the abbreviation for dachshund…

      Hence the cat became known as Pup forevermore.

    45. foxygranny*

      Oo I love this question!
      My dog’s name is Bo, which is a very common name for dogs where I’m from, so no reason for raised eyebrows there. However, in his case, it’s short for Botellus, which is Latin…for sausage. He’s a dachshund. I have a wiener dog called Small Sausage.

    46. Nancie*

      I have four cats:

      Tony, b&w, about 7yo. Named for Tony Stark because he has a perfect RJD-Stark mustache. He’s a bit ornery, but loves to sit in my lap and head-butt my hands. Until the moment he decides he needs to bite me.

      Snowy, gray&white, 5yo. No idea why his rescuer named him that, but it stuck. He was a feral barn kitten, she rescued him when he was nearly killed by something— she suspects it was a raccoon. He’s still pretty feral, but in just the last year he’s started to let me pet him.

      Na’vi, tabby&white, 3yo. Named by the rescue organization I adopted her from. They got her as a solo, ~5 week old kitten, and raised her with a set of three siblings who all got other Zelda-themed names. She’s tiny, sings beautifully, and likes to play fetch. And no other cat in my home has gotten a treat since I adopted her, because she materializes between them and any treats.

      Stormy, blue-gray, 1yo. Enormous with incredibly dense fur. Very snuggly. Constantly in low-key trouble because he bullies Na’vi more than I like.

    47. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      This is a great idea for a post! So many awesome nicknames!

      I’m down to a single mutt (boxer, terrier, spitz?) named Maya. She’s mostly blonde with white feet and splotches, so some of her nicknames are based on that: Blondie Bear, Platinum Baby. She has a tendency to go boneless when she’s especially happy or just waking up, which has earned her the very dignified monikers Doofy Derp Dog and Smooshy Woogit. In her especially stubborn moments she pointedly refuses to answer to Buttfaced Miscreant.

      In the past I had a little black boy mutt who came to me named Chief, but I mostly called him Little Old Man, Grumpy, or Mr. Dortmunder. I also had two standard poodle sisters who could not have been more different. Bridgette was huge, gregarious, and clumsy. She answered to Bertha or Bridgerator. Sophia was slight, graceful, and terrified of everything. She didn’t want to be left alone, but also didn’t want anyone to pay attention to her. She mostly silently followed people around at a distance, and quickly earned the nickname Spooky.

    48. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      My boy cat is a mix, he looks all black but he’s got a few white hairs scattered in. His mama was a stray, my cousin found taking shelter on her porch while very preggers. So she took her in to give her safety until she had the kittens and could be fixed.

      She had all the kitties snapped up except my sweet boy because of the nonsense statistic that black cats are hard to home. So she held him for me to go get him since I’m out of state.

      His name is Moonsaults Nero. It’s a backflip off the top rope in wrestling and my favorite wrestler’s middle name/alter ego. His nickname is Moony.

    49. Long time lurker*

      My 5yr old German Shepherd’s name is Bach, we got him 6 months ago as a rescue so he already knows his name. It’s a bit unfortunate because when I tell people his name, I have to follow it up by stressing that it’s Bach like the composer, not Bark the noise of a dog. I call him Bach, Bark-Bark, Bing bong ding dong, Bacchanalius, Ding a ling, Big fella and sometimes Ramalamadingdong. He makes my world go round!

    50. KimberlyInOhio*

      My dog’s name is Sir Birkenstock Chewington Wigglebutt III. He earned his name by eating one of my Birkenstocks while we were fostering him, the only show he has eaten before or since. Birks is a great little dog who was taken into rescue after being hit by a car and hiding under a porch for a few days. By the time they got him out, he needed a leg amputated, and that’s why he is the Third… Because he doesn’t have the fourth! ❤❤

      Hope you’re reunited with your pets soon.

    51. VanCityLou*

      I rescued and adopted a Beagle-chihuahua who I named Atticus Finch. When we meet other dog parents in the dog park, they either get it right away or say “oh…. that’s an interesting name”. Yes, I am a book nerd.

    52. Alice Ulf*

      Late! So sorry.

      My princess cat is named Calliope. She’s a long-haired dilute calico who was found by one of our maintenance staff in the storage unit at a property. She was just four months old when I brought her home, and now she’s seven, but she’s still a big kitten who sometimes chases her own tail. Her nickname is Calamity, because her hobbies include rolling backwards down the stairs and wanton destruction.

    53. Kate Lathrop*

      We have 2 amazing dogs! Rommel is my first dog; he’s a German Short Hair pointer and I fell in love when I first met him. I had a list of 20 German names (think Mozart, etc.) and am a history buff. The only one he cocked his head to was Rommel. And it’s appropriate as he was known as the Desert Fox and we live in Arizona.

      Our other dog is Chewbacca, a pudelpointer (breed developed in Germany in the 1800 a cross between a pointer and a poodle to have the best hunting points of both breeds). She got her name when she rolled out of her crate and she looked like a baby Wookie!

      They are both trained hunting dogs; I prefer to adopt not shop but my husband was looking for specific breeds and requirements and they don’t have any rescue groups for those 2 in our area.

    54. PinchPots*

      We have two pets. A retired racing greyhound who’s racing name was Kaias Samson–we call him Sam– and a greykitten *see what I did there?:)* called Turkey that we found in an engine block a couple months ago when she was about four weeks old. Sam is a heckin’ good boy and his formal name, given to him by our friends, his dogparents, is Samson Caesar Salad. We also call him Sammer, Sammer Sam, Sammer L Sammerson the third, Samuel McSamson, Sam Sam, Heck Hound, and Snorticus (greyhounds are known for their snorting:)).

      The kitten is often Turkey Lurkey, Turk Turk, Turkistan or Turkmenistan, Grey Bear, Smol Cat, Squirt (cause she tries to squirt through doors she shouldn’t:)), Trash Cat (we captured her from under a dumpster), and the Agent of Mayhem.

      They are super nice to each other. The hound even lets the kitten eat out of his food dish while he’s having his breakfast. He cleans her ears and occasionally they share a nap on his bed together. It’s really great cause greyhounds are known to have high prey drives, and though he’s shown no interest in cats before, when we first found her he was pretty sure she was a snack.

    55. FabTag*

      I often call my cat Charlie by his nickname of “Monkey Face” and he always comes running, purring, with his little tail in the air, excitedly looking forward to whatever reward I have for him.

  3. Ron McDon*

    I’m looking forward to spending today with my husband’s family – everyone’s coming to us for a traditional roast turkey lunch.

    Here in the UK it’s 7.15am; my husband wakes up super early everyday (usually by 5,30am), so he’s already been downstairs and prepped all the veg, got the turkey ready etc – I’m so appreciative for all he does when we’re entertaining!

    Then tomorrow we’re going to see my parents and have a buffet lunch with them, my sister, BIL and niece.

    My boys are 18 and 13 now, so it’s a different day than it used to be when they were younger and very excited to rip the paper off and see what Father Christmas brought them, but should be lots of fun today!

    I hope everyone here at the AAM community has a wonderful few days, whatever you’re doing, and wish you all a wonderful 2019!

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      Happy Christmas! Also UK… but other half is Danish so we did Christmas dinner last night :) Danish sweet potatoes are awesome…

      (Not made from sweet potaties the veg. Made from baby potatoes, boiled in skins, skins very gently removed, then melt marge/butter and sugar together to make a kind of toffee type mixture and cook potatoes in it for 5-10 minutes.)

    2. Dan*

      Ha. I remember the days when it was “we’re not opening presents before 6am!” And then somewhere along the line there was a transition to “you better have your butts out of bed before noon!”

      1. Overeducated*

        My mom totally used the only grandchild in the family as a tool to get my spouse and adult siblings out of bed at 8 this morning :)

    3. Doodle*

      Yes, it’s different with an older teen! We were pleased that our 18 year old got up at 9:30 and was properly full of gratitude for the coffee I made him.

  4. White Lightworker*

    Do you think my use of “dark” is racist?

    (A white woman looking for genuine feedback outside the other white people I personally know – especially from POC.)

    I’m in the life coaching industry and use “energy” language to explain concepts to my clients. For example, I identify as a “lightworker” meaning I use “light energy” and follow the Light. I know that’s pretty woo-woo but it’s how I was raised & see the world.

    The opposite of a “lightworker” is what I refer to as a “darkworker” – someone who uses “dark energy” and follows the Dark.

    I made a social media post in October about Halloween/All Hallows Eve saying “be conscious of darkworkers” and “be aware of dark rituals”.

    One white friend commented that POC have told her is it’s racist to equate “DARK = EVIL” so I shouldn’t say “darkworker” anymore.

    White people calling out other white people on their racial bias & laguage is *EXACTLY* what I want to have happen! If I’m consistently using racist language, I want to stop! It’s totally possible I have a blind spot because I was raised with “lightworker” and “darkworker” energy language and have never associated it with race before?

    However, I only say “darkworker” and “dark energy” and “the Dark”. Never “dark people”?? I’m not saying dark people are evil; I’m saying there are two power sources in the Universe: Light & Dark. If you are using Dark power, you are a darkworker.

    I checked with several other friends to get feedback and the feedback was it’s not racist the way I’m using the word “dark”? But, again, it’s just white people talking amongst themselves and I realize we are ignorant of POC’s insights?

    I’m open to changing my language but I don’t want to be that cliche “overly woke” white person saying things are racist when they aren’t? But maybe it is?

    Thank you!!

    1. Black Targaryen*

      Hi – Black femme here. I’ll give my two cents, but of course it goes without saying that POC are not a monolith, and other ones might have completely different views on this than I. I am also viewing your question through an American lens. Another disclaimer: I am not particularly familiar with light energy beliefs/views.

      On its surface, no I do not think simply saying that light energy is good and equals lightwork and dark energy is bad and “beware” darkworkers etc is racist. ***However*** ask yourself where that idea came from and why dark is equated with something bad. Why not use blue energy and yellow energy (or an arbitrary color)? What is it about the word “dark” specifically that signifies something bad to you?

      The dichotomy of light v. Dark/white = purity and black = evil absolutely has contributed to and reinforces racist ideas, historically and currently, and this also permeated pop culture, including movies and books and tv and mythology. In the Christian tradition, having black skin is even thought to have originated as a curse (short version: in Genesis Noah got drunk and naked on the ark and his son Ham let him be shameful and didn’t help, so god cursed him with being black. I grew up Baptist and in all-white Christian school and church, and yes, this was literally told to me several times).

      Depictions of the white savior vs black savage are rampant. The majority of heroes and heroines in kids’ and adult movies alike were often white and innocent versus villains which were usually darker skinned. The common trope typically casts the villain in black clothes, in the shadow, a beastly figure. The last decade or so has changed that finally, but even still with post apocalyptic media, that trope still exists. In Game of Thrones (my favorite show), the promised savior and rightful queen is a white blonde pure woman who cannot be burned who commandeers the brown savage people and along the way enlightens them to the atrocities of their way of life (think slavery etc). There were no black characters in lord of the rings, aside from the dark monstrous Orcs. You can Google “why don’t black people ever survive the apocalypse” and come across all sorts of entertaining and interesting think pieces and commentary on reddit and twitter and the like if you feel so inclined. (Yes, I know someone is blind to point out the walking dead – yay for one show that depicts more than just white people surviving! No sarcasm, I’ll take it)

      Anyways, this is getting way too long and I’m veering into other territory.
      TLDR: no, I don’t think it’s racist to use the terminology of light work versus dark work, but I implore you to explore the roots of it and the arbitrary notion – at least culturally – that defaults darkness to something negative.

    2. Akcipitrokulo*

      Will try to find link… but blog writingwithcolor has addressed it a couple of times. IMO (white though) it’s not the worst, but worth being aware of.

    3. Akcipitrokulo*

      Here it is! It’s aimed at writers but I think might be useful – it’s a pretty good blog to peruse anyway.

    4. a naan for this*

      Hey there! I’m someone definitely affected by this- a darker skinned poc who had all sorts of bad associations with my skintone growing up, and still struggles with it (like in my own self image, I make myself lighter because it “looks better” and I have to work against that)
      So yes. I am all for challenging language of light=good and dark=bad because even if not started that way, the mindset has repercussions. Like people distrust dark POC and believe they don’t feel pain.
      As a writer tho, the ideas are so ingrained though I don’t think we could change them overnight. No individual writer is responsible for leading the charge of turning cultural tropes on their head. I’ve seen people talk about associating “light” with bad things like bleached bones and dead trees and blinding light and dark with good things like rich soil and the night sky.
      Basically: be aware and think about it. But don’t put too much pressure on yourself. If I, a darker skinned person with an active interest in escaping this trope can’t figure out how to break away from it, I don’t expect you to. Some of the associations of light vs dark are part of human consciousness and have nothing to do with race.

      1. a naan for this*

        Another way to see it too, is that “dark” isn’t necessarily evil. It’s just another type of energy. That gets around the bad implications of dark while also encouraging us to challenge our worldview.

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          Yes. I’m reminded of that great speech from “Black Sails.”

          “This is how they survive. You must know this. You’re too smart not to know this. They paint the world full of shadows… and then tell their children to stay close to the light. Their light. Their reasons, their judgments. Because in the darkness, there be dragons. But it isn’t true. We can prove that it isn’t true. In the dark, there is discovery, there is possibility, there is freedom in the dark once someone has illuminated it. And who has been so close to doing it as we are right now?”

      2. Old Mountain Lady*

        I know of one fantasy writer, L. E. Modesitt, who has convincingly created a world in which, generally speaking, white is the color of chaos and therefore evil and black is the color of order and therefore good. So it can be done, but it’s certainly unusual.

    5. Traffic_Spiral*

      I’d switch to “positive” and “negative” – which have the additional benefit of sounding less woo.

    6. Indie*

      I would check out Benjamin Zephaniah’s poem White Comedy as a great example of how these words kind of add up even when it is not intended. It is clear you are trying to express light imagery, not colour, and certainly not race imagery but the double meaning of dark is too unfortunate for the symbolism to work.

      I think better opposites for energy, warmth, light and focus are words like empty, cold, chaos, bitterness, void, frozen, dysfunct etc.

    7. Llellayena*

      I don’t think we’ll escape the dark/light concept as a whole, however the particular phrasing you used in the social media posts can be badly misinterpreted if the reader doesn’t understand how you are intending to use “darkworker”. To me (so white I can hide in a piece of paper), “darkworker” initially reads as referring to historic slaves, not energy working. Without context, you might get some angry feedback on that. Not necessarily a need to change, but you may need to provide more context if your posts are public.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Good answer and I agree. When in doubt change what you are doing. If people have to ask or you aren’t sure, then probably you can choose different words that would remove any ambiguity/doubt/opportunity for misunderstanding. Just a good rule of thumb for life, speak in a manner that most people can follow right along with you.

        I have had a couple of friends who truly enjoy expanding their vocabulary. So the question became do we lift people up by using new words or do we put them down by talking above their heads? My thought is that the most important thing is to speak in a manner that people get what you are saying. You may have the best message ever, but if people don’t understand your message then all is lost.

      2. persimmon*

        Yeah. I didn’t have that specific of a reaction, but “darkworker” doesn’t sound good. Maybe a rule of thumb is avoid using “dark” as part of the name of your group of evil people.

      3. EinJungerLudendorff*

        Agreed. Especially if you want to spread the word through something like social media, which are notorious for spreading misinformation like that.

    8. Earthwalker*

      I can see why the linking of white=good, black=bad would inherently read as racist because we call skin colors that even though people are not actually white or black. “Light” and “dark” feel different to me though. I imagine people of different races in the light and in the darkness, and it doesn’t feel to me like light or lack of it associate particularly to one race or another. People work in the light and stumble in the darkness no matter the color of their skin. I would not have seen light=good, dark=bad as racist. Do others see that differently?

    9. Lilysparrow*

      If your spiritual system uses light=good or helpful and dark=evil or destructive, why not just say good/evil or helpful/destructive?

      I used to be rather into woo, and I heard terms used like “energy vampire” or “negative energy,” or lots of others that went beyond light and dark.

      Or you could use day/night, or ascendant/descending, since a lot of the fear & bad connotations of darkness are from the primal fears of surviving in an environment without artificial light. The solstice=return of the sun=new life, etc.

    10. Troutwaxer*

      In addition to what everyone has written above, you might consider “darker” initiatory rituals/traditions like “The Descent of Innana” (you can find a lot about this oneline, but ultimately you want to look for the Wolkstein/Kramer translation) or the Descent of Persephone, particularly as embodied in the Elusinian Mystery traditions (Jennifer Reif’s Mysteries of Demeter is a good place to start.) Also, you might read Starhawk’s “Dreaming The Dark,” (worth reading even if you’re not Wiccan) or consider various Hindu ideas about the necessary balance between creation and destruction.

      In short, if you are a “lightworker” you only have half the knowledge you need to help people. Dealing with the dark, what might be defined as “crone energy” or “underworld energy” (which does not relate to Christian concepts of hell) has enormous power to make people’s lives better.

      Once again, note that I am not suggesting anything like a “Satanic” path.

  5. Mayor of Llamatown*

    This is one of those “may day my plane is going down need immediate help” holiday posts.

    My spouse’s sister has two small children. One is just turned 6, the other is almost 4. They are smart and love both of us. They are also allowed a lot of freedom by their parents (crunchy granola types who at one point didn’t believe in using the word “no”). SIL won’t tell them to stop problem behaviors, instead telling us “You can say no-thank-you”. SIL has a very bad temper, especially when confronted – immediate defense, followed by a blow-up.

    Both children love to climb on my lap, and then poke me in the face. Repeatedly. With fingers. With toys. With crayons and pencils. Again withfingers. It’s attention seeking behavior. At yesterdays holiday party the younger one spent half the party shining a flashlight in my eyes. I told said child to stop repeatedly, that it hurt, that it wasnt nice or kind. Eventually child was evicted from my lap and told we couldn’t play any more if he would do that. Child continued to shine the flashlight in others’ eyes throughout the party.

    We are spending all day with this family today (Christmas). Any advice? I have a background in psychology and education, and don’t usually have a hard time managing children, but when I get no support from the actual parents and this seems to be the number one game of the day, I’m flummoxed.

    1. OrangeYouGlad*

      I like Brene Brown’s boundary language framing: “It’s ok for you to X but it’s not ok for you to Y.”

      “It’s ok for you to be frustrated but it’s not ok for you to roll your eyes during the meeting. If you continue to do that, then [insert consequence like “you & I will have a serious discussion about your continued role here”].”

      “It’s ok for you to be angry about not going to the party but it’s not ok for you to yell at me. If you continue to raise your voice, I will leave the room and we can continue this conversation tomorrow.”

      “It’s ok for you to sit on my lap but it’s not ok for you to shine the flashlight in my eyes. If you continue to do that, you will need to immediately get off my lap.”

      Good luck!

      1. OrangeYouGlad*

        My point is you know your SIL isn’t going to set boundaries or consequences in this situation…so you can set your own.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Good stuff.

        I can remember my MIL telling of someone who came to visit. This parent let her kiddo jump on my MIL’s chairs and sofa. This went on for a few minutes and finally my MIL said, “In this house, we don’t jump on the furniture.” And that shut down that behavior.

            1. Mayor of Llamatown*

              I am keeping “my face my rules” in my back pocket, if only because it made me laugh out loud. We rarely host these relatives at our house, so the “my house my rules” tactic doesn’t work as well.

      3. Mayor of Llamatown*

        God this is so good. Thank you for the script. I used it with mixed results, but it at least helped me feel less like a “no” machine.

        1. jolene*

          “How would you feel if I poked you in the face/shone a torch in your eyes?”

          If they say they’d be fine, then do it. Works every time.

    2. Ruth (UK)*

      I do not have children of my own by spend a lot of time around kids, especially toddler up to maybe 8 or 9 years olds due to many of my friends having kids that age range, and also some volunteer stuff I’m involved in with kids.

      Basically, my advice is that it is the parents’ responsibility, not yours, to stop the behaviour where it relates to or affects people other than you. Unless they’ve actually asked you for help and given you guidence in how they want you to do that (and you’re willing to) then when they’re shining lights at or poking other people, you should let yourself ignore it as it’s not your problem.

      If they’re doing it to you, I would say you should repeatedly remove them from your lap and say something like “don’t do that” or “you can’t be on my lap of you’re going to do that” or maybe “you can stay on my lap of you don’t do that” or whatever makes sense in the moment, in a conversational style tone. If they’re 4 and 6, I assume you’re significantly stronger and larger and should be able to push or lift them away without it being too much of a struggle. I believe they’ll get bored and move onto bullying other people, at which point, as much as you may wish to do something, if the parents are allowing it, it’s definitely their problem not yours.

      I’ll add that my answer is largely based on the information about your sister in law’s particular parenting style and that she doesn’t seem to like or want input from other people who may tell their child off / whatever. If you had support from her then my answer would be different. Yesterday, a 4 year old had a screaming tantrum over not wanting to leave at the end of a party and I stepped in because it reached a point where the mother very stressed and I felt a change of person and tone might give the child an opportunity to stop. In this case it worked and the mother thanked me. But it sounds like your sister in law would not want others stepping in when it comes to issues relating to discipline.

    3. I heart Paul Buchman*

      This is a really difficult situation to be in. I have many friends with similar parenting philosophies and have found there is only so much I can do without upsetting the applecart.

      This might be more a long term fix than a emergency solution but as this is an ongoing situation have you tried running an ABC chart? (Antecedent, Behaviour, Consequence). What happens immediately before the negative behaviour? What happens after it? You say the kids are seeking attention. Could you redirect this elsewhere that is positive (‘sit next to me and we will play noughts and crosses’/could you draw me a beautiful picture for the front of the fridge etc’). Find a way to pay attention without giving your full attention is what I mean. If they sit in your lap and poke you immediately find a way to stand up (go to the bathroom/refresh your drink), say as little as possible just make it a reliable fact that poking your face results in less attention and ends contact whereas sitting nicely next to you results in more attention.

      You could also hold something in your lap (no chance you knit?) that physically prevents them from climbing up. That could be a handbag/craft project/wrapped present… anything that gives you an excuse. If they do sit on your lap face them outwards towards the group so they find it physically harder to touch your face.

      If they poke you with something say ‘oh, nice torch, can I have a look’ and then keep holding it in your hands while they sit on your lap. If they ask for it back find a reason to stand up and then hand it back. You are subtly reinforcing that if they are annoying you they don’t get your attention.

      My go to response if I want parents to address their kids behaviour is to call the kid out on it. This isn’t subtle but say something like “Lucy, does Mummy let you draw on the baby?” Say it loud enough for Mummy to hear. This implies that you aren’t sure if they should be doing what they are doing and you are giving them agency to do the right thing. If nothing else the child will have to say ‘Yes, Mummy does let me draw on the baby’ which is likely to embarrass her parents if it isn’t true and normally gets a response. Or the child will be honest and say No in which case you can tell them nicely to stop and it is parent sanctioned. Only do this if their behaviour is impacting on you personally as you can overplay this card. Good luck!

      1. Mayor of Llamatown*

        Hah! Yes, I knit, and came armed with a project. How do non-knitters ever survive the holidays?

        I told them copiously “My knitting project is on my lap, so you can’t sit there.” Then firmly, “No lap sitting today, do not touch my yarn, do not touch my project.” The little one ended up sitting on my feet (gently) and watching my fingers work, which worked well.

    4. TL -*

      I generally have a lot of leeway with the kiddos in my life but if they’re being annoying I give one or two warnings and then either remove the child or remove the toy. Depends on the parent but usually (if it’s family or somewhere I have authority) I just do it quietly and will let the parent know afterwards (generally after the child has calmed down.)

      And I wouldn’t warn repeatedly; I’d warn once or twice and then enforce consequences. Kids are smart and they know which adults can be bamboozled and which ones aren’t messing around. Talking to them without any consequences just means the kid is going to ignore you. If they’re poking you in the face, get them off your lap and then don’t let them back on. If your SIL fusses, tell her she can let her kids do whatever she wants to herself but you don’t have to let them do whatever they want to you.

        1. jolene*

          Right? Why people can’t say: “Fernando, don’t poke people in the face, let alone with a crayon! Get off me right now and say sorry while you do it!” is beyond me. If SIL fusses, just tell her that you’d say the same if he were poking her in the face. And do it. I’ve said: “Lavinia, don’t hit your mother for God’s sake!” plenty of times. It works.

    5. AcademiaNut*

      If it’s your house, you have a responsibility to the other guests, and the right to take away poky toys or a flashlight if they’re using it to bother other people. And in your own home you can tell them to stop behaviour that is causing problems.

      If it’s their house, or a third party’s house, you have a lot less you can do. I’d have less patience than you for poking, though. After the first warning, each poke gets a “I told you no poking” or a “that hurts” followed by evicting the child from my lap, and if necessary, a “I don’t like playing with people who hurt me” if they complain. Your example might encourage other guests to follow your lead and not allow it. Other than that, speak up if they’re hurting someone who can’t stand up for themselves (small children, pets) or doing something dangerous (poking forks in the outlets).

      You do have an advantage if the kids like you – if poking you means that you don’t interact with them there’s an incentive to behave. But yeah, there’s a limited amount you can do when you’ve got kids are unfamiliar with the concept of limits and parents who think everything their offspring do is wonderful. Protecting yourself firmly, and refusing to be intimidated by the adults, is about all.

    6. Akcipitrokulo*

      Put it in consent-type language… might get more buy-in from parents.

      (We do that btw :) )

      “No… you don’t touch someone who doesn’t want to be touched”

      “We don’t hit each other.” (Or poke, whatever…) – saying “we” and “each other” majes it harder to object to.

    7. AnonyNurse*

      “Ow, that hurts me (bothers me, etc).” Immediately remove child from lap or self from situation.
      Repeat. Every time.
      Be direct and consistent.
      Do not apologize to the parents or for the parents/kids.
      Basically, set your own boundaries and stick with them.
      The kids sound bored so if there’s a way to give them something constructive to do, do so.
      And don’t be afraid to take your leave early. “I’m sorry, we have to take off now.”

      1. Observer*


        Another way to put it:

        Set your boundaries and stick to them. You don’t need their parent’s permission, and you don’t need to offer more than ONE, SHORT explanation. In fact, you SHOULD not offer more than that to the child. Shorter is better.

        1. Quandong*

          Yes, this.

          There’s time later for you to decide how to handle things with the defensive parent (if you want to, that is).

          You don’t need to apologize. Establish your boundaries, be consistent, and keep yourself safe.

          I have nephews and nieces who weren’t told ‘No’ by their parents, but they have all learned that I can’t be jumped on, prodded, poked, attacked from behind with no warning, bombarded by random flying objects, or treated like a servant. I don’t regret setting these boundaries because I’m now much safer than before.
          And the children understand that I ‘don’t like that’ and ‘am not okay with that’ and ‘would rather this instead’.

          Good luck!

    8. Namey McNameface*

      You’re kind to want to respect your SIL’s (dubious) parenting strategies. I am not as patient and I would just tell them off – “hey, stop it now. I don’t like that.” “If you do that one more time I’m going to take your flashlight away, that’s not okay.”

      If SIL “doesn’t believe in saying no to children” – *roll eyes* – that’s fine. But it’s not fine for her kids to behave in ways that disrupt or harass other humans. Ideally it should be the parent enforcing those boundaries but since it’s not happening….if it were me, I would enforce the boundaries myself. I would consider it doing kindness for the child to teach them to not behave like little shits.

      1. Mayor of Llamatown*

        Respecting her parenting strategies is not high on my to-do list. :) It’s just that I recognize these kids are a product of what their parents have/haven’t taught them, and I have some empathy that they’re basically using a very limited set of skills. I have no problem saying “no” to them, and everyone’s comments here have been really helpful in showing me how to be more firm.

    9. RUKiddingMe*

      You can’t control what these children do to other people, nor is it your responsibility, so let that just drop from the load of things that stress you out.

      You do however have every single right in the world to determine how you are treated, no different than if an adult was doing X Y Z to you without/against your consent. Tell them they are not allowed to treat you that way. Remove them from your lap. If they are in your home treating your property a certain way, you can tell them to not do that, same rules about your rights apply here.

      If your SIL objects…well IDK what to say but I would myself inform her that no one, regardless of age is permitted to touch me without my permission. Yes, I know they are “just children” is the likely argument, but I would agree that “yes they are children but no limits as children results in adults that don’t know boundaries and at any rate they are not permitted to poke *my* eyes, shine a light in *my* eyes, draw all over *my* walls…etc. (fill in whatever here)” and let the chips fall where they may. But then that’s me and not most people.

      The main advice stands though: You are allowed to, and really should set limits with how they interact with you and follow through every.single.time.

      Hope it helps.

    10. Triplestep*

      My kids are in their twenties, but I seem to remember having a higher tolerance for some of the things they did as toddlers than the older folks and non-parents had. Some of what’s going on here may be due to their parents just not noticing – not that they’re OK with their children being an annoyance to other people.

      That said, given the crunchy parenting style (not saying “no” would drive me nuts) I would go further than just telling the kids to stop poking you and stop shining a flashlight in your eyes. I would actually take a “see something say something” approach and call them out for bothering others. A lot of kids will react differently to discipline from adults who are not their parents. If they’ve only heard you defend yourself – which they might take as a playful response to what they are doing in the moment – hearing you defend others from their annoying behavior might stand out to them.

      And while your SIL might be partially oblivious to their shenanigans, hearing others having to correct their behavior repeatedly might call her to action. If she gets defensive or blows up … oh well.

      1. Blackcat*

        I’d agree with you if we were talking 2 year olds. And I’d be patient with the 3 year old, but this type of behavior is super inappropriate from a 6 year old.

        1. Triplestep*

          Looks like you did not read past my first paragraph. I’m not excusing the behavior – either the kids’ or the parent’s.

      2. dawbs*

        Crunchy parents tend to be attuned to “you are the person in charge of your body. You can always tell someone no about touching”
        I’d cling to that language about your body.

        I’d use that clear (even babyish) language first.
        “That is not a good touch, do not do that to my body. That hurts my body’s eyes”. Start that, remove access. Stand up (they are big enough fo catch themselves) and move away- and repeat what toy said verbatim.
        If they want fo get back in your lap, say “only if you can respect my body”

        This is land bettert used with 2 year olds, but, they’re acting like they didn’t learn theday at 2 si they get the 2 year old lesson now.

    11. Madge*

      You could try positive language and tell them what to do instead of what not to do. Walk vs don’t run. “Keep your hands on your own body.” I also remember using “tell your hands to ….” with some success. The first time they touch your face you can say “if you want to sit with me you have to keep your hands in your lap.” Then any subsequent times you can just say “hands in your lap.”

      Can you invent/adapt a game for the flashlights? Maybe shining the light on things that are red or start with A, or an ornament on the tree. And have a rule that the light can’t shine on people. Some kids love rules and as long as it’s not their house you could try saying the house has a rule that flashlights can only shine on the floor or only on things. Or have them dance with their flashlight shining on the floor like they’re spotlights. They could do spotlights for each other. Or show them how to trace around the flashlight and it’s light. I’m not saying you should become their entertainment committee. These can be quick little re-directs in the moment.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      Can I just say you have way more patience than I will ever have?
      Flashlight in the eyes. Well that could injure someone, so I would take the flashlight away. “We have to put this up because someone might get hurt.”
      Poking me. “No one is poking you for a reason, people do not want to be poked. It’s not funny. At all.”

      Can you get your spouse on the same page as you? If no, I am so sorry.

      Honestly, I would not invite them over. If I had to go to their house I would stay for a couple hours then leave. I am not sure if you are at their house or they are at your house. If they were coming to my house, I think I would start to invoke “house rules”. If mommy got mad and left, oh well. This is why it’s helpful to have the spouse on the same page.

      They do sound bored, I so agree with the people who mention this. I remember being the only kid in a room full of adults. My parents had me bring a bag of toys and I sat and played while the adults visited. It was very boring. Eventually, I learned to feel comforted by the adults laughing with each other. That helped somewhat.
      And I also relate to the kids through (not trying to be mean) my own dog. That dog’s switch was always in the ON position. Get him out of one thing and he would go into the next thing. I did not want to scold him all day long. I learned to use redirects A LOT. I redirected the dog to appropriate behaviors. So here maybe you could take the flashlights and show them how to make shadow animals on the wall. They have bunches of energy which is not their fault, so it becomes a matter of channeling that energy.

      Part of the problem I see here is you are in a very passive role. I do understand that too, it can feel like you have to entertain the kids. For the sake of peace on earth, this might be your solution to find clever things that you can show them to move them on to better behavior. Maybe you and your hubby could take them outside, sledding or something so they can burn off some steam. They just have way too much energy to be house bound.

      Growing up, I had a young family member who would go into people’s bedrooms and ransack the room. My parents’ solution was not to have the kid over for a few years until the child grew up some more. Once the child did return, rooms were closed off, meaning the child was not to open the door to that room.

      In short, next year, I would promise myself to be out of town during Christmas.

    13. Observer*

      It struck me that you allowed her to keep doing this to you for so long. Please, for her sake, DO NOT allow such behavior to continue. There are, of course, limits to what you can do, but that ARE ways you can respond appropriately.

      The first time the child pokes, touches, shines a light in your eyes, etc. you tell her “you cannot do that to me. If you do that you will not sit on my lap.” The second time, she goes off your lap. No explanations, no arguments. When she is in your house, if she is using something that does not belong to her to poke, prod, shine lights in peoples’ eyes etc. You tell her ONCE “You cannot use that to poke people. If you do that again I will take the thing away from you.” And the next time she does it, you take it away. No argument or explanation. The next time she takes something and pokes someone you tell her “I’m not going to tell you again – each time you poke someone, I’m going to take that away from you.” And then keep taking those things away, no explanations or arguments.

      Even infants learn very quickly with this type of response. She knows what she’s doing – she’s doing it because she can. Everyone is letting her do it, so it doesn’t matter what you say. When she keeps on getting stopped, her calculations will change.

      It’s a bit harder when it’s not in your or she is using something that belongs to her. I do think that when it is in your house you can take the thing and put it aside, telling her “You will have it back when you leave. In this house, you cannot use things to hurt people.”

      It’s actually important to minimize how much explaining you are doing here. The problem is not that she doesn’t understand. The problem is that she DOES NOT CARE! And, to be honest, no one has ever given her a reason to care. Instead, her parents seem to have worked on short circuiting her empathy, which is not a good thing. But it would help if she learned how to behave decently out of simple self interest.

      And this has nothing to do with being “crunchy granola” types. I don’t agree with a lot of that stuff, but I can tell you that most of the “crunchies” I know would NEVER allow this kind of behavior to go on without any effort to stop it.

    14. Lilysparrow*

      My own instinct would be to take the flashlight away because they can’t play nicely with it,and and (if it’s theirs) tell them they can have it back when they go home. If it’s not theirs, tell them “no more flashlight today.”

      That would work if the parents were reasonable and just laissez-faire or distracted.

      My main rules for correcting children are:
      Correct with consequences, not emotions: the appropriate consequence for poking people is not being allowed on their lap. Not a display of anger or a guilt-trip. (So, well done there.)

      Boundaries should be set & followed up long before the adult is anywhere near snapping. You have to stay ahead of it to stay calm.

      No threats (warning of actual, appropriate consequences is ok. No “nuclear” threats or idle threats). Follow thru should be quick and logical.

      No shaming.

      They are allowed to have & express feelings about the consequence. That expression must not include rudeness or retaliation. If they are so emotional that it’s disruptive to everyone else, they need quiet time in another room.

      Those work when it’s your own kid. They also work with other people’s kids, if they have basic respect for adult authority or if the parents will back it up.

      Most likely, if you did remove the obnoxious object, they would have a meltdown, which is likely to lead to Mom having a meltdown.

      Since you can only set boundaries for yourself, basically you have to decide which is more important: curbing the behavior or avoiding Mom’s tantrum?

    15. Mayor of Llamatown*

      Thanks to everyone for your advice. The gathering is over and I survived it. To answer follow up questions: the party was at my parents-in-law. Other adults were there. My spouse is completely with me on all these issues and 1000% supports my doing whatever needs to be done, whether is it speaking firmly, taking away toys, or giving time outs. And yes, both these kids are too old to behave that way. They are both very attention-driven so the thing that works the best is not giving them attention for bad behavior – hard, in a group gathering, but workable.

      As for how much we “allow” this – the kids live a long flight away from us. We see them once or twice a year. I wish we had more time with them to help instill better manners and be good role models. There really is only so much we can do when we maybe see them 5 days out of 365 in a year.

      In a cruel twist of fate, half the adults staying at the house (which does not include us, we live nearby) got a vomiting stomach virus. So, the need for all of us to keep hands to selves, not touch faces, and give personal space was at a premium and meant that the “do not touch me” messages could be firm. SIL was one of those sick, so kids were basically supervised by the whole lot, which also made it a bit harder, but meant that SIL was less picky about her kids being told “no” and “don’t”.

      As an illustration: I spent ten minutes repeatedly telling the little one not to climb on me to shove a toy in my face. Little one repeatedly tried to argue me that he just HAD TO. THE TOY WANTED TO BE HIGH. IT REALLY WANTED TO BE HIGH. (Oh, child. Me too.) For them, no never means no, and no is a rarity in any regard. They are sweet kids and we love our nieces and nephews but they are much.

      And yes, you read that right, we were commanded to attend a Christmas party where half the people were contagious with a virus that could cause vomiting. There’s so much more to unpack here, but that’s for another family gathering. Thanks for your help with this one :)

      (Side tip: my favorite method for dealing with anxiety-inducing situations is to pretend I am an anthropologist studying a different culture and that I have to take lots of mental notes for my peer-reviewed ethnography that I will later publish. It adds some hilarity and helps provide distance between me and the insanity.)

      1. Mother of a (mostly) well-behaved dragon*

        omg – I love your coping strategy. I have a difficult family-related trip coming up and I’m totally stealing it. I don’t know anything about anthropology but maybe there’s a book I could read on the plane. :)

        I feel for your niece and nephew. That’s a tough way to grow up because the world tells you NO! plenty, and it’s hard to hear if you’ve never heard it. And 3/4 are such tough ages – kids will test any boundary at that age and they need to learn that actions have consequences.

        My kid is well out of those years, but they were miserable. It sucked to have to carry him screaming out of fun places because he was behaving in a way that was dangerous or obnoxious. But the nice thing is that now, his behaviour is rarely an issue because he knows that behaving well means more fun.

        1. Mayor of Llamatown*

          No need to do a ton of research. Just imagine yourself as a Mary Kingsley or a Dr. Livingstone. Quasi-Victorian explorer in the Amazon or some other exotic locale works, too. One note I sent friends who were in on the story, by way of example: “The females of the clan vie for the status of matriach. Their tactics include subtle, negative comments on the eating habits of the other females whom they perceive as threats.”

          Even just making a non-emotional list of things to tell people later has helped me immensely in the past. It helps me feel like I have some distance and I don’t need to get upset in the moment. But the anthropology notes variation adds a level of hilarity.

    16. Indie*

      Kids do this stuff to test how socially acceptable it is. Kids who have vegetables for parents (hey, fellow teachers!) are looking for firmer lessons and truths about boundaries from others, usually people they respect. The most harmless and apt response is to deprive the attention-seeker of society. It is actually the answer to their question, after all: “No, this is your only warning. Do that again, to me or anyone else, and I leave.” Then go. Leaving the party entirely would be a decent lesson for the parents too, but going into a different room to get away from ‘you are not being good company’ behaviour would suffice if leaving altogether would be too much of a statement.

  6. NeverNicky*

    Best wishes from the east of England – we have had a lovely sunrise so the day is boding fair. Mr NN and I will be going out for our traditional geocaching trip before coming home to exchange gifts and cook All The Vegetables (no turkey, I don’t eat meat).

    We geocache on Christmas Day – what non-traditional traditions do you do?

    Whatever you are doing today, whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I hope it brings you joy.

    1. RUKiddingMe*

      Happy Christmas!

      Since I was about 12 years old, one of the first things I do is listen to John Lennon’s “And So This Is Christmas/War Is Over.” It keeps things in perspective for me.

      We used to have a tradition of waking up and making breakfast before anyone was allowed to open anything. When I was a child we just opened everything and there was nothing, and I do mean nothing to eat before the meal at like 1 or 2 in the afternoon. We couldn’t even go into the kitchen for some cereal and milk.

      When I had my son I reused to let him be hungry for hours, especially since many of those hours are just spent waiting because a lot of the prep work is already done and some stuff doesn’t get done until right before time to eat, so the rule was breakfast before presents. Since it had always been that way for him, he never knew anything other than waiting an hour-ish after waking up to open gifts instead of diving into them like a rabid wolverine.

      Son’s been gone for eight years now and even if he was still here he’d be 31 years old so I figure maybe with his own kids and way of doing Christmas morning that may not be exactly how he grew up….who can say? Husband is Muslim and Christmas is strictly secular to my little atheist self, so we snack, take a walk if it’s not raining too badly, eat more, play cards…oh and exchange gifts (one each).

    2. Ruth (UK)*

      Hey, I’m also in the east of England! I don’t really have any specific non-traditional traditions, but I don’t really have an overly traditional Christmas. I did my local parkrun this morning which did a special xmas day run, and a lot of people attended. I’ve done it for the last few years so I’d say that’s becoming a tradition. I will also be having a veggie xmas dinner later as I’m also not a meat eater.

    3. Nana*

      Celebrating the Jewish way: a movie (many good choices: Mary Poppins Return, the new RBG film, etc.) and Chinese food. Good wishes to all.

    4. Clumsy Ninja*

      We open gifts at our own house first thing in the morning (but have breakfast stuff ready soon after!), and we always go see a movie – somewhere between late morning and early afternoon, depending on what showings are available for whatever we picked to see.

    1. ..Kat..*

      I’m so sorry. If you are taking care of her, please make sure that you are taking care of yourself as well. Lots of hand washing, rest, good nutrition.

      If your mother seems to be getting worse (or just not getting better), consider going to the Emergency Room (USA terminology). Sometimes people get a superinfection (or acute respiratory distress syndrome) with the flu and need to be hospitalized.

      As a nurse, I tend to think of the worst that can happen. I hope that this is not the case for your mother.

      Good luck.

    2. MissTmasshole*

      My family Christmas was also cancelled due to the flu. My sisters 18month old twins got it over the weekend. Thank goodness for Tamiflu- yesterday only one had a fever! We do Christmas Eve with my family and Christmas Day with in-laws. Needless to say, Christmas Eve was postponed until next weekend.

      Thanks goodness I like my in-laws and they live close to my parents. They were still able to cook that full Christmas dinner they had already bought and started prepped for and had DH and my in-laws over for it yesterday. We got to FaceTime the kids and DH and I will also FaceTime them this morning before heading to in-law Christmas.

      Christmas is just a day on a calendar. Focus on getting healthy and celebrate after.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      UGH sorry to hear that! It seems like a lot of people get sick around Christmas. My friend has her ex-husband, adult daughter, her boyfriend and their infant living with her. All of them are sick. My friend had a cold and it started becoming bronchitis, which was caught early. She had to take her ex-husband to the ER the other night and it turns out he has pneumonia. Daughter thought she had the flu, but I think it turned out to be a viral infection. Boyfriend and baby also have colds. I feel bad for her. Not only because of being sick on Christmas, but because she was supposed to pick up her mom, who live 3 hours away, to come and stay. But they’re all so sick, no one could go. Plus mom is over 80 so it’s not good to subject her to all those germs anyway.

    4. dawbs*

      Ugh, I’m sorry and I’m with you.

      My poor kid got us up at 4 am with a impressive stomach bug- and she had a rather epic fail between the lofted bed and the wall which defies description in. So we’re (understandably) uninvited from christmas with the tiny babies and the immunicompromised older folks.

      And I also don’t have childcare for I’ve this sick tomorrow, so I emailed boss I won’t be in.

      But there were craft kits in the gifts, I think we’re making bath bombs this afternoon.

    5. Laura H.*

      That was me last year- thank god AFTER Christmas- but def take care of you too!!

      Hope mom feels better!

  7. L.*

    For anyone that meal prep, what are you cooking this week?

    My week is going to be insane, so I’ve already given myself a pass, but interested in what others are doing for inspiration for next week.

    1. RUKiddingMe*

      I only have this answer because I planned this menu while standing in line at the grocery store for three hours on Christmas Eve. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
      1 Largest possible supermarket rotisserie chicken.

      1. Chicken and rice, fried zucchini, tomato/onion, and cucumbers with lemon juice/EVOO dressing.
      2. Chicken tacos, left over navy beans (I don’t do pinto beans), chow-chow (I made a bunch at the end of summer).
      3. Chicken rigatoni, garden salad, garlic bread. Generic pasta dinner…
      4. Chicken pot pie. ‘Nuff said. Probably a side of sliced tomatoes and/or cucumbers.
      5. Chicken and dumplings, cucumber and onion salad with balsamic vinegarette.

      That’s *about all I can magic up with one chicken. Keep in mind though there’s only two of us and neither of us are huge eaters, though DH will eat like 5 tacos to my two. So adjust the amount of chicken accordingly.

      * IF I can stretch it enough I might do chicken cabbage rolls with celery sticks and french bread…but that would be really pushing how far the chicken will go.

    2. Red Reader*

      I’m making a big mac and cheese tonight, full of spinach and artichoke with chicken and bacon, and we’ll eat off that for at least a couple days. Probably a lasagne mid week, and pork chops with green beans.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      I did some over the weekend. I fried up a big batch of pierogies I had in the freezer, along with Italian sausage. That’s for my husband. I wouldn’t say it was meal prep. It was more like, “Holy crap, I have A LOT of pierogies in the freezer!” I also made a big batch of the Weight Watchers taco soup, but cut the broth in half to make it more like a chili.

      1. L.*

        I made a batch of what was supposed to be chicken chili last week, and it turned out to be closer to a tomato/veggie/chicken soup.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’d love to find piero is in my freezer. Ours biggest space hog now seems to be lamb…which we love and buy on sale & then forget is in the freezer so buy it on ssle…

    4. M*

      I am putting a giant pork shoulder roast in the instant pot this afternoon with cabbage following nom nom paleo’s kahlua pig recipe. I will shred all of the pork. Our meals will be:

      1. Kahlua pig,

      2. Sweet potatoes stuffed with shredded pork, bbq sauce, scallions, cheese and sour cream

      3. Pork ‘faux ssam’ lettuce cups: shredded pork with some korean bbq sauce, pickled veg, and rice mixed with chopped kimchi

      4. Pulled pork enchilada skillet

      5. Tomato sauce with lots of veggies and pork served over marscapone and parmesan polenta.

      1. ADKay*

        Ooh, I love Nom Nom Paleo’s recipes! I haven’t tried the kahlua pork but I’ve used her carnitas recipe several times in my Instant Pot.

    5. rubyrose*

      Soup sounded really good to me and I’m still exploring my Instant Pot.
      So I made a turkey breast with carrots, onions, celery. Took the breast out of the pot and for the first time cooked some pasta with green beans. Shredded some of the turkey and put that back into the pot, with some liquid.

    6. ADKay*

      I managed to score an elk shoulder from our local butcher shop, Salt and Time in ATX. A couple days ago, I braised it with white wine, porcini mushrooms (dried, but soaked in boiling water), veggies, and spices. I’m going to freeze about half of it, divided in portions. Thinking about lasagna later in the week.

    7. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      I’m making a big batch of Chinese cabbage soup for something kind of light after all the heavy holiday food. In a couple of days I’m also planning to braise some beef in a Mexican red sauce for tacos and burrito bowls.

    8. Jaid_Diah*

      I’m home for the week (longer depending on politics), so I finally broke out the bacon, potatoes, and eggs to make breakfasts.

      1. Jaid_Diah*

        Update: I cannot fry potato hash browns to save my life. That ish had to go into the toaster oven to brown… Sigh.

        1. MuttIsMyCopilot*

          Ha! I have the same problem. I can whip up plenty of more complicated things from scratch with no recipe, no problem, but I can not for the life of me make crispy hash browns or decent mashed potatoes. I’m that person at the grocery store with a cart full of all the most basic ingredients… and two tubs of microwavable mashed potatoes. I don’t even bother to feel bad about it anymore.

          1. Jaid_Diah*

            Oh, man, tell me about the struggle. I’ve tried frying dumplings before, too.
            Obviously I’m meant to be getting that stuff as take-out to reheat.

        2. L.*

          I keep telling myself I’m going to try to fry hashbrowns (well, most likely sweet potato hashbrowns), and felt guilty that I always talked myself out of it and repurposed the sweet potatoes. You have officially eased my guilt for never attempting them.

    9. WellRed*

      Trying to decide between asian chicken stir fry (kung pao sauce recommendations anyone?) Or my more familiar chicken fajitas. Also, maybe a batch of chicken chili for freezer and a new cajun corn chowder.

    10. Bluebell*

      I am out Wednesday and Thursday night this week and Friday we will have Shabbat guests. Just not excited about cooking tonight. We have a lonely bag of collard greens in the fridge but I’m not inspired.

    11. Will's Mom*

      It is just me and DH. Last week I made a large pan of manicotti. We ate some and I froze the rest. This morning, I made ham and potato soup and today I cooked a small turkey with dressing and lima beans, so hopefully, I won’t have to cook anything else for a couple of days. I also have discovered a frozen Tyson waffle crusted chicken tenders product that is actually quite tasty. You just heat them up in an oven for 20 minutes or you can microwave them and they still stay crunchy and they smell heavenly while cooking. We had that last night along with some reheated rice and veggies. Yummy

  8. Anon because embarrassing*

    My (grown) daughter said she saw me roll my eyes at something goofy she said. I hardly registered the action at all. Now in this case we were joking around, so no harm done, but it makes me nervous that I am not being as poker-faced as I hope I am at work, or with friends or relatives who have opinions that I might find ridiculous (like support of a current US president). Not that anyone has called me on this, but I am now feeling a bit uneasy. So I should probably just stop worrying, but has anyone learned how to keep up a good mask?

    1. RUKiddingMe*

      Close your eyes. Seriously this helps me from rolling them where others might see. Also lips closed, slight bemused smile and that thing we do when a little kid is telling us something super boring but we want our face to look like we’re interested? Kind of all together…practice, it takes practice and your annoyance can come off as actual interest in whatever dumb shit (ahem …support of the orange usurper) people say.

    2. Catherine*

      This is literally why I Botox my forehead. Stops my eyebrows from crawling up my face, reduces the visibility of my irritation or shock.

    3. gecko*

      Eh, your daughter probably keeps a closer watch on your face than anyone else you know, even now she’s grown. Plus you were feeling goofy.

      The only way I’ve found to maintain a mask is to save up mean thoughts or whatever for later, and to not let frustration overwhelm me—so internal emotional management stuff, not physical control.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I learned because of people who, like your daughter, told me what the look on my face was saying. And sometimes they got it sooo very wrong. They made crazy assumptions that had nothing to do with what I was actually thinking. This bothered me as I did not realize just how quickly people go to the most negative space in their heads and attach hugely negative meaning that I never intended.

  9. Daisy Avalin*

    Merry Christmas to all, from a frosty Norfolk UK!

    Finished night shift and arrived home, now off till Saturday night. Christmas at home with OH & Child, OH is in charge of cooking, so dinner will be (should be) lovely. He’s doing the turkey in the slow cooker this year!

    1. Possibly Enough Detail to be Identified?*

      Waving from Preston in Lancs!
      It’s more rainy than frosty.
      Merry Christmas!

  10. StellaBella*

    Merry Merry (Joyeux Noël, Buon Natale, Feliz Navidad) from Swiss-land. Today I’ve taken the doggo out for her early walk and am getting ready to go to snow shoe. I don’t really do Christmas but I like the lights and holiday markets. This week is a rest week off (only a little job hunting and a lot of sleeping and resting and cleaning and chilling out.) Hope everyone has a drama-free, illness-free, good-weather-filled, traffic-free, fun week!

  11. Kendra*

    My mom loves Harry Potter, and for Christmas I got her a parody of “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” called “Niffler, Niffler, What Do You See?” which has a bunch of animals from the Fantastic Beasts movie instead of the regular animals in the real book. An artist friend of mine made them and printed and sold a limited number of copies, so I got one. My mom doesn’t usually get surprises for Christmas, so I can’t wait for her to see this one!!!!!

    1. Snoring Pup*

      Anymore copies of the book to be found online? I can think of a few friends who would like that…

  12. Catherine from Canada*

    OMG you guys, my husband bought me a violin for Christmas!
    Seriously emotionally abusive childhood; too much to go into. A very minor incident involves the lead violinist of a philharmonic orchestra (can’t say where, it’s be too identifying) telling my parents I have talent and should be given lessons. My father said, “I’m not having that cat wailing in my house, nor am I spending the money on her. No.”
    I told myself at the time “When I’m grown up and can do what i want, I will get a violin and learn to play it.” But I grew up, and life happened and I never did get a violin.
    Husband gives violin along with explanation, “This is symbolic. You are overcoming them. You can overcome them. You are more than what they believe you can be.”
    I can’t quite wrap my head around this.

    1. ..Kat..*

      OMG. This is wonderful! On so many levels. Enjoy and play the heck out of your well deserved violin.

    2. StellaBella*

      What a great day for you, this is terrific. :) Violins are cathartic in many ways. Happy New Year, to you. Enjoy your lessons.

    3. rubyrose*

      So healing and affirming, on so many levels. Just let it sink in deep and thoroughly.
      What a great choice you made in a husband.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I am so very happy for you… I think I might need a kleenex here.

      You will have to let us know how your lessons are coming along. I bet you take right to it, like it was in your genes since birth.

    5. long time lurker*

      Oh my gosh. What a wonderful thing, and what a wonderful, thoughtful husband you have. And he’s right, you know.

      I hope you fill your home with beautiful music.

    6. Thursday Next*

      What a beautiful and thoughtful gift. Your husband is absolutely right: you can overcome them, and you are so much more than their limited and limiting beliefs. Enjoy the violin!

    7. Catherine from Canada*

      Thanks everyone, you are all correct, I have a lovely husband. A good man.
      The thing is, we’ve been married for 42 years (got married when I was 18) and lately I’ve been thinking he wasn’t really happy with me any more, that as I became more confident and independent, he didn’t like the change. The last couple of years been uncomfortable for both of us, but this tells that it’s been and will continue to be, worth it.
      There’s a music store a few blocks away, I’m going to take my violin there on Saturday to get it tuned and find out about lessons.
      (And we’ve made a deal, if I learn to play a Christmas hymn by next year, he will sing…)

  13. I Love Thrawn*

    I have found a new love. Florian Monteaneau, Romanian, who played Viktor Drago in Creed 2. He’s huge, gorgeous, a decent actor ( this is his second film), and a kick to follow on social media. Definitely a bit of a goofball. Reminds me a lot of a Rottweiler; big and strong and confident enough to be a playful goof because he knows he is the baddest thing in the room, doesn’t need to prove it.

    In other news, a work update: my church workplace has agreed to pay my 26 hrs of vacation so I don’t lose it Jan. 1.

  14. Akcipitrokulo*

    I have a grown up daughter at college and two sons still at school.

    Independently, they got me the same chocolates for Christmas.

    I might be predictable ;)


    1. Loves Libraries*

      I love chocolate so my husband and 3 children got me lots. I guess they didn’t know what else to get me. I’ll give better hints next year.

  15. State Employee*

    Work ?: how do long-time government workers cope with changing administrations? We have a new gov who basically ran on a platform of “state employees bad” and “must cut budgets” after experiencing significant cuts over the last few years. My job is protected, and my specific area of work is loved by all sides and required by statute. But my close colleagues do work that is more “controversial” or perceived to be optional. I’m frustrated and disappointed by changes in leadership, and am considering leaving. Part of me wants to stick it out, keep my head down, and eventually be the institutional knowledge I value in coworkers who’ve been around for several administrations.

    So how do people do it? Day after day, go to work for a governor who does not respect or appreciate you, and a population that elected them on purpose? Thanks for any wisdom or advice people have.

    1. Christy*

      *waves* Hi, I’m a US federal employee! Plus I work for an agency that everyone interacts with and few like. I’ve worked here for 10 years and this is my only post-college employer.

      I stay because I know I’m doing good, important work that helps people. I know I’m someone who cares about the institution of government. I know that organizational knowledge goes out the door every day with retirements, and I know replacements aren’t being hired for everyone who leaves.

      More concretely, I stay because I still have great pay and benefits, and I like most of the people I work with. And my benefits are so far quite stable. My wife just reminded me that your concern should be that your benefits may be slashed, and you likely won’t get raises during this administration, so that may differ for you.

      I’m part of the shutdown right now, and the recent lack of budgets has been the most annoying problem. But honestly I am 99.99% confident that they will give us back pay (because I can’t imagine how bad of a look it would be to not pay us over Christmas, plus we got Xmas Eve off paid (this typically happens via executive order only when Xmas is on a Tuesday) so like, Trump does follow some precedents) so I’m treating this as a bonus vacation. (Btw diagram *that* sentence, I know it’s a crazy run-on.) I know a lot of folks can’t take the financial hit of a furlough, but I can (particularly because I will likely get back pay), so I enjoy it, particularly because I have no power over it anyway.

      Plus I get a little perverse joy and pride out of being this “deep state” that protects the institution, I’m not going to lie.

      1. State Employee*

        I intended to mention all the fed employees not working or working for free right now. Thanks for hanging in there and dealing with this again.

        I’m less worried about pay/benefits (I have a union but also, it’s just not my biggest issue). I’m just high enough up in the chain to see our work be impacted by changes at the director/ commissioner/ governor level. And it’s gross.

        Outgoing guy isn’t of my party but he is a genuinely good person who was open to ideas and wanted what’s right for our state. New guy … is none of those things. He just wants to obliterate government, install absurd people as commissioners to make it dysfunctional, and undo progress made.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          From the outside, people like me appreciate those who carry on doing the things that need to be done, even if half of our fellow citizens don’t appreciate it. They will most likely come around eventually.

          My home town elected some very libertarian people a few years ago and many services were cut. The very same people who elected them complained constantly about it and have slowly passed legislation and elected people who are reversing those cuts. They will never acknowledge that they might have made a mistake originally but the end result is the same.

    2. Dan*

      You learn to ignore most of it. When that gets tough, you stick around for the paycheck. If the paycheck isn’t worth it, then you really should start looking elsewhere.

      What you should do is make sure your “skills” are up to date. That’s easier said than done, but you really want to be up to speed on the appropriate things if/when you have to peace out.

      One way I keep up to date is that when I go on vacation, I bring along technical books that are relevant to my field, but not something I have time or energy to focus on when I’m doing my normal work.

      1. State Employee*

        Thanks! I just finished a graduate degree last week (yay!) which def broadens my options if need be.

    3. Overeducated*

      I think it depends on the time horizon. Four years, for example, is a relatively small part of a career. Eight or twelve is a bigger one. I’m not sure at what point the calculus shifts, but a lot of retired civil servants I know have said you have to think long term and outlast the politicians, basically. I have only been in government through one administration change, and seeing how people figure out how to keep doing core work and focus in long term stability as the winds of fashion change made me appreciative of why a nonpartisan civil service matters.

  16. Arya Parya*

    I’m not in a good placemats right now mentally. My SO and I have a 6,5 month old daughter. She is doing great and so was I. But the last few weeks I feel like my bucket is overflowing. I think it’s a combination of end of the year stress at work and a baby at home, which is just lot of work.

    I feel like I’ve run into a wall and am constantly nearly overstimulated. Then when my daughter gets fussy, I just can’t deal. This starts to bleed through at work as well, which isn’t good.

    My SO is great. He takes on a lot at home and is very supporting of my needs. I’m also in a wait list to get professional help. My doctor thinks I might be on the autism spectrum, so that’s going to be tested. But it’ll be a few months until that’s gonna happen.

    In the meantime does anyone here have any advice on how to deal with the overstimulation? I try to get as much alone time as I can, but it’s hard with a baby. Right now I’m upstairs taking care of the laundry, but I’ll have to go downstairs eventually.

    1. Arya Parya*

      Apologies for any typos btw. I’m not in An english speaking country, so autocorrect is a bit weird.

    2. RUKiddingMe*

      This is so hard. I remember those days so well. The two best pieces of advice I ever got, and regret not paying enough attention to are:

      1) When the baby sleeps, you sleep. Forget the laundry, dishes, whatever. Sleep.
      2) Leave the house. If you need time alone, leave the house. Daddy/Grandma/Auntie love the baby and will take good care of it. Leave for an hour or so. Just walk around, get a soda or a coffee, window shop…whatever, just don’t be where it’s easy to turn your alone time into “their” (children, Dad, other family, friends, work) time.

    3. Akcipitrokulo*

      Two things helped me with baby…

      It is normal.
      It will pass.

      I found bedsharing really saved my sleep and a bit of sanity – not for everyone, but might be worth a try. Also during the day can be some quiet time for just the two of you – getting rid of other adults was a relief too!

      And don’t feel bad about escaping. You need to do what you need to do. If doing laundry helps, go for it – if it doesn’t help – meh, no-one’s going to die from unfolded clothes. It’s OK.

    4. Christy*

      As a practical tip, I’ve heard those weighted blankets are really helpful. They were originally developed for people with autism, too!

    5. Ranon*

      Is outside more stimulating or less stimulating for you? I find I have an easier time outside with my kiddo, even when he was a baby, because the kiddo energy/ noise/ etc. wasn’t just bouncing off our walls right back at me. Plus even when he was little being outside seemed to chill him out too.

    6. Observer*

      Some odd things that may help.

      If you have an office of your own, perhaps shut the lights using just a desk lamp. A white noise machine of head phones are another thing to try, especially if you are in a busy office. A white noise machine at home is better than headphones, because it cuts the amount of sound you’re processing, but lets you hear the baby if you need to.

      Think about what you wear – try to wear stuff that is smooth, and doesn’t pinch or poke you even a little bit.

      What I’m getting at is that you should try to reduce the normal “background” sensory input that is a normal part of life. Normally, that stuff doesn’t bother people, but when you are dealing with overload, any reduction can help.

      Also, if you’re showing signs that you may be on the Autism spectrum, it would be worth your while to be evaluated for sensory issues – the two things can look surprisingly similar and your description of how you feel points to that possibility.

    7. long time lurker*

      Mother of 2 with ADHD here. (Not autism, but ADHD and autism can have similar effects when it comes to being intolerant of overstimulation – especially when sleep deprived.) I have so very much sympathy; I’ve been exactly where you are, with my first child. Plus the guilt of not ‘enjoying every moment’. Her babyhood was mostly torture, tbh, even though I loved her.

      Some strategies:

      – Earplugs. Not the ones that block out all sound, but ones that make the world less loud. Babies are loud and aggravating. Allow yourself to turn down the volume.

      – if your SO is helpful, as you say he is, build in breaks for yourself. Be explicit and say ‘I have 30 mins of energy in me for this and then I am going to need a 30 min break.’ Set a timer if you need to. Difficult situations and overstimulation can be easier to deal with when you know they are time limited.

      – let go of everything except survival. Just get through that day. If you need to count down the minutes until SO gets home, do that. Just survive that day.

      – figure out something you can do where you are looking after the baby but not having to interact directly with the baby. If your baby is ok in the car (mine screamed), put her in the car seat and go for a drive. If not, stick her in a baby carrier and go for a walk. You can babble and chatter mindlessly to her while you drive or walk, but you don’t have to be directly *entertaining* her. I used to take 2-hour walks with my daughter facing out in the Baby Bjorn, just literally narrating what was happening around us. If it was sunset, I explained Brownian motion to her. If we passed by a bank, I explained to her how mortgages worked. She didn’t understand a word of it, of course, but it was a way to be with her and interact with her without having to *pay close attention* to her (which is super hard for me, see: ADHD).

      So much sympathy. I hope this is helpful.

      1. Jaz*

        I hope this doesn’t take away from the original comment, but could you explain a little more what helped you cope with the guilt from not enjoying the moments enough?

        I’m a newish mom (my baby is almost four months now) and I have PTSD, severe depression and anxiety, and D-MER. I started therapy a few weeks ago but had to quit after a week for financial reasons (money is tight because I can no longer work). I am struggling, to say the least. And at night, I lie awake feeling awful because I’m not enjoying my daughter’s infancy enough. I keep fixating on the idea that this part of life is slipping away and things will just get harder and harder, and then she will grow up and I will be dead and she’ll be all alone experiencing all the pain of life. It’s not the healthiest mindset.

        What helps? How could I cut down on at least a little guilt?

        1. TL -*

          Parenting is just like everything in life, right? You’re not going to enjoy 100% of it and there’s no reason you should expect yourself to. With relationships, work, hobbies, travelling, owning a house – all things in life, even though you may overall really love the experience, there are always going to be some parts that are a necessary slog and some that are absolute delights. Parenting especially – you go through so many different stages and it requires so many different things, it’s only natural that some things you’ll delight in and others you will find yourself doing for love of your child.

          It’s different for every person. My best friend loves the baby stage but she is struggling with her toddler and part of it is her expectation of enjoying all parenting versus the reality that she doesn’t like the toddler years (I love them, though!). My cousin is so much happier and relaxed now that her kids are between 4 and 10 – she loves the team sports and science fairs and having a house full of children playing (their friends come over a lot.)
          I don’t think my dad ever thought he needed to enjoy parenting – he definitely wanted kids and is a good parent, but his goal was to raise healthy, happy, functional adults. He enjoyed some of it (and was an active and involved parent always) but, looking back as an adult, I’m 99% sure he enjoys having adult children way more than he ever liked having kids. But he takes a lot of pleasure and pride in us now and I know without asking that he thinks all the unenoyable parts of parenting are definitely worth it.

          Plus – at all other stages of parenting, you will get more sleep. And that will make everything more enjoyable.

        2. Business Librarian*

          My youngest is 27 so I’ve had a lot of time to think about this. First of all, don’t underestimate sleep deprivation as a source of depression and anxiety. They use it for torture for a reason.

          That said, I hated to be the mother of an infant. They have urgent but difficult to understand (sometimes) needs, they create disgusting messes, and they can’t give, they can only take. I realize that’s a fairly stark appraisal and skips over the intense love I felt for my children at that stage. Also lately I’ve been reminiscing about the smell of their heads and the way they can seem twice as heavy as they actually weigh…but I don’t feel the slightest bit guilty about not enjoying that time. I loved other stages intermittently and was a much more relaxed parent when I could talk to them. And the joy when they could understand cause and effect!!! When your children are grown and you look back on all the different days and times you spent together there will be many that are a blur. Be kind to yourself, and remember there are a lot of myths about parenting and loving every minute (or appreciating it or remembering it) is a nasty one.

    8. Owler*

      Can you figure out a way to get a babysitter for some time out of the house with your partner? If money is tight, do you know another family that might be interested in exchanging babysitting and date nights? We used to do this with two other couples we met in a parenting group…one couple would go out, the other two couples would order in and hang out with the trio of babies. We all got a rotating social night and date night.

      Also, if there are any neighbors with 10-13 year olds who could be parent helpers, reach out and see if you can pay them a small amount to play with the baby while you focus on some downtime.

      And sleep is key. If either of you can be “on” for the evening while the other partner can tune out, I recommend trying to trade down time. My partner would do the midnight feeding so I could go to bed at 10pm, and then I’d do the 4am one. You are probably past the stage of feedings like that, but a similar trading of stressful time/restful sleep is important.

    9. Arya Parya*

      Thanks for all the advice. Sleep isn’t really a problem, she’s a good sleeper fortunately. It’s mostly getting too much input and not enough time to process.

      The guilt is also a big thing. Not doing enough, not enjoying enough. I’m just surviving. So glad to hear I’m not alone in that.

      I survived Christmas Day. I’m hoping it will get better after the holidays. Just getting back in a normale rhythm without big family of friend gatherings might help.

  17. AnnonKitty*

    Merry Christmas to everyone!

    This has been the year of “actually take AMA’s advice because you’ll regret it”. I remember reading on an older post long ago not to take contract work from your previous employer – I took the contract anyways. Yikes. While it paid ok and it helped because I didn’t stay in the job after I left them (too long of a story there tbh), it was ultimately just another bad move with an already not so great past employer. That contract period is finally over, but I’m worried I cant even talk about it due to the way the contract is worded and thats 3 months of relevant career experience gone that I wish I could talk about. I’m applying for other jobs atm, but currently unemployed.

    I know I shouldn’t be too worried since its the holiday season and ramp ups dont start until January, but I only have about 2 more months worth of bills I can cover from my savings before I actually need a job. So I’m also unfortunately keeping an eye on related but non-career typed jobs like retail (but in upper management for example) to apply to. I’m hoping I can pick something up in my field but I’m still nervous. I have a supportive bf who makes a good amount and he’s willing to help me out so that gives me some hope.

    I’ve been in worse positions before so it’s nothing new but this is the first time I actually left a job and put myself in this situation. Definitely if I ever do this kind of thing again (which I dont plan on it) I want 6-10 months in savings for bills.

    1. harmeg*

      Hello from another person job seeking literally today on Christmas (and was also doing it on Thanksgiving, and anticipate doing it on New Year’s Eve and Jan 1, etc. too) :-( It’s kind of a gloomy thing to do day in and day out, and definitely the bills don’t pay themselves but keep sending out applications and remember that something will move forward only if you try.

      Wishing you some energy and hope!

    2. StudentA*

      What do you mean “talk about”? Like, on your resume? In an interview? If so, that seems unreasonable. What field are you in? I have never heard of such a thing. Every job I take is another opportunity to showcase my skills on my resume and to build up my career profile.

    3. Harvey P. Carr*

      “I’m worried I cant even talk about it due to the way the contract is worded”

      Can you quote the exact wording of that specific clause in the contract?

      As StudentA already commented, that does sound unreasonable. And, taking what you said literally and without seeing the actual wording, one might infer that your post here, the one we’re commenting on now, might be a violation of that clause.

  18. Anon in the city*

    Hi all, happy holidays! This has been a tough year for me – my w*rk is driving me insane and my relationship has been under serious strain – we even moved apart a couple of months. Things are better now but I’m still sat now at Christmas and it all feels a bit empty. I have young kids so they are super excited but I feel a bit like ‘what is it all for/is this it?’ in terms of life in general. It feels like life is just a slog of work, housework, kids…and this supposedly happy season makes it worse. Can anyone relate?

    1. EinJungerLudendorff*

      Can relate. I’ve found that whenever i start questioning the meaning of my life or otherwise start doomthinking, that means i’m not able to cope well with my current situation.
      (Long post ahead)

      What helps for me is to do proper introspection (not the false introspection I do when doomthinking, that’s more trying to find things that are meaningless in the long run or things that could go wrong, which is basically everything).

      I tey to look at the things i’m putting tons of physical and/or mental effort into, and trying to figure out why they make me feel bad, or what i’m getting out of them and if that’s enough for me. Usually that helps to narrow the problem down. Then I try to think of things i can do to make things less miserable for me. Which can be anything from “ask help with this from x”, “stop caring about the Bananacrackers because they dont actually matter that much”, “stop expectong that I do a good job of this, and settle for adequate right now”, “stop trying to worry about x because I can’t fix that, just roll with the problems” and so on.

      No idea how much that could help you, but it works for me.

      Also, it sounds like you’re dealing with a lot right now, so just a reminder that not everything is important, and that you dont have to have jobs/relationships/holidays that you dont want.

      Also, holiday cheer is not mandatory. Life doesnt let up just because we say so, and you’re allowed to feel miserable during the Season Of Jolliness :)

      1. Anon in the city*

        I think you’re making points that are really important: I’m definitely an ‘I ought to’ kind of person that feels I need to soldier on no matter what. I’m working on changing that but it’s not easy, especially not on the big things where decisions are much tougher to make.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I called it the hamster wheel. Every morning I got up and stepped on to the hamster wheel again. Around and around I went, expending tons of energy, accomplishing nothing any importance, then it was time for bed and to start the whole process over again.

      I think these feelings happen to remind us to set goals, short term, medium term and long term goals. Know where we are going.We need to have it fresh in our thinking WHY we keep stepping on the hamster wheel each day.
      And it happens for a secondary reason. We are supposed to examine what we are doing and figure out if it is really worth our time doing it. And this one is just a good life habit. Let’s say every day you do X. But X could be handled differently so you only had to do it once a week. So you set it up in such a manner that you only have to do X once a week. Sure, it’s only a five minute time savings per day, but if you keep looking at what you are doing and stream lining your activities it starts to work into some meaningful savings of time. That freed up time can be used to work on life goals.

      Small to no consolation: Christmas used to be a very solemn event. No one was cheery. Fast forward to today, I hear more people complaining about Christmas than I hear people being excited by it. I think the joy is something that happens on tv commercials and not too much IRL.

      1. EinJungerLudendorff*

        Another advantage to doing X every week is that it saves mental bandwith.
        X might only take 5 minutes, but every day you have to think about it, fit it into your schedule, remember to do it, probably do some preparation and so on.

        And if you’re busy you might have half a dozen little things in the back of your mind, taking up a disproportionate amount of attention and stress.

        1. Anon in the city*

          You’re both right that I need to organise myself better so things take up less mental space. At the moment I feel that I’m either doing stuff, or thinking about stuff l ought to do/ought to have done better. I have a constant feeling of not doing things well enough – towards work, family, the kids, and it’s exhausting! And thanks for the reminder that x-mas does not have to be a happy time. I’m fully aware that the chirpy picture people put on Facebook is just that – a picture – but it’s easy to forget

  19. Loose Seal*

    RE: My cat

    I posted in an open thread this past summer about how our vet tells us our cat is a jerk and we need to work on that. (Link in my name.) Now it’s worse.

    We had to day board both the cat and the dog a few weeks ago when we were having flooring installed and when we came to pick them up in the evening, they couldn’t get the cat out of his cage. After he had drawn blood from everyone in the office, they ignored their no-clients-in-the-back policy and asked me to come get him. When I got back there, he was so upset and really aggressive. However, I think I could have calmed him down and retrieved him if the vet hadn’t stood next to me the whole time talking while waving her hands around (she was NOT relaxing). But since they were invititing liability by having me back there, she wouldn’t leave me in the cat room alone.

    What the vet eventually recommended was that we leave him overnight and she would come in the next morning and squirt Ketamine in his mouth and put him in his carrier after he was sedated. We agreed because, even though I was willing to just throw open the cage door and grab the cat by the scruff regardless of potential injury, the vet wasn’t down for that.

    Now the vet’s recommendation: apply to be on the TV show My Cat From Hell. So I’m doing that and making a short video to go along with my application. I’m hoping to pitch it as the cat seems normal at home but the vet can’t handle him (the vet and her staff are willing to be on my video and on the episode if we get picked) so I’m hoping that story will stand out with the producers as something more than a garden-variety mean cat.

    Does anyone have any experience with this show or can give me tips about how to make my application stand out?

    1. Best cat in the world*

      I don’t know anything about the show but could it be that the vets is the problem? Either something he’s experienced in the past there panics him or it’s just not a very calm environment for him (like you saying she stood there talking and waving her arms around while you were trying to calm him). I’m not suggesting the vets have done anything wrong, maybe it’s a personality mismatch, like humans get with their doctors.

      1. Steve*

        I would heavily second this.

        I recently interacted with an emergency vet that made ME tense and had no abilties to work with my cat calmly.

        It was especially concerning given that my cat doesn’t “fight”. He gives all the “look how big i am body language” but cowers or runs if challenged in the slightest.

        Even trained vets can have terrible bedside manner and not click with their patients.

        And i cant help but think it would be great free advertising for them to get on tv…

    2. CatMintCat*

      I don’t know the show, but it could well be situational, if he’s fine at home.

      I had a very sweet little cat (at home) who turned into an absolute demon at the vet. Any vet. Every vet record she had had “SAVAGE” at the top in big red letters – and she lived to be twenty so that was a lot of vets and a lot of record cards.

      It was just who she was.

      1. JaneB*

        My last cat was fine at the vets until she had an operation – after that, well, we had about six seconds before she became a whirling mass of teeth and claws and hissing. Fortunately I go to an excellent vets practice who were calm and kind throughout but it was very embarrassing, such a change, and lasted the rest of her life….

        1. CatCat*

          Yes, something similar happened to my cat. He had to undergo a lot of exams and procedures when he had cancer and he turned from being an easy going cat who loves everyone to a growling, hissing demon at the vet’s office. It’s clearly from anxiety.

          For a while, he would calm down if the vet took off their lab coats, but that stopped working. His vets and vet techs have all been women and I’ve thought about seeing if he might calm down with a male vet since that wouldn’t be associated with his past experience. I’ve also thought of getting a Thundershirt to help him calm down. It’s really bizarre seeing this behavior from a normally friendly cat.

    3. The German Chick*

      We need to pick up our cat every time he went to the vet clinic, it doesn’t mean that the cat is mean, just that it is worried. Sedating the cat to pick it up sounds insane and like a liability, since the cat could die and you could sue the vet. If the rules in the US are that you are not allowed to pick up the cat on your own, I would board it at a private cat hotel rather than a vet.

      1. TL -*

        If the cat really looks like s/he’s going to hurt someone, the vet isn’t being unreasonable. Cat bites are actually really dangerous and if the vet thinks the risk of the cat biting are unusually high then it’s well within her rights to push for something less dangerous.
        I don’t know if it’s the rules here, per se, but most vet clinics I’ve worked at don’t want pet owners back with the boarding animals – too much risk of people either bringing in diseases or provoking already-stressed animals. Boarded animals are usually brought to the front office in a cage or on a leash.

        From the vet’s assessment, the cat already having drawn blood from multiple people, and the OP’s phrasing (that they were willing to chance being hurt), I think the vet made the right call.

        Loose Seal, you can also ask the vet to be quiet/stand back for a few minutes. Even with my kitty (who is extremely well-behaved), I’ll ask the vet if we can do things specific ways to make it easier on her. They’re always happy to comply.
        I learned this with my horses, where the vets were really invested in keeping them calm and under control – if you know your animal and think there’s a calmer way to do things in a non-crisis moment, suggest it.

    4. Karma*

      It kind of sounds like the vet might be the problem if your cat is normally ok. Going to the vet can be stressful for any cat but most vets know how to talk quietly and calmly and get things over with quickly. Our vet is wonderful and they’ve done some sort of ‘fear free’ certified training. My cats don’t like leaving the house at all, let alone going to the vet, but they get in and out of there with very little fuss.

    5. Meh*

      I really enjoy My Cat from Hell, but I don’t really have any advice for how to get on the show (other than filming your cat being REALLY mean and some of the damages caused by them since all tv shows like showing extreme stuff). Though I will say that for a majority of the episodes I saw, the answer was to play with the cat more to tire them out (and if the cat didn’t like someone, that person needed to play more with the cat) or to make sure they had a “cat-friendly” home with places for the cat to climb. Since your cat behaves at home but not at the vet I’m not sure if they’ll have a solution but if you can tire out and calm the cat down it might help.

    6. KR*

      Is this the same vet as before? You need a different vet. It might help to find one that either does home visits (though that doesn’t help for boarding I’m sorry), a mobile vet, or one that specializes in cats. I can’t imagine a vet not knowing that cats can be temperamental to waving or standing right next to you and for goodness sake, if they’re so worried about having you back there they should make up a waver about you not suing over your own cat’s attitude. Signed, the parent of a spoiled little baby who is rediculously misbehaved and anxious at the vet and groomer and moderately behaved and loving at home.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      From the little bit you say here I do not like this vet AT ALL.

      The first vet I went to I was not impressed with and my dog gestured that he had a lot of upset. The last time he was at this vet. I had to lay on top of the dog in the car on the way home because he jumped on my husband who was driving the vehicle. This was so not my dog. I changed vets.

      The second vet I went to was worse. But the dog did not think so, the dog liked the second vet better.

      The last vet I got was THE vet. My dog loved him. The odd part here, was this vet was a BIG man, he filled the doorway and my dog was afraid of big men. Imagine my surprise when my dog went right up to this big man, he wagged his tail and licked the vet’s hand. I was stunned. I tried to explain to the vet, “no he is afraid of big men”. The vet did not see it.

      This is all to say, watch your animals’ reaction to the vet. They will tell you who to stay away from and they will tell you who is okay.

      With my current dog, I have vet-chiro who comes to the house. It’s $20 more for the house visit. Worth every darn penny. My dog joyfully cries when he sees her. Last time he spent a good ten minutes loving her up, licking her hands and leaning against her. (And she spent time time letting him do that. This is how he greets her each times she comes.)

      If you have not googled your vet, please google to see what comments people have about her.

      1. Loose Seal*

        She and the office always win the ‘Best of….’ contests each year that the local newspaper puts out. That’s why we chose them originally when we first moved here.

        I suppose I’m going to have to find someone else for the cat even though our dog is perfectly happy there. (And there are about six people who work there that I’d be willing to re-home our dog with if something catastrophic happened to me and my husband.) I can get a cat vet that makes home visits to come if I have no idea what we are going to do if I need to board him.

          1. Anony-turtle in a half shell!*

            I second this. My cat isn’t aggressive, but has high anxiety about being boarded. All the boarding places in the two cities we’ve lived in have been overly dog friendly to the detriment of cats who are high anxiety around them. (In her previous home, our cat was terrorized by dogs, so she is extremely frightened by them.)

            We finally gave up on boarding after she had a terrible experience at a backup place to the point that she freaks out if we even go to the car now. (It’s a work in progress…again.) We had discovered one excellent cat sitter who has now recently moved out of state, so we were scrambling to find a new one just a couple months ago. We settled on trying a couple cat-specific sitters from (very dog-oriented, but they do have cat sitters as well–even though they keep sending me emails about best practices for my “dog,” which is weird) and found one that we absolutely love. My cat doesn’t warm up to others quickly, but she didn’t even run from the sitter during the meet and greet. While we were gone, we were sent pictures of the cat walking over the sitter’s lap (something she has only done with me and my husband before, so this was amazing to see!), so we knew we found The One True Cat Sitter for our kitty.

            If we could get an in-home vet, we would absolutely do that, but we live in a small area and it’s not a thing here. :(

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I think this time a sitter couldn’t have helped because of home renovations that required the animals to be out of the building.

          3. FabTag*

            I agree! We found being boarded was a lot scarier for our pets than having a pet sitter come to our home. (Plus I was heartbroken when I realized my sweet kitty was being kept in a small cage for the entire week I was away.) When I traveled last month I had a pet sitter come to my home twice a day to give medicine to my cat, in addition to feeding, watering, and scooping.

    8. Zona the Great*

      My cat, whom I’ve named myself after on AAM often, is the meanest cat in the entire world and I’m convinced that Jackson Galaxy would tell me to abandon her in the wild. She’s an absolute terror. I’ve only had her fixed before but I think if I had to take her to the vet again, she’d need to be tranquilized. My Sabine the Very Mean is still my baby but I don’t think anything but time will change her.

    9. Mutt*

      So, not a cat, but my dog. Every vet had “cage aggressive” in her profile. They would also tell me she was aggressive with them when they were trying to trim her nails.

      Come to find out she has a fairly advanced arthritis for her age, and these people were literally hurting her when they were working on her. She did not have any means to defend herself. Now, even though it’s in her chart to be careful, I find that when they take her back for a nail trim, they don’t read it. So now I have to be sure to tell them Every. Single. Time. she’s there “please be careful bad arthritis, you will really hurt her by bending her ankles”.

      Perhaps these people are handling your cat and causing pain, and kitty is just trying to defend? Something to consider. Also might try a different vet to see if she’ll settle down in a different place? Good luck!

    10. tangerineRose*

      I’ve watched the show a lot, and most of the time, the people have to change either their behavior or something about the environment or both. Your vet might not be thrilled with this, but hey, it was the vet’s idea.

      Occasionally, the problem is related to a kitty health issue (physical or mental health), but the vet should know if your cat has a health issue.

      Trying a different vet might be a good idea.

    11. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Your vet is…bad.

      My cat from Hell is for cats with behavior issues AT HOME! It’s due to abused or neglected animals who can’t find peace in their regular environment. Jackson isn’t here to fix cats natural instinct to distrust and hate strangers grabbing at them to poke and prod and keep them confined to kennels at a boarding facility!

    12. Slartibartfast*

      Former vet tech 15 years’ experience. I know this is a late reply but I really hope you see this. I was thinking you need a new vet before you finished your first paragraph. Let me keep your cat overnight and drug it so I can handle him because he is freaked out?? Just, no. Start calling other vets. Ask if they do “fear free” visits/ handling. It’s going to take time, patience, and a whole lotta work to make this better. It might not ever be great, but having an owner in the cat room framed as a liability is a red flag for me. A vet should not be concerned about showing you any area of the clinic, as long as privacy is protected. Also, cat behavior specialists are totally a thing. The guy who hosts that show does not have the corner on that market. Granted, it’s harder to find a cat trainer than a dog trainer, but calling around to the vets in your area and asking about cat behaviorists/trainers would be a good way to break the ice and feel out other practices. Plus if you know going in what your cat is like, they really should keep your carrier in the cage with the cat. Yes some cats are arseholes at the vet (and I have owned a few) but this is not okay.

  20. Grand Mouse*

    Hello! The end of the year has been very busy for me. Some of my costs are going to go up significantly. But I’ve made big progress in many areas of my life.

    Here’s a more concrete situation. I work for the government, as in my company is contracted to provide services to government buildings. People get confused, but I am not a contractor, and I’m not a government employee either.

    Several people that I see quite often in the building pooled together a nice gift for me with a signed card. This has never happened to me in the workplace so I don’t know what to do. What a nice problem, huh? I’m wondering if I should report it to my company? I don’t see why I would need to but in my previous job I wasn’t allowed to accept cash gifts and I know things with the government have a whole set of complicated rules. Also, how do I reciprocate? As an adult on my own with a low income, gift giving to anyone has become complicated but in this case it’s even more complicated by a work dynamic. I’ve given a hearty thank you for the gift. Any suggestions?

    Happy holidays!

    1. ..Kat..*

      If you are not a government contractor and not a government employee, I don’t think you have a problem here. Thank the gift givers and enjoy the gift. Your thank you is enough reciprocation.

    2. Ashloo*

      I don’t think you have to give anything except a heartfelt thank-you in return, and I would check an employee handbook for rules on if you need to report anything. If you’re not employed by the government, I wouldn’t think you’d need to be concerned by their rules for gift-giving.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      If you cannot shake off the doubt by what people say here, then check with your boss to see if it is okay.

      You don’t owe them a thing in return. They are just thanking you for your help over the past year and wishing you a good holiday.

    4. Observer*

      Your company should have a gift policy for all employees. Check it out.

      As for reciprocating – just a thank you and maybe a nice card.

  21. It’s all good*

    I just want to express gratitude for Allison and this supportive community. I so wish this website was around since the start of my career. Alas it wasn’t, but I’m still learning. I have a lot of college graduations coming up and they are all receiving a copy of Allison’s book to help start their career and on the right foot. Merry Christmas to all who(m) celebrate!

  22. JaneB*

    Happy Christmas fro. An overcast Yorkshire. I love the quiet of Christmas day! Just finishing a traditional lie in and wishing you all a day full of things you like the most!

  23. ..Kat..*

    Ugh. I am working today (December 25). I don’t mind that. But I have to get up in two and a half hours and I cannot sleep!

    Happy Christmas to everyone. Please send me good thoughts to make it through today and take good care of my patients (I am a nurse).

    Felix Navidad, prospero ano, y felicidad.

    1. Triplestep*

      I am not a provider, but also work in a healthcare setting and I’m working today. (I’m Jewish and prefer to have a different day off rather than Christmas.) I am probably the only non-provider working today, besides the bare bones nutrition and engineering staff!

      Sending good thoughts to you and your fellow nurses at my workplace! You bring a lot of comfort to folks who find themselves hospitalized on Christmas.

    2. On Fire*

      All the Christmas best to you! My dad was hospitalized during his last Christmas three years ago, and the staff were wonderful. I took a big platter of baked goods up to the floor desk when we went on Christmas Day. I hope your patients and their families are all well-behaved today!

  24. Flash Bristow*

    Thank you for this thread, Alison – I was looking for a place to wish you (and everyone) well, but had no idea due to time zones etc. Festive greetings from the UK!

    I would normally be all excited about Christmas, but I’m really not. So many friends and acquaintances in my social media feeds have recently suffered bereavements or other sadnesses. So I just want to say…

    Firstly, thank you Alison for this blog. I hope I don’t sound like brown nosing, but even though I’m no longer well enough to formally work, I still learn a lot from it. I gave your book to my husband this morning :) and he’s in just the right role to appreciate it.

    Secondly, to everyone here – I wish you a peaceful and safe time. Whoever you are, at work or not, celebrating or otherwise – look after yourself and those you love. In some ways, today is everything. In others, it’s just another day. Best to all.

    I hope 2019 is good for all of us.

  25. Karma*

    Merry Christmas from Western Australia! It was a lovely sunny 35 degrees (Celsius, that’s 95 degrees Fahrenheit) today so I headed to the beach at 7am before going home to tidy the house in preparation for my parents-in-law to visit.
    We went to a restaurant for Christmas lunch which I highly recommend – no cooking or washing dishes!
    After lunch my husband and father-in-law watched Thor: Ragnarok while my mother-in-law and I slept. After the in-laws left we had a slap-up dinner platter of ham and some cheeses and now we’re going to bed super early.
    I’d love to experience a northern hemisphere Christmas with cold weather and ugly Christmas sweaters and stuff like that one day but be achy summer Christmasses are pretty great.

    1. Anonymous Celebrity*

      Sounds wonderful. If I am ever rich, I’ve decided that one thing I will do is spend my winter months in Australia or New Zealand and my summer months in the US or Europe, so I will NEVER have to experience winter. Your summer Christmas sounds lovely to me!

      1. Karma*

        I have a similar plan to win the lottery and live in Bali during our winter! I don’t like being cold so as soon as our daytime temps are below 15C I start to dream of being in Bali.

    2. Merci Dee*

      I’m in the southern part of the US, and our Christmases are not usually very cold. It was about 66 degrees here today (around 19 Celsius), so was very pleasant. I was comfortable in jeans and a tshirt. I would also love to have a snowy Christmas day one year, but I’ll have to go much further north to make that happen!

      Merry Christmas to you and yours, and a wonderful new year! :)

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      We watched Ragnarok on Sunday…and again on Christmas Eve at 2x speed at the request of our 12yo.
      :) I was a kid who liked to play records on the wrong speed so I totally get it!

    4. sam*

      Hello fellow west aussie! We’ve lived in Perth for years but just moved down to Margs this winter, so we had a peaceful day here, just husband and I. A few degrees cooler than Perth too, which I prefer (and today it’s raining! What!)
      We ate a lot and watched 90s movies and drank mimosas all day.
      We spent boxing day doing nothing, and then went down to Augusta for fish n chips dinner and a splash around the beach. So good.

      I’d also love to experience a northern hemisphere xmas. Ugly sweaters would be awesome, though at least we have ugly xmas rashies here instead, for those who are into that kinda thing!

  26. 653-CXK*

    Today, I’m having a Christmas Story dinner (Chinese food) with my mother, brother and SIL. We had our big celebration Saturday with all of my brothers, SIL’s, nieces and nephew. The older nieces got gift cards; the younger niece and nephew got cash (which they proceeded to wave around).

    Yesterday, as I was heading towards my local barbershop, there was a funeral in front of a church in my street. Rather than be rude and walk past it, I stayed there; the casket was about to come out. I looked on the side of the hearse and the person who died was from the Army. I saluted the casket as it came out of the church and backed up as the pallbearers loaded the casket into the hearse. The son, already distraught, took me aside and shook my hand, thanking me for honoring his father. I told him I was sorry for his loss, and then I went on my way.

    I didn’t know the man, but for me, it was a no brainer to salute his casket, and honor his memory and his service. While it is heartbreaking for a death to happen during the holidays, it’s also educational – life sometimes forces us to pause and reflect on reality.

      1. 653-CXK*

        I had family in the services (grandfather and uncle in the Army; uncle and father in Navy, another uncle in the Air Force, cousin in the Marines), so it was a no-brainer.

        We came back an hour ago from the Chinese food place; nobody was there, it was piping hot and it was delicious! My mother didn’t want to cook, so my brother suggested the place they usually go to once in awhile.

    1. Rebecca*

      That was so nice of you, and I know it meant a lot to the family. When my Dad died, his fire company took him to the cemetery on the top of his engine. The highway workers opened up their construction zone for us so we didn’t have to detour or wait, and took off their helmets and placed them over their hearts. Along the highway, after we went under the ladder trucks, the workers at our feed mill came out on the loading dock and took off their hats. The feed mill cat even came out with them. I’ll never forget those things, and it meant so much to us. You are wonderful for doing this.

  27. ..Kat..*

    Tipping advice in the USA. I regularly tip 20% when I eat at a restaurant and for my hairdresser. I tip valets (for my car). But I am flummoxed about some other tipping. Do people really tip their hair stylists at Christmas? And if so, how much? I regularly see my hairstylist for an appointment that costs $150. And I tip 20%. Am I also supposed to tip at Christmas? And if so, how much?

    And what about tipping United States Postal Service employees? They are government employees who earn a lot more than I do. I thought government employees were not allowed to accept tips.

    Please help.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I never tipped our mail carrier before; however, so many people I know do it that I started a couple years ago. I either put $20 in a card or gift them a gift card for food. I definitely tip the FedEx driver. Mainly because I order cat litter to be delivered every four weeks–four 40 pound bags! And the poor guy looks to be in his 70s and has to carry the bags to the door. (We’ve repeatedly told him to leave them in the driveway so he doesn’t have to lug them, but he said he doesn’t mind. He’s said he’s just glad we don’t live in an apartment on a top floor with no elevator.) I give him $25-$30 usually.

      I honestly never thought about tipping my hair stylist outside of when I have a haircut. I go to Super Cuts, though, so I never see the same person.

    2. Llellayena*

      I don’t think mail carriers can accept cash (or similar). I recall being told that if you get them something it should be non-cash, like chocolate? There’s probably a bunch of “how to tip at the holidays” articles online if you need a reference.

      1. Natalie*

        That’s right, regulation don’t allow them to accept any cash or gift cards, and gifts are supposed to be under $20. That said, every mail carrier I’ve had has accepted gift cards and seems to be perfectly happy with a nominal amount like $10-20.

    3. ThatGirl*

      We give our mail carrier a Target gift card every year. Just seems nice.

      I tip my hairdresser extra, but it should be based on your budget and relationship with her. Even a card with a small gift card might be nice.

    4. Sunny*

      I tip my mail carrier generously because I have an Etsy shop and use home package pickup a couple times a week. Plus, she’s awesome and always cheerful. I catch her on her rounds the week before Xmas and put cash into her hand with thanks. But if you’re on a regular mail route with no special postal needs? No need to tip or gift.

      I tip my hair stylist $60 — the approximate cost of a haircut. I enjoy seeing her and she’s an artist at making me look good. I think any gesture to a stylist is appreciated, but if you can’t afford it, give a card thanking him/her for keeping you lovely all year.

      I also tip our cleaning person, who comes once a month, a nice amount but not equal to the cost of a visit.

    5. WellRed*

      For my hairdresser, no extra tip but if I have an appt right around Christmas I round up the tip more. Like I might tip $40 instead of $35.

    6. bunniferous*

      I gave mine approximately the equivalent of a hair appointment (but mine are less than yours.) In my case she was recommended by a friend a year ago and I LOVELOVELOVE her-she gets my hair! Plus going to see her is like visiting a friend. The stylist I had before her always acted bored and as if she was just putting in her time.

    7. Nana*

      I love my hair stylist…and tip her the cost of a haircut [the only service I get]. Once a year, I can be that generous. USPS gets $20. Newspaper delivery (once a week) gets $10.
      When I worked at a non-profit, we gave ‘our’ FedEx, USPS and UPS drivers a can of flavored popcorn or a big box of cookies ($10-12 each).

    8. Harvey P. Carr*

      “what about tipping United States Postal Service employees? They are government employees who earn a lot more than I do. I thought government employees were not allowed to accept tips.”

      Here’s the official USPS employee tipping and gift-receiving policy.

      All postal employees, including carriers, must comply with the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Exec­utive Branch. Under these federal regulations, carriers are permitted to accept a gift worth $20 or less from a customer per occasion, such as Christmas. However, cash and cash equivalents, such as checks or gift cards that can be exchanged for cash, must never be accepted in any amount. Furthermore, no employee may accept more than $50 worth of gifts from any one customer in any one calendar year period.


    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’ve always left a small amount for the postal carrier but this year the new house we’ve had so many delivery problems I’m not going to. I don’t mind letters for neighbors, but we’re getting mail for addresses 8 miles away on the other side of a major river.
      And yet I feel guilty…

  28. anon24*

    Merry Christmas to those who celebrate and to everyone else, Happy Tuesday!

    I’m working 12 hours today and my body just does not want to be awake. Gonna be a long day.

    Hope everyone has a safe and happy day

  29. stump*

    I just want to mention that your cats are adorable, Alison. :) I pretty much never participate in the open threads, but I always appreciate seeing your cats when the weekend rolls around.

  30. Not-So-Secret Santa*

    Forgot to post this on Friday, and some of you might get a kick out of it. Changing my name because it could end up being too identifying …

    I work in a large organization in an internal “service provider” kind of role. My boss decided that we were going to give holiday gifts to our internal clients the same way vendors send Christmas baskets to say “thanks for the business”. She purchased goodies from our office supply catalog, and said we’d wrap them up festively and pass them out as a way to say thank you.

    If you’re rolling your eyes at this, you’re having the same reaction my teammates and I did. We’re not vendors; our internal clients don’t have a choice about working with us, nor do we have a choice about working with them. Some projects go better than others, but there’s no question we’ll work with our internal clients – we are stuck with each other!

    This gift (the contents of which the recipients could simply order themselves from the office supply catalog) feels like an apology or a peace offering. As if we’re not confident in the service we provided and are saying so, which is not the way any of us feel. It’s not normal in our industry to do this, and as one of my teammates put it, they should be giving us gifts! (Our internal clients can be very demanding, and it’s kind of a thankless job.)

    The best part of all? My boss left for vacation without bringing in the gift wrap, ribbons or tags. Before leaving she asked me to assemble the gifts and deliver them (probably because I’m the only other woman here). Yay.

    1. Marthooh*

      “Sorry, boss, I didn’t deliver the gifts because I couldn’t find the gift wrap! Where did you put it?”

    2. WellRed*

      Annoying on many levels, especially the wrapping. However, you may be overthinking how it looks. I doubt anyone will think “they must be apologizing and unconfident.”

  31. The Other Dawn*

    Merry Christmas to all!

    I’m trying to figure out what to do with my day. My husband is working a double shift–7 am to 11 pm. We had our Christmas dinner last night and opened presents, so it kind of feels like Christmas is over already. I made steak on the grill, bacon-wrapped scallops (first time making them!), au gratin potatoes and green beans. I, of course, forgot I bought a small cheesecake so no dessert.

    I’m going to my sister’s house for a late Christmas breakfast and I’m making French toast casserole to bring. She’s taking her foster kids to the movies afterwards. I likely won’t go since sitting in a movie is hard for me these days with my back problems. I had planned to just come home and putz around, watch Christmas movies I missed this year, and maybe do a little online shopping (this is when I buy all my Christmas decor for the following year). But now I’m thinking it might be nice to drive up to my husband’s work (an hour away) and have a late lunch/early dinner with him, assuming I can find a place that’s open. I’m thinking the only restaurants open today are the ones who are having a Christmas brunch or dinner, or maybe Chinese restaurants. Chinese would be good, I guess.

    1. Loopy*

      I live in a smallish city and was shocked at the list of places open. We have a local blog that published a comprehensive list. Might be worth googling “Restaurants open in [town name] on Christmas 2018”

      Yesterday my fiance worked and I just enjoyed the day to be lazy and read and putter online.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Thanks! Normally we have Christmas dinner at someone’s house, but my sister decided she wanted to do breakfast this year, which is a nice change, but it stinks that it’s the same day my husband is stuck working 16 hours. Leaves me kind of bored. It seems like every holiday is different now that both my parents are gone, and my in-laws don’t follow any kind of tradition at all when it comes to holiday planning. They’re quite disorganized and haphazard about most things in their lives. They typically decide the night before to tell us they’re cooking a holiday dinner. Yesterday afternoon we find out they’re making Christmas Eve dinner and no one thought to let us know. Their own son! And then his niece is wondering why we can’t make it. Well, we live 45 minutes away and already have our dinner defrosted and ready to cook since we didn’t know there were any plans. I like my in-laws, actually, but not one of them plan anything ahead. Doesn’t have to be weeks ahead, but at least tell us a few days ahead of time that you’re making a big holiday dinner so we don’t make other plans or at least have some notice. And because it’s never the same schedule from year to year, it’s not like we can really plan on setting aside a general time frame. Drives us both nuts.

        1. Loopy*

          That would drive me absolutely nuts as well! I am a planner by nature. Sorry to hear about the Christmas Eve thing, hopefully going out for a lunch/dinner today works out for you!

    1. Triplestep*

      Hello, fellow Member of the Tribe!

      Chinese food was last night – today I am at work because I work at a hospital, so 24/7/365. I am blissfully alone, as I was yesterday. I am cleaning and filing – feels great!

    2. Book Lover*

      I’m on call today but should be fine, I think. It is laundry and sniffling/sneezing/coughing day I think :(. But a day off, sort of, anyhow :)

    3. alex*

      Yeah, and I work at an Orthodox institution that’s open in regular mode. Much of the maintenance and security staff celebrate Christmas and still have to work, and I feel kinda sad for them; at least they get time-and-a-half, but part of me thinks we should just close on their behalf (and so I’d get a random day off tbh). We get PTO for almost a month every fall, though, for the high holidays and Sukkot, so… Anyway enjoy your day and the movies; I want to see Mary Poppins ASAP!!

    4. rubyrose*

      You bet!
      I converted about 15 years ago. I love Christmas now! No stress, no expectations.
      I have food here at home and had just planned on that and TCM today, but you know, I might check to see if my favorite Vietnamese restaurant is open…

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      My partner grew up in a Christian home, so I have had to do Christmas for several years now. I miss my Chinese-and-a-movie Christmas days SO MUCH. A true day off from the world!

    6. Thanks For Nothing*

      Here too. No chinese food though. Spouse started pulled chicken overnight in the crockpot last night so we’ll be eating that all day today and I’m personally planning to finish watching Looking while spouse and kids binge watch Trollhunters and . . . . things. I have 0 f*ks to give at the moment (posted separately) and have migrated from bed to couch and back again less than a handful of times in the last thirty six hours. By tomorrow, I’ll feel capable of participating in human society again.

    7. Blarg*

      I live in a medium size city where everything closes. Like, everything. It’s insane. I want to move just because I can’t get Chinese food today. I used to work in a hospital so I could at least make a ton of money volunteering to work on a day I didn’t care about. Now it’s just a bonus Tuesday off. Which I’ll take.

    8. Jaid_Diah*

      I dunno about movies, but I definitely got international take out the other day. Mmmm, Egyptian Fried Chicken, dumplings, empanadas, meat skewers… I got lunch and dinner set.

    9. Bluebell*

      Yup! Chinese food last night, yoga this morning, maybe Indian food or a movie later today. Always a nice relaxed day in the midst of a busy season!

    10. Thursday Next*

      We’re “Hinjus” (Hindu and Jewish), so today will be a movie and Indian food. I’m not sure the kids will want to go out, though; no one has changed out of pajamas. We might just settle for a video at home. It’s the 8-year-old’s turn to choose the video, though, so wish us luck…

    11. Nana*

      Funny, I just made the same comment on another thread! I worked for a Jewish non-profit for ten years. Fall was (often) full of four-day weekends (Shemoni Atzeret, anyone?). A member of the Board pushed back on it one year, but we did close Christmas Day, because it’s a legal holiday here in the USofA. [And no push-back for others who wanted their religious days off, either…Good Friday, Eid, whatever.]

    12. Nervous Accountant*

      Muslim and don’t really “celebrate”. I’ve travelled on/around this day the last few years. This year I’m home on the I Enjoyed waking up late, made myself a lovely meal of steak & biscuits, did a few things to prep for the week ahead. Got my Starbucks fix, but my evening plans went to crap. Oh well.

    13. Ann O.*

      Yep! We did Chinese food for lunch but no movies. We just saw one on Sunday. Also, I teach fitness part time and still have class to teach. Not sure if anyone will be there, but I’m happy to teach if they are!

  32. Loopy*

    Happy holidays everyone! I am about to embark on some holiday brownies that may or may not work (layer of condensed milk in the middle seems to not *stay* in the middle for about 50% of recipe reviewers).

    I want to keep baking and trying new things but don’t have enough people to feed my baked goods to. My fiance is getting overwhelmed and most of my friends are trying to be healthy. I don’t know enough about professional food safety/have an approved kitchen/am not consistent enough to sell my baked goods yet. I’m searching for a way to continue baking without pushing sweets on people in my life. Any ideas? I thought about asking around to people I know if anyone has any birthdays/celebrations in their life if they wanted to take some baked goodies for that. I’m also worried it might even backfire if I just bring things into the office I will become Loopy-who-bakes not Loopy-the-competent-professional!

    1. Lcsa99*

      Between my husband and I we’re able to bring stuff to our offices and between the two it doesn’t seem like we’re bringing stuff in all the time. It spreads it out. Most baked goods freeze well too so you can save them for a special occasion or eat just a little at a time.

      We did special brownies last night too. A layer of dulce de leche between brownie layers and a layer of nougat on top of it all, with sea salt and chocolate chips sprinkled of top followed by a drizzle of ganache. I think the dulce de leche mostly got sucked into the brownie, and I am not sure it baked all the way through but it is a wonderful mess and the sea salt just puts it way over the top.

      This afternoon we’re gonna make zeppoles and these fried rosette cookie things that sound amazing.

      1. Triplestep*

        Yes, to freezing! There are typically baked goods in my freezer if I want to bring something to an impromptu gathering.

      2. Loopy*

        What type of goodies freeze best? I’m always so wary of not getting the right texture after defrosting that I’ve never tried freezing. And due to low freezer space. Oh how I wish I could send baked goods to fiance’s work but he’s in upscale dining, they’ve got fancy foods everywhere.

        1. Lcsa99*

          Pretty much anything freezes. Maybe nothing with a cream filling. I’m not sure. You can always try putting half of it in the freezer and see what happens. That’s usually our last test for Christmas cookies each year. Half in the freezer, half out and see how they age over time. If you don’t want to bring it in to work and don’t want to eat it all then you’ll end up tossing anything that didn’t last, regardless so tossing it in the freezer won’t hurt.

          1. fposte*

            I’d also say for most baked goods the freezer is better than the fridge–the fridge is the worst temperature. So don’t judge by any fridge effects.

    2. Triplestep*

      I think whether or not you become “Loopy-who-bakes” depends on your age and gender, sorry to say. My husband bakes and started doing it in his thirties. He’s in his late 50s now, and he can get away with it without anyone questioning his competence in his job. (Plus I get to give out his cookies, which raises my stock for being a woman who is married to a man who bakes.)

      I don’t think you’re wrong to consider what your hobbies say about you. My husband started to bake because he enjoyed it, but giving out baked goods helped him develop his lacking social skills and made him known for being something other than “that awkward bookish guy”. (This was before people understood as much about introverts as the general public seems to know today.)

      1. Loopy*

        I am a 30 year old female who works with a LOT of males in a fairly male dominated field. So, it is sadly dangerous to become Loopy-who-bakes. Part of me doesn’t want to care but part of me already does. Alas.

    3. hope is hopeful*

      Do you volunteer? I used to bring stuff to my volunteer job regularly. You could bring stuff into work every so often (ever other month, every quarter) esp if there is a bake sale/charity event.

      1. Loopy*

        I volunteer but it’s Saturday mornings, so baking for them is hard since I generally do it Saturday afternoon into Sunday. I would love to bring baked goods there more regular, it’s just so hard to do it during weeknights!

        1. Autumnheart*

          Things like brownies, cakes and cookies generally freeze well. I’d bake on the usual day and then bring them in the following weekend.

          That being said, the basic answer to not becoming Loopy-who-bakes is to…bake less. Sad, but true. Or, make half-batches or quarter batches if you’re trying to perfect a recipe. (I’ve been there.) I like to bake, and we have several bakers around the office (men and women) as well as people who bring in store-brought goodies, and generally if you’re only doing it a handful of times per year, then you don’t turn into “the baker” instead of “the competent professional”. If this is something your team culture would enjoy, having some fun events like bake-offs or chili cook-offs is also a good way to make it into a collaborative thing.

          Several years ago, I branched out to making “artisinal” (read: homemade) ice cream. Ice cream is surprisingly easy to make, though it can get expensive when using high quality ingredients ($20 for a 2-quart batch). But boy, do people go nuts for really good ice cream, and they look at you like you’re a veritable magician. It’s also great for parties because you can make a baked item and an ice cream to pair it with.

    4. Alianora*

      My parent’s church has a charity auction where people volunteer their services. A lot of people offer cooking or baking — eg, 3 soups or a basket of cookies each month. Maybe you can find something similar.

    5. Cassandra*

      Who runs bake sales in your area? I’d bet that among local schools, churches, and charities, you can find useful outlets for baked goods.

    6. CrazyPlantLady*

      Maybe look into this organization:

      I’ve found that most cookies, brownies, and cakes freeze well. In fact, I try to keep a loaf of banana bread or pumpkin bread in my freezer to pull out when invited to someone’s house for a last minute dinner.

      You can also check with your local firehouse, police department, or senior center to see if they’d like donations of home-baked goodies.

      1. Scarlet*

        What a great suggestion! There’s a local organisation that does something similar, and coordinates delivery of baked goods to various places like volunteer organisations, soup kitchens and shelters, the lodge by the hospital where families stay when they have a kid in there for a while, women’s refuge, etc. Just a little bit of comfort for someone in a tough spot. Doing it through an organisation, or by arrangement, means the recipients aren’t getting something they can’t use or aren’t prepared for (or might not trust!), but there are bound to be plenty of folks out there who would have their day brightened a little by a sweet treat.

    7. Wishing You Well*

      Lots of great ideas in the comments above!
      One thought: would you consider baking savories instead of sweets? Things like scones, muffins, etc. that take herbs/spices/whole grains? (I don’t know if they would freeze well…)
      Keep baking!

    8. Nana*

      Many non-profits won’t/can’t take home-made anything. But my local firefighters are delighted when I bring in left-over treats. [If they’re not on a disposable plate/platter, they’ll even wash the plate while I wait…and oogle the oh-so-cute firefighters–I’m a Little Old White-haired Woman, so I can do that.]

  33. Scrooge*

    I hate Christmas! I am single and childless and not by choice. Everyone around me has good marriages and children. This holiday only serves to make me feel like an absolute failure and it can’t get over soon enough. Social media is full of families and every tv show and movie is filled with the message of family. Even the music at my gym was “If you don’t have somebody, you’re nobody.”

    My parents love me but I always feel like an odd duck with the siblings. I would go on vacation but my work schedule doesn’t allow it. I wish I woke up sick this morning to just hide from the entire day.

    Here’s hoping this day ends quickly.

    1. Triplestep*

      I’m sorry :-(

      It might help to keep in mind that what you see on social media is only what people want to show you; yes, those people have something you want (partners, children) but their lives are not as perfect as their Instagram or Facebook photos would indicate.

      I had a similar conversation with a young person last night; she was feeling like the odd one out because her social circle was made up of people who all had jobs they liked even though they just graduated college, and were all happily coupled, and all the couples got along. I remember being her age, and even though she was not asking for advice, I mentioned that sometimes things aren’t what they seem, and sometimes people stay in situations that look good on the surface because they don’t want to be the one to burst that bubble. She then started talking about how one of the couples was on the brink of breaking up, and another couple is totally mismatched and fights all the time.

      I’m not suggesting that your married friends are unhappy and/or divorcing; only that things you compare yourself to aren’t always as they seem.

      1. Scrooge*

        I know that no one is completely happy and everyone struggles but that doesn’t change that the one thing I’ve wanted more than anything is denied to me while the rest of the world gets some aspect of it. Christmas just highlights it in an unbearable way.

    2. Jb in Norway (formerly an OP5)*

      I didn’t get married until I was nearly 40. We were married in March of this year and separated the first part of December. I’ve wanted a child and it isn’t happened for me. My 5+ years younger siblings are married with children, and it’s sad to be the only one at my parent’s house on Christmas Eve. You aren’t alone.

      On days like Christmas, it’s especially tough because we’re fed specific advertising messages and confronted with all family, all the time. Try to remember that we’re each on our own path and just follow yours. There’s no race or winner. Hang in there.

      1. Dan*

        I was married at 30 and separated at 33. I’m almost 40; I think the big difference between me and most other people is that I don’t give two shits about whether I get married again or not. I get to live my own life and do my own thing, and there’s something to be be said for that.

    3. Dan*

      Sorry you couldn’t get away from work… ‘cause that’s what I did. I took a whole month to travel 12 time zones away.

      TBH, I hate most holidays in general. My ex was a big holiday person, and acted like everything always had to be done up to the nines. Me, I hate that crap. Don’t get me wrong, I can enjoy a holiday, but I’m not in the “it must be the best holiday ever” camp.

      These days, I prefer low stress/low headache events, so I’m happy to get away and do my own thing.

    4. fposte*

      If you do go on social media, have a look at the #joinin hashtag on Twitter; it’s huge, and it’s people who struggle at the holidays getting together virtually. (Twitter comes into its own at Christmas, IMHO.)

    5. Llellayena*

      I’m sorry. I’m also single and childless at an age where that is unusual. In my case I’m surrounded by other “unusual” people so it doesn’t feel odd. If you have some single friends, maybe you can meet up with them for a movie or something?

      1. Lora*


        I’m an Old (also single and childless, but not particularly bothered by it as much as other people think I should be), and my best advice to you is to get together with all the other people who are also by themselves for the holidays. I know you said you can’t get vacation, but can you do a day trip to go skiing/beach? Are there any hobby type events you can organize? I guarantee there are people whose family are far away or estranged or whatever, who don’t have anyone to spend the time with, you just need to find them. In my area there’s a lot of expats from halfway around the world and their big holiday was in September; they won’t be going back for another couple of years or whatever, so I hang out with them. There’s refugees who will never be able to go home for the holidays, can you volunteer to hang out with them and cook dinners or something? Some of my friends are not poor refugees, in that they left their country while their money was still worth anything, before hyperinflation happened, so they are comfortable with a place to live and food to eat – but they can’t go home and their relatives were murdered. So we hang out at hobby type events (dancing, foreign language classes, get together for dinner etc) over the holidays. That way none of us is really alone, we get to spend quality time with interesting and fun people.

        I mean, having been married and having to help parent a large extended family worth of kids, I can tell you that I vastly prefer to Netflix and drink wine on the holidays. Peace and quiet is a lovely gift.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I feel your pain–it’s the My Sister Show around here and I’m just in the corner with my computer and phone. Luckily, I have a friend I can message when it all gets too overwhelming.

      I entertain myself with daydreams of showing up next year with a three-book deal, a large advance that earned out immediately, and a super hot fiance, LOL.

    7. Chaordic One*

      Also single and childless. I’m visiting my elderly parents. They’re both in their eighties and I’m not sure how much longer they’re going to be around and I feel a bit guilty if I don’t spend the holiday with them.

      I’ve also been watching reruns of Dr. Who on TV. The new annual Dr. Who Christmas special has been postponed until New Year’s Day, Drats! But the reruns are quite good. (O.K., they’re a bit silly, but they’re generally well-written and fast-paced and good fun to escape into.)

      Anyway, I really like having time to myself and I certainly don’t feel lonely.

    8. Gatomon*

      Sending internet hugs. This day/all “Hallmarked” holidays are hard for many of us. I can’t remember the last time I looked forward to a big holiday. Thanksgiving in particular hit me hard this year. Please know that you’re not a failure, and that there are SO MANY of us out here alone too.

      All the seasonal ads/songs drag up a lot of painful memories of what I never had growing up. My family was never the happy family in photos. I’m not aware of any photo that contains both of my parents and I. Most holidays I was dragged to my dad’s relatives for hours (mom is estranged from hers), and my dad’s family never really seemed to like me for some reason. I mostly remember being mocked by my cousins and scolded by my aunts. My dad died this year and it’s like my mom and I are basically dead to his family now. They haven’t even tried to contact me in 8 months. My mom is on the other side of the country (where she chose to stay after dad died, despite me offering to help her get set up here so we could spend time together). None of my friends live in town anymore.

      I thought about going to some community events (I’m LGBTQ), but then I don’t feel like I fit in there either. It’s not that my relatives reject me for being LGBTQ… they don’t even know. They just never liked me in the first place.

      Last night I crawled into bed and watched HP#5 until I fell asleep. Today I am feeding my cat all sorts of treats, and enjoying the presents I got for myself (Nintendo Switch, Super Smash Bros and Zelda BotW). I’m also getting a head-start on some goals for 2019 with budgeting. Tonight I’ll see how much of HP#5 I finish before I fall out again. I find Harry Potter kind of comforting because his family life is way worse than mine….

      1. Thursday Next*

        There is a reason why so much children’s literature features orphans, or temporarily parentless children (e.g., Chronicles of Narnia). Narratively, of course, adults would get in the way, but I think also that these books speak to a sense many of us have had as children, of feeling alienated from our own families.

        I really identified with Jane Eyre when I was younger. ;) Talk about a terrible family. The Reeds made the Dursleys look like the picture of benevolence.

        I feel like I turned a corner at some point in my 30s when I realized I could be my own desired parent—I could do those things for myself that I wish my parents had done for me, or allow myself to indulge in healing things. Like falling asleep to HP #5 (RIP Sirius).

        Be kind to yourself, and to your kitty.

  34. Annoyed and frustrated sibling*

    Previous thread:

    I just wanted to follow up on my previous thread, and ask for a bit of a reality check I guess because part of the problem is that I really do take things to seriously sometimes and I feel like that’s part of the problem… that my family has gotten used to use rolling there eyes when I get annoyed by something because they think I’m just being ridiculous. So here’s a repost of part of one of my last comments on that thread and you can tell me what you think:

    “It’s not really just about jokes and things it’s about seeing what he’s doing that could cause more problems – for example things like fooling around hard enough to possibly cause injury to his son – I don’t want to see him doing it AT ALL because I think ANY fooling around has potential to cause injury … but I admit my “THIS COULD BE DANGEROUS!” line is way more strict than it needs to be so I have to figure out when to say something or when not to… that’s partially when I got annoyed with him.

    Or things like when we were getting out of the car and he kept locking the door on my sister in law so she couldn’t get out. It may have been funny the first two or three times he clicked the lock on the key fob but by the tenth time I thought he was being an abusive jerk and wanted him to stop. Also it was loud and probably bothering everyone in the apartment complex! But I’m sure he thought he was just fooling around and while my mom probably thought it was annoying she probably didn’t think it was “abusive” or wrong.”

    1. Not So NewReader*

      FWIW, your brother sounds exhausting.
      I think you could find some materials on what abuse looks like and how abusers say they were just joking.
      I assume your mother is older and perhaps grew up unaware of some things. I am pushing 60 myself and I know that AAM helps me to stay in tune with current thinking. Perhaps your mom would benefit from some articles that show what current thinking is on abuse and how WOMEN keep women shut down in our society.

      For myself, if someone locks me in anywhere ONCE and I am going to have some harsh words. I remember one cohort who locked me in a walk-in freezer. Our relationship was never the same after that.(I could no longer trust him.) I can’t imagine what I would have done if my husband pulled a stunt like that. I guess we would have been sitting at the marriage counselor’s office either that or filing for divorce. Back to the trust thing, basic trust is broken and we would have to rebuild basic trust.

      I assume this is one example and you have many examples. It could be time for you to develop a plan of what you will do when these situations come up. Perhaps just leaving is an option. Or perhaps you decide that you will arrange to see your mom when bro is not around.
      I think you are the only adult in this story. But that is just an opinion.

      1. Annoyed and frustrated sibling*

        She grew up with physical abuse from her mother and a passive father… so her idea of what abuse is and is probably different. She probably wouldn’t see it as abuse because he wasn’t actually hurting her (physically) and she was never in any danger. I do view locking soon in a freezer as much much worse because that is dangerous – you could have died.

        But yeah the trust issue is a big one – I don’t trust my brother at all and I think he’s completely unreliable. However he keeps showing instances where he is trustworthy/reliable so those moments erase all the not reliable/not trustworthy moments for my mother and others I guess. For example apparently my brother was really kind about helping my sister in law get used to swimming in the ocean by holding her until she felt comfortable … so there’s that.

        1. WellRed*

          Your brother is abusive, period. And, many abusers also do the kind/loving/responsible thing. It’s part of how they fuck with their victim’s head.

    2. EinJungerLudendorff*

      Yeah, your brother sounds like a twat if he thinks that keeps being funny (of thats why he does it).
      Did someone (preferably SIL) talk to him about this and tell him to stop? Because if he kept doing it afterwards, that makes it so much worse.

      You could be overreacting a bit, but if the person is thoughtless/insensitive/abusive like that, you would be right to question their judgement in treating others.

    3. Lilysparrow*

      To me, it looks like you’re blurring the lines between your feelings and other people’s feelings and relationships. You are taking on a lot of emotional labor and responsibiluty here that is not rightfully yours.

      It is not your job to fix your brother.

      It is not your job to fix his relationship with his wife.

      It is not your job to fix his parenting.

      If you think he’s abusing his son, call CPS and report him. If you just don’t like to watch them roughhousing, leave the room and don’t watch.

      Your sister in law is a grown woman who gets to make her own decisions about what is or isn’t acceptable in her marriage. If you think she’s being abused, you can offer her an ear, a safe place to land, or other resources. You can express that you think your brother is being a jerk to her. But you can’t manage the details of their relationship.

      You can tell the truth as you see it, and you can set boundaries of what you will or won’t tolerate by leaving. But trying to control your brother’s behavior is pointless and inappropriate.

      It sounds like being around your brother brings up a lot of fear and pain for you. You
      need to manage those feelings directly, not indirectly by trying to change him.

      1. Lilysparrow*

        Your brother may be abusive, I don’t know. But trying to play whack-a-mole when you see a behavior here or there will do absolutely zero to improve your SIL or nephew’s lives if they are living in abuse.

        Cultivate relationships with them so they feel comfortable talking to you or knowing they can come to you. And don’t burden yourself with this type of vigilance. You don’t have to protect the world from him. Just protect yourself.

    4. Ann O.*

      How much can you limit your time with your family? Whether or not you’re overreacting, you can’t change them. (for what it’s worth, I don’t think you’re overreacting about the locking in your sister-in-law but may be about the roughhousing with the son).

      If you get along well with your nephew and sister-in-law, trying to spend time with them without your brother may help. You want them to know you’re a sympathetic shoulder and a safe harbor should they need it.

      1. Annoyed and frustrated sibling*

        I might find an excuse to skip the next breakfast get-together at my brother’s whenever that might be. But I can only avoid them for so long before my mother starts laying on a guilt trip about family and loving each other. There’s a lot of “we have to do this because we’re family” in her mind. As I told GuitarLady there’s no way I can avoid Thanksgiving and Christmas… But I think everyone who has said there isn’t anything I can do to change the is right…. I’m going to have to learn how to not say anything if I can.

      2. Minocho*

        Another option, rather than preemptive time limitations, is making sure you set up visits and family time to allow you the option to limit the time if your hard lines are crossed.

        For example, I do not invite people into my home if I’m having serious boundary issues with them, because it’s hard to get a boundary violator to leave. But I can go to their home, and I set up such visits so I have the option to leave if any of my hard lines are crossed. I can then give one warning – “If such and such continues, I will leave. I won’t stand for it happening in my presence again.” If that line is crossed, I just pick up my stuff, give a polite goodbye, and leave without further comment.

        Don’t engage, other than to politely thank the host(s) on your way out. Don’t explain. Don’t get into conversations later about it, other than to say something like “I explained what I needed in order to stay / It was great to see you /I’m sorry circumstances didn’t allow me to stay longer”. Set the expectation that hard boundaries are hard.

        (My mother has done the same sort of thing to me when one of my brothers treated me very poorly. I am the oldest, and was packing up to start my freshman year of college. I was stressed, and my brother was being annoying and unhelpful. I asked if he would help me, or at least stop interfering with my packing, and he said “No, because I don’t want you to leave.” We had a problem for about six months, and Mom spend the entire time telling me that I should apologize because we’re family, and I needed to understand how hard things were for him. I ended up giving in, which wasn’t really fair, but I was eighteen, so I don’t beat myself up too much about it.

        Years later I talked to him about it (he ended up going to the same university I did, and studied the same major), and he couldn’t remember it, and admitted that it was incredibly jerky thing to say/do.)

    5. GuitarLady*

      If you hate spending time with your brother because he acts like a d*ck, then don’t do it, at least for a while. See how much better your life is if you don’t have him in it, you may feel enormous relief. It sounds like your family dynamic is about gaslighting and ignoring your feelings. If these people are not pleasant to spend time with, don’t. Or only do it in very small doses and leave when they act out. Or just skip holidays because they are so high pressure. I only go home once every 5 years for Christmas because of certain extended family I prefer not to deal with. I visit my mom some other time of year, which is better because she isn’t stressed out over holidays and there is no reason for me to interact with these relatives (or if its suggested, I beg off and there is no “But it’s Christmas!” pressure.

      1. Annoyed and frustrated sibling*

        If I didn’t spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with my parents and everyone I’d get a MASSIVE GUILT TRIP ABOUT HOW SAD EVERYONE IS! and “BUT WE’RE FAMILY AND WE HAVE TO BE TOGETHER”… And I’m not sure I’m ready to go down that route yet… but it is also true those are the worst two times of the year because my mother has this THING about everyone getting along on holidays and it’s obvious she will ignore anything being wrong because of that.

        I usually end up only seeing them when we get together with my parents for breakfast or something near where brother and his family live – those visits end up not being as big of a deal because we’re not together for as long.

        1. Arts Akimbo*

          I come from a family of massively manipulative guilt-trippers, and married into a family of no guilt trips ever. It was quite the education! Sometimes they would pretend-guilt-trip each other as a joke and then shut down the guilt trip with a good-humored right-back-atcha, “Yes, we all hate each other and we’re ruining Christmas,” or the like, then everyone would laugh and be warm and friendly and enjoy each other’s company, for as much or little time as it was offered. I was… stunned! It changed my expectations of myself and my own family completely to see functional loving relationships modeled so clearly.

          From that experience, I am hoping you will ask yourself this question, Annoyed– what is the literal worst thing that could happen if she lays this massive guilt trip? You don’t have to engage. You can redirect, in a pleasant but neutral tone, like “I’m sorry you feel that way. I’m looking forward to seeing you at X later on. So, how is your hobby going?” and if she persists, “I feel like we’ve been over this before, and I’ve made it clear I’m not coming. Talk to you later,” “I’m happy to talk about other things, but this is not up for discussion,” or just “‘K, I’m hanging up now! Talk to you later.” Be pleasant. Be neutral. Be the adult. Know that her throwing a guilt-tantrum doesn’t need to have anything to do with you.

          I’m trying to think of a pithy metaphor like, “The guilt trip never leaves the station if no one buys a ticket.” Whoo-whoo?

  35. Long Time Fed*

    Walt is my oldest cat. He was named after Walt Disney. Back when P. Diddy first changed his name, my husband started calling Walt “P. Kitty.” It stuck, and ever since then Walt is always called P.

    Next comes Roland. He was part of a pair we adopted. They were named after two of the circus bugs from A Bugs Life, Tuck and Roll. We named the cats Tucker and Roland. Tuck died a few years ago, but Rollie is still going strong.

    Third up is Belle – we definitely have a Disney theme going. For whatever reason, we started calling her Bellarina. It’s now been shortened to just Reena. I’ve been known to call her Bella Bear too.

    Last one is Eugene, after, Flynn Rider from Tangled. We call him Genie.

  36. gyms*

    I tried to join a new local convenient Planet Fitness and when I went I asked to first get a tour of the gym just to make sure of the state of it all (not broken machines, clean, etc.). They wanted my ID and to put me in the system just to tour the place, they said because of liability. It felt like such an invasion of privacy that I left. I don’t know if there are scammers but I was not going to use any of the machines or weights at that moment so not sure about getting hurt. At one time I did PT that was located inside a Health and Racquet Club (=super fancy expensive gym) and no one asked me for anything and I had to walk the length of the club to get to the PT (and we used some of the equipment in the later stages of rehab). Is this normal? Was I overreacting?

    1. Jb in Norway (formerly an OP5)*

      I’ve worked at a couple gyms – one similar to Planet Fitness and one that was really high end in New York City – and worked out at four different chains…it’s very common to put your information in the system. They are required by corporate offices as it lets them follow-up (i.e., add you to their mailing list/sell you on the membership) later. Nothing nefarious, though annoying.

    2. foolofgrace*

      One time I went to one of those affordably-priced haircut places and they wouldn’t take me unless I gave them my phone number. I just wanted a haircut, not a lifetime commitment I walked out.

    3. Harvey P. Carr*

      Whenever I buy something at Micro Center they always ask for my personal info. I can understand it if I’m buying a computer, but they do it even if I’m just buying accessories or other non-tech items. It is so f***ing annoying and it’s the one thing I hate about buying anything from them.

    4. Holly Hobby*

      I had that happen with another gym chain. And I just wanted to talk to someone about pricing. I refused and walked out.

    1. foolofgrace*

      Driving to Arkansas to see my brother, nine hour drive. We’re both getting up there with various health issues and since I have the time off work I thought Why not. Funny how you pack kind of the same for three days as for a week. Have to remember to take my vape charger and stuff, and my meds. Nothing interesting.

    2. Mushroom*

      I am at work today. I brought Kinder Joy eggs as a surprise for coworkers so we are having fun with silly little plastic toys lol. That are a big hit.

  37. The Bagel Fairy*

    Merry Christmas to this great community!

    I’m having such a hard time enjoying my vacation and time with family this year. Just before I left my boss notified me that I’m essentially being demoted in the new year. Fortunately not in the ways that truly matter (title and pay) but some of my tasks are being redistributed to co-workers and I will no longer be a manager. This is partially because he wants us all to be on an even footing, so no one’s “above” anyone else, and partially because he’s concerned about all of the mistakes I made in the last year and a half since my promotion. I have a hard time with that last part because most of my mistakes were due to inadequate or downright inaccurate training. But when I tried to explain that to my boss he told me, “That sounds like an excuse.” And the reason for wanting us all to have equally important titles? My co-worker took the news of my promotion so badly that she’s spent the last year and a half crying, screaming, and complaining to our boss behind the scenes about how unfair it is and how awful I am.

    There’s so much more dysfunction going on that I’m seriously considering finding a new job. Most of the people I tell about this urge me to quit and wonder why I’ve put up with this environment for so long. But there are a few who disagree and think I should carefully consider if I really want to leave a job I’ve been happy at for the past 13+ years all because things have been rough since the promotion. It’s been quite a topic of conversation this trip and it’s all I can think and worry about. It doesn’t help that I have looked through want ads and discovered I’d have to take a 20% pay cut to find a similar job for a different company. I’m feeling so down in the dumps that I can’t detach and enjoy my time away from work.

    1. foolofgrace*

      I’m so sorry you’re having this difficulty. All I can really say is that sometimes things that seem terrible are really a blessing in disguise. Think about it — can you look back over your life and realize that, for example, the guy who dumped you was in the end doing you a favor? I too would counsel you to think hard about leaving a job you’ve enjoyed for so long just because of something that might end up being a blip on the radar. But only you can tell for sure. I say give it some time.

    2. Dan*

      Managers like to delegate blame, too, so “that sounds like an excuse” is to be expected.

      But I was about to write “quit” when you wrote that your manager doesn’t want anybody to be in charge. Those structures rarely, if ever work out well — with no one person accountable, there’s nobody to make the hard decisions and take the heat when things go wrong. Never mind that in this new “flat” hierarchy, when things do go wrong, he’ll just tell you “that sounds like an excuse” when people point out that nobody is in charge.

      It sounds like you need to figure out how many headaches are worth how much $. That goes with the territory: More headaches = more money, and the reverse is likely true as well. Good luck with your choice.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Some random thoughts.
      Just because you have been happy in the past does not carry enough weight for the present. Old Happiness does not negate or even balance out New Unhappiness. Sometimes jobs turn sour, this happens. And when they sour it’s time to move on.

      Your boss is a jackass. He can’t train and then blames you for failing because you don’t know. What a fool. If you stay in this job expect to see more foolishness. I am not impressed with how Crybaby Cohort is allowed to carry on and on for a year and a half. That should have been nipped the first time the boss saw the behavior. The fact that you know about it is even more of a negative about this boss.

      Surveys can be a means of forestalling a decision. I am not clear what needs to happen, if so many say quit then you will quit? I do think it is time to stop surveying people and figure out what you want. No one can tell you what it is you want, only you can. There is no right or wrong answer, the answer is you should put yourself in a spot where you can succeed. If you think you can stay at your job and think of yourself successful then that is what you should do.

      The one thing that I see which would clinch the story for me, if I spent my entire vacation time down in the dumps over a job then it is time to move on. The job is impacting my quality of life and they do not pay me enough to have an inferior quality of life for them.

      I am sorry your boss is such a jerk.

    4. WellRed*

      You may hsve been happy all these years but things have changed and there’s no going back. You have new information about both boss and co-worker (none of it good) and you’ve been demoted. Yeah, no going back.

  38. foolofgrace*

    I’m up for a job with the state. A polygraph is apparently required. How far back do they go in their questions? I think I might have imbibed some pot a couple of years ago. If I did it was only a few hits off a joint not a regular thing. Crap. Is this going to tank me? Just wondering, and bravely not going anon for this one.

    1. KR*

      Husband’s military security clearance they really didn’t care about past drug use but cared if you lied about it. It’s totally on a case by case basis though – he wasn’t polygraphed. I’ve read that polygraphs aren’t that accurate so that might be why.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. Just tell the truth. At least half the nation has tried pot. No one cares any more. They only care that you think you have to lie about it.

      2. UK Civil Servant*

        Yes. Security screening is to check for vulnerability to blackmail (any history you try to hide) or bribery (money trouble). It’s not really about catching you doing anything. Be scrupulously honest about everything and you’ll be fine.
        Polygraphs are rubbish anyway, all they pick up is stress levels.

    2. Emma*

      Polygraphs are a crock anyway, they test your emotional state, not whether or not you’re telling the truth. The biggest observable factor in whether someone fails a polygraph is whether the person administering the test thinks they’re likely to be truthful or not *before* the test starts – you won’t be surprised to hear that this is very influenced by the tester’s preconceptions about the testee’s age, gender, skin colour, accent etc.

      This is probably not very comforting, unless you happen to tick all the demographic boxes that your prospective employer’s current workforce does. But it does mean that you don’t need to fret about any past behaviour – probably the best thing you can do is to wear a nice suit and be exceedingly polite to the polygrapher.

  39. What’s with Today, today*

    Second year in a row my employer, small family business, didn’t do a Christmas party or give us a turkey or anything at Christmas. The have were hit or miss, but the Christmas party was a big, fun annual event. Last year we didn’t have it for whatever reason (can’t remember) and all the employees knew last year would set a presedenceabd itvsiuld never happen again, and sure enough, we got nothing. Well, we got a picture card of boss’ family. I asked for a raise a month ago…no word yet (I’ve followed up, bosses are discussing it). It’s been 7 years since I got one. My supervisor will be remote(but mostly unavailable) from January 4-June 30, and I’m quitting if the raise doesn’t come through before he leaves for 6 months.

  40. Dan*

    “Depends on the state”. And job for that matter. TBH, I have no idea about the particulars — even the feds only require a poly for some high level clearances — the lower level celearances they won’t bother with a poly.

    As far as the pot, did you fill out any paper work asking about the usage? If you were honest on the paper work, then you likely have no trouble. If you lied on the paperwork and fail the poly, you’re sunk. But if they didn’t even give you any paperwork to fill out, then I have no idea what’s up.

    As far as the feds are concerned, the one thing that’s a guaranteed tank is active drug use. The second is getting caught lying. (Doesn’t have to be just the poly, but omitting stuff or lying about stuff that gets dug up in a background check is going to get you a quick wave good bye.) Everything else, fess up to it, and as long as it’s not repeated behavior, you’ll be fine.

    1. foolofgrace*

      Thank you. I didn’t sign anything and I appreciate your comment about “active drug use”, which definitely isn’t me. I intend to tell the truth so maybe I’ll be okay. It’s not a high level position.

      1. Kat in VA*

        From my FBI/HSA/DISA/NSA/DIA/other intelligence community peeps: Candor, candor, candor.

        As Dan said, the only drug use they’re REALLY interested in is active usage NOW. They’re more interested in you lying about it (either in a poly or on paper or both).

  41. AvonLady Barksdale*

    My partner’s dad came to join us on our vacation for two nights (we did this last year) and I’m making Christmas dinner and it’s all fine, except… he showed up sick, with a raging cold. My partner has some very important meetings coming up next week and now I’m just praying hard and trying to force clementines down his throat. Yippee.

    1. Autumnheart*

      Heck, zinc anyway. I added zinc and vitamin A to my vitamin repertoire about 16 months ago, and haven’t been sick since, including during last year’s brutal flu season when I forgot to get a flu shot. (I got one this year—didn’t want to push my luck.) It certainly can’t hurt.

  42. Be the Change*

    What do you do with a journal that you haven’t quite filled up but it’s the New Year so time for a new journal? Not an earthshaking problem here but fun to heard other journalers’ solutions. :-)

    1. hope is hopeful*

      top 5/10 lists from what you’ve done/seen/listened to etc this year. A summary of the year. Otherwise, why is it so important that you fill it up?

    2. Wild Bluebell*

      I just start a new journal no matter what :)
      The old one doesn’t have to be filled up. It is what it is.

  43. AlligatorSky*

    Anyone else struggle with bereavement around the holidays? My Grandma LOVED Christmas. She thought it was magical, and she went all out every year. She passed away in October 2015, and Christmas just hasn’t been the same. I don’t enjoy it anymore. To make things worse, my Grandad (her husband) passed away in September this year. My house is so silent and eerie; I can’t stand it :(

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Awww, I am so sorry. These were the folks that were so good to you, right?

      Yeah, I am remembering a few people this Christmas. I looked around for a Blue Christmas service in my area but I was too late. The one in my area was over.
      As I am moving through life, I understand more and more why older people do not get really excited over Christmas.

      I hope you find moments of contentment/peace today. Sometimes that’s as good as it gets.
      Very sorry for your losses.

    2. Alpha Bravo*

      Spouse loved Christmas. He passed near the end of October 2017. I was still in shock last year. I went through all the Christmas motions. This year has been much harder. I’m fortunate to have a young adult daughter who lives with me and an extended family who love us. Once again, going through all the motions. But I’m feeling it this year. And it sucks.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        AB, hugs if you want them.
        Next Christmas might be 1 millimeter easier. Year number 2 sucks, period. Hang tough, you’ll make it.

        1. Alpha Bravo*

          Thank you NSNR. It helps me to know someone who has walked this path and come through with their faith, strength and compassion intact. Keep shining your light.

    3. Wishing You Well*

      A close relative passed away Sunday (two days ago). We’re sending our love to his family. Avoiding parties will be a real sanity saver for us this year.

    4. Dr. Anonymous*

      I do. My mom was my big Christmas buddy. It helps to find a new and different Christmas ritual that allows me to remember her and have a little cry. I’ve cried three times today hearing specific Christmas carols we used to sing together. I’m not about to turn off the music. It’s a piece of connection to her, a way to keep her with me this holiday even though she’s gone.
      I’m so sorry for the loss and sadness.

    5. Will's Mom*

      Yep. My son died in Jan 2015 and my mom 6 weeks later. I used to be a Jehovah’s Witness, so Christmas was never a thing at our house, but Thanksgiving was. We used to host Thanksgiving at our house, but I just haven’t had the heart to continue. Thankfully, our daughter in law’s family has accepted us into the fold so we have new traditions now. Christmas 2014 was the last Christmas spent with our son. He came over and helped me cook some steaks for dinner. We seared them in an iron skillet and basted them with butter. I had never done that before. We stood side by side cooking those delicious steaks. It was three days before all the smoke smell cleared. If only I had known that he would be gone in less than a month. Today has been a hard one. Our adult children are all spending time with their in laws so it has been a bit lonesome with just hubby and me. I think we will save our pennies this year and maybe take a small trip next year. No planes, just a short drive in our car.

    6. Emma*

      My Nana died just after christmas, two years ago. We’d gone and had a bit of christmas with her in the hospital, still thinking she’d be out soon; then a week or so later we were told she had a few weeks left, and the day after that she died.

      Christmas is still very quiet without her, and probably always will be – but partner and I have just bought a house, so I think next year we’ll start working on some new traditions.

  44. fposte*

    It’s time for my favorite Twitter thread of the year–#DuvetKnowItsChristmas. It’s a largely British stream of people reporting on the ridiculously decorated spare rooms, kitted out closets, and repurposed children’s rooms in which they’re laying their heads over the holidays. Lots of scary dolls and frightening ’80s bed linens. Last year saw one person slid under a grand piano, which may be the apex.

  45. Dan*

    Humblebrag time:

    Brag: I’m on vacation for a month. I peaced out and traveled 12 time zones away from home. I’ve been gone for a week, I’ve got three more to go.

    Humble: i work as a contractor for the federal government. Three days after i went on vacation, I caught wind of the shutdown that could last who knows how long. As contractors, we take it in the shorts if the shutdowns last any reasonable length of time. Back pay and what not is not a thing for us.

    I have no idea what kind of shit storm I’m going to get back to at the end of January. If the shutdown is short, it’s a nothing burger. If it’s prolonged, god only knows. Vacation is supposed to be fun, this complicates that just a little.

    1. hope is hopeful*

      Where are you in the world, Dan? Or are you travelling around? I hope you enjoy your time, shutdown excepted.

      1. Dan*

        See below — traveling South Asia for a bit. I won’t sweat the shutdown too much — I’m gone through the end of January, so hopefully things are sorted out by then. Last job I had put everybody on mandatory PTO when this kind of thing happened before, and since I’m already on PTO, worrying won’t do much good. Also, my accommodations and what not usually fall in the “budget” end of the spectrum, so it’s hard to spend less money “just in case”.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Here’s hoping shut down is not long, Dan.
      I hope you are able to use the vacation time to do something new and/or truly enjoyable. They are gonna do whatever they are gonna do…. you know what I mean.

      1. Dan*

        Thanks. I’m traveling around Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Thailand for 10 days each. The first two I’ve never been, the later I’ve been to before and will definitely be enjoyable.

        The upshot is this part of the world tends to be very cheap by western standards — if I were to head back to work and find out I had no job, the money I spent on vacation wouldn’t be the end of the world.

        This isn’t my first rodeo, so when I plan these long ones, I do it with the nagging thought in the back of my mind that if I were to lose my job, I wouldn’t regret the money I spent.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I kinda figured that you had most of the angles covered. Wise choice to just go on vacation anyway I think.

    3. CrazyPlantLady*

      I feel your pain. I’m also a federal contractor. We’ve been told that they have enough funding to keep us working (and getting paychecks) until the end of January. Whether or not I have enough work to do that entire time is a completely different story. I’m really, really hoping that it ends quickly.

  46. Sled dog mama*

    Just wanted to say thank you to those who responded to my Saturday post about framing my thoughts around the different giving traditions in mine and my husband’s families. The different perspectives really helped me frame my own thoughts and talk to my husband about specifically what bothered me.
    Little one is thrilled with her gifts and I’m practicing having that be what makes me happy.
    I am also trying to practice being grateful towards my sister in law, as several people pointed out there is a bit of bad blood between me a sister in law due to some past incidents of boundary stomping.
    In addition to being grateful that she sent gifts my child likes I’m being grateful that they “just can’t find the time to visit” us so I will never have to explain to the special education teacher why the book making fun of the donkey with a prosthetic leg never made it to under the tree.

    1. fposte*

      I’m madly curious, since children’s lit is my field–does the book actually mock the donkey, or does it just contain characters who do and who learn their lesson? It doesn’t sound like a stellar specimen of literature either way (and generally I would have heard about a disabled donkey book so I’m guessing this is not a big publisher item), but the latter would be more common–that everybody learns they were *wrong* to mock the donkey.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          My 5 yr old son just got this as a gift this morning. I’d never heard of it so I just skimmed it. It doesn’t seem overtly objectionable but I don’t like it. He’ll probably like the funny language and semi gross humor but it is more of a one off, not a future classic. I usually give kids’ books one try and then keep or donate, and this would be donated except the giver inscribed it (I’m sure she didn’t pick it for any reason other than age-appropriate).

        2. Someone Else*

          I think I’d like this better if it were a book about a Donkey who is somehow also a Policy Wonk.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I own the book. I think it’s from a children’s song. The fun comes from the language–it builds on the adjectives describing the donkey, kind of like that song about the hole at the bottom of the sea.

        1. KayEss*

          I looked it up and the language does seem to be the kind of language-play children’s song that most people won’t bat an eye at because the ableism is buried under a lot of silliness. In picture book form, though… well, the donkey actually having a realistic prosthetic leg (the song just mentions it having only three legs) is jarring because it brings to light a lot of that baggage that otherwise goes overlooked. Like… if someone told me to picture a three-legged donkey, I wouldn’t be imagining a prosthetic leg on it. It’s a very humanizing touch, and a poor choice for the illustrations in this case–“wonky” is a word you’d use for a piece of furniture missing a leg, and I can see it being lovingly/humorously applied to an animal, but you’d never use it for a disabled human. The prosthetic makes us inclined to see the donkey as a stand-in for a person, so our brains kick into sensitivity/inclusiveness mode (for good or ill) and the rest of the song comes across as pretty inappropriate.

          1. Sled dog mama*

            So many people here are so much smarter than I am. All I can figure out is that this bothers me and I put it out here and get “well this is bothersome because…..”

    2. Lilysparrow*

      See, to me, there isn’t even enough of a story to call it “mocking” the donkey. There is no lesson. There is no plot. There are no other characters. He’s not interacting with other animals or people.

      It’s just a string of increasingly silly adjectives, like winky-wonky and cranky-hanky-panky.

      The video of the Scottish grandma reading it to her baby grandson is hilarious.

  47. GhostWriter*

    Just wondering if anyone has any suggestions for fragrance free bar soap. Preferably something that isn’t super expensive.

    I’ve been gradually going fragrance free with my personal care products and wanted to try a fragrance free bar soap next. I checked a bunch of different soaps at my local grocery store but they all had fragrance in them. The only ones that didn’t have fragrance in them were a few face soaps, but they were expensive and I want it to use as a body wash, not a face wash.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      I second the Dove. I know I’ve seen a perfume free version of it. Dove is just a nice allover soap. I try others, but keep coming back to it.
      Basis and Cetephil also make some fragrance free sensitive bar soaps.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Yes, Basis sensitive skin bar. Available online and from some (not all) drugstores. Not inexpensive, but the bar seems to last a long time.

    2. Llellayena*

      Look for an unscented gelatin soap. Even the “unscented” regular soaps have fragrance in them so if you’re going fragrance free for allergy reasons just looking for “fragrance free” probably won’t help. If you’re just looking for getting rid of the strong scents, Dove and Dial both have an unscented bar soap that is inoffensive. I know fragrance sensitive people who use them.

    3. Red Sky*

      I’m extremely sensitive to fragrance, even some unscented products still contain too much smell for me, but I’ve found Ivory bar soap in the blue packaging to be the least ‘smelly’ of all the bar soaps I’ve tried.

    4. Dr. Anonymous*

      Vanicream Free and Clear is available in a bar soap and a few drugstores carry it. I’m so darn sensitive I don’t tolerate the Dove at all. I use the liquid soap at home but I travel with the bar soap and it’s a wonderful find.

    5. Lilysparrow*

      Dr Bronner’s Castile soap has an unscented “Baby” version. The bar soap can get pricey, but if you buy the liquid concentrate and dilute it as directed, it’s pretty economical.

    6. Aphrodite*

      I use Dove Sensitive Skin soap for showering. (The Dove Unscented still has a perfume-scent though much less than the regular. Sensitive Skin has none at all.)

      But for my face I discovered Trader Joe’s Goat Milk Soap and Camel’s Milk Soap. They are FANTASTIC, fragrance free, clean, not drying, just wonderful! And I think they cost about $3.99 each, and because I use them only on my face they seem to last about a year. I wouldn’t hesitate to use them for showering too, though.

  48. Rose and Thorn*

    A game I used to play with my students. Give a rose and a thorn for the day (rose is something good, something that made you smile or feel good or want to recognize someone else for; thorn is something not so great, something that stuck you the wrong way etc). Instead of doing this for the day (since December 25th is not a day universal holiday) I will suggest give a rose and thorn for gifts you have received or seen given any time.
    Rose: the two inch strip of carpet roll that my mom and her siblings have been passing around since the sixties made sn appearance this year, it was hilarious
    Thorn: my sister in law tried to give my kid a book that makes fun of a disabled donkey, the part I’m having trouble wrapping my head around: she’s a special education teacher!

    1. someone somewhere sometime*

      Is it that Wonky Donkey book that became famous after the video of a grandmother reading it to her grandson? She’s probably thinking about it from that point of view rather than anything else… unfortunately she probably didn’t make the connection between joking about the Donkey and actually mocking disabled people.

  49. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

    What things in your everyday life remind you of Ask a Manager?

    I just saw an Operation Smile commercial. If I’m remembering correctly, this was the organization that made its job applicants cook a lavish meal for company executives in a remote mansion, among other things.

    There are also so many times that I watch sitcoms — especially Cheers and The Mary Tyler Moore Show — and think of some of the work situations that come up, “Alison would have a field day with this.” Especially with Lou Grant and Mary.

    Merry Christmas, everyone!

    1. Lcsa99*

      My husband and I do this all the time with shows. We’ve watched quite a bit of Mary Tyler Moore and think that Alison would have a field day with their office. WKRP on the other hand isn’t terrible most of the time. Like when Johnny make a mistake that cost the station $5,000, instead of firing him, Andy convinced the Big Guy to work out a deal to pay it off from what he could afford out of his salary. Then when Herb and Les give the money to the wrong guy, Johnny saves the day and the whole debt is forgiven. Not bad! It’s just like the guy who ran up $20,000 (or however much it was) in credit card debt on the company card.

    2. Kira*

      Every post on notalwaysright and notalwaysworking! It is quite frustating sometimes, but it was a comment on that site which led me to askamanager so yay!

    3. Overeducated*

      I think of “BEC mode” all the time in conversation (it’s frequently so relevant!) but don’t say it out loud, I don’t think it’s a common expression outside here. (Or am I wrong?)

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Carolyn Hax may use this expression. (I’m guessing and I’m being too lazy to look it up online :-D) I know two other things: that I already knew its meaning before I read a definition on AAM and that I’ve had to explain BEC to someone very intelligent and well-read, just not plugged into popular culture.

  50. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    Anybody know any tricks or good tutorials for makeup to look older? I’m blessed/cursed with a young face, but I prefer to look my age when I dress up. I know some of you have mentioned being baby-faced too, so I thought some of you might have some tips.

    Youtube, when searched, has tons of tutorials… on how to not look prematurely aged.

    1. Autumnheart*

      Typically one of the first indicators of facial aging is a loss of cheek fat. Look for some tutorials on contouring to emphasize bone structure in the cheekbones and temples.

    2. Wishing You Well*

      Crooked eyeliner ages me every time!
      Ask someone you trust who can evaluate your look. Also, ask if your hair style is okay or needs a change when you dress up. I’ll bet you’ll look great!

    3. Dr. Anonymous*

      I have blonde eyebrows that make me look very young and darkening them up just a bit made me look more like an adult when I was younger and still imparts a certain gravitas now that I’m a bit older.

    4. Anon Anon Anon*

      I would experiment with your eyebrows. I look younger with fuller brows and older with thinner ones. I think that’s true for a lot of people.

  51. Tacocat*

    I just adopted a kitty!!! She’s a light gray tabby and is tall and thin and chatty. I’m having the worst time naming her!! Help with ideas?!

    1. Thanks For Nothing*

      Ours is solid black but is also tall, thin, and extremely chatty. We call him Faust. He is as dramatic as his name suggests.

    2. Perilous*

      Empire! The Empire State Building is tall, thin, and gray, plus I think it has (or had) a communications tower on top, thus chatty.

  52. BRR*

    I’m at my in-laws for Christmas who live in a very rural area and yesterday while walking my my dog, he stepped in a coyote trap (thankfully he’s fine). I’m pretty shaken up about it and got a moderately bad cut on my thumb from trying to get the trap off.

    Everybody has kind of moved on but I’m still pissed. I’m fuming at the entire concept of traps for hunting and also not pleased at my in-laws for not thinking of telling us about the traps which were set by someone else and hidden under leaves.

    Do I say something and if so what? I’m not reall quite sure what I want and I try to only raise a grievance if I have a preferred solution. So far I’ve made sure my husband knows that I’m not over this because I believe he has to be the messenger to his family but I’m not really sure if I should just move on.

    1. Observer*

      Did your in-laws actually know about the traps? What do you want them to do differently?

      I get that you’re not over it, but I don’t really understand what your beef with your in-laws is.

      1. BRR*

        They knew about them and “didn’t even think of telling us.” Yeah I think my only desired solution is to go back in time and change things which means it is what it is.

    2. Little bean*

      My dog actually got bitten by a coyote 2 weeks ago – he is also thankfully ok. Was the trap on private property? If not, I’d think you could ask for them to be relocated. Even if it was private property, if it’s somewhere people are likely to walk, you could ask them to mark it with a sign so this doesn’t happen to someone else in the future.

        1. fposte*

          I was wobbling on this one initially, because coyote country=traps, but the fact that they were on your in-laws’ property and they didn’t mention them would piss me off too. But lesson learned–and not only is the pup never off-leash there, assume there might be bait poisons lying around as well, so especially in the dark, stay vigilant.

          1. BRR*

            Yeah we’re going to limit where We walk him. I think I just needed to vent to a more sympathetic crowd. A mistake was made to not tell us and they feel moderately bad.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’d be pissed because they didn’t mention the possibility of encountering such a thing. I might be soothed if they were really apologetic, but still. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get over it (the pooch is ok, which is the main thing), but I completely get it.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I guess ask them where it would be safe to walk your dog?
      Or perhaps warn them that a person could step into the same trap.

      Here the guberment releases coyotes, probably to control the deer population. That is not all they control, herds, pets and small children and so on. People get really ticked and hunt the coyotes. It’s a hot mess and the whole thing is out of control in my opinion.
      Perhaps knowing the larger story would be of help in some odd, unforeseen way. Rural life is pretty harsh and when the government helps us it gets worse.

      FWIW, I never let my dog off leash even though we are rural. “Hunters” come up for the city and shoot cows thinking that cows are deer. Stupid stuff happens. And there are certain times of year I will not go in the woods period. I can be sitting in my home and hear gun shots all around me. Those times of year I go outside with my dog every time he has to go out, even though he is tied on a run. Somehow the fact that he is tied almost makes it worse to me.

      I am sorry about your dog and I am sorry you got hurt. Rural life can be rough.

      1. fposte*

        BTW, the government-releases-coyotes thing seems to be an urban legend; coyotes are just amazing in thriving in every ecosystem. But yeah, with you on rural life involving some dangers that are a shock to those of us townie types.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Well, it gets a little hard to tell what is true or not around here. We had an ugly incident a while ago. I cannot go into detail. However, the DEC just said, “No that did not happen.” Meanwhile dozens of people witnessed it. I don’t know. I wasn’t there. It rattled our whole area.
          But I am hoping more people use their cellphones to record things as they happen.

          But yes it’s rough. A main highway to Canada has an extremely wide median. An elderly couple laid dead in their car for weeks before anyone found/noticed them. People who have been here any length of time know to check on each other. Stuff happens and there is probably no help coming. I think our OP here was very sharp and quick acting by getting her dog out of that trap. Not sure if I would have done as well.

  53. Thanks For Nothing*

    I had an absolutely grueling run up to winter break. I manage, let’s call it llama feeding. Inventory, ordering, consulting with the nutritionist on feeding plans for individual animals, etc. We’re a non profit llama rescue organization and the bulk of the people who report to me are volunteers, all well meaning and enthusiastic but possessing a great range of skill from never seen a feed bucket before to feed their own llamas before coming over to help us. AND we put on a holiday “all the wonderful things we can do with a llama” show – showmanship, packing/agility, fiber arts, you name it, it’s there. And it lasts three days. I’ve pulled fourteen hour days for the past three weeks. Been at the feed store at stupid hours of the morning after five hours of sleep. Managed food rations not just for our llamas but for all of the visiting llamas that came in for the show. Just non stop relentless work. And then, on the last day, I ran into the ugly combination of a volunteer I’ve been at BEC stage with for months and an injury. A gallon bottle of electrolyte solution dropped on my head while I was opening a bin. I wanted to walk out. Just leave the facility with five hours of work left to do and never come back. Didn’t but wanted to.

    My urge to walk out seems to be a combination of the following:
    How to recalibrate my BEC meter to tolerate a lovely volunteer with lots of helpful experience, whose personality just grates (for me personally, no one else seems as bothered as I do)?
    How to communicate to my manager disapointment that no one checked in with me about the bottle injury. A manager, though not my direct manager, saw the injury happen but nobody at any point asked if I was ok.
    How to communicate to my manager how badly their cheerful “happy holidays” feel on my way out the door when that person knows a) I’m Jewish, b) when hanukkah ended because we talked about it earlier this month in regards to a Christmas themed llama project my kids wanted to participate in (my kids participated; had a blast and have been running around singing about fa la la la llamas for weeks), and c) we’ve known each other long enough that Jewish/not-Christmas is not new news to them.

    1. Observer*

      I’d start with the injury. Have a direct chat with your manager and point out that no one checking with you is personally hurtful but is also the kind of behavior that puts the organization at risk.

      Firstly, someone happened that could have been serious. How did anyone know that you didn’t really need to be seen by a doctor, or that something more serious was not going on, even though in the moment you walked away?

      Secondly, if something happens to someone and then it either turns out to be more serious than people realized – or the person runs into another problem, they are absolutely going to be more likely to go after the organization. And the organization is going to be much more vulnerable, because the victim is going to be able to say “These people don’t give a flip about the safety of their people. This thing happened to me an no one even asked if I’m ok!”

      On the “Happy Holidays” thing, I would ask why they said that.

      1. Autumnheart*

        I wouldn’t ask them why they said “Happy holidays”. It’s obvious why they said it, and there’s still a non-denominational holiday coming up, New Year’s, so it wasn’t even inappropriate. Stick to the work-related stuff and don’t get into a kerfluffle about the usage of “Happy holidays”. Damn, whoever decided to weaponize holiday greetings needs to be taken out back and kicked in the keister.

        1. Thanks For Nothing*

          My holiday ended half a month ago. Precisely which holidays am I supposed to be happy about? Tu’b’Shevet is coming up . . . at the end of January . . . but no, that doesn’t count and what you really want is for me to just blindly accept a WASP standard of what happens at this time of year. I can feel isolated and ignored by the friends and co workers who worked their asses off right next to me and nobody else gets to decide how I should feel.

          1. hope is hopeful*

            Personally, I think the other part of the situation is clouding your response to the Happy Holidays comment. You comment above is quite bitter to be honest. I thought Happy Holidays is quite a nice way of saying, well, happy holidays, for people of all faith.

          2. Autumnheart*

            You can feel however you want to feel about it, but guess what, people are allowed to celebrate their holidays and pass along season’s greetings. What I want you to do is separate legitimate work concerns from a totally BEC moment where someone didn’t act perfectly in sync with your inner experience. They didn’t wish you Merry Christmas, they didn’t say Happy Hannukah, they gave a perfectly generic and totally applicable holiday greeting during the factual holiday season. They’re not starting a fight. You shouldn’t start one one either.

            1. Observer*

              This is actually NOT a “factually holiday season” for everyone. Now, when you don’t know people, it’s fine to assume that they probably are celebrating something or other, so that’s one thing. But to tell someone that it’s actually their holiday season when they are telling you it is NOT – and it is NOT Thanks’ holiday season, is kind of rude. By the same token, the boss KNOWS that it’s not Thanks’ holiday, so acting as though it is, is kind of oblivious.

              1. Autumnheart*

                It’s a nationally recognized holiday season. It’s bizarre for you to try to claim otherwise. Nobody is asking anyone in this instance to celebrate a holiday they don’t observe. They are simply saying HAPPY HOLIDAYS. Which is a perfectly appropriate and neutral greeting that doesn’t bear on any one particular holiday.

                Honestly. Exactly nobody is entitled to have ONLY their holiday acknowledged, according to their personal preference, by everyone around them. This is as bad as the Christian extremists who want to insist that only Jesus be acknowledged during the month of December. Enough. As we say at my employer, “Assume positive intent.” I get it, it’s hard to be cheerful about anything when you’ve been putting in 60-hour weeks and have to deal with Annoying Volunteer and get conked on the head. I would be officially Over It too at that point. But there is absolutely no reason to this as justification for starting a BS argument about other people Decembering wrong in one’s hearing and trying to ascribe all kinds of hostility and exclusion to the definition of “holiday”. Enough already.

              2. fposte*

                I think what’s happened is progression is progressing. First people went “Hey, not everybody celebrates Christmas. Let’s wish people happy holidays!” Now people are starting to say “Hey, not everybody celebrates a winter holiday that’s coincidentally the exact same time as Christmas. Let’s consider not acting as if everybody did.”

                In academia “Have a good break” is a great go-to, because even if you’re working on stuff over break it’s still a change of pace that everybody shares, and it’s non-denominational (once you set aside the long and not-changing-now history of why break happens when it does). The general population really, really needs to either adopt that broadly or to find an equivalent.

                1. Autumnheart*

                  But a lot of people DO celebrate a winter holiday, and it’s just flat-out unnecessary to take someone saying “Happy holidays!” as an occasion for umbrage. It would be one thing if someone wanted to use their holiday greeting as an excuse to proselytize or score points (and we know what those people sound like), but there are millions of non-Christians and non-religious people who nonetheless celebrate the holiday season one way or another, and you know what? We get to say “Happy holidays” and enjoy ourselves too.

                  There’s wanting to be inclusive and make sure we acknowledge all the cultural traditions that occur around this time of year, but that is a reciprocal expectation. Saying “Happy holidays” to someone who isn’t celebrating on that particular day is no more being an asshole than it is to say “Good morning” to someone who had a bad morning, or where it’s already past noon where they are. People need to rediscover the lost art about realizing that not everything is personally about them.

                2. fposte*

                  @Autumnheart–I’m not much of an umbrage person myself. But I still think that 1) Hanukkah isn’t exactly a secret and 2) Jewish people aren’t exactly rare and 3) if I wish a specific, known individual “happy holidays” when I know the only holidays forthcoming are mine, not theirs, that’s not my finest and most thoughtful moment.

                  I think “Happy holidays” gets used as a bit of a “get out of respecting minority traditions free” card, and I don’t think it really works that way. I think it was a good step in moving from “Enjoy your Christian holy day!” to “Hey, good wishes just, you know, generally,” but I really wouldn’t wish my non-Christian friends “happy holidays” at Christmas.

                3. Overeducated*

                  I really miss having the “have a good winter break” option because there’s no obvious equivalent that isn’t “happy holidays” when everyone in your workplace gets the federal holidays off (Christmas and New Year are paid holidays), and most people take more in between but there’s no standard break. I’ve said “see you next year” a few times….

                4. Overeducated*

                  Replying to myself because additional comments were posted while typing…i think a generic greeting doesn’t work for specific cases when you know the other person’s tradition, in that case the thing to do is say “happy Hanukkah” on time, there is no “right” greeting weeks late. It’s more the unknown cases where you want a vague “bye for a week” pleasantry.

                5. Autumnheart*

                  What would you say to your atheist, agnostic, pagan and generally areligious friends who have the day off?

                6. fposte*

                  @Autumnheart–same as they say to me, their atheist friend: “Have a good break!” That’s why that’s so great.

                7. Observer*

                  @Autumheart, is it do hard to say “enjoy your break”?

                  It’s one thing when you don’t know people. The generic pleasantry is fine then. But when you KNOW that this is not the other person’s holiday, insisting that “Happy Holidays” is THE “correct” thing is what’s weaponizing holiday greetings. If I’m taking off, I’ll enjoy my break / day off / whatever. Just as I’ll enjoy a vacation on a random Tuesday, but no one will insist that it’s a holiday.

                8. Thursday Next*

                  Chiming in late, but I agree with fposte that school calendars can be very convenient in certain contexts, not just for my academic colleagues, but for people I know through my kids’ schools. So when I wish them “happy break” or “happy holidays,” I am talking specifically about time off from teaching or extra time with their kids.

                  I’m Hindu and my husband is Jewish, so we celebrate a bunch of holidays between our families. I suspect that people don’t assume I’m coming from a place of Christian hegemony when I say “happy holidays.” It’d probably come off differently if I were Christian and never wished someone a good Rosh Hashanah or Diwali as appropriate.

          3. Someone Else*

            Do you not celebrate New Year’s Day? I’m not saying you need to feel the way I do, but personally for me as a Jewish person, I far prefer when someone (who knows I am Jewish) “happy holidays” at me this week instead of “Merry Christmas”ing at me. If they’d “Happy New Year”d at me even better, but I don’t see anything antagonist about the generic greeting you got. So at the very least hopefully you can let go of that one.

        2. Observer*

          Oh, sure it’s obvious why they said it. But it’s better to ask that to explicitly point out realize that they are acting as though everyone REALLY *does* celebrate Christmas, even if they are not Christian and even if they say they don’t.

          1. Autumnheart*

            But “Happy Holidays” isn’t a specific Christian greeting…
            Like there’s more than one holiday in December…
            ….that’s the point….

            1. fposte*

              Sure, but lots of people’s major holidays *aren’t* in December. Again, I’m not really ruffled by this, but I think it’s interesting how baked in the December = holidays notion is without questioning where that might come from and whether it’s correct. It’s not even like Hanukkah is that big a holiday in Judaism–it just gets a false equivalency from the timing. So why say “happy holidays” only in December?

              1. Autumnheart*

                Pretty sure people also say it in November and/or January. Because, you know, Thanksgiving and New Year’s. I feel like I’m on crack every time I have to point out that we have two major holidays in this country that aren’t religious.

                1. fposte*

                  Around here I don’t hear that for Thanksgiving at all–they say “Have a good Thanksgiving” or “Have a good holiday” or “have a good fall break.” “Happy holidays” is strictly December stuff, and it’s pretty dependent on the plural, so New Year’s doesn’t, I think, get it off the hook–there’s still the question of what other holiday is being referred to. (And then, of course, there’s the fact that “holiday” itself is religious in meaning, so “secular holiday” is quite a modern and somewhat oxymoronic notion.)

                2. Autumnheart*

                  Anyway, regardless, none of this is appropriate for the workplace. It’s one thing if a particular coworker is also a personal friend, but if someone is just a professional colleague, I can’t imagine a good reason why another employee would be obligated to remember, much less acknowledge, religious traditions on the job. It’s one thing for an employer, as a corporate entity, to be inclusive in their representation and to acknowledge holidays equally. (For example, my employer has a yearly Diwali celebration, Hannukah, Asian New Year, etc.) But for an employee to be butthurt that their religion was not acknowledged by their coworkers is a step too far. It’s really none of their business, and I wouldn’t want to work somewhere where it was.

                3. Observer*

                  You mean in a workplace that does events explicitly for for Christmas, it’s inappropriate to acknowledge that actually some people don’t do Christmas? Because the Christmas events have nothing to do with religious heritage, oh no, but Chanukah and Diwali and atheism do?


                  Thanks for proving my point.

            2. Observer*

              But “Happy Holidays” isn’t a specific Christian greeting…

              But it IS pretty specific to Christmas, which is specifically NOT a Jewish (or Muslim) holiday, as much as you would like to pretend that it really is everyone’s. And, when you know that a specific person doesn’t celebrate, as in this case, it’s just rude to ignore it.

              If someone actually meant New Years, they could have said so. They didn’t for a reason.

              1. Autumnheart*

                Then why do people say “Merry Christmas”? Why does the alt-right get so bent out of shape when someone says “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”? Because it specifically doesn’t refer to Christmas.

                I think I will just chalk this up to “people are stupid and looking for a reason to take offense” and leave it at that. Happy holidays.

            3. HannahS*

              Except….there’s not? Because most years, by the time people start saying “Happy holidays,” Chanukah and Diwali are already over….so theres just New Year’s left…which is holiday…singular. We know you mean Christmas and the new year.

              1. That Francher Kid*

                You’re forgetting Winter Solstice/Yule, which generally falls around Dec 21 and is celebrated by a lot of people, me included.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      When I get like this where I have a running list of All That is Wrong, that can mean I am giving too much. I need to take a step or two back and let others do whatever.
      What I see here is that you are putting more in than you are getting out of it.

      So you have been working 14 hours a day for three weeks. My best advice is get some rest. Once you are rested then decide what you want out of the situation. There’s nice to haves and then there is MUST haves. Make your lists. Then sit down and have a good talk with your boss.
      But I would not do anything until I got some rest and I could think clearer. This is how I have handled stuff like this in the past.

      1. Observer*

        This is a very good point.

        It sounds to me like some seriously poor planning here. I mean it’s going to be inevitable that an event like this is going to need extra time and effort. But this is just not reasonable – I think that a discussion of how to provide more help next year would be useful.

    3. Middle School Teacher*

      I think you need to give boss the benefit of the doubt here. I know they know you’re Jewish and Hanukkah is over etc but just as you’ve been working flat-out on event (plus BEC volunteer plus clonk on the head), they probably have been too. Can you legitimately say you remember every single thing every single person has told you over the last month?

      I mean, if June comes and boss still persists in wishing you Happy (Christian) Holiday, then yes, call them out. But at this point it might be easier for you to make like Elsa and let it go.

      I’m not trying to diminish your experience. It sucks when people don’t acknowledge you and just lump you in with the majority. It feels lazy. It is lazy. But unless you have evidence that boss is doing this on purpose and this is personal, I think it would be better in the long run to just let it go.

    4. hope is hopeful*

      I say Happy Holidays because the majority of people I come into contact with at work are either – fellow university workers or those in school/college where they actually are on break from school/college/etc…

    5. WellRed*

      While everyone else goes off on the other tangents ( and you all have valid viewpoints) I have a different comment. I have been bopped in the head ir had something fall on my head. It flipping hurts! It has also made me angry in a way that, oh, smashing a finger or what have, does not. First, sympathy. Second, if you say you’re fine or there’s no visible injury, well, that’s what people react to. On top of that stupid busy schedule, it’s the cherry on the insult to injury cake.

      1. Observer*

        This is mostly true. But seriously, when someone gets bopped on the head how hard is it to follow up and ask someone how they are feeling!?

      2. nonegiven*

        Seriously, I had baby powder fall on top of my head, more than once. It seemed to cause blinding rage. I had to move the powder.

  54. Little bean*

    Happy holidays! Any tips for dealing with gift anxiety? I love buying people gifts they’ll enjoy and watching their reaction when they open it. I HATE the stress of trying to find the perfect gift for everyone and worrying that it’ll end up languishing in a closet unused. I also hate when someone ends up getting me something noticably more expensive than what I got them. I end up spending way more money than I should because I prioritize getting the perfect gift over sticking to my budget.

    1. Alianora*

      This year, I either got people things I know for certain they would like or made them chocolate truffles. I like giving edible things as gifts because even if the recipient doesn’t end up liking it, they can still give it away and not worry about keeping it forever.

    2. fposte*

      The older I get, the more I realize that something can be a good gift and still languish in a closet unused. I think it’s okay for a present not to be life-changing–it makes me happy when I get it, or the other person happy, and that’s goal achieved.

      I have one friend who’s a devoted maximizer, and what often happens is that I give him a present of a thing he doesn’t realize exists–say, a microplane grater. Then it’s not long till I’m at his house and I realize he has a different microplane grater, one that’s more streamlined or titanium or whatever. And this happens over and over, so I figure my gift is the *notion* of the microplane grater, which otherwise he wouldn’t have had.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      It’s just things.

      Reality is that no gift is perfect. Matter of fact, most gifts are only borderline desirable/likable. And this is reality. We buy each other piles and piles of crap, our homes are cluttered beyond belief and we still aren’t happy.

      I know, bah humbug, right?

      What matters is how the people treat each other through out the year. The gift does not matter.

      Here is how business is set up. Designers come up with Gadget A, new! fantastic! Everyone runs out and buys one. Three months later we have Gadget A version 2. Improved! Even better! We dump version A1 and buy version A2. Lo’ and Behold we have version A 3. We dump A2 and any A1’s that are left and we rush out and buy version A3. Advertisers constantly tell us that we don’t have the best. We are supposed to be anxious because anxious people buy products.

      Decide that you have done the best you can do. Just decide “This is it. I have given it my best.” See it for what it actually is. Contentment is a deliberate choice. We know that given our resources of time/money/travel we have done the best we can with what we have. We choose to be content.

      If people chose not to leverage our gifts to improve or enjoy their lives more that is THEIR choice. We have no say in that choice. Oddly, you might look at the gifts you receive and see if you are leveraging them to your best advantage in your life. This might counterbalance your concern about what everyone else is doing.

      But mostly, hang on to the fact that we are supposed to be anxious so we buy more. Now, what do you want your response to be to that marketing technique?

    4. MostCake*

      I feel you so much. I love buying gifts and put so much planning and thought into them that it really hurts when I realize the recipient doesn’t appreciate the effort. I’ve really had to examine my thoughts and motivations over this over many years. I’ve learned to not give the ultimate gift unless I’ve really got a proper read on the recipient, which aside from really close friends and a couple of relatives, is not that often. I’ve also figured out that many of the gifts I select are really things that I want for myself. So now I weigh that option when I’m unsure of a gift, and sometimes I do just buy it for myself and give the originally intended recipient something more generic like a gift card.

      But besides giving gifts, there’s something that happened in my life a few years ago that greatly affects me still and I just reject material items outright, unlike like my old mindset, which used to adore feathering my nest and gave me a lot of pleasure. No one really knows this about me, but I’ve never been in a place where I feel safe sharing it. So unfortunately I both a. have an entire armoire stuffed with gifts that I’ve received and have no recollection of what’s in there, and b. regularly stop by the charity shop and hand over gifts I’ve just unwrapped and just mentally reject without even thinking about whether I even want them or need them. I know it’s nuts, but I don’t have the mental or emotional wherewithal to figure out how to “home” an item into my household that I’ve not bought myself based on immediate need.

      As for my second paragraph. I really wish I could change this, but I don’t know where to start. It stems from a horrible catastrophic event and I’ve never been able to find help to deal with it due to the pressing issues of getting back on the hamster wheel and cranking out a living no matter what. My immediate family is so self absorbed they all just think I’m a hermit and a nut. I wish I could go back in time.

      1. fposte*

        Wow, MostCake, that sounds really hard. I hope you find some space for help in the future. In the meantime, there are worse things than handing over a lot of stuff to charity shops, so it sounds like you’ve found a pretty workable approach for the time being.

        1. MostCake*

          Thank you fposte. It’s just become a part of my life I wish didn’t happen but I trudge on. As time passes the tragedy dims and my outlook is brighter but the acquisition of things is something I still struggle with and quite frankly have chosen not to deal with. I appreciate your words very much. In my everyday life I appear much too blessed to have any problems at all, which is a lesson if you like for anyone.

        1. MostCake*

          You’re a sweetie. As a matter of fact I’m curled up with my kittos and having wine and a snack and that’s a happy Christmas in my book. Best wishes!

    5. SpiderLadyCEO*

      Best friend and I demand Christmas wish lists from Everyone, and this has helped immensely! Even if I don’t always stick to the list, it helps give a framework of what to go from. And for nightmare recipients like my dad and brother, it really is the only way to get them something they want – they only want hyper specific items, and it would just be hopeless figuring out what.

      And exchanging lists means you can set $ values for each other!!!! Very helpful!

      One other thing I started doing this year for a handful of people was just…not caring about How Perfect their gift was. I have a handful of friends who I always exchange gifts with, and I adore them, but they consistently give me off the wall bizarre presents. This year I gave myself permission to match them: I went to their favorite store, and bought a handful of things I thought they would like, and then dropped the issue. It seems to have been my most successful present so far – one girl even passed my gift around the party, she was so delighted with it.

      1. Little bean*

        My mom and sister and I do wish lists and I love it! I get what I want, and I know I’m getting them what they want. However, several of the men in my family refuse to participate. My fiance insists that takes all the fun out of it, and will only buy me things not on my list.

        1. Half-Caf Latte*

          Only things not on the list? That feels like fiance is saying “my way of gifting is superior and therefore more valid”.

    6. Will's Mom*

      I have reached the age where I definitely do NOT need more stuff. I prefer gifts that provide a memorable experience. I would love a gift card to a local theater (movie or live event) or inexpensive tickets to a local event. I would even love it if I was invited to go with the giver to do something fun like going to a fair. A couple of years ago, I bought tickets for my three surviving adult children (we really need to come up with a name for our adult children) to a college homecoming game at the university my youngest (deceased) son graduated back in 2010. The university is about a 6 hour drive from where we live, so ROAD TRIP! Anyway, you get the idea. Merry Christmas!

    7. Lilysparrow*

      I think one way to work on that anxiety might be to unpack the reasons behind its intensity.

      Do you believe the recipient’s reaction says something about you, or about your relationship? Do you feel that the gift represents part of you?

      Is gift-giving or gift-choosing a big part of emotional closeness and vulnerability for you?

      If a gift isn’t “perfect,” does that feel like failure or like rejection, or both? Or something else?

      There’s no right or wrong with these, but questioning it can help you separate from the feelings and try different ways to deal with them.

  55. Sapphire*

    Does anyone else sing in a church choir? Holy crap it was a crazy weekend. We had a Saturday Christmas Tableaux service, Sunday church, and two Christmas Eve services, one of which included a performance of the Vivaldi Gloria. I love singing at Christmastime, but I was definitely done by the last service which ended just before midnight.

    1. Dr. Anonymous*

      I used to fly home every Christmas and sing in my childhood church choir with my mom (it’s a very small choir and there are usually at least a couple of sopranos out of town for Christmas, so the director was actually quite happy to have me). I still remember the year my mom told me at the last minute that we weren’t singing alto anymore (which fortunately was the same year one of the tenors snuck a little sherry into the choir loft), and the year she didn’t send me the music in advance, because it’s “all familiar stuff”, which turned out to mean stuff they’d sung in Advent in previous years and which I had never, ever seen before. I sat at the piano frantically tapping out the tune (and I think we were still altos that year so you couldn’t just hum along with the melody) and gave my mom some dirty looks.

      She passed away five years ago I miss her so much this time of year. I go to a carol singing party with friends every year now and I cry joyful tears every time we sing her favorite carol.

      Enjoy your singing and I hope you are drinking something hot and soothing this morning!

    2. Liane*

      Oh, yes, alto here. We started practicing back in August/September and a good thing, as we missed 3 practices in October, 2 due to church events and one due to weather. I missed our cantata on the 16th* because I lost my voice. I managed to recover well enough to sing Sunday and last night. Also did one of the longer readings last night, as well as a recorder solo. So today, I have the accursed cough back. And I wasn’t the only one missing practices/services due to illness this fall.
      But I love choir!

      *plus the party afterwards & a concert I’d really wanted to go to

    3. Lilysparrow*

      I used to, but I pulled back a couple of years ago. We rehearse all during Advent, which a) is absolutely slammed now that the kids are in more school activities, a) is the season when my husband is most unavailable, because he works at a different church, and 3) meant I never got to sit with my kids during Christmas service.

      Nobody wants Twitchy-Eye Screamy Mommy for Christmas. Especially not Mommy.

  56. Cupcakes*

    I don’t want to go back to work tomorrow… I’ve been trying to apply for jobs during the holidays but I feel bad for dipping out of my job so quickly. It definitely wasn’t a good match for me and I was very thorough during the interview but still. I feel the need to put it on my resume because I… would be lying without it? But I don’t know, I’m just stressed and while I love the holidays, I’ve had so much stuff going on and this is definitely negatively contributing to how I feel.

    1. Observer*

      Your resume is not a sworn document of every job you have ever had. Leaving stuff off is NOT lying. Making stuff up, adding jobs you didn’t have, describing jobs inaccurately ARE lying and you should avoid those. But unless you are specifically asked about ALL of your jobs, you are perfectly free to ignore the existence of any job where it suits you.

      1. Cupcakes*

        That makes sense. I think that I logically know that but am anxious about being asked about it if I have an interview. I was reading the AAM post about what to say during an interview but it still trips me up. Maybe this holiday was a good break for me and I’ll get a chance to apply to things during the new year since I’ll have time off.

  57. Anony McAnonFace*

    Seasonal worker here staring down the barrel of unemployment with about $40 in my bank account after I pay off my credit card, and my usually awesome family gave me some extremely unwanted or fundamentally unusable gifts this year that are non-returnable and so basically just said they would just have them instead. It stings because I spent a lot of time and money I could have saved for my upcoming unemployment to get things I knew they’d like.

  58. Partly Cloudy*

    If any of you remember my question from the open thread a couple of weeks ago about the recruiter who wanted me to send a post-interview thank you note via snail mail in addition to email… I got the job! (and did not send the note, haha). Since I was laid off in October, the combination of the time off and getting a new job just when finances were starting to be stressful is my Christmas gift this year.

  59. TA*

    Just wanted to post and thank Alison for all her wonderful advice and the commentariot for having such a supportive community.

    I love AAM all year. My favorite are the updates though and I am sad that the season of updates is over now for another year.

    Wishing everyone a happy and joyous 2019! :)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      There is still one more week.

      I am sad for them to end too though, as they are my vacation! (A vacation that I’ve spent being sick, so far, but I’ve decided to overcome it through sheer force of will.)

  60. Loopy*

    Not sure if it’s too late but! Just got an air fryer for xmas and wondering if anyone knows where I can find recipes for it that are vegetarian friendly?

  61. Luna123*

    Last year, I asked my old boss for time off after Christmas so I could go to a funeral out of state. First she said of course, she’ll cover me. Then on Christmas Eve she texted and asked if she could *come with me* because she knew someone in the next town over (I was an idiot and told her the town when I asked for the time off). I said I’d ask the family I was traveling with to buy some time. Luckily she always flip flopped, so she emailed on Christmas and said that she couldn’t go because “of a meeting.”

    This year, I have to go to another funeral after Christmas, but it’s in town and I already have the time off. But I’m 100% sure if I told new my boss I had to go out of state and needed time off, she would not want to come with me in any way, shape, or form. My current job is amazing, but my expectations originally were so low.

    1. fposte*

      Wow, that is . . . entry into some kind of AAM-list worthy. Funerals as a boss tagalong event? Holy cow.

      1. Luna123*

        I mean, technically she wanted me to drop her off at the next town over so she could see her friend, but . . . yeah.

        Honestly she has a LOT in common with that “am I too generous?” letter writer — she expected all of her employees to be as invested in her company as she was, etc. I could probably write a novel, and I was only there a little under a year and a half.

        1. Thursday Next*

          But that’s even worse! You were going to a funeral, not running errands you could work her carpooling needs into.

          Really, I don’t understand what some people are thinking at times.

  62. TeachingAbroad*

    I’d like to do a short-term teaching abroad gig. I can’t afford to take the TOEFL. I can only spare 2-3 weeks. Does anyone have any ideas?

    1. Middle School Teacher*

      If you have a B Ed (or any relevant bachelor’s degree) there are places you could go. I’ve seen some ads for schools in China and Korea that don’t necessarily require a TESOL or similar, just some kind of higher ed. In a lot of cases, places like these are looking for strong native speakers, they want to hear how people sound when they talk, model a neutral accent, how they use syntax, etc. Check out the Dave’s ESL Cafe website, he has tons of resources and job postings.

        1. Middle School Teacher*

          Probably, fewer than if you had teacher training but some. Have you checked the job boards? I checked this morning and there are lots. If you’re Canadian I wouldn’t go to China right now but the world is a big place!

        2. Amber*

          What kind of teaching experience or language skills do you have that make you feel this would be a good role for you? That’s the best place to start. Identify those things, and then use the job boards to look for placements that are seeking those sort of employees. If you can demonstrate how your education, training and/or experience suit you for the role, it’ll be pretty straightforward to apply for those sort of roles.

          If you don’t have any relevant training or experience, be super cautious about accepting a role. Reputable places will require certification, a relevant degree or some teacher training in order to accept you to a role. Places that don’t require any of those may not be good employers and it may be risky to work for them. That’s not to say there aren’t possibilities out there for people in that situation, but you should research them really carefully and be absolutely sure of them before you commit to anything. There are a lot of dodgy “English schools” out there that scam people.

        3. AcademiaNut*

          I’m in Taiwan.

          You can get a teaching job with just a bachelor’s degree (it must be a degree – a certificate won’t count for the visa) and a passport from an English speaking country. In general, the people hiring can’t actually distinguish accents, so they use passports as a proxy. But the better jobs go to people with teacher training and/or experience, so you’d be looking mostly at cram school type jobs rather than school postings. It’s also not as open a market as it was a decade ago.

          I’m a bit confused when you say “I can only spare two or three weeks”. If you’re actually looking for a three week teaching position abroad (like a working vacation), I don’t think you’ll have much luck. Employers aren’t going to want to go through the effort of sponsoring a work visa for a couple of weeks work from someone with no training in the field (if you could even *get* a three week work visa), and an employer offering a three week gig should be looked at with extreme suspicion and run away from.

  63. Anon anony*

    I was out of the office and missed a meeting. Apparently Grandboss told people not tell me what was discussed in the meeting. (It was about who our new boss would be, since they divided up the department.)

    When I met with Grandboss, he started off the conversation with, “So, what have you heard?”

    I felt like this was wrong or a set up, because was he just trying to see if someone told me something? I said that it was about who my new boss would be, but that was all. (There were rumours about it all month, anyways…)

    New boss didn’t like the fact that people were “talking and gossiping.” Um, I can’t control what people say.
    Is this strange?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Agreed. This is very strange behavior. I would be inching my way toward the door waiting to see if things improved.

    2. Earthwalker*

      I can imagine that Grandboss wanted to formally announce the big news to everyone at the same time, and couldn’t do that because you were out. He wants you to hear about the org change directly from him, officially, rather than get the rumor mill version first, so he asked the rumor mill to cool it. He knows how grapevines work, though, and expects you’ve likely heard something by word of mouth before he could reach you, which you did, right? He says “what have you heard?” so he doesn’t need to repeat what you already know, can address any errors in the version of the story that you got, and perhaps learn what employees are saying about the change. That doesn’t seem weird to me. I can imagine New Boss simply being inexperienced. Sometimes new managers think they can better control their teams by withholding information about what’s going on and then releasing it selectively, so that anyone who they haven’t told won’t know about it. An office grapevine makes that impossible, so sometimes a really inexperienced manager will say, “No more grapevine!” as if they could control it. That doesn’t work, of course, but it’s not really unusual.

  64. Forrest Rhodes*

    Apropos of Funny Cide’s question about pet nicknames (with apologies in advance for the long story):

    When I was a kid, my grandparents and great-grands told me about the many, many men who were out of work and on the road during the 1930s Depression. I don’t know if it’s a pejorative now, but the term my elders—and the men themselves—used was “hobos.” When they passed through the small Western towns where my family members lived, the men would come the door and ask if they could do some kind of labor around the place—splitting wood, etc.—in exchange for a meal. When the resident was cordial and hospitable (as my family usually was), as the man left he would make a small, secret mark of some kind on the front fence or a front-yard tree. The mark would tell other hobos, “Nice folks live here. Treat them courteously and they’ll help you out.” If a resident wasn’t so welcoming, the traveler would make a different mark so other hobos would know not to bother stopping there.

    For her entire life, my mother attracted animals like a spilled drop of honey attracts ants. My dad always said that homeless animals must have had the same kind of system that those men in the 1930s had—that there must be some kind of sign on our front walk that told feral, lost, and/or homeless animals, “This is the place!” From my earliest memories in the late 1940s until Mom died, our house was a center for “Mom’s livestock”: cats and dogs, sure; but also ducks and the occasional goose (no idea how they ended up with us; we lived in the middle of a big city), Patsy the hamster (who lived under the bushes beside the house for years and would come out only when she heard my mom’s voice), garter snakes, even a box turtle (who actually belonged to our next-door neighbor but liked to stroll over for visits).

    Mom had particular affinity for the feral cat population. Regardless of how skittish and people-shy the cat was, it would be just a matter of time until Mom could sit on the front step and have the cat voluntarily sitting next to her (or on her lap) for pats. Once the relationship reached that point, my mom would talk the cat into a carrier and take it to our local veterinarian for what the vet called “The [Mom’s full name] Independent Catch-and-Release Spaying and Neutering Program.” My dad would mutter about the vet being able to pay off her vacation home in Palm Springs solely on what we paid for services to animals who weren’t actually ours, but he always provided any backup Mom needed.

    I tell you all this as the long way to introduce a kitten that was born to one of the feral cats who regularly visited our back yard and who had managed to escape my mom’s no-reproduction program. One day in mid-1994 or 1995, Mom phoned me, concerned. She could hear a kitten somewhere in the back yard but couldn’t find it. It sounded tiny and scared. Mom needed to assemble her posse (i.e., me) for the search.

    We looked for that kitten for four days. Despite our good-sized back yard, the sounds seemed to center around our small garage. I slithered through the heavy bushes in the narrow space between the garage and the fence; we checked every single [expletive deleted] box that was inside the garage; I climbed up and slowly walked the entire periphery of the garage roof to see if I could pinpoint the occasional “mew!”; no luck. Fearing that the kitten had somehow gotten between the outer and inner walls of the garage, I even bare-hands ripped a couple of slats off the side of the building. No feline. Every time we thought we’d centered on it, the kitten would go quiet, then resume hollering from another location.

    You’re probably thinking, “Well, of course! The mother cat was moving the kitten around.” A logical assumption, but not so. The mother cat, having deposited the kitten in what she knew was a safe place, had apparently taken off for an extended vacation in, I don’t know, Guadalajara or someplace. Her offspring, meanwhile, continued to yell at us because we weren’t performing as expected.

    Finally, we had to pause the quest. We’d been searching for four days and had nothing. The posse had her actual job to deal with; Mom’s own work also required her attention.

    A couple of days later, Dad asked William, one of his worker-guys, to come to the house and pick up some tools that were stored in the garage. William said hello to Mom, went to the garage, and a few minutes later called from the back door. “Mrs. G, were you looking for this?”

    Cupped in his work-gloved hands was a tiny, grubby, extremely annoyed, gray tabby-type kitten, loudly wondering what the heck had happened to his next meal. He was immediately cleaned up, despite his resistance; and offered some of the Gerber’s baby food that my mom always had on hand (even though the youngest of my siblings was now well over six feet tall), which the kitten accepted enthusiastically. Mom decided that he had already earned his name: Trouble.

    Trouble—aka Trouble Cat, Troub (rhymes with “glub”), TC, His Royal Highness, HRH, and, occasionally, “you scurvy son of a misbegotten camel”—went on to justify his name and all of its variations. He grew into a healthy, happy, arrogant, completely obnoxious indoor/outdoor cat who ruled my parents’ property and all that lived in it. He showed great interest in my mom’s work, hopping up on the dining room table to lie in the middle of whatever papers she was reading or working with. After Dad lost most of his eyesight, he and Mom would sit at the table to do the daily newspaper’s crossword puzzle together, Mom reading the clues, both parents discussing possible answers. Trouble always considered himself part of the wordsmith team, planting himself flat on top of the puzzle and batting at the pencil as my mom tried to fill in the answers.

    In the evenings, Troub would sit patiently beside Mom’s reclining chair until she and Dad settled in for an evening of Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, and Maverick on TV, then he’d climb into her lap and join the viewing party.

    He had a supervisory interest in whatever chore was going on around the house, once spending several days wearing an interesting mint-green pattern that matched the shade we’d painted one of the bedrooms. We learned that before wet clothing went into the dryer it was necessary to make sure HRH wasn’t napping there; and that all dry laundry had to be folded and put away immediately or there would be a large gray cat sleeping in the middle of it. Workers who came to the house—for instance, to change some electrical wiring—had to be warned that they would have a hairy gray monitor sticking his nose in at every opportunity.

    Trouble had a collaborative relationship with the family dogs; any stray pen or pencil that was lying on a flat surface would immediately be hunted down and batted to the floor so the dogs could chew on it. We became accustomed to the feel of gnawed-on pencil parts under our bare feet in the morning, and Mom started buying #2 pencils in the large, industrial-size packages.

    After Dad died in 2003 and Mom in 2008, TC came to live with me. He finally did accept the indoor-only status that I mandated, but reluctantly; I heard a lot of complaints for the first few months, and had to regain my athletic ability to carry groceries into or the weekly trash out of my apartment door without a Trouble escape. I quickly re-learned about guarding my pens and pencils, and that I couldn’t have house plants because there was literally no place Trouble couldn’t get to for plant abuse. We had a pretty good life together—as long as I did exactly what he wanted me to do at the exact moment he wanted me to do it.

    Eventually, of course, one of his nicknames became Old Man, and he showed his age. He moved more slowly, and could no longer casually leap onto the kitchen counter to reach the greenhouse window over the sink—a favorite spot for afternoon naps. Wanting to avoid any embarrassment on his part, I quietly put a couple of stair-step boxes next to my bed so he could continue to spend nights at the small of my back.

    One day in February 2018, he let me know that it was time. He curled up in the small box I presented, and made no complaint or escape attempts when I carried it out to the passenger seat of my truck for his final ride. In the vet’s exam room, he and I spent a lot of time reminiscing about the past 23—or was it 24?—years before we could say goodbye.

    Now, ten months later, I laugh when I catch myself performing some anti-Trouble action—hiding the pens and pencils, for instance. I love that damn cat, and I’m lucky to have known him. He was the last of my mom’s animals and one of the more cantankerous roommates I’ve ever had. There’s still a Trouble-shaped hole in my universe and always will be, but that’s okay; he deserves it. Trouble may not have known it but he won the lottery that day he allowed William to capture him—and so did we.

    Thank you for listening, and a happy 2019 to us all.

      1. Forrest Rhodes*

        Thanks, SpiderLadyCEO. I appreciate your reading and response. Yeah, “delightful” was often the right word for TC , but usually it was more like “The beast is loose—run for cover!” He did leave me with some good stories, though … :)

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      My eyes are watering. Since when do we have allergies in December?
      Although I adore cats I have hardened my heart to dull the pain of living without (thanks to cat allergies that have intensified over time). But you wrote so well, I was with you for every word, enjoying every described experience even when it became clear how your story was going to end. It was a grand chronicle: Tiny but strong-willed kitten grows up into Feline Lord of the Household and eventually Elder Statesman. Also grand: your descriptions of your mom, your dad, the vet’s description of your mom’s one-woman operation, and your appearance as the Posse.
      Please think about publishing this somewhere.
      Yes, a happy 2019 to us all. And thank you.

      1. Forrest Rhodes*

        Thanks very much, Jean (just Jean). Funny, I had those same allergies too while I was writing this.
        I didn’t really intend for the story to go so many different directions but once I started, that’s where it wanted to go and they all seemed to me to connect.
        I love telling these family tales, but have trouble (no pun intended) finding listeners; after a few minutes I see my audience gazing longingly at the door, and I expect them to sprint for the exits at any moment. I’m happy that you enjoyed seeing TC through my eyes, and your response is a wonderful Christmas present for me.
        … and if I could think of someplace to publish these kinds of reminiscences, I probably would!
        Thanks, and regards.

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          … and if I could think of someplace to publish these kinds of reminiscences, I probably would!
          Hmmm. You might try Writer’s Market. (Once upon a time, this was a book published annually. I have no idea whether it has morphed into some other format online and updated more frequently.)
          I read a memoir a long time ago, was reminded of it by your story, but at present cannot recall either title or author. If either one comes back to me within the next 24-36 hrs I’ll return to this site to post the information.

    2. WellRed*

      This was too long for me. But. Have you ever heard about hiw hobos ( I think) would mark the house if a “kind hearted woman” with a picture if a cat so that those who couldn’t read would understand they could get help or a meal or whatever? I may be mixing a few things up, it’s been a long time since I heard this. From a kindhearted woman, no less.

      1. Forrest Rhodes*

        Thanks much, WellRed, and yeah, the story is a long one. About a similar story of his, an author friend once told me, “It kinda got the bit in its teeth and I was just along for the ride after that.” Me too today.
        No, I hadn’t heard about the cat picture (and I’d love it if a cat were the marker for a friendly house), but it does make sense that in the 1930s not everyone was a great reader. I’m inclined to trust your kindhearted source, though.
        Thanks for reading (even a little) and taking the time to respond.

        1. WellRed*

          I am missing that kindhearted woman this Christmas (passed in July). Thanks for indirectly reminding me of that tale.

        2. Red Reader*

          Well Red is correct – I’ve had a tile painted with the hobo sign for “a good woman lives here” hanging in my kitchen since it was gifted to me… almost fifteen years now, and it is a stick figure cat. :)

        3. ThursdaysGeek*

          I never knew what the sign was, but considering the number of hobos that came by our house when I was a kid (in the 1970s), we knew our house was marked.

          I enjoyed your story – 23 or 24 is super, super old for a cat! You had a lot of good years.

          1. Forrest Rhodes*

            Thanks, ThursdayGeek, glad you enjoyed it. Yeah, once I figured out how old TC really was it surprised me too. We did have a good long run.
            It was fun telling at least part of his story.

      2. Jean (just Jean)*

        I learned about the “kind hearted woman”/cat picture on house (or fence?) from a long-ago Coldwater Creek catalog, of all things. The image must have been on something they were selling at the time. This was in 2010 or earlier, before the company went out of business and then revived itself in another format.

  65. Pennalynn Lott*

    I have a job interview on Thursday and I’ve got Imposter Syndrome and anxiety all over the place about it. The only experience I have in this field is from a 10-week internship I did over the summer. The Sr VP who is head of the department I’ll be interviewing with was the Sr VP at my internship, but he didn’t reach out to me directly even though he knows I would love to work for him (because I told him!). He reached out to one of the officers of my degree program’s student group to offer him a job. The officer had done the same internship I did, but one summer earlier. That officer already has a job lined up, so the Sr VP asked for resumes of people the officer thought would be a good fit.

    So I guess I should be happy that the Sr VP didn’t automatically round-file my resume? But the experience and skill level and certifications of the existing team members is. . . daunting. They’ve all got 5-10 years in the field, and the certs to go with it, and I’m like, “Derpy-do, I’m still in grad school.”

    I’m also middle-aged and fat, and they’re all young and trim. The Sr VP is the only one close to me in age.

    Anybody got any tricks for talking myself down off the ledge?

    1. Observer*

      Dress well. Make sure that what you wear fits well (not too tight or too big) and is reasonably crisp. Also decent quality. A pulled together look makes you feel better, and takes your appearance from “sloppy fat” to “has presence”.

      They know what your qualifications are and are apparently find with that. Remember, they reached out to someone with similar qualifications to you and then reached out to you. And it’s not like you put experience on your resume that you didn’t actually have.

      What you almost certainly do have is transferable skills, even if it’s in the “soft skills” area. And that puts you ahead of most of the cohort they seem to be looking at (ie grad students with a decent internship to their name.)

    2. Jean (just Jean)*

      No need to apologize for being middle-aged and/or fat and/or on a different timeline re this field and related workplaces. People sometimes end up taking different paths in life. If you’re confident and comfortable with yourself and your life, they’ll follow your lead.

      Remember, you’ve already been successfully vetted twice: once by the officer of your student group (who included your resume when asked for those of people who would be a good fit) and once by the Sr VP (who included you on the list of interviewees when he read the resumes sent by the officer).

      Follow Alison’s usual suggestions to rock the interview.

    3. Dr. Anonymous*

      The last two people we hired in our office, the office manager and I high-fived because OMG THEY WERE GROWNUPS (not age, just a vibe, and hard to find in entry-level employees where we are for a long list of reasons). If you are managing grad school in middle age, I am hoping you’ve got it going on in the maturity department.

      Also go in with the focus of finding out about the job, how the skills you do have fit it, and whether you and they think you’d do well. Don’t go in to prove, go in to inquire. Fit is HUGELY important, and your opinion matters more to you on this than theirs does, so make sure you like them.

      And wear your maturity like a glowing halo.

    4. Pennalynn Lott*

      Thank you so much, Observer, Jean, and Dr. Anonymous!

      I don’t have a perfect suit because I don’t have the income for it right now. But I bought a new, longer, blazer that I feel more comfortable in than the rest of the offerings which all have sleeves longer than the jacket [WHY is this a thing in plus-size clothing???]

      The officer is a friend of mine that I was on a two-person project with at the time the Sr VP asked to meet him for lunch. So he may (or may not) have forwarded my resume because I was like, “Sr VP invited you to lunch tomorrow?? You know he’s going to offer you a job. But you already have one. And, hey, guess what. . . I don’t! And you know how much I admire and respect Sr VP, so OF COURSE you’ll be sending him my resume, RIGHT?!?” But I am genuinely trying to take comfort in the fact that the Sr VP went ahead and passed my resume down to his Director, who then sent it to the corporate recruiter so an interview could be set up. It could all be to keep up appearances with my school’s program for this field [#1 in the world!] but maybe it’s also because they’re looking to diversify their department. Maybe?

      And, as far as professionalism and acting like a grownup is concerned. . . I seem to be getting worse about that as I get older. It’s like I’m moving into IDGAF territory. Which is awesome if you want an honest answer from me, complete with suggestions for how to correct or improve what you’re asking about. But it totally sucks if what you want is someone who is a master at finessing office politics, personalities, and power.

      Lastly, I’ve written [and deleted and and re-written] a “lastly” paragraph multiple times, and each iteration has helped me refine what I’m hoping to have happen on Thursday; how I’d like to portray myself; and what I’d like to know about the department and how they think I’ll fit in. So, thank you all for forcing me to write a bunch of this out, even if you’ll never see it. :-)

      1. Observer*

        You don’t need a “perfect” outfit – I don’t even think such a think exists. It just needs to look reasonably well.

        I think that what most of us mean when we talk about “being adult” and “soft skills” is not necessarily being a people pleaser r finessing office politics, but well, acting like an adult. Decent manners, some sense of responsibility, understanding the existence of the hierarchy, actually understanding the concept of choosing your battles, a very different view of “fair”, etc. You’re not going to feature in all the “clueless intern / first job out of school” stories that no employer has any interest in hosting.

  66. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

    I accidentally left my car unlocked last night and the clothes that I was taking to a relative in the hospital were stolen, along with some other stuff from my car. That wouldn’t be such a big deal, but no one told me his wallet was in there- I wouldn’t have left the stuff in the car had I known! Waiting to file a police report in the hospital is not terribly jolly for anyone.

  67. SpiderLadyCEO*

    Etiquette question! My brother’s (delightful) girlfriend and likely soon to be fiancé is in town for Christmas for the first time ever. I’m single and the only other member of our generation around for Christmas.

    Mom keeps trying to get me to do things with them, but obviously they need their space! I’m happy to give it to them, but I also don’t want to come across as cold – I do like my brother and his GF, I’m just unsure of how to toe the line.

    1. Middle School Teacher*

      Talk to your brother, and be up front. “Mom wants me to hang out with you two, which I’m happy to do, but I can also see how you might want to do something together, just the two of you. Any time you want some time together, just let me know, I promise I won’t be offended!”

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Invite them to go for a walk with you. No costs involved and you can talk with each other. If the conversation lags you can comment about the buildings and such along your walk.

    3. Lilysparrow*

      Get your mom out of the middle of this.

      Make a couple of suggestions of things you’d like to do anyway – see a movie, play a game, go do an outdoorsy thing, whatever. Just keep it to a few, don’t overload. And be responsive to how they receive it.

  68. Harvey P. Carr*

    Cell phone/smartphone question.

    I used to have a basic cell phone. Make/receive calls, basic texting, screen only displayed text and numbers (no graphics), the “keyboard” was one of those things on the numberpad where you had to press keys multiple times to get the letter you wanted. Lost the cell phone and had to get a new one, so I (finally!) joined the rest of the world and got a smartphone.

    The old cell phone was not my primary phone, so I kept it turned off unless I needed it. Biggest frustration was that if I had received a text message, the time of the incoming message would be shown as the time I turned the phone on, not the actual time the message was sent.

    My new smartphone is on much longer than my old cell phone was. Even when I’m not using it as a phone, there’s lots more I can do with it. It’s a great new toy and after two months I’m still learning things about what it can do.

    But one of my worst suspicions was concerned – on the smartphone, a text message received while the phone is shut off will show the time as the time I turned the phone on, not the actual time the message was sent.

    Is this something intrinsic with text messages? Why is it that voice messages and e-mail will indicate the actual time it was sent regardless of whether the phone is on or off, but text messages don’t?

    1. Nicole76*

      My guess is because with email and voicemail those messages are time stamped according to the time the email and voicemail servers received the message regardless of when you view/listen to them. Whereas with texts, if your phone is off, it hasn’t received a text until you turn it back on. I’m not an expert though, so I could be wrong.

      That being said, if you’re concerned about not getting the correct timestamp, instead of turning off your phone you could just put it in Do Not Disturb mode instead. It won’t alert you to incoming texts but they’ll be waiting for you with the correct timestamp when you choose to check the phone.

      1. MuttIsMyCopilot*

        ^This is correct. Emails and voicemails land in your account whether your phone is on or not, which is also why you can log in and check those from other machines. Text messages are sent to your actual phone and can’t be received unless it’s on to be connected to. I second the suggestion to use Do Not Disturb mode if you want accurate timestamps without being at the beck and call of each notification.

  69. WellRed*

    Why is this…such a big problem for you? Whether you have a time stamped voice mail or a text with no time stamp, you get them both at the same time ( when the phone is turned on). The end result is the same, no?

    1. someone*

      … probably because it would be nice to know if a time sensitive message was sent by someone an hour ago vs just now when they turned their phone on. Like if someone texted them hours ago to ask if they wanted to go out for lunch -they turn on the phone and see the message and don’t know if the person just sent it or if it was sent several hours before and it’s now to late to respond.

  70. Nervous Accountant*

    I need tips to calm down and not rage at someone right now.

    Christmas Day, I had an exact plan of what to do. I was going to sit at Starbucks for 4-5 hours and do some work. Rather than go in to the office. Boring and blah yes, but ITS WHAT I PLANNED/WANTED to do.

    So now I get a msg from my husband that my in-laws are coming and are an hour away. That’s just how they are.

    Don’t get me wrong—they’re nice people and I like them a lot—but last minute/sudden stuff really flusters and frustrates me. Again, it’s not them, it’s me. If anything, I’m frustrated at myself for not being more easygoing. Whatever I wanted to do at the cafe I can’t really do @ home.

    I didn’t say anything or text anything but it’s obvious I’m not thrilled and My husband isn’t happy at my reaction. So I don’t know what to expect when I get home.

    1. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      I can totally sympathize. I’m a major planner and really don’t handle spontaneous changes well at all. Even if it’s an objectively good thing, like my husband coming home early and surprising me with my favorite Mexican food, my brain just does not like it and it takes me a while to adjust because I HAD a PLAN. Sure, tasty fajitas and netflix is a better evening than scrubbing the bathroom and making a sandwich, but I was all geared up for the one thing and not the other.
      I suppose it is a flaw, but my husband knows it’s how I am and does his best to accommodate and forgive. Presumably your husband also knows this about you? It’s odd to me that he’s unhappy about a completely predictable reaction. Can you do the starbucks thing anyway? Maybe have dinner with them afterwords, after you’ve had a few hours to get used to the plan change? If they complain about it just politely say you’d’ve loved to have spent more of the day with them if you’d known they were coming, but you didn’t.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        To be fair I guess, it’s sort of new, or at least I’m more vocal about it. He has a blind spot with his family so I’ve learned to tread carefully. Again they’re generally nice people and I love them so it’s not against them, just my own frustrations.

        I was planning on staying there til 8 and then come home and unwind and sleep early. It’s 6 now and even if they get here by 7, I won’t be able to go to bed before 10-11… so def no time to go back out.

        1. MuttIsMyCopilot*

          Ugh. I understand that different families have different norms, but in my circle dropping by that late with no notice would actually be downright rude. And from so far! It’s not like they just happen to be in the neighborhood. They literally planned ahead to crash your evening!
          I would be very tempted to come home with a migraine that required a bubble bath and going to bed early. I guess that’s not the best way to keep the peace, but I do think it would be completely acceptable for you to visit for an hour or so before turning in and letting your husband spend the rest of the evening with them.
          This does seem like the kind of thing that’s worth discussing with your husband at some point. Frame it as a difference in comfort level with spontaneity. No one is right or wrong, but there are some changes you could all make to meet in the middle. He should encourage them to plan visits ahead of time, which would let you spend more time with them and enjoy their company more. When they inevitably pop over without calling, keep to your plans and make entertaining them your husband’s responsibility. If you want to get some work done and go to bed early, he can take them out somewhere. They may be family, but you don’t automatically owe them your time if they can’t be bothered to even let you know they’re coming.

    2. Kat in VA*

      You are allowed to be annoyed at sudden drop-in guests who interrupted your plans, and a husband who apparently thought it was OK to upend your day without telling you.

      This isn’t about being “easygoing”, this is about someone(s) not bothering to take into account your plans or your feelings about how you’re spending your day. You’re allowed to be not thrilled!

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        Idk. I’m just feeling sad now that they never tell us in advance. I’m not blaming my husband or upset with him, just feeling sad and annoyed about the whole situation now.

        1. Autumnheart*

          Would it be possible for you to just say, “Okay, I’ll see you in a few hours when I’m finished here” and continue working like you planned, or would that create a big drama? I mean, if they’re all cool with making plans without asking you if you have the bandwidth, then they can enjoy their time together without interrupting you.

    3. Dan*

      Sucks. I’m in your camp. My ex had zippo boundaries with her family, so whatever they wanted she accommodated, and then gave me a guilt trip for not playing along. I was like WTF? Half the job of being a spouse is running interference because your spouse doesn’t want to spend as much time with your family as you do.

      There was a stretch of time awhile back where spouse ended up doing family stuff *ten* out of twelve weekends in a row. She wasn’t working back then, so I get the need for social interaction, but she just. Wouldn’t. Accept. That I actually had a job, and needed some time on the weekends to recharge.

    4. LizB*

      Ugh, I’m sorry. One of my best friends has this dynamic with her in-laws, and it’s super frustrating for her (and for me, when she ends up cancelling our plans because they’ve decided to do a family thing at the last minute and she feels obligated to go…).

      This doesn’t help for today, but would it have been feasible at all to say, “Oh, cool, it’ll be good to see them! I’m going to be at this Starbucks for another couple hours [note: not the full 4-5 hours you were planning, but still a good chunk of time], but you can tell them I’ll be there around [time]!” That would let you still get some high priorities done while not missing their visit entirely. From my perspective, that’s a totally reasonable thing to do — my inlaws don’t expect me to drop my life when they’re in town, especially if they change plans last minute — but I know in some families that wouldn’t be considered okay.

    5. Lilysparrow*

      See, I would text back and say, “Okay great, I’m working here until Time, see you then!”

      Why do you have to change your plans if you don’t want to?

  71. blackcat*

    This year, I strongly pushed my parents to consider giving us consumable or experience gifts. I offered the name of a museum we’d like passes to, a spa that gives good massages, those sorts of things.
    What happened? Well, we got one box of chocolate from my parents. Consumable, cool. And then about a dozen nicknacks, three throw pillows that don’t match the place or each other at all, and a bunch of clothes that are much too big without gift receipts.
    Anyone have ideas for what to do with maroon, chartreuse, and yellow throw pillows?

    1. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      Drop them off at the closest goodwill? I mean, it’d be easy enough to cover them in another fabric if you actually need some throw pillows, but I wouldn’t feel bad about donating it all after you explicitly requested consumables.

      1. blackcat*

        Yeah, I think I’ll take the entire lot somewhere. My mom keeps making comments about my weight, so I suspect the clothes are about her fiction that I’m getting fat. “Blackcat is gaining weight! Blackcat must need clothes!”

        In reality, Blackcat may be in her early 30s, but still fits *clothes from high school.* I still have some stuff from high school, like a couple of really nice pairs of jeans. And I still fit them. Because I still weigh the same as I did when I was 15.

        So far as I can tell, my mom put on some weight in her 30s and just believes that I must be doing the same.

    2. Kat in VA*

      Maybe this is me being ungrateful, but I’ve never understood the point of someone asking you specifically what you would like for a gift and then *not* getting you that Something, or a gift that approximates that Something. Why bother asking if you’re just going to get me whatever you want?

      1. Mayor of Llamatown*

        Agreed. I give my family a wish list every year. Links to Amazon wish list and other items are included. But they don’t get me what I asked for. It’s frustrating when trying to downsize belongings.

        I have also just straight up asked relatives not to get me things (and sent along a list of vetted, non-political charities to which they could donate if they felt they simply must spend money on me). I still get things every year. At least they have switched to consumable gifts.

    3. Jean (just Jean)*

      +1 to donating them to a resale store or a nonprofit that helps folks (DV survivors? newly arrived immigrants, refugees, or asylees?) furnish new homes.
      Or sell them via Craigslist or some other local online venue?

      On the bright side: your folks followed your suggestion for one gift. Maybe reinforce them on that, and hope for two consumable gifts next year? Change is hard for most of us at one time or another, especially if it means overcoming a lifetime of training to act in the opposite direction.

    4. bunniferous*

      You can order pillow covers online on Amazon-lots of things to choose from -and shove them in. If they are too big…the stuffing wont be, heheheh…..

      I tell my 79 year old mom gift cards are fine. This year she just gave me a wad of cash. I would much rather have that than clothes I cannot wear… your case are the tags still on? Call the store, depending on their policy maybe they will help you out.

  72. bunniferous*

    Well, my husband got his Ancestry DNA test results back tonight with absolutely NO surprises (at least for now. ) His ancestry is pretty much what he thought it was including his Native American ancestry (six percent but he has documented ancestry from the Dawes rolls in any case. ) One small surprise is he thought he had a bit of German ancestry, but no-but I have two percent there which cracks him up.

    This is all significant because a year after I took MINE it revealed that….my father was not my father, and that I had halfsiblings I had not known about. I also found out (earlier) that I was part Jewish (that was from my grandfather on the mom side, not my biodad. ) So I guess it is nice my husband got a nice normal experience. I had joked we needed to make sure we were not related. Apparently his dad was rather….active ….so we still think there is a possibility he could have extra siblings out there somewhere….but yeah, no drama for him. Really rather surprised he got the info on Christmas evening…..but like I said, nice and normal.

    Meanwhile we had a nice pleasant quiet Christmas and after this year it was needed and appreciated!

    1. WellRed*

      There’s been so many letters to advice columns lately from folks who had…surprises in their results.

  73. Paquita*

    This has not been a good Christmas. :( DH and I are both sick, I haven’t been out of the house since I got home from work last Friday. No church, family gathering, nothing. I don’t feel ready to go back to work tomorrow but I will try. Oh well, at least I had the two paid days off. :)

    1. Gilmore67*

      Feel better soon !

      I am just getting over last week with the ” flu”. I got the flu shot ( required for work ) but got a low grade of it. Had the rapid flu test done at urgent care and it was negative.

      Still don’t feel 100% , still coughing and a little congestion but have been able to function better over the last couple of days.

  74. Bowserkitty*

    For my first Christmas as an official expat I went out shopping because retail therapy helps fill the void, right?

    Not really. :/ I’m just happy I live near a girl from one of my hometowns because we hung out all day and reminisced on St Louis area cuisine and places.

  75. Anon Anon Anon*

    I had a rough week. I was asked to do an event in exchange for money and transportation. I was told, in writing, not to line up my own transportation because it would be provided. I was listed as the main attraction at this event and I helped to promote it.

    The organizer flaked on everything. I confirmed that I was getting a ride just before the event. Instead of coming to pick me up, he (as I heard from other people) spent the evening insulting me to the crowd who had come to see me. I was nothing but professional in my interactions with him. This was completely unprovoked, although it followed some verbally abusive behavior that had almost caused me to back out at one point. When I contacted him to ask for payment and ask what happened, he insulted me further and told me, condescendingly, that it’s my responsibility to get to events that I’m featured in.

    I had to write a public statement about it, explaining what happened and apologizing to anyone affected. I’m scheduled to do another event with this person next weekend. I was looking forward to it, but I’m going to have to cancel and find a different place to appear.

    I was recently in a car accident in which I was injured. That’s why I have no transportation. I have reason to believe I was targeted because of this and because of my demographics. I lost money over this. I was counting on getting paid. I’m still recovering from having been out of work due to the injuries.

    So I’m hoping my luck turns around soon. I need to find nicer people. They are out there. I know they are.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Wow. This is awful. I am sorry this happened to you.

      Yes, there are plenty of very nice people out there who play fair and are kind the whole time. Years ago someone said to me, “If we follow the nice people in our lives they tend to lead us to more nice people.” While I was much younger then I still wished that I had heard that one even earlier in life. The advice has held true for me.

      I think that half the battle is making the decision to find nice people. It wasn’t something I had thought about much, people just sort of happened in my life. It’s good to be deliberate about it.

    2. WellRed*

      I don’t quite understand the public statement thing, though in my imagination I’d love if you could put it in writing all right! The reneging of transport, the insults and the lack of payment, complete with supporting documentation.

      1. Anon Anon Anon*

        It was a performance event. I was the performer. So it’s like if someone approached you and said, “I see you tap dance. Will you be the featured dancer at a public event that I’m organizing? I know you don’t have a car. I’ll provide transportation and I’ll pay you.” Then you followed up by email and confirmed all of this and got the word out about the event. Then, on the night of the event, they failed to pick you up and instead made false statements about you to your fans. And when you asked what happened, they ignored you, then insulted you and tried to gaslight you. With absolutely no provocation.

        So I had to post a statement online apologizing to anyone who came to see me perform and warning others not to do business with this person. Which is no fun because people like that tend to try to retalliate and blow it up into something bigger. And this was not a mistake on their part. We talked just before the event. They’re well funded and well organized. They intentionally took advantage of me.

  76. Seeking Second Childhood*

    I work for a company that lets employees give thank-you awards to co-workers… and the person I’d planned to send mine to left the first week in December.
    I hate letting “my” admittedly tiny award bonus go unused, so now it’s an annoying scramble instead of a treat.
    If I’m lucky I’ll think of extras and do next year’s 2 all at the same time.

  77. Almost Phinished*

    As a frequent reader (and less frequent commenter) I wanted to belatedly wish everyone here a restful and happy remainder of the holiday season and express my gratitude for this amazing site and community.

    And…to gripe a bit…uggh..wish I had posted last night. I spent Xmas with my folks at family friends’, who’s adult children I am also friends with (tho not super close) and oh man.. I was exposed to the “What do you meme” board game, with the adult children (ages 22 to late 30s) similar to Cards Against Humanity, but you pic “caption” cards based on a pic of a meme chosen from a deck. In my mind, after last night, it is much worse han Cards Against Humanity. The meme “cards” have among other things pics of: political figures, from both ends of the spectrum, Pepe the Frog, Putin, and…a pic of a child holding a gun and laughing. I am all for jokes, but why add politics to a board game?? I had to end my game participation also part in parcel because the other BIG issue was one of the adult children’s 11 yr old son (!) participated in that game which was gross and cringe inducing (if you know this meme game, you know it is VERY adults only because of the content on playing cards) and his parents just laughed along…very wtf. I didn’t comment too loudly during this game cause it would come off as a judgment on the parents and not worth any drama. I am a huge fan of cards against humanity, with ADULTS…but oh NOT this. Can anyone relate?

  78. Seastar*

    Still struggling not to think about Absolute Dream Job in a distant place, after applying last year. There will be no rejection notification, as they only contact applicants they interview, so the only way to get closure on it is to banish it from my brain. But that’s hard to do after imagining it long enough to apply for it. My mental process is continually along the lines of “What if — No! Maybe next year, I’ll — Stop! They didn’t want you the last time you applied, so they won’t want you now! Your career in that field is peaked and done with!” But whenever I successfully get into that mindset, I shame myself for wasting time on applying. Hopelessness is my shield against disappointment and uncertainty, but it’s buckling. And always my inner Marlin screams “You think you can do these things, but you can’t! You just can’t, Nemo!”

    1. Dan*

      Ain’t no such thing as a dream job. Accepting that is the first step to getting over this hump.

      That said, a rejection just means that you weren’t the right fit for that job at that particular time.

      Apply once a year or so and you won’t have worn out your welcome.

      1. Seastar*

        It’s not a perfect job, but within the range of my disability-limited physical capabilities, it’s precisely the kind of work I do best and love most. I’ve had a temporary lower-level version of it at the same emoloyer, years ago, and that didn’t make me stop literally and figuratively dreaming of it despite the foolishness of wanting something that’s probably out of reach. Maybe I am unrealistically aiming too high and couldn’t really do the work at that level — but that’s my default belief, which I have to briefly flatten in order to apply for anything. My first and best job — the peak of my career, right after college — was one that I didn’t really know I could do or like until I went into it unprepared and found I enjoyed and excelled at it despite its difficulties. Unfortunately, that position was cut, but the experience showed that I underestimate myself and that there are jobs worth desiring.

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