{ 898 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous and Aggravated*

    I received a Christmas gift yesterday from my SIL that I think is passive aggressive, if not outright nasty, but my husband thinks it’s innocent and I’m taking it the wrong way.
    The gift came from my husband Peter’s little sister Susan and her spouse Edmund. Even though Peter and I have been together for 10+ years, I barely know Susan. She’s avoided me from the first time her brother introduced me to the family. Susan is also one of those people who’s good at appearing Hallmark-sweet while being nasty at the same time.
    Every year, we exchange presents for Christmas and birthdays, choosing from each other’s Amazon wishlists. This year, they gave me a Knock Knock self-therapy pad with a note reading “This looks like a helpful exercise. Let us know how it works out for you. – Susan and Edmund”. If you’re unfamiliar with Knock Knock, this isn’t any kind of “exercise”. It’s a satirical memo pad that includes boxes to check off whether your problems stem from your parents, early weaning, boundary issues, basic unlovability, etc. To be clear, there’s nothing like this on my wishlist, we’ve never had any kind of conversation about mental health, and we don’t have an in-joke kind of relationship.
    Calling Susan out would almost certainly cause a rift between Susan and Peter, with me as the bad guy since Peter doesn’t see how the gift is a problem. I can just exchange the notepad for something I want and say nothing at all, but Peter is likely to answer honestly if Susan asks how I liked my gift. Am I being oversensitive here?

    1. Goose*

      Nope, I googled the item and it’s incredible passive aggressive. Feel free to return it, and if anyone asks just cheerfully say you recommend them looking at your Amazon wishlist next time so they don’t have to put any effort into something you end up returning.

    2. Cat and dog fosterer*

      I didn’t look at the item, but I’d return it and tell Peter that you exchanged it for something needed on your list.

    3. nia*

      That is incredibly rude and the note they included it cannot be read as anything but snark. Your husband SHOULD answer honestly if they ask how you liked it. In fact he should speak to them before that happens to tell them this is openly mean and find out why they did it. I have trouble believing he can’t see what the problem is. (Really?)

      Any rift from this would be caused by Susan and Edmund, not you. That’s like saying that if you gave Susan a steaming pile of dog poo, she would be responsible for a rift if she dared to speak up about it.

      1. Anonymous and Aggravated*

        One of my husband’s big blind spots is not picking up on social cues or veiled nastiness. I accept it as part of the way he is, good and bad. Another fun story: when Peter and I announced our engagement, Susan and Edmund announced a couple of days later that they’d be having a fancy renewal of vows for their 16th anniversary, a few months before our planned wedding date. Because 16th anniversary celebrations are really a thing. Peter didn’t see it, and we ended up with a different date anyway. One of the few times I caught Susan to try to talk to her, she complained that she’s now in a size 10, not that she’d expect *me* to understand how upsetting that is. Etc. It’s not gonna stop.

        1. StellaBella*

          This: “One of my husband’s big blind spots is not picking up on social cues or veiled nastiness.” I dated a man like this for nearly 4 years and yeah, am so glad we are no longer together.
          To Anonymous and Aggravated, I am so sorry that you have a passive aggressive SIL, and that your husband doe not have your back/does not get it.
          I would exchange it for something you want, and ignore her. Don’t acknowledge the gift. If she asks explain it was ‘a gift that you exchanged for something on your list per the agreement you had’. Maybe gift it back to her on her birthday with the same note. Maybe not.

        2. Well...*

          Why doesn’t your husband trust your instincts on this though? My husband is wayyyy more socially adept than I am, and when he notices something I don’t, I believe him!

          Being socially clueless is one thing, but then defending your clueless interpretation of events and dismissing your partner’s worries is another. The former is mostly unintentional, the latter is 100% deliberate and fixable (if your husband wants to fix it).

          It’s sad that you’re not being supported, but you do not need his buy in to stick up for yourself. It’s nice to have a partner in your corner though.

    4. CatCat*

      You’re not being too sensitive.

      Just return it and say it wasn’t your taste if asked (with a bland rinse and repeat if anyone presses further).

        1. When passive aggressive veers into aggressive aggression*

          Right??? I’m thinking Susan is more of an Empress Jadis here.

    5. Dark Macadamia*

      What, exactly, does your husband think was the intention? Ask him to explain what makes it a cute/funny/thoughtful gift and how he thinks you were supposed to take it.

      Exchange it regardless but if this is such a nice innocent gift and the problem is all on your end, he should easily be able to explain why.

      1. NaoNao*

        Eh, it’s easy for him to say “It’s right on the card–she thought it would be a helpful exercise”. I can see this as a very amusing stocking stuffer between friends who joke about therapy and self help all the time. But I 100% get how crappy it is. Someone who doesn’t want to rock the boat is going to reiterate “It says right on the card! She thought it would be helpful [for mental health]!”

        I think the OP should spell out “the implication here is both that I ‘need therapy’ and that therapy itself is some kind of joke and can be dashed off and everything chalked up to a simple self-pitying reason.”

        1. Lily*

          I’d not call it passive aggressive – I’d call it cruel. I mean, it’s not a self-help book where a plausible deniability exists that it could help or something similar. It’s an item that can’t do the stuff mentioned on the card – help – so the card is a lie. The whole thing is intentionally hurtful.
          The husband is intentionally ignoring it.

          I’ve received hurtful gifts (though never something so clearly intentional – more like “did you really mean to send griving people an openly racist book that says it’s their own fault” etc) that I tried to talk about with the gifters. The results are… mixed but you don’t need to fake happiness or say thank you. I’d go with a confused “well, I didn’t know what to think of it but I guess you tried to be funny? Anyway, happy holidays!”

    6. !!*

      If my in-laws gave that to my spouse, I would be in a rage. That is not OK. I don’t know how your husband could even carry on a relationship with them after this unless they make a groveling apology. I’m so sorry this happened. They sound like terrible people.

      1. Bookstax*

        Was there a dollar amount assigned to this gift? Because in addition to giving you something that is definitely offensive, they didn’t spend much money to be so nasty.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          Knock knock make a pad called “passive aggressive notes” too. So she probably just literally googled for a passive aggressive gift. Mean people are usually just about that inventive.

        2. Festively Dressed Earl*

          Susan and Edmund always buy the cheapest thing on the list regardless of the person, which I don’t hold against them or anyone else. It’s the thought that counts aaannnndddd I’m just gonna stop right there.

    7. Anne Wentworth*

      No, if the established process is to select from someone’s wish list and instead you receive something that was not on your list AND is a comment on your mental health, you aren’t being too sensitive. You have been insulted, and not in a subtle way. I’m sorry your husband is turning a blind eye/not being supportive.

      Can you have a come-to-Jesus talk with him about how his sister treats you? It would be nice for him have your back before she escalates.

    8. Despachito*

      I think you are right that it is a weird and potentially offensive gift. But it is also possible it was meant as a (bad taste) joke that landed absolutely flat.

      I understand that you do not want to outright call Susan out and “create drama”. Would it help if you mentally reframed it as the latter option (they made a very bad choice but out of stupidity or cluelessness, not out of meanness) and treat it as such? Your husband can thank them noncommittally as he would if they gave you a neutral impersonal gift (so no excitement but just polite thanks), and if they insist, he could say “well, to be honest, she was a bit confused because this is not exactly her cup of tea, but thank you for the thought, and do not worry, she already exchanged it for this awesome teapot she always wanted”. As I understand you do not interact with her very often, it would be possibly easier to let it go.

      Although it is hard for me to imagine she would pressure a lot asking how you liked the gift if it was really given out of meanness. That would make HER the vilain of the story.

    9. RagingADHD*

      This sounds pretty darn rude, but the best way to deal with a passive aggressive person is to appear to be completely oblivious to their digs, while going ahead and doing what you want. It frustrates the hell out of them.

      Return it. It’s fine if your husband says you returned it. If they ask about it, say “I didn’t get the joke, so I got X instead. I really like X, so thanks for the gift!”

      Just because someone invites you to a fight doesn’t mean you have to attend.

      1. MassChick*

        Love this – exactly what I wanted to say!

        Now, I like nothing better than holding on to a grudge, but have come to realize that’s to my detriment. But ignoring the slight or acting oblivious is often the best revenge :-) Leaves the other party without the satisfaction of “hitting the target”. And better for my peace of mind.

      2. Roland*

        > Just because someone invites you to a fight doesn’t mean you have to attend.

        This is genuinely good advice for this OP and also, would have been great for the OP of “I fought with my husband’s coworker over their affair”, quite literally.

      3. Kate, short for Bob*

        Can I just say “I didn’t get the joke so I got X instead” is a GENIUS construction and I’m absolutely stealing it for future use. Together with a wide eyed interest if anyone tries to explain the “joke”

      4. Nihil scio*

        This! I spent years in the same city as my passively aggressive, contemptuous SIL. The best revenge is that I just…didn’t…care. Oblivious and cheerful are the best ways to combat this sort of attitude. In the end, it probably annoyed her far more than it affected me.

      5. Well...*

        Yes! I also often ask passive aggressive people to clarify, or directly and flatly answer their rhetorical questions. They are actually pretty easy to out maneuver, the trick is to disengage from the emotional content of their communication.

    10. migrating coconuts*

      She went off list, meaning she had a motive for what she purchased. I would either stop buying gifts, or go off list yourself. (Have fun with that option! wrinkle cream? diet book? deodorant/perfume set? Spanx?) But for now, I’d just exchange it. If she asks, let your husband deal with the question, since he is either oblivious to his sister’s behavior or he wants to ignore it. If she asks you, just say blandly that you didn’t understand what it was for, had no use for it. Just like the advice given here that when someone makes a sexist joke or suggestion, you stare blankly at them and say I don’t understand? what did they mean? And watch them stumble around trying to explain.

      1. Cheeries on bottom*

        I would do this. Plus have a conversation with my husband about believing me in this area where he has a blindspot.

    11. m0mofbaz19*

      Say you loved it, and tell them, you are going to be working on why you attract passive aggressive people and you be working on how to get them out of your life!

        1. JSPA*

          They also get to be assholes if you do react, and they get to make a much bigger stink in your emotional life than the passing ickiness of a shitty gift.

          A mean gift is like stepping in poo on your way to a nice outing. You and everyone around you is better off if you clean it off in the nearest snow / grass / puddle and continue on with having a good day. You wouldn’t first show it to everyone, instruct them to take a deep sniff, and go on a rant about the local dog owners, right? That’s just offering up your happiness and everyone else’s, on the altar of, “someone isn’t doing life right, let’s all pause our own lives to dwell on the Error Of Their Ways.”

          Calling out is best saved for causing actual harm, or people you have to work with or live with or deal with regularly, or people who have power over you. Annonymous and Aggravated barely knows Susan, so none of these apply. Something can 100% be aggravating (this is) and one can nevertheless choose not to waste happiness on being aggravated. Rude SIL, rude gift, so what? Don’t give the person or the object power over you that they don’t have.

    12. Pudding*

      It’s a $10 gift…I’d be tempted to fill out a sheet with her thoughtlessness as the “drama of the moment” and send it to her. Probably not productive or much good in the long run, but fun to think about.

      If you need a scenario where it is an innocent act on her part to get past it, maybe it was something someone gifted to her and she regifted it without looking at it closely or realizing how snarky it was.

      Personally, if this happened to me, what I’d be likely to actually do is tell my spouse what I think about it, but agree to let it go and be the bigger person. If she’s that crappy, it won’t be the last time…I’d wait for a pattern of behavior to emerge. But I have a sister in law who is extremely good at playing the victim and have honed that strategy over the years because when people react to just one thing with her, she’s very good at twisting things around so they’re the bad guys.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Fill one out for literally every interaction with the SIL lol. Hand it to her at the end of every visit like it’s a receipt or something

    13. Generic Name*

      Keep it until next year and regift it to her. Write a note that is verbatim the note she wrote you. If they say anything, act confused and like you have no idea what they’re talking about. Or maybe gush how helpful it was to you and you thought they’d enjoy the gift as well.

    14. Anono-me*

      I Googled it. It is definitely note a kind gift. Im not sure if I would call it passive aggressive, as it seams to mean-spirited. So this is another vote for you being right.

      I would probably try to exchange it and if asked smile sweetly and say “It very nice, but it wasn’t exactly me, fortunately I was able to exchange it for the voodoo doll version. By the way dear SIL , how is your ankle?”

    15. Samwise*

      What‘a your goal here?

      What will calling her out do? Maybe you hope your SIL will be chastened or feel bad or see the error of her ways or apologize or start behaving nicely. Yeah. None of that will happen.

      She sucks and she’s not going to change.

      Maybe you will feel better? But for how long?

      Most likely, calling her out is going to cause a big ruckus. Who’s going to feel good after that? And you’ll end up looking like the bad guy, since you were ungracious about the gift, or didn’t get the joke, blah blah blah. There’s no way to win this one.

      Me, I’d roll my eyes at her gift and exchange it.

      And yes, I had an ex-SIL like this. What a pain she was! Haha she’s out of the family now and I’m still here.

      1. MeepMeep123*

        Yeah, that’s my reaction too. She wants drama and she wants you to lose your cool – that’s why she gave it to you in the first place. Don’t fall for the provocation – just exchange the gift and don’t acknowledge that in any way, shape, or form. Be as blandly polite as possible if she asks you about the gift.

    16. AGD*

      I’m so sorry. A very similar thing happened to me many years ago – a nasty gift, presented with faux Hallmark sweetness. I was really put on the spot – it was in front of at least 3 other people and was basically “negging” – and in the moment I decided that the best reaction would be to burst out laughing and treat it like a hilarious gag gift, because of course, how could it have been intended to be anything else? I read it off and kept laughing while overtly describing it as over the top nonsense and supposedly just too funny. My reasoning was that I didn’t want to give the other person any kind of reaction they’d like. Honestly, in retrospect I’m not sure whether this worked or not as a deflection/dismissal strategy, but it was the only thing I thought of in the moment.

    17. Not a spinner*

      You are not being over sensitive here. How craptacular. Return the thing and return awkward to sender.

    18. Who Plays Backgammon?*

      No. This sounds plain mean. You don’t need to pull your husband into it since he doesn’t have your back anyway. If anyone asks how you like your prezzie, you might put on an inscrutable smile and say you were delighted to accept it in the spirit it was given. The holiday spirit, of course…

    19. AnonNow*

      I’m literally a therapist and bought one for myself as a joke. Given my profession, I might take it as a joke from others as well. But outside of this very narrow context? It’s weird and rude!

      I’m also amused because my SIL once gave me a desk blotter/calendar. In 2014. I returned it to the department store with the gift receipt, and it had been on clearance for less than $10. Even the icy-cool clerk visibly blanched when she heard it was a gift.

    20. JSPA*

      Unless Susan normally has trouble assessing what’s funny vs rude, and appropriate vs inappropriate (which, if your husband doesn’t see the problem, I guess could be how they were raised…and he’s just lucky enough to have the intrinsic sweetness and awareness to overcome it, regarding his own behavior?)

      Then, yes, this is intentionally rude. At absolute best, it’s unintentionally rude, in someone who has a wellspring of engrained rudeness to draw on (but who may, therefore, herself find the notepad funny).

      OK, you have a rude SIL (as you already knew). So what?

      You can pay it attention, and let it eat at you. You can ignore it and continue to have a nice life.

      You can put the notepad in the recycling bin, use it as kindling if you have a woodstove or fireplace, return it if you have the bandwidth and time, save it for a secret santa, or…give it back to her, tomorrow, along with a print out of tomorrow’s “crabgrass” comic strip (I’ve seen it on Patreon ahead of time). Not because it’s actually the thing she wanted, but because framing it that way is, “mwah!” (chef’s kiss), and because by implication it’s a sweet gesture.

      1. I need a new name...*

        I’d be more inclined to think that Husband’s inability to accurately gauge social cues and passive agression is because he’s been gaslit by his sister his entire life.

        He probably used to be able to tell when she was being mean, but then she’d say ‘oh no it wasn’t meant like that all! You’re so silly and don’t understand how nice I’m being!’.

        A lifetime of that would completely ruin your ability to gauge social cues and mean-spirited behaviour.

        1. JSPA*

          Ah, good catch.

          Same functional situation, though. You can’t force someone to see a dynamic that they’re not equipped to appreciate. This isn’t going to be that final straw. Trying to force it to be most likely will just feed into bad dynamic.

          Better to be each other’s happy place, and let SIL marinate in her own nastiness.

    21. Ellis Bell*

      She sounds like a very unhappy person! I’ve been in a relationship where the digs from relatives swooped over his head and I’m in one now where he would see the nonsense the moment I did, and we’d have a very satisfying WTF conversation about it. It doesn’t make them a bad person if they can’t see passive aggressiveness, but my recent relationship has that instant exchange of looks when people pull shit, which makes you feel less alone. If you feel alone, and are made to feel like you’re crazy then you’re more inclined to pull crazy shit in response, like calling her out (honestly that is crazy! That’s the only response she’d find satisfying). Is there a good, funny friend you can go to brunch with or hang on the phone with where you can dish out every nonsensical (and frankly, deranged) thing she’s ever done including this latest doozy? Or can you keep us updated here? I say that because while she’s a pain in the arse she could be entertaining with the right framing. Given that there’s only one satisfying response for her, there’s a ton of satisfying ways to respond to this, once you find supportive ground under your feet. One could be “Such a good joke! My friends and I had a really good laugh.” Or “I loved it. It was just the kind of gift I expected from you”. As for your partner, I would stop trying to convince him and stand comfortably in your own judgement.

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        “Such a good joke! My friends and I had a really good laugh.”

        Or “I loved it. It was just the kind of gift I expected from you”

        Oh, brilliant.

    22. Cat's Paw for Cats*

      Wow. No, I don’t think you’re being overly sensitive. It’s hard to see this as anything other than intentional. What a nasty piece of work this couple is. And frankly, I’m side-eyeing Peter for being obtuse, possibly willfully. He should have your back in this. What does the rest of his family think?

    23. Doc is In*

      Since you all must be adults by now, I recommend stopping participation in these gift exchanges altogether.

    24. Workerbee*

      Assholes get to continue being assholes because they depend on nice folks to feel that speaking up for themselves is somehow worse than the abuse being delivered! Just because you’re experiencing this abuse mentally and emotionally does NOT make it any less valid.

      Do you want this to be your life for the next five, 10, 15 years?

      Tell your husband. Tell him These Social Cues Mean X and Y. It sounds like he is capable of understanding once things are explained to him and that he will have your back (since you are worried that this will result in a rift between him and his sister). HE SHOULD HAVE YOUR BACK. Any rift is entirely because on Susan, because she is an asshole. Assholes want targets so they can feel they are important. Susan keeps choosing to be an asshole toward you. You do not have to keep choosing to be her target.

    25. Elle Woods*

      No, you are not being oversensitive. It’s offensive and mean-spirited. I’m sorry your husband can’t see that.

    26. Double A*

      Since these pads are explicitly made a jokes, I would assume it was a joke that was so far afield you’re not even sure what game she’s playing. Treat it the same as if she gave you a whoopee cushion or fake dog poop. Someone in the world would find these gifts funny, but for your relationship it’s just weird.

      I mean, I would treat it like a funny story. But I guess I’m someone who doesn’t notice slights and digs that much because if they come from someone whose opinion I don’t value, who cares?

    27. Autumnheart*

      Fill it out and post it on Facebook. Psychodrama of the moment: Got this checklist for Christmas. How do I feel about it? (Check all that apply.) This problem likely stems from: (Circle “Other people”, “Bad luck” and “Boundary issues”) Current related issues: SIL thought this gift was hilarious. What it all means: Next year, I should just ask for a scented candle!

      Then , if Susan gets butthurt about it, say, “What? Isn’t this what it’s for? You literally gave this to me. Don’t be so sensitive!”

    28. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      I like all the suggested scripts for not engaging in the nastiness. If you get asked directly about the gift, you could even veer toward absurdity and say, “Gift? Oh, it was lovely,” as though you are trying to cover up forgetting what they sent, and you are going with “lovely,” because why wouldn’t it be?

    29. Susan sounds miserable*

      What would happen if you looked at this as another expression of her own misery, instead of commentary on you? How unhappy & insecure must she be to need to one-up her brother’s wedding, & neg on his wife?

      Once I realized that my “Susan’s” wacko behavior was displaying her own misery, which only coincidentally had anything to do with me, trying to make it make sense & taking it personally slowly evaporated. It doesn’t matter what role/s she needs you to fill in her own unhappy head, that’s her head & nothing to do with you.

      When she loses her cool or does something mean/controlling we no longer take it personally. It’s a sign that she’s losing it, so we don’t stick around for more. She’s still miserable, but that’s on her. We can’t make her happy, & aren’t willing to sacrifice our own happiness on the altar of her misery. It’s too bad, but it’s so much better than trying to take seriously or accommodate today’s manifestation of her misery.

      Return the “gift.” Let Peter tell her you didn’t understand it. Do something for yourself or your marriage in recognition of what *you* have.

    30. Jenna Webster*

      That’s just mean, and if they ask, that’s what I would say – that I thought it was mean. Also, no more presents for them ever.

    31. Middle Aged Lady*

      “Thank you. Though your gift wasn’t on my list, it was helpful! I used it to identify a toxic relationship I am in.”

    32. (Not Actually A) Window Cleaner*

      My husband viscerally HATES criticising others, so he sometimes takes sh*t from people or expects me to. It is a problem, but it’s because of trauma. I do often call him out on it (sometimes patiently, sometimes unfortunately not) and I reckon it’s a conversation we will have for the rest of our lives. But he’s a good ‘un, so it’s worth it. Good luck OP !

  2. Cat and dog fosterer*

    Give your furry friends a cuddle from me!

    It has been a hard year, but as we near the end my home is mostly empty of extra foster friends. What a relief! Only one now, and she’ll hopefully go to someone else (either another foster or an adopter) in the new year.

    Anyone have foster pets over the holidays? I hope they find new homes early in the new year!

    1. ThatGirl*

      We had to say goodbye to our beloved dog a year ago on the 20th. The anniversary was kind of hard. On the 21st we arrived at my in-laws for the rest of the week and their dog, a big lunkhead of a cockapoo, just adores me. He’s got a different personality than our dog and looks nothing like him, but it’s nice to have a dog to pet and give me attention. I miss that.

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        I am so very sorry for your loss.

        I keep this comment on hand that I found on Reddit. It helped me when I lost two of mine over the past few years. Sharing in case it helps you. It makes me cry every time I read it but in a clean kind of way.

        I have an old dog in kidney failure too. Haven’t told her yet, she just keeps being happy.

        I’m old too, and I’ve had animals my whole life, mostly cats and dogs in various multiples. Do the math and you can see I’ve been here before.

        The way I reconcile it is pretty straightforward, and well in line with the overall Stoic approach to things. It always begins the same way- see things plainly for what they are, understand the natures of the things involved, and respond reasonably and virtuously to the reality around us.

        Every day I care for my animals, keeping them happy, keeping them safe, shepherding them through their day with joy, and without harm. When they get old and approach death, nothing changes. As crazy as it sounds, the day I take them to the vet to be put down is the day that I have been working for all this time – I have successfully taken them the whole way. They did not get lost, they were not unhappy, they got to live their whole natural lives the way I wanted them to live it. We made it. We got there together.

        When they are gone, my feelings for them don’t change. Their bodies are taken but my feelings are my own; I still love them, I am still happy to think of them, my heart is still open.

        What has changed is that I have a space for another thing to love, and the cycle continues again, when I’m ready to start anew.

        Their bodies, our bodies, everything external to us will always change and always come and go. Our love, our care, our joy belongs to us, and we apply it to what we have and to what is new.

    2. Anne Kaffeekanne*

      We have a foster kitten still here – she should be looking for a new home as she’s more than big enough to move out but in spectacular timing she managed to develop a (harmless) fungus in November which took her out of the adoption process and then straight into the Christmas adoption block period the shelter has. So she’ll be celebrating with us.

    3. Vio*

      I used to cat-sit for a friend when she went on holiday. Unfortunately poor Speedy had to be put down last year. We made sure he had a great last day, he had a whole bowl of custard (his favourite but he’d usually just be allowed a tiny bit once in a blue moon) and lots of hugs from both of us.
      I still think about getting a pet for myself but I need to do a lot of work to my flat first and sort out my finances before that’s feasible.

    4. Jay (no, the other one)*

      You are not being too sensitive. That’s obnoxious. I don’t there’s anything to be gained by calling her out. Not sure what to do with your husband’s honest answer if Susan asks him – maybe he can tell him she can ask you if she wants to know? She won’t do that, I’m sure.

      If you think it will help, you might talk to him about how she’s trying to get a rise out of you and you’d rather not feed into it, so if she asks could he please say something non-committal? Seems to me he either needs to have your back and (in private) call her on her behavior completely or he needs to go along with you in ignoring it. If he’s telling you it’s not big deal and also relaying your annoyance against your wishes. you don’t just have a Susan problem. You also have a Peter problem.

      That sounds wrong.

    5. crookedglasses*

      I’ve got a guest foster dog staying with me for the week while her usual foster family is out of town. She’s incredibly timid and barely let me touch her at all in the first few days she was here.

      The switch flipped this evening and she decided that pets and belly rubs from me are awesome, actually. Definitely a happy surprise!

  3. freddy*

    Hey, everybody! First divorced Christmas, don’t have my kid until the 25th, and my evening plans just got cancelled because of snow. I might stream Glass Onion and get a takeout burrito. (I’m not feeling super sorry for myself right now, but I am bummed as I’m in a social mood.)

    How are all my divorced parents holding up? Hot tips, moral support, dad jokes, self-help books, texting ALLLL the friends…what you got?

    1. Anne Wentworth*

      +100 for spending the evening with Glass Onion! Spending the evening watching a Rian Johnson movie is a solid choice, that’s all I got.

      1. Nannerdoodle*

        My partner and I watched it again last night after seeing it in theaters. Glass Onion is such a fun and ridiculous movie.

    2. CatBookMom*

      I spent one late-1980s Giftmas by myself and my Best Cats, snowed into my Denver Condo. If not for a kindly 4WD driver and his friends, I’d have spent it at my office; car couldn’t get out of the parking lot. Car couldn’t have gotten into my townhouse driveway; other cars stuck. Three days. We had food and heat and water!!! (frozen pipes were the worst threat) and light and TV.

      My current family and friends are all also home safe and warm and fed. Best Worst-Weather Giftmas ever.

    3. oy*

      You asked for the terrible jokes, courtesy of my 6-yr-old
      – Why did the Christmas turkey form a band? It had the drumsticks
      – How many presents can Santa fit in an empty sack? Just one. After that, it’s not empty
      -What does a gingerbread man use to make his bed? A cookie sheet

      1. Festively Dressed Earl*

        What’s a dinosaur’s least favorite reindeer? Comet!
        How much does it cost Santa to park his sleigh? Nothing, it’s on the house.
        How does Santa keep germs away? He uses Santa-tizer.

    4. Anonymous and Aggravated*

      We did exactly that – Glass Onion and burritos for dinner – and it was glorious. I recommend doing that two nights in a row, because there’s going to be a ton of things in the movie you didn’t pick up at first.

    5. Generic Name*

      I’ve been divorced for 5 years now. Luckily I had my son the first year for Christmas. My parents traveled to us that year, and it was a really nice holiday. This year he is with his dad for the holiday, and I have him starting the day after. I wish I could say the separation gets easier, but it doesn’t. I still cry every time I drop him off. What helped me the most is having pets. I got 2 kittens shortly after separation, and they are great company. I’m now remarried and husband and I got a puppy together. Now with 2 cats and a dog, the house is rarely quiet, but it’s always just a bit too quiet when my son is at his dad’s. We are having a nice holiday with just the 2 of us though. Husband is making sourdough bread as we speak, and we’ll get takeout tonight. Tomorrow is some fancy cut of beef that husband is making. I’m still looking forward to when kiddo comes home. :)

    6. mreasy*

      Glass onion is a wonderful diversion. And a takeout burrito (the bigger, the better) is never a bad idea!

        1. Jackalope*

          We have 4 cats and I was worried about this; I didn’t have a tree for years after getting the older cats. Last year we got the younger two as kittens, and I thought for sure we wouldn’t be able to have a tree for YEARS. But.. they aren’t that interested. We put it up sans decorations for a day so they could explore and sniff, and they still come sniff it sometimes, but they mostly leave it alone. To be safe we made sure that all of the lower branches have nonbreakable ornaments that we don’t care about, but only one has gotten batted at and not that much – it’s still on the tree. We did decide that the handful of ornaments I bought a year or two before getting the cats that are acorn-shaped jingle bells should not go on the tree.

          1. tangerineRose*

            If there’s water for the tree, I think the water is dangerous for them to drink. Glad the kitties are mostly leaving the tree alone.

    1. Grey Panther*

      In our house that cat-attitude of “Tree? What tree? I know of no tree,” would simply be part of a master plan to lull the humans into a false sense of security.

      It works pretty much every year.

  4. KuklaRed*

    I just wanted to wish everyone a peaceful and relaxing weekend for those who get the holiday off. And for those who do not, I hope you have an easy time of it and get to go home soon.

  5. Flowers*

    I desperately need to see my doctor for my ADHD medicine but I’m unable to get in touch with her. I’ve called many times and left many messages. They do not do online portal or messaging. I had the same problem last year and when I finally saw the Dr, she said the office never gave her my messages and she gave me the contact info of the office manager; I’ve emailed them and no answer.

    My last appt with her was in September; she was able to send 2 prescriptions to the pharmacy, one to be filled right away and one to be filled in 30 days. The current dosage I am on is now giving me some kind of annoying side effects. I want to talk to her about those side effects and float the idea of trying something different. Fortunately, I’m able to skip a few doses safely (dr OKd this) but I’m running out.

    I have also tried to find a new doctor but everyone I have contacted so far is not taking new patients or don’t prescribe medicine. It is getting extremely frustrating. I really like the doctor but I am lost as to what to do. I know this group is helpful at navigating the maze of healthcare so any advice on how to get in touch w my dr is appreciated.

    1. freddy*

      I’m not sure about your provider availability, but if it’s OK to offer unsolicited advice, it’s HARD to get ADHD meds right now. Global shortage related to manufacturing interruptions plus a 20% increase in demand last year (which seems like a big deal, but I am not educated enough to have an opinion about exactly what that means).

      I believe this may not have been going on in September yet, so I wanted to give you some warning in case you do need refills or switch meds. So far, I’ve been able to exhaustively call every pharmacy in the metro area and eventually find someone who actually has what I need, but the shortages seem to be getting worse. Just FYI…

      1. Flowers*

        Ok but I need a Rx first, I can’t even get to the doctor in order to get an Rx, that’s the main issue I’m dealing with.

        I’m normally in good spirits but….childrens Tylenol shortage (not sure about adult Tylenol), Ozempic shortgage, Adderall shortage. *deep breath*

        1. inkheart*

          Your pharmacist may be able to get you an emergency supply of 3-5 pills without a new Rx that could help tide you over until your doctor can respond.

          1. LittleBabyDamien*

            And perhaps the pharmacy could contact your doctor? While you wait? If you explain the problem? It could be worth a try. My pharmacy can be very accommodating, perhaps yours is too.

            1. Llama Llama*

              I second this recommendation. My pharmacy has renewed or changed (30 to 90 day) several of my kids prescriptions on our behalf.

              1. RagingADHD*

                For controlled substances? Do you live in the US? I was not aware that was allowed anywhere in the country. Most places require doctors to write separate prescriptions for each month, no automatic refills, and only 30 days at a time.

            2. Flowers*

              Nope I’ve asked them in the past and they’re extremely strict about it citing state laws which I get – I don’t argue about those

              Though now I remember the last time I had it filled they took 3 days in filling it and just kept saying “it’s a controlled substance”…the way it all happened made me feel like they were judging me for needing it

              Now I think I need a new pharmacy…..

              1. fhqwhgads*

                The controlled substance laws shouldn’t change the bit where it’s totally normal for a pharmacy to contact the doctor’s office themselves if a patient tries to refill something out of refills. If your pharmacy won’t even do that, you definitely need to change pharmacies. That’s weird. In my experience it’s always faster to have them contact the dr to get approval for more refills than for the patient to do so themselves.

                1. KatEnigma*

                  I mean, CVS does this all the time, whether I want them to or not (and I had to explain to both my Dr and CVS why the pharmacy was trying to fill a prescription for BC after I’d had a Mirena implanted…. ) Nope, I didn’t even know they did it, until you (doctor) refused.

          2. Vermilion*

            I just want to say, as someone who works at a pharmacy, it is absolutely not possible to give any ADHD meds in advance because it is a controlled substance.

            What the pharmacy might be able to do is fax the doctor’s office a refill request for you. That wouldn’t answer any of your questions for the doctor, but it might stop you from running out.

            Otherwise, perhaps you could go to the office in person to ask to schedule an appointment, and while you are there say that you have been calling for X days, is there any better way to get in contact?

          3. JSPA*

            Aderall is a schedule drug, so no, pretty sure that’s illegal here (unless the pharmacist happens to be a prescribing physician with the ability to prescribe schedule drugs).

            1. Flowers*

              @JSPA I’m not sure if your comment is meant for me but I am very much aware of the pharmacists limitations related to this drug. Whatever they can do for my other medications (insulin, antibiotics, etc) they cannot do for this one. I have never argued with them about this.

              1. JSPA*

                Nope, if you follow the nesting indentations (or collapse until they line up), you’ll be able to confirm it was a reply to inkheart’s suggestion, that the pharmacist might be able to assist with 3 to 5 tide-you-over pills. (As you and I both know… not for this one.)

      2. time for cocoa*

        It’s hard to get meds in general. I’ve been fighting with Caremark for almost a month because my thyroid pills are out of stock, and every time my doctor calls in a comparable substitute, they’re out of that too. I can barely think; my mind is sludge from the lack of meds.

        1. JSPA*

          Veterinary thyroid meds (not approved for human use, but potent enough that humans have to be very careful, handling them) were still available ~2 weeks ago. I don’t know if there might be a generic or something that’s normally used in pets, but also cleared for human use?

        2. RagingADHD*

          I haven’t had any trouble getting natural thyroid (Armour or Naturethroid). There are dosage conversion charts that are pretty good, if your doc will write it.

      1. Flowers*

        I’m open to trying something different I just need to see a doctor. I’m guessing psychology today is all out of pocket? I forgot that that could be an option…..

        1. Sparkle Llama*

          It is an online search tool for psychology professionals. You can filter by insurance and location.

    2. Anono-me*

      Have you talked to your pharmacist.

      1-Most of the time side effects are due to something in the medicine itself and just ‘are’, but a few times it can be something in combination with the medicine that is causing the side effects or there is something you can add or change that would mitigate the side effects. (This is a Long shot, but one with minimal investment for a potentially big pay off.)

        1. RagingADHD*

          For example, if you’re on an extended-release stimulant, acidic foods (like fruit juice) make it release faster and burn off faster, while alkaline foods (like milk) slow down the release and make it last a little longer. So if your effects are related to a hard jolt when it kicks in, or a crash when it wears off, you could experiment with that.

          1. Flowers*

            oh that’s interesting!

            My side effect was that I started biting/chewing down on my tongue a lot. Eventually had sores inside my mouth that made it hard to eat or talk; in fact I think I asked about it here a while back and the short term suggestions worked (the long term solution was to…you know…talk to my Dr but here we are). I read that it’s a very common side effect of the medication; since I’ve dialed back it still happens occasionally but not to the point where I’m in pain.

            1. Flowers*

              ugh hit post too soon. It’s interesting – for me it’s been a slow start, like an oven. I feel it mentally first more than physically. I go from not wanting to move to getting enthusiastic about doing things; I can’t say I’ve ever had any physical reactions like getting jolts of energy or crashes. There’s a lot more details like that plus others that I want to talk to her about. I did check out psychology today and emailed a few providers, as well as set up an appointment with someone for this week; hopefully something works out.

    3. Jean (just Jean)*

      Sending you massive waves of solidarity! As for advice, would it help for you to ask, on Monday morning, for the pharmacy to call the doctor’s office? Sometimes these health-care glitches get quickly resolved when two professional offices communicate directly.

      I hope you can resolve this without having to find a new doctor, since you like your present one.

      I know from experience how critical it is to keep us ADD/ADHD folks regularly supplied with our appropriate meds. And how frustrating it is when we can’t think or function because we don’t have the appropriate meds to help our brains think clearly and function effectively.

      1. Flowers*

        Unfortunately the pharmacy I normally get it filled said they won’t call the Dr – they’re not allowed to request that medication. They have done it for other medications but not this one, due to being a controlled medication.

        1. Pennyworth*

          Even if they can’t request the medicine they might have the standing to actually speak to the doctor or practice manager and get the ball rolling.

        2. Nightengale*

          I prescribe ADHD medications to children. Pharmacies contact me all the time at patient/family request, even for controlled substances that cannot have refills on them. The pharmacy sends a request through the EHR and then I send an electronic prescription (or respond that it is not appropriate in rare situations) I don’t know if what you are coming up against is a different state law, or a pharmacy policy, or a doctor/pharmacy who aren’t on electronic systems, but I get pharmacy requests about stimulants all the time.

          Not that this solves your problem. Does your doctor’s office have a specific refill or nurse line?

          1. Flowers*

            Okay I definitely need to speak with my pharmacy and possibly change. I tried to google if my state allows pharmacists to contact doctors for controlled medications but the results aren’t answering my question. They have contacted doctors in the past for every other medication except for this one.

            1. Nightengale*

              I wonder if they are getting it confused with the law that they can’t take a prescription over the phone for controlled substances. At least in our state, those prescriptions can be either paper or e-prescribed. But they can’t be “called in” the way other medications can. If the pharmacy called me about Prozac I could verbally authorize refills. I can’t do that with Ritalin. But I could hang up the phone and then e-prescribe the Ritalin (or hang up the phone and call the patient to discuss, or ask our scheduler to contact the patient to make an appointment first or etc.) And they can e-request a repeat prescription on the patient’s behalf if it is out of refills, or for controlled substances, can’t be refilled.

    4. Not A Manager*

      One, definitely have the pharmacy reach out to the doctor’s office.

      Two, if you have any other kind of health-care provider (a PCP, or even a specialist who handles any internal medicine type of thing, like a gynecologist), get in touch with them and ask them to contact the doctor’s office.

      Three, and I did this once but ymmv, I tracked down my old doctor’s cell phone from public records and texted her there. I was very apologetic and promised not to use that as a way to contact her in the future, but I did succeed in reaching her. In my case, she’d left her old practice and they “didn’t know” where she’d gone, and I wanted to follow her. (In a surprise twist that no one could have foreseen, they did actually know where she’d gone.)

      1. Corgisandcats*

        As a psychologist, please do not do option 3, it is invasive and boundary crossing. If a client of mine did this, I wouldn’t necessarily stop seeing them, we would discuss it in session but I would definitely feel violated. Granted, I can’t imagine having my cell anywhere on the internet so perhaps I am more sensitive to this than others. I still think it would not be well received. I am so sympathetic to your issue though, it is super frustrating when no one calls you back. I would definitely try emailing, perhaps with a subject line of emergency medical refill or something attention getting. Unfortunately, we are at a time of year where everyone might not be checking messages/emails till Tuesday at best, the 2nd at worst.

        1. JSPA*

          If you have ever worked under a large, near-monopolistic medical chain that forces concessions on their doctors; fires them and locks then out of their offices and computer access without warning; prevents them from connecting their own past clients upon leaving ; hounds them with what should be unenforceable non-competes if their new practice has a normal level of web presence (etc etc) this may seem less boundary-crossing. If you’re someplace with a healthier health system landscape, however, then 100% don’t do this.

        2. Not A Manager*

          I do not disagree with you, @Corgisandcats. In the case of my doctor, she was actually grateful to learn that her previous practice was stonewalling her former patients.

          I also would be very hesitant to message my doctor on their person phone. But when someone is in dire straits, isn’t getting any response from the office, and can’t connect with another provider, they might need to try to reach the doctor privately. If I could find a personal email, I’d use that before I’d text a phone.

    5. HannahS*

      Oh dear. Something is very wrong with the admin at this office. The only thing I can think of is to have your pharmacy contact the office to advocate on your behalf. You said they can’t request the med, but would a sympathetic pharmacist be able to send a fax saying that they need to contact you regarding the prescription?

      TBH, a walk-in is highly unlikely to prescribe a stimulant. If you manage to get an appt with someone new, make sure you have a record of the prescription (pill bottles are fine since they have the date on them.) Bear in mind that you need a physician or NP, not a psychologist or therapist. And don’t take the advice to contact your doctor on her personal phone. That’s a major boundary violation and many/most docs would discharge a patient who did that.

      1. Flowers*

        Even if I walked in and they could only give me a future appointment, I’d be OK with that. But as others have suggested, I can look into primary care providers or NPs for help on this.
        I know this would be a short term solution but it’ll buy me time until I can find a new psychiatrist/therapist for my issues.

    6. Hen in a Windstorm*

      Not clear if your doctor is a psychologist or GP, but my husband used to have all sorts of trouble getting in touch with his psychologist(s) over the years, and lots of problems with local pharmacies having ADD meds in stock. Then I read a lot of people just get their RXs from their GP, so when we moved to a new area, he started doing that and getting it filled at the pharmacy on site instead of like CVS. There has not been one month when there was a problem. It’s been glorious. A few times the pharmacy has told him there would be a delay in refilling, but it has never been longer than 48 hours.

      But also, when he needs something changed (dosage, medication itself), he has to make an appointment, they won’t do it over the phone. The GP also requires an appointment with a psychologist, he isn’t allowed to do any changes himself. The psychologist is standard terrible – never responds to calls/emails/website messaging. He can only ever talk to her when he makes an appointment. So I guess what I’m saying is, make an appointment.

      1. Flowers*

        I see a psychiatrist. I’m willing to go in person, zoom, pigeon carrier messages whatever ALA I get in touch with them.

        I don’t have a primary care provider, but I can look into that too!

    7. Anon 4 medical*

      Supposedly ADHD medication is essentially impossible to get in much of the world at the moment, to the point that they’re expecting to have significant numbers of people dying from trying street drugs as a replacement. (Obvs do not do this!)

      Looking ahead, I’ve been tapering to where I can do two or three days without (if I don’t have to operate dangerous machinery, and can nap when the urge overtakes me) with a half pill for “must drive or be otherwise functional for the next 4 hours.”

      I have been doubling down on putting “to do” items right in my calendar. And sitting in one place, cleaning / tidying only what I can reach.

      I’m only on a small dose, so no idea if this is achievable / desirable for people on a higher dose. (And even then…well, I’ve now made a habit of wiping twice, just in case, lest I get off the toilet without wiping once. So, yes, I get how nonfunctionally FUBAR one can be, without those meds.)

      There are many things in life that I can’t do productively under the circumstances. This isn’t a long- term life hack. But as a short term strategy, it’s vaguely workable. A few particularly grubby spots have been cleaned, some discrete tasks have been dealt with. I’m not my best me, but I’m still me.

      The medical amphetamine shortage problem is enough in the news (along with shortages of a large number of other drugs) that “I’m having a health issue because of drug unavailability” is going to be a common reason for people taking various sorts of sick leave / medical leave.

      Also, because the stuff is like gold right now, there are presumably plenty of unscrupulous people looking for prescriptions with the intent to sell. So it’s not terribly surprising that doctors other than your own doctor are unwilling to even try to write prescriptions.

      Sorry that this isn’t the solution you’re asking for; hope it’s comforting that there are many in the same boat?

      1. Flowers*

        That’s frightening. I’m sorry you’re going through the same.
        I’ve been “rationing” the medicine as well where I split it, sometimes into 1/4. It’s enough to help me get through the day. Luckily work is slow so I’m able to operate on lower capacity for now…

        1. Anon 4 medical*

          As a plus, it’s probably not the worst thing to dial back one’s tolerance level, during a slower time of year. It would be nice it it were optional, though.

    8. Sitting by the Fire*

      Sorry you’re experiencing this, it’s a challenging problem. Other commenters have noted the shortage of meds and prescribers; that’s all true. Best thing you can do right now is look for a new prescriber, because there really shouldn’t be a problem with getting messages relayed and returned – that is highly unusual. Start with Psychology Today. Be aware that you may need to call many, many providers before you find one with any availability, so keep calling until you find someone. Be prepared to sign a release of information so the new prescriber can review records from the current prescriber. There is a lot of risk involved with prescribing controlled substances and an ADHD diagnosis is not something a new prescriber can render with just a brief first-time appointment – they need to proceed with caution for your safety. I think the most useful tip I have for you is to always, always make your next appointment with the prescriber before you leave the office. Controlled substances need to be closely and carefully monitored by the doctor. They’re controlled for a reason – they are extremely risky. So your doctor will be understandably reluctant to renew scripts automatically, especially if they haven’t seen you for follow up appointments. So insist on making the follow up appointments while you’re there and be sure to keep them. I’ve been in the mental health field for over two decades – I can say with confidence that this strategy helps minimize disruption with getting ADHD meds on time. Hope this helps, good luck.

      1. Flowers*

        If I was in person I definitely would be making the appt before I leave. However, these have only been virtual telehealth appointments; I would have the appt with the Dr, finish up and her office would call back within 5 minutes with a date and time for the next appt. This time around, they never did call back.

        The doctor never “renews” them automatically, we have our conversations and based on what I share she’d change the dosage amount. The appts are every 2-3 months. Unfortunately her schedule is so packed that she was out sick one week for an appt last year, and they couldn’t fit me in for 2 months.

    9. SuprisinglyADHD*

      Is it possible to visit the office in person? It’s a lot harder for the office staff to ignore you/blow you off when you’re standing there. And if there are other patients in the waiting room that adds a chance that one of them will mention to the doctor “hey, there’s a patient out front who says the staff discards their messages.”
      I will add, my specialist is absolutely FLOODED with emails and voicemails from CVS automatic refill system, stuff gets buried all the time.

      1. Flowers*

        That is going to be a last resort as it’s over an hour away and I’d need to take time out of work to do this.

    1. Vio*

      Thanks, it was a good read. A Christmas Carol is something of an “It Was His Sled” but still a great story, especially with the context of when Dickens wrote it (scarily not too dissimilar to the current cost of living crisis).

  6. Heffalump*

    This from the Washington Post a couple of days ago: “How a helicopter, foot chase and bear hug caught a runaway Virginia llama.”


    I must admit that I gave some thought to to posting it in the work-related open thread in case it might be relevant to llama groomers, llama breeders, and so on!

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      Thank you for reminding me of this happy article. I love reading about animals on the lam–as long as nobody, human or beast, gets hurt.

      This reminded me of two other such events.
      1. Years ago, drivers in Northern Virginia (suburbs adjacent to Washington, DC) were being startled by the sight of an emu trotting around. Yes, you read that right: emu.
      2. In summer 2021, three zebras escaped from a private zoo in the Maryland suburbs near Washington, DC. Cue the usual silly articles* until one AWOL zebra was killed by a snare trap and another one, back on the farm, also died but for entirely different reasons. The surviving escaped pair were eventually recaptured and placed in a safe, but undisclosed, location.

      *Little kid in back seat of car: “Look, Daddy, zebras!” Dad, driving as usual until his head swivels 180 degrees: “Uh huh. Yes dear. WHOA.”

      1. Heffalump*

        I’m not in health care, but I understand there’s a saying in medicine: When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.

        But sometimes there are zebras.

    2. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Several years ago a truck broke down on a major local road during a snowstorm in late December. It was carrying a camel. Photos of the camel in the snow by the side of road immediately went viral.

      It was especially amusing because I live in the Lehigh Valley, so the camel was on a road going to….Bethlehem. Link to hilarity posted in reply.

    3. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      There are a few YouTube videos of news coverage of a llama chase in Phoenix, set to double-speed with Yakety Sax for background music.

  7. long time reader*

    Alison, happy holidays to you and your family. I’ve been thinking about you and your mom.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Thank you! We got cautiously good news this week (the only good news you really can get with pancreatic cancer at stage four) — we found out she has the BRCA2 gene, which opens up treatment avenues that otherwise aren’t available and potentially could give her more time than we’d been told originally (potentially even multiple years as opposed to the 8-11 months we were told in July). We are very, very happy about this.

      1. Jackalope*

        So so glad to hear this. I hope everything goes well and she lives as long as possible with high quality of life.

  8. New Mom*

    Hello AAM commentariat, I have a WWYD:

    Background: I’m American and my husband is English, we live in the US and go to England every other Christmas and try to go another time during the off-years. It’s important that we go and he can see his family since he’s living in my home town.
    Since the pandemic started we’ve had two children and it makes everything more complicated and more expensive. Recently we found out that one of my husbands cousins will be getting married in Spain this summer and he (and his family) want us to go.
    He’s missed a lot of weddings and I really feel for him but… I really don’t want to go. First, for four of us to go it’ll be a small fortune for flights, hotel, etc and I won’t be able to enjoy it. His parents are not the super helpful, hands on grandparent types and they will want my husband to participate in things that the kids can’t so I feel like I’ll be solo parenting too little kids in a country where I don’t speak the language and I won’t have any of my home comforts. My husband and I 50:50 parent normally but his mom can be really high maintenance and he’s not really willing to say no to her.
    I feel bad but ugh, it just doesn’t sound enjoyable, it’ll be our only “vacation” in years and since it’ll be so expensive we probably won’t be able to go on another one for years.
    I’m willing to let him go alone and me stay home with the kids but he and his parents aren’t thrilled with that option.
    Am I being a total grinch? I’m on the fence. WWYD?

    1. m0mofbaz19*

      I agree with your suggestion that he goes by himself. You being on your own with the kids will be more fun and easier to manage at home. If they wanted to catch up with you and their grandchildren they would make an effort and be more inclusive.

    2. Flowers*

      Not a grinch at all. Nothing about that trip would sound appealing to me, esp the 2 under 2! I would let him go solo and stay back with the kids, so long as *you* get to have your own little vacation afterwards, in whatever way makes you happy.

    3. Loredena*

      My mother, sister and I attended several weddings and funerals as a trio without spouses or children over the last several years. (My mother’s extended family). I think it would be reasonable for your husband to attend without you, especially given two young kids! My family was always happy to have as and honestly our presence mattered more than our spouses would have. Unless you think his parents would be really disappointed not to see you, I would encourage your husband to attend but stay home yourself.

      1. Esprit de l'escalier*

        No no no to “unless his parents would be really disappointed.” They can easily lay on a guilt trip, it doesn’t cause them any hardship or expense to do that! And the end result would still be LW being miserable and upset about the single-parenting-abroad experience and the expense and how this will result in no family vacations for x years until they can afford it again. I see no upside to LW for giving in to emotional pressure on this.

        1. New Mom*

          His mom would be really disappointed if the grandkids don’t come, almost to the point that my husband might not want to go without them. It’s hard. I totally get that they want to see the grandkids and I don’t want to begrudge them that right, but I’d much rather do it at home, or at least in England where I speak the language and they can borrow pack’n’plays, toddler seats, and I know what is/isn’t childproofed.

          1. Workerbee*

            If his mom is going to spend all that energy being disappointed, she can damn well put it instead to making your stay WITH kids an inclusive, village-lending-a-hand affair instead of getting her grandma jollies out of the way after a half hour and then leaving you to cope with your kids like your husband wasn’t a part of their creation.

            Or hell, send him with the kids and stay home and relax.

          2. allathian*

            His mom’s an adult and can live with the disappointment.

            Have you even met the cousin who’s getting married in Spain before?

            I don’t particularly enjoy weddings, and the larger they are, the less I usually enjoy them. I also think that weddings are rarely appropriate parties to bring kids to, the kids are unlikely to enjoy themselves, and the parents who are tasked with looking after them even less so.

            1. Swiftie*

              My family tended to not invite people under 16/18 to weddings (outside of immediate family like if the bride’s sister is 12, or you have a 5-year old flower girl) because both my parents came from large families–if I were fill a wedding with just my side of the family, it would probably be close to 80 people (some of whom I’ve never even met). So I never thought it was weird that a wedding wouldn’t have little kids as regular guests. Also, like, not everything is necessarily a kid-inclusive event?
              This is all just a lot of background to saying: I wouldn’t blame you for not wanting to go to this and if your in-laws want to push the issue that much, they can pay for your family’s airfare, provide you with experienced, hands-on babysitting help while there, etc. Yeah, it’s your husband’s cousin. It’s also a true destination wedding (the cousin isn’t even getting married in your husband’s home country, they’re getting married in an entirely different country!), travel restrictions are still wonky, and you have TWO SMALL CHILDREN, international flights are always expensive, AND IT’S A WEDDING. Look, you can tell your in-laws that I think they’re weirdos for pushing this, honestly.

    4. Pudding*

      Let him go alone, and invite them to come visit you – where you have a support system and all the comforts of home – if they want to see you and the kids. I’d just put a moratorium on international flights with the children while they’re small.

      1. New Mom*

        This is one option we were considering but then I feel like my husband would miss the reception because our toddler would need to go to bed. But maybe if I wasn’t there my in-laws would’ve more helpful with our toddler? Since the new baby came, our toddler prefers my husband so little guy would probably be happy to go with him but it still seems stressful.

        1. Clisby*

          This seems to me like reason #6,947 not to take a little kid to a wedding. They’re not going to get anything out of it but exhaustion.

          1. allathian*

            Yes, this. And they won’t remember it after the fact. The only thing in favor is the MIL getting her half-hour with the grands, and frankly I don’t think it’s worth the hassle.

    5. Anono-me*

      I think this sounds like a good solo trip four your spouse. Especially with the background information you provided.

      But I might push up that the kids are too little and spouse never really has time with you two when he isn’t the Dad and you aren’t the Grands. If your budget will allow you all to still have the regular trip to England next year and his trip to Spain; I would point out how important it is for the kids to have that te with their Grandparents and how you don’t want to give that up even for a family wedding in Spain. “Little ones need thier time with their Grandparents.” is hard to argue against.

      1. New Mom*

        They want us to do Spain and England in the same year so we would not be able to go on areal vacation for probably a couple of years. For me, England isn’t a holiday because I have to be “on” the entire time I’m there.

        1. Katefish*

          My family’s the one at a distance, but I relate very much to having to be “on” at the in laws now that we have a kid. It’s exhausting and moreso because they’re genuinely kind people so I used to be able to relax at their houses; hard mental reset there.

        2. Anono-me*

          I would push back on that happening, unless you want to start doing multiple family visits to Europe. Because there will be other wedding, christenings, anniversary parties, etc.

          Just a question, since they want to see your family so much, how often do they travel to visit you? You don’t mention it at all. If they can travel to Spain, I would think that they could travel to visit your family. And I would also think that it is easier for two reasonably fit adults make the trip than it is for two reasonably fit adults with two very active small children. (Later as both your kids and the in-laws get older that will probably change.)

        3. Swiftie*

          “They want us to do Spain and England in the same year ”

          Oh sweet Jesus no. Like, nothing against Spain or England but given all the circumstances: no. Nothing about that sounds enjoyable for anyone including your in-laws which is why, if you did go, they would absolutely skedaddle after 10 minutes of trying to make awkward small talk with their grandkids.

    6. Festively Dressed Earl*

      If his parents are the ones insisting that y’all be there, then they can be the ones to pay for it. They can fly you in, pay for your hotels, and find an au pair for the time that you’re there. They can’t swing that? Sorry, you have to stay home.

    7. Dark Macadamia*

      The second you said “wedding” I was like “send him alone” and basically chanted that through the rest of the post. Weddings are not fun with young kids! Travel is not fun with young kids! Being the person who will inevitably do most/all of the childcare because it’s the other person’s family event is MISERABLE, please do not put yourself through it when you have the option of staying in your own home and sticking to your family routines.

      You’re not a Grinch. It is AGGRESSIVELY normal and reasonable to not want to do this.

      1. waffles*

        Dark Macadamia and I sang this song together, a Greek chorus of the exhaustion of jet lagged toddlers at a formal event with no assistance. Beware!

      2. New Mom*

        The second you said “wedding” I was like “send him alone” and basically chanted that through the rest of the post.

        This made me LOL :)

    8. Pop*

      Does your husband have other opportunities to see his family? Have people had chances to meet your children? Is it important to the family culture that you attend? Do you want to have a good relationship with his family long-term, and are you prepared for the backlash if you don’t go?

      As a mom to a toddler I obviously think this trip sounds like an expensive nightmare!! But I also went to an out of town, expensive family wedding with my toddler in tow a few months ago because of some of the answers to the questions above. And as the partner that lives 3,000 away from my parents (we live a mile away from my husband’s), it is hard to miss out on family stuff, so sometimes we suck things up and go.

      1. Pop*

        Also, to be clear, I would likely not go. I think most people here (including me!) are extremely sympathetic to how challenging this trip sounds.

      2. New Mom*

        These are all good points and that’s why I’m torn. I love my husband and he’s missed out on so much of his family stuff over the last seven years because he’s been in the US. He was also outside of England for a few years before that so he’s really missed a lot but I don’t feel any sort of guilt for the pre-US years because that was before we were married.
        His mom really wants to see the grandkids but she likes to “see” them and not parent them, which I understand but it makes it a lot less tempting to go when I know no one will be stepping in to help me.

        1. JSPA*

          Having an overbearing mother he can’t say “no” to, and a history of living away from that mother, seem like not-entirely-independent facts.

          He’s used to letting circumstances be the natural barrier, no? That’s a valid strategy. “I’m sorry, that won’t be possible” is an excellent answer. Fight the urge to wind yourself in knots trying to make it possible!

          Put a kid-cam someplace that won’t cramp your style, give her viewing rights, and she can watch them to her heart’s content.

    9. PollyQ*

      Agreed that husband travelling alone sounds like a perfectly cromulent solution, but I would strongly suggest that his parents do not get any kind of vote in this matter. You & your husband should be the only ones making the decision, based on what’s best for each of you individually and your immediate family.

      1. Despachito*

        I second this. My theory is that the person with the greatest say in whether something is going to happen should be the one who will have to bear the brunt of said something, and in this case, this is definitely you. Not your husband, and definitely not your in-laws. Let your husband go and wish him a nice stay.

        I think young kids are a perfect excuse, and if both of them were born during the pandemic, they definitely are VERY young. It will be too exhausting to them, and to you as well. It is perfectly reasonable and any normal person would not bat an eyelid. Be sweet but adamant about it. I hope your in-laws do not pester you about it and if they do, your husband has your back.

    10. Ellis Bell*

      Your solution sounds perfect and they’re being weird! Hopefully it’s just expressing that they’ll miss you and the kids. If you do feel in any way tempted to go, you’d have to agree on getting real bought in childcare from the family as a whole, as in there’d be a proper itinerary that you’d sign off on your partners participation in. Basically that you’d be confident of how much holidaying you’d get to do before spending a fortune. However I don’t think I would even do that much if the kids are still very little.

      1. New Mom*

        We could do this with MY family but not his family. MIL would’ve deeply offended if I dared to speak out that I wanted help, SHE did it all alone with THREE!

    11. BRR*

      This sounds like it will be a miserable time for you and you’ll have the “privilege” of having to pay a lot of money for it. Lay out any conditions before you decide and then you can make your choice based on if you think they’ll actually be met. And as others have said, this is between you and your husband. His parents don’t get a vote.

    12. Llama Llama*

      Have him go alone if that is feasible. If anyone asks why the rest aren’t there just say, that you would have loved to go but a trip for 4 wasn’t in the budget.

    13. Cat's Paw for Cats*

      I’m sorry, but I think you need to go. He is living away from his family and it is understandable that he would want to go, and you should support that. You have time to plan how to handle childcare with him. This is the price for living in your hometown instead of his.

      1. Hen in a Windstorm*

        What an odd response. She *is* supporting him going and him seeing his family. You must have missed the part where this costs a lot of money – time to plan is not the problem here.

        Also, they are from 2 different countries. A wedding in a THIRD country is not the price for living in her hometown.

      2. M. from P.*

        Um, more like the price for nor living in Spain (a place neither the asker nor the spouse come from), sounds like.

      3. Dark Macadamia*

        I wouldn’t bring two kids this young to a wedding across the street if I could avoid it, lol. She does not need to go.

      4. Swiftie*

        “I’m sorry, but I think you need to go. He is living away from his family and it is understandable that he would want to go, and you should support that. You have time to plan how to handle childcare with him. This is the price for living in your hometown instead of his.”

        LOL no. Look, children don’t actually need to be at like, the majority of weddings, of any size or shape. If the grandparents were really that keen on facetime with their grandkids, they could have been putting in the extra effort all this time and putting out the money for the trip (and then being an actual pair of helping hands during the trip). No one will have fun on this trip, it’ll be expensive AF, and it all could be torpedoed by an RSV/COVID/flu bug with terrible timing (her kids are baby-age and toddler-age; they are germ factories 24/7, even in a COVID-less world). Ten bucks says that the couple getting married would not even notice if the kids were there or not (until they start screaming, barfing, or run into the cake).
        Thanks for playing, Grandma’s alt ID, but you should have been more involved from the beginning if you’d wanted any say in this.

    14. HannahS*

      I agree that you should go. He has made a significant sacrifice to live away from his family, but near yours. If the situations were reversed, and you only saw your family every other year, I imagine that you’d want to go an inconvenient family event sometimes, and it would feel not-great to have your spouse send you alone. These people are your children’s extended family. Absent abject misery and abuse, I think giving up on a fun family vacation to spend time with your husbands family is a reasonable request, even though it will suck for you. Sorry :(

      1. Hen in a Windstorm*

        Did he? How do you know so much about his life? Maybe he already lived in the US when they met and had already made that “sacrifice” himself. Geez.

        BTW, she literally described abject misery and you acknowledged that “it will suck for you”, so you’re actually contradicting yourself.

        Her husband is presumably a fully functional adult and can manage an international trip and event alone. They will get to see his family *more* often if they don’t all go on this trip. It makes the most sense to send him alone now so they can afford another trip to England sooner.

        1. Come on now*

          Caring for your own children for a time limited period is not ‘abject misery’ for heaven’s sake. It’s inconvenient and logistically difficult but it is hardly the end of the world.

          1. M. from P.*

            Caring for two kids under two on an international trip (with a bonus of jet-lag) without the support of your partner for the sake of a cousin’s wedding is not routine part of parenting, no.

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        If the situations were reversed I would be DELIGHTED to get a vacation by myself while my spouse stayed home with our two toddlers for a couple days. I was jealous when my husband got to stay in a hotel by himself for a WORK event lol. I would rather skip a wedding than go with my kids because bringing kids to an adult/everyone event makes it impossible to socialize (unless you’re a crappy spouse/parent and dump all the work on your partner).

        1. Malarkey01*

          Right? In the past two years my husband twice had to leave the country for a funeral or wedding abroad. Both times he came back saying it was a freaking holiday (even though he had to nod at his mother saying what a shame it was without our kids).

          Our oldest was a great traveler, the younger not so much, we traveled EVERYWHERE when #1 was small, but I cannot fathom traveling with 2 under 2 to a destination wedding in Spain. Not even the family home where you have laundry machines and bottle supplies, etc.

          This sounds like the insane plan of someone who hasn’t been one on one with a baby and toddler in decades.

      3. Clisby*

        Heck, I would have thought it was a luxury to go visit my family on my own and leave my husband with the kids at home.

    15. Enough*

      I will add my vote to stay home. And agree with the comment that people can always come visit you. There is no rule that says the person who moved away must always be the one to do the traveling.

    16. Me, Just Me...*

      I’d go but leave the kids with my family at home. Maybe just you and your husband could go & have a fun trip even though I’m sure you will miss your kids. Sounds like a great time for you two to spend some adult time while also seeing his family. Just tell his family that you think the kids are too young for such a trip and if they want to visit the kids, they’re welcome to schedule a visit of their own

      1. New Mom*

        I would love to but they are too young and too much for my parents (both in their 70s) to watch for a week or two. But I’m super excited for an adults only trip in the future!

        1. Clisby*

          That makes sense – I was wondering whether it would be possible for you and your husband to go, but leave the children with family members. I would absolutely not be dragging little kids from the US to Spain for a wedding. That doesn’t sound enjoyable for anyone.

    17. JSPA*

      Going solo should be fine. I’d suggest appending that you’re planning on doing more than your share of the travel and holidays with them when the kids are old enough to possibly remember it. (And AFTER the end of the triple-demic era; on the numbers, this is not a good year for small children to be far away from their accustomed doctor and support network). Ages (e.g.) 3.5 and 5.5 sound reasonable to me? And husband alone can cut costs / double up with other family to save for a “kids will remember meeting the family” trip.

      1. New Mom*

        Being away from the doctor is so scary. When we went for Christmas last year our then 17 month old caught RSV and was having trouble breathing and the local doctors were under such pressure to get everyone’s booster shot that my in-laws doctors refused to see our very sick little guy. They were fully booked up with booster shots.

        My MIL had to corner her neighbor, who is a doctor, and guilt him into seeing our son, which he did but was visible annoyed. My son ended up so sick that he needed to be on antibiotics for two weeks. Just the thought of having to navigate an ER with a sick baby when I don’t speak the language seems so frightening.

        1. M. from P.*

          As a doc myself who is now witnessing an ugly flu season in my own neck of the
          woods (Europe but not Spain) including shortage of flu medication, I really think this issue should be factored in our decisions.
          As a fellow reader, I’d absolutely stay home, no question.

    18. Barb*

      I would be pretty hurt if I lived in my spouse’s home town where they always got to see their family, and the time that I ask to go together to an important event in my family’s life (after missing many already), my spouse won’t go because it’s inconvenient. You have to compromise in marriage. Not every event you attend will be balls-to-the-wall fun. But sometimes you suck it up and do it anyway because it’s important to the person you love.

      I’m sorry that travel with kids is difficult! At the same time, if your plan was no international travel and not visiting your husband’s family for the entire several years while you have young kids, I hope you discussed this together before children, because springing it on him now is really not fair.

      1. Generic Name*

        I hear what you’re saying, and I’m curious how many small children you’ve had and how many international trips you’ve taken.

      2. New Mom*

        This is a good point. I really don’t want it to be so lopsided. That’s why I made sure we go for Christmas, and before kids we would go see them other times. When we lived in Europe it was easier, but now we have to request a pretty big chunk of time off work every time we go see them coupled with the costs. I definitely think that is fair, and I’d want to see my family at least once a year too if the tables were turned.

        We have talked about only going on trips with other adults while the kids are little so that we can get some help and also enjoy it a little bit ourselves. This wedding would be sort of contrary to what we had discussed but I think both he and his mom got excited and saw it as an opportunity to do a wedding, but also for her to see the grandkids. I think the added awkwardness of this is that I don’t want to criticize his mom, because both he and she are quite sensitive to anything related to her, but if we travel with her, I unfortunately know she will not be helping at all. She’ll likely do things that make my life more difficult. For example, booking dinners at restaurants that the kids won’t be welcome in, and then expecting me to keep them quiet/entertained while everyone else enjoys dinner. Whereas, with my parents, they are really helpful and hands on with the kids so I’d feel differently if they were coming because there would be someone who would be willing to watch the kids while we showered, or maybe even go out for dinner.
        Compromise is really important, so I’m just trying to figure out if this is a fair compromise or if it’s too much. Probably not black/white answer.

        1. Barb*

          You sound very thoughtful and I’m sorry you’re in a tough spot.

          Keep brainstorming and talk with your husband, maybe you can come up with a compromise that you’d both be happy with. Maybe you could bring along another adult on the trip to help out with the kids? Higher cost, but easier trip.

          Maybe make a promise with husband to form a united front when it comes to choosing activities/places to eat during the trip that are kid-friendly? This could be hard for your husband to stick to perfectly right away, but it would really serve him well to be able to speak up to his mom about what’s right for his own family. Maybe you get a spa-day or other kid-free period of time during the trip to recharge? Or maybe husband going on his own/with oldest kid is the right compromise.

          Anyway I hope you come to a solution you’re both content with!

          1. Swiftie*

            “Maybe you could bring along another adult on the trip to help out with the kids? Higher cost, but easier trip.”
            Jesus Christ, no. sure, let’s throw down another $600-900 for someone to fly international to be a 3rd parent (because Dad keeps getting shanghaied into Kids Not Welcomed events and Mom is trying to parent two little kids in an unfamiliar country). Then everyone gets the flu and RSV, in a country where none of their family is from, and everyone’s medical system is still under heavy strain.
            We should also bring a unicorn on this trip too, to fly everyone there.

        2. Ellis Bell*

          Compromise shouldn’t compromise anyone’s enjoyment of a big holiday or expensive trip though. Particularly their comfort, stress and energy! Absolutely sift through all the options and keep talking it out, but I want to push back on the idea that your fun or happiness doesn’t matter just because of where you (both) decided to live! After all, the only reason your partner wants you to come is because he thinks it will add to his and everyone else’s fun. That’s not a good enough reason to put you on the tolerance rack; particularly since he and everyone else would still have quite a lot of fun if he joined them alone. If it was integral for you to go, then they’d pay for your tickets and help out with childcare. The whole situation screams “fight waiting to happen” if you know your partner will allow you to become the family nanny bringing out the adorables for five minutes before having to shush them through dinner. You only have so many holidays, and time off with your kids while they are still littles. This trip won’t necessarily waste that time, but make absolutely sure that it doesn’t! You and the kids are his immediate family; you come first.

        3. AcademiaNut*

          I live overseas from my family. When you live on a different continent than your family, one trip per year is actually doing pretty well. These trips are very expensive, and you eat up a couple of days each time in jet-lag and travel. If I travelled back to North America for a family wedding, that would be my trip; it wouldn’t be in addition to the regularly scheduled one. I grew up on the other side of the country from my grandparents (both sides); we travelled out to visit them once every two years, this was financial rather than vacation time.

          That’s one option; make it clear that you could go for the wedding, but you don’t have the vacation/money for the whole family to go more than once per year, so it would be instead of Christmas, and let the grandparents choose which they prefer.

          Also, how many unmarried cousins and similar relatives does your husband have? You probably need a general relationship talk about how much of your vacation time and money will be spent on family weddings/reunions/funerals etc.

          I think having your husband go alone is a good compromised, however. If you do go with them, I’d stand firm on him doing his fair share of the parenting, though, even if it means missing wedding related stuff. Taking you along to care for the grandchildren in a hotel room, exhibiting to the grandparents when requested, and keeping them elsewhere otherwise, doesn’t sound like much fun for you.

          When the kids get a bit older, you can play the budget card; say that you can’t afford the plane tickets/hotel for all of you. If the GP really want you to come out, that’s their cue to offer to pay.

        4. Lynda*

          Hopefully the English family are up to date on current visa and EU requirements for travel. The main one: only 90 days in the EU in total in any year for any purpose. Also, new visa requirements being introduced in 2023. And they all need to check when their passports expire. Might also apply to your husband depending on whether he’s travelling on UK or US passport.
          I’d hate to see you all busting a gut to get your tribe there then the wedding party can’t leave the UK…

          1. Andrew*

            > The main one: only 90 days in the EU in total in any year for any purpose. Also, new visa requirements being introduced in 2023

            I know this is nitpicky, but this is inaccurate on two counts:

            – It’s not 90 days “in any year”, it’s 90 days in a 180-day period.
            – It’s not 90 days “in the EU” — it’s 90 days in the Schengen area. Non-EU states in the Schengen area (Iceland, Norway, Switzerland) are included in this 90 days period; and conversely EU states that are not in the Schengen area (Romania, Bulgaria, and most crucially for most British people, Ireland) do not fall into this 90 day period.

            In addition, the “new visa requirements” coming in in 2023 are an electronic registration requirement (similar to the US ESTA or Canadian ETA), which is certainly a new requirement but does not change British citizens’ permitted time in Europe or reasons to visit. (And does not require a visit to an embassy of any kind.)

        5. Ellis Bell*

          Gosh, I wonder why they’re both sensitive about this terribly unfair, recurring situation you keep being placed in. Is it so you can’t make a perfectly reasonable point in your defence that’s fairly inarguable? I think you’re being more than gracious simply by not pointing to this huge, flashing warning sign of impending doom. Simply keep repeating instead that the kids are too young and you can’t afford it; you’re not lying and you’re not keeping him from family.

        6. Flowers*

          Ugh im sorry. MIL sounds difficult and kind of mean. And I’m guessing there’s a whole lot going on there that isn’t being said (and that’s OK!). I’d stay home. Don’t let ppl here guilt you into going. If your spouse is so desperate for the kids to see them, he can take them alone.

      3. JSPA*

        Straw man argument. Yes, some of us in the biological sciences foresaw rebound infections after isolation, the continued evolution of Covid strains, and likely some loss of the partial protection against Covid, originally seen in kids. But we didn’t foresee dogged resistance to remasking and to regular old flu shots.

        Most people didn’t foresee any of the above.

        And nobody is saying, “husband can’t see parents” nor “we’re unwilling to visit the family in their home country.” Opting out of a DESTINATION wedding with small kids is normal, even before factoring in disease risk.

        Yes, a wedding is a major life event.

        You know what’s a bigger life event? Losing a child. Not to mention, knowing you lost a child, by prioritizing attendance at a wedding.

    19. Generic Name*

      OMG, absolutely send your husband by himself. International travel with 2 small children is nightmarish. I know this is easier said than done, but do what is best for your family. His family doesn’t have to approve, agree, or understand. He can tell them what you’ve decided, and he can deal with any fallout.

    20. Wilde*

      I wouldn’t do it.

      Context: married with a great parenting partner, kids ages 3 and 2.

      We drive five hours twice a year to spend the better part of a week with my parents, who are hands on grandparents and have a great relationship with these kids. I don’t consider these trips “holidays”. There is so much extra curricular thinking, preparing, planning that these trips are exhausting for me, the primary parent. Our kids don’t sleep as well as they do at home, toddlers are all energy and questions, even just planning the next meal from a different fridge requires a mental energy I don’t use at home. Thankfully these trips cost us barely any money.

      Further context: I took my five month old on a 36 hour journey around the world for a friends wedding, without my husband. It worked because I travelled with friends and literally let them do all of the pre-planning, baby was breastfed only, napped in the front pack and slept in a queen bed with me. I basically said “friends, yes, I will do whatever you want, and if it doesn’t work for us then we will stay at our accommodation”. They did all the translating, decided our activities, organised the car seat etc. No way Jose would I do it again now that the kids are bigger. I would go on my own or not at all.

      Yes, your husbands family are important relationships. But this is a huge cost financially, mentally, physically and could cause a lot of resentment between you and the in laws. Own the fact the kids are too small for something like this, the cost would be five-ish figures. There are other ways you could spend that money and invest in these relationships. Send him on his own if it’s a wedding that’s important to him, take the kids next Christmas when it’s the in laws turn to host.

      I’m sorry no one has invented teleportation yet to make this easier for all of you.

      1. New Mom*

        I would LOVE to teleport with the kids for a nice hour long meet and greet and then magically transport to my couch for snacks!

    21. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      “Husband, I’ll go if your parents pay for childcare. You know they will want you to participate in [things that the kids can’t] and I’m not willing to solo parent two little kids in a country where I don’t speak the language and I won’t have any of my home comforts. If not, the idea of spending all our vacation money for me to solo parent the kids doesn’t sound like something at all fun for me, and sounds like something you’d just be saying yes to out of guilt. Or they could come here!”

    22. Ahdez*

      Here late, but definitely don’t go. I am the expat and live in my husband’s country, same city as his family. Multi-country marriages are not the same and you have to release those expectations. You can’t expect to travel together all the time. It’s also never going to be “fair” in time spent with family – and that’s OK. I spend way more time with my in laws than my family, but I prioritize at least one big trip home a year. Definitely do NOT spend all the money you have for family vacations on this. Your husband can go alone if he wants to. I think if it were one of his siblings it might be different, but a cousin… definitely not. I went to a ton of weddings alone in my country pre-kids because of the cost for my now-husband to fly back with me and I have skipped a bunch since then. I also declined to go to a wedding in a neighboring country recently for one of my husband’s relatives and he went alone with his extended family while I stayed with the kids. Do what works for your family and don’t give in to the pressure.

  9. TheyThem*

    Currently my first holiday alone after going no contact with most of my family. A few people are prying as to why I went no contact, but I don’t wish to trauma dump. What’s a polite way to say mind your business?

      1. anon24*


        I’ve also used “Trust me, we do not have the time” and gotten good results (if done with the right tone of voice and a wry smile it gets the point across and makes the asker laugh without feeling bad)

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Sometimes what feels like prying can be motivated just by “This person has indicated they have a psychic bruise, I should enquire in a human way and offer empathy” the same as they would ask about the black eye you are sporting after trying to retrieve a chicken drumstick from your cat.

      2. New Mom*

        I’d add “and I don’t want to get into it” in case the person would say, “I’ve got time!”

    1. Illinois enby*

      It’s a long story + immediate subject change is a good one

      If they ask you about someone else directly “Aunt Judy says you’re not taking to her, why that?” you can always throw back a “Oh, you have to ask her” + subject change

      “It’s a complicated situation and it honestly makes me very sad, but I’m doing what I I need to do to take care of myself” + a subject change, if you don’t mind getting a little vulnerable

      If they’re clearly just looking for gossip and/or this isn’t someone you have a close relationship with, “Why do you ask?” puts them on their toes for a sec and can be followed up by one of the previous conversation enders.

      You’ve got this. I’m on my 4th holiday season sans family of origin and while I don’t love it, I’m more confident than ever that cutting them off was the right decision. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck sometimes, but it was and is the right call. Sending you strength, warmth, and witty rejoinders.

    2. Not A Manager*

      “I don’t actually like to talk about it.” Say it with a smile, like you understand that they mean well. If they keep pressing, then they don’t mean well and you can repeat it, but in a flat tone and no smile at all.

      1. Professor Plum*

        “I don’t actually like to talk about it—thanks for understanding. Now, tell me about ____?”

        1. fposte*

          I love “Thanks for understanding”! It really puts the other person in a demonstrably adversarial position if they want to press.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      In the immediate aftermath of going no-contact with someone that I didn’t want to elaborate on the details, I had some success with “I don’t really want to air that laundry, but please trust that it wasn’t a decision made lightly.”

    4. Golden*

      I’ve had good luck with, “Oof, I haven’t had enough tequila (or other drink of choice) to get into that right now”, laugh and change the subject. Not sure if that type of humor is your thing, but the other suggestions here look good too.

    5. JSPA*

      “If that were a good topic for a chat, we wouldn’t be estranged.”

      “That’s not a welcome topic, sorry.”

      “No, sorry, bruises don’t heal if you keep poking them.”

      ” Not the sorts of things that bear chatting about. What I have been meaning to ask you is [whatever] .”

      “I suppose I’ll unpack it all with a therapist someday, but for the present, my goal is to not think or talk about any of it. But I am actively enjoying [whatever].”

  10. Bah Humbug*

    Recs for favorite Christmas-adjacent (take place around Christmas but aren’t really ‘Christmas’ themed) movies? Bonus points for comedies!

    Mine are Bridget Jones Diary and Just Friends but looking to expand over the next few days of being glued to my TV

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Our Christmas Eve tradition in my house is Die Hard, Chinese food, cocktails and our household gift exchange.

    1. just another queer reader*

      “Carol” is a Christmastime 1950s lesbian movie. It’s so beautiful and it’s also bittersweet. I cried a lot.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        I need to watch this one again. We watched it in 7th grade for some reason (I think after a test?) and I was extremely scandalized but all I remember is the octopus line lol.

      1. Hen in a Windstorm*

        I was going to suggest this! We watch it every year, since it starts before Christmas and wraps up on New Years it’s a perfect movie.

        Also, Trading Places similarly starts right before Christmas and wraps up in the new year. I used to live in Philly, so it’s also a bit of nostalgia.

        1. SpellingBee*

          Whenever we watch it, I’m always tempted to answer the phone “Reference, Miss Watson,” with that inimitable Hepburn accent. I also love her costumes in that movie! The only jarring note (which you never see her wear) is the green party dress that she’s taken out on approval. It just doesn’t look like a Hepburn dress to me.

          1. Amcb13*

            I came across Desk Set totally randomly on Netflix a few years ago and it was the most delightful surprise. I watched it in the summer so didn’t think to add it to the Christmas watching list—I will now!

    2. Girasol*

      If you’re into kid films, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone includes Christmas, and there’s The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, where in Narnia it’s always winter and never Christmas.

    3. *daha**

      I’m suddenly reminded of a movie that I’ve only seen the beginning of, so this isn’t so much a recommendation as it is a potential. The Silent Partner (1978) stars Elliott Gould and Christopher Plummer. Plummer robs a bank while dressed as Santa. IMDB says comedy/drama/crime-thriller.

    4. AlexandrinaVictoria*

      Brazil. Has funny moments but is pretty dark. Try to find the director’s cut. One of my top three favorite movies ever.

    5. Generic Name*

      As a kid we watched the 90s version of Little Women with Winona Rider on Christmas Day. I believe the beginning of the movie is set at Christmas (or the dinner scene takes place at some point in the movie.

    6. E. Chauvelin*

      The Lion in Winter (which one would be hard pressed to call a comedy exactly but the dialogue is witty)

    7. Sorgatani*

      I like ‘The Holiday’ – I don’t often go in for romcoms, but it won me over with charm. Gives me warm fuzzies.

    8. nobadcats*

      “The Man Who Came to Dinner” with Bette Davis and Monte Wooley and “A Wish for Wings that Work,” an animated movie with the characters created by Berkeley Breathed.

      LOVE them.

    9. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      I love the oldie Meet Me In St. Louis.
      It’s got a lovely Christmas section, but the film covers a whole year in the life of the family. Bonus points for The Trolly Song and the Halloween section with Tootie.

    10. UsuallyALurker*

      The Story Lady’s ending takes place on Christmas Eve. It’s fairly incidental other than there being a present involved. It’s on YouTube, for some reason with the title The Christmas Story Lady.
      It’s a really cute movie Jessica Tandy plays an older woman who starts a public access TV show where she reads fairy tales. When the show is picked up by a network she ends up in over her head. Along the way she helps a mother and daughter find more time for each other.
      Also a great example of a movie without a love interest.

    11. Marion Ravenwood*

      You’ve Got Mail and The Shop Around The Corner. Both have scenes set at Christmas but it being Christmas isn’t super vital to the storyline. And very funny in a sort of screwball comedy way (although You’ve Got Mail definitely feels of its time now).

  11. Mo Money Mo Problems*

    Roth IRA Question that I can not seem to find a straight answer for on the internet but has to be someone who did this before.

    I maxed out my 2022 Roth IRA contribution in January this year. I got a new job in May with an increase and now I’m over the income limit to quality for one so I need to do a Backdoor Roth IRA. Tons of info available if you start off knowing you need to do a Backdoor but I can’t find any info on how to change your Roth IRA to a Backdoor if the $$ is already invested. Every source I’ve found is giving me multiple or unclear solutions that don’t seem to be the Backdoor. I also am planning to roll my old 401k into an IRA and I want to make sure whatever I do here doesn’t affect that. I am pretty involved in personal finance but have never made enough to be concerned about maximums or limits so this specific area is very new to me. Any advice – either personal experience or resources?

    1. Roland*

      I would book some time with a professional and have them walk you through it. If you know it’s beyond your current knowledge, it’s best to play it safe.

    2. CatCat*

      I contributed to a Roth IRA when the was not eligible and caught my mistake during that same tax year. I called the brokerage where my Roth IRA is and had them recharacterize the contributions to traditional IRA.

      Since it’s almost the end of the year, I’d focus on and prioritize getting the contributions recharacterized ASAP to avoid the IRS penalty for contributing when you weren’t eligible. Also, there’s a tax form for 2022 you’ll want to file for making post-tax contributions to a traditional IRA (I don’t recall what the form is called).

      Sort out the backdoor Roth IRA stuff after that.

    3. Decidedly Me*

      Backdoor IRA is a term for converting a traditional to a ROTH, so you’ll first need any contribution you did over the limits to be recharacterized. Once that’s done, the conversion is pretty simple from my experience. I just googled for my specific brokerage to get directions.

    4. Enough*

      You probably need to start a new non-deductible IRA. Also you probaby need to remove the Roth contributions for this year from the current Roth since you are above the income limit. Talk to the people where your Roth is now. And rolling over the 401k is completely separate and will not be affected by the Roth issues. So you should have 3 accounts. The IRA with 401k money, your original Roth and the non-deductible IRA.

      1. E*

        I just learned the hard way that this actually isn’t true that the roll over is totally different from the back door. Well, it is true in terms of your q, LW, but once you rollover to a traditional IRA, something called the pro-rata rule will limit the amount you can backdoor tax-free via a Roth. It might still be a good idea to do, but just be aware once you have a serious sun of money in your traditional IRA a rollover isn’t as breezy was before

    5. fposte*

      As others have stated, you need to recharacterize your original contributions as a traditional IRA and then convert them. That may require you contacting the brokerage rather than using the online interface.

      Are you trying to roll your old 401k into a traditional IRA or a Roth? (If the latter, use money outside of it to pay the taxes if possible.) But what I think you’re asking about is the pro rata rule, which means that if you convert any of a traditional IRA, you’re taxed on *all* your pretax IRA holdings whether it got converted or not. The date that the IRS uses to measure “all your pretax IRA holdings” is December 31.

      So it’s fine for you to recharacterize and convert your 2022 contributions, and then roll your 401k over to a traditional or Roth IRA. The thing you *don’t* want to do is first roll your 401k over to a traditional IRA next week, giving you a a balance in your traditional IRA on December 31, and then recharacterize and convert your IRA contributions in January, because that would make the 401k rollover taxable along with the converted traditional IRA. You probably weren’t going to do this anyway, but that’s the order and timing that would mess you up.

      Definitely double-check this; I like bogleheads dot org or its equivalent presences on other platforms. But you should be able to recharacterize and contribute and then roll over as long as you don’t fall into that one possible December 31 pit.

      1. Hen in a Windstorm*

        I was going to recommend Bogleheads for the nitty-gritty of doing the fancy money two-step. They’re very welcoming of newbies. I know another thing I’ve had trouble with is very few people are looking up the (regular) Backdoor IRA, there’s a lot more ink about MegaBackdoor.

        Also, OP – are you over the income limit *after* all your deductions? Because it’s not based on your gross, it’s based on your MAGI.

        1. fposte*

          Bogleheads are why I was able to retire early. It’s a site of amazing generosity. I think the key here was the all-important term “recharacterize”–once you know that one, it’s easy to find either Boglehead threads or other online resources that’ll give you info. And good point about the MAGI. I just backdoored automatically in the last few years rather than try to predict which side of the line I was going to fall, but it’s close enough to the year-end that the OP should be able to get a recent read on their MAGI. Which sounds very Christmassy, now that I think of it.

    6. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      Similar to CatCat, I had an instance where I had contributed an amount that was over the allowed limit based on my income. I contacted my financial guy and had him pull the excess amount back out of the Roth. Probably best to talk with the financial firm that is handling your Roth – they probably have seen situations like that before.

      I’m not too up on backdoor Roths but my understanding is you have to start with a traditional IRA and then convert it. So I think you would have to pull back your contribution, put it in a traditional IRA, and then go from there. So again, you’d probably have to contact your fund company.

      Re: rolling over an old 401k into an IRA – that doesn’t have any impact on current year contributions or eligibility for particular fund types. You just need to make sure that the money is either transferred directly between the accounts or fund companies, or if the 401k has to issue you a check, it’s actually made out to the IRA on your behalf and not to you directly. If they do mail you a check, you have to deposit it quickly or else it will be treated as a distribution and not a rollover. Contact the fund company or companies involved, and they will be able to give you details and walk you through the process. Note: you will get a tax form showing a distribution, but it will have a code associated that indicates it was actually a rollover, so don’t let that freak you out when you receive it. :-) As a gov contractor I’ve had so many employers – I’ve gotten to be quite the pro at rollovers, lol.

  12. Beans*

    I would book a session or two with a financial advisor. Make sure they are fee-only and have a fiduciary duty to you. Mine does taxes in house as well so she’s a wonderful all-in-one resource for all my financial qs and gives me a lot of confidence that things are just handled correctly. Won’t help you if you need answers before the end of the year, probably. Good luck!

  13. Cookie*

    I signed up for a “Secret Snowflake” coordinated by someone who publishes a newsletter I subscribe to. I was assigned a recipient and got her questionnaire answers – likes, dislikes, etc. I sent a gift to her pretty promptly – and it’s been a hard year, so even a small gift was a stretch for me. Per the directions, I also emailed her to tell her the gift was on its way, and she replied a couple of days later saying she’d let me know when she got it.

    On December 20, the list mod sent a note to all participants telling us to contact our recipient if we hadn’t yet had time to send a gift, just to let them know it’s still on and they’re not forgotten. I replied, asking if my recipient is also my giver and she just said “different person.”

    USPS tracking says the gift I sent was delivered to her PO box three days after I sent it. My recipient never followed up and I’m going to just assume she got it. Maybe she hated it? Hard to say.

    Meanwhile, I haven’t received a gift or an email. My secret snowflake…flaked, I guess.

    Do I tell the list mod it didn’t work out, and if so, when? Or do I just move on and consider it another lesson in the Year of Expensive Lessons?

    1. RagingADHD*

      You should reach out to the mod and ask them to check that the person sending to you had the right contact info, because you never got an email or a gift.

      If someone is taking advantage of other’s goodwill, they should not be included again. If there is a mistake, it can be rectified.

      1. elvie*

        +1 Definitely reach out. If I had to coordinate something like this, I would want to know if someone didn’t send a gift.

        1. Boots*

          I agree about reaching out. Totally possible the person isn’t sending a gift, but also possible they have a reason for sending it late (or maybe they sent it and it got lost in the mail). I think it’s better to try to find out what happened than to have to wonder and worry about it.

          1. Cookie*

            How long should I give them? I know mail is slow in some locations. Like a week after Christmas? I don’t want to look grabby, I’m just disappointed and puzzled.

            1. Hen in a Windstorm*

              Sigh. Why on earth do you worry that you’ll “look” anything? You are part of an exchange. Everyone in the exchange agreed to do a thing. One person appears not to be doing the thing. That person is not you – you did your part.

              The mod is clearly asking people to communicate, and your giver has not. You have these facts. Share them with the mod. Do not wait.

            2. Wannessa*

              Reach out to the mod now! That doesn’t look grabby at all. Boots is just giving examples of what may have happened (besides a flaky giver), not discouraging you from asking. It’s better to check with the mod now so they can let you know what’s happening.

            3. Boots*

              I’d be disappointed too! Totally fine to ask the list mod to check in with your snowflake now. If the person is late in sending the gift or something happened to the package, they’re not going to think anything bad about you for being concerned about not getting your gift on time.

              If they don’t intend to send a gift and don’t respond to the mod, then they’re a crappy person and what they think of you doesn’t matter, but at least you’d know what was going on.

            4. RagingADHD*

              They didn’t send an email either. So approach it that you haven’t heard anything. The attitude you’re after here is not about “someone did me wrong.”

              It’s “Hey, there is some kind of glitch in the system.”

    2. bratschegirl*

      In our area, “porch pirates” are just everywhere this year. And brazen, like just following the UPS truck in broad daylight, etc. So it could possibly be that something was sent to you and it got swiped. Since you were sending to a PO Box that’s less likely on the other end, of course. Sorry for all the hassle and expense, that would really sour me on participating in the future!

      1. Cookie*

        My USPS informed delivery would tell me if they delivered a package, though, and nothing has showed up there that I didn’t actually get.

        I’m still crossing my fingers that my snowflake is just super tardy and a terrible communicator.

    3. fposte*

      I would check back with the mod. In my experience this is pretty common with random online gifts, especially the failure to thank, but I’d follow up this year and then factor the obstacles into any decision to participate next year.

      I’m sorry; it’s disappointing when something you’d looked forward to and stretched for turns out to be a source of bad feelings.

  14. Dwight Schrute*

    Just finished Wednesday! I adored it, I thought it was delightful and that the casting was well done. Anyone else watch it?

    1. Taking the long way round - grumpy issue*

      Oh yes, I watched all of it in one weekend. It’s fab! I really liked how they updated the blonde, bright and breezy, character! (I’m no good with names, sorry).

    2. Not Australian*

      Yes, and agree that it was beautifully made and cast. Wouldn’t normally be my cuppa but I enjoyed both ‘Stranger Things’ and ‘The Umbrella Academy’ so I took a chance. I thought Enid was going to be annoying – and so she was – but that evened out considerably towards the end. Will be very interested to see where they take it in the next season.

    3. Boots*

      Watched it soon after it was released. Absolutely loved it! Morally gray and dark characters are my favorite.

      My only complaint was the love triangle with Tyler and Xavier. Couldn’t figure out why Wednesday liked either boy, and the whole thing seemed forced and bizarre. Her friendships with Enid and Eugene were great though.

      1. The Real Fran Fine*

        The love triangle was very reminiscent of the one in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, also on Netflix, between Sabrina/Harvey/Nick. In fact, that was my one gripe about Wednesday – it had way too many similarities to Sabrina and the writers should have kept her at a regular school solving mysteries instead of what they did here. No love triangle required since watching her form friendships with Enid and Eugene was the best part of the show anyway.

        Though I will say Jenna was great in the role (and I’m a huge Christina Ricci stan that was expecting this to fall flat) and her dance scene, and that dress, were iconic.

        1. Well...*

          Yeah I think the artist love interest could have mostly been left out. I’m not a big fan of love triangles in general because they distance you psychologically from the main character (you never know who they really like to keep the drama going, worsened in this case my Wednesday’s general unreadableness). He’d have been better as a friend this season and love interest in the next season.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I really liked it, and agree on the casting. Especially Jenna Ortega. And the way Thing integrated into the school was delightful.

      I thought the start was very strong and the ending was a little weak, e.g. we open on an over-simple plan “not working” so I assumed it was a feint, but then no, the plan really was that basic.

  15. Lazy suzan*

    Does anyone have any experience hosting a foreign exchange student? This is our first time and I am ready to throw in the towel. It feels like we are running a crappy bed and breakfast. There isn’t much of a cultural exchange happening, it feels like he just wants taxi drivers to shuttle him around to various tourist attractions so he can take selfies for his social media feed. My husband sat him down for a heart to heart last week and he was confident that something changed but three days later our student was complaining to our daughter about having to participate in a family activity. This whole experience feels so empty for me. Does anyone have advice a perspective to share?

    1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

      what age/school level is the student?

      My high school had foreign exchange students and the school had a coordinator for the program. Is there a person like that in the picture who could help & advise you on dealing with the student?

      1. Jackalope*

        This is a good idea. You might also be able to talk to the program coordinator of whatever organization he’s with.

        How long is he supposed to be living with you? A whole year? Just a few weeks?

        I have some experience on both sides of the divide, although not as an adult. I was an exchange student in high school, and my family also hosted a few students. My experience was mostly good, but on both sides I found that it’s true that some people you gel with and some you don’t. I lived with two families while I was overseas and while I liked both of them I was much closer with one than the other. And with the students that stayed with us, we had a couple we got close to and at least one where it was fine but we didn’t really hit it off and we drifted out of touch quickly after they went back home.

    2. Cat and dog fosterer*

      My coworker has done this for years and it’s mostly financial for her. Any cultural benefit is a bonus.

      1. Cookie*

        Wait, one gets a financial benefit? I live alone and could easily host a student, I just figured it would be expensive. Hmmmm.

        1. just another queer reader*

          The programs that I am familiar with don’t pay host families a stipend in the US, but it sounds like it varies by the program.

          1. the cat's ass*

            There are definitely fee-for-service exchange programmes out there, with pretty solid rules about what you have to provide for the students, such as 2-3 cooked meals a day, transportation, a private room with bath, etc. One of my neighbors did this with mixed results. Some great experiences and some really depressing ones.

            1. Clisby*

              I hadn’t heard of those for high schoolers in the US, but could be. That’s definitely what it was like when my US-based daughter did a study-abroad course for 10 weeks in Costa Rica. She had a wonderful host family and a great time.

        2. Cat and dog fosterer*

          She seems to host asian high school students, she has commented on chinese vs. japanese quirks. The families who can afford to send their kids to western highschools all have a lot of money so she has to manage expectations at the start. She provides all their meals and a bedroom and she lives centrally so they can take a bus to school and I’d guess they take Uber too.

    3. California Dreamin’*

      I’m so sorry this is not going great for you. We hosted an exchange student for a year when I was in high school, and he was amazing. He became part of our family (my mom still calls him her “German son.”). But that year there were two other exchange students at my high school (same program sent all three kids.). One boy was pretty homesick and never gelled with his host family. I don’t think any of them particularly loved it. The other girl was polite but spoke really minimal English when she arrived and was super quiet. She felt better as the year went on, I think, and did ok with her host family but I don’t think formed lasting relationships. It seems like experiences can be all over the map.

      1. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

        I’m sorry for OP as well. My family hosted someone 55 years ago (when I was 6!). We still keep in touch with her all these years later.

    4. Rara Avis*

      My family hosted for a few weeks one summer. It was definitely a country mice/city mouse situation. She would have been happier in a more cosmopolitan setting and wasn’t thrilled with our quiet summer. (We did take her to tourist places, including NYC.)

    5. Generic Name*

      How old is the student? If he is high school aged, I think it’s a lot to expect that you would be receiving much of any benefit, to be blunt. I’ve thought about having an exchange student now that my son is in high school because the cultural exchange part could be between the two kids.

      Growing up, my best friend’s family often had exchange students, and it was a great experience for all of us. I’m still in touch with several of them 20+ years later. One of the girls in my small friend group senior year of high school was a student from Germany.

      So maybe a shift in your perspective could help? I would say to stick it out if it’s just not that enjoyable but not actively terrible. Hopefully he’ll warm up to you and will start to feel more like family. Or maybe the guy is just completely self absorbed and won’t ever be any different.

    6. TeaFriend*

      Exchange can be such a mixed bag. I spent a year in Austria and had three host families. The first was brilliant, the second two were a disaster. Not sure what exactly the heart-to-heart involved so my apologies if you’ve already done this, but maybe ask the student bluntly what it is he wants from you and the exchange? Clearer communication on expectations would have saved me and my host families a lot of frustration and stress at the time.

      Could also be that he’s just a spoilt/ungrateful person. Plenty of them go on exchange hoping for a year where they don’t really have to try in school and can just see another country at the expense of their host family. Feel free to boot him. You’re generously hosting and putting in effort, and it sounds like he’s not very appreciative. He’s not your kid, and you have no obligation to him.

      Don’t let it put you off hosting a student though! There are plenty out there who would love a family that actually care about cultural exchange, and who could be a great match. It’s been 11 years since my exchange but I keep in touch (and occasionally visit) my first host family, and my family and I are still close with the two students we hosted (I’m actually spending NYE with one of them this year—eight years after she lived with us!)

  16. Skates*

    What’s everyone cooking for the weekend? Tomorrow will be nice steaks from the butcher and patatas bravas. Sunday will be shrimp fest— shrimp cocktail, coconut shrimp, shrimp pasta! Also going to bake some pumpkin cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning. Those and some bailey’s in our coffee will get us through the awkward gift unwrapping FaceTime that my parents insist on for some reason lol.

    1. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Today (relaxed Christmas Eve at home): for lunch, king prawn pasta made with a special recipe from Partner’s hometown. His mother would usually make it for us, but this year we’ve not travelled home, dodging huge airport chaos. For dinner, a vegan Thai curry I’m curious about, that I never made before. Most of all though, I’m excited about starting lunch with an Aperol spritz, it’ll feel like a treat.

      Tomorrow we see friends for a big lunch. We’ll be a small group and the others keep adding pasta and meat dishes to the menu, which makes me a little nervous as I’m being mindful of portion control for health reasons (also, hopefully we’ll end up with leftovers to take home, I hate food waste). Given that, we’re keeping our contribution small and made a batch of lamb and pistachio meatballs from a trusted cookbook.

      PS – love the idea of Baileys in your coffee! Might try it for myself – we have a bottle but Partner doesn’t drink coffee at all.

    2. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Now that we no longer have Christmas Eve or Day with relatives, I’ve gotten intentionally lazy. For the 24th, grilled (good) cheese on sourdough and a nice canned soup with some additions like white wine. Christmas brunch will be a French toast casserole served with cooked apples and sausages, and for dinner, pork tenderloin with fennel and oranges, corn pudding, snap peas, and a salad with dried cranberries, walnuts, and Stilton. And rolls that are certainly not the cheap-ass variety!

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      We were going to do a ham, but all cooking is currently off for the weekend because the kitchen drain line has a 8+ inch ice dam blocking it, so we functionally can’t run the sink or dishwasher until the weather warms back up and it melts.

      I had a plumber crew in working on it yesterday, but it’s just a perfect storm of problems – the location of the ice dam is such that it’s a pain in the butt to reach to try to manually melt it, it’s in piping up by the basement ceiling so we can’t just point a space heater at it, etc. The plumber crew chief said this is only the second time in like 20 years of his career that he’d seen this combination of issues. Luckily the kitchen sink/dishwasher are the ONLY things affected – the bathrooms, washer etc are all fine. We can even run the kitchen faucet, we just can’t let any water go down the drain because it doesn’t have anywhere to go until the ice dam melts. Hopefully that should happen by Monday or so.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Right? This is not how I wanted to be the 1%!! :-P it’ll be alright though, and it could be way worse!

      1. M&M Mom*

        We used to host a Christmas Eve party in our previous home, mostly appetizers. Now we’ve downsized and it’s just four of us. And since it’s so cold, we decided to have Shabu Shabu tonight, which is a Japanese hotpot. Thinly sliced pork and veg you cook yourself at the table. Looking forward to it!

    4. Not Australian*

      Bunratty Castle Pork for the main meal, since it’s just the two of us. Today – ribs, Glass Onion, and wine…

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      We leave to visit older child Sunday, so tonight we are having rack of lamb, which I expect to produce no leftovers. Smitten Kitchen’s Chocolate Puddle Cakes for dessert because I can readily make three servings.

    6. Llama Llama*

      Spaghetti and meatballs for dinner tonight. My brother is making bacon cheddar waffles for breakfast. I am making a stratta for lunch. Smoked brisket for dinner.

    7. I'm Done*

      My husband is German and I’m half German so for Christmas eve we’re having the traditional German Wuerstchen und Kartoffelsalat (Frankfurters and potato salad) as we do every year. For Christmas Day it’s a seafood feast of lobster tail, coconut shrimp and crab cake.

    8. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Our Christmas Eve tradition is a dinner of appetizers, so my husband and I are enjoying shrimp cocktail, spinach artichoke dip, crab stuffed mushrooms, and scallion meatballs with soy-ginger sauce. I’ll also make some overnight cinnamon rolls tonight for tomorrow morning. My husband is cooking Christmas dinner for the first time, and is making a cider braised pork loin and a French carrot salad. I’m making a potato gratin to round things out.

    9. fposte*

      I am proving the reformed Grinch wrong and getting Christmas delivered. That is, two catered meals for tomorrow arrive today (and if they don’t arrive, I’ll get over it). However, today I am going to bake a bunch of little potatoes and roast a pair of artichokes. Tomorrow’s anticipated cooking treat is the making of my favorite pancakes–they’re little souffle-ish things with sour cream and a teensy bit of cake flor.

    10. Clisby*

      For Christmas Eve, we’re making our traditional trek to our favorite Indian restaurant.

      For Christmas – grilled lamb chops, mashed potatoes with garlic sauce (Julia Child recipe), green beans, creamed spinach, homemade rolls, and apple pie.

    11. GoryDetails*

      I’m planning a quick overnight to my sister’s place in New York, and while I don’t know what they’ll be preparing I know it’ll be good. (Also looking forward to her cookies and fudge!) I hope to make some Scottish tablet today, to take along. [I do have to check with her to be sure the house didn’t blow away in the storm!]

    12. California Dreamin’*

      We always do beef fondue with a variety of sauces on Christmas Eve. Tomorrow I’m making a pork loin roast with a cherry brandy sauce which I hope is yummy. One of my children likes to make bread pudding and made up a Christmassy recipe when she was pretty little that she called Kris Kringle Bread Pudding, so she’s making that.

    13. the cat's ass*

      Charcuterie for christmas eve-Yay Trader Joe’s! We open our gifts christmas eve. Dim sum christmas morning (for the first time since 2019), followed by leftovers and roast chicken/potatoes/salad for christmas dinner. A brisk walk and movies at home afterwards.

    14. Girasol*

      We do homemade danish pastry for Christmas breakfast, made the day before and put in the fridge so it can be baked fresh on Christmas morning.

    15. Hen in a Windstorm*

      We’re overnighting at my MIL’s, and she’s going all out making a Christmas lasagne, so I offered to handle breakfast. She was recently diagnosed pre-diabetic, so I’m avoiding carby stuff like french toast casserole, but I found an egg-based make ahead breakfast.

      I made a batch of prosciutto baked eggs yesterday with fresh spinach and red pepper to be festive (undercook a few minutes and then reheat in the toaster oven in the morning and the yolks are still runny!). I am taking the parts of a fruit salad (mandarin oranges, kiwi, dried cranberries, pears, with a lemon honey dressing) and assembling that tonight except the pears, which I will slice in the morning so they don’t get gross.

    16. Sloanicota*

      I always do seafood on the 24th, my version of the “feast of the seven fishes” – this year it’s paella with mixed shellfish and cod. On Christmas day, I bake a brie roll and for dinner usually beef wellington.

    17. The Real Fran Fine*

      I’m spending Christmas Eve and Day alone again this year due to COVID and our blizzard, so I’ll be making a rack of BBQ pork ribs (which should last two or three days) and loaded cauliflower for dinner tonight. On Christmas Day, it’ll be leftover ribs and possibly loaded potatoes (if the cauliflower gets eaten tonight). The side dishes are from Bird’s Eye in the freezer section, so there’s very minimal cooking involved, which I love (I hate cooking). Dessert will be either gluten free sugar cookies or gluten free blueberry muffins depending on my mood.

    18. Might Be Spam*

      Our Christmas Eve menu is homemade mac and cheese with havarti cheese and broccoli, vegetarian “chicken” nuggets, and meatloaf. Mulled apple cider for the beverage. I was able to pick something from each person’s request list.

    19. CTT*

      We always do a huge meal Christmas Eve and my sister and I are obsessed with perfecting the timing. This year is kale salad to start, and then beef Wellington, potatoes gratin, green beans with crème fraîche, and cranberry sauce, and then chocolate peppermint cheesecake to end. Tomorrow we’ll do sausage balls and hashbrown casserole (made ahead of time).

    20. Katefish*

      My 1 year old helped me poke holes in the top of my cake to let the glaze sink through! He’s a sweet boy in general and we were both so proud of him for baking with me.

    21. Aphrodite*

      Christmas morning: Eggs, bacon, cantaloupe, fried potatoes/onions/mushrooms. tangerine juice. Lunch/Dinner: grilled steak with herb butter, Caesar salad, steamed artichoke, green tea mochi. (The salad and mochi are courtesy of TJs. Easy but good.) Those huge dinners whose prep spanned days are way in my past.

    22. Random Bystander*

      Berry Brioche Bread Pudding
      Crescent Bacon Breakfast Ring

      Random stuff for munching:
      Cheeseball (homemade, rolled in bacon bits)
      Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

      Pork loin with garlic and rosemary
      Cheesy Mashed Potatoes with Bacon & Chives
      Brandy-Glazed Carrots

      Also home made egg nog (mainly because they’re out of the ready-made stuff at the store)

    23. Katiekins*

      I’m snacking on seedy crisps with fresh mozarella and tomato jam. I love reading about yummy food while eating yummy food!

    24. carcinization*

      My husband and I were originally planning on traveling 1.5 hours away to stay with family Friday and Saturday nights, but now are staying there only Sunday night due to the winter storm. So I’ve been scraping some meals together that weren’t planned. Luckily we had the fixings for spaghetti with meatballs and garlic bread tonight, accompanied by a bottle of red wine. Tomorrow when we do go to see my mom she’s providing smoked ham, glazed carrots, bread, and key lime pie. I’ve made Homesick Texan’s Pecan Date Fruitcake, and a chocolate-peppermint layer cake to bring along, and have made 2 of 3 components of Smitten Kitchen’s green bean casserole to assemble at my mom’s place tomorrow (still have to make the fried onion topping tomorrow morning).

    25. Elizabeth*

      Lunch on Christmas Eve was a different pizza place, an actual pizzeria.

      Dinner was grilled tuna steaks and mushroom ravioli in white wine & cream sauce.

      Christmas Brunch will be a selection of Christmas breads, bacon & eggs. I have sparkling wine & orange juice if we decide we want mimosas.

      Christmas dinner will be at a local historic hotel. We have done Thanksgiving there before, and it is amazing. We always make sure to tip extra, because we know it isn’t easy to decide to go to work on the holiday.

    26. DarthVelma*

      I did make truffles, hot cocoa cookies, and cheddar biscuits earlier this week to satisfy my holiday baking urge. But we decided not to cook this year. Our favorite pizza place does a calzone that is WAY better the second day, so we ordered pizza for last night and will be having the calzone for xmas dinner. (It’s amazing – shaved beef, gorgonzola, herb roasted mushrooms, and white truffle oil.) We ordered some other assorted goodies, so we have leftovers to graze on through tomorrow and maybe even into Tuesday.

      The pizza on Xmas Eve is actually a tradition for my family. My dad worked in a hospital, and once my brother and I got old enough to “stop believing in Santa”, my dad worked on Xmas day so other people with small kids could be at home. The first year we opened presents on Xmas Eve, we were trying to figure out what to cook for that night vs what to have on Xmas Day. My dad was like, “don’t bother, it’s Friday, we’ll order pizza”. And that stuck for decades. Pizza and presents. :-)

    27. Ranger*

      Brunch: waffles, smitten kitchen’s crispy crunchy potatoes, eggs, and fruit salad.

      Lunch/Snack: spinach artichoke dip, bacon wrapped water chestnuts, sliced veggies

      Dinner: an amazing Greek chicken and cauliflower stew

  17. The Prettiest Curse*

    Tell me your worst holiday disasters or near-disasters!
    One year when I was growing up, we had crepe paper Christmas decorations on the table and candles. Turns out this was not a good combination – one of the decorations somehow caught fire and our good tablecloth got slightly singed. (Everyone was fine.) So nowadays if something is going wrong over the holidays, I just tell myself that things could be worse, something could be on fire.

    1. Anon for this*

      This is Easter instead of a winter holiday (and I may have shared it here before, but it’s too perfect not to share again.

      A few years pre-Pandemic our youth leader at church decided for reasons now lost in the mists of time that it would be great to have a piñata for the children’s message on Easter Sunday. She was trying to make the point that God could help us do things we couldn’t do ourselves. To illustrate this she called up one of the youngest kids, let’s say he was three at the time and let’s call him Robbie. She had him try to break the piñata, which he couldn’t do. So then she called his dad up to break it.

      While his dad is whomping and beating that piñata, she’s talking about how just like Robbie’s dad is helping him break the piñata which he can’t do on his own, God can help us do things we can’t do on our own. Unfortunately, this is one tough piñata. Robbie’s dad is hitting it with powerful whacks that echo throughout the church, but to no avail. And of course he can’t give up. He’s the sermon illustration! He can’t fail!

      So finally he pulls out a hunting knife from his pocket and stabs at the piñata with all of his force. So much force, since he was just pounding at it with a stick. And it slips and… he comes within a couple of inches of disemboweling our associate pastor.

      We’ve never had another piñata.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        Pinatas can be a lot harder to break than you expect! When my friends and I were in the young-kid stage, I went to several birthday parties where the kids could not bust the pinata, and finally the dads stepped in, and even they had to really beat on it. They’re so lightweight that you can’t really put any force into them. I seem to vaguely remember the dads either cutting one open with a knife, or tearing it open with their bare hands. When I eventually did one, I made it the kind where all of the kids grab a ribbon and pull on them at once, and even then I spent some time rigging it to make sure it was really hanging on by a thread.

      2. fposte*

        Once you establish a tradition kids will insist it be repeated, so you would have had to disembowel a pastor every subsequent Easter.

      3. Nethwen*

        Once I stopped laughing, I realized that it speaks to my background that I didn’t even register that the man had a hunting knife in a religious service. For teens and adults to always have some kind of knife (for utility) on them, probably more than one, is as normal to me as expecting them to be clothed. And then I remember that this is not a universal experience.

      4. Napkin Thief*

        A hilarious story perfectly told! I laughed out loud and shared with my fellow minister husband and he had a good laugh too!

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      A relative always liked to tell the story of their cat who sat too close to a candle and went sprinting around the house with his tail on fire! Cat was fine aside from a bald spot and somehow managed not to set anything else on fire while fleeing.

      For myself, one year my cousin and I were breaking the ice around the edges of a pond and I fell in. Spent most of that Christmas standing next to the fire in wet jeans. My favorite part is that my aunt had taken a picture of us shortly before it happened, then took another one after, so there’s a pair of photos with my cousin next to me and then next to a hole in the ice!

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Yeah, when I was growing up, my grandmother had real candles on her tree (which were sometimes left lit and unattended) and she also had a cat. Frankly, I’m amazed that we didn’t all die.

      2. flying squirrel*

        My current cat has singed herself several times – just can’t seem to learn. We’ve given up on candles for the moment.

    3. o_gal*

      Back when both my brother and I were still single we were still going “home”, back to the house we grew up in, for Christmas. This particular year, on Dec 24th, my Mom got sick. The “shooting violently out of both ends” kind of sick. She went down for the count around noon. Then about 2pm my Dad bit the dust. I made dinner but didn’t go to church. Then I ran for the bathroom around 7pm. My brother was still fine. We were still all pretty out of commission on Dec 25. I think we might have opened presents that afternoon, but I really don’t remember exactly when we did that. The next day I felt better, which was good because I had a 5 hour drive back to my city. Mom and Dad felt better too. My brother was also going to drive back to his city that night, but guess what? Now he’s victim number 4!

      1. Enough*

        When my son was either 2 or 3 the three of us all woke up sick on Christmas Day. Son and I threw up, husband refuses to do so. Spent the morning in the ER where they said it wasn’t food p poisoning. Got home, husband goes to bed, I pull out the sleeping sofa and my son ate popsicles and threw up inbetween opening presents.

    4. Samwise*

      Two years ago. I have a lot of holiday tablecloths. This one was heavy plastic with a felt bottom. Easy to clean.

      And easy to melt.

      Easy to throw away. Along with the now plastic bottomed cookie sheet.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Ugh, the smell of burned plastic is the worst! I once damaged a plastic sink with a hot saucepan. It’s so easy to forget that plastic melts when you just want to put something hot down.

    5. I'm Done*

      My grandmother put lit candles between her double paned windows. These were actually two panes that could be opened separately with a small space in-between). What was bound to happen, happened. The wooden window frame caught on fire. Luckily, we noticed it in time and all that happened was a scorched window frame. We also had real candles on the tree for the longest time, though we managed not to burn the house down. This was in Germany in the 1960s.

    6. ecnaseener*

      Christmas dinner laid out in the dining room in all its splendor. The whole family in the living room, enjoying cocktail hour.

      And the dog on top of the dining table, feasting.

      1. Generic Name*

        My aunt’s German shorthair pointer managed to eat an entire baked Brie (the kind you surround in pastry dough) by herself one Christmas.

    7. Pennyworth*

      My first Christmas with my stepkids one of them helped set the table and pulled a box of sparklers out of the drawer and put some beside each setting. I thought it must be a family tradition and said nothing, in due course sparklers were lit and badly damaged the surface of the table when burning fragments fell off. It turned out this was the first time sparklers were lit inside the house. It was also the last.

    8. Cookie*

      Norovirus hit my family of 3 during a multi-city driving trip to see both sets of family. Kid first (violently), then me once we’d turned back for home the next day, then husband just as we arrived back at home. A few icky hotel nights. We surmise we got it from a sick restaurant staffer who wasn’t allowed to call off. Good times…at least I got out of visiting my in-laws that year!

    9. fposte*

      I’ll borrow my cousin’s. She was living alone with her two dogs, took the turkey out and put it up safely for a rest, and went out for a quick trip to a sibling’s.

      Came back and her home was burglarized–efficiently and thoroughly. And the burglars had put the turkey on the floor to distract the dogs (they were bassets so weren’t likely to pose a big threat anyway) so it too was gone, more or less. (I don’t know if it ever got solved, but the police were sure it was somebody who knew her and asked her “Who hates you but not enough to hurt you?”) So it was her worst Christmas but the dogs’ best.

    10. the cat's ass*

      We used to go to my late Aunt Daisy’s home for Christmas. The year i was 7 we arrived to no cooking smells, and aunt D 3 sheets to the wind. It took a while to figure it all out but we put her to bed, realized the stove was not only turned off but UNPLUGGED, and trooped out to Chinatown for one of the best Christmas meals ever.

    11. Girasol*

      After a lovely turkey dinner at my folks’ place Dad said, “Let’s go for a drive and see the Christmas lights.” We came back a half hour later to find the turkey still cooling in its roaster and the cat curled up around it in the warm drippings.

    12. Elle Woods*

      When my paternal grandfather was still alive, we’d gather at his house on Christmas Eve. My dad was one of four siblings and my generation numbered about 20. One year my mom decided to make gingerbread cookies for each member of the family to decorate Grandpa’s tree. One of the younger cousins saw the cookies on the tree, reached up to grab a cookie and pulled the whole tree down with her. The cookies shattered against the hardwood floors of his house and his dog (a Saint Bernard) was quick on the scene to help with clean up.

      It’s funny now but it sure wasn’t then.

    13. WellRed*

      My brother hosted thanksgiving one year when deep fried turkeys were the in thing. An hour or so after dinner was scheduled to start my brother announced there would be no turkey as it didn’t quite cook. Fortunately there were sides galore. And wine. Plenty of wine!

    14. Rara Avis*

      The stove died in the middle of cooking pies. My mom finished them at the nextdoor neighbor’s house. Luckily she wasn’t hosting.

      1. Siege*

        Two years ago at Thanksgiving my stove died, mid-cooking (I do sides). My partner lives in the same building so he was running half-finished food up and down the stairs and trying to figure out cooking times – the heating element failed but the electricity didn’t so we didn’t know anything was wrong until well after it went wrong, so we couldn’t just put the potatoes in for 20 minutes or whatever.

    15. CTT*

      It wasn’t quite a disaster, but back when my youngest nephew was 4/5 y.o., his Santa present was going to be this remote controlled floating shark thing (like a blimp, kind of?). My BIL was telling us about it very excitedly as we were prepping for our pre-church cocktail party. His BFF/nephew’s godfather was coming over with his family, and I happened to look out the window as they were pulling up, and the friend was piloting the shark blimp to give to my nephew. And the thing moved so slowly we were all able to really feel the horror of realizing that nephew was going to get two shark blimps. So there was a fun emergency trip to Walmart for a replacement present.

          1. CTT*

            I do think I started to hum it (I was juuuust young enough that I was like “well, that’s a shame. Where’s the wine?!”)

          2. The Prettiest Curse*

            Yes! Shark blimps catching sight of each other to the Jaws theme, then skulking off around the corner…

    16. Jean (just Jean)*

      Thank you for asking this question, and thanks to all who replied.
      I enjoyed reading and laughing aloud!
      Holiday hugs if anybody wants them.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Glad that you enjoyed this thread, I always find it somehow comforting to think of everything that can go wrong on the holidays when I’m stressing about whether we’ll drop the turkey this year – which seems to happen on about 50% of my family’s Christmases.

    17. Paralegal Part Deux*

      For reasons that baffle me (and my family), I get sick every. single. year. If I’m not sick on thanksgiving, it’s guaranteed to be Christmas. I’ve named it my Holiday Illness Extravaganza. It’s been like this for decades. When I was a kid, it was strep but has moved on to the common cold as I’ve gotten older. No one can explain it, but it’s persisted. Unfortunately.

    18. Generic Name*

      My then boyfriend (now husband) and I had decided to drive to the next state to visit his dad for thanksgiving. We would stay in a house owned and maintained by husbands family, but no one lived in it. I volunteered to cook the dinner because husband’s dad’s house was too small to cook or host. I had never seen this kitchen, but I was assured it was fully stocked with plates, utensils, pans etc. We bring a turkey and other ingredients, and on Thanksgiving day I start prepping while husband walks over to his dad’s house. A short while later husband comes back with a laundry basket filled with ingredients for an a tire thanksgiving dinner. Including another turkey. Husband’s dad was given the basket by a local charity (he was very very poor). A short while later husband’s uncle shows up with a Nesco roaster, thankfully. So I have 2 turkeys to cook. At one point I put the pie from the donation basket in the oven. Husband suggests a short walk, and without thinking about the pie in the oven, I agree. When we get back from our walk, the timer is going off and the house is full of smoke. The pie is burnt to a crisp completely inedible. :( and there are of course massive amounts of leftovers from the 2 turkeys, but I’m assured that the food was distributed to the elderly and needy folks in the small town. It wasn’t too much of a disaster because we got engaged that Christmas. :)

    19. Figgie*

      Didn’t happen to me, but did happen to a friend. She had the turkey sitting in a roaster pan as she was getting it ready for the oven. She turned to get some string out to tie the legs together and when she looked back, she saw the rear end of her small (about 1 1/2 pounds) black kitten disappear into the turkey.

      She reached in to try and pull him out and he fought back, biting and scratching. So now she is bleeding and trying to remove the kitten who was absolutely determined that he was going to stay inside the turkey. By this point, the kitten was slimy and much harder to get a hold of.

      She turned the turkey, opening side facing the counter and shook until the front half of the kitten appeared and then yanked him out with one hand. She set him down to make a grab for turkey before it hit the floor and he immediately dove for the opening of the turkey to crawl back in. This time she managed a firm grip on his rear end and removed him without any further damage from teeth and claws.

      She knew she needed to keep the kitten from trying to get back in but didn’t want a turkey slimed kitten in a carrier or even to carry the dripping kitten elsewhere. So, she dumped the turkey in the sink and turned the turkey roasting pan upside down to keep the kitten in one place.

      Did you know that when kittens are determined they can push against a roasting pan hard enough to move it? She caught the roaster before it hit the floor and then decided that since and the kitten were a turkey slime, bloody soaked mess to just carry him into the shower with her.

      No turkey that holiday. They ordered pizza.

    20. RLC*

      Back in the 1970s when the gingerbread house trend began, we made a VERY elaborately decorated one to use as a holiday table centerpiece. All decorated and set well back on the kitchen counter out of reach (we thought) of our dog…the next morning the house hadn’t moved but a section of the roof was gone. We had underestimated his agility and ability to quietly climb on the counter, sample the house, and hop back down without awakening anyone. Fortunately we were able to make well disguised emergency repairs and no one was the wiser.

  18. Jackalope*

    Reading thread! Everyone share what you’re reading right now or have been reading this week. Any sort of reading counts!

    I’ve read a couple of things this week but the one I’m on now is Proof by Seduction by Courtney Milan. I’ve read almost everything she’s written and I held off on this book because once I finish it and its sequel I will have no choice but to wait until she published something else. But I love her writing, although this is her first published book and so a bit different than some of her later works.

      1. nobadcats*

        Her first book, “Slammerkin” was like that too. It was like, “don’t run into that wall, don’t run into that wall… oh, crap, you ran into that wall.”

    1. StellaBella*

      Book 4 of the Jim Butcher books Dresden Files and books 5 and 6 (used copies) are on the way in the post!

    2. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Trust by Hernan Diaz. I hope it will grow on me, as I love a family saga / multiple points of view and this book comes highly recommended pretty much everywhere. For now, 30% in, it feels wordy, and the descriptions of working in finance tend to go over my head.

    3. Broken scones*

      I’m planning on starting Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan and I also downloaded the audiobook for Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s Before the Coffee Gets Cold.

      I’ve only read two of Courtney Milan’s works but I really enjoyed her characters :)

      1. Sloanicota*

        The author is an interesting character, as a person. I follow her on Twitter. I can see the influence of her legal past in her work sometimes!

    4. theBeanMovesOn*

      the final book in the “three body problem” series. i have very mixed feelings about this book so far

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Recursion by Crouch, recommended here, which I really liked. A few people, then more, start to experience False Memory Syndrome where they suddenly have vivid memories of a life that split off from this one–so for example, a woman remembers her life with husband and child in Vermont, but in this version of the last fifteen years she never married and the child doesn’t exist. Why is this happening? What does awareness of alternate timelines do to people? How does memory shape us?

      This reminded me of the short fiction of Ted Chiang, who is really good at taking one tweak to how things work and running with it. His collections are Exhalation and Stories of Your Life and Others.

    6. Empress Ki*

      I started Because of Miss Bridgerton from Julia Quinn. It sounds quite cheesy so I am not sure I will finish.

    7. GoryDetails*

      Currently reading:

      NORSE MYTHOLOGY by Neil Gaiman, his re-tellings of the classic Norse myths.

      SECLUDED CABIN SLEEPS SIX by Lisa Unger, a multi-viewpoint thriller about family secrets, the enabling of horrible behavior, and the quest for family whether by blood or by choice. Lots of misdirection here, some of it more upbeat than I’d expected given the setup!

      And a fun, unusual, creepy one:

      THE DEAD HAND BOOK: STORIES FROM GRAVESEND CEMETERY by Sara Richard, a collection of headstones with epitaphs that convey mini-stories, some interrelated; think “Edward Gorey meets Spoon River Anthology”, with touches of Poe and maybe even Lovecraft!

      1. I take tea*

        The Dead Hand Book sounds just like my thing. Of course it’s not available at the library here, must decide if I want to buy it. (Space question more than money question. I’m really bad at weeding books.)

    8. JustForThis*

      I’ve been on a cozy fantasy streak for several weeks now. Last week I read:
      AJ Lancaster’s Stariel series which offer a somewhat predictable plot but interesting characters and setting, and I enjoyed their gently tongue-in-cheek references to some romance fantasy tropes.
      Aven Shore-Kind’s _The Truthseer and the Goose_ which must be the most wholesome novel I’ve ever read. Most of the plot is “just” slow character growth, and there are detailed descriptions of all the tasks involved in beekeeping, so many might find it boring — I loved its honey-golden-warm glow.

    9. Girasol*

      Just finished Cold Comfort Farm. It’s a humorous novel about a young socialite gone to live with a benighted farm clan around 1920, in which several mysteries are set up at the start. The characters are fun and it’s a great story up until the end. In the last few pages the girl at last asks the mysterious aunt the questions that the reader has wondered from the beginning. But someone interrupts them so that the girl – and the reader – never find out the answers to the book’s central mysteries. Ack! I need closure!

      1. GoryDetails*

        I love Cold Comfort Farm! Yes, even without ever finding out what was in that pesky woodshed. The 1995 TV-movie is also quite enjoyable; it didn’t always hit the tone I expected, but for the most part I thought it was a very good adaptation. And they did do some movie tricks that weren’t possible in the print version (such as playing the theme music from “Gone With the Wind” as Hollywood-bound Seth bids farewell to his beloved bull). And Ian McKellen’s gleeful scenery-chewing as Amos is worth watching the whole film for. “There’ll be no butter in hell!!!”

        1. Katiekins*

          “Yes, even without ever finding out what was in that pesky woodshed.”

          I mean, it was something nasty.

        2. Girasol*

          But you don’t ever get to find out what rights Flora must begrudgingly be given because of whatever it was that the family did to Robert Poste. It’s clear that the out of the blue question “But did the goat die?” somehow involved that matter and not the shed. After the aunt is gone Flora wishes she’d remembered to ask about the shed, so we know she didn’t. But I do want to look up that film and see Ian McKellan as Amos. What a hoot that would be!

    10. Texan In Exile*

      I’m Glad My Mom Is Dead, Jeanette McCurdy.

      Holy smoke. Horrible emotional abuse of a child. And this story will now make me cast a very critical eye on the parents of any child actor.

    11. Bluebell*

      Now is not the Time to Panic by Kevin Wilson – yes, I did prefer Nothing to See Here, but still liked this a lot. I read Octavia Butlers Kindred after starting to watch it on Hulu. Really intense, but it’ll be a while before I finish watching the TV version. Mouth to Mouth by Antoine Wilson was a good story and pretty brief. Gabrielle Blair’s Ejaculate Responsibly is infuriating but interesting. And I just finished I Just Haven’t Met You Yet, a sweet romance by Sophie Cousens.

    12. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      Finished *White Oleander*. I liked some of it, but I think I was expecting another kind of book. It is certainly useful as a cautionary tale about all the ways NOT to be foster parent — like it really would make you think about whether you’re fostering for the right reasons.

      I don’t have any physical books with me right now except the *Bible* and the *Book of Mormon* in my hotel room, but someone sent me a link to the January 6th report, and I am thinking of looking up *Sir Gawain and the Green Knight* on Project Gutenberg as seasonally appropriate reading.

    13. Person from the Resume*

      Queer reads … mostly listening, but occasionally reading Diary of A Misfit by Casey Parks … a memoir. A queer reporter uses researching the story of an person AFAB who lived his entire life as a man in a small conservative northern Louisiana town to tell her own story of growing up queer and religious in a small conservative Louisiana town.

      And just started the mammoth 900+ page graphic novel called The Third Person by Emma Grove. It’s also a memoir about a trans woman who when undergoing gender therapy unearths two additional personalities. I’m still only 15% in but it’s a quick read with 8 panels per page.

      All from my public library. I have a huge stack of books to read from my library before I return to work, but I’ve been cooking a lot and haven’t done a ton of reading.

    14. Manders*

      I’ve finished 3 this week (time off!):

      Wesley the Owl, by Stacey O’Brien – “A remarkable love store of an Owl and his Girl” (she works at CalTech and adopts an injured owl, who completely bonds with her).

      Cloud Cuckoo Land, by Anthony Doerr – I didn’t care for it but it’s extremely popular. 5 characters in the distant past, present, and future, all finding hope and enjoyment from a partially-destroyed ancient text.

      The Measure, by Nikki Erlick – one day anyone who is 22 or older receives a box containing a string, the length of which corresponds to the length of your life. IF you opent the box, what choices would you make regarding love, parenthood, career, etc? Super interesting topic, not the most elegantly written, but would make a great book club discussion.

      1. Jackalope*

        I loved Wesley the Owl! It was a ton of fun, and very interesting. Although it definitely reminded me that I would NOT want to share space with a wild bird. He was great, but I prefer critters that my many generations of ancestors already did the work of domesticating.

    15. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

      Jack Campbell’s “The Lost Fleet” and the two sequel series.

      I gave it a second shot and this time it worked.

  19. Jackalope*

    Gaming thread! Everyone share what games you’ve been playing this week. Per usual, all types of games are welcome, not just video games.

    I haven’t had a ton of time for gaming this week (although I have high hopes for next week). I did get to play D&D and we had a good time. Our DM created a fun adventure that’s a bit more structured than we usually do, and it’s fun to change things up a bit.

    1. Not Australian*

      Still working my way through ‘Forge of Empires’ which I started in February 2021 and have just reached ‘The Contemporary Era’. I reckon I’ve got about a year’s worth of play left unless they add a lot of new levels…

    2. skadhu*

      Cyberpunk 2077. Very dark and intense and violent and the dystopian setting is awfully depressing, I must say—after I finish this one I’ll be definitely looking for something less grim. (Maybe I’ll go back and play Stray again, that was delightful.) I’m enjoying the storyline and some of the worldbuilding details, though. And Skippy the talking pistol is a delight, even when he tells me he has to download an update in the middle of a firefight.

      The game gave me an interesting insight, though; although I’ve adjusted a lot and am not as uncomfortable, initially I found the urban environment of the game really stressful. Too many people and cars and things going on. (I don’t live in an urban environment anymore and any traffic jams locally are likely to be the result of feral turkeys on the road.) I had not long before played Red Dead Redemption II, and although the storyline in that is pretty grim as well (watching an old West gang implode) playing it was kind of relaxing, because there I was on a horse riding through a beautiful environment…. funny how that difference makes such a difference to how I feel in the game.

    3. LimeRoos*

      A friend recommended Strange Horticulture and it’s been a wonderful distraction. I’m already through a second playthrough, choosing different options and may have murdered someone… It’s so much fun figuring out the plants and it’s super duper pretty. 10/10, highly recommend for a quick game, with a lot of replay potential.

      Also Minesweeper. Forgot how great it is to just not have to think, and I’m already down to 133 seconds on Hard.

    4. Loredena*

      My weekly gaming group is still in East Texas University, we are now juniors. It’s fun, but hard to put ourselves in the right mindset for 19year old students. Years of D&D mean murder hobo tendencies which we try to avoid in this campaign. So far we’ve managed to have only a few deaths that we’ve been culpable for but had plausible deniability.

      We also have taken to gathering all the evidence and then turning it over to a friendly Texas ranger to finalize to avoid actually killing people when it makes sense to do so. I think our GM is amused.

      1. Loredena*

        My computer game of the week is a clicker game called Cell to Singularity which is about evolution. Can be repetitive but I’m enjoying it. I did start using an auto clicker though as my hand hurts otherwise

      2. Anonononononononymous*

        I went to East Texas State University before it rebranded as Texas A&M at Commerce. I hope the “Gee Pond Monster” makes an appearance at some point in your game. :-)

    5. Mazey's Mom*

      My brother and nephews taught me how to play Dominion, so now for holidays, Sunday dinners, and other assorted get-togethers, we like to pull out all the expansion sets and carefully choose the cards to play. Youngest nephew likes teaching me new games to play because I tend to lose a lot when learning them. But once I get good and can beat the pants off him (and sometimes very spectacularly!), he decides that he doesn’t like that game anymore and it’s time to teach me something else. As a result, the only time I get to play Canasta and Hearts with him is when his dad and brother want to play.

    6. DarthVelma*

      So I finally started a playthrough of Grounded with the partner. I really like the gameplay mechanics, but I’m adoring the art style and the overall feel of the game. Given how out there the concept is, it still feels more real somehow than some of the other survival games we’ve played. I think it’s mostly because when you combine items to make tools or weapons, they look like what you made them from. Too many games you combine twigs and rope and wood and get a hammer that looks like it came from Home Depot.

      I also started a full playthrough of all of the Mass Effect games. The full series was on sale on Steam and I figured what the heck. I figure it’s going to take me months to get through, but that’s good – I know how Mass Effect 3 ends and I need that much time to figure out which ending I’ll choose. :-)

    7. Might Be Spam*

      We played Cards Against Humanity with my adult kids for at least 4 hours today.

      Usually they hide the cards that they don’t want to use in front of their me, but today they forgot. After about 4 hours my daughter’s boyfriend (this is his first Christmas with us) remarked that he could never play this game with his mother.

      Now I’m feeling self conscious, because I really got into the game and we all forgot to censor ourselves. Normally we play with “Mom rules” but today we all just let go and we are all kind of shocked. We had a great time, but I’m really stunned at how easy it was to forget I was playing with my offspring instead of unrelated adults.

  20. Taking the long way round - grumpy issue*

    I went to a panto (which was awful!) two nights ago and sat in front of 2 kids who were coughing all night.

    Predictably, I’m now wide awake, coughing and coughing.
    I’ve done a covid test and it isn’t that, but another cold-type thing or chest infection isn’t the best either. I hope I’m OK tomorrow, as I’d planned to go out for a curry.

    If you’re celebrating, what are your plans? I an usually very glad when the holidays are over. I’m not a fan.

    1. Turtle Dove*

      I hope you feel better very soon.

      I’m not a fan of the holidays either. I’m a quiet person who prefers quiet days. Holiday hoopla is a lot for me. I’ve been cutting back each year, and now most of my Christmas activities are things I *want* to do. This year’s highlight was making my own kissing ball, and I’ll drive around town to see Christmas lights one evening when the roads are safe.

      My husband and I plan to visit our younger daughter for lunch today and our older daughter (and grandsons) for lunch tomorrow. (They’re all sick with colds too, so we’ll try not to catch anything.) However, travel here in the Midwest is dangerous, and our older daughter lives three hours away. So we may reschedule. I wouldn’t mind a bit.

    2. Jessi*

      If you are in the uk the nastiest cold bug is going around right now. I’m still coughing two weeks after I started (though all my other symptoms have cleared), haven’t felt so poorly since I had covid the first time – though this isn’t a covid bug. Hoping you feel better soon!

      1. Taking the long way round - grumpy issue*

        Yes I am, and it’s awful! I do have that bug. I was just thinking I haven’t felt this bad since I had covid. I’m wide awake and miserable :(

        1. (Not Actually A) Window Cleaner*

          Sympathy to you. I’ve heard about that bug too. Or at least, I’ve heard that Respiratory Viruses have gone up by 70% in the last week, in the European country where I am! I hope you’re enjoying some holiday films (or whatever floats your boat) and that your body is getting to rest.

  21. StellaBella*

    For those of us who are single/child free/expats/etc and do not live near family what are you dong for these holidays if you celebrate? I am taking myself to a spa hotel 25-28th in a town I have never been (4hrs from where I live). Many people have asked me what I am doing and if it is sad to not be with family. The last family holidays I had were 2012, I hate traveling during the northern winter, and since both of my parents are now gone, there is little incentive. It has been a long year and I am excited to see a new place and sit in a sauna.

    1. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Expat here. Partner and I usually fly home, but this year we’re staying put to avoid airport chaos. We finally have our own home to relax in, so we decorated our first Christmas tree in early December, and have a small stash of presents to open tomorrow morning. It’ll feel cosy, in a way Christmas with my family of origin never did.

      We don’t have much planned so will play it by ear. What’s certain is we’ll be going to see two Premier League football games, which we’re excited about. Yesterday we went out for lunch to a renowned restaurant we normally wouldn’t afford (my leaving gift for OldJob was a generous restaurant voucher) and it was just amazing.

      I sound like a Grinch when I say it, but… I’m totally fine not seeing the rest of my family. I know my parents miss me, but for various reasons, Christmas with the extended family always felt like a chore to me, and I don’t have many friends left back home that I can spend the rest of the time with. This, at least, feels like spending the holiday with the one person I would always choose.

      1. StellaBella*

        this is great to read thanks for sharing and I am happy you have a cozy holiday planned with good vibes all around!

    2. Lowry*

      Single 30something orphan here and I’ve spent the last few Christmases alone (much to the sadness of work colleagues etc who lament how awful it is that I spend the holidays alone….thanks guys!) Each year I try to start building my own Christmas traditions or rituals so that I’m not constantly reminiscing about the way things were done in years gone by for busy family Christmases – but also so I build traditions of things I enjoy doing and thus look forward to. So, I spend it at home with my pets, being intentionally lazy for a lot of it! I plan a menu for each day of dishes I love but don’t eat very often, and have playlists of songs and movies to get me in the Christmas spirit. I eat my own weight in chocolate, make an effort to dress nicely for dinner and just enjoy my own peace and company.

      Each year I consider doing a destination Christmas somewhere far away but honestly I’m happy in my own home surrounding myself with things and pets that I love. Hope you have a great Christmas!

      1. allathian*

        You have pets, so you aren’t really alone. Sure, pets can’t replace human company completely, but to people who like animals they bring joy in a way that inanimate objects don’t.

    3. Bobina*

      Planned on getting together with some other expat friends and doing a low key Christmas meal, but catching Covid killed that plan.

      So will probably call family and have something delivered instead and spend the day resting and probably watch some panel shows (very British thing).

    4. David*

      After far too long pushing myself at work, I am staying at home for a week avoiding COVID and cleaning/organizing my apartment. I stocked up on a tremendous amount of chocolate :-) and ingredients for my traditional Christmas lasagna. I’ll probably have some video calls with my family and some friends. In my case, nobody really gave me a hard time about not spending the holidays with family… a lot of the people I know seem to understand the value of taking time to myself, and several of them are also spending the holidays alone.

    5. Cookie*

      I’m staying in with my very not-serious partner, watching movies and eating pizza. However, I’d love to fly to somewhere warm by myself. Maybe next year.

    6. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      Most of the family in the area that I still talk to does Christmas eve but nothing for the day. So I go for a nice aimless drive with some good music on, maybe stop for a walk on the beach if weather permits, and then go home, fix a nice meal, and watch a movie.

    7. GoryDetails*

      I’ve been fortunate to be part of a family that’s (nearly!) always on good terms, even through the occasional philosophical/religious differences, but I do often relish a holiday by myself – staying home with puzzles, favorite TV-show marathons (“Twilight Zone” and/or “Mystery Science Theater 3000” often had marathons back in the day), chips and dip, tea, cats… Sometimes I’ll even roast a duck or bake a ham all for myself!

      I do like to visit family but it’s less stressful when I don’t have to fit it in around holiday traffic and/or weather.

    8. fposte*

      I have spent some holidays in hotels visiting family, and some of those hotels were really crappy. Plus I love my house and like being on my own, so my rule is I travel for Thanksgiving but stay home (or only go out during the day) at Christmas. And as one of the kajillions who got hit by the big weather this week I decided just to consider it all Christmas and stop being productive. I am enjoying it hugely–the Christmas carols are playing, a jigsaw puzzle is in progress, I’ve had hot chocolate. I’ve listened to some favorite Christmas podcasts and TV episodes and have a couple more on the docket for the next few days. I’ve been playing Christmas music in the recorder with the backing tracks on 8notes and MuseScore. Christmas dinner is being dropped by by a caterer this evening. I will FaceTime or phone a queue of folks tomorrow. Good times.

    9. The Real Fran Fine*

      I’m single and child free, so I’ll be doing FaceTime calls with family tomorrow and spending the holiday binge watching shows/movies and reading old Tales from the Crypt comics. We’re also in the middle of a blizzard in below zero temps, so just going to try my best to stay warm and safe.

    10. Sloanicota*

      This will be my first year alone for Christmas. It was not planned – my parents live in the heart of this big storm, my flight home was canceled and there’s no decent reschedule option yet. So I was unexpectedly home with no gifts, no food in the house, and no plans. Not even pets, since I had already dropped them off at the boarding place and it’s too late to be refunded. We will try to reschedule our family gathering in January. I was a bit amiss at first – as a single person with aging parents, I’ve always known this was my future, but I’d planned to travel away from home so as not to get the holiday blues, yet here we are. I have to remind myself it’s not a tragedy – my loved ones are all well, we’re just not together right now. First thing I did was go to Trader Joes and spend a lot on holiday cookies, baked breakfast breads, and fancy easy pre-cooked meals – because I don’t really love to cook but eating is a part of our family’s holiday tradition haha. Also a big bottle of eggnog. Second, I’ll probably treat myself to some online ordering to get my fix of commercialism in lieu of presents, which are all at my parent’s house. Fortunately, I tend to be a bit religious, so I think I can still have a meaningful holiday by attending our local church service, which I usually have to miss. I did previously decorate the house a bit just for my own enjoyment, but I’ll put up more things that I hadn’t bothered with because I was planning to leave town. Carols on the radio. I do have a few friends in town and I’ve been texting around to see if anyone wants to get together, but I’m also trying just to embrace the solitude and be open to the holiday spirit and hygee. Christmas will still come.

    11. Nethwen*

      We’re doing a Christmas afternoon open house for 2 hours (drop-in for snacks, conversation, and maybe caroling). Nothing fancy, just an opportunity for people to have something to do if they don’t have Christmas plans or are feeling a let down by Christmas afternoon. We invited anyone we could think of that it wouldn’t be weird for them to get an invitation by text.

      It’s a low key way to offer community to people who might be lonely and also not be a lot of work for us. Put chips and salsa, store-bought Chex mix, and cheese and crackers in mismatched plates and bowls on the table, have the kettle on standby for cocoa, and done. It’s all food we’d eat for a holiday anyway, so if no one shows up, the only cost to us is a few extra minutes setting up and washing dishes.

    12. Aphrodite*

      My dad died in 2012 an my mom died in 2020 (about three months after covid began but she died of old age and had been bedridden for a couple of years). And that was the year I became liberated from family obligations!

      Unfortunately, it took until this year to really get what I wanted. I had been in interim housing since August 2019 and then of course Covid. But I made changes. I refuse to visit the two siblings two hours south of me since I had spent years of weekends driving down to see my aging parents. I also wasn’t the slightest bit interested in seeing siblings–a long story. I spent many happy months thinking about what I did want. Some decorations, a simple but delicious meal (detailed in a post above) that was both bought and made, time with friends who have become family, and no gifts. It has been beautiful.

    13. Person from the Resume*

      I will see my family – parents, siblings, niblings on Christmas Day.

      But I’ve holed up at home with everything needed to cook desserts and nice meals since Thursday and the Arctic cold arrived. I’ve mostly cooked (and washed dishes) and chilled out, but I have books, puzzles, a few movies to keep me entertained.

      I have a cookie decorating party with a group of mostly single friends tonight on Christmas Eve.

    14. RowanUK*

      I am single, child free, my dad died in ’97, my mum in 2019, and I’m living quite a distance from my remaining family (especially the members I’m fonder of). So, this is my third Christmas alone (with 3 cats!).

      I don’t decorate or have a tree, but I am cooking a small Christmas dinner for myself and will be sharing WhatsApp messages and expecting one phone call from my dad’s cousin (my mum’s sister and SIL both ditched the Christmas day call tradition as soon as she was gone).

      So, I’ll probably eat then game (which is, tbh, my ideal introvert day anyway!)

  22. Howdidyoudeal?*

    (CW: concerns baby/pregnancy, no details)
    How did you cope with waiting for a (negatively) life changing medical diagnosis?

    I’m 32 weeks pregnant and so far everything’s been going well without any complications. During a standard fetal echo yesterday, something ‘off’ was found. In our country it’s standard to refer to a specialist and due to the holidays, I won’t have my appointment for this specialist echo until Wednesday.
    The worst case scenario might mean that our baby will have a complex medical condition for life and low quality of life. We did screening beforehand and it showed a negative on this worst case scenario medical condition: the chance that this test is wrong is <1%. No other indicators were found during earlier echos. But the 'off' thing they found happens more often with babies who do have this medical condition.

    Obviously this would be stressful for anyone! But I find myself continuously focusing on the worst case scenario as if it's already a done deal. It's making me so scared and stressed. Commenters who have dealt with waiting on a diagnosis with a chance at a disastrous outcome, how did you deal? What worked to distract you or helped you work through it?

    1. Texan In Exile*

      Oh I am so, so sorry. I had a bad mammogram on Dec 19 a few years ago (the day I lost my job, too, so I was worried about health insurance) and couldn’t get a follow up exam until January 6. It was terrifying and awful and honestly, my husband and I couldn’t think of anything else.

      I told my friends after the fact – everything turned out fine – and they were all so mad at me for not telling them when it happened so they could worry with me. I told them I hadn’t wanted to ruin their Christmas – and they said THEY WERE MY FRIENDS and friends support each other through this sort of thing.

      So I would advise telling your family and friends so you can get any emotional support they can give. My husband and I felt very alone and scared and that’s an awful feeling.

      I am hoping for good news and a healthy baby for you and your partner.

      1. Howdidyoudeal?*

        That sounds terrifying, I’m so sorry you almost had to wait a month! So glad to hear you are okay.
        I have told a small number of friends and family. A few are super helpful, they’re helping me see things in perspective. A few others are sometimes making things worse by asking pushy and/or leading questions or being more upset than me at how long it’s taking to get the follow up. So I feel like I have to manage their emotions as well. But I agree it’s good to not be alone in this!

    2. Healthcare Worker*

      When I was on bedrest before my baby was born I read mindless books – I couldn’t have told you what I read, but the action of my eyes moving across the page and reading the words occupied my mind some, particularly with books I had read before. Same with watching old sitcoms, they served as a distraction. Also mindfulness activities can help – consciously imaging your healthy baby in your arms, box breathing to calm you. Wishing you all the best for you and your sweet little one.

      1. Howdidyoudeal?*

        I tried doing some relaxing hobbies but I find my mind starts wandering during those unfortunately. I might try again today as I feel slightly better. Thanks for the well wishes!

    3. Everythingismerry*

      I had twins which ups the amount of screens. I have to go for monthly in depth screens. It was so nerve wracking. Every screen there was some potentially horrible thing we were keeping an eye on. Then the next screen the initial thing was fine but there was a new awful thing.
      I think the best I can offer is try not to concentrate on it too much until it is a confirmed thing.
      I’m sorry you are going through this.

      1. Howdidyoudeal?*

        Thank you, I hope your twins are doing well! I am trying to follow your advice because I think that’s the best way to move forward, and luckily there are some holiday distractions on the way.

    4. Not A Manager*

      I’m so sorry you are experiencing this. Here’s what I do myself, and I know it’s different from what other people are suggesting. What I do is, I think to myself, “okay that bad outcome is really unlikely, but IF it were that bad outcome, what would I do?” I don’t get really into the weeds with tiny details, but I plot out enough “next steps” that I feel like if I got that bad news, I have a plan for the next week, a sketch of the next month, and a sense of the next year. Once I do that, and I have that plan, then when the scary thoughts start I can stop them. I say, “okay, I thought of that, I have a plan, and I’m not going to keep thinking about it. I’m going to wait for the actual news.”

      My thoughts are with you, and my best wishes for hopeful news at your next scan.

      1. Howdidyoudeal?*

        Thank you for your wishes. I did map out the short range outcomes to offer some perspective, but unfortunately my brain really enjoys focusing on how difficult things will be if worst case scenario comes to pass :P

        1. Not A Manager*

          This is such a terrible and difficult situation that I think people are shy about even addressing it. I will say some things that maybe will help a little bit and if not, I hope they are not harmful.

          First, try to keep in mind the reality that the likelihood of this bad outcome is very low. Second, remember that your brain perseverates on the bad outcome for psychological reasons. Maybe because if you expect the bad stuff, then by magic it won’t happen. Maybe because if you expect the bad stuff, then if it happens that won’t be a shock. I don’t know. But there’s a reason that your brain is focusing on the bad outcome, and the reason isn’t because the bad outcome is actually likely. Try to keep that in mind and talk yourself down from spiraling.

          If the bad outcome comes to pass, then you are right, it will be difficult. But you love your child, you and your partner are a team, you seem to have good healthcare and some kind of social safety net. If you have a religious background, or if you subscribe to a secular philosophy, this is the time to remember the perspective that you committed to when your brain wasn’t playing tricks on you.

          If you have any medically-acceptable self-soothing or even self-medicating options, now is the time for them. Stupid movies, mindless online games, comfort foods. Be gentle with yourself and let your partner and your support system embrace you.

          However you pass this weekend, Wednesday will come just as quickly no matter what. Try to shift your focus from the upcoming scan, to just enduring the next five days. I will be thinking of you and holding you in my heart this weekend and next week, as I’m sure many other people will be also.

          1. Howdidyoudeal?*

            Thank you so much or this comment, Not A Manager. The second paragraph brought tears to my eyes because that’s exactly how it’s going. I keep thinking that if I don’t worry about it excessively, I will somehow cause the worst outcome to happen. So I keep picking at it and increasing my stress. I just have to keep reminding myself it’s not helpful to do that because it blows everything out of proportion so much. And you’re right, I don’t normally believe that at all, I guess it’s just my brain pretending I have some form of control, no matter how harmful it is.

            Thank you for the tips. Let’s hope I have a positive update to share next weekend.

    5. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      Deep breathing, reading distracting books, mindless scrolling, and walking helped me (though i was only 16 weeks!) But the wait was hard. We through this at our anatomy scan (he’s a healthy 10 month old now). Keeping you in my thoughts.

    6. Patty Mayonnaise*

      Seconding the rec of watching something comforting/mindless. I went through a similar thing when pregnant and from the “hmm there is something we need to double check” appointment to the “here are the results” appointment, I watched hours and hours of Friends each day so I could otherwise function. Hugs to you, this is so difficult.

      1. Howdidyoudeal?*

        Thanks for the hugs and the advice. You’re right, I just need to overload my brain with fluff right now.

    7. HannahS*

      I’m sorry, that sounds super stressful. When I was pregnant, I got a phone call from my doctor telling me that I’d either miscarry or have to remove the pregnancy (or die.) I knew there was a small chance that the test was wrong. I went home, cried, and ate pizza on the couch with my husband while distracting ourselves by watching Biden’s inauguration concert. After (what felt like) a million tests and an eternity of pregnancy afterward, we had a baby–she was fine, I was fine, it was all fine.

      The truth is (and I know you know this–not trying to be condescending, just reminding) no amount of worrying will change the outcome. I tell myself, what will be will be. It’s not up to me. That can be scary, but it can also be comforting. When I notice myself feeling anxious or spinning in mental circles, I deliberately stop and make myself do something else, like read a novel or watch a movie or bake cookies.

      1. Howdidyoudeal?*

        So happy to hear of the good outcome of your scare! I’m trying to allot myself a small amount of time to worry each day and not allow myself to dwell on it the rest of the time, but with mixed success.

    8. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I’ve been in several of these about myself and about loved ones.

      One thing that really helps is to take advantage of neuroplasticity and the way imagery can work as a user interface for your brain/emotions – every time you have a worry, imagine exactly what you’re worrying about. What image do you have in your mind? What need does it have? What would it look like if you met that need? Can you visualize yourself meeting that need?

      For example, you have a worry about what this means for your baby. Your latest ultrasound flashes in your mind. You worry that the baby feels alone. You put your hand over your belly and send it love and comfort and let it know you’re here.

      Or, you imagine yourself in the future, tired and scared. She needs comfort and strength. What would that look like? Can you send those things forward to her into the future?

      Each time you do this you’re creating a new neural pathway associating need with need met; dysregulation with regulation.

    9. Ahdez*

      I’m so sorry. I dealt with a very life threatening diagnosis of my husband (he recovered and is ok now). At the time I had a baby so my days were very busy but nights were hard. Young adult books that are very fast paced was a go to. I find just watching tv doesn’t keep my thoughts at bay, but I half-watched formulaic shows like Top Chef, Project Runway, etc. while also playing games on my phone like Sudoku, Suguru, Candy Crush, etc. That combination kept my mind occupied.

      1. Howdidyoudeal?*

        Thank you, I will try this approach. I also find that just watching TV isn’t enough to keep me distracted. So glad to hear your husband is okay!

  23. anxiousGrad*

    How do people get through waiting for medical test results? I’m having extreme fatigue and have barely been able to leave my apartment since December 5th (luckily I’m doing a research fellowship right now and my advisor is very flexible, so there hasn’t been any pressure about not being able to go to the lab). Since I’m living abroad, I wasn’t able to see a doctor until Monday and then I couldn’t get my blood drawn for the tests he ordered until Wednesday. Now because of the Christmas weekend I won’t be able to see the results until Tuesday at the earliest. I’m not really worried about what possible diseases the tests could show, but I am worried about what would happen if all of these blood tests come back normal. I really want to get back to doing research and exploring the area, and I’m so afraid I’ll be stuck like this forever.

    1. Not Australian*

      I know it’s a PITA, but another few days probably won’t change the outcome of your tests. I’m a stage behind you, had to wait to see a doctor who could order tests and now these are not happening until some time in January. I have two problems at the moment, one of which needs an x-ray and the other a different imaging process, and tbh I’m just glad to be ‘in the system’ and actually doing something about this. It’s very tempting to worry about things you’re unable to influence, but you’ve got professional people on your side and I’m they’ll do their best for you. Have you got a good way of distracting yourself in the meantime?

    2. Decidedly Me*

      I’ve been in that place! “Good news – your tests are normal! Bad news – we still don’t know what’s wrong with you”. It’s difficult…

      I had fatigue issues and what helped me most was seeing a naturopath.

      I hope you get your answers!

    3. Google with "recovery"*

      Very best of luck with this. Fatigue person here. You may have to do a fair bit of investigation to find what’s causing your issues, so it may be that the results of these blood tests aren’t urgent. Perhaps see them as a great step to tick off, rather than something that will definitely provide an answer. While you’re waiting, the sooner you can start doing Amazing Self Care, the better! Lowering stress and putting your nervous system into a healing state will help you concretely with any kind of fatigue-related condition. (As a support to the things you’re doing with your doctor.) People sometimes resist this stuff at the start of a fatigue journey, but often wish they’d started earlier – things like:
      – breathing exercises (try box breathing and/or anything with a long exhale)
      – meditation or yoga nidras (just google yoga nidra and you’ll find something in your style)
      – nice baths or whatever relaxes you
      – avoiding exercise and avoiding anything that ramps up your emotions (like tense movies or books)
      – interrupting and reframing your thoughts if you’ve got anxious thoughts or ruminating
      – music that soothes you.

      If your body is in a healing / resting state (the opposite of Fight or Flight), it can naturally help itself, which supports any medical interventions. But you have to work a bit to get it there – hence all the stuff above!

      Don’t ever totally believe anyone (even your doctor) who says that there’s nothing wrong with you, or that you just have to “manage” your fatigue and they can’t help you much. Hopefully no one will say this to you, but some doctors do say this kind of thing because mainstream medicine is a bit behind on treating chronic fatigue. There are whole cultures of people helping with chronic fatigue, which you’ll find with a bit of investigation.

      Lastly, if you receive any kind of diagnosis, google it with the word “recovery”. Eg, “Itchy Teapot Syndrome recovery” (which I just made up!) That should start your research off on the right track.

      From a woman who is getting her energy back!

  24. Boots*

    Has anyone ever bought leather boots or shoes off online thrift stores?

    I bought my first pair of leather work boots several years ago to use in snow/ice and for yard work. I use a conditioner/water repellant on them a few times a year. The leather upper is still in good condition, but the rubber soles are starting to crack a bit. I figured I’d reserve this pair for muddy yard work, and buy a new pair for snow/ice.

    Of course the brand has been discontinued. There’s a “new in box” pair in my size on eBay. Would the leather be weaker/dried out from not being used or conditioned over several years? I have no experience with buying used or new old-stock leather items and was worried I’d just end up needing to buy new boots again soon (but because of the leather degrading this time).

      1. Boots*

        I know there’s some sort of shoe repair guy nearby, but I like the idea of having a second pair of boots so I don’t have to keep cleaning mud off them. (The soles get caked with mud, so I have to painstakingly scrape it out of all the crevices, and then use a toothbrush and water to clean the rest off. Which is a huge pain to do, but it’d be embarrassing to get mud on the bottoms of my dress pants or leave muddy footprints around if I had to wear them to work.)

      2. Charlotte Lucas*

        That’s what I would suggest.

        Unless you know they’re unworn overstock, or you plan to resole them, you should not buy used shoes. It can be very bad for your feet spine, and knees, because of wear patterns.

    1. Texan In Exile*

      Yes. I have bought many shoes and boots on eBay and have been very happy with them. Turns out there are a lot of nice Ferragamo heels that little old ladies only wore once a week on Sundays.

      I have several pairs of leather boots and although I polish my shoes and boots, I do not condition the leather. Some of my boots have not been polished or worn in years and the leather is fine. I would take the chance. (Plus if the leather were really crummy, you would be able to tell in the photos, I would think.)

      1. Filosofickle*

        I just picked up a couple of pairs of leather boots off eBay — one I know for sure is a line that hasn’t been made in 12 years — and they are great. Based on the near-pristine condition, they were likely in a box for over a decade with no wear or attention and there were no problems with the leather.

    2. mreasy*

      I do this on Poshmark all the time and have never had an issue. If you condition the leather when you receive them, it seems like it would be fine – presumably they’re being stored indoors and not in extreme dry or cold conditions.

    3. Newbie*

      I have bought quite a few pairs of used boots and dress shoes online. I don’t buy anything that doesn’t have a clear photo of the soles. I can fix anything on the upper myself, but unless the price is extremely low or it’s something I very specifically want, I’m not in a position to buy shoes AND a resole, even though my cobbler is awesome. I enjoy bringing old shoes back to life, but I also know my limitations.
      As far as the leather goes, if they are good quality leather, then no worries. One of my favorite pairs of loafers is a pair of men’s Allen Edmonds that came to me in the original corrected grain leather from the early 80s. I stripped them down to bare leather (thus getting the plasticky 80’s sheen off of them), re-dyed and polished them back up. They are lovely and the narrower profile of men’s shoes in the 70s and 80s suits my (female) foot well.
      You should definitely see about getting your existing boots resoled, if only to find a cobbler you can work with in the future. Having a relationship with a good cobbler is something that folks don’t even know they need in the 21st century, but mine has saved me from making a bad purchase or shelling out for new when the fix is inexpensive more than once.

  25. Covid Christmas*

    Well, my wife and I have Covid for Christmas this year.

    What are things you’d recommend for fostering Christmas cheer when you can’t go home for Christmas? Also things to do that can be done solo or with a partner to keep from being bored during a long quarantine? I’m sick of watching TV and my wife is already bored of board games.

    1. Doc is In*

      Sorry to hear this. If you feel well enough, maybe you could clean out cabinets or organize papers, things we never find the time to do.

      1. Workerbee*

        This. Take time for breaks of course, but throw on some music you enjoy and take on a drawer at a time!

    2. Cookie*

      Oh gosh, so sorry to hear this. I hope you both recover quickly. Could you read to each other? Preferably something amusing?

      I live alone, so I entertain myself most of the time, and I love trivia and puzzles. Maybe these will interest one or both of you?

    3. just another queer reader*

      I’m so sorry! I had covid a few months ago and almost died of boredom, so I sympathize.

      If you’re feeling up to it, cooking something special could be fun! Or maybe you could decorate cookies.

      It sounds like you’re tired of movies, but how about video games? I’ve heard that the game Stray is really cute; it’s about a cat. Or if you have any gamers in your life, I found that playing Civilization with relatives is a fun way to pass the time.

      Phone calls or video calls could help pass the time. Or ebooks from the library.

      If you’re feeling up to it, a masked walk outside could be a nice change of scenery. Or if the weather and space allows, a picnic can be nice (very far away from others, of course).

      You could try doing something creative: painting, drawing, or building a box fort for your cat. Or a small house project, like hanging up a picture or repotting plants.

      Take care and I hope you feel better soon.

    4. Healthcare Worker*

      My husband and I are also home with covid this Christmas, so solidarity! I’ve checked the bookcases and am enjoying rereading our Calvin and Hobbes books. We also enjoy playing online games with friends, but you’re right, it’s boring. Hope your symptoms are mild and you have a quick recovery.

    5. Aphrodite*

      How about attending a Christmas concert via the internet (or on television)? Have you ever heard of Christmas in Vienna ? You could choose any year since the singers are different each time. It’s very different from most and if you feel like it you could dress up, turn off lights and light candles, real or LED.


    6. Atole*

      I played Jeopardy with friends using jeopardylabs.com

      It was fun! I just typed in Holidays in the search bar and played Merry Quizmas; it was the second one to come up when I searched on Friday and it had 70 questions…or answers I should say :)

    7. E*

      This sucks! If you’re not having too much brain fog, is there something you’ve always wanted to learn, like starting a new language? Coursera has a lot of options and it could make this time feel more like an opportunity than a slog.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Olive plates, with a little section for the pits. When they were in Greece they picked up a bunch for this purpose.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Honestly? Not even being a smartass, it’s so rare for people to actually listen when I say “please don’t bring anything” that the best thing is that – listening to me when I say don’t bring anything and showing up empty handed.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I actually agree on this one–I’d really like to see the rote gifts in response to dinner invitations die. As Miss Manners 1.0 put it, you repay hosting by hosting. (She also hypothesized that people start out hosting when young and poor and you need someone to bring wine and someone salad and someone dessert to make it work. And then it was hard to transition to not bringing something when the host was older, could afford all the parts of dinner, and had planned out what dishes and drinks they wanted in advance.) (And yes, I thank people when they hand over the wine and cheesecake and etc, and appreciate the thought. But I was serious when I said I didn’t need them to bring anything, and I’m delighted when people took me seriously on that.)

        I recall a discussion elsewhere online where some commenters were adamant about receiving even the most useless hostess gift as a requirement showing “good manners” to be invited back; one had a walk-in pantry with a section dedicated to unwanted hostess gifts which she then passed on to others, who put them in their own large pantries to pass on. Like fruitcake.

        I do not have a large pantry.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          Ah! I cannot repay with hosting as my house will be getting renovated for quite a while, and neither can my sister due to her dogs/space so I’m super grateful to my brother for doing it. It’s interesting what you say about people being young and poor – they’re not the most well off people in the world but super generous with hosting.

        2. Clisby*

          When I was growing up, we were frequently on the receiving end of a fruitcake. My father always took it in to the paper mill where he was plant engineer, because according to him, “Those guys will eat anything.”

      2. cat socks*

        Yep, I feel the same way. Please respect my wishes when I say not to bring anything. Sometimes when people have asked, we request a bag of ice because my husband likes to make cocktails.

        Although one time, a person brought gifts for my cats which I loved. I don’t need more stuff, but I’m happy to spoil my kitties.

    3. Hen in a Windstorm*

      A friend’s sister once brought me an ice bucket more as a housewarming. I never thought I would need one, but I used it every time I had a party, to keep the drinks near the table and people out of the kitchen.

    4. Texan In Exile*

      I’m torn between the two jars of grease from really good bacon and the bags of Fleet Farm kitty litter. (The nearest Fleet Farm to us is 50 miles away, near the friends who were visiting.)

    5. Be the Change*

      One that I like to take: I grow various herbs. So, I put together a little bouquet of fresh herb cuttings in a pretty glass jar or bottle saved from the recycle bin. Tie a paper raffia ribbon around it.

      Tiny, free, pretty, smells good, entirely transitory.

    6. time for cocoa*

      A cat-safe succulent. Potted plants are always nice, but this friend went out of her way to make certain that my chew-happy hell beasts wouldn’t be nomming on anything poisonous.

    7. Rara Avis*

      We always host both Thanksgiving and Christmas for my husband’s family— and my sister-in-law washes the dishes. Best gift ever.

    8. allathian*

      I love getting consumables. I’m in Finland, and there’s no expectation of hosting gifts being shared with guests, although I’ll usually open a box of chocolates if I get one.

      I also like getting cut flowers, because they’ll last for a few weeks at most.

  26. Bibliovore*

    Content warning grief.

    So one of the outcomes of my grief is that I just cannot cook.
    I feed myself but basically eat Trader Joes dumplings, frozen mac and cheese or kimchi, rice and an egg. Occasionally a friend will bring a take out meal of sushi rolls or Pho.
    I buy stuff but it either rots or I give it away.
    It comes down to that I was the person who did all meals especially during lock down.
    I cannot face eating the foods that he loved or that I prepared for us together.
    Anything he hated like sushi or didn’t care for isn’t a problem but I still can’t face being in the kitchen standing at the stove.

    My grief counselor gently suggested I get an air fryer. In more than one session.
    Do you like sweet potatoes? Why yes and Mr. Bibliovore hated them.
    The airfryer is terrific for those.
    I was oppositional and just no.
    I mentioned this when I was talking to my brother and he began singing the praises of the air fryer. Still, I wasn’t going to get one.
    Two days later, one shows up on my doorstep.
    Happy Hanukkah.
    So here I am.
    Anyone using an air fryer have favorite meals?
    Any tips?
    I have made broccoli and it was really delicious.
    Threw it in my congee.
    And in my kimchi, rice and egg.
    I have looked up recipes on line- I get weary and give up.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Roast chicken thighs are dirt easy in the air fryer – brush or spray with a little bit of olive oil and some salt and pepper, put them in for 16-18 minutes (depending on how many at a time, I do 6 at 18 min) at 400 degrees and flip over halfway through. Drumsticks too. Roasted potatoes in chunks, about 15 min. (I am lazy and do everything in my air fryer on 400 unless a recipe specifically says something else because that’s its default.)

      1. Marmalade*

        I am sorry you are struggling and hope things begin to look up for you. In no particular order: I have never used an air fryer but I don’t think there is anything wrong with relying on frozen meals and not cooking (it’s hard to do for one person even without any other struggles). My MIL puts those tiny potatoes in hers but I feel like they are the same as if they’d been in the oven as I think she overcrowds them when she is cooking for all four of us. If you liked the broccoli in it, you could try cauliflower, broccoli’s pastel cousin. Or butternut squash is pretty tasty roasted. You could also try frozen/precut veggies/meat/dry beans in a crock pot – dump it all in and walk away. I’m sure you have already thought of this but prepped veg would still come out cheaper than all frozen meals and relieve you of that part of the equation.

    2. Professor Plum*

      Hooray for your brother! I like air frying most veggies. For a thanksgiving dish I combined Brussels sprouts, radishes and delicata squash. Sprinkle after cooking with feta cheese. It was both pretty to look at and tasted delicious.

      I never liked radishes—too bitter—until recently discovering that roasting them removes the bitterness. Lots of good nutrition in them.

      1. Professor Plum*

        Also when I cut the squash up, I dried the seeds overnight and then roasted them the next day in the air fryer. Light spritz of olive oil, salt, and then can add spice for any flavor direction, like cinnamon, chili or rosemary. Great to top soups or salads.

    3. Cookie*

      I sympathize. I don’t have an air fryer but I do have grief, and I totally get it. Doing something new, even if it’s something that Previous You would have enjoyed, takes too much energy…the thinking alone takes energy, the doing seems impossible. I’m three years removed now and it’s still rough.

      If/when I get an air fryer, I plan to make my Usual Vegetables in it, much as I do on the grill in summer. Zucchini, red pepper, green pepper – and if I could eat onions I’d add onions.

    4. BlueWolf*

      I’m planning to do roasted Brussels sprouts in mine for Christmas dinner tomorrow. I’ve made Panko breaded shrimp and fish in the air fryer before that turned out pretty good. Boneless chicken thighs with your choice of seasoning or sauce (we usually use BBQ) work well too. Really any kind of vegetables you would roast are good. I’ve made potatoes, zucchini, broccoli, etc.

    5. Hen in a Windstorm*

      I empathize. For me, part of cooking is wanting to please the person I’m cooking for, hoping they will like the thing, maybe using their favorite ingredients. I could easily see losing my enthusiasm for cooking if it’s just for myself. Plus having to adjust quantities and maybe being overwhelmed with too many leftovers.

      Personally, when I lose my cooking (or any) mojo, reading blogs and watching videos of other people doing those things rekindles my interest. I think looking for air fryer recipes on Youtube and TikTok could get you inspired. I hear pizza reheated in the air fryer is awesome. But also, an air fryer is just a countertop convection oven. So anything you’d roast in the oven, can be “fried” in the air fryer.

      1. Bibliovore*

        He is. My will hasn’t been updated since Mr. Bibliovore died but I think of you when I try to deal with it.
        Nothing bad will happen. There is still a trust and beneficiaries, it just needs some tweaking as my wishes for where money would go has changed over the past year.
        I have been giving money in real time instead of waiting to die to his favorite charities.
        Some of his relatives have demonstrated their disinterest in me since he died except to ask for his car.
        I can only guess that they thought there would be an inheritance immediately and not that the entire estate would go to me.
        I throw money at the nieces and nephews as needed.
        We have no kids but he does have siblings.
        My siblings do not need my money.
        I support his sibling who has mental and physical challenges financially and has been unable to support themself (as we did when Mr. Bibliovore was alive.) We never shared that we did this. There will be a trust for them. They are one of the reasons I am very conservative about spending money as I am hoping to retire within the next 5 years.

        1. Texan In Exile*

          “I can only guess that they thought there would be an inheritance immediately and not that the entire estate would go to me.”

          Ugh. I am so sorry you have had to deal with that (and the car request). Nothing brings out the ugly like money.

          We saw that with Mr T’s brothers when their dad died and the brothers thought Mr T should name them and not me as the beneficiary on their dad’s IRA, which went to Mr T because he was the contingent beneficiary if his mom died first, which she did, and that he should share the money with them because none of them had inherited anything.

          And with my SIL’s death last month, her son’s jerkness has become even more obvious. He lied to Mr T and to his mom to get money after he wrecked his car, which happened a week after he paid if off and then cancelled his collision insurance. Mr T gave him money from the trust for a new car and my SIL made him a loan of $18K for a new car. Neither Mr T nor SIL knew about the other’s activities.

          Mr T is so angry about the whole thing that he is going to move money from the nephew’s trust to the two nieces.

          And I’m so sorry that even eating can be a sad event. Grief permeates everything, doesn’t it?

          (And what a kind heart you have to continue to support Mr. B’s sibling.)

    6. Me*

      Love roasted cauliflower in the air fryer.
      Cauliflower, drizzled with olive oil, and seasoned with salt and pepper. You can add whatever seasonings you prefer though. A squeeze of lemon at the end.

    7. MJ*

      Cooking for one can be tough to find the energy for, even without the grief. I haven’t tried an air fryer but one of my friends highly recommends it.
      For another option, would you consider one of the meal delivery services? I signed up for Hello Fresh, “skipped” most weeks and only got a delivery about once a month when they had recipes I was interested in. You would be getting new recipes (so no emotional link), exactly the amount of food/spices to make that recipe, and don’t have to use any energy deciding what to cook with ingredients on hand (or have to go out and shop). I usually spent the day after my box arrived cooking all three dishes, then froze/refrigerated as individual portions to eat later.

    8. The teapots are on fire*

      I’m so sorry. This is a bit of a detour answer, but if people in your life have been wanting to be useful, would it be helpful to ask people to come over and cook with you, and make enough that you can reheat leftovers on other days? Sometimes company is good, and sometimes it’s bad, but it may be easier to cook if someone’s there to get you going.

      1. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

        I don’t know about OP, but I’m also cooking for one, and my problem is that leftovers just sit in the fridge and go bad… either I forget about them, or there’s just WAY too much of them.

    9. Elizabeth*

      We have one, and we bought my dad one. He does pork chops — 3.5 minutes on one size, 4 minutes on the other.

      Tonight’s tuna steaks were 5 minutes at 385. Last night, I wrapped brie in puff pastry and baked it in the air fryer as an appetizer.

      Roasted potatoes: Chunk up a potato or two. Boil for 5 – 7 minutes. Drain and coat with olive oil and desired spices. Roast in the air fryer for 15-20 minutes. They will be be crispy on the outside and soft & luscious on the inside.

    10. E*

      So sorry for your loss. Agree with others, don’t pressure yourself to cook when you’re not ready. Your counselor’s “solution” sounds annoying to me. If you’re not up for cooking but sick of your current options, can you ask a friend to organize a Meal Train for you for a while? Feel free to be as specific as possible in your likes or dietary needs. I personally would love the opportunity to help a grieving friend in this way; one can feel so helpless in expressing one’s empathy.

      Ifyou’re actually missing cooking, but stuck, that’s another thing. Is there a culture’s food that you have no painful associations with? Maybe you can try a cookbook or something that would be kind of a blank slate

    11. Bibliovore*

      Thank you for the recommendations. I am in year two and it seems that most of my friends have moved on. It is typical (from my grief group) that most people wish that the grieving person would just “get over it” already. (not fun to be around) Or they just have their own busy lives to tend to.
      RE: the grief counselor – I can honestly say I think he has saved my life. His good orderly direction is almost always just what I need.
      (and this is why the right therapist is paramount- I had to go through two “not-right” for me before I found him.
      He is very big on active grief work- writing, talking, grieving, listening to music, prayer and meditation, asking for help, reading (The grieving brain) watching tv and movies (After life, Great Pottery Showdown, Severence) Getting out everyday no matter what, not selling the house, not quitting my job. Putting in a big soaking tub (aging in place)

      1. Bibliovore*

        This was in response to the person who was thinking the grief counselor was being too aggressive in his suggestions. He is okay with me saying “that will never happen” yet as I reflect I usually try to do what he asks.

        I actually did one jigsaw puzzle. one was enough.

      2. allathian*

        I’m so sorry that your friends seem to have moved on and aren’t as willing to support you anymore. But I’m glad that you’ve reached out to a grief group and that you’ve found a great grief counselor. I also hope that the replies to your posts here bring you some consolation.

        I know I’ve been very lucky, I’ve reached 50 without suffering any debilitating losses so far, although with my parents and MIL it’s probably just a matter of time (late 70s). All of my grandparents were old and had debilitating illnesses (cancer or dementia), or died when I was too young to understand the finality of death, so I either didn’t grieve them at all or grieved their loss while they were still alive. I have no idea how I’d survive if my husband or son died before me, though.

        I do think that most people don’t “get over” a life-changing loss, they just learn to live with it and integrate the experience into the fabric of their life.

    12. Noncomittal*

      I do love my airfryer, particularly during the summer when I can roast things without heating up the entire house.

      I chop up a bunch of vegetables – potatoes, brussels sprouts, carrots, broccoli, mushrooms – whatever, and roast with a sausage for a complete meal. I’ve also taken to using any leftover roasted veggies as an omelet filling with cheese.

    13. Generic Name*

      You know, both my grandmother and my husband’s grandmother stopped cooking after their respective husbands died. That’s not to say they both ate our exclusively. They did what you’re doing. Lots of frozen and pre prepared meals. There is no rule that says you MUST cook yourself homemade meals from scratch. It’s nice your therapist has repeatedly suggested an air fryer, I guess. It’s totally ok to decide that you are just Done Cooking.

    14. Alex*

      I’m sorry you’re going through this, and before I make suggestions I just want to say that doing things how you are doing them now is fine! There’s nothing wrong with eating pre-prepared or semi-prepared food for a while. So be gentle with yourself. You’re doing great.

      I did just recently get an air fryer myself and agree that air fryer broccoli is wonderful. I also made air fryer coconut shrimp–dip in egg, a mixture of coconut and panko, spray with some oil, and air fry. Serious yum.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Thank you. I would be “done” cooking but I do like to eat. The goal was to eat a more varied menu and so far that is working.

  27. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    Which service providers do you give a year-end/holiday tip or gift to, and how do you determine what/how much?

    Specifically, I’m trying to figure out how much to tip the yard service person that scoops after my dogs – it’s obviously a less than pleasant job, so I don’t want to be stingy, but the person who scoops my yard is also the owner of the service and I know in a lot of tipped professions (salons etc) you maybe don’t tip the owner the same way you would a non-owner? I’m thinking to tip equivalent to the cost of two weeks’ service, is that reasonable? (Dog people: it’s totally a thing and SO WORTH IT. Especially if you have large dogs. :-P )

    1. Turtle Dove*

      I give holiday gifts to the waitstaff and longtime cook at our favorite tavern, where my husband and I are regulars. The two owners wait tables and are usually the ones who serve us throughout the year. I give each person cash that’s about three times our typical tip with a card saying thanks for their friendliness and excellent service. I thought about giving more this year, but it felt like too much for my budget. So I gave what felt both generous and comfortable.

      We have a relative who waits tables who says she doesn’t expect holiday gifts, but it’s great to receive them.

      We don’t use other services that we tip for, but I think any amount you’re comfortable giving is a lovely gesture that will be appreciated.

    2. fposte*

      I didn’t know that was a thing. It’s been one of the considerations in the will I/won’t I of getting a dog.

      I tip my wonderful yard/snow removal person every time so don’t do extra at Christmas. I tip my cleaners one visit’s worth on the December visit. I don’t worry so much about who’s an owner and who’s not these days; I’m in a place where I really appreciate people doing this stuff and I enjoy showing my gratitude where I can.

      I always stumble over two categories: letter carrier and garbage collectors. Letter carriers aren’t supposed to get tips, and I’m a rule follower, plus they seem to rotate on my block, so I don’t even know how to do that. And I’ve never figured out how to manage tipping the trash crew–their arrival time is early morning but variable, plus there’s the recycling truck that comes separately. It seems doomed to just leave cash envelopes taped to the can (I’ve done that with sealed snacks but I don’t really care if somebody else walks off with those). The business is an old-school “send a check in” one and I don’t think they would handle distribution of tips. So how do people tip garbage collectors?

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        It’s totally a thing and it’s so worth it, haha. They scoop and take the scooping away with them for “sanitary disposal” (whatever that means, all I know is it’s out of my yard and not in my dumpster).

        I don’t tip my mailman, because I’ve had to file official complaints about him for a wide range of issues over the last few years (from damaging my mail and mailbox to literally trying to pull open my door and get into my house, I have no idea how he’s even still employed) and he’s consistently a jerk who won’t do his job right and deliberately riles up my dogs on the regular. We never have the same trash collectors more than one week in a row, so I’m not sure how you would go about doing that either :-/

      2. Texan In Exile*

        When we had a regular mail carrier – he retired last year and now we have a rotation of new people, we gave him a note and a $20 bill every year.

      3. E. Chauvelin*

        Also a rule follower* but letter carriers here are allowed to accept food (just not alcoholic beverages) so I usually leave something along those lines with a note in the box.

        (*Plus I’m also a public employee who isn’t allowed to accept tips so I wouldn’t want to put anybody else in that spot.)

      4. Here we go again*

        I left cold bottles of water for the trash man in the summer in a cooler near the can. My dad was a garbage man. It’s sweaty work. I can’t figure out how to get them hot coffee in early winter mornings. I work second shift it would be an ice cube by 7 am.

    3. Clisby*

      I tip our newspaper carrier, because he is SO reliable. (We’ve had the same carrier for some years now, and I know who he is, so not hard to get it to him.) Delivering the morning paper consistently, day after day, can be a real challenge in Charleston, SC – forget the hurrricanes, we have plenty of street flooding just from tides and heavy rain.

      1. Giftern*

        I have a gift card here for mine, but it’s hard to catch him! I know they can’t take tips. Last year I put out cookies and a card and – some other letter carrier was covering the beat that day, so he got the cookies instead of the usual guy! (no great loss, I realize). This year I have been trying to put what is to me a generous tip – at least $10, preferably $20 – in the tip jars at the minimum-wage places I frequent, like coffee shops, the donut place, etc. These are kind and hardworking employees so they deserve it!

    4. Asenath*

      Only the building superintendent, and I was initially very uncertain what to tip, picked a number, and have increased it a bit over the years. He always seems to appreciate it, so either I got the amounts reasonably right, or he’s polite. He is always exceptionally helpful, so I want to recognize that. We also have people from a service doing some of the cleaning etc in the common areas, and I don’t tip them although they’re pleasant and polite. That is largely because I don’t know how to do it – there are so many of them, and they vary so much (schedules? job turnover?) that I don’t know who to tip. I might see someone who helps with my groceries once, and then never again. Other service providers I never see or know, like the ones who pick up the garbage or clean most of the parking lot. I tip outside (non-home building) people like hairdressers and taxi drivers all year round.

      1. Giftern*

        I think if I was in a service job, I’d be touched by any gift even, if others give more. I’m sure there’s plenty of people who give nothing at all, and since you know little about anyone’s finances, you’re equally moved by $20, $50 or $150 dollars (or more, I know many people on this blog are very wealthy!).

    5. Bibliovore*

      I tip the dog walker and the housekeeper one weeks pay.
      I tip the snow/lawn guy $80 dollars. (I hope he shares with his crew)
      I don’t tip the mail carrier because that feels awkward.
      During Covid I tipped generously UPS, FEDX, and everyone else who brought stuff to the house, each time.
      I tip my hair cutter one session amount.
      All this is mostly because I can.

    6. HannahS*

      We gave a lot to the daycare workers. About double what we spent on our family members, tbh. We’ll give a small tip to the newspaper deliver-er, since we only get the weekend edition. That’s it though. I wish we had a house-cleaner to tip!

      We used to give Starbucks cards to the front desk staff at our apartment building, but it’s now a 3rd party contractor who rotates people in and out so fast that I don’t recognize any of the staff members week to week.

    7. Pamela Adams*

      Our dog groomer got $50 and some candy. Our favorite Starbucks got a giant box of tangerines- they divvied them up among the crew.

    8. mreasy*

      Hairstylist, sanitation workers, the staff at our UPS store (we have a PO Box and get packages every day), plus extra big tips at the nail salon, massage place, etc if I have a holiday service planned. Plus extra big holiday tips at our local bars & coffee shop.

  28. RMNPgirl*

    How’s everyone else in the US handling the storm?
    I’m in Iowa and it hasn’t been too bad here in town, very cold and windy but from what I hear roads weren’t too bad. Outside of towns where the winds just whip across the plains, it’s not great. I35 going north to Minnesota is in bad shape.
    My parents were supposed to drive here from Colorado on Thursday, obviously that didn’t happen. They’re driving out today and we’re hoping the winds aren’t too bad across Nebraska.
    My cat has been very depressed because he can’t go outside, or well, he goes outside for about a minute and then realizes it’s too cold for even him with his Maine Coon genes. It should be warm enough tomorrow for him once the winds die down.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Outside Boston and it rained a lot yesterday, windy last night, cold today. We were perfectly positioned to miss the exciting inland and coastal versions.

      I saw this morning that Buffalo was basically having a hurricane, but with snow.

      1. Anon for this*

        I am in Buffalo and it is intense here. I have lived here all my life and even remember the Blizzard of 77. Nothing in my experience has prepared me for this. It’s been so bad that emergency vehicles cannot even get out to people in life threatening situations.

        1. theBeanMovesOn*

          in buffalo too, its cold. we were traveling into town and didnt buy enough food and didnt realize the stores would be shut down till monday.

        2. Loredena*

          Also in Buffalo. We moved out in time to miss the blizzard of 76 and last year was my first winter since moving back so it’s overwhelming.
          Some of my cousins are volunteer firemen and one has been stuck at the firehouse since yesterday morning! I’m fortunate to have not lost power but the street is of course not plowed and the front porch has snow halfway up the door. Yesterday my dogs could still use the backyard but today the snow is up to the door — and there are steps— it’s taller than them! I have no idea how I’m clearing the front porch or a path in the back

        3. Amcb13*

          Yeah Buffalo is pretty intense. I am lucky enough to live in a building that hasn’t lost power or heat but many many people are without both of those, in what has been described as “a hurricane but with snow” due to unrelenting wind around 40mph with gusts up to the 70s. My husband made it two buildings down the street to check on our daughter’s cat (she’s out of town) and said he was basically wading through knee-to-hip-deep snow because the wind has piled it into deep drifts. If you are in Buffalo, there’s a FB group called Buffalo Blizzard 2022 where people are posting locations of folks stuck in their cars in the hopes that someone very close by can let them indoors (or folks needing assistance, food, or in several cases help giving birth!) because unless you’re within half a mile or so, or on a snowmobile, it’s basically impossible to reach anyone.

      2. Chauncy Gardener*

        North of Boston here. We had torrential rain and extreme wind Thursday night and all day Friday. Lost power Friday morning and it was rough when the temps went down to 10 degrees Friday night. We finally got power back late last night.
        What a relief!!
        Everyone in my neighborhood pulled through (we were all checking on each other), but the houses were COLD

    2. Just a Name*

      Flew to Ohio a day early to be ahead of the storm. We are supposed to get together in my home town today, but they have a level 3 snow emergency, so roads are closed. Maybe they will open them later, but it may be too late to get together. We fly home tomorrow, so no family get together for me, maybe.

      1. Giftern*

        I gave up trying to get to Kalamazoo. Guess I’m staying home this year. We’ll try again in a few weeks.

    3. Cookie*

      I’m not that far from you. My area didn’t get as much snow as predicted, and although it’s been windy, the wind chills have been only about -36. I was lucky enough to engineer my week so I didn’t have to go anywhere yesterday, YAY.

      My cat is indoors only but he’s been bored as heck since the weather got too cold to have the patio door open. He meows half the time he’s awake, wanting entertainment. Destroyed a Cat Dancer yesterday.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      It’s stupid cold here in Indiana, see my lament upthread about the ice dam in my kitchen sink drainpipe, but that’s the only issue we’ve had. My dogs are willing to go outside for about two minutes at a time, which is all they need to do their business, and I don’t have to go out and argue with them to get them back in the house when they’re done, which was my worry.

    5. GoryDetails*

      Southern NH here, where there’s about an inch of fluffy snow on the ground after yesterday’s rain and wind turned to snow. The wind was severe at times, blowing one of my suet feeders off of the tree entirely, but while lots of people did lose power my area did not.

    6. fposte*

      My house is doing okay. I’ve kept a drip in the kitchen faucet, since it’s on an outside wall, though I think opening the cabinet doors would probably be sufficient. There are definitely some reports of frozen pipes on local sites. One’s a toilet–I don’t know how you’d keep the water running on that to prevent a freeze. Move the flapper a little and let the toilet keep running, maybe?

      I went out very briefly last night just to look my (battery operated) candles through the frosted windows, and it wasn’t as bad as I thought. The wind sounds terrible but I think some of that is that the trees absorb less sound without the leaves. So it sounded Antarctic but was actually weather I’d gone to school in back in the day. I’m going to bundle up and go for a walk this morning; we’ll see how far I get before I bail.

      I’ve also been enjoying Cecelia Blømstad’s YouTube channel about life on Svalbard, which has put my local weather in perspective.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        A thing to be careful of with keeping the faucet dripping: a drippy faucet is actually what partially precipitated the ice dam I’m dealing with. Each drip sliding down the drain freezes individually, so it builds up until it starts causing additional blockage, resulting in water stuck in the drain pipe and freezing. (Or at least that’s what the plumber explained to me yesterday.)

        1. fposte*

          Huh, good to know. Did the plumber have an alternative suggestion? It sounds like what froze on you was the drainage piping rather than the inflow, which is less common and less damaging to thaw, so I might accept it as the possibility of a lesser evil.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            In our case we weren’t dripping the sink on purpose, it’s just always had a drip since the faucet was installed. His suggestion was to let it drip into a mixing bowl, then empty the bowl morning and night, so it wasn’t dripping directly down the drain. :) (and replacing the drippy faucet nozzle is on my project list now. Heh.)

        2. Loredena*

          Oof. I went to my snowbird mother’s house before the storm and left a couple of her faucets running with all cupboards open. There’s no chance I can check on it before Monday or Tuesday given the local conditions so crossing my fingers we don’t end up with that!

          1. fposte*

            In a situation like that I think that’s the lesser evil. A bowl is going to overflow before you can get back there anyway.

      2. Cendol*

        I love Cecelia! I was thinking about her during the arctic blast and wondering how she keeps her new pipes from freezing.

    7. cat socks*

      Another Ohioan here. Subzero temps and very high winds. We ventured out yesterday to pick up our catering order for Christmas Day. After we got home, we found out it was a Level 3 snow emergency.

      We didn’t get a ton of snow, but the cold temps and winds have made it difficult to clear the roads. My husband’s side of the family live in the same town so they should be able to make it tomorrow. My mom and brother live about 25 minutes away so they may not make it.

      Thankful to have electricity and a warm house. And looking forward to thawing out later this week.

    8. Texan In Exile*

      Yesterday evening, our power company (WE Energies, Milwaukee) asked everyone to cut their thermostat to 62 or 60 and not use any appliances that run on gas, like ovens. A gas vendor had a mechanical failure and had to cut delivery amounts by 30%.

      We turn our heat down to 60 at night anyhow, but turning it down that low at 7:00 was hard. I sat in bed under a blanket and read and waited for Mr T to drive home. (From Florida, where he was helping our nieces with their mom’s estate.)

      When he got home, he came in the front door, which is unusual. Turns out our back door was snowed shut and I hadn’t even noticed because I didn’t leave the house yesterday. I had seen from the front window that a neighbor had shoveled our sidewalk so I had no reason to go out in subzero temps.

      Basically – I am wearing all of my clothes all the time and hoping our power stays on.

      1. Dreaming of the beach*

        I’m in the South and my heat pump cannot keep up with the cold and windchill. Thermostat is set for 68 but the temp inside is hovering just under 60. Wearing all the clothes plus a hat and sitting in whatever chair is getting direct sunlight.

    9. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Eastern PA. Very glad the precip stopped before the temp plummeted yesterday. Lows below zero last night, still in single digits now. My husband, intrepid soul that he is, went to the annual bonfire on our friend’s farm. I did not. I’m going to venture out to someone’s house in about an hour and will be well bundled up to get the 20 feet from my house to my car and from the car to her house. Not aware of any significant power outages around here – after Sandy the local electric company was very aggressive about taking down trees and branches that might interfere with power lines.

      Friend of mine recently moved back to Montana after living out of state in a very temperate climate for about 35 years. She knew what she was getting into….

    10. Doctor is In*

      In what is supposed to be a Southern state, second day of below zero and single digits. Roads are okay today but we are just staying in. Our dogs still want to dig stuff up! And washing their paws is a pain, so we have to bundle up and go out with them to our fenced yard.

    11. Bibliovore*

      yes, super cold here in Minnesota.
      I have a daily puppy party and it has been suspended due to the freeze.
      The downstairs is empty because of the construction of the bathroom so this morning the puppy party was inside on the plastic protection.

    12. E. Chauvelin*

      In my part of Ohio it seems like it’s mostly just a few inches of snow (although it’s hard to tell with the drifting) but the wind has been vicious. The wind chill yesterday was down to -35 F at times. My county and the neighboring county where I’d be going if I left the house were both under level 2 snow emergencies yesterday – which means that they won’t ticket you for being out on the roads yet but you should really avoid it if it’s at all possible – and the library closed, but it was my day off anyway. The winter weather advisory should be over but I’m still waiting for the snow emergency level to drop before going out, so it’s still up in the air if we’re going to my cousins’ house for Christmas Eve. There’s enough food in the house to put off going to the store until Monday but I might be about to decide that everybody whose gift cards I was planning to buy when I went shopping are going to get e-gift cards instead and just have to accept that there won’t be anything to unwrap.

      1. The Real Fran Fine*