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Ask Amy: Nuclear Santa hat option may fix family photo

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DEAR AMY: My husband and I have been happily married for 10 years and have a happily blended family of “his, mine and our” children.

About this time every year I ponder the holiday card, as we usually like to send a photo of all the kids.

Our oldest is out of college and lives out of state. We only see him a couple of times a year and it is nearly impossible to get all the kids together for a holiday card picture. The last few years our picture did not include the oldest, although we did sign his name (along with the other kids) on the card.

A couple of friends asked why his picture wasn’t included, and joked about what he must have done to not be in the photo.

I thought that since he was out of the house it wouldn’t be a big deal; however, being in a blended family I have a heightened awareness of making everyone feel included.

Is it weird to not include our oldest in the picture? We’re not sure Photoshopping him into the picture is a great idea. What would you do in this situation? -- Card Carrying

DEAR CARRYING: I agree that you should include every family member in a family group photo.

It is understandable that you haven’t been able to achieve this, leaving me to wonder about friends who would receive this card and then choose to make a sarcastic crack about one of your children.

Photo cards are great, and the options of how to create them are almost endless.

I vote for a “collage”-style photo illustration, which would picture each family member photographed individually. Maybe you could photograph each child wearing a Santa hat; your oldest son could very easily photograph himself and e-mail the photo to you.

You could opt for something more sophisticated, but my holiday tastes tend to run toward the nuclear Santa hat option, including the family pets, of course.

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DEAR AMY: I’ve been dating a really wonderful guy for some time now. From an objective point of view, he’s perfect. He’s financially stable, handsome and kind. The problem is he’s the least romantic person I’ve ever dated.

I find myself hoping he’ll organize a surprise picnic or plan a day at the beach. Every time that we go out it feels too scheduled and structured.

I’ve never had a relationship last this long, so I’m wondering if this is the way all long-term relationships are?

Should I jump ship or stick it out? (At least I don’t have to worry about him surprising me with a ring.) -- A Hopeless Romantic

DEAR HOPELESS: Romance is wonderful; it doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but it can definitely be learned.

Your guy may be a robot, but is he a “learning robot”? Can you show him how this whole romance thing works? Surprising someone with a picnic or a day at the beach sounds easy, but it is a vulnerable position to be in, as I hope you’ll understand when you demonstrate it to your guy.

Long-term relationships do not necessarily lose their romance, though, like many skills, romancing someone becomes more efficient with repetition. Over time smaller gestures (that cup of fresh-brewed coffee in the morning) seem larger, more surprising and — yes — very romantic.

DEAR AMY: The letter from “Holiday Mom” about her husband’s siblings going to a restaurant for Thanksgiving instead of spending the day with her young family reminded me of a Thanksgiving years ago when my children were small.

We ended up in a similar predicament where everyone else in our family had Thanksgiving plans and the four of us were on our own. We decided to make a meal that all would be truly thankful for.

Each of us chose our favorite food. I had lobster, my husband had ribs and the kids had mozzarella sticks and ice cream.

My daughters are now grown, but still talk about that Thanksgiving as one of their favorites. -- Thankful

DEAR THANKFUL: My most memorable Thanksgiving? Dinner at the lunch counter at People’s Drug Store in Landover Hills, Md., 1972.

Thanks, Mom. You made everything fun.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2011 by the Chicago Tribune

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