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Carolyn Hax
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 10, 2004; 12:00 PM

Carolyn takes your questions and comments about her current advice column and any other questions you might have about the strange train we call life. Her answers may appear online or in an upcoming column.

Appearing every Wednesday and Friday in The Washington Post Style section and in Sunday Source, Tell Me About It ® offers readers advice based on the experiences of someone who's been there -- really recently. Carolyn Hax is a 30-something repatriated New Englander with a liberal arts degree and a lot of opinions and that's about it, really, when you get right down to it. Oh, and the shoes. A lot of shoes.

Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.

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Carolyn Hax: Hey, I see some pretty serious questions lined up. Holiday chat or no? We can also do it next week (though I have to change the time). Or, a special edition early in the week before Xmas? I await your opinons.

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Washington, D.C.: A friend of mine convinced me to stop seeing my boyfriend. She kept pointing out how un-alike we were, and how it was "doomed." Within three days of it ending, she began to date him. Ugh.

Now, she still wants to be my friend, and I don't. On the one hand, she wasn't really wrong about me and the guy, but that's not the point. She should have told me that she was interested in him, and let me figure out if I wanted to keep seeing him or not. She figures she did me a favor.

I'm really mad at her, at him (he knew she was "convincing" me to break up), and at me for falling for this stupid scheme.

Should I make up with her? I know I can never trust her again, so I don't see the point, but she's being really annoying with the "why can't we still be friends" business.

(By the way, we're seniors in high-school, if that makes a difference).

Carolyn Hax: Tell her you don't have any hard feelings about her dating your ex, since they're apparently made for each other (she may sees the swipe in that, put she'll have a hell of a time proving it). But you do have hard feelings about her not being honest with you when she was trying to break you guys up. Say you're sorry, but that's the way it is.

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Alexandria, Va.: Holiday chat! Holiday chat! Holiday chat!

Carolyn Hax: Okay! Second hour, we break out the barfing chickens. Thanks.

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Atlanta, Ga.: I recently started seeing a therapist. It has been helpful, but there are times when I think either I or my therapist is 'unprepared'. I don't know if I should be ready with things I want to discuss or if the therapist should drive our conversations. Given the cost, I am feeling like there should not times of silence between us.

Carolyn Hax: Then say so. The more comfortable you are speaking up, on anything, the better your sessions will go. And if you find there's no improvement even after you speak up, try another therapist.

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SAD?: So I can't remember if this is reindeer poop week or not. In case it's not, here's my situation:

About this time last year I started to feel like crap. I wasn't really sure what was going on. I wasn't sure if it was PPD or not. It seemed a little late for that to be kicking in because my kid was almost a year old. So after a few months of feeling crappy, I called my doctor's office and they gave me a handful of Zoloft samples without really asking me much about what was going on. Struck me as odd, and I just stared at the samples for a few days before taking any. I took it for about six weeks, but then stopped because I didn't feel that it was really doing anything/didn't feel that I really needed it anymore. Then I felt better. Fast forward to now. I feel like crap again. I'm thinking maybe it's that seasonal affective disorder. So, should I call my doc and get another handful of Zoloft just to get through it -- even if I don't think it really worked the last time? Or is there maybe more to this? I just want to be a good mom to my kid -- and I don't want me feeling like crap to have an effect on him.

Carolyn Hax: Make an appointment this time, see the doctor, explain the pattern and say explicitly that you don't want a handful of Zoloft. And if Dr. isn't receptive to doing a little detective work, find another doctor.

Different kind of theme hour taking shape.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Caroline -- Love the column and chats! I'm a single and, I think, quite eligible gay guy, but when it comes to getting dates, I have no game. I'm working on this, but could use advice from you and the peanuts on one aspect: closing the deal (ie, getting some digits). In recent months, I've had 2-3 situations where I've met guys in bars (friends of friends, each time). We chat for a while (and even dance for a while in one case), and there seems to be at least enough chemistry that I'd like to hang out again. But when the time comes to part ways, the guys basically say "it's been fun, hope to see you around" without seeming to want to trade phone numbers or anything -- and then all my usual insecurities surface and I abandon all plans to get a number. So what gives? Am I reading too much into the initial interest, or reading too much into the "see you around" bit (ie, he's just as bad at these things as I am)? Or something else? Any tips on how to regain the momentum? I'm not desparate for a boyfriend, but I could use a date once in a while!

Carolyn Hax: Sure about the not-desperate thing? Because you're laying a lot of expectations on these 2 or 3 chat-for-a-while situations. Look around you, see how many people within your line of sight that you really like and want to hang out with. Now, take that ratio of do like/don't like, and apply it next time you go to a bar to meet people. I'm guessing that exchanging numbers with ... 1 in 20 or 30 people you talk to would roughly correspond.

One-word version: Relax.

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Washington, D.C.: My mother passed away a few years ago, and my father re-married within one year. I do not have a good relationship with his wife. My father has made her the primary beneficiary of his will (so if he were to pass away, she would receive everything). He is in his 60's. This really hurts me -- whenever I try to talk with him about this, he gets very defensive. There is no getting through to him. Any advice?

Carolyn Hax: Yes. Stop trying to get through to him. Any of his money is his to do with as he pleases.

Likewise, his life was his to do with as he pleased, and if he wanted to remarry, that was his prerogative. Of course this was painful to you, but if you continue to hold this against the new wife, you will continually renew the pain, not to mention further alienate your dad. Let go of it. Do yourself the favor. You don't have to love the new wife or even like her--but to making peace with her existence, there is absolutely no down side. It's not a betrayal to Mom.

And if you find there's still too much hurt-feeling residue to pull this off, then try once more to take up the subject w/dad--but leave the will thing out of it. It just corrupts your point, which I assume is that it hurt your feelings to watch your father shed his "old" family so quickly.

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Washington, D.C.: I am wondering about a post-breakup situation. I recently broke up with my girlfriend after a three-year, long-term, long-distance relationship(Boston-D.C.). Unfortunately, it ended kind of badly. We have talked about it and I thought we were making progress towards keeping the friendship with the possibiliby of one-day even working on the relationship.

Recently, she asked that I return all the items she left at my apartment. I am wondering what this means and why she would ask? To me it seems a bit immature and that she still feels the need to through rocks at me? Perhaps from this break-up some things are being revealed to me? Unless, I am willing to be bashed, it seems it might be in my best interest to discontinue trying to keep this friendship.

Carolyn Hax: It means she needs the stuff she left at your apartment. Don't read any more into it than that.

Unless you want to read into it that she's making sure she's not misleading you to believe that you're ultimately going to get back together. That seems like a healthy interpretation for both of you. Send the stuff back, chuck your expectations, get on with life. If there are any new developments, I'm sure you'll be the first to know.

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washingtonpost.com: Whoops. The power is out at Carolyn Hax's home. She's trying to find out when it might return. When she does, we'll update you. Please check back with us momentarily.

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Carolyn Hax: Okay, I'm back. Now I know what to do if I ever need a donut break.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Carolyn - Happy Friday!

This is driving me nuts and I am not sure what to do. I am happily married, yet keep having recurring dreams about my ex-boyfriend from 10 years ago (high school for godsakes). They aren't sexual dreams, just a weird "we meet again." I looked him up on the Internet and found out he is married with a kid (and saw updated pictures of him as well as his wife). I left him on bad terms back then, but hell we were kids, literally. I have no regrets about that, or about my husband, just can NOT figure out why, after all this time, I can't stop thinking about him. Am I crazy?

Carolyn Hax: No, not crazy. Brains are crazy. They hold onto stuff forever, stuff you didn't consciously know you cared about, and then they drag it out when it's least convenient. If you can be that self-aware when you're dreaming, try consciously following the dream to its conclusion. Sometimes just being present takes all the mystery out of it and kills it.

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Washington, D.C.: Help Carolyn! Have been lurking for years and need your clarity on a not so obvious situation. I'm 42 falling for a 28-year-old guy. We love hanging out together and have lots in common. I look very young and am very fit and active (run 3-4 miles a day, constant high energy, etc.) and he doesn't seem to mind the age diff. But, in the back of my mind, I'm thinking I should be looking for someone I can settle down with. I would like some sort of permanent committed thing at some point and I can't help but think the chances just get slimmer as you get older (and he'll probably want a younger woman at some point). Is that really true? Am I being ridiculous following this through to see where it might lead and setting myself up for heart break? Neither one of us want kids (or thats what he says). I just feel like I'm past that window of opp and have not really had great desire for kids anyway. I have a great life and lots of older, more sensible men interested in me, but I just don't find them interesting. Go ahead, slap me in the face and tell me to stop dreaming!

Carolyn Hax: I don't see why you aren't settle-down material for this guy just because he's 28 and you're not. He's certainly old enough for you to respect his ability to make decisions about his own life, no?

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Arlington, Va.: Hi Caroline,

I'm pregnant and will deliver in a few months. The baby's dad decided several months ago (21 days after we discovered I was pregnant) that he was "not ready to be a father," and cut off all contact. The pregnancy was unplanned -- we were using birth control. We were in a committed relationship of about a year, and the dad's actions really surprised me.

My question is this: should I leave the door open for the baby's dad to be part of the baby's life later on? This isn't about my relationship with him - its dead, and I accept that, and have no desire to be reconciled. But I want to be honest with my child later on about his origins.

I wonder if its better to raise a child with no father or to open the door to a man who seems pretty distinterested, and would likely be a pretty inconsistent/distant dad if he ever did become involved.

Your thoughts?

Carolyn Hax: Don't turn the father away if and when he's ready to be a part of the child's life, but don't chase him down and force him to be something he's not. Then your kid gets to see for himself that daddy's uninterested, which is the kind of slap nobody needs, especially not a little person. Better to provide a loving, stable environment with whatever friends and family you know you can count on.

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Salisbury, Md.: Does anyone know how match.com works? I found my boyfriend's profile on the site and when I asked him about it, he said he had filled something out a few years ago with friends but never used the site. My question is can the profile stay online even if the person isn't active or paying? Also does the system automatically update your age with your birthday? I want to believe him becuase we are serious and have talked about marriage, but at the same time I don't want to be a fool.

Carolyn Hax: Call match.com. No sense taking any of our words for it when you can get the facts in 5.

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Please let's have fun: It's a horrible day outside, let's have a good time.

My mother-in-law's dog hates her mechanical Santa, the one that sings "Jingle Bells." The funny thing is the dog barks as if he's singing Jingle Bells when we turn it on. You know, "Woof woof woof! Woof woof woof! Woof woof woof woof woof!" EVERY TIME WE TURN IT ON. It gets even more hilarious after about three gallons of eggnog. I wonder what the dog thinks.

Carolyn Hax: "I did it, now give me some woofing eggnog."


Meaning, time for the annual holiday wretchedness, aptly kicked off by Pops's 2004 Night Before Christmas:


Twas the night before Christmas,
And all through the house
A strong stench pervaded
From a hidden dead mouse.

The stockings got hung
By the chimney with care,
On sale at Wal-mart
$2 a pair.

The children were nestled
All snug in their beds:
Two Sallies, four Donalds
One William, three Freds

When out on the lawn
There arose such a clatter,
I jumped on the bedpan
And emptied my bladder.

Away to the window
I flew like a flash.
Now, flying's not easy—
I just do it for cash.

The moon on the breast
Of the new-fallen snow …
The snow has a breast?
Why no knee, chin or toe?

When what to my wondering
Eyes should appear,
But a guy in a sled.
Oh dear! What a rear!.

The little old driver
Was lively and quick.
When the deer slowed down,
He hit 'em with a brick.

More rapid than eagles,
His coursers they came.
And he whistled and shouted
Like at a ball game:

On Ossama, on Britney!
On Dubya and Kerry!
On JLo, on Howard,
Slick Willy and Mary!

To the top of the porch,
To the top of the wall,
From which one could see
A well-lighted mall.

As dry leaves before
The wild leaf-blower fly,
When they meet with the yard shed
Mount to the sky.

On up to the housetop,
The coursers they flew …
They were reindeer, I thought,
Now coursers? Who knew?

And then in a twinkling,
I heard on the shingles,
Some prancing, some pawing
Like a room full of singles.

As I drew in my head
And was turning about,
Down the flue came a fat guy
With soot in his snout.

He was dressed all in fur
From his head to his toes.
A bright golden ring
Was looped through his nose.

A bundle of toys
He'd just flung on his back,
When he felt a sharp pain
In his sacroiliac.

His eyes how they twinkled,
His dimples how merry—
Three botox injections
Made his nose like a cherry.
His droll little mouth
Was drawn up like a bow.
The prune juice he drank
Tends to do that, you know.

With the stump of a pipe
Upside down in his mouth,
Whenever he burped,
The ashes went south.

He had a broad face
And a very large waist—
No belt would fit round him,
He had to be laced.

He laughed and he laughed,
A right jolly old guy.
What was so funny?
Perhaps he was high

With a wink of his eye
And a twist of his head,
Told me at once
He'd rather be in bed.

He spoke not a word,
But went straight to his work
Just why did he do this?
For no pay and no perq?

He then lay his finger
Aside of his nose.
On the left side for down,
On the right side, he rose.

He sprang to his sleigh,
To his team gave a shout.
With a heave on the harness
The reindeer peeled out.

But I heard him exclaim
As he drove out of sight,
Visa bill due
One week from tonight!


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Fairfax, Va.: Every Christmas my mother-in-law makes this meat stuffing that is completely disgusting. I mean, really, the only one who eats it is the dog. But it's Tradition. Anyway, part of the tradition is that the family waits to see which newbie actually tries it. My first year with the crew, I tried it and everyone died laughing at my facial expression.

Finally, my youngest brother-in-law has a girlfriend he likes well enough to bring to Christmas. The thing is, she's kind of sensitive. I thought it was the world's greatest joke when it was played on me, and so has everyone else through the years, apparently. I don't think she would find it funny, though, and I'm half tempted to warn her. I worry that I'm putting off the inevitable, though -- if she doesn't find the gag hilarious, she's really, really going to have a hard time with this crew.

Am I worrying too much about a fetid meat stuffing in the appetizing shape of a turkey's inner cavity?

Carolyn Hax: Yes. I'm not a big fan of humilating people, but this is pretty mild (and apparently very affectionate) humiliation, so the new girl deserves a chance to become part of the family the old-fashioned way.

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For Salisbury:: If she and her boyfriend are so serious they're talking about marraige, why is she looking for him on dating Web sites? Maybe address that issue first?

Carolyn Hax: Could be a friend of hers found him and tipped her off. But if she was looking, either for dates or to bust him in the act, I agree that issue is first in line. Thanks.

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Wheaton, Md.: Carolyn,

I have a problem. Got married three years ago. My wife grew up in a home that ALWAYS had a real christmas tree. I grew up in a home that only had a fake tree because Mom is ilergic to evergreen trees. You guessed it, Mom is coming to spend Christmas with us and I have to convince the better half to ditch the tree she bought from the local volunteer fire department and suffer through a season with the plastic tree. This is not going over well, she say that it is HER house and she'll decorate it as she wants... no plastic tree! What should I do? Mom will get violently sick if she huffs in some tree smell. I need that fake tree up and pronto.

Tree Troubles

washingtonpost.com: Go Faux?, (Post, Dec. 9)

Carolyn Hax: No, your wife needs to get the spruce chip off her shoulder. Dunno where the origin of/blame for the hostility lies, in her feelings for your mom or on your mom's feelings for her, but once you two agreed to host your mom, your wife took on the usual obligations to be hospitable. Meaning, the allergen goes. (And, if your wife does have a legitimate gripe against your mom, then hereafter the invitation for her to spend the holidays with you goes, too. Not fair to put your wife in that position.)

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In-lawland: Carolyn,
Spending an extended period of time at the in-laws' house this holiday season. In-laws attend church services at least once a week. Said church makes me uncomfortable and weirded-out (it probably isn't that weird, but I come from a non-religious background). Do I have to go along? My husband will likely be guilted into attendance.

Carolyn Hax: If your husband won't be unduly punished by your absence, then pass. And if your husband will be unduly punished by your absence, ask what he'd prefer. Maybe he's a good egg and doesn't want you to fake it just to please his parents.

FWIW--had you said you had a moral objection to attending, I'd back your decision not to go. But if you're feeling accommodating and just aren't sure what/whom to accommodate, the answer is 1. Your integrity and 2. Your husband, in order of priority.

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Commercial or religious?: So Carolyn, do you think that Christmas trees are just a commercial thing -- part of a commercial holiday, or do you think they're a religious thing?

Carolyn Hax: I thought the trees were a pagan thing. Regardless, they're pretty, aren't thay?

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Christmas merries: So my brother came over to help my little boy write his letter to Santa. Here is what it said. My brother took dictation.

Dear Santa,
I want really cool toys, not dumb ones. Please don't send me any dollies. I'm a boy. For my mom, I want a smooth nightgown like the one with the tear in the armpit. She three it away and I miss it. My dad is a guy, so he does not want any dollies either. I think he likes hot wheels.

Remember to dress warm or you'll get the sniffles. I left you some cookies under the couch in the brown bag. I was hiding them from my dad who eats too much.
Love,
Tommy

Carolyn Hax: Maybe I can get Tommy as a guest some week.

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Virginia: You're off-course with your remark about "get off the money" aspect of a father remarrying and writing his children out of his will. Yes, it is his choice to make; yes, it tells the children that he has more reqard for a relative stranger than his own flesh and blood. Your flippant "get over it" hardly addresses the child's issue.

Carolyn Hax: It wasn't flippant, it was a sincere representation of my thoughts on that subject. You're welcome to deplore them.

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Carolyn Hax: Oh dear. I am up to my advisory gills in holiday, and NONE of it cheerful. What does this say.

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It says...: ...that the Reindeer Poop Hath Hit The Fan.

Carolyn Hax: No kidding. I think I'm going to surrender to the holiday downers, and try again next week for the uppers. I have to change the time anyway, so maybe later in the afternoon you'll feel more festive.

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Cannabis smoking guest: Husband and I hosted Thanksgiving. After everyone had left, I went into my upstairs bathroom and there was a VERY strong smell of pot. We had 23 relatives from both sides of the family. I'm also hosting Christmas (yes, I know it's insane but i'm just TIRED of all the running around visiting on holidays). Should I mention something about this? Maybe do a group e-mail saying "you're invited but please leave your hash at home?" I have absolutely no idea who was smoking.

Carolyn Hax: Okay, I'm re-inspired.

Do not mention anything! Let Christmas tell you who was smoking. And if you happen to walk by the bathroom and notice 23 people moseying out, maybe you should put out a few bowls of chips.

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North Pole: But Carolyn,
It's my job to spread Christmas cheer. You're the one who's paid to deal with everyone's holiday misery!;

Carolyn Hax: Please tell that to these guys (okay, Liz, thanks!):

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washingtonpost.com: Gus


Twins Carolyn Hax: There.

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Berkeley Calif.: Dear Carolyn,

Happy Christmas story here!

I just got off the phone with my mom in anycity, Ohio, who told me the annual Christmas tradition has arrived. My father has a co-worker who has been like an uncle to my brother and I for the last 30 years or so. Every year he sends my mother a poinsetta for Christmas. They get bigger and bigger and bigger... and my mother counts the days until January 1 when she can put it on the curb because the thing takes over the living room. This year is of particular note because the plant is so big that it couldn't fit through the front door -- it's apparently 44 inches across from petal to petal. and every year we laugh about the plant, and ask why she can't suggest to the poor old guy that he buy a pretty centerpiece instead of this ridiculous, little shop of horrors monstrosity.

Merry Christmas! Family jokes are the best!

Carolyn Hax: My mother's boss used to bring her a poinsettia every year, and one year he arrived at our house to deliver it when we were in the middle of a massive salad fight.

I think it was salad. Could have been water or spaghetti. But something was airborne, for sure.

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For Pops: Bonus points for rhyming sacroiliac this year.

Carolyn Hax: One of the joys of getting older, I think. Will pass your compliments along.

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Anchorage, Alaska: Hi Carolyn,

It's not dog food stuffing, but my family has a tradition of giving the newest (adult) additions to the family a hideous gift just to see the look on their face when they open it and have to say thank you. We nearly wet our pants the year my new sis-in-law got the gilded ceramic statue of a monkey dressed like Mozart (wig included) riding on the back of another monkey (with saddle). Priceless.

Favorite childhood memory: our parents had a rule that no kids could leave their bedrooms to see what Santa brought before 6:30 a.m., so every year we sent someone to the bathroom with a Polariod camera. The scout would go to the bathroom, flush the toilet, and take a quick photo of the living room on the way back. Then all of us kids would huddle over the photo as it developed, trying to see what Santa had brought.

Carolyn Hax: A parent's worst fear, children with organization skills.

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Weird Family: My father is really into Christmas. REALLY into Christmas. Despite the fact that my youngest sister has been legally able to drink for a few years now, my Dad still insists upon dressing up like Santa Claus and waking us up on Christmas morning (when any of us "kids" are even there). And we have to act excited about Santa and pretend like we don't know it's my Dad, or he gets really miffed and will pout all day long.

This year, I'm bringing my boyfriend home to meet my parents for the first time, and I'm not sure how to explain this strange ritual to him. His family didn't really "do" Christmas, he says he even spent the night at friend's houses on Christmas eve. Should I just wait until the last minute when I hear my Dad going "Ho, Ho, Ho" and whisper "My dad thinks he's Santa Claus. Play along with it and don't ask any questions?"

Carolyn Hax: Why warn him of anything? Except to wear pajamas.

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Vienna, Va.: Is it bad that I still participate in the annual change-into-your-new-PJs race on Christmas Eve with my siblings at my parents house even though I am now 25?

P.S. - I think I may actually win this year!

Carolyn Hax: I think if you win for the first time at 25, they should make you pee in a cup.

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It was me. In the bathroom. I also ate 14 brownies.: And I'll do it again at Christmas. Could you make the brownies with peanut butter chips though?

Carolyn Hax: I'll put your request in, but it's up to the management.

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Mistletoe etiquette: What do you do if you end up with someone particularly scuzzy under the mistletoe? Do you have to kiss them?

Carolyn Hax: I think you say, "I hear there's weed in the upstairs bathroom!" and run the other way. Unless the scuzzer in question's your boss.

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Fun Holiday Story, Washington, D.C.: We spent last year at my now future in-laws house (they were just my boyfriend's parents then).

His mom bought those holiday cracker things that you pull open, they pop and little toys fall out. Well all of ours contained a tissue paper crown. Once we figured out what is was, we all put them on in unison and ate christmas dinner wearing them. A group of adults, his grandma and even the dog spent the rest of the day wearing what we call Christmas crowns. There is now a bet on who will get to buy the crackers this year.

I am looking forward to more holiday traditions with them!

Carolyn Hax: Wow, good family and good dog. You are a lucky girl.

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Undisclosed location: If the pot-smokers were at my house and the wrong people found out about it, I would be fired and NEVER get another job in my field again. It really isn't all that funny.
P.S. the will thing... Would you do that to YOUR kids?

Carolyn Hax: No, I suppose it isn't, not when you look at it that way.


And no, of course I wouldn't do that to my kids. But I have control over that. I don't have control over what people do to me, other than to make peace with it as I can. Carrying around hate is awful, worse even than being snubbed by one's father.

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Assigned Xmas Seating: Salad fights? PJ races? Pot smoking? Boy, everyone else has much more exciting holidays than me.

I'm just known in the house for insisting that every family member sit in the same position around the tree on Christmas morning (to open presents) that s/he has sat in for the last 30+ years. Anyone who wants to change the seating arrangement must clear it with me first, and my word is final. (Only one change has ever been made --for a health reason). Is that so wrong?

Carolyn Hax: Of course not. You are very normal, yes sir. Normal as can be.

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Not Working, Washington, D.C.: When I spin around in my chair I get dizzy and see lights kind of like a Christmas tree. Is this a good use of company time?

Carolyn Hax: Only if it's billable.

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Pot smokers: Oh come now, I have a security clearance and we aren't responsible for what our crazy family does. If somebody did that at my house, I probably wouldn't like it but I'd have a sense of humor. I'd probably jokingly ask at the table if my house was so bad people needed to be transported to alternate realities.

Carolyn Hax: "if my house was so bad people needed to be transported to alternate realities." My new favorite hosting concern.

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Dear Undisclosed: Get a new job. New field. Something more soothing.

Carolyn Hax: Undisclosed, you have people who love you and are worried about you.

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Be glad it was just pot: We caught a family member looking at porn last Christmas.

washingtonpost.com: Oh, please tell us more...

Carolyn Hax: Oh please don't. But this person is welcome to:

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Del Ray: Pot Smokers:
Oh, c'mon. You would not lose your job if it was discovered that, unbeknownst to you, a guest smoked a little pot on Thnaksgiving. Big Deal!; Who cares? Relax. It's a hell of a lot better that having a guest drink too much wine!; And this is coming from a guy who has smoked more than a little pot. And, I've done it at my father's house. And, you all (in DC) would recognize my father's name.

Carolyn Hax: I don't think we would. Tell us and we'll see.

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Do twins..: Run in your family? And what else do you have in common with Julia Roberts?

Carolyn Hax: Age, I think. And paycheck size.

Ha ha. Kidding.

She's a year younger.

Oh, and my guys are identical, which occur randomly and don't run in families, far as I know.

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Washington, D.C.: That serious job guy is totally killing my buzz.

Carolyn Hax: It's okay. Have a brownie.

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Anxious for Christmas Morning: My parents still make us go to bed by 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve so "Santa" can put out the presents. (We're all over 25.)

And... is it bad that I still get up at 5 a.m. to enjoy the tree by myself before I'm allowed to wake anyone else up at 7?

Carolyn Hax: Bad, how? Or I guess I should say, enjoy how?

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Christmas memories...: My favorite: In 1981 my older sister and I came downstairs to a load of presents under the tree, but she picked up just one -- Olivia Newton-John's album "Physical" -- held it to her scrawny chest, sighed, and said "We are the luckiest children in the world." I had to agree with her.

Carolyn Hax: So did Olivia, since I believe it was the only copy sold.

Or was that Xanadu.

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Christmas traditions: The annual holiday fight between my parents because my mother's Martha Stewart instincts are acting up; my father locking himself in the den to wrap his presents on December 24th - AFTER dinner; the dog getting into some chocolate or other candy that a kid (probably me) has left on the floor; my sister saying goofy things in a goofy accent; and, in a wine-filled haze, me crying because I love my family so much and I wouldn't want to change one wacky part of it.

Carolyn Hax: I'm just trying to process that wrapping gifts on Christmas Eve AFTER dinner is wacky.

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Office Land: There's a holiday party in our office today and I'm upstairs hiding in my office. The door is even closed and I feel like I'm hiding like a three-year-old from Grandma when she has onion breath. I just have nothing in common with these people. They smell funny and look at me weird. I think one year they just need to bring in the kegs and set up some beer pong.

Carolyn Hax: They smell funny, but you are hiding from a party. I'm jus' sayin.

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Dear Undisclosed: How does your employer feel about your being on Hax chat this lovely afternoon?

Carolyn Hax: Good point. Surely that's worse than a bloodshot relative or two.

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Celebrating Solstice: Dear Carolyn, wanted you to know that overcoming Christmas angst, families that suck CAN be done. After years of being the family Christmas scape-reindeer -- I was always the reason we weren't happy at Christmas -- I finally decided not to drive the 5+ hours each way and took off to the beach in Mexico on my own, took a lover and celebrated the solstice. It was cowardly in that I escaped, but I couldn't face the guilt and the disappointment any more than I could face the anxiety attack I was sure to get.

Fast forward to this year, and I'm not going home for Christmas again, but this time I have courage to talk about it, and wish them well, and not feel guilty about what they lay on me. Growth.

It can be done!

Carolyn Hax: As, apparently, can taking a lover and jetting to the beach to celebrate the solstice. So this whole Christmas with family in freezing climate is voluntary. Huh.

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Columbia, S.C.: Personally I'm allergic to pot smoke -- at the smell of it, my last meal makes a reoccurance. Fortunately, I don't know anybody I'd invite to my house who would smoke it inside said house.

Here's one for all of you. My girlfriend's birthday is Dec. 24, and my mother's is Dec. 25. What's a 20-something to do?

Carolyn Hax: I don't know. You killed my only idea.

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Bring on the eggnog: There are two guys here today, both playing Christmas music loudly. I love Christmas music, but MINE and not two songs at once. Now someone has started to whistle.

Time to go pick up the booze for tomorrow's party.

Carolyn Hax: No! You have a moral obligation to stay right there and sing "Dredel, Dredel."

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Carolyn Hax: Okay, I have to go now--believe it or not, this has been the least insane part of my day. Thank you all for playing--I think the slow start had inspirational effect on you all--and I'd particularly like to thank the poster who added Christmas Pot to the list of things I'll have to explain to someone next July.

Happy weekend, and type to you (sometime) next Friday.


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Spelling, sigh: It's dreidel, dreidel. Should I be insulted?

Carolyn Hax: Right, I knew it looked funny. Thanks.

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