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Carolyn Hax Live: Cheap or Thrifty?

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Carolyn Hax
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 20, 2007; 12:00 PM

Special Day! Thursday at Noon!

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 day in The Washington Post Style section and in the Sunday Source, Carolyn Hax offers readers advice based on the experiences of someone who's been there. Hax is an ex-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.

Carolyn's Recent Columns


Fairfax, Va.: Carolyn, maybe this belongs with Liz Kelly, but I have a 13-year-old daughter who is a huge fan of "Zoey 101." How do I approach the fact that the star of this show has become pregnant in real life? Do I just ignore it or do I use it as a "teachable moment." And if I do, what lesson should I try to teach? Sorry, my expertise is derision, not constructive real world advice.

Carolyn Hax: Or derision masked as constructed as real-world advice.

I don't think you can ignore it. I also don't think you're giving yourself (or your daughter) enough credit when you ask what lesson to teach. You know what you know, you know what you believe--and your daughter is already well on her way both to knowing these things about you herself, and forming her own distinct opinions. She is, after all, within a year or two of the age that girls, in the not-too-distant past, customarily became mothers.

Was that a good thing then? Well, customs have certainly changed, and there are reasons for that--life expectancy is longer, childhood is longer, modern life is less challenging physically (which makes a youthful mother less of an evolutionary asset) and far more challenging logistically and economically (which makes an educated and mature mother more of an evolutionary asset). You have a lot to go on here that makes sense without sounding shrill or preachy.

Or you can just say, when you're that rich, you have a bigger stupidity buffer, but not an endless one. She'll probably get that, too.


Anonymous: What's so special about Thursday?

Carolyn Hax: It rhymes with "ursday."

Nothing. I just figure the later in the week we get, the more of you are going to bug out.


Kansas City, Mo.: What causes a husband to constantly fuss about how much something costs? For example, he buys airline tickets online. He told our daughter that he was going to save $300.00 by having her get up early to catch a 6:30 a.m. departure with a plane change midway rather than let her come non-stop, leaving at 10:00 a.m. He asked me what I would like for Christmas, and when I said, "How about a black scarf to go with my red coat?" he said, "Scarves are kind of expensive, aren't they?" He has built up a large amount of savings. I don't like the feeling of unworthiness that his frugality brings on me. Although she brushes it off, I imagine that our daughter feels the same way.

Carolyn Hax: Is this sudden, or how he always has been? I'm assuming the latter but it would make such a difference that I feel I have to ask.


Columbia, Md.: I was at a very casual dining place last night with friends and while in the middle of a sentence out popped a burp, I said "excuse me" very quickly then finished my sentence not wanting to draw too much attention to it, but all evening I felt bad thinking I should have done more to show how sorry I was. What is the right thing to do? Thank you.

Carolyn Hax: It was the right thing to do. For what it's worth, it also would have been right had you been at formal dining place. Unless it was one with a penalty box, in which case you would have had to sit in it for two minutes.


Holiday Blahsville, Md.: Hi Carolyn,

I've got a really bad case of the holiday blahs that are rapidly becoming the holiday dreads. My dad died 11 years ago, and my mom nearly three years ago (both in January, which tends to overshadow the holiday season, as much as I try not to let it). We go to visit his family for the holidays, and their celebration is a lot different than my family's was. I'm having a hard time not feeling overwhelming sorry for myself: I find myself really missing the holidays that I used to have, and it's making it hard for me to appreciate the holidays that I have now. I know that three years is not a long time at all, but it seems as though it should be easier to find some joy in the holidays by now, and it seems harder than ever. Any ideas on how I can adjust my attitude or expectations?

Carolyn Hax: I'm sorry. On the theory that doing something always makes sad people feel better than watching something: Have you thought about ways you can create new traditions that mean something to you? Unfortunately I can't go much further than this with my suggestion, because its success or failure hinges one one thing, and that's your personal connection to what you decide to do. It has to be something that makes you feel good enough for you to look forward to it next year. A natural vein for this is a charitable one, though it really could be anything--anything from a volunteer mini-mission to bringing X to your in-law's gathering to an exotic and self-indulgent trip. Bonus points if you can incorporate a happy family memory or value into it.

I wish I could do more.


Redirect Kansas City poster: the chat by Michelle Singletary that is currently ongoing. There is nothing wrong with the husband, rather there is something wrong with the wife who is opposed to savings. I would gladly get up a little early to save $300. My wife and I also question each others purchases to make sure we are getting good deals.

Carolyn Hax: No no no, it is hardly so simple--especially since the wife is feeling devalued for the amount of value the husband places on the dollar. Just to use the flight example that you dismiss: Catching a 6:30 flight would mean getting up at, what 3? 4 a.m.? And for some people that could ruin at least the first and possibly the second day of the trip. Factor in how much that trip is costing (in other words, how much that frugality-driven fatigue would waste) and the extra $300 might actually be the better value.

Single mindedness on any issue at the expense of a reasonable bigger picture is a problem. If their savings account balances are healthy, why can't she have a damn scarf? Money matters, but so does quality of life.


Anonymous: Hi Carolyn,

Maybe you don't know a definitive answer to my problem, and maybe some of the readers can chime in with how they cope. I have a job that I am poorly suited for -- customer service. I have tried repeatedly to find a new job, and am letting the job search wait for a few weeks because I'm sick of the process. There are many days when I just can't cope, don't WANT to cope and just am a horrible person to work with. I know I have to put on the happy face to keep the job -- it's not like a bad relationship where I can just bail out -- I have trimmed my expenses about as far as I want to, and need the halfway decent salary I am earning. How do I "buck up" when I just want to say "buck off"?

Carolyn Hax: Have you tried reversing your thinking? Two ideas: 1. You are yourself a regular consumer of customer service, merely as a human being and especially as someone in the throes of a job hunt. You know from experience that you are going to run across people like you doing that customer service job. What would you ask of them? Can that be a way to stay focused while you look for another job?

2. Some people are a natural at customer service. For some people, their idea of hell is to get customer service from someone who's a natural at customer service. (Big smile!) Isn't there a way you can approach it that makes at least something of your outsider bent?

BTW, it sounds like taking a few weeks off was a good idea. Stop, breathe, think.


For Blahsville: Is your relationship with your in-laws such that you could try to incorporate some of your families practices for the holiday? Can your husband talk to them about this if you can't?

Carolyn Hax: Thanks.


Minneapolis, Minn.: Is it stupid to date a cheater? I was the "other woman," though I broke it off when I found out. Now he's divorcing and going through counseling and trying to figure out why he has done what he's done. Meanwhile, he tells me he hopes to prove to me some day how much he loves me and the kind of man he can be.

Tell me I'm dumb for not hanging up on him. I really believe he's trying, but I don't expect him to change. I'm not even sure I love him anymore, but there is a part of me that hesitates.

Carolyn Hax: I really choked on the, "he hopes to prove to me some day how much he loves me and the kind of man he can be." That says he hasn't yet figured out that he needs to prove it only to himself, and not drag you into it.

And since while I was gagging on that I ran across your admission that you're not even sure of your feelings, it looks like you need to tell your hesitation center to get a hold of itself. Walk away.


Kansas City, Mo.: Re: husband's frugality -- he has been this way for the 36 years I have known him.

Carolyn Hax: Figured as much. Thanks.

First, 36 years are telling you it's time to detach your sense of self worth from the excessive value he places on pennies. His priorities annoy you, they're bad for your scarf collection, but they're not about -you.-

What they say about him is something you need to connect from the context. You have all the dots you need. Is he insecure, was his childhood unstable, is he socially or emotionally stunted? All three could motivate someone to focus more on money than on feelings; money is simple, it's tangible, it's a buffer against scary things, it conveys power. You need to look at the bigger picture.

And, again, you need to look at his "What do you want for Christmas?" as a loaded question, because he has spent 36 years teaching you that it will be.

What you do with this information, of course, is up to you, and a lot more complicated. But the first steps have to be simplifying your expectations and then seeing him for who he is.


Holiday cheer: I had a Poinsettia on my dining room table for two weeks and watered it twice before I realized it was FAKE!

Carolyn Hax: Thanks for being here for us.


Big or small?: Not sure if this is the best place to pose this question, but... should I get my girlfriend a bunch of small gifts or a pair of diamond stud earrings (which would use up the gift budget)?

Carolyn Hax: Would she really want diamond stud earrings?

If yes, go with those, and if you're just guessing, then neither the bazooka nor the buckshot will work.


Washington, D.C.: My husband has always had complicated relationship with his mother. He maintains she was and is an unsupportive, hypercritical parent, and in truth I have never heard her say anything nice to or about him. Earlier this year he decided he was done with her, because trying to maintain a relationship with her was just making him feel bad about himself (who wants to be reminded that his mother doesn't love him?). Although she is generally pleasant enough to me, I only ever talked to her because he did, but now he doesn't so I don't either. She has not made any real effort to reconnect or find out why we suddenly cut her off. This is all mostly okay with me, except we have kids, one of whom is old enough to wonder why we never see Gramma anymore and the other of whom was born since we quit talking to her. Should I send my MIL a card with a photo of the kids? Should I just leave it alone?

Carolyn Hax: Leave it alone. The more failed contact your kids have with their grandmother, the bigger an issue it will be. If instead she's just absent, the kids won't even ask about her much, and you'll be able to get away with "she's really really far away now" until they're old enough to process more and more of the truth. Just make sure that all of the truth you reveal includes the fact that she would still visit the kids if she could, since that's apparently true. You want to make sure they don't think they're to blame.


Washington, D.C.: How do you know when it's depression or when it's just exhaustion from lack of sleep? I'm tired all the time, have feelings of worthlessness and can't concentrate or make decisions. Those, with my other symptoms, cause the online screening tools to come back as showing signs of moderately severe depression. However, I'm a working mom of a 10 month old son, so I get about 5 1/2 hours of sleep a night minus however much time he's up in the middle of the night. I'm not seriously in danger of hurting myself, so no need to answer this today, but I would like to get your thoughts on how I can judge whether this is serious or just a situation in need of more sleep. And if it's more sleep, how the heck do I do that? (With just one baby, I truly stand in awe of you mothers of multiples!)


Carolyn Hax: Are you a single mom, or do you live with the father? How many hours a week do you work?


Fairfax, Va.: How important is an instant physical connection? I went on a first date with a guy last week, and I had a really fun time. However, there wasn't this instantaneous physical attraction on my part. I know having gone on only one date that's not much data to work with. Can physical attraction develop over time or is it a situation of either it's there or it's not?

Carolyn Hax: Oh, good, I was afraid I was beating this answer to death.

Instantaneous physical attraction can't be trusted. It is not a reliable predictor of anything except that you will be physically attracted for at least a day.

Having a really fun time with someone, on the other hand, somewhat reliably predicts that you will enjoy this person's company again. So, try another date. If you have fun again, and again, etc., you'll at least have found good companionship. And while it may be hard to navigate this into a just-friendship if the attraction never comes (sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't), it's an effort worth making for the company of someone you enjoy.


Short-timer: I see Liz is scheduled for a 2 pm chat --- I guess that means you won't be spending a multi-hour day with us today? Not so!

Carolyn Hax: Liz will be leaving, but you're stuck with me.


Diamond Studs: In some circles, conventional wisdom is that a man only gives diamond earrings if he's planning to give a ring later to match them.

Granted, conventional wisdom makes a lot of people gag, but if the girlfriend is fairly traditional, he should be aware of that.

Carolyn Hax: Duly noted and gagged upon, thanks.


Washington, D.C.: My boyfriend is still recovering from a very nasty and expensive divorce; my suggestion in light of this situation was to not exchange Christmas presents and let him focus on his grandchildren. He said no way and we set a limit -- $25.00. I agreed and have bought him a nice present while keeping to my promise of not going over the limit. Him -- I have heard nothing but him whining about him not being able to find anything and how he really is at a loss, and how hard this is, and blah, blah, blah, blah. I say, shut up already and just forget it. I swear, and I've told him this, him not having money not now doesn't bother me, it's his complaining and whining and how he is generally handling this. I know his ego is bruised because he hasn't always been in this financial condition, but it's really started to annoy me and take away my christmas spirit. I'm just dreading the moment I have to open this stupid present knowing how much torture this was for him. What do I do?

Carolyn Hax: You knew you just KNEW I was going to ask this, right?

Why, if he's still recovering from a very nasty and expensive divorce, is he in another relationship? It's the $25 question.

And if you're not up to the bigger issue, then keep your mind open. Maybe the gift will surprise you somehow, which has to be better than what your current attitude will reap. Also, from now on, whenever he whines, bust out in Christmas carols. What the hell.


Working Mom again: I'm married -- and my husband really does do his share at home (all the dishes, majority of the cooking, half of child care). I'm at the office 45 hours a week and commute three hours a day. Am I just a tired victim of bad time management?

Carolyn Hax: Yes. That, and a too-long commute. Not to get on my soapbox, but the increasing pain threshold for commuting time is a real cancer.

Anyway, one child, one regular full-time job, half a set of household chores and I really think you still have room for a regular, decent bedtime. Start chucking out extraneous things. A lot of housework is optional, if you really force yourself to think that way, and what is essential can be restructured so you dispense with it more efficiently on the weekends.

And, you and your husdand need to alternate nights when you get up with the baby.

And, you and your husband need to talk to your pediatrician about getting your baby to sleep better. At 10 months, there are things you can do.

And you probably should consider a PPD screening, since it could be affecting your mood, your waking productivity (which would get you to bed later) , and the quality of your sleep.


Gifts for babies: We don't have kids, but are buying gifts for lots of toddler nieces and nephews, who already have lots of stuff. What are some useful, non-toy gift ideas? We've been sticking to socks and books.

Carolyn Hax: Experiences--tickets to puppet shows or concerts, memberships in local children's museums or zoos; books are good but so are educational videos, if the parents aren't opposed; if you're local, you can give your time by taking them places. That doesn't give them much to open, unless they'd appreciate a card (which a lot of kids do), but most kids have way way too much to open. A 2, 3, 4-year-old can be happy with one or two fun things, and that almost never is allowed to happen. (Telltale sound of a soapbox scraping the floor again.)


Rules of Engagement: Re: "Conventional wisdom is that a man only gives diamond earrings if he's planning to give a ring later to match them." Where do these rules come from? Would someone please compile them in an readily available book? I'm a 48-year-old married male and I guess I'm just completely ignorant of this supposedly "conventional" wisdom.

Carolyn Hax: I'd never heard that, either. Maybe you and I should co-write the book.


Diamond Studs: Rule No. 1: Be sure you first know whether or not she has pierced ears. (I do not ... yet in my lifetime three different men have seen fit to gift me with earrings ... duh!)

Carolyn Hax: They also water their plastic Poinsettias.


New Graduateville: I finally graduated from college! Yay! My life is pretty fabulous right now (great apartment, great job, lots of friends in the area), but because I'm one of those people who get freaked out about any change ever, I'm still pretty apprehensive about starting life as a responsible adult. What do you wish you'd known about life when you were a new grad?

Carolyn Hax: I think I would have saved myself years of anguish and suffering had I only known that jdmDM kndvlNB KDNlKNB


Carolyn Hax: Snort.

Don't trash other people, don't trash yourself, don't trash your credit. How's that.

You can obey all these carefully and still go through hell, but hellish times are unavoidable and I would argue necessary. Essential. Priceless gems. All you can do is try to minimize the recovery time you'll need, and that's what these things can do for you. Good luck.


Inappropriate Gift: My male coworker gave me a $100 gift card for Christmas. I'm not really even friends with him. He has given gift cards of inappropriate amounts before. I suspect he may be trying to buy me and wants a date, or more. I told him the gift card was too much and I wasn't comfortable accepting it. He won't take it back. I want to discourage his gift giving in the future. What should I do?

Carolyn Hax: Donate it to a charity that's important to you (and if it's a retail card, that's also appropriate for gift), get a receipt and include the receipt in a note to him saying you donated the gift, and here's the receipt for your taxes.


Alexandria, Va.: My wife and I both want vacations this coming year but she wants the kind with lots of touring and I want the kind with lost of beach time. We've compromised in the past but are considering taking separate vacations because time is so precious and we both need some down time in a manner that best works for each of us. Do spouses taking separate vacations alarm you?

Carolyn Hax: No. Does it alarm you? As long as you're happy to see each other when you get home, it sounds like a plan. A lot of couples vacation separately.


Re: Gifts for Babies: My nephew isn't a baby, just turned 3, but instead of getting yet another toy that will collect dust, I made him a CD of bedtime tunes. Granted, his parents have been putting him to sleep for the last 3 years to Celine Dion "Miracles" (barf). So I had to do something to save the child. I also wrote him a letter in hopes he will read it years down the line when he actually can read and get a good laugh out of it.

Carolyn Hax: Great, great idea. We're heavily into the Charlie Brown Christmas CD for bedtime, for those who don't have time to make their own.


More kids?: Carolyn, how do couples figure out if they should have more kids? We have one right now, and are going back and forth between having more and staying with just one. Practically speaking, we probably should stick with one, but our hearts lean towards having more.

Carolyn Hax: What's the practical hurdle? Some are big enough to warrant overruling your heart--e.g., one of you is sick, or you're barely able to feed and clothe the child you have--but few are. Kids can deal with a small house.


Redmond, Wash.: Carolyn, re: Minneapolis, geez, I thought you were a bit harsh. If the guy is in therapy he's making the right move to try and figure stuff out. Why not assume that he is figuring it out for himself and wants to share his optimism and new insights with a woman he knows he wronged and wants to make it right with?

Carolyn Hax: Because a great way to make it up to someone you wronged is to get out of her life and get your ---- together. That's why. If there's something still between them, he can find her when he's well.

Certainly some people can have a greater interest in a romance than self-interest, but this is a guy whose hot pursuit of self-interest went careening off the road and took a few people with it. I am sympathetic to people who make an effort to get well, always. But when other poeple need to know whether that person is succeeding, they need to look for signs of health. In this guy, a sign of health would be selflessness. I didn't see it--I saw someone who was still going for what -he- wanted. I just called it as I saw it.


For Holiday Blahville...: My husband unfortunately can relate all too well, having lost both parents within a year of one another eight years ago. The holidays are the most difficult time of year for him. We have tried to incorporate his parents' favorite carols into my family celebration, and include the ornaments that his mom made. These are little ways of keeping his parents' memory alive and help him to get through it. Don't beat yourself up for not being "over it" in three years. The joy will creep back in. You have my sympathies. Hang in there.

Carolyn Hax: Thanks.


Re: My husband has always had complicated relationship with his mother: I grew up knowing that my mom did not get along with her dad. It really wasn't a big deal not seeing my grandfather. She and my father even told me a few stories to help me understand why this was. Of course, I didn't learn the real juicy ones until I was much older! I think it would have been uncomfortable for me if I hadn't known the reason.

Carolyn Hax: Another good one, thanks.


McLean, Va.: This has probably been discussed before, but... what, if anything, do you say to a friend who has a boyfriend who's just awful? I and everyone I know who's met him dislikes him intensely. He has no redeeming qualities that I can see. I've never even known him to be even somewhat pleasant. I've lost track of the number of people he insulted at my wedding.

I kept thinking she would come to her senses and break up with him; instead, she moved in with him.

So far, I've dealt with this by making plans to see her without him. But she's changed since she's been with him, and not for the better. I feel like he's slowly crushing her spirit and it's painful to watch.

Carolyn Hax: You point out the way she has changed, without pointing to the boyfriend. You accuse him, she'll defend him. The boyfriend will inevitably come up--if nothing else, you're going to need to establish the timing of his arrival on the scene and her subsequent descent--but you need to stick to the fact of her, even if you have to say, "I'm not saying [Boyfriend] is a bad guy, since I don't know what goes on between you, but I do see the overall effect this combination is having."

I can almost guarantee this isn't going to work. You're doing this not to get her away from him immediately, but instead to plant a seed in her mind that her unhappiness is visible; to establish that you care about her; to demonstrate that she can talk to you without worrying that you'll trash the boyfriend. Basically, you're letting her know she has a place to go.

Then, you need to 1. back off on that subject but 2. stay in touch.


No more, drunks: Dear Carolyn,

Submitting early because I'm not sure if I will bother showing up to work by the end of the week.

I've recently been doing a little self-evaluation and started thinking that lot of the people in my life are high functioning alcoholics, starting with my grandparents to my parents and now to many of my friends. How can you tell if someone has an issue with alcohol or if they have a healthy understanding and just enjoy a drink or 2? Every one of them is successful in their careers, seems to be happy with family and friends. I met most of the people in my life through drinking (at least non family members) while drinking so it would seem natural that they would enjoy a drink. Since I have severely cut back on drinking in my own life (I have issues with drinking as well) I still see my friends at parties and get together for dinner but I avoid most of the regular weekend drunkfests. I'm hoping I will start making friends with out this problem or is it possible I will continue to seek out this pattern even if I'm not meeting people in a drinking atmosphere?

Carolyn Hax: Have you talked to a pro about this? I mean one specifically who treats alcoholism. There is so much research and experience behind this subject that I think it would provide really valuable context--which seems to be exactly what you're looking for. Just a little disinterested perspective on what's "normal" and what isn't.


Re: My husband has always had complicated relationship with his mother: Can I add one other point to that? They never came out and said "your grandfather is horrible." It was all just very matter of fact stuff.

Carolyn Hax: Really important, thanks.


Philadelphia: One of my friends who I grew up with is substantially better off financially than I am. She is young, unattached and thus has a surplus of funds. She is really benevolent and donates a good amount to charity as well as volunteering, and frequently talks about it. I think because we grew up together she never really realized that my family was never as well off as hers and treats me like we are, or at least should be in similar places financially.

Sometimes this comes across as her thinking I should have pursued more lucrative work with my privileged background so that I could have income to donate. As it stands I am comfortable with where I am but am not yet in a position to make substantial charitable contributions. I hope to be one day, but how do I help her understand that we are not in the same place even though on the surface we had similar upbringings?

Carolyn Hax: Could it be that she talks about how much she gives in an effort to show that she doesn't take her good fortune for granted?

Maybe you're bringing more to your conclusion than I can see--things like tone and body language can speak volumes--but just from the facts you provide I can take away more than one interpretation.


More kids?: It's me again. The practical hurdles: I don't think I would be a very good mom if I had more kids. I didn't adjust very well to motherhood the first time around, think I had a touch of PPD, have a hard time dealing with change and unpredictability, and have some childhood issues that I'm dealing with right now. My baby is more than a year old now, and things are great now, but I'm worried mostly about the early months. As for the other stuff -- time, finances, etc. -- like you said, they can be overcome.

Carolyn Hax: Great, thanks, that makes a huge difference. Do you think you would overcome your resistance to change after a while, that's no. 1.--and 2. are there practical ways you can work around it, now that you know it's coming? For example, lining up extra help for the first 6 months, even the first year, could go a long way toward stabilizing you during the adjustment time. If you can't afford it, then start saving for it now with the hope/plan of trying for another child a few years from now, which would also be, conveniently, after you've had more time to deal with the childhood issues.

BTW, I'm not offering this to nudge you toward another kid; the best answer may well be that you have only one child. I'm just throwing out possible practical solutions.

If this isn't in fact practical--if, for example, he wants another baby and you don't, and you're just trying to rally--then you need to get out of the practical and clear up the emotional stuff first.


$25 question: We are together because I knew him for years before he became divorced, because he was my friend, and because we just couldn't help ourselves -- we're disgusting, I know; and trust me, the thought has crossed my mind -- more times that I can tell you -- that we should have waited.

Carolyn Hax: That's not disgusting, unless you mean, like, shmoopie disgusting.

Since you went into this with your eyes wide open, you need to do the same with the little stuff like the gift whining. Perch yourself somewhere above the tumult, let him know you'd be happy with a Happy Meal if you knew he had fun buying it, and just roll with it. He's going through a lot, which, again, you knew about and knowingly took on. The more you react to each little seismic squiggle, the less I like your chances.

Guy, if you're reading this, an under $25 gift list:

1. Good chocolate
2. Champagne (for snobs, a split)
3. Some token that reflects a hobby or interest
4. Mini album with meaningful photos
5. CDs of favorite songs


Carolyn Hax: I'm still here--just reading Qs. A lot piled up on threads I don't want to continue ...


The City of Dreaming Spires, U.K.: Carolyn,

I submitted a question about my situation a couple of weeks ago (which you didn't take at the time) - will you mind if I submit another one now? I wanted to ask you how you would go about a situation when you've declared your interest in someone (via a somewhat overwrought letter) and the recipient of the letter has said or done nothing in response. Is there any way to understand the situation other than that your attempt - an attempt which, in retrospect, I realise was poorly thought out - has failed?

Carolyn Hax: You mean, was the letter possibly lost, or something like that?

Have you seen the person since?

If I had taken your question, I could have stopped the overwrought letter?


Cleveland Park: My ex boyfriend called to tell me he's met someone new. He sounds really happy, and excited. Glad for him, until he said that she's a lot like me. That is really jarring. He said I'm the first person he wanted to tell. More jarring.

Is this really weird, or is it just me? What do I say to him when he calls again?

Carolyn Hax: "Did going out with me work out better the second time?"

Your story will get really funny in a few years, I swear.


Praise the Lord and Pass the Eggnog: This year without any type of preamble my mother has suddenly accepted that you don't have to celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve for it to "count." After years of screaming, crying and general bad behavior about the injustices of celebrating on Christmas Day she's suddenly fine with it all. This has been so traumatic for so long I scarcely know what to do. Either this is a ruse to just throw a bigger fit later on or a sign of the apocalypse. I don't know but for the moment I'm living large and wearing cute shoes.

Carolyn Hax: I was struggling to find a question that wouldn't start an end-of-session melee, and I came across this, the perfect goodbye.

So, goodbye, thank you, have a great holiday, everyone--I'll be back (and back to Fridays) after New Year's.


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