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Tell Me About It
Hosted by Carolyn Hax
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, Dec. 10, 2001; 2 p.m. EST

Carolyn will take 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 Friday and Sunday in The Washington Post Style section, 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.

The transcript follows.

Editor's Note: 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.


To read the most recent responses, click "Get New Responses"
or select "Automatically Update Page."

Carolyn Hax: Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the howse
No creatures were stirring
Not even the cows.

The stockings were hung
By the chimney with care
Secured by some hairpins
From Aunt Martha’s hair.

The children were nestled
All snug and secure
I think there were seven
But who can be sure.

A Night Before Christmas this bad can only mean one thing ... stupid holiday special! Send me your poorly conceived, your absurd, your huddled madness.

The opener is the beginning of Pops’s –2001- rendering of TNBC, which was strictly embargoed until he said, “Here, use this year’s.”

As I don't think anyone has ever said in my house, at Christmastime or otherwise, bring it on ...

Hopeless Grinch: Carolyn --

Married life is making me increasingly resentful of the Christmas season. The problem in my life is my wife's ridiculous overindulgencs in Christmas gift giving. The important aspect of this season, for her, is making sure that enough money is spent on Christmas gifts. This gift giving is not confined to our two children and our nieces and nephews. She also feels that we should exchange gifts with her brother, sister and their spouses. Personally I think that Christmas gift giving is good for the kids but the tradition of giving silly gifts to other adults is not necessary. Every year we argue about this nonsense and I was just wondering how you saw this issue.

Carolyn Hax: That you're arguing over "necessary" when of course it isn't. Does it make her happy? Yes/no. Back off. Lose one. Be happy to lose one. Ho ho ho.

New York, N.Y.: Here's a fluffernutter of a question:

What is the ideal company party shoe for the holidays?

Carolyn Hax: Depends on your company. Sorry.

Auld Lang YIKES!: I'm sticking out a relationship through the New Year simply so I can have a New Year's date. But this guy thinks it's long term. I know I'm a terrible person for doing this, but what can I do in the meantime to start severing the ties?

Carolyn Hax: You can tell me this is a JOKE, please, or you can break up with him tonight.

Can people be hospitalized for insecurity? If so, there's that option, too.

Whoville: Carolyn,

Had to tell you of our newest holiday tradition. Not only does my huge family do a great gift exchange -- names are drawn from a hat and everyone has to fill out a detailed form about what they want and don't want and what they like and don't -- but the "Mystery Santa" every year descends on my family and gives away the best present of all. It's a lamp made out of four taxidermied deer hooves and a lovely piece of crystal along with a tasteful deer shade. It's the most awful thing ever. And since people keep handing it around, you have to put it out whenever the family comes to visit. A hoot.

Carolyn Hax: I just can't believe the winner ever parts with it.

Glen Ellyn, Ill.: Hi Carolyn and Lisa,

I was wondering if you had a link to the Post Magazine article about the holidays to which you referred in your last chat. It sounds like good reading as I gear up for the annual jaunt to Connecticut for Christmas. Thanks and Happy Holidays! As a matter of fact, here's the discussion accompanying it: (Dec. 4) -- where it all began -- the death chair, the reindeer poop, etc. Ah, the mem'ries. -- Lisa.

Also, for those who were asking for it, I found the origin of the bacon pants: the Oct. 23 show. The feller from Texas.

Carolyn Hax: Lisa Chair! Lisa Chair!

"Chair" was really my only option here, wasn't it.

The Great Midwest: So this isn't entirely a fluff question, although I must say that the woman I ran into last night in the grocery store in open-toed shoes (when it's 40 degrees outside) certainly needed your help.

As a Jew in a city that is VERY Catholic, how do I respond to the inevitable "Merry Christmas!" without seeming rude. I tend to go with the kind "Happy Holidays to you too" response, but it does frustrate me that people inherently assume things.

Perhaps I am bitter.

Carolyn Hax: Perhaps. You do have the right response, I just hope you can come to mean it. Some people are thoughtless, presumptuous boors. Oh well! Happy holidays to them, too! yayyy.

BTW, I wouldn't have gone after the toe person. They're her toes, she can air them in whatever degree air she can stand.

Santa Fe, N.M.: Carolyn --

Picture etiquette question: Do you think it is acceptable to send a small, color xerox of a photo of one's children tucked inside a handwritten Christmas card? The paper is flimsy but the picture is good quality. I feel a bit guilty -- it's much cheaper and easier than getting lots of copies of the photo -- but I figure most friends look at the photo, say, "Cute kids," and then toss it out after the holidays anyway. Or am I just rationalizing?

I'm asking this question because nobody else wants to read about the morass of my family Christmas get-together and the five-hour marathon of opening gifts, fraying tempers, etc. I'd rather concentrate on the things within my control (paper vs. photo) than the family stresses of Christmas! Thanks.

Carolyn Hax: As with all questions of this ilk (or elk, if that sounds more festive), my answer is that if someone has a problem with your card, I have a bigger problem with someone. Do what you do. Do something good with the time.

Lisa Pants! Lisa Pants!: That works, too. Lots of options! Mother of God. -- Lisa.

Carolyn Hax: I rest my case.

Happy Clapper: I was just wondering if anyone else's family claps after each gift is opened. My family has always done that, and yet when I do it with friends, they all look at me like I'm a freak.


(Great show, clap clap clap)

Carolyn Hax: Great post, clap clap clap.

And, no. NO ONE else's family does that. JUST YOURS.

Seattle, Wash.: A family gift-giver possibility: What my wife's family does (which makes me a participant-in-law, I guess) is that everybody contributes to a Family Vacation Fund, and every couple years, when it's built up enough steam, the whole bunch (Dad, seven kids, assorted spouses, grandkids) ships off for a big vacation.

Lots of fun, though you have to actually get along with everybody.

Carolyn Hax: And you can't have any embezzlers in the family, or you'll all be gathered 'round the postcard from Uncle Name Changed.

Anchorage, Alaska: My boyfriend and I have been together for over a year. I'll be meeting my boyfriend's family for the first time over Christmas. We will actually be staying with them for about two weeks. According to my boyfriend, his mother and sister fight worse than cats and dogs, he can't stand his deadbeat brother who is back living with the mother, and his mother can be an incredible b**** -- apparently, everything and anything can set her off at any time. Any words of advice on how to remain sane amid the chaos and deal with my honey's family? Red wine. -- Lisa.

Carolyn Hax: Yes, why have a plain ol' fight when you can have a bloody one.

What what WHAT is he doing dragging you into this cobra pit for two -weeks-? I would be seriously questioning this guy for setting me up like this, and himself, too. It's got to be awful for him.

Rule no. 1, there isn't enough red wine on the earth to make a bleeped-up family okay for more than 48 hours. Rule No. 2, there's no happy ending with a guy who doesn't know the 48-hour bleeped-up family rule.

Poorly conceived: Our holiday tradition has become trimming the tree with miniature liquor bottles. Liqueurs are best with white lights -- the reflect and refract the lights in myriad ways.

Here are some tips: you can get thin green wire from your florist to fashion hooks for tops of the bottles. Keep in mind they are much heavier than regular ornaments -- have a sturdy tree (may need to be artificial) and hang them on thick branches, deeper into the tree. And if you want to nip while you trim, don't drink the ornaments -- get a real bottle, it's cheaper that way.

Carolyn Hax: I am speechless.

Somewhere, USA: Are all families completely insane, or just mine?

Carolyn Hax: Just yours.

NW Washington:, D.C. Dear Carolyn,

I'm torn over what to do. This is my first Christmas out of college so I've been working and will only have Christmas Eve and Christmas off, unlike my still-in-school brother who also lives in the area. The problem is that our father wants us to stay with him in Rhode Island this Christmas, but I haven't been able to tell him that it's not possible, at least for me, this year due to low funds and no extra time off. How can I help him understand that I work just like him and sometimes can't be as flexible as my "month off" college self?

I would appreciate any insight you might have!

Carolyn Hax: Here's your first first-Christmas-out-of-college gift (she said pompously): You can't help anyone understand anything, make anyone understand anything, count on anyone understanding anything. Not your job. "Sorry, Dad, I don't have enough money or time off to come home." Guilt is a two-way transaction -- you have to let it take root.

Hmmm...: Wow, this forum makes me feel normal! That's why we're here. -- Lisa

Carolyn Hax: If we go by numbers, then the freaks are the ones who feel normal.

Just an observation.

Clapper, too: I clapped last night at a large dinner party when the dessert was brought out and no one joined in -- couldn't believe it! It was even a fairly boisterous dinner party!

(But my family does not clap after each present -- just yours.)

Carolyn Hax: Ooh. Good one.

Clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap

Clap clap clap on the 48-hour rule!: My shrink and I just came to the same conclusion: no more than 48 hours allowed with the bleeped-up family. 'Course, mom's p.o.'ed, since seeing them involves a five-hour flight, but hey -- you gotta do what you gotta do. Sanity is priceless.

Carolyn Hax: Agreed! especially to your shrink.

No ho ho ho: In the midst of all your holiday cheer, please try to include some of your "family-less" friends in your activities. Also, be respectful of the reason(s) people might not have plans with their family. Simply put, I'm gay and am not welcome at my parents' when my less-than-supportive siblings and their kids show up. I had a co-worker absolutely grill me once about why I wasn't spending the holiday with relatives. There are many reasons people will be alone -- don't be intrusive. Thanks for letting me share.

Carolyn Hax: You're welcome, and I'm sorry your parents don't lay down better law. That all just seems wrong.

Alexandria, Va.: Is it OK to dis your own family in favor of a better (i.e. functioning!) one? My family can't get along for four minutes, whereas my wife's is actually fun to be with. What do I owe my own clan?

Carolyn Hax: Ooh, that's your call. Anything from "nothing" to alternate years, depending on a lot of things -- their behavior toward you and yours, emotional toll on you, health of fam members, distance and/or effort to get there, etc.

And I'd also rephrase the issue into what you owe your kids if any, then wife, then yourself and then your family, in that order. Priorities count, too.

Minneapolis, Minn.: Here is a family tradition that is unusual -- not too bizarre, but most people get a kick out of it. My grandmother sends us "kids" (aged 18-30) a check in mid-December, and when we come to her house on Christmas, we bring along the -wrapped- gifts we bought with her money. It's fun, and everyone but the recipient is surprised by the gift. Mostly, it makes Grandma happy just to see us happy about the gifts. She doesn't have time (or health) to shop for us, and we get the things we need, so it's a good time all around. (It's a bit strange to buy stuff for yourself and wrap it up, only to unwrap it later, but it's our own brand of fun.)

Carolyn Hax: I don't know, I think it's pretty cool. Thanks.

Gift exchange: This works well with co-workers who are close, but don't want to spend a lot (anything?) on gifts.

Have a white elephant gift exchange. Everyone brings in something truly dreadful and opening the gifts is a complete blast. My mother, with her infinite sense of sick humor, one year gave some of her hair that had fallen out from chemo. It's never been topped (no pun).

Carolyn Hax: I'm speechless again.

No wait, I'm not, but I'm going to wish I were ...

Carolyn Hax: Chemo Hair! Chemo Hair!

Washington, D.C.: Hi Carolyn, Love the chats! Here is an interfaith question for you. I am Christian and my boyfriend is Jewish. My family has done nothing but try to make him feel "okay" during Christmas celebrations and they always give him gifts in Hanukkah paper but he gets very angry if I ask him to come to a tree trimming party or any other Christmas activities. Is there a way to make him feel comfortable or is this impossible?

Carolyn Hax: If you're going to keep asking him to tree-trimming parties and if he's going to keep getting very angry at that, then, no.

Klumbus, Ahia: Howdy --

A gift-giving suggestion: A cousin of mine and her oldest friend have this tradition: Every year they give each other an "Ugly" -- some atrocious knick-knack from hell. The rules are that it has to be displayed until the next year and it can't be explained.

And a question: Anyone out there have any ideas for Christmas cheer for us laid-off types who can't go shopping or concert-ing or the like? (At least I can't turn to drink -- I'm a single malt snob and that stuff's expensive!) Haven't come up with much except cruising around looking at the lights, and my family is mostly elsewhere, so the giant festival o' relatives isn't a possibility.

Carolyn Hax: The white elephant gets a Machiavellian makeover, I LIKE it.

Sorry about your red Christmas. Can you bake? Hit concerts of the church- and/or free variety?

Peanuts must have thoughts on this ...

Downtown New York no more!: Dear C and L,

I am usually OK generous with gifts. Don't go overboard, but give them to the few people I am close to. But this year, no thanks to Sept. 11, money is really really tight. I lost my job, and while have a new one, am making much much less. I also lost my apartment, thus I seem to be starting all over again.

My question: Is it just OK to send cards and a nice note? Nothing too long about me -- just best wishes and good thoughts. Besides money being an issue, I really don't feel like shopping and splurging.

Am I being a scrooge? By the way, not everybody knows the extend of losing job, losing apartment. Many of them lost family members -- my loss meant so much less.

Many thanks -- and happy holidays, Christmas to both of you. I have enjoyed chats much much!

Carolyn Hax: Of course it's okay. I'm sorry about your downers, too.

If any broke people wanted to give me anything, obviously a card would be more than enough, but I'd also be happy as a clam with a great recipe, or an old picture of us (Xerox okay), or a schedule of upcoming events with one circled and a let's-do-this Post-It. An invitation a home-cooked dinner. Stuff is just so overrated.

Grandma Oops: A few years ago, instead of spending a lot of time buying gifts and mailing those out, Grandma sent checks out in cards that said "Buy your own gift."

She was a little miffed not to have received any thank yous, until she was cleaning out her desk a few months letter and came across the entire stack of checks she had forgotten to enclose.

We still kid her about that.

Carolyn Hax: That's about my fourth laugh out loud. Zuzu has turned her back to me, sighing in disgust.

Washington, D.C.: In my family, Christmas is more like a theme party. Every year we get a "challenge." This year it's reenactment/create a TV commercial. We all have to film it and then we play them on Christmas afternoon after dinner. My brother and I are reenacting one of those horrible lawyer commercials -- you know where they say "If you've been injured on the job or in your car..." I think my parents are doing a Taster's Choice commercial. Should be a hoot.

Carolyn Hax: Next year, you should distribute your energy to needy families. Oy.

Downside of including others: Made a special effort to be home for New Year's last year instead of doing a just-us couple thing because the friend who has recently moved to D.C. and was renting a room from us had complained so much about how she wasn't spending the Eve with her old friends in Chicago as usual and said she'd be lonely. Had a dinner party next door with neighbors/friends and it was low-key but festive -- great food, much good wine, cool decorations, etc. Felt slapped in the face a few days later when I discovered that the friend we were trying to cheer had complained that the party was "rather dull." Really want to entertain again but feel like the time and expense was for nothing. Cheer me up?

Carolyn Hax: Eh, have your party. You had fun. And as a rule, save your kind gestures for the ones who --aren't -- complaining about the state of their lives.

Washington, D.C.: Happy Holidays!

My husband and I are planning on having a holiday party. Now here's the hard part, I work in a small office and I only want to invite a hand full of people. Is there any tactful way of inviting them and asking them not to say anything? And what if the "not invited" people find out?

Carolyn Hax: I have no idea, since for all I know they won't care or won't want to do anyway. If it's known that you're close to this handful, people might already assume you socialize with them separately.

Always worth asking, though -- how awful would it be to be inclusive? tis the season and all. Secrets/shuttings out--if that's what's going on here -- are often so much more work than a few hours with the people you're shutting out.

Wreath: When I was growing up, we had a prickly plastic holly wreath that was designed to go over a doorknob (very '70s). It drove my dad up the wall -- he couldn't understand why you would put something on a doorknob that made it difficult to open. Soon, the wreath started appearing in odd places -- under pillows, in the shower, in the car, over the milk. Over the years, it has traveled overseas to spread prickly, annoying holiday cheer to my sister and me living abroad. One year I got a scanned copy of it, another year, just a leaf. I'm going home on Friday for the weekend and you can be sure I'll pull the covers all the way off the bed before I get in. My husband thinks we're all nuts.

(I was thinking of telling the Moldy Baby Jesus story but I don't want to offend anyone. There's a song that goes with it.)

Carolyn Hax: There you go, three words I wish I had never seen in tandem.

Carolyn Hax: Of course now you HAVE to tell the story.

Richmond, Va.: New boyfriend and I have only been together a couple weeks. I just found out he's got nowhere to go for Christmas and was planning on spending the day all by his lonesome in his apartment.

My automatic response was to offer my family's house -- we're a big, welcoming family and they policy's always been, More People = Better. His reaction was pretty hesitant -- while of course I don't object if he'd rather stick it out down here, I wonder if I came off as trying to force the family on him? Honestly all I was thinking was it'd be a fun time to hang out, and there's a ton to do at home -- but in hindsight I see where it could have been interpreted as, "Come home and meet my family, and we'll go shopping for silverware patterns while we're there."

Is this something that needs fixing, or just leave it alone?

Carolyn Hax: Leave it alone. It was a nice gesture, and if he can't chill enough to see it as that, pooh on him.

Other side: It was a nice gesture, and if she can't chill enough to see that it was nevertheless a little awkward for him to figure out on the spot whether he'd be imposing, then pooh on her.

Surmountable all around, methinks, especially if the context is all well and good.

Washington, D.C.: For Kulmbus Ahia --

I work for a umbrella of charities. They are always having events during the holidays -- walks, runs, galas. They sometimes need volunteers. Helping out at one of those events can be really fun and also keep you mind off your own woes. Or consider getting a group of friends and being the entertainment somewhere -- a soup kitchen, nursing home. Or even caroling in your neighborhood. I did that one year and we got invited into neighbor homes, made friends. I find that doing stuff like that makes me feel really Christmassy.

Carolyn Hax: Good stuff, thanks.

New York, N.Y.: What do you think of people who throw new year's parties with the intention of making a profit off of friends? I have friends that are hoping to take in twice as much as they need to cover costs. Am I weird for being bothered by this? We're talking many multiple thousands of dollars profit.

Carolyn Hax: You know exactly what I'm going to think of this.

Has the Reindeer Poop been awarded yet this year?

Christmas Crazies: (1) The father of a former girlfriend who lived outside Worcester, Mass., would go outside at midnight Christmas Eve and fire his shotgun into the air. Hail (of lead) to the Prince of Peace.

(2) The father of another former girlfriend didn't like me because I wasn't (and still am not) Asian. He gave me a china (!) lamp with no shade and no bulb and said "For studying."

(3) My wife's father (who is actually a great guy) had the family doing yard work on Christmas Day after opening presents.

Carolyn Hax: (3) Better than lying around getting cranky.

(2) Hey at least he got your something.

(1) I am cancelling my traditional hatless midnight run through Worcester.

All Wet: Preparations for this past Saturday's holiday party (thrown by self and boyfriend) were going extremely well. I have one of those nifty centerpiece bowls that floats candles and with which you can stuff decorative things like holly. So I get the holly into the bowl and fill the bowl with water. Too much water. I can't move the bowl cause I'll spill the water and lose the holly out the bottom. I also can't put the candles in the bowl without losing the displaced water. So I did what any self-respecting hostess would do who hadn't yet showered and changed for her party: I leaned over and drank the (filtered!) water from the bowl until the volume was low enough to handle the candles. I am -serious.- The boyfriend was clearly okay with this, as he proposed marriage shortly thereafter (I accepted!). Happy holidays, all!

Carolyn Hax: The hostess with the mostest, hands down.

The mostest what, I have no idea.

Washington, D.C.: We don't clap -- we do the "wave"

Carolyn Hax: I just did one. Did you see?

Carolyn Hax: The Boo thought I was getting up to walk her. Oops.

Going back to the interfaith question: Sorry...your response sounds pretty negative. Do you mean to say that I shouldn't expect him to come to any Christmas activities even though we are couple?

Carolyn Hax: That's because it was negative!

Two people coming from different places need to figure out where they are, where the other person is, and meet at some mutual, warmhearted middle. You guys don't even sound close.

Not a judgment or a criticism, merely an observation.

Gaithersburg, Md.: My mother-in-law wants everyone to open all their presents at her house. We are the only one with kids. Everyone else wants to sleep in and start opening presents around 10 or 11 a.m. I suggested we have the kids have breakfast and open the presents from my family when they wake up and then we will have Christmas with them. This has created a controversy. Any suggestions?

Carolyn Hax: No, I'm too disgusted with people who get worked up over this sh**.


Do what you feel is right and ask the others please to do you the very large favor of accepting it, since in the end it's just not worth NOT accepting.

Oh S*** the cat ate baby Jesus!: Here's the story. My uncle was U.S. deputy ambassador to the UN. Lived in a government apartment on 5th Avenue in New York City. He and my aunt had (at the time) a cherubic 5-year-old daughter. One night they hosted a holiday party for diplomats, royalty, etc. My darling niece was there in a ruffly cute dress. Everyone thought she was an angel. A small paper mache creche was out on a table. Noel (irony), the cat, came into the room, and ate the baby Jesus out of the creche in the middle of the party. My cousin, the angel she was, saw it happen and exclaimed loudly "OH S***! THE CAT ATE BABY JESUS!" The cat them proceeded to vomit the Jesus onto the coffee table. The diplomats were horrified. My aunt and uncle thought it was hilarious. Fun was had by all.

Carolyn Hax: I don't even know where to start chanting on this one. And I wonder if there's a record of it somewhere ... anyway,

Clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap

Arlington, Va.: Carolyn, I am thinking of proposing to my sweetie soon. Is it bad form to do so on Christmas? What about New Year's? Am I stalling?


Carolyn Hax: Yes?

50-50 shot, I thought I'd try. Propose 1. when you want to marry her (and when you have that feeling uninterrupted for at least 30 days, perhaps, to be safe) 2. in a way you think she would like. For the folks who wanted the Dec. 3, 2000 Post Magazine article (and there are many), try the archives. Unless they're part of a special package, most stories on the site are free for 14 days. -- Lisa.

New York City, N.Y.: (To the tune of Rudolph the Red Nosed reindeer. . .)

Chemo hair! Chemo Hair!
Falling out all day!
Oh what fun it is to trade,
With a co-worker or maid!

Sorry, in bad taste, but this is a FUN chat today, Carolyn! Actually, that'd be to the tune of "Jingle Bells." -- Lisa.

Carolyn Hax: And is, in fact, the worst poetry I've ever read.

Crazy in Pentagon City, Va.: You know, this really is rather fun. Sick as it is, all of this talk of crazy families and weird traditions is putting me back in the Christmas mood. I was really stressed out but the laughing and the communal commiserating in this chat has made me remember how to see the funny side of it all. Thanks everybody!

On the weird tradition side, when I was a kid, my father would don antlers and drag the Christmas gifts in on all fours while pulling a red wagon. We would all take turns whipping him as he would circle the tree and neigh. Kind of a masochistic Santa Claus, I suppose.

Carolyn Hax: I am deeply unsettled by this.

Somewhere, USA: My senile but very religious 93-year-old grandmother sits in her power corner and looks on judgmentally every year while the rest of us sneak alcohol and pretend that we aren't swearing and telling dirty jokes. We're all afraid of her. About two years ago, we thought she was just being cranky because of all the people around. My mother said, "If she's going to act that way, she can just go to bed." Turns out she was in congestive heart failure. We are all going to hell.

Carolyn Hax: Okay now I feel better.

Hell, indeed. yes.

Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: Our special little Christmas day tradition:

Cocktail "hour" begins promptly at 4 in front of the fire (whether it's 70 degrees or 7) with a LOAD of appetizers. And we cocktail until we run out of things to chat about.

Yes, we've actually missed dinner some years. No one really minded at all the time my mom didn't discover until 9:30 p.m. that she'd put the turkey in the oven without turning it on.

Carolyn Hax: Thank you, I was needing a drink.

Santy-sauruses!: I have this great uncle who sends us strange gifts each year, once a gorilla suit and one year he sent us Christmas lights encased in little plastic dinosaurs that had little Santa Claus coats hand painted on them. The Santy-sauruses are always a tradition on our tree!

Carolyn Hax: Is there anything more versatile than a gorilla suit? Question of the day.

For Interfaith: Hi Carolyn and Lisa:

Something for Interfaith to think about -- has she shown ANY interest in learning about or participating in HIS holiday celebrations and traditions?

I am Jewish, and I'm frankly sick of hearing my fellow-Chosen get their knickers in a wad over people saying "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays." For heaven's sake, the people mean well -- get over it.

Still, when I read Interfaith's posting, I immediately noticed that she didn't say anything about going with BF to his family's house to light the menorah, etc. Maybe his family isn't close by and that's not an option, but that doesn't mean she can't show some sort of interest in it, instead of merely trying to make him "comfortable" with her family and their traditions.

-- Just One Jew's Opinion

Carolyn Hax: I like it all, thanks.

Washington, D.C.: Hey, Carolyn! I'm Jewish and my family always gets together on Christmas eve at my cousin's house (his partner isn't Jewish) and we all gather 'round and decorate the tree. It's so much fun because for us, it's not something we grew up doing. About three years ago, we decided the tree needed something extra, so we shellacked (sp?) a bagel, which now tops the tree every year!

Carolyn Hax: United we shellac (also sp "shellack")!

Austin, Tex.: Then there's my office-mate's special Christmas when she got a BB gun, and her mom shot four ornaments off the tree!

Carolyn Hax: Well, slap me and call it Christmas!

I think I'm getting tired.

College Park, Md.: I think my boyfriend will ask me to marry him this Christmas. If he will, and I am not ready, what should I say?

Carolyn Hax: Oooh, whatever it is, make sure it's a no. It has to come from you though. Bummer.

The Amazing Cookie Dough Caper: My grandmother has "issues" with people eating dough before it is made into cookies. I am an avid dough-monger. So once my mother (also a DM) walked past me and whispered in my ear "Meet me on the porch with a spoon in two minutes -- ask no questions!" She was out on the porch with pilfered dough from the fridge. Pretty soon the entire family sans grandma was eating dough on the front steps. We put the tiny morsel wrapped in wax paper back. It probably couldn't have made one cookie, we figured she'd never notice.

Carolyn Hax: Mom sounds pretty cool, lucky you.

ONE more ...

North Pole: My family draws names for gifts, then you have a $5 spending limit. My aunt always gets red hair dye (which I think she may use), my mother gets empty boxes because she has forgotten (more than once) to put in the present before wrapping. But the topper was my grandmother, who had forgotten she drew my name. I ended up with a half-box of chiclets and a travel pack of Kleenex, with the used ones tucked inside. All gaily wrapped in a piece of tin foil she had been carrying in her purse.

Carolyn Hax: A perfect end to this Year of the Grandma ... and what a dark year it was.

Thanks, everybody, for the grins and the images (most of them, anyway) and for the merry sendoff. I'll type to you in the new year after some furious vacationing. Merry Everything,


That wraps up today's show. Thanks to everyone who joined the discussion.

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