Dear Amy: I am a newlywed. The holiday season is upon us, and I’m trying to coordinate between families, and also get myself into the spirit.
However, there is one tradition my husband’s family has that I don’t understand. I’m not sure how I can fit into this tradition.
Ever since they were children, on Christmas morning, “the kids” (my husband and his now-adult sister) would come down the stairs to open gifts, and their father would video-record it.
Well, we are 26 now, and both siblings live on their own outside of the house, but my in-laws still think we should do this tradition.
I tried to bring this up to them, saying that we won’t even be at their home on Christmas morning, but they brushed it off, saying, “We can do it when you come over at 2 o’clock.”
I know it is hard to see your kids grow up, but I did marry their son this year. My husband and I live in our own home about 20 minutes away and visit regularly.
Last year, I was not included in this tradition because I was still “the girlfriend.” This year, even if they ask, I’m not sure I want to be included.
Please help me relate to this tradition. I understand it as children, but just as you stop taking pictures of the kids on their first day of school, shouldn’t this group grow up?
Dear Holiday: This is one of the wackiest and most wonderful holiday traditions I’ve ever heard of, and, as dumb as you find it to be, I think you should sit back with a beverage, pull out your phone, and enjoy and film it, in all of its cringy glory. (You could then “bank” the video, in case you might need it one day, to use as some good-natured spousal blackmail.)
This has a “Meet the Parents” quality to it, and I can only hope the adult children dress up in matching “footie” onesies in order to scamper down the stairs and greet their Santa-haul.
Unless this family engages in (other) creepy and/or juvenile or infantilizing behaviour, I think you should see this as a delightful annual one-off. Do not attempt to get in on it. You don’t have to do every single thing your husband does. Nor do you need to convince him to stop participating in a silly ritual that might actually have meaning for all of them. Although it would be gracious for them to attempt to include you, you could easily and politely demur.
It would be a fun project for someone to splice together over two decades of this footage into a montage. If you are good at this sort of thing, you might give it to the family as a holiday gift next year.
Dear Amy: I keep in touch with an old, out-of-town friend by phone several times a year.
My friend recently had to move his elderly mother into a memory care centre following her Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
When we speak next, should I ask how his mom is doing?
I’m reluctant to raise an obviously painful subject in the course of an otherwise pleasant conversation.
Dear R: Not only should you ask your friend how his mother is doing, but to avoid this important subject would be insensitive, and would not serve your friendship.
Your friend’s mother hasn’t disappeared. She exists in the world, and presumably is still very much in his life.
Yes, this topic might be painful. But friends should be invited to discuss even painful life events, and be given the time and space to tell their story, if they choose to.
If your friend finds his mother’s situation too challenging to discuss, he will telegraph this by giving a truncated or noncommittal answer. Then you can move onto another topic.
Dear Amy: I appreciated your musings on being addressed as “young lady” by patronizing strangers.
Just the other day, I told my wife how angry it made me when young people trying to be cute call me “young man.” This has been happening for years.
I am a 78-year-old man.
This is just not a “young lady” phenomenon — it is heard by both sexes, and I believe it’s an example of ageism. Thanks for bringing it up.
— Ray in Tucson, Ariz.
Dear Ray: Many mature men have responded to the question from the woman signed “Not Young,” who reported how annoying it is to be greeted this way.
Nobody likes it.