A: How do you deal? You forgive them. Reach out to your family and see if a relationship is possible. Remember that you are teaching your kids valuable lessons here. I know that some families are toxic, and it’s best to keep your distance if that’s the case. But for your sake and the sake of your children, I’d try for reconciliation before writing them off.
Q: What’s the protocol for breaking up with a friend? She’s fickle and negative and associating with people I don’t agree with. But I’ve known her for a while and don’t want to be downright hateful. What should I do?
A: The worst thing is to be a coward and shrink away from her without an explanation.
Simply contact her (email would be okay if you’re most comfortable using that medium). Be direct, and let her know that you don’t wish to continue the friendship. Tell her why, but don’t go into a lot of detail. Be matter-of-fact and kind, not mean or nasty. Don’t engage in further communication if she attempts to lure you into an estrogen-fuelled drama fest.
Q: My husband trims his nails by biting them off. Not only is this disgusting, but they wind up ragged and sharp. He says he’s always done this, but I say it’s a new phenomenon. Is this some contagious redneck symptom? Did he catch it somewhere?
A: Nope. He was born with it. His affliction is that he is a man, and men are never going to be like us. He cannot help this congenital defect. Let him be a guy. Thanks to my dad, I got training on this very early in life.
Daddy would use his car keys to clean out his ears. Yuck. He rarely wore a shirt when picking me up from school. Oh, the horror! He even used Super Glue on his dentures which by that time were already missing many teeth (yes, you read that right). I was mortified just about every hour. But I learned to loosen up and let him be him.
That said, it’s reasonable for you to ask hubby to use a nail clipper. After all, you are the one coming into contact with the gnarly offenders. Explain that you’re not trying to tame him but that he needs to show you a tad more respect.
Q: The Christmas season has started, and I’m already way stressed out. How do I keep from losing it during the weeks ahead?
A: Here are some tips.
Keep it light and merry.
How serious is it if your tree décor and your table runner aren’t an exact match?
Maintain your sense of humor.
Regardless of the situation, this will be the supreme coping strategy you can employ.
Simplify whenever possible.
Buy fewer presents. Make less room for activities that drain you. Donate unneeded clothing and household items to a favorite charity (mine is CAMP in Austell).
Let the dust collect.
Whoever said that cleanliness is next to Godliness had Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
Reward yourself with a series of small indulgences.
In the spirit of the holiday, open your eyes to the suffering of others and work to minimize that suffering. This will keep you grateful. As Joseph Campbell says, “Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.”
Expect that plans will crumble; people will let you down; and Aunt Lurleen’s casserole will be inedible. Be happy anyway.
Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lauretta Hannon, a resident of Powder Springs, is the bestselling author of The Cracker Queen—A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life and a keynote speaker. Visit her at thecrackerqueen.com.