My cousin and I grew up together. She was constantly praised for her good looks; I was not. My parents were more interested in my education. After graduating, I went on to build a solid career, but she still drifts professionally. Over Thanksgiving, I noticed that she got weirdly defensive about Stormy Daniels when the Trump saga came up. Sure enough, after checking around, I learned that she works as an “exotic dancer” at a club where she lives. I would like to tell her mother (in a very gentle way) when I see her at Christmas. Her parents may be able to help. Thoughts?


It sounds to me as if you want to detonate a bomb around the Christmas tree (albeit “in a very gentle way”). And forgive me for speculating, but I think your odd sleuthing and your desire to spill the beans reveal a yen to “win,” proving once and for all that your hard work has triumphed over your cousin’s natural beauty.

But my job is not to hand out blue ribbons. It is, in part, to stop good people from doing mean things like revealing possibly embarrassing information about cousins at family gatherings. Don’t say a word to her mother (or anyone else). What is she supposed to do about her daughter’s career? And why do you assume she doesn’t know?

If you really want to help, be kind to your cousin, even if she received an annoying amount of attention in your youth. It’s possible that she likes her work. It’s also possible that she has fewer job options than you do and made the best choice available to her. (Who are we to judge?) Needlessly drawing attention to her perceived misfortune, even in the guise of concern, doesn’t help her and only makes you look bitter and small.

What’s the House Rule on Vaping?

Greetings from Canada! My adult children will be visiting us for Christmas at our new home in the Laurentian Mountains. All of them use cannabis extensively. I’m fine with it, but my husband (their stepfather) objects. He doesn’t approve of any smoking in the house. So, should they be allowed to vape indoors, only in their bedrooms or just outside? And what about edibles?


Congratulations to you on your new home, Jenny, and to your stoner children on Canada’s recent legalization of the recreational use of pot. If your husband is sincere, and his objection to cannabis is limited to smoke, then surely he won’t object to edibles, correct? (No smoke in pot-laced gummy worms!)

But in some bad news for your kids, vaping, while considered safer than smoking, also produces some toxins in the aerosol that is exhaled, though at much lower levels than conventional smoking.

Your husband wouldn’t be totally out of line to limit vaping to ventilated bedrooms or outdoors. Still, I’m picturing lovely views and everyone happy (and chill) at your first holiday in the mountains.

Thanks for the Pet Care, but What About the Dishes?

My dog walker will be taking care of my dog and staying at my apartment while I’m away after the holidays. She has done this before, and I am grateful for her service. She takes excellent care of my dog. The issue: the mess she leaves behind (dishes in the sink, etc.). I pay her, and I would like her to leave the place cleaner. How can I raise this without offending her?


Let me be the first to agree that asking your dog sitter to run the dishwasher or leave the living room looking as if a cyclone had not torn through it is totally reasonable. Let me also remind you that finding someone you trust enough to stay in your home and care for your dog is no mean feat.

Don’t ruin future vacations for yourself by mistaking your dog sitter for a housekeeper. They both work in your home, but you wouldn’t ask your mechanic to drive you on errands, right?

Feel free to say, “Can you make sure the food is stowed and the dishes are clean? And please empty the trash.” But don’t expect her to clean the place (unless you hired her as a dog sitter-slash-downstairs maid). Hire someone else for that.

To Invite, or Not to Invite?

Every year, I host a holiday party for my extended family. One of my cousins does not speak to his mother. I invite them both. My aunt comes, and my cousin bows out. If I had to choose, I would prefer my cousin to attend. But the only way to ensure this result is not to invite my aunt. I wish I weren’t in this awkward position. But may I leave her off the guest list?


Stop right there! You will not wade into these treacherous waters on my watch. As hosts, we invite people we like (or feel obliged to include). But they decide whether to attend. Do not embroil yourself in this mother-son feud or exclude your aunt from a family party. (Who knows if your cousin would come even if his mother weren’t invited?) If you want to see him, invite him to dinner.

For help with your awkward situation, send a question to [email protected], to Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.

Source: Read Full Article