Family member weighs skipping out on traditional gatherings

Staff Writer
Brownwood Bulletin
Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: Something has been bothering me for a long time. When I attend family functions, I become extremely bored. Whether they are birthday parties or Christmas Eve celebrations, they bore me to tears. To be honest, I would prefer not to attend, but I don't want to offend anyone. Must I continue to be polite, or can I just stop attending? If I had more money I would move farther away. Please offer an opinion. -- BORED IN NEW YORK

DEAR BORED: Gladly. You don't have more money, and moving away is not an option. I'm sure this has been less of an issue recently because of the pandemic. Family celebrations are more about support and solidarity than scintillation. While it would be understandable that you might not be available for each and every event, if you skip more than you go to, there will be hurt feelings. So, in my opinion, once the pandemic is behind us, you should go. Rather than dwell on being "entertained," concentrate on making the occasion enjoyable for others. You might also consider doing what I have observed politicians doing, which is making an appearance at these gatherings and leaving early.

DEAR ABBY: I'm recently divorced. Because of my work schedule and moving to a smaller place, I no longer am able to properly care for our family cat. My kids (all under 10) barely acknowledge her, so I put an ad in the paper. A family called, came to see her one day and took her home with them while the kids were at school. I told them that "Frisky" was going to go to a new home, but I didn't know when until the day it happened. Now I'm the bad guy since the kids never got to say goodbye.

I contacted the new family and asked if we could come visit her to say goodbye. They reluctantly agreed but won't be available for a few weeks. Their young daughter has bonded with Frisky.

In your opinion, which is better for kids -- to visit Frisky in her new home and say goodbye, or just let time heal this wound? -- BAD MOM IN MINNESOTA

DEAR BAD MOM: Losing a pet is something children never forget. The pain of losing Frisky will heal more quickly if your children see for themselves that their pet has a home in which she's well taken care of and a family that loves her.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 63-year-old reader, widowed for eight years. I'd like to date and marry again, but I have one concern. Many men lose sexual potency with age. (I believe in waiting until after marriage.) At what point is it appropriate to address this issue? I don't want it to seem as if I wish to remarry only for sex. I might consider marrying for companionship if everything else was good, but I think it's something I should know before marrying. -- KAY IN WEST VIRGINIA

DEAR KAY: I agree with your last statement. It's important to know what you're buying into before taking on the challenge of marriage. That's why, in order to avoid any surprises, you should ask your question as soon as the relationship starts to appear serious.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are trying to have children. He was raised Catholic, but is now agnostic. I'm also agnostic.

My deeply religious father-in-law insists that our future children be baptized Catholic. I'm against it because I think it should be a person's right to choose which faith, if any, to follow when they are ready. I also think it would be hypocritical to go through a baptismal ceremony, with godparents and vows to raise our child a certain way when we have no intention of doing it.

My husband thinks it would be best to baptize our future children to "keep the peace," because his father will never forgive us if we don't. I think it's our children, our lives, our ethics. Which of us is right? -- OUT IN THE OPEN

DEAR OUT: You are, but I don't envy what's ahead for you. If you knuckle under to your father-in-law, it won't stop. You will be expected to follow through with a Catholic upbringing -- first communion, Catholic schools, church attendance "for the children" and everything that comes with it.

You and your husband should bite the bullet, be upfront with his dad before you become pregnant and make plain how you plan to raise your children. If you aren't, raising them in a way you don't want could put a strain on your marriage. This should be your and your husband's decision to make and no one else's, and I don't recommend deviating from it.

DEAR ABBY: I have been married for four years, and all this time we have lived in separate houses. Now my husband is finally moving in with me. While I'm excited and it's going to be a significant financial benefit for both of us, I'm experiencing mixed emotions and a lot of anxiety about it. He's an awesome man who treats me great. This is a second marriage for both of us. Any advice would be appreciated. -- MAKING THE LEAP IN FLORIDA

DEAR MAKING: Under the circumstances, your feelings are normal. This will be a big change for both of you. This is why it's important to talk about your feelings and expectations in advance, which might ease your stress. Being able to communicate honestly with each other is extremely important and will serve you well in the future. With this move you are opening up a new chapter in your lives, and I wish you many years of happiness together.

DEAR ABBY: Five years ago, when my wife and I were 35 years old, she agreed to be on a team with me and compete in some "adventure races." It was great fun. We had team T-shirts, trained together and were excited about our results. It brought us closer and created a real sense of camaraderie, adventure and mutual support into our marriage.

During one race a bull broke into the race grounds and chased us. Shortly thereafter, my wife quit the team and, sadly, many of the ancillary benefits declined as well. She will no longer be on a team with me. What should I do? -- BENCHED IN GEORGIA

DEAR BENCHED: Because this is an activity you enjoy, you should keep going. Because your wife has chosen to retire from adventure racing, you should recruit another partner or find some other activity you both could enjoy together. (And that's no bull.)