laplumeDear Readers,
With the holidays on our heels, there are all sorts of questions and situations that arise for which we would like to have some good counsel. Unfortunately, not every question has an answer. If a couple breaks up and they have been invited to a party, who chooses which one comes if they aren’t comfortable together?

If you have a new relationship or friendship, how do you know if that person is going to get you a gift, and should you do likewise? And, if so, what should it be and how much should you spend? Sometimes, actually most of the time, you just have to rely on common sense, kindness, and intuition. And other times you have to realize that rarely is anything, much less everything, going to be just exactly the way you would like. Holidays bring out the best and the worst in people. Understanding, compromise and empathy are key. – L.A. Plume

Dear Ms. Plume

Our grown children live with us. I just know that after I spend days and hours and many dollars, they will arrive at the holiday meal dressed in ratty old pajamas or something resembling pajamas. How can we get them to put on nice clothes for a holiday dinner? In the past we’ve asked that they dress nicely but their response is that they are at home and want to be comfortable.

Dear Kitty,
No one would ever have dreamed of going to Emily Post’s dinner table in pajamas so it isn’t addressed in any volume of her books. No one in their right mind should go to a nice holiday dinner dressed in pajamas, even if it is in their own home. If they are sick enough to be in pajamas they should stay in bed; the only possible exception to this is someone who is so infirm that they cannot dress or be dressed, but obviously that’s not the issue here. Your children may be grown, but they don’t sound like they’ve grown up. Set a separate table for them and let them sit at the children’s table; set out a few jars of mushy peas and carrots and baby food turkey and then see if they run back upstairs and come back in nice clothes to sit at your table. Or simply tell them that if they wish to sit with you, they must dress nicely and the reason is simply because you said so.
L. A. Plume

Dear L. A. Plume,

I know it’s cold and flu season, but can’t people who are sneezing and coughing stay home from holiday parties, or at least tuck a hankie in a pocket? I have a friend who seems like she is always sneezing and coughing when she visits, and at least she doesn’t blame it on being allergic to my animals, but she bends her elbow, brings her arm to her face and snorts into the crook of her arm. This is disgusting, at best. A hankie or a tissue could be put away or disposed of, but that germy snotty sleeve will be right there for the rest of the party. I’ve tried offering her a tissue but she breezily replies “Oh no thanks, I’m just fine.” What more can I say?
Grossed Out

Dear Grossed Out,
Ick! I’m not sure I have an answer – does she also talk with food in her mouth? You know how crazy that makes me and this sounds worse.
L. A. Plume