Handling the ham over the holidays
Dear Annie: It’s almost the holidays, and I’m excited to spend time and enjoy great meals with extended family. But the- re’s one thing I’m never sure how to deal with. I’m vegan, and the rest of my family is not. That wouldn’t be a problem, except every time I have dinner with them, my aunts, uncles and elder cousins have a laundry list of questions for me: “Why are you vegan?” “What’s wrong with dairy?” “How do you get protein?”
The only question that really gives me pause is the “why” one. I’m perfectly fine with the fact that my family members eat meat, and I wouldn’t question them about it or pressure them. Yet they put me in an uncomfortable position, as I feel awkward talking about why I find it cruel to eat meat while they’re in the middle of enjoying their meal. It makes me feel bad and guilty. I don’t want to ruin their appetites or seem in any way as if I’m judging them. I’ve told them, “I’d rather not talk about it right now. It will gross everyone out.” And they insist they want to know and can handle it. (Of course, they always seem to forget by the following year, because they end up asking me all the same stuff again.)
Is there anything I can politely say to prevent a game of 20 questions this year, or do I just need to suck it up? — Tired of Talking About This
Dear Vegan: They’re asking, so you shouldn’t feel guilty for giving them answers. Perhaps spare them the gory details, but do be honest. I think these conversations will feel less tiresome once you let go of the fear of offending them. They’re simply curious. Give thanks for the opportunity to share something you’re passionate about with receptive relatives.
Dear Annie: My closest friend has decided to have a destination wedding, which is causing me some degree of anguish. Not being a fan of this type of wedding, I am troubled about my expenses and, more so, by the lack of respect for guests. We have to spend $3,500 for a weekend to share this moment, and this is expected from me because of our close relationship. I would like not to attend, but I am sure that this would mean a significant change in, if not the end of, my relationship with my friend. For the record, I am a man, and my friend is a woman. Does this gender difference have anything to do with our differing views of financial practicality? — Debt-stination Wedding
Dear Debt: No, this isn’t a gender thing. No reasonable person, male or female, should expect loved ones to shell out that much cash to attend a wedding.
According to the most recent American Express survey data, the average guest will spend $673 on a wedding — a hefty enough chunk of change. That your friend is asking you to spend over five times that is absurd.
Talk to her about your concerns. Tell her that you consider her one of your closest friends and want to be there for her big day but that you just can’t afford it. It’s unfortunate, but she should expect that some people won’t be able to make such an expensive trip. That was her (and her partner’s) choice. If she stops being friends with you over that, she wasn’t too good of a friend to begin with.