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Ask Amy column

Q. My son recently became engaged to a girl whose parents are vegans (although she isn’t). They invited my husband and me to dinner and served a vegan meal, which we ate and enjoyed.

We always host Thanksgiving dinner at our home, and I invited them to join us. I offered to prepare an all-vegan meal for them. Their answer was that they would be unable to eat in a home where there are dead animal products served at the table. In other words, if there is turkey on the table, they cannot attend.

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Amy, my family enjoys the traditional Thanksgiving meal every year. I don’t think it’s fair to dictate what we should serve. My son said I should just make a vegan meal for everyone to keep the peace. My family will not attend Thanksgiving dinner under those circumstances, and I don’t blame them. How should I handle this?

A. Despite what your son says, you should not assume that “the peace” is at stake. If these people are consistent, this means they cannot enjoy a meal or snack in many homes, restaurants, or coffee shops. This is their choice, and after trying to reasonably accommodate them, you should respond with acceptance.

Do not put your son or his fiance in the middle of this. Tell her parents that you hope they would be able to join you on Thanksgiving Day for dessert (no mince pie). If they refuse the invitation, say you’d enjoy hosting them another time. Be friendly and maintain a cheerful attitude of understanding, but do not let them control you.

Q. I recently found that my girlfriend has on at least one recent occasion contacted an ex-boyfriend without telling me, despite what I thought was an understanding on both our parts that this could spell disaster for our relationship. Unfortunately, I discovered this by snooping in her (left open) e-mail account. Therefore, if I want to confront her with this, I must first admit to my own deceitfulness, and then address hers.

I am certain she loves me and that she is not still continuing, nor even trying to continue, a relationship with him. But he has been a sore spot in our relationship, and her being in contact with him will not help matters. So what should I do with this information?

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A. If you are absolutely certain that your girlfriend is not trying to have a romantic relationship with her ex, then maybe you should work harder to let go of your own restrictions. Trust is a choice. If you cannot resist bringing this up, tell her exactly what you did and how you feel about what you discovered. Tell her you don’t want to have secrets and encourage her to talk.

Q. “Not a Scrooge” did not want to exchange gifts with her in-law family and their children. As our family grew through marriage and children, holidays became increasingly expensive. Our solution (which has been ongoing for more than 30 years) has proved not only successful but extremely entertaining.

Around Thanksgiving, whoever is hosting puts all the family names in a bowl and gives one name to each participant, who buys a gift for that relative. The fun part is that we have to write a poem that gives a clue to the giver’s identity, and the recipient has to guess who the giver is.

Each adult gets an adult and each child gets a child to buy for. The poems are hilarious and have turned into a contest of wits and talent, and nobody feels they are going broke.

A. This is brilliant. I hope people will adopt your idea this year.

Send questions via e-mail to askamy@tribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

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