Q. My family had another miserable Christmas dinner at my sister’s house. I’m 55, and I have two brothers, two sisters, and an elderly mother, 78. My elder sister insists on having holiday dinners at her house, even though she always seems miserable during the event. This sister and her husband are professionals and are the highest earners in the family. Her children ignore me and my family, as well as one of my brothers and the other sister. If they say anything, it is something rude or snarky. I am a college-educated woman with a good job. I am well-traveled. We own our own home and are financially in good shape with retirement on the horizon. We always come over well-dressed, and we’re well-spoken. And we always bring something. In other words, neither we nor my other siblings have done anything to deserve the silent or rude treatment that we get.
My question is: How do we handle this situation? If it weren’t for my mom, I wouldn’t hesitate to simply skip these events, since we all live within 25 miles of one another and can see one another whenever we want. I don’t believe that talking to my sister would be helpful since we’ve never been close, and she has looked down her nose at me since childhood, regardless of my accomplishments. I have thought of having my daughter’s small family over and then visiting Mom afterward for coffee or declaring a “holiday from the holidays” and going somewhere for a vacation. I’m sure that other people out there are going through similar circumstances. If there’s a better solution, I’m willing to listen.
A. Too bad about the pretentious and rude children, who sound as though they’ve inherited the views of their mother. With snooty behavior like that, they are going to have trouble at more places than their parents’ dinner table. I very much like the idea of stopping in for coffee, and I like the idea of getting out of Dodge even better! Short of reading these kids the riot act, which I know is unlikely, avoidance is the best solution. Your immediate family need not be pinatas for those kids from the lucky sperm club.
Q. I suspect you do not, but most people work in an office. Wherever there are different personalities, there are all sorts of things you’d love to tell your boss — anonymously. I thought you and your readers would like to know about a free new service at tellyourbossanything.com.
Think of this website as a virtual version of the classic suggestion box. Upon signing up, an employee is prompted to enter their own e-mail address, their boss’s e-mail address, and a thoughtful message about what is bugging them. The site then delivers said message to said manager, who can review the complaint and reply in kind, all without knowing who they’re actually talking to.
A. You are right on the money about there being workplace troubles galore, and often the person who would like to report the difficulty feels unable to do so for a number of reasons. Sometimes the trouble has to do with a relative who is employed, the boss’s secret or not-so-secret romantic interest, or an employee who somehow has ingratiated him or herself with the boss despite poor performance, just to name a few possibilities on a list that is endless. (And you are correct that I do not work in an office — which is a good thing, because my “office attire” is a nightgown and robe.) Thanks for the good suggestion.All letters must be sent via the form at