Tuesday’s Workwear Report: Emeline Dress

Our daily workwear reports suggest one piece of work-appropriate attire in a range of prices.

MM.LaFleur has, as always, a number of great dresses right now. This laser stripe fabric is new to me, and I like it, particularly in the form of this flowy A-line dress, which seems like a nice alternative to a more structured sheath dress like the Annie. It’s $365, with limited sizes in stock at the moment; there’s also a pretty, origami-like top in the same fabric.  The Emeline Dress

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Comments

  1. Panda Bear :

    I keep wanting to love MM. Lafleur but never have luck with how their dresses fit. The problem is that I really need petite sizes – regular sizes are just proportioned all wrong, but I love their aesthetic and keep hoping that eventually I’ll find the right shape. I just returned three of their dresses, but now I’m kind of tempted by this one… Anyone of petite proportions have better luck with a certain MM dress?

    • I’m five two and 100 pounds, pear shaped, and I have had success with the Shirley, Lydia, and Nisa dresses. Annie and Etsuko did not work for me. Good luck!

    • Rather Be Painting :

      I recently tried on and returned this dress – I’m 5’2″ (size 2 or 4 depending on the dress) and the lengthy was a little frumpy on me. I felt a little too much like a little girl in a twirly dress if that makes sense. It seemed too “doll like” for work. I agree with you about the proportions but I have had luck with the Etsuko.

    • It’s a great company if you can afford it. I can create a similar look on a Joe Fresh/COS/H&M/Banana Republic budget. Splurge for the jardigan only!

    • I’m 5-4, but really short waisted (waist is by my armpits).

      I wanted to the Annie to work, but it just didn’t. The Aditi was a dream on me though. I wouldn’t have thought it.

      I also have two Etsukos and often don’t wear with the belt in winter when I’m wearing a cardi or jacket with them.

      I went to a pop up and spent an hour trying on things. I also found that the Emily worked well on me (I had thought it would be too short for the office but it was just that their models were, well, models and much taller than me).

      FWIW, I am a pear, 5-4, 125#, Etsuko was an 8, I think the Aditi might have been a 6, and the Emily was maybe a 6 or an 8? Per the MM staff, I do a bit looser in fit than other people tend to, but I loathe constricting clothing or things being too form fitting or VPL.

      • FWIW, my BR size is 6 Regular for Logan suiting pants; otherwise a 4P for dresses / suiting jackets.

    • I pretty much exclusively wear petite sizes. I ordered a bento box from MM LaFleur, expecting the worst since I had heard it was not petite-friendly, but was pleasantly surprised! The Etsuko and Sarah 7.0 dresses fit me perfectly without tailoring. The Annie Dress did not work. I also did not have any luck with any of the tops/skirts they sent, but I think that was more to do with style than anything else.

      I’m pear-shaped. 6 on Bottom, 4 on top. I’m very short-waisted, which is why I have to wear petites, but since I’m fairly hippy, a lot of times I cannot find petite clothes that fit my hips. I did not have problems with that with the MM LaFleur clothes.

      • that makes sense to me as I am tall and most of the MM LaFleur dresses are too short and too high waisted on me.

        I mostly stick to separates for that reason.

    • sarah dress :

      I’m petite and tried on about 10 dresses at a pop-up. The Sarah works for me! It has no waist seaming so it avoids the problem of a mismatched waist area, and it skims the body without being clingy. I bought 2 colors and recommend.

    • Anonymous :

      I am petite too (5’3″, take a size 8 in MM), and went to a pop-up as well. The dresses I would have picked for myself all looked terrible (too tight in the middle. sorry, I don’t go ‘in’ at the waist!). But the ones the staff picked looked great! The Nisa and Sarah are great. LOVE the Sarah, actually — looks totally boss.

  2. Sweater Care :

    How do you wash, dry, and generally take care of your sweaters? I don’t have cashmere or anything dry clean only, but I want to get as much life as possible out of my mid-quality items.

    • Anonymous :

      Delicate wash in a mesh bag, hang to dry.

      • Anonymous :

        Yes to delicate wash in a mesh bag, but no to hang to dry.

        Do not hang sweaters to dry (if you mean hang on a hanger or clothesline). That will pull them out of shape. Reshape and lay flat, or drape on a drying rack.

        • Anonymous :

          Yes, I use a drying rack never hangers.

          • I wouldn’t really call that “hang” to dry then. That has a pretty specific meaning – hang on a clothesline, drip dry, line dry. None of which should apply to sweaters. Air dry is a more generic term that covers hang-dry and lay-flat drying instructions.

    • Hand wash with Castile soap in tepid water, squeeze (do not wring), rinse with water, squeeze again, lay flat to dry. I do this for cashmere, wools and high quality cotton/linens. I usually wash all my sweaters in one go, takes 5 minutes or so a sweater. It’s really not a big deal.

    • cat socks :

      I have an old top-load washer. I wash sweaters on the delicate cycle and then hang dry – on a drying rack, not hangers. I just use regular Tide.

      • Same but I use Woollite. I have too many “hand wash” items to put them in a mesh bag. I only do that with bras. Lay flat to dry. I’ve never had issues with my clothes not lasting as long as I expect.

    • All of this, but I roll the sweaters in a towel to get out excess water, then on a drying rack (never a hanger), block the sweaters out to dry properly. I almost always wash and dry them inside out, so any linty stuff gets on the inside not the outside. 9-10 months out of the year, I can get away with drying them outside on my drying rack, but if not, just the second bathroom works.

      Martha Stewart had a great visual tutorial online about how to block sweaters and other wet knitwear.

      • Anony Mouse :

        +1 Rolling in a towel cuts the drying time down by a lot.

        I love Soak laundry liquid. It works well and the fragrances are delightful–and I’m usually fragrance-sensitive.

    • Hand wash (not in machine), roll in a towel to absorb excess water, use a drying rack). Really reduces the pilling.

    • You can totally wash cashmere and wool – I do. The secret to keeping your sweaters nice is to avoid agitation. I hand wash in a sink or tub, just kind of soaking/ swishing with soapy water, and then soaking/swishing in clean water a couple times. Then I spin in a salad spinner and roll in a towel, unroll, and lay flat to dry.

    • https://www.amazon.com/dp/B010CBS5BC/ref=asc_df_B010CBS5BC5299743/?tag=hyprod-20&creative=394997&creativeASIN=B010CBS5BC&linkCode=df0&hvadid=198094095244&hvpos=1o2&hvnetw=g&hvrand=16464111027935728398&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9027577&hvtargid=pla-319430290771

      Best sweater drying racks. I have two (so space for 6 sweaters). I leave the hooks on the doors and put the racks in the back of the closet when not in use.

    • Hand wash with wool-appropriate detergent, don’t wash often. I air them out between wearings and spray with cedar spray to keep away the moths.

    • Spray vodka on the pits and lint roll/pill remove.

  3. You guys, I got my dream job! Thank you all so much for the help. It’s a big raise, doing very important work with 4 weeks of paid vacation. I just can’t believe I’ve finally made it. This community is the best.

  4. Road trip :

    Does anyone own the Casey dress from MM LaFleur? I saw it on Cap Hill Style a few days back, and it looks great. I’m a size 14, very apple shaped, and ruching often makes me look even wider around, so I’m hesitant.

    TIA!

    P.S. — Thank you for the recommendations last week for something to listen to with my teenage daughter on our trip. We went with Welcome to Nightvale, which is great–we both like it tons!

    • Baconpancakes :

      It was the most unattractive wrap dress I have ever tried on. I have huge hips, and it hit me right at the hip, not on the waist like on the models, and made me look comically wide. I’m very short-waisted, so perhaps on someone with a longer waist it would look.

      Also, all hail the glow cloud.

    • Agreed with Baconpancakes. I tried it on and just couldn’t make it work despite loving it on the model. I am 5’9″, slight pear, size 10-12 in MMLF for reference. It was both too va-va-voom and frumpy at the same time if that makes sense?

  5. MM. Lafleur :

    I want to like MM.Lafleur, but their prices are too $$$ for the quality they offer.

    • Yeah, I would buy this dress for about $200 less. :-/

      • Warm and cozy :

        But then it would be poorly made, different fabric, not as nice drape, not made in the US, not made by an innovative young company run by women.

        I have a few things from MM Lafleur. They are a high price point for me. But in general they are well designed, interesting, nice fabric, work appropriate, washable, work basics that are not so basic. And with good care, they will last me.

        To try to suggest that but paying this dress for $200 less is required is….. ??

        • I suppose all I meant by that is that my general price point for clothing is about $200 less than this particular item. But I don’t normally comment on the splurge items that I would buy it for $500 less, so I take your point.

      • yeah, same. I can’t get on board w/the prices. They have cute stuff though.

    • This x1000.

    • Does Kat get paid by MM Lafleur? I see it pushed so much here and there are one-off nice things but in general the quality price ration is not there.

      • every time you click a link on this site – they get paid.

      • It’s a workwear brand with this audience in mind, so as an unaffiliated reader and consumer, I find it appropriate to include. I love hearing about independent brands, not only department stores and mall stores.

      • it’s increasingly hard to find truly professional workwear (see earlier discussion about lots of cold shoulder tops in the “workwear” section of online retailers), I can see why mm lafleur gets selected often for just that reason.

        Kat gets paid by all the brands she features – see affiliate disclosure. That is normal.

    • Teach me... :

      I thought “good fabrics” were natural materials like all-season wool and cotton etc. From my brief research, I see that a lot of the MM LaFleur clothing is Viscose or Polyester. Aren’t those the unbreathable fabrics that cause me to sweat buckets and we are generally told to stay away from?

      Can someone please clear this confusion for me?

      • I think they use a lot of synthetics because one of their hooks is a lot (but not all) is machine washable. Some of it feels better than others.

        • That used to be the case. There are now excellent synthetic fabrics on the market, but excellent synthetics are significantly more expensive than the not-so-nice synthetics that you’re thinking of.

          I actually love many of the synthetic fabrics that MM LaFleur uses. They don’t wrinkle easily, don’t smell, don’t show dirt, stretch just the right amount, and are machine washable.

    • biglawanon :

      Yeah, I have sent back everything I ordered. Poor quality for the price, and really bizarre fit.

  6. I accidentally put a new merino wool sweater in the dryer, and it shrunk. Has anyone had any luck stretching them back out?

    • Something about soaking in conditioner comes up here every once in a while…I haven’t tried it, but someone who has can probably chime in!

      • Clementine :

        Yes! Soak in the bathroom sink in lukewarm water with a few drops of hair conditioner in it (probably 1/2 teaspoon-ish). Then, manually stretch the sweater out until it is as close to its original size as possible. Then I blot between two towels and lay flat to dry.

        Or (if you’re me and always need things to be longer) hang it upside down so that gravity helps stretch the sweater for length.

        • Don’t be afraid to use more conditioner than that. I re-stretched a wool scarf by dumping a ton of conditioner in (a deep conditioner) and letting it soak all day (I used a bucket that I use for hand washing). Mix the conditioner and the water really well so that it disperses. You want to be sure you’ve got enough conditioner in there to penetrate the fibers.

          • Flats Only :

            This. I used about 1/2 cup of cheap conditioner in a sink full of luke warm water. You could actually feel the sweater relaxing! I rolled it in a towel to dry it a bit, then lat it flat and reshaped it. It worked perfectly.

    • Never too many shoes... :

      Have you tried soaking in conditioner/fabric softener and reshaping?
      https://www.thespruce.com/saving-a-shrunken-wool-sweater-2146669

    • I’ve never had any luck once the fibers have started to felt.

    • Thanks, all! I will give that a try this weekend.

    • There’s a Shark Tank product called Unshrink it. It works. Start there.

  7. Anonymous :

    Yes to delicate wash in a mesh bag, but no to hang to dry.

    Do not hang sweaters to dry (if you mean hang on a hanger or clothesline). That will pull them out of shape. Reshape and lay flat, or drape on a drying rack.

  8. Secret Santa help needed! I drew a coworker that I really don’t know at all. I’m new to this team and he works off-site at our warehouse, so I’ve only met him a few times. He’s mid-40’s, has a teenager and a toddler and loves lacrosse. My first thought was a bottle of his favorite liquor, but according to the team who know him better, he doesn’t really have one. I’m seriously stumped. We have a $20 limit, any ideas? I’m new to this team (but not the company) so I want it to go over well. I’m not in law, and my workplace is very casual. Thanks ladies!

    • I would go with something generic and useful, like a portable charger.

    • Or a Hydroflask or other insulated drink/cup, especially if he’s playing outdoor sports.

    • Maybe a gift certificate to local movie theater?

      • This is a great one because he can give it to his teenager if he doesn’t want it or it can contribute to a family outing. I worked at a mega corporation for a while and they always gave out quarterly gifts – Omaha Steaks, logo fleece blankets, etc. The only one I was ever excited about was the movie gift cards.

    • I am in the midst of a serious game phase right now. “Exploding Kittens”, which I haven’t played, may not be the right age range. I am thinking of getting “5 second rule” to avoid some of the post-dinner uncomfortable conversation at Christmas.

    • A six pack of Dogfish Head “Pennsylvania Tuxedo” beer (delicious and festive) and something small, like some fancy snacks or a little tech gadget.

    • Aunt Jamesina :

      Amazon sells great portable Bluetooth speakers under their AmazonBasics brand.

    • Does he drink coffee? Maybe a Zojirushi mug?

    • Never too many shoes... :

      Is it cold where you are? A cool toque.

    • Hot chocolate mix + marshmallows from high end grocer (William Sonoma has some nice sets).

      • cake batter :

        I know these are suggested a lot but I haaaate getting these. Do adults really drink hot chocolate on the regular? I would at a mountain chalet but not in my real life, lol.

        • Honestly, I prefer food to tchotchkes. At least if I don’t like it I can throw it away or regift it. There is no pressure to be seen using it. I’m kind of a grinch about secret santas though.

        • I don’t drink hot chocolate “on the regular,” but I enjoy it a few times a year during the winter. And since I limit myself to a few times a year, I indulge in the more expensive stuff instead of the Swiss Miss. So I’d appreciate this gift. But if I were in a position where I received lots of small gifts (teachers, someone with lots of vendors courting them), I wouldn’t want 20 hot chocolate sets…18 of them would get donated.

        • Anonymous :

          Ha, I drink hot chocolate almost every day in the cooler months, which is like 8 months of the year where I live. I like it and feel like I can justify the liquid calories because it’s such a great source of calcium (the glass of milk has 1/3 your daily value of calcium and the packets I buy have 1/3 the DV of calcium as well, so I get 2/3 the calcium I need from one hot chocolate). I’m not sure I’d love this gift though — I’ve tried a lot of the fancy kinds and don’t find them appreciably better than the packets, so I would use it and enjoy it but probably feel like the gift giver wasted their money. What IS way better than the packets is European-style drinking chocolate made from real melted chocolate, but that’s not what the Williams Sonoma, etc. powdered sets are.

  9. Holiday Card Comments :

    All the comments about holiday cards lately reminds me of my parents’ story. We moved halfway across the country over 30 years ago, and my parents’ only contact with friends from their youth, college, early jobs, etc was Christmas cards. And my only real knowledge of these people and their families was the cards. Fast forward to now, parents and their friends retired, in their 70’s, and they visit with these old friends across the country, vacation with them, my mom takes girls trips with her old friends, etc. I suppose at some point she could have said “I don’t even see these people anymore, why send cards?” but then they wouldn’t have the fun of rekindling the friendships. Perhaps social media does this now, but it seems like more and more people I know are trying to get off social media or keep their kids off it, etc. Just a nice story in the “pro cards” column.

    • I love cards for the same reason. It’s s nice reminder of people I may have lost track of in the course of a busy year.

    • Baconpancakes :

      I’m strongly pro-cards. Even if the card itself doesn’t have much personal information in it, reaching out to people to confirm their address sparks conversations and often is the first conversation I’ve had in months. The excuse of checking addresses makes the “hey we haven’t talked in a long time” convo less awkward. And even if it’s the only conversation we have in the year, it helps keep the friendship alive.

    • Anonymous :

      My parents are exactly the same!

    • My grandmother has lost much of her vision, so when I visit, I do her correspondence for her. My grandmother worked as a secretary in a Catholic hospital in the ’60s and ’70s, and she still corresponds with one of the nuns. (They have lived in different time zones for nearly 40 years now.) I know Sister Regina only through cards, but I know that relationship is special to my grandmother, and it’s just sweet.

    • That’s a lovely outcome of cards! I’m a little bummed because it doesn’t seem like anyone in my previous or current circle does them (or I’m not on their list) so I’m in the “what’s the point” camp, even though I really do like them.

      Along similar lines, do people here do neighbor gifts? This was another spot for me that I was wondering if we should do them again this year, as we’ve never received one. It’s always a home made treat, nothing fancy. But it doesn’t seem to be a thing that is done in my neighborhood, or at least my street, so should I stop? People seem appreciative, but always make a “you’re so organized!” comment to me, which feels like maybe I’m trying too hard. I only give them to neighbors we talk to regularly and have a rapport with.

      • We do, the ones we know well. I was planning to do it the first year, but was surprised that so many neighbors did it first! This is our third Christmas in the hood. One neighbor is having a neighbors’ Christmas party so looking forward to meeting more of them. But if no one seemed to care, I might drop it.

      • Neighbors did growing up and I thought it was so nice. I do neighbor gifts when someone moves in or has an event (baby, ill spouse, etc). At Christmas, I do an open house for friends and neighbors and that seems to be about the equivalent. People always call me “organized,” too. Idk, those kinds of things are just my thing, ya know? Like some people are good at sending bday cards and anniversary cards and I forgot my husband’s bday for 3 years running once – we all have our thing! So I just roll with it and let it be “my thing” – it’s a sweet, friendly thing to be a thing :)

  10. Help me style my NYE dress? I’ll post a link in reply, but in case it doesn’t show up, it’s the BB Dakota Leila Sequined dress. I’d like to define my waist a little more than the dress does – maybe with a belt (tough with the sequins) or a long necklace?

    And what shoes should I wear? I’ll be going to a Very Fancy Dinner but I have to walk about 20 minutes across cobblestones to get there. Are wedge ankle boots fancy enough?

    • https://www.bloomingdales.com/shop/product/bb-dakota-leila-sequined-mini-dress?ID=2748259&CategoryID=2910#fn=ppp%3Dundefined%26sp%3D1%26rId%3D15%26spc%3D32%26cm_kws%3Dbb%20dakota%26spp%3D8%26pn%3D1%7C1%7C8%7C32%26rsid%3Dundefined

    • I feel like most belts would look like too much – the only thing I can think is a wide ribbon style belt (or maybe actually ribbon) or a thin velvet one.

      This would also be a perfect dress for over the knee boots if you have them, I think!

    • Rainbow Hair :

      Cropped leather jacket would define your waist!

  11. Anonymous :

    Have any of you ever dated/married younger men? If so, what was the age difference and what was the experience? I know it varies, but I am interested in hearing different anecdotes. Thanks!

    • Anonymous :

      2 years. We met when he was 23 and I was 25. We’ve been together more than a decade now. No issues, even though I thought we might have some since traditionally men are thought to be more reluctant to get married or have kids. Granted it’s not a big age difference.

      A family friend is 11 years younger than her husband. They’re now estranged. I think in that case it was a little more peculiar-his first wife was also 10 years younger and he is very close to his mom, who resembles both wife 1 & 2.

    • Got a hot date with a 31 year old tonight. I’m 34. I shaved my legs for this so wish me luck!

    • I have a magical talent for only dating men who are younger or older than me, never anyone my own age. My SO (will be husband unless some weird sh*t happens) is two years younger than I am, and also started kindergarten a year late so is three years behind me in terms of graduation. It’s been a non-issue. He’s mature and is naturally a steady, calm dude, who I think of as kind of a German Shepherd in human form: he’s happiest when he has his little family flock to hang out with, and has never expressed any interest in sowing wild oats or whatever. He’s farther along the family-and-kids-readiness spectrum than I am, and has been since we started dating.

      The only area where I’d say that I really see the age difference is in the career arena. He was just starting his first professional job when we met, so had to deal with the full-time working grind/horrible bosses/is this my life forever??/etc. adjustment, while I’d already done my initial professional flailing and gotten established to my chosen career field.

      Other than my SO, I’ve semi-seriously dated two other younger guys. One was a year younger. We weren’t the right fit for each other but he was as mature as can be expected for a 21-year-old (I was 22). He was more ready to settle down and make a commitment than I was, which was a major contributing factor to our breakup. The other guy was four years younger, which would have been too far for me if I’d known how old he was when we first started talking (I was 26; he was 22 but had a giant beard, looked like he was 30, and was working not in school). That was the one where I had some real age-gap issues, but he was also a pathetic excuse for a human being. Time wasn’t going to change that, as proved by his felony conviction four years after I broke up with him.

    • In college, I dated a guy who was 2 years younger than me (we met when I was 21 and he was 19 and broke up almost 3 years later when I was 24 and he was 22). He was very ready to get married and have kids (way more so than I was), which is unusual for a guy his age, but he was immature in other ways. Ultimately we broke up more because of incompatibility on big things (we weren’t the same culture/religion and didn’t really have the same ideas about raising a family — he had a SAHM and wasn’t very enthusiastic about me working after kids and he wanted to ultimately live right near his parents, which were both dealbreakers for me), but his immaturity was trying at times. Right after we broke up I met my now-husband who is my age and immediately realized how a mature adult should behave in a relationship and that it had been missing in my previous relationship. Interestingly, my ex is now 28 and I found out he just got engaged to a 35 year old women who has 2 kids, so it seems like he is drawn to women who are older/in a slightly different life stage.

    • My husband is 3 years younger than I am. No issues so far, other than that I found it a bit irksome when my age started with a 3- and his still started with a 2-. If anything I’d say he’s the more mature one in the relationship!

      • This is us, 5 years difference, married 22 years! I enjoy asking him if he remembers certain TV shows, bands, cultural events, etc from when we were growing up.

    • DH is 5 years younger than me. When we met I thought he was too young because, as Anon @ 10:24 said, my age started with a 3 and his with a 2. At this point in our lives, 5 years is negligible. Its funny sometimes when we talk about where we were when a song from our childhood was popular or a major world event happened because as kids, 5 years is a lot, but that would be true if he were 5 years older. Honestly, its NBD. What matters is maturity and where you are in life, not the exact number of years. That said, I imagine with a bigger age disparity, things could become strange, but again, mostly on the maturity/life stage front and not because he is younger, but because there is a big age disparity.

    • Dated a 27 year old when I was 31 and it went up in flames. My sister’s husband is 15 years her senior and they seem very happy. I’m not sure there’s any pattern to how well these things work out.

    • I’m 5 years older that my SO. The age gap put me off dating him for a few months (we met through a work event and I insisted we could only be friends despite wanting to hang out with him all the time). Then a couple of my closest friends started to ask why we weren’t dating – I’d just assumed he’d want different things to me given that he was younger, but I never thought to actually ask him! I did ask, turns out we were exactly on the same page and I couldn’t be happier that we got together. Still very happy nearly 2 years later…

    • My husband is 4 years younger. I was ready to get married before he was, so we waited until we both felt ready … this pushed out the time when we had our first kid (I was 36) and we’ve been unsuccessful in having a second, likely due to my age (I just turned 40.) If we’d married when I was ready, this timeline would have moved up a couple of years, and a second pregnancy might have been easier to come by.

      Other than that, no issues. We met in law school and are otherwise in the same life stage.

    • I met my husband when he was 25 and I was 30. We were both in law school.

      I think it works because in some ways I am young for my age and he was relatively mature for his. Also, we were (and are now) at similar stages in our life despite the age difference.

    • I am one day older than my husband :) But to actually address your question, in one of my favorite couples the wife is 7 years older than the husband. They have been married for over 20 years now. It was a second marriage for him (first marriage when he was in his early 20’s and only lasted a couple years.) They are both lawyers and married when the wife was around 35. They never had kids, for what it’s worth. She has now been retired for a few years and he is about to retire. They seem very happy together–lots of travel, involved in church, lots of friends both as couples and separately.

    • My husband is 2 years younger (met at 23/25) and it has never been an issue at all. I noticed we had a different experience in that I had already worked full time by the time we met (went back to grad school, where we met; he went straight through) but that’s all it was, a different experience. Married now 7 years, together 10,

    • Not me, but a very good (male) friend of mine started dating a woman when he was 24 and she was 34-ish. That was about 7 or 8 years ago. They moved in together after a year or two, got married 2.5 years ago, and had a baby about a year ago. We’re now equally good friends with both the husband and wife. I’ll say his now-wife was very patient at the beginning because he had some growing up to do. But they ended up on the same page and very happy.

    • Met when I was 31 and he was 26, been together 5 years. Sometimes I feel older, but I think that has more to do with the fact that we met when he was starting a PhD program, so a student, and I’d been an attorney for 5 years. Generally a non-issue, except for the occasional movie/song from the 80s that I’m shocked he’s not familiar with.

    • Anonymous :

      I’m dating someone who’s 30/almost 31, and I’m 33. We’ve had no issues. I thing 4 or 5 years either way is still your generation. You would have went to high school together. More than that may be an issue due to generational references. I dated a man who was 9 years older than me, and I felt it was a big difference in terms of our life goals at that point and our frames of reference.

    • My husband is 13 years younger than I am. My birth year is generally considered to be the last year of the baby boomers. He was raised as if he was of that generation. Shared values and goals make our relationship work. We are in different but overlapping high pressure professions, so we are both unphased by things like unexpectedly working very late, bailing on plans, or “I won’t be doing (usual chores) for the entire month of ____, because work”), that can create problems in a relationship where someone gets it intellectually but not at the gut level. We share similar backgrounds and are both AWOL from the same religious denomination. The only time the age difference has created disagreement is over retirement. I have my eye on a nice retirement community in Asheville – you live in a house, but no chores and no cooking unless you want to! – and because he would be only 49 when I retire, he says “But I don’t want to go live with the old people”.

    • biglawanon :

      I only dated a younger man once (4 years younger). I had to get a restraining order against him, but I am confident that had nothing to do with his age.

  12. ShoeHelpNeeded :

    Preparing to travel with three kids under 4 to New England from the Southeast over the holidays. All my “nice shoes” are heels or flats for work. Can anyone recommend a flat bootie or comfortable sneaker for the winter and this level of chasing toddlers? Thanks in advance!

    • I’m confused – do you need work shoes or casual shoes? Because Bean boots or Bean mocs would be perfect.

    • Earthies Sintra or Sintra 2, both available on Amazon Prime. Incredibly comfortable and versatile. Wore them in 6 inches of North Shore snow this past weekend, and am wearing them comfortably in my SEUS city today.

      • (caveat: not snow boots, per se. These are everyday booties that happen to work enough in the snow, but I wouldn’t, like, go sledding in them. I’m from NE and would suggest a bean boot or sorrels if you want to commit).

    • I just got these and love them! https://shop.nordstrom.com/s/blondo-tula-waterproof-boot-women/4614801

    • Tom’s booties – super comfortable!

    • I got a pair of Sperry boots last year I am in love with. These are similar

      http://www.sperry.com/en/juniper-glyn-boot/30571W.html?dwvar_30571W_color=STS80603#cgid=women-shoes-boots&start=1

    • biglawanon :

      I know you said flat, but the Joie Barlow bootie is stylish and comfortable.

  13. Gift ideas :

    Any suggestions for a gift idea for a somewhat geeky male relative in his early 40s? He’s into techy stuff, D&D and Star Wars. Buys himself most things he wants. Budget of around $3o-50. My default is a bottle of booze. One year I got him Star Wars Death Star ice molds, which was a massive hit. Most years I strike out.

    • Gail the Goldfish :

      If he eats pancakes, Williams Sonoma has some Star Wars pancake molds someone gave me one time. Or Star Wars pint glasses? Check Think Geek for all sorts of ideas.

      • Star Wars Lego sets (cheaper ones should be within your price range). Board games could also work – Star Wars board game is above your budget (Imperial Assault), but they make Star Wars-themed Risk, Carcassonne and Monopoly, which are all within your price range. Also, just a random board game could work (for example, Smallworld is a nice, relatively light battle game set in the fantasy world; otherwise 7 Wonders, Ticket to ride, Jaipur, Splendor, Sushi Go Party, etc.). If he’s into the puzzles, there are lots of affordable Star Wars puzzles as well.

    • Does he game? You can get a gift certificate to Steam emailed directly to him, and then he can buy himself a game or two that he’s been eyeing but holding off on. You can use it across a variety of platforms, so as long as he plays on the PC or has a PS4 or something similar, I think it will work.

    • Thinkgeek is your friend. That website has all things geek and is right into your relative’s wheelhouse. Google, surf, succeed.

    • Anony Mouse :

      Thinkgeek is great; also check Uncommon Goods.

    • Shenandoah :

      There are Star Wars ornaments that light up and are generally just cool if you’re a Star Wars fan. A couple of my coworkers have been obsessing over the whole collection. They are $40. Sounds like it would be perfect.

  14. Christmas Eve :

    What are your Christmas Eve traditions?

    • Anonymous :

      We celebrate with friends and go to church.

    • I know someone who makes giant pots of homemade soup that simmer all day, along with homemade bread, and then has an open house for all of her friends and family. So simple and comforting; literally and figuratively warm. Definitely a tradition I’d like to adopt some day.

    • Chinese take out and a movie, with holiday drinks if I’m not pregnant. Not quite Xmas eve, but usually work ends early and I meet a friend for a festive drink before heading home. That one is getting harder to accomplish as I get older but is great when I manage it.

    • I’ve always loved Christmas Eve more than Christmas Day! Growing up, our neighbor would hosted an “open house” for the day, and everyone in the neighborhood would stop in at some point. That night, we’d get dressed up and go out to a fancy dinner later than usual (maybe an 8pm reservation). Sometimes my mom and I would go to a Church service that ended at midnight, with the church bells ringing that it was Christmas Day. The service was mostly Christmas carols, there wasn’t any “preaching” so people from town who weren’t particularly religious or of a different faith would sometimes be there too. Great memories!

    • A church service and some kind of nice dinner. I try to prep a special breakfast (like baked french toast) that can cook while we are opening presents the next day. This year the lad is reading at the 6 pm service and I am chanting the Gospel, so I think we’ll have special memories of the service.

    • Formal christmas eve dinner (men in ties/blazers, ladies in fancy wear, kids in full out christmas dresses [no boys, but if there were, they’d be in bow ties) at grandma (92)’s house. China, the works.

      It’s not an italian family, but it’s a catholic one that has elements of the seven fishes dinners that are common with italian families. Champagne. Christmas cookies. Wine. Present exchange (has turned into a secret santa among all ~20 adults, and my grandma and the 4 kids [under 10] get a bajillion gifts). Throw our kids into the car at 9:30pm in their christmas PJs, drive 2 hours home. Put kids to bed. Prep living room for christmas morning and try mightily to get to sleep by midnight (a lofty but oft achieved goal).

      When grandma passes, I have a feeling my house will become the new Christmas Eve location, and I plan to bring back things like eggnog and punch, which grandma used to do back when she had more energy.

      • Oh, and there used to be church–when I was growing up we’d go to midnight mass after this. We are not raising our kids catholic so we skip church. Some of my aunts still go.

    • Go to my family’s house for a semi-fancy dinner. When I move, I want to spend the day skiing and then spend the evening with a cozy dinner, hot mulled wine, and a Christmas movie with my husband. I’m hoping to develop some new traditions because Christmas Eve has never been quite the same since some family members died.

    • Clam chowder and oyster stew and hanging stockings and putting out cookies for Santa and celery and carrots for Rudolph (my kids are older now but when they were little they did not give one crap about Dasher or Dancer or Prancer or Vixen or Comet or Cupid or Donner or Blitzen – there was only Rudolph)

    • Afternoon – skype with family in Europe
      Dinner – traditional European meal from DH’s country
      Church
      Come home and put on new pyjamas
      Read a few bible chapters of Christmas story
      sing silent night
      open presents from Oma + cousins and one present from us
      read t’was the night before Christmas
      hang stockings (and sprinkle reindeer food – sigh – thanks daycare, we didn’t have enough to do!)

    • Dinner with just my husband. It’s our respite in the middle of a bunch of holiday family obligations. We dress up and go somewhere we love.

    • A casual pancake dinner at the normal time with the kids, by candlelight.
      Read “Twas the Night before Christmas” with the kids.
      Then formal midnight mass at the big cathedral (little kids stay home with an obliging grandparent).
      The adult who stays home has sausage rolls and other hors d’oeuvres waiting when we come back, which we enjoy with a toast to Christmas.
      Then go to bed – the big formal family dinner comes the next day.

    • KS IT Chick :

      We watch Doctor Who in the morning and NCIS Christmas episodes in the afternoon. I make some form of hot cheese dip (one year it was crab, another year it was pizza) and we have an array of deli meats & cheeses with crackers, good bread, mustard and several kinds of olives. We drink something bubbly (me) or smoky (DH). If there’s a college football bowl game on in the evening, we’ll watch that. I try to find time to watch a version of A Christmas Carol or White Christmas in the evening, too.

    • Husband and I have brunch together and open gifts at home, since that morning is our only time together. We usually choose a dish that’s a project to make along with whatever nibbles strike our fancy. We spend the evening with the in-laws, where I bring a bûche de noël for dessert. In-laws are Polish, so we have fish dishes and give each other wishes using Polish Christmas wafers (LOVE this tradition, more here: https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2012/12/19/167650665/polish-christmas-wafer-a-flavorless-tradition-that-s-oh-so-sweet).

    • Anonattorney :

      First we go Christmas shopping with my parents and sisters and significant others and kids in a cute urban shopping area, usually for last minute gifts and stocking stuffers. Then we go prep a lobster and steak dinner at my parents’ house, while a small group goes to the grocery store to get snacks and drinks for the youth homeless shelter’s annual christmas party. Then we reconvene and eat dinner. After dinner we open christmas pajamas and change, and then sit in a circle and read the Night Before Christmas and passages from the Book of Luke (birth of Jesus). The kids (only my kid right now) go and pretend to go to sleep and wait for Santa. Then one of the adults rings a jingle bell and the kids come up and try and catch santa. Then we open gifts one at a time. It’s wonderful and I love it and it will NEVER change. NEVER.

    • PatsyStone :

      Now with my little family- order ahead a fajita package from our favorite local place. Dinner at home. When at in-laws, go to Sea World for their amazing Christmas decorations and low crowds.

    • Rainbow Hair :

      We’ve only had a kid for a few years. Pre-kid, we went to our favorite restaurant and chatted with the servers and tipped ridiculously, then wandered home, hopefully in the snow. I would do a little set up of our gifts and stuff — a christmassy blanket on the kitchen table, a little fake tree and a pile of presents, so it would be all cute and inviting when we woke up.

      Now with kid, the ~tradition~ part (so far) starts after she’s in bed. Setting out gifts, being all romantic, and eating Santa’s cookies while sharing a really really good stout. Man I can’t wait.

    • My family is from New Mexico. We make posole and biscochitos and get tamales (tamales are a pain to make, easier to buy them) and have that for Christmas Eve dinner. Then we put out our own luminarias (candles in a paper bag) in front of our house, and then walk around the neighborhood looking at everyone else’s luminarias and Christmas lights. We come home and have cocoa and watch The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, and then go to bed. We’re not Catholic so no midnight Mass, but I did that many times with friend’s families growing up.

      • ^ This. Posole, tamales, red chile, biscochitos, and empanaditas are Christmas Eve traditions. We live in an apartment, so no farolitos for us (there’s a farolito/luminaria name controversy in NM that’s quite heated), but we go see them if we’re celebrating the holiday in NM. There’s a whole neighborhood in Santa Fe that closes the road for an annual Christmas Eve farolito walk, and it’s just stunning every time.

      • Anonymous :

        Yay fellow New Mexicans! Luminarias all the way. And Posole, red chile, beans with chicos, tamales, and biscochitos on Christmas Eve. Natillas if I am feeling crazy enough. Midnight Mass when we were young, but not now that we don’t go to church.

    • My MIL hosts her family on Christmas Eve. She has everyone (her children and step-children and their spouses and kids) over and serves a traditional meal, and then we exchange gifts. By the time we get home, it’s past bedtime–and that was true even before we had a kid.

    • KateMiddletown :

      Ohhh this thread plus the Soft Piano Christmas playlist on Spotify made me tear up… Love!

    • Linda from HR :

      Let’s see . . . we get cheesesteaks for lunch, then there’s usually a walk around the neighborhood, and then the family gets Italian takeout, and as of last year I walk to a neighborhood church to hear about the birth of Christ and sing Christmas songs. I’m not super religious but it’s a nice way to get out of the house for a bit.

    • Appetizers for dinner, then we go watch a live outdoor nativity presentation. Come home to eat Christmas cookies and send the boys (teens) off to bed so we can fill stockings and pretend they still believe in Santa.

  15. Shopaholic :

    After all the love here for the Dagne Dover tote, I’m about ready to take the plunge but I have two questions. (I’m not in the US so I can’t return so I need to get it right on the first try).

    First, what size? I have a Microsoft surface at work so I think it would probably fit it in the 13 inch, but is the 15 inch a better option? Or is it too big?

    And what colour would you get? I generally try to avoid black (I love some colour in my bags). I like the dune, or slate I think, but I’m open to other suggestions!

    Thanks all!

    • I’d get the smallest one that will fit your needs. They are heavy bags.

    • The 15″ is too big for almost everything, even if you need it for a 15″ laptop. I had the 13″ and replaced it with a 15″, and I NEVER carry it if I can avoid it. It lives at work in case I commute with a backpack and need to schlep for meetings. I even hate taking it for conferences because it’s so heavy loaded up.

    • dagne dover :

      I have the surface too and the dagne dover 13″ fits it. It still feels quite boxy and bulky…I don’t use mine anymore; prefer the Lo & Sons leather tote (although it fits less other “stuff” inside).

  16. Anonymous :

    DC ladies: does anyone have a rec for a nail salon/spa similar to paintbox or chillhouse in nyc? I’d like to treat my sis to a splurgey manicure/spa day for christmas

    • Having never been to either of those —

      For mani/pedi, maybe Nail Saloon?

      For more spa, Sugar House Day Spa in Alexandria? And I’ve never been, but the Bliss spa at the W Hotel looks nice/has good reviews from friends?

  17. Help! Looking for straight leg pants that aren’t jeans but aren’t so dressy I need to wear them with heels that fit my 15.5 inch wide calves which in proportion to the rest of my body are pretty large. Any other wide calf people out there have favorite pants?

  18. family friendly board games :

    One of our Christmas Eve traditions is playing a group Suggestions for something that’s fun for adults, but accessible for kids? game as a family. The kid in question is 7 and can read some. He’s also pretty good at strategy – plays chess, checkers, regular monopoly, clue, etc. Suggestions for something that’s fun for adults, but accessible for kids? Is Exploding Kittens something that would work?

    • family friendly board games :

      Sigh, pls forgive my terrible edits.

    • Set is amazing, it’s a pattern card game and always gets super competitive for all ages

      • I really really like Set too. Apples to Apples is fun too.

        Ticket to Ride is another option, though it will either limit the number of players or people will have to play in teams.

    • Sushi Go is a fun family-friendly game that I have found all ages enjoy. We have the “Party” version so that up to 8 people can play.

      https://www.amazon.com/Sushi-Go-Party-Card-Game/dp/B01CETNKE2/ref=sr_1_1?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1513091106&sr=1-1&keywords=sushi+go+party

    • We do the same. We really like Kingdom Builder – just a bit of strategy and different every time you play it.

      Dominos and Racko are hits for the grandparents and 4 year olds alike. Codenames is fun – it’s hard for 4 year olds but 7-8 is when they start to really enjoy it. Pit is an old classic, a spin on Old Maid. And it’s never too early to teach card games like rummy, euchre, etc.

    • Exploding Kittens would definitely work! Also look at Codenames: Pictures and SpyFall.
      I’ve met kids that age who enjoy Catan and Ticket to Ride as well. If he’s old enough for those, also look at Munchkin (although watch out for borderline language/innuendo).

    • I have “Exploding Kittens” in my cart, it looks like fun. I love “Forbidden Island”, which is a cooperative game your son would get the hang of quickly, and am hoping Santa brings me “Forbidden Desert”.

    • Depending on the kid, ticket to ride and settlers of Catan. I have two relative this age and one is TOTALLY able to play these games, the other is interested but only when on a team with an adult.

    • Eager Beaver :

      Phase 10, Sushi Go or Dixit (https://www.amazon.com/Dixit-Cover-Art-May-Vary/dp/2914849656) would be fun. What about dominoes? We play this version: https://www.mastersofgames.com/rules/mexican-train-dominoes-rules.htm but without the special hub. Super easy to learn and super fun. Requires some strategy, but not so much to make it hard for a kid.

    • I’m a fan of Celebrity for mixed groups – you can google specific rules, but each person submits names of Celebrities (or you can go broader – phrases, places, events, etc), you split up in teams, and teams take turns getting their team to guess the clues. Each player gets ~30 seconds to go through as many clues as they can.

      The first round is taboo (you can say anything except the name/words on the card), then you can play with a variety of subsequent rounds, using the same clues over again – since you know generally what’s in the pot, it gets easier to guess. Other rounds: you can only say 1 word, charades, use only 1 motion.

      With child-friendly clues, this should be fun for adults and kids alike.

    • For a smaller group you may consider a co-op (Forbidden Island/Forbidden Desert/Pandemics- they all have the same mechanics, so don’t get more than one) or just any other family game (I second suggestions for Ticket to Ride).

      If you need suggestions for larger groups: Saboteur is a card game that works for 3 to 10 people (the more the merrier) and Mascarade works from 3 to 13. Saboteur should cost below 10 bucks and Mascarade around 15.

    • I bought that game Kat recommended – ticket to ride- and it’s really fun. A friend who is into these things recommended Pandemic so we will try that next.

    • Puddlejumper :

      Ben and Birdy blog has a whole section on game reviews. I like how she does it for age and also for games that work for mixed ages.

    • scategories

    • Clue or Uno

    • Not a board game per se, but we played Mad Libs at Thanksgiving with a huge group with a similar age range (youngest was 6) and it was hilarious.

  19. convertible tote/ backpack :

    I’m looking at the Fjallraven convertible totepack – does anyone have experience with this bag? I want something primarily for travel – not for packing everything, just for planes and touring around with kids. All other suggestions welcome too!

    • I wanted to like it but again, with all Fjallraven bags- it was way too small. I opted for a everlane bag.

    • Following this. I tried the Fjallraven and liked the look of it, but the straps had no padding, there weren’t good pockets for organization, and there was no padded laptop sleeve. My laptop barely even fit in the non-padded sleeve. I also tried the Sherpani tote at REI and it was ok (maybe it will work for you), but most of the pockets didn’t have zippers or closures and that was impractical for travel. There was no secure place to put a passport, for one.

    • Puddlejumper :

      I have the tiniest child size Fjallraven which I use to hold:
      – a water bottle
      – kindle
      – umbrella
      – a wallet
      – a structured zipper pouch that holds: sunblock, hand lotion, small hair brush, hair bands, lip balm, breath mints, lara bar, diva cup, bandaids, camera etc
      – and in the front little pocket I shove a reusable shopping baggu bag

      It works really great for just one person, It would not be big enough for snacks and things that you would probably want to shove in there if you have kids. I do love how water proof it it is though and durable. Its handy because in museums its so small that they let me hold it by the handles and call it a purse and I don’t have to check it. I can’t carry a purse all day long or I get neck pain so this is my answer for that. The square box style of it lets me pack in a lot more than most people think is possible.

      I got a herschel backpack to carry my laptop etc when I wanted to go to a coffee shop to do work. It totally died within a few months and I do not suggest it. The bottom ripped out.

      I have a KNOMO London backpack that I love and is leather and gorgeous but its not one that you want lugging around with kids. It does not fit a lot but it fits my laptop and some books and its more of a work nice backpack.

      If going on a serious day trip or a hike my husband and I end up always using my North Face backpack from highschool. I have an older version of the Recon style. Bought it in 2001 and its still going strong. That 4 years of daily highschool use. 4 years of daily college use. And a month long trip through New Zealand etc. Its a sturdy thing. It fits a ton.

      I have not bought one of these, but if I was in your shoes I would consider getting the Walker Goods Arrow backpack. Depending on the age of your kids you could even get them one to use for all their toys and stuff.

  20. You guys, I pulled the trigger and bought Stuart Weitzman boots. They were 40% off and it’s still more than double anything I’ve ever spent on a shoe. But you know what? I’ll wear them constantly and feel awesome, warm and comfortable every time I do.

    What are your recent splurges that you feel good about?

    • Puddlejumper :

      I got myself a pair of la canadienne vogue boots on a cyber Monday sale and my feet are going to be sooo happy this winter in New York slush.

    • Warm and cozy :

      Also boots/booties for me. I stalked my Aquitalia booties until they went on deep discount on Black Friday. And yes, I bought a pair of classic Aquitalia Rhumbas black suede on eBay – new – for $150.

      These classic, waterproof, well made boots in this me less ales will last me decades.

      • How do the Rhumbas run, especially width-wise?

        • Warm and cozy :

          Rhumbas are narrower in the calf, but not too snug on me. The fit is a little relaxed around the ankle, but not pirate-y.

          • Anonymous :

            Oh, sorry, in the foot itself?

          • Warm and cozy :

            Oh, yes. I normally wear regular widths but do have triangular shaped feet. They are slightly snug, and part of that for me is due to the high heel (and my narrow heel that slides). But they give… Very good quality leather. Will form to my foot nicely I think.

  21. Mom of girls and/or women who grew up with only sisters: give me strength!

    I just found out I’m having a third girl–who will be our final child. They’ll be spaced 2 years in school and 2/3 years in age. I love my girls, and I’m excited. Just, you know, processing that I will have THREE TEENAGE GIRLS AT ONCE and also, a 6th 8th and 10th grader.

    My husband’s reaction was to laugh, snort a little, and say “Well I’m secure in my role as favorite parent and king of the castle.” ;) And FWIW he’s a fabulous dad to girls, getting them interested in technical and physical stuff in addition to their default of princesses and ballet (which are fine too! it’s just nice to watch Dad and Girls work on building stuff, doing lego sets, and checking things off my honey-do list together. My 4 year old could probably change a tire, if she could lift it!)

    • i think three girls is great! also – hand me downs! i was always close with my mom, even through the teenage years and both my sister and I always favored my mom to my dad, so you might be the favorite too! seems to be less stressful being the mother-in-law from the girl’s side than from the guy’s side. Your family will be like the Tanners on Full House.

    • I’m from a family of three girls. I’m super close with one of my sisters now and not much with the second (make sure you give your middle child enough individual attention. We have total Jan Brady syndrome going)

      But growing up it was a lot of fun. We played epic days-long games of Barbie, we were interested in the same music & cute guy singers/actors, and we helped each other with things like crushes, dresses, makeup and hair. (I know that sounds shallow but it’s truly what we were interested in). In case you don’t already know this, you’re going to need a bigger bathroom.

      Congratulations on your three girls!

      • Ha, we had the bathroom convo last night. We have one shared upstairs “family” bathroom but it only has one sink. We have a master bath. We have a half bath on the main floor and are adding a full bath to our finished basement. Adding a third full bath upstairs (fourth overall) seems insane. We could expand the main bath upstairs, but it would mean taking what is now our laundry closet (washer/dryer/linen closet) and relocating that, probably to a main floor or downstairs in the basement. Yuck.

        I was one of two girls (we also had a brother) and while we fought over the bathroom, we also just got hair/makeup ready in our bedrooms. Is that not possible these days? Like, shower/bathe/GTFO and use your dryer, brush and 9,000 styling products in your bedroom?

    • Congratulations on a house filled with girls! We only have one 9th grader, and my husband could not be closer to her. In fact, he’s sort of her key person now – they are very into running and math. :) Buckle up, though, the drama is real. Mine can shift from asking me if I need to be in the living room to saying, “Where are you?” in just a few minutes!

    • PatsyStone :

      Yay sisters! I am the middle of three girls, two years between each (boo to middle child/Jan Brady shade). I love my sisters. We put our parents through hell and fought like cats and dogs, but all of my favorite times are with my sisters, then and now. They are truly my companions for life, for better or worse. Congratulations!

      • it’s not shade. I think my parents created the Jan Brady monster by not giving enough individual attention to the middle child – just warning against that.

        Agree on the fighting like cats and dogs. We didn’t do a lot of punching but we did get in physical fights- slapping, hair pulling and kicking.

        • PatsyStone :

          I understand, but it’s an overused stereotype for middle children. The common middle child tropes aren’t borne out in the research, largely due to to the many many different ways one can be a middle child. Just one of those things that makes me prickly.

          (but I do credit middle child status to improving my peace-making abilities, haha)

    • This is exactly my family structure down to the ages and years in school (I’m the loud-mouthed, strong-willed middle child!).

      You’ve got this. We fought like hell for a number of teenaged years but are BEST FRIENDS today. We’re 30/32/34 right now, but true friendship bloomed years ago – I promise you won’t have to wait 30 years for reprieve. This may out me, but we’re also all having our first babies withing 9 months of one another – 1 over the summer, one literally just this morning, and mine due this spring. It’s the best!!

      • My second has been loud mouthed and strong willed (and just plain strong) since the day she was born. She was born to be a middle, apparently ;). She’s also a total ham.

    • I just found out I’m having another boy (I have a girl, too, but really, really wanted another girl!) and I actually cried at the ultrasound – maybe it will help to know that I really envy you your three girls! The thought of trying to raise not just one but two white men who are feminist, non-violent, productive members of society seems really overwhelming. Kids have their challenges no matter the sex/gender.

      • You know, I had that same thought. My two reservations about a boy were the circumcision debate (we’d probably land on not doing it, but THERE IS SO MUCH TO DISCUSS) and raising a decent male human these days.

        Now I just have to focus on having my girls keep their clothes on in all internet photos ;)

  22. Anon looking for advice :

    Hi everyone – looking for some advice. My boyfriend’s grandfather passed away over the weekend. He’s asked me to come to the wake, which I am more than willing to do, but it’s the first wake I will have ever attended so I wanted to ask the hive for general advice on what to do/expect. I’m also not sure what to do for flowers/donations… we’ve been dating for about a year and expect to get engaged within the next few months (have been talking about timelines and looking at rings, etc…), so we’re pretty serious, but I’m not sure what is customary for this situation. We are located in the greater NYC area if that helps. Thank you in advance.

    • Bring a card for his parents. Has he already sent flowers to the funeral home? If not, send some from both of you. They will be displayed at the wake. I would do both flowers and a donation given how serious you are and depending on what the notice states. Wear something conservative in darker colors (doesn’t have to be all black but don’t go in a pink sundress – I’m sure you know this but just in case). Expect to make lots of awkward small talk with people you don’t really know. Don’t feel guilty about staying close to BF but he will probably also be supporting his parents so he likely won’t be able to give you his full attention.

    • Lana Del Raygun :

      I’m sorry! At most of the wakes I’ve been to, you just give your condolences to the family and then mill around making subdued small talk and/or reminiscing (and listening to reminiscences) about the deceased. Since you’re going for a specific member of the deceased’s family, I would stick by him and be supportive (see if he wants you to get him food if applicable, etc). If it’s at a funeral home, you should be able to call them and ask about flowers and donations, but I don’t think it’s necessary. If the family is religious there may be prayers, but if you’re not you can just stand there respectfully while they pray. Wear funeral clothes or something equally dark but a bit less dressy.

    • AnonInfinity :

      I would send flowers or make a donation to a charity if the family has requested that. When my mother died this year, thinking about all the people who took the time to do something like that was so meaningful.

    • Clementine :

      Wear something conservative and on the darker side, but make sure to bring a colored scarf (lately, I’ve been to a number of ‘Don’t wear black!” funerals).

      Be there for your BF. Brush up on your generic small talk. Get ready to say, ‘So sorry for your loss.’ ‘He certainly lived quite a life.’ etc.

      My coping mechanism at these things is to try and quietly be helpful. Pretty often, people will be hanging around the family home. I am always in the kitchen, doing dishes and helping straighten up cookie plates. It makes me feel less awkward to have something to do, is actually helpful, and is part of why my MIL loves me.

      Don’t be surprised if BF is fine during the day and then gets that introspective level of drunk and talks about feelings. If his family is Irish Catholic, that’s how we roll.

    • Co-signing all of this, every thing (esp Clem’s last line, hah! same!), and adding:

      Be a hero: bring a ton of breath mints/altoids, small packs of tissues, and a little vial of hand sanitizer.

    • Was the Grandfather a particular religion? Many Catholic wakes involve a long-ish visitation followed by a more formal wake service which may include the reciting of the rosary. And in some families, the gathering moves to the bar after for what can turn into a fairly rowdy celebration of life. Otherwise, it is common for all of the family to gather after the wake for late dinner/takeout pizza/etc.

      Bring comfortable shoes because all events include a significant amount of standing around. If there is a burial as well, you might be tromping through a cemetery.

    • NE Irish Catholic :

      In my Irish Catholic upbringing, I agree with most everything here except the donations and flowers. In all deaths – grandparents and aunts/uncles namely – there was and is no expectation that anyone donate or send flowers. If you can do it and have the means, go for it because it’s a lovely but entirely unnecessary gesture. Do not think anyone will be put off if you do nothing but be there with the family and for your boyfriend.

      • Anon looking for advice :

        Thank you everyone – this is all extremely helpful and I really appreciate it.

    • Yes, be prepared to be the doting soon spouse to be with your boyfreind. When the relatives see that you are doting on the boyfreind, they too will embrace you as a soon to become new member of the family, especially since grampa just passed away. My grandma Leyeh pointed this out to me before I visited with Sheketovits’ family last year. The onley differnece is that I was NOT interested in marrying Sheketovits by that point–instead I was ONLEY being Civil to the family.

  23. Hive, I could use some internet hugs and advice right now. We just found out that a close family member was recently arrested for drug trafficking several states away. He’s not doing well mentally or emotionally right now and my family is just reeling. Do you all have any advice for getting through this? I’m just doing my best not to burst into tears at my desk as this was really unexpected.

    • Do you really feel THAT bad? Presumably he chose to be dealing and wasn’t somehow framed?

      • What, so you only feel bad for a loved one in a tough situation if it’s 100% not their fault? Would you sneer at an elderly aunt dying of lung cancer because she was a smoker (and even hurt other people through her second-hand smoke)?

      • Never too many shoes... :

        Wow. That was really rude.

      • Yes, I do. I know it’s absolutely his fault, but he’s my younger sibling and I don’t want anything bad to happen to him, even if it is because of his wrongdoing. That aspect makes this especially difficult because this was completely preventable so there are feelings of anger wrapped up in this.

        • Do it for yourself :

          I see he was drug trafficking – but is there also a chance that he is also using/addicted?

          In that event, I’d suggest finding a nar anon meeting for some support. My sibling is also a human hot mess, struggling through a lot of his own undoing. He’s 3 years sober now, but it’s always a house of cards with him. I’m working to find the most effective ways to support him, not enable him, and to cope in my own ways

        • Of course there are! Of course it’s upsetting and you’re angry. Be gentle with yourself.

        • Anon for this :

          I just went through something sort of similar – found out my sibling had fully succumbed to a drug addiction and had made some really bad decisions. We had sort of known for a while, but I received news while at work that confirmed our worst fears. I actually told one of my superiors that I was dealing with some pretty heavy family stuff and sketched out the problem because I was so distracted and upset. I still came to work the next few days while my emotions evened out, but it was really nice to know that someone at work knew what was going on and could play a bit of interference for me.

        • Rainbow Hair :

          I’m really sorry for that mean first comment, Very Anon. Internet hugs.

      • I mean, say the person is a Really Bad Person. Even so, maybe that person has a spouse / young children who are now presumably in dire financial straits, will probably lose their home, will have to fund a defense, may be shamed if they live in a small town (I was friends with the kid of our local drug dealer and she did not have an easy life; we are still FB friends and she is a grandparent of kids who are the same age as my children). Maybe an elderly relative depends on them for food / housing / doctor appointments?

    • I’m so sorry. I know you’re dealing with shock right now so of course you are upset. But steel yourself. This is going to be a marathon, not a sprint. Especially if your family member is drug addicted.

    • This is not quite the same, but my brother has been arrested for 4 DUIs, incarcerated for 4 months at age 25 because of the last DUI [these was some possession along the way, not sure which incident. Maybe the last one.], and since then has been on parole and had severely restricted travel and driving.

      Also, I have another brother who was hospitalized for a variety of complicated mental disorders for 5 months, and has been in and out of rehab.

      You said this is a close family member– with my situations, it was always hard to understand how my parents were communicating (or not) to the rest of the family with my brothers’ situations. As in, grandma most certainly did NOT know her grandsons were in jail and rehab respectively. My social worker aunt, however, did and was very much a pillar of support.

      My kids were young, but not so young they didn’t ask where Uncles A and B were at family things. Want to know sad? When your 3 year old’s drawing/letter to her incarcerated uncle gets returned because it had stickers on it, which were not allowed (only pen/ink/marker and paper). DUI uncle missed several major life events because he couldn’t get his parole officer to clear him leaving the state (ie he asked too late). We live one state over, about a 40 minute drive, but he couldn’t come hold our newborn baby.

      It’s so, so hard. There are resources for family members– the ones I used are likely different than what you used.

    • It is definitely a shock, but I think it can be important for him to know that you still care about him, you will be there for him, and although you don’t condone what he has done, that you know that he is not a terrible person and that he will get through this. Then help find him a lawyer/get a public defender and let that person guide him through the next steps. (I am a criminal defense lawyer and so many of my clients get abandoned during this time–which I can understand, it is difficult to deal with and depending on what happened some family members do need to cut contact–but the ones who have some support come out much stronger.)

      • Thank you so much. This is a very helpful reminder. It’s just very scary for us all since the state in which he was arrested has a five year minimum prison sentence for this type of crime. He is generally a good, kind person who makes very reckless decisions, but this is an absolute all-time low.

        • Never too many shoes... :

          I am so, so sorry that you are dealing with this, OP. It is ok to feel all of your feelings right now – you can both love your brother and be terrified for him AND be furious at him for his actions, often at the same time.

      • This happened to my mom with my uncle. He was very much at fault and her approach was to support him by visiting him, making sure he had good counsel, coordinating the kinds of things that would help him become better. She also had serious conversations with him about changes he needed to make going forward.

        Most importantly, I am so sorry. This was devastating to our family and I can’t imagine how you are feeling.

    • I’m so sorry this is happening. My younger brother went through a really rough stretch in his early 20s and I remember one particular incident clearly – different circumstances but I won’t ever forget the total panic, fear, anger, and complete lack of control that I felt.

      For now, take it minute by minute like you would with any other incredibly difficult thing. I think compartmentalizing helps, though it’s hard at first when the news is new.

      Also try not to assume the worst. The 5-year minimum is scary, but there’s still a lot that can happen and you don’t know the outcome yet. Make sure he has a good lawyer, whether private or a public defender. And then just be there for him however you can.

    • This happened to my brother. I am so sorry. It was arguably the hardest thing my family ever had to deal with. Do you need someone to talk to that has been through it? There are so many stages to the process. If you post an anon email address, I will email you.

      • Thank you so much, EB. Hearing from someone who’s gone through this would be very helpful. You can email me at anonrette89 at the gmail.

    • The only panic attacks I’ve ever had were when my little brother went through a similar crisis. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I do think it’s important to let him know that you won’t abandon him. You don’t need to condone what he did in order to support him.

    • Very Anon :

      I just want to thank you all so much right now. This is a particularly difficult situation because I don’t know anyone who has dealt with this and really just have no idea what to expect. As awful as it is, it is comforting to know that plenty of other women here have brothers who are human hot messes, as Do it for yourself said. I posted an email address in response to EB’s comment so if anyone else wants to share their experiences, useful resources, etc, it would be much appreciated I can’t express just how grateful I am for your kind, thoughtful responses. Truly, thank you.

    • I am so sorry you are going through this. I would agree with the general sentiment of being there for your brother and maybe having a few hard but loving conversations with him. Navigating through the legal system would be hard for them if he is also going through withdrawal/drug treatment.
      FWIW- I have two elder siblings who each talked to me very differently about my teenaged drug-abusing ways. One tried rational and used a lot of “I want to help you be a better person, what can I do to help” type statements while the other used a lot of “God would not like this, I don’t want you to go to hell” type statements. The first one felt more understanding and is something that stuck with me a bit more. Perhaps you could suggest/chip in for therapy to get to the underlying problems that started the addiction, if that is something your brother is open to.
      Please remember, while your brother has made some bad choices and gotten in trouble for it. It is possible they might not feel remorse, try to blame things outside of them, just fail to take responsibility for their actions. If that is the case, do your best to help them understand but keep your limits. Don’t exhaust yourself trying to help someone who does not want to be helped.
      Hope this helps. My thoughts are with you and your family

  24. Best fiction books you’ve read this year? I really need a page-turner for my upcoming flight. The last page turner I read was The Paris Architect and then a Ken Follett book before that. Historical fiction is always welcome!

    • I just finished Rules of Civility and LOVED IT.

    • Lana Del Raygun :

      I’m currently reading Everything I Never Told You (Celeste Ng) and it’s excellent so far, although it’s more “heartbreaking meditation on family and secrecy” than “page-turner.” Have you read Big Little Lies? I would definitely recommend it as a plane book, since it’s exciting but not so convoluted that travel distractions would spoil it for you.

      My favorite-ever historical fiction is Code Name Verity (Elizabeth Wein)–definitely a page-turner and a relatively quick read.

    • Shopaholic :

      I just read a Man Called Ove which I loved and couldn’t put down. Although it made me cry so maybe not the best bet for a plane ride…

      • Beartown (by the same author) was one of my favorite books this year.

      • +1

        I also loved Britt Marie Was Here by the same author. His books have amazing character development

      • I am currently reading and LOVE it. Also realized last night that it got turned into a show (Amazon) so looking forward to finishing the book and starting the show.

    • A few I’ve enjoyed:

      The Good Girl (Mary Kubica)
      The Husband’s Secret (Liane Moriarty)
      Close Enough to Touch (Colleen Oakley)
      What Was Mine (Helen Klein Ross)
      Skeletons at the Feast (Chris Bohjalian)
      The Girl You Left Behind (JoJo Moyes)

      I also like the Amos Decker and John Puller books from David Baldacci

    • All 3 Kevin Kwan books in the crazy rich asians series.

      • I loved crazy rich asians! Other fiction books I’d recommend:
        Big Little Lies (Liane Moriarty)
        Today Will be Different (Maria Semple)

        Huh, I read mostly non fiction. Those are the 2 fiction novels I’d recommend that I read this year.

    • Before We Were Yours – everyone I know who has read it has loved it and it is a page turner, though also disturbing to me that this is part of our history.

      Orphan Train

    • Killer Kitten Heels :

      Books I’ve loved this year which I would also classify as “page-turners” (in the sense that I found them compelling, not necessarily that they were particularly suspenseful):

      -Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson (memoirs)
      -Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Book Store by Robin Sloan (contemporary fiction)
      -The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (contemporary fiction)
      -All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage (suspense)
      -The Yoga of Max’s Discontent by Karan Bajaj (contemporary fiction)
      -Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy (contemporary fiction)
      -Everything ever written by Rainbow Rowell
      -The Fireman by Joe Hill (post-apocalypse/slight horror)
      -Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (historical fiction)
      -Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (horror with historical elements)
      -Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi (contemporary-ish – starts in, I think, the 60s and continues to present)
      -The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (non-fiction)
      -The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey (suspense/post-apocalypse)
      -Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile (contemporary fiction, but may scratch the “historic” itch in the sense that there’s a lot of history in it)
      -The Affinities by Robert Charles Wilson (near-future sci-fi)
      -Dietland by Sarai Walker (contemporary fiction/suspense)
      -The Power by Naomi Alderman (pre- to post-apocalypse fiction)

      I also re-read Jane Eyre and was reminded it’s really great.

    • Night Film by Marisha Pessl. It’s kind of a fantasy/mystery mix. I found it to be just the right amount of scary/suspense. I was fully engaged but did not feel the need to sleep with the lights on.

    • I couldn’t put Life After Life down once I started (it had been heavily recommended to me), and then the day after I finished it I checked out the ebook of A God In Ruins because I couldn’t wait until I could visit the physical library to read the sequel.

    • Sydney Bristow :

      I read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood for the first time before the show came out. It was incredible.

      I also re-read Kathy Reich’s Temperance Brennan series this year. I get completely sucked in to those.

      I haven’t started The Demon Crown by James Rollins yet, but it is the latest in the Sigma Force series, which I love.

    • Anonattorney :

      If you’re at all into sci-fi, I’m reading the Expanse series by James S. A. Corey right now. It’s highly entertaining.

    • All Saints Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. If you love Harry Potter, you’ll probably be a fan.

    • The Telling and Longbourne, both by Jo Baker.

    • Lilian boxfish takes a walk, exit West, autumn, these dividing walls, commonwealth

    • This is non-fiction, but reads like fiction and is a complete page turner: American Heiress

    • If you enjoyed The Paris Architect, I definitely recommend The Perfume Collector. Recently read and really enjoyed both of them.

      These are not recent reads, but a few other fiction favorites include The Nightingale, All the Light We Cannot See, and Rules of Civility.

    • Moonstone :

      It’s brand new — The World of Tomorrow by Brendan Mathews. Beautifully written, compelling story, interesting historical details. I’m giving it to lots of people for Christmas.

    • Linda from HR :

      Ooooh I hope you’re still checking this. I have read and loved:

      – The Painted Girls, about the young ballet dancer who modeled for Degas’ famous statuette

      – The Paris Wife, about Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, takes place in Paris in the 20’s

      – China Dolls, about young Asian women dancing in a Chinese nightclub around the start of WWII

      – The Lost Wife (misleadingly generic title, but it’s got a neat story arc about the artistic resistance during the Holocaust)

      God bless the discount table at my local bookstore, I never would have discovered most of these otherwise.

    • Tech Comm Geek :

      I’ve recently finished and loved the Sebastian St. Cyr series of mysteries. They are set in Regency England and incorporate a fabulous amount of historical and political detail.

    • The Alienist! Dickens-era serial killer murder solving (no aliens involved at all, promise). I could not put it down.

  25. Curious how many people celebrate Christmas without going to church. And why?

    • Tradition. And everything I like about it derives from pagan traditions anyway.

      • http://www.livescience.com/25779-christmas-traditions-history-paganism.html

      • THIS. I love celebrating and I never go to church. Also, December 25 was the date of the Winter Solstice on the Roman calendar. I celebrate with both my kids, usually not on Christmas day (the magic of divorce), and I explain to them, “Santa is a story grown ups tell kids to try to make them behave, but I know you are good kids. All the presents here are from me and [boyfriend].”

      • Gail the Goldfish :

        Yep. Plus, I like it as a solstice celebration, because I need lights and joy when it gets dark so early that the only sun I see if my 15 minute drive to work in the morning.

    • cake batter :

      Me!

      Not religious in the slightest, but I love Christmas. I personally don’t connect the holiday to anything religious – it’s more about coziness, happiness, love, generosity, etc. Jesus doesn’t cross my mind during the season except for when I see nativity scenes out and about.

      • anonshmanon :

        +1. I grew up in a non-religious household, but we did Christmas as an occasion to gather as a family, indulge in good food, light the darkness with candles and relax and find some stillness at the end of a year. Presents have become less important as the kids grew up, of course.

    • Lol what do you mean “why”? Christmas is a cultural holiday, it’s not just religious. This can’t possibly be news to anyone.

      • But what are you celebrating then? The exchange of gifts on a specific day? I don’t mean it to be snarky, genuinely trying to understand. I get that some people don’t like church or haven’t found a particular church they like (I’d stay home too if I didn’t have a proLGBT and prochoice church to attend) but I had assumed that people who are celebrating still do so because they identify broadly as Christian.

        I get that many traditions have pagan origins and other traditions (Christmas trees) are not religiously related but I don’t get celebrating Christmas day specifically if you aren’t Christian. What do you tell kids about why they are getting presents?

        • “What do you tell kids about why they are getting presents?”

          We tell them about Santa. Sorry to tell you, nothing in the Santa lore is really about baby jeesus. It’s about being good little boys and girls.

          I sense you’re trying to pick a fight and I think you need to get over it.

          • I’m genuinely not trying to pick a fight. I’ve certainly heard of people not attending church at Christmas because they didn’t regularly attend at a particular church but this is the first place I’ve heard of people celebrating Christmas but not identifying it as a Christian holiday.

            I grew up with the understanding that Santa Claus is St. Nikolaus (Father Christmas/Sinter Klaas/Pere Noel etc) and brings presents to celebrate the birthday of Jesus the same way we give presents to kids on their own birthdays. Like this was discussed by our teacher at school (public school – rural area). It’s also why I was only allowed to ask for three things and my kids are allowed to ask for three things (because Jesus received three gifts).

            To each their own.

          • OP, it sounds like you grew up very sheltered and live in a bubble if you don’t understand how people could possibly enjoy Christmas without going to church. It’s 2017, there’s a whole other world out there.

          • I’m genuinely not trying to be snarky, but did you grow up in the United States? There are constant reminders everywhere that Christmas has become a cultural holiday. I am in the deep south and know lots of people who don’t celebrate the religious part of Christmas.

          • Anon 11:23 :

            @ Anon 11:37

            I never said I “don’t understand how people could possibly enjoy Christmas without going to church.” In fact, I specifically said that I knew people that did just that. What I did say was that I was surprised that non-Christians celebrated Christmas. Potato commented below with a polite and useful explanation.

          • It’s a cultural marker, basically. The stuff we learn about St. Nicholas giving gifts — sure he had a reputation for being a giver, but the tradition of gift giving around the winter solstice was around in Europe before Christianity and the church had some super good reasons for wanting to overtake all of the preexisting traditions. There was a myth around the wild hunt of Odin, who flew through the air on a sleigh led by his two raven helpers, who would listen at chimney and tell Odin about whether the residents were naughty or nice… a little familiar? It’s just how traditions evolve. Like how saints became a thing, maybe because people missed all the different gods and goddesses. I don’t believe in Santa, of course, nor do I believe that St. Nicholas literally resurrected three children a butcher killed to sell as ham, but I don’t need to literally believe in those things to celebrate some nice, cozy family time.

          • Anon @12:16, that’s cool about Odin. I didn’t know that. or maybe on some level I did, because I always think of Flight of the Valkyries when I see media images of santa and his reindeer flying through the sky.

          • anonymous :

            This, times a million.

            We are not religious and really don’t identify as Christian. But both my husband and I celebrated Christmas as children and want to continue to do so, because it’s part of our family traditions. I really don’t care, OP, if you or anyone else has a problem with that, because what other people do is really none of your business. Get a life.

          • anonshmanon :

            to anon at 2:04, can we assume good intent here? Nowhere did the OP say they had a problem with non-Christians celebrating. The questions might strike you as strange, but if you don’t know something and want to know, asking questions really is the only way.

        • Essentially, I’m celebrating family. My closest relatives live 500 miles away Christmas is a great time for an extended visit with them. We exchange gifts because we have always done so. I view it as similar to Halloween. I celebrate by doing the traditional things, candy, scary movies, etc, but I don’t have connections to the ancient, pagan origins of Halloween.

          • Anon 11:23 :

            Thanks – I appreciate the explanation. The comparison to Halloween is helpful to understanding how others view it.

        • Are you being deliberately obtuse just to stir up trouble or what?

        • Aunt Jamesina :

          I don’t think most of the Christians I know spend all that much time on the religious aspects of Christmas, anyway, aside from Church services, putting up a nativity, and maybe an extra prayer or two. Look at our day-to-day traditions: visiting Santa, looking at Christmas lights, $hopping… The vast majority of the trappings of Christmas in American society are secular or are easily secularized. Look at the standard Christmas films (many of which are quite old at this point), and you’ll have a hard time finding any references to religion at all. This isn’t new.

          I think peace, cheer, pretty lighting, gift-giving, celebrating when the weather turns foul and good food and drink are pretty universal and don’t require a shred of religion to celebrate. I grew up Catholic and enjoy going to an Episcopal church service once in awhile, but I don’t consider myself religious. Christmas is, however, a huge part in the traditions of my family. Most non-religious Christmas celebrators are from a family for whom Christmas was a religious holiday at some point in the past, and most of us don’t want to give it up.

          I don’t think Jesus would recognize most of American Christmas traditions as being very Christ-centered.

        • “I had assumed that people who are celebrating still do so because they identify broadly as Christian.”

          Incorrect assumption. Many people who are atheist or agnostic are raised by families that identified as Christian a couple of generations back and continue to celebrate “Christian” holidays even though they don’t identify as Christian and never have. The same is true for my non-observant Jewish relatives.

          • Yeah, plenty of atheists celebrate Christmas, including me. There are plenty of elements of the holiday that aren’t religious (Christmas, candles, stockings, gifts – none of that really derives from Christianity). I grew up celebrating Christmas and want to pass that on to my kids, even though I’m not longer religious. It’s fun, and frankly it would more awkward not to, given the ubiquity of Christmas in American cultural life.

            On the flipside – growing up in a religious household, we didn’t do Santa because my parents thought that it was too secular.

          • Anonymous :

            Almost every Northern hemisphere culture has a holiday of lights new the winter solstice. Because the darkness of winter is really f’ing depressing. The name for it predominantly Christian countries just happens to be Christmas.

          • biglawanon :

            Yes, Jews in America celebrate the cultural aspects of Christmas too. We have a traditional Christmas tree, and a “Hanukkah bush” – with blue/white ornaments and lights, Stars of David, etc.

          • Anonymous :

            Some Jews in America may celebrate the cultural aspects of Christmas. But I know a lot of non-religious American Jews (including my husband, his entire extended family and many of our Jewish friends) who feel VERY strongly that “Christmas = Christian” even if it’s celebrated in a completely agnostic/secular way with no church or mention of Jesus (the way many people on this thread have described “secular Christmas”). They all feel very strongly about not personally participating in Christmas traditions like having a tree or taking kids to see Santa. The only Jewish people I know who have Christmas trees in their homes are married to non-Jews or have some non-Jewish heritage themselves. And none of these people believe in G-d, go to temple, had bar/bat mitzvahs, etc., so they would definitely be considered unobservant or “cultural Jews” by religious Jews.

      • I interpreted the “why?” as OP being interested in hearing people’s reasons – or no reasons!- for choosing to celebrate religiously or not.

        • Yeah exactly! Just curious!

        • I did too at first, but given the very defensive responses, I now doubt it.

          • Lots of anons posting. I’m the OP and I really was just curious, and I’ve found it all very interesting! Prompted by the Christmas Eve traditions thread I was surprised church wasn’t more common.

          • Anonymous :

            Not everybody is a Christian.

          • Anonymous :

            Yeah but why celebrate a Christian holiday then. That was the question. And lots of people had really interesting answers!

    • I did growing up. My mom’s family is entirely non-religious (agnostic bordering on atheist) going back many generations, but celebrated Christmas in a totally secular, kid-focused way (tree, presents/stockings, Santa, Christmas music and cookies, etc.) and my father was raised Jewish. We also did some secular stuff for Easter (egg dying and egg hunts when us kids were young) but it was definitely more low key and less of a big deal than Christmas. Everyone in my family has been married in a civil ceremony, so the only time my parents and I have ever set foot in a church is for friends’ weddings.

    • AnonInfinity :

      I’m confused about this question. I have never celebrated Christmas by going to church because I am not Christian. I would imagine most people who don’t go to church for Christmas are the same. Or just not really religious.

      • I guess that’s my confusion! Christmas is a religious holiday. I just find it a bit strange to celebrate it without being at all religious. Not as strange as Easter though!

        • No, it really isn’t if you go back to its roots. It’s a secular end of year / solstice celebration which was co-opted by Christians because they didn’t like people celebrating something that wasn’t Christ.

          Most of us who aren’t religious enjoy the tree, the lights, the food, the family gathering and the gifts. These are all ancient traditions that predate Christianity.

          • Where did you get the information in your second paragraph? I thought that Christmas trees started in the 1700s or 1800s in Germany? They became popular when Queen Victoria adopted them via her German husband Prince Albert.

            Was there a pagan mid-winter gift giving tradition? I thought that the gift giving is because of the three wise men bringing gifts to baby Jesus? Lights/celebrating the winter solstice and the
            beginning of the return of the light is definitely a pagan thing but I’m confused about the pagan origins of the tree and gift giving. I’ve never heard that before.

          • @ Anonymous at 11:16am – you’re cute. Yes, celebrating the winter solstice predates the 1700s. The tree is an ancient pagan tradition. The gifts are definitely more based on the baby jesus thing, but there’s no requirement when you buy gifts or wrapping paper that you tell your kids about baby jesus.

          • Bringing greenery into the house during the solstice is pagan, not specifically a tree, but the tree probably derived from the pagan tradition. The gifts were given at New Years traditionally, long predating Christianity.

            This information is easily available all over the Internet.

          • And the level of gift giving we do is not so much god but the god of commerce. There is no religious or pagan precedent for all the crap we give each other at Christmas. You can thank Madison Ave for that, not the three wise men.

          • @ Anon 11:23

            I have heard of greenery being brought in as a pre-Christian tradition but that relates to the whole winter season vs. the Christmas tree tradition which I understood to have developed in Germany in the 1700s in relation to Christmas and was popularized by Queen Victoria in the 1800s.

            I know traditionally gifts were given on January 6 because that’s Three Kings Day when per tradition the wise men brought the gifts to Jesus. Christmas Day is currently celebrated on January 6 in the Eastern Orthodox tradition. Haven’t heard of the gifts given on New Year’s day as pagan before, what’s the celebration of January 1 for in the pagan tradition? Confusing because New year’s day is the first day of the Gregorian calendar which is a Christian way of dating? I know Russian secular tradition is to give gifts on December 31 because Christmas celebrations were not permitted under communism but that’s a 20th century development.

          • Gail the Goldfish :

            Saturnalia is the old Roman holiday that was co-opted by Christmas. It involved gift giving. So yea, that’s old too.

          • Christmas has been celebrated for almost two thousand years. Whatever it had been for a few hundred years prior is, at this point, entirely irrelevant.

            That pagan traditions have been overlaid with Christian traditions does not change the fact that (simple history) Jesus was born, started a religion that was separate and distinct from Judaism, and was crucified.

          • Anon 11:33 :

            Gail – the Saturnalia thing is super interesting -I just read the wiki entry but will definitely read up on that more. I’m a practicing Episcopalian but I think all these different traditions are sort of connected as expressions of different cultures worshiping a higher power.

            Anon 11:58 is a different anon.

          • As a Christian, I’d like to 2nd this. The Bible doesn’t mention when Jesus was born (Biblical scholars lean toward fall or spring) and “Christmas” was created by the early Church a few centuries post-Jesus by absorbing current pagan festivals (like Saturnalia) and putting their own spin on it. It helped more pagans assimilate into Christianity.

            From the Reformation to today, lots of evangelical churches DON’T celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus. I grew up in one. I attend a reformed Presbyterian church now that acknowledges that “we don’t know the day that Christ was born” but yet still puts on the pageantry of Christmas because 1.) it’s a tradition the congregation doesn’t want to give up, and 2.) the focus is less on the fact that Jesus came, but that he will come again. The same message is preached all year long, only now we have candles and greenery up everywhere.

            My husband and I are serious, every-Sunday-we’re-at-church Christians and we tell our children that Christmas is about TRADITION, not really about Jesus. We have an advent candle that we light at dinner (another reminder that Jesus will come again) but that’s it. No nativity sets. No “Jesus Is The Reason” cards. No stink eye about Happy Holidays.

            Just throwing that out here to point out that even among Christians, Christmas isn’t all about Baby Jesus.

          • Anonymous :

            If you want to get traditional with the Christmas Tree: I am from Germany, and traditionally, you trim the tree on the 24th, to be revealed that afternoon. It stays up through new year’s and is tossed after a week. More people are adapting what I think is a US custom to put up the tree much earlier, because it’s nice and less of a waste. It’s also easier to get more durable trees, that last a while. Hardly anyone does fake trees, though.

        • AnonInfinity :

          Because it’s a national holiday, and it’s the major winter holiday in the U.S. (and many other countries), and there are millions of ways to celebrate it that don’t involve religion.

        • You know Christ wasn’t born anywhere near 12/25 right? Christmas is literally just an old holiday repackaged for Christian purposes. Now that we’re not all beholden to the pope to tell us what to do with our lives, it’s morphed into a cultural tradition. Or if you’re cynical like me, it’s become a holiday to celebrate capitalism, just like Thanksgiving is a holiday to celebrate gluttony.

          • Most Christians were never beholden to the Pope. He’s the leader of one specific sect of Christianity. And I’ve met very few Catholics who believe in his infallibility or consider themselves ‘beholden’ to his views.

          • … you realize Christianity started as one church right? Peter the Apostle was the first pope.

          • You realize it split into multiple denominations literally hundreds of years ago?

          • The hatred towards Catholicism on this s*te is pathetic. Grow up.

          • anonymous :

            The only time I ever see people talking about Catholicism here is when someone disagrees with Catholic dogma and points out a different perspective on the issue. And then someone – I’m presuming it’s you – gets huffy and flounces off after making a comment about Catholic persecution. Honey, if it’s that difficult for you to listen to other people’s opinions, you’re in the wrong place, and would probably be happier elsewhere.

          • … hatred toward Catholicism what????

            Someone needs to brush up on their world history. Most of what people are saying are just facts about how traditions and holidays evolved.

            And yes, much of the western world was beholden to the dictates of the pope going back just a few hundred years.

        • anonshmanon :

          It’s funny you should say that celebrating a secular Christmas is more strange than doing the same for Easter. In countries with a lot of Catholics, Easter as a holiday totally trumps Christmas. So they would be confused by your view of Easter as a lesser holiday, just as you are unfamiliar with the idea of secular Christmas.

        • biglawanon :

          Non-Christians celebrate Easter in some ways too. I am not going to tell my kids they can’t go to Easter egg hunts. And nobody else better do that to them either.

        • Christmas is not a religious holiday (well, it certainly isn’t now). I am based outside the US and where I live, you would be in the minority if you did celebrate the religious aspects of Christmas. Hardly anyone goes to Church and we all seem to celebrate just fine.

    • Grew up Christian, married into family of Jews that celebrate secular Christmas, so that’s what we do now. Presents and fun food and decorations, what’s not to like? And we try to make latkes/sufganiyot and do Hanukkah stuff too.

      • Rainbow Hair :

        I’m a secular Jew whose actual religious beliefs are [??? definitely too confused to parse on a message board???] married to a dude who was raised Christian and loves tradition and hates church, so … yeah. Christmas tree! Menorah! Cookies! Santa! Snuggling up with family when it’s cold outside (or it should be cold outside)! Presents! Twinkly lights! I love it.

        • cake batter :

          +1 yeah this. Gimme allll the holiday fun. I’ll take Christmas presents and latkes and festive holiday cards and beautiful candle lit menorahs and cookies and enjoy every bit of all of it, thankyouverymuch.

    • SupadupaAnon :

      Me, because I no longer believe in a Christian god or enjoy going to church.

      • Whiskeypalian :

        Even if I weren’t Christian, the church music for the advent / christmas season is simply magnificent. I don’t go to those services b/c my kids don’t stay up late enough and I miss it terribly (we go to a kids service earlier and I miss that and Lessons & Carols).

    • New Tampanian :

      I do not go to Church but celebrate Christmas. Christmas was never about religion in my family. And for those who wanted to make it about religion, they had their own little ways of doing so. It was about just being with family. Now, for me, it’s more about time with myself or my friends. It adds a little bit of light into what was typically a dark time of year for me (literally, since I was in NE for many many years). I think it also provides a bit of a reminder to slow down, take stock of the year behind me, plan for the year ahead. I consider myself agnostic leaning towards atheist.

    • Because Christmas is about the birth of Santa.

    • Never too many shoes... :

      I come from a long line of Christmas but no church on both sides, although I am the only actual atheist.

      The season, for me, is about twinkle lights, food, friends, and acknowledging love in all its many forms. And di I mention prosecco? We laugh, we cook, we enjoy each other’s company. Completely secular.

      • Never too many shoes... :

        OP will likely find this hilarious but I love to sing (grew up in choirs and played in a band) but my atheism stops at carols – because I will belt out all the baby jesus songs there are at this time of year and I have literally no shame about it.

        • Total atheist and lover of Christmas carols here. I especially love the really traditional english ones. Not a singer but a pianist.

          So much beautiful music was religious because there was a time when that was the only thing allowed. No secular music.

          And did you ever notice how many minor key pieces end an an abrupt major key? That was because the composer was required to say something like “we can be sad but in the end we remember christ and are happy” (jazz hands). A lot of Bach is like this

        • Same, I adore Christmas carols and I am a happy atheist.

        • Friend!

          I was raised by lapsed Catholics turned atheists who nonetheless sent me to a religiously-affiliated high school because of its strong academics. Mandatory chapel attendance made me nervous, but I LOVED the carols, the more religious the better. Still do. There are about 5 versions of Hark the Herald Angels Sing on my phone, and they will be blasted over and over as I drive five-six hours the weekend before Christmas.

        • Sydney Bristow :

          I grew up in a super religious Christian household, so it was technically a religious holiday for me growing up. I was never really a believer and am an atheist now but keep celebrating Christmas because I like the traditions.

          I don’t sing, but I really love carols. Even the religious ones. They’re pretty.

          • Equestrian attorney :

            Fellow atheist who loves Christmas carols! My dad was raised Catholic and my mom protestant. My father is pretty anti religion and decided not to raise me religious. My mom is a pianist and carols were a tradition in her family so she plays them on the piano and we all sing. I love it but don’t think of the religious aspect at all, just the beauty of the music and loved one singing together. I don’t really understand op’s question – Christmas is so prevalent in our culture, and not just for its specifically christian dimension. Bringing light and greenery in the heart of winter, sharing food, love and generosity (gifts) makes a lot of sense even without referring to the birth of jesus.

        • Senior Attorney :

          HAHA, me, too! One of my super powers is that I know all the words to all the verses of all the Christmas carols — an artifact of singing in church and school choirs all those years. I even go to church on Christmas Eve if I’m in town because I love the music, even though I haven’t been a believer for years and years.

    • I grew up in a pretty religious, churchgoing family, and for some reason we never went to church on Christmas either (FWIW, Christmas was downplayed in our old-school Protestant denomination), though we always went for Easter and the other major religious holidays. And now we have many Jewish family members (like my husband) and the secular approach works out great for everyone.

    • I’m a Christian and I still don’t go to church on Christmas. I’m pretty disillusioned by the church, and I haven’t found one yet that feels like home. So we’ll still read the story of Jesus’s birth from the Bible, we’ll still leave a chair empty for Jesus, etc. It’s been a lifelong struggle across multiple denominations, and is likely part of the bigger conversation about current Christian views on millennials and modern women/ marriages.

    • My husband and I were both raised Catholic, but do not attend church now and have not baptized our children or otherwise raise them in the church. But for us, Christmas is about being together with family, decorating the house, eating traditional foods, and exchanging gifts. It is also a time for giving back and finding ways to be of service to others. We discuss the historical and cultural meaning behind Christmas and also other holidays celebrated around this time.

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      My husband and I used to love going to midnight mass. Then we started drinking during our Christmas Eve feast and ended up too drunk to drive to mass. A new tradition was formed. We tried going before the Christmas Eve feast but it’s hard to get out of work on time and that mass has the children’s pageant and we don’t have kids. We don’t go Christmas morning because that’s when we are opening our presents in our PJs.

    • If you’re really asking about the “war on Christmas” invented by Bill O’Reilly, I agree with the comedian who says, “look around! The war on Christmas has already been fought. Christmas won”

      • Anonymous :

        No not at all. It’s super easy to celebrate Christmas as a Christian. The whole keep Christ in Christmas thing is absurd.

    • Yup. I love Christmas lights and a tree is the best vehicle for them. And Christmas hymns too, tbh. I just don’t go to church anymore.

    • biglawanon :

      We celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah. I grew up (culturally) Jewish, and my husband is not religious. Hanukkah due to my background, and Christmas due to living in the United States. And the non-religious aspects of Christmas and Hanukkah are fun with family and friends.

    • I’m agnostic and celebrate Christmas with lights and music and the works. Ironically I was raised in a very conservative Christian household in a religion (not Jehovahs Witness) that doesn’t celebrate Christmas because of its pagan origins. My parents gave us presents because they remembered how awkward it was to go to school after Christmas break and not have celebrated at all.

      I love Christmas. The lights are pretty, especially in the dark of winter. I enjoy traditions with my family (we left the religion when I was a kid and I still remember how exciting it was the first year we got a tree—maybe that’s why Christmas is such a big deal for me still). Christmas cookies, Christmas music, Christmas lights, celebrating family, love, peace, and generosity. What’s not to like?

  26. Please help me with recommendations for my amazon wish list. I am hard to buy for and my family members have a difficult time. I need items on there in the $30 to $100 range that lean luxurious, self care, not overly practical (which is the current criticism of my list)

    • A nice cashmere scarf or fancy lined gloves.
      Skin care items – maybe some of the ones mentioned on the post yesterday.

      Also, I think it’s rude for people to criticize your list. Who cares if it’s overly practical? It’s stuff you want.

      • Baconpancakes :

        I would love some new Orthaheel Vionic inserts for the holidays – they’re $30 a pair! – but my family is the same – practical, useful gifts are pooh-poohed.

    • I put velvet hangers on my Amazon list this year as an item that blends luxurious and practical (Do I NEED them? No. Are they a luxury that will make my everyday life a little better? Yes.) but that may still be too practical.
      My family knows that L’Occitane hand cream is a staple on my list every year.
      What about a cashmere wrap or scarf? Definitely luxurious, and commenters here can probably recommend some good ones.

    • Ps not jewelry unless “real” -sensitive skin, especially ear piercings.

    • Killer Kitten Heels :

      I usually include fancy editions of books I love on my wishlist, and fancy consumable stuff like high-end baking mixes and nice stationery/pens.

    • Nothing to recommend, but I will offer commiseration–I asked for the Golden Girls Monopoly game and was promptly shot down, which I don’t get at all. That’s what I want! I want to put a hotel on the lanai.

    • I would add the book, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” and nothing else to the list.

    • Rainbow Hair :

      That cult favorite Aztec mud mask? A book of poems? (New American Best Friend has been in my cart for a while.) Bluetooth earbuds? Cheap fun sunglasses? Nice tights? A sparkly clutch? Comfy flats? Travel mugs? Indulgent writing things, like brush tipped markers? Oooh that Rocketbook Everlast thing? Silpats? A bigger cookie sheet? Turkish towels? A nice mancala set? An attractive vase for flowers? A stylish clock for your living room? Makeup brushes? A memory foam mattress topper? A rainbow wig? An underseat bag?

      • tell me more about the rainbow wig…

        • Rainbow Hair :

          This one has been on my wishlist forever…

          https://www.amazon.com/dp/B015IK0A9C/_encoding=UTF8?coliid=IVDKR5O1XA0L7&colid=1SLI658OO4GHR&th=1

          I’m doing a rainbow-based surprise for my daughter and nieces this winter… maybe the excuse I’ve needed to pull the trigger?

    • Ooh, you guys helped me think of something

      this is my favorite pen:
      https://www.amazon.com/Pilot-Retractable-Premium-Roller-31275/dp/B0058NN934/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1513098948&sr=8-3&keywords=g2+fine+point

      Importantly, the fine point version

      Can you think of a fancy-ish pen like I would carry in my work bag or to a meeting that would write the same as this?

    • My SO gave me the same criticism this year — “I’m not buying you a humidifier or a clothes steamer!”

      We don’t live together. I WANT the humidifier and the clothes steamer! That’s why they’re on my list!

      But other than that, I have upgraded cooking tools, a TRTL neck pillow, compression packing cubes, a nice new rose gold french press, a new Echo (for the kitchen), an all in one cheese knife…

    • I’m always in the market for fancy hand cream and bath salts/bombs.

    • I received similar feedback on my list! Hah! I added the fanciest versions of my favorite toiletries and items I can’t have enough of. (kerastase nectar thermique, L’Occitaine hand and foot cream, micron pens,) and also installed the little amazon widget that let me add a bunch a pretty jewelry in the $30-$200 range from Etsy, as well as the Madewell bag I’m wishing for.

  27. Christmas Cards :

    Fun Christmas card anecdote-
    I’m in an online grad program and some people in my cohort organized a Christmas card exchange. I was skeptical anyone would follow through, but I’ve been getting cards from all over the country this week and it’s the best! My cards are almost ready to go and I’ll be mailing them tomorrow. I don’t usually do Christmas cards, but I thought this was a fun bonding/networking activity and I ended up getting inspired to send cards to a few friends and family as well.

    • Nice! I would love to get cards from people I didn’t know well. It seems like a good way to get to know them a little better.

    • That sounds fun! I do like going to the mailbox and getting cards. It’s a nice change from the usual junk.

  28. High waisted skinny jeans :

    I’m looking for high waisted skinny jeans that are sleek and don’t have any embellishments in the tummy area (preferably no button, just a zip or even just a pull on style). I have noticed that when I wear sweaters, my J Brand Maria skinny jeans can be seen underneath the sweater (meaning, the button sticks out and shows prominently) and make my stomach more bulgy than it really is. Willing to pay for designer denim. Thanks!

  29. Chinese raffle :

    I’d never heard this term before this year. It’s the same thing as a white elephant right? Where does this name come from?

    • IDK

      The only other terms I’ve heard is Yankee Swap. I’m from outside of NYC and never heard of that term before (maybe it is Boston-speak?).

    • Never heard it and honestly it sounds a bit racist.

      • Anonymous :

        Yes, the PC term is White Elephant these days.

      • Chinese raffle :

        Yeah that was my initial reaction but I didn’t know if it was an actual thing? Like is this something they do in China? Presuming good intentions and all. I definitely don’t want to repeat the term if it’s not on the up and up.

    • Never too many shoes... :

      I just googled it and I know what it is (in fact, it is how my husband’s form does their holiday raffle) – it is that each prize has its own raffle. So rather than putting all names in one hat and drawing first, second and third prize, you choose which hat to put your tickets into and each is drawn from once for that particular prize.

      But I have never heard it called that.

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      I’ve heard it called a Chinese Auction. You buy a batch of tickets and then you go put them in a jar in front of the things you would like to win.

      • Same, I’ve heard this referred to as a Chinese Auction growing up, but lately have heard people calling it a “Tricky Tray”.

    • No insight there, but also odd, in France they call a ‘potluck’ ‘la repas canadienne’–the Canadian meal.

    • I just heard this term this year. Actually I think it was “Chinese Auction” but it meant basically the same thing. I would bet serious money that it has racist origins.

  30. Any advice for getting through a firm holiday party without drinking – and more importantly, without drawing attention to the fact? I’m both newly pregnant and new to this firm. The timing isn’t ideal, but after years of infertility and multiple failed IVFs, I just wasn’t willing to risk waiting 1-2 years or whatever people seem to expect. I’m so not ready for anyone at work to know, or even suspect, but I worry that it will be obvious when I turn down drinks. I’m thinking of skipping the party altogether, but I don’t want to be seen as antisocial either. Sigh. Being new is hard.

    • Can you order a club soda with lime and tell people it’s a gin and tonic? If you’re constantly holding a drink in your hand maybe people won’t offer you one.

      Also, congrats!

    • Get a glass of sparkling water. Keep it full.

    • Or hold a glass of wine (hopefully only half full to begin with) and don’t actually drink it. No one will be monitoring the level of the drink that closely.

    • If you’re really paranoid you can befriend a bartender and make sure he or she knows that when you come up for another drink it’s another club soda. I have done this. It really does look like a G&T.

      • Never too many shoes... :

        It does not smell like one though. I would suggest cranberry soda in a tall glass with lime and you can say it is vodka which has no smell at all.

        • AnonInfinity :

          Do people seriously smell other people’s drinks to determine whether they’re alcoholic? Yikes.

          • Never too many shoes... :

            Well, it happened to me when I was pregnant but not telling, hence the comment. So yes, as intrusive and terrible as it is, it happens.

          • AnonInfinity :

            This is seriously beyond the pale. I’m sorry that happened to you!

      • Shopaholic :

        I drink vodka sodas and they look the exact same as a G&T plus no smell.

    • If you’re new to the firm, do they know you normally drink? Tons of people don’t drink alcohol for various reasons, including religion, being in recovery or simply not liking the taste or affect. As someone who doesn’t really drink because I just don’t like alcohol that much, I think you could turn down drinks and just tell people you’re not much of a drinker.

    • just went through this so I can totally relate. first of all CONGRATS on being pregnant!!! i’m anxiously awaiting results from my first trimester screening so I can spill the beans at work. i ended up having to tell one person at work last week and she was shocked. i posted on here earlier in my pregnancy and as most people said, people are not as perceptive as you’d think. I’ve been pretty sick so hiding it at work has been a challenge.

      Two options for you – you are new so no one knows your habits yet, so it’s not like last year you were the life of the party and people are expecting you to drink, so you could just tell people that you don’t drink at all. Or you can hold a glass of wine or whatever and pretend to take sips. People are paying less attention than you think. I went to a wedding and my parents were there and they had no idea.

      I just made it through my husband’s work holiday party which was a challenge because it included a sit down dinner and literally the entire menu (from the salad to dessert) was not pregnancy friendly! It was almost funny – from Caesar salad, to fairly rare looking meat, to custard desserts (I was not in a place to start asking if each thing had raw egg), I had to push food around my plate for 3 hours while starving. While I don’t know for sure yet, I’m pretty sure people didn’t really notice. I don’t really like red meat anyway and that was the only option. I promise you that people are not looking at you as much as you think that they are! Congrats again!

    • givemyregards :

      Sparkling water with a lime in a highball glass? If the party has a bar that’s doing spirits – not just beer and wine –
      you can easily fake drinking a mixed drink. Or sometimes when I just don’t feel like I drinking I say “oh, I’m just feeling a little dehydrated so I’m going to start with water” and generally no one follows up, or if they do I say “oh I just had a glass of wine, I’m alternating with water.” Or “I’m feeling a little bug coming on so I’m going to stick with water,” or “I have to drive so I’m switching to water.” I think being nonchalant about it helps keep people from noticing.

      Also, this is a good reminder to everyone to not bug people about whether or not they are drinking!

    • Club soda with lime, alternate in a white wine spritzer – ask the bartender to make it light on the wine. A few sips of diluted white wine won’t hurt. If anyone asks you are meeting friends for drinks later and you’re pacing yourself. Also gives you an excuse to leave earlyish.

      • I agree with the “pacing yourself” excuse. Not that you should have to explain not drinking, but sometimes it helps to have a few pre-packaged excuses just in case. Also: “I’m really struggling to maintain my weight this season; I can’t afford the calories tonight!” Bonus points that it helps explain a little extra around the belly.

      • Anonattorney :

        I don’t really agree with either of these – I don’t think you should be deceptive or mention dieting. Just say you’re sticking with water. If anyone really pushes you, say you’re driving home and just aren’t drinking that night.

        • Anonymous :

          I would go with the “driving home so not drinking.” I honestly don’t drink at all when I have to drive home.

    • This has been me before (both the IVF and the alcohol anxiety!) — first off, congrats! Wonderful news.

      Here are some tricks I’ve employed, but generally speaking, people aren’t paying as much attention as you think they are:
      –get a glass of white wine or champagne (harder to see from a distance how full it is), preferably ask for just half a glass, and then raise it to your lips a lot but don’t sip (unless you want to, but since you asked, I’m guessing you don’t). Eventually, put it down somewhere and switch to club soda.
      –if they offer beer in a can (unlikely but this has worked in casual settings), get one, raise to lips a lot and then dump somewhere later on.
      –order club sodas but ask for it to be in the same kind of glass as other cocktails. Sometimes this is hard to swing at a crowded bar without drawing more attention to yourself. But I’ve also had them give me club soda in a pint glass, which draws even more attention.
      –If anyone notices you dropping your glass off somewhere, just say you have a headache or the wine was too sweet for your taste, etc.

      Good luck!

    • did this yesterday. I was “not feeling well” and had to be up early the next day. I did grab a glass of wine on the way in and just held on to it for the first hour. One friend did keep asking what I was drinking when I got sodas. But whatever. They’ll all know soon enough.

    • I was recently at a wedding and ordered a club soda with lime. The bartender gave it to me in a highball glass, even though I didn’t specify. Later someone randomly say at my table “well now I know no one at this table is pregnant! I was wondering if anyone would skip the drinks.” I wasn’t pregnant, but I knew in that moment what I would order if I ever was trying to hide that I was.

    • PatsyStone :

      Depending on your dietary restrictions/doctor advice, a CocaCola in a red wine glass (no ice) can pass for a Cabernet (especially with other drinkers). And also seems like a treat. Drink the whole damn glass. Hell, have two.

      • CocaCola definitely doesn’t pass as Cabernet. Cocacola has bubbles!

      • Anonymous :

        Huh? What? Coke is brown, Cabernet is maroon/dark red. Plus the issue of bubbles as someone else pointed out. They look absolutely nothing alike to either drinkers or non-drinkers. You can however, get a plain coke and tell people it’s rum and coke, since rum is invisible when mixed into a drink.

    • Been there :

      I was 5 weeks pregnant after 2 years of fertility treatments/procedures when I had to go to a black tie wedding that was epicly long for a close work colleague. Fellow attendees included 20 of my my coworkers, and up to that point I had been a social drinker with all of them for years. A rocks glass with tonic and lime got me through. I don’t usually like tonic – too bitter – but that helped me (1) make a little face when I sipped it, as if it were straight vodka; (2) kept me from sucking it down like I would have with seltzer or straight water. Also, refill the drink when you go to the bathroom/more likely to be on your own.

      Both at this wedding and in general, I was extremely surprised (and happy) to learn how many bartenders absolutely understood what I was implying when I asked for a seltzer and lime in a low ball glass., and used discretion.

      I’m in a very social/let’s-go-for-drinks industry with basically all men and I survived. You’ll make it through, I promise!!!

      • I don’t think it even necessarily implies to the bartender that you’re pregnant. There are plenty of reasons why women and men might want non-alcoholic drinks that don’t look non-alcoholic.

    • Rainbow Hair :

      Will your partner be there? Get the same drink as him, then swap back and forth, so you’re each holding one, but he’s drinking both, slowly.

      Congrats!!

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      The only time I have noticed is when someone opts out of a toast when champagne is served. If that happens to you, accept the champagne, toast with it and pretend to sip or take an itty bitty sip.

      Also, don’t ask questions about if the cheese is pasteurized. If in doubt, just skip it. That’s how I guessed another person was pregnant.

    • Say you’re the driver.

    • Belle Boyd :

      You can always say you’re the designated driver. There is absolutely no shame in that at all.

    • When’s the last time you noticed who was and who wasn’t drinking at a big party? And if someone asks to get you a drink, just say “I’m good, thanks!”

      • I often notice if someone isn’t drinking. I don’t comment on it, but I do notice. I’m not sure why.

    • Cranberry and soda with a twist of lime looks like a “real” drink and tastes pretty good too. If anyone hears you order it and says anything just comment something along the lines of “Ugh, not tonight” as if perhaps you overdid it last night.

  31. What’s your system for capturing to-dos? I’m reading _Getting Things Done_ and was expecting some concrete ideas for the to-do list that I’m just not seeing. So – how do you capture the things that pop into your head when you’re chatting with your family at dinner/driving to work/working out/etc? I like having a written list at my desk, but that’s not super helpful when I’m mobile, running errands, etc. Anyone have something brilliant?

    • The Evernote app. I have a “Miscellaneous” note for random items I want to remember and a more specific “To Do” list. I also keep a separate grocery list.

    • Puddlejumper :

      I use a google drive doc. I just use the google doc app on my phone or pull it up on my computer. At the very top I have an “inbox” for things I random think of before I can sort them. Every night before I get ready for bed I go through the list and organize it to for tomorrow and sort all the random inbox items.

    • Lana Del Raygun :

      I use the generic notes app on my phone, but if you like having a written list, why not carry a small notebook?

    • I just send myself an email and then add it to my to do list on my desk when I get back. If it needs to be done sooner, I just switch my wedding ring to another finger as a reminder.

    • Baconpancakes :

      I have Siri remind me when I arrive at home so that I can put it in the right place (to-do list in Habitica, weekly goals/to-do list in my planner, etc).

    • I am a huge GTD fan, but the book is really shockingly unhelpful in terms of actually implementing the system. I would encourage you to stick with it and seek out blogs or other secondary sources for help in actually putting the system into use, because it really is life-changing!

      As far as a to-do list, the idea is that you always have a UCT (universal capture tool) available to you, whether it’s a notepad, voice memos on your phone, etc. and that they go to ONE trusted inbox. So you can use whatever tool works for you, but it has to end up in ONE place. And then you have to review your inbox (Weekly Review).

      There are lots of GTD friendly-apps. I’d pick one and just use it on my phone, so that your lists can get sorted in the GTD-context way (@Phone, @Agenda, @At home, etc.)

  32. Tips to get the mildew smell out of a wool coat? I stored mine in the basement, and it stinks. I washed it in the washing machine on the handwash cycle with fabric softener, Tide, and a detergent designed to remove smells. I then hung it to dry overnight. That reduced the smell, but its still somewhat pungent this morning.

    I read online that vinegar, baking soda, hot water etc may help, but I don’t want to use hot water as its wool. Any suggestions? Dry cleaner?

    • I had a similar situation for a floor rug in college – I Febreeze’d the heck out of it.

    • One delicate cycle with vinegar (1 cup per load) and then one with baking soda (1/2 cup per load)

      No detergent

      If this doesn’t do it, it probably can’t be fixed.

    • Vinegar works wonders on mildew smell. You might try spraying it on once the coat is dry, then hanging it outside.

    • Spritz it with Vodka (cheap is fine) and then hang it outside to dry.

      • Belle Boyd :

        I’ve heard this works really well — never tried it myself.

        Not sure where you’re at, but sometimes hanging something out in the sun will help kill odors. Of course, if you’re in the northeast where winter has set in, good luck with finding sunshine.

        • Anonymous :

          Unfortunately, I am in the Northeast, and its raining and cold today.

          I’m going to try the vinegar wash, and I’ll report back!

      • Full of ideas :

        Agree. I use 1 part water, 1 part vodka. Spritz and hang to dry (in sun if possible). Will be odor-free in a few hours.

  33. I wanted to get a little gift for a fairly new law grad, about $30, and was looking at business card holders. She’s vegan, so I didn’t want leather. Can anyone recommend one that’s cute and will hold up well? The smooth silver ones look like they will scratch.

    I really wanted to get her the Kate Spade Down to Business Initial Card Holder, but they are sold out of her initials everywhere.

    https://shop.nordstrom.com/s/kate-spade-new-york-down-to-business-initial-card-holder/4687574?country=US&currency=USD&cm_mmc=google-_-shopping_ret-_-674512778-_-33238417126_08da5209-83d8-4cdc-b524-f2a60d12bedc&cm_mmca1=aud-293636551325:pla-263040664028_12297839&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIjr-vsuyE2AIVS0sNCh16YA-yEAQYBCABEgIRhPD_BwE

    • Matt and Nat stuff is vegan and holds up well

    • Rainbow Hair :

      I use a lovely vintage-style cigarette case — it’s metal with enameled designs on it.

    • Eager Beaver :

      The Dagne Dover Signature Collection card cases (https://www.dagnedover.com/collections/card-case#BleeckerBlush) are coated canvas. I’ve been eying them for a while. You could get the card case and a matching key leash (https://www.dagnedover.com/collections/key-leash).

  34. Vodka spray?

  35. Ha, we had the bathroom convo last night. We have one shared upstairs “family” bathroom but it only has one sink. We have a master bath. We have a half bath on the main floor and are adding a full bath to our finished basement. Adding a third full bath upstairs (fourth overall) seems insane. We could expand the main bath upstairs, but it would mean taking what is now our laundry closet (washer/dryer/linen closet) and relocating that, probably to a main floor or downstairs in the basement. Yuck.

    I was one of two girls (we also had a brother) and while we fought over the bathroom, we also just got hair/makeup ready in our bedrooms. Is that not possible these days? Like, shower/bathe/GTFO and use your dryer, brush and 9,000 styling products in your bedroom?

    • Baconpancakes :

      Definitely teach your kid to do that in her room. I had a roommate who spent 45 minutes in the (single) bathroom every morning, blow-drying, straightening, and doing YouTube-tutorial level makeup. It’s slightly annoying to not have the sink to immediately clean makeup brushes or get your makeup sponge damp or whatever, but it’s incredibly rude to monopolize the bathroom to that level, and when your daughter gets to college, she’ll likely have to use hallway bathrooms anyway. Maybe buy her a magnified makeup mirror for the holidays that she can keep in her room?

    • Anonymous :

      My teenage daughter does hair and make up in her room. We set her up with a cute vintage-looking vanity (craigslist find), nice stool, and one of those make-up mirrors with the different lighting and magnifier, plus a serge protector for her tools (oh and almost learned the hard way that automatic shut off on heat tools is essential!)

  36. Anyone have thoughts/sizing/review info on the Eddie Bauer Sun Valley Down Parka? Thinking about pulling the trigger. I’m usually a medium up top, but am 5’3″ about 147 and carrying a little weight in my midsection. Think I’ll still be okay with the medium? Waffling between the petite and the regular because I’m long waisted but I should probably go that direction to get some shorter sleeves. Any thoughts appreciated!

    • I have this and LOVE it. I’m 5’3″ and 135lbs and got the medium. I also carry my weight in my mid-section and thought the medium left a little bit of room there. I’d go for it, but if there’s a big sale now, maybe order both the medium and the large and return one? Some find the coat to be unflattering because it’s straight down, but so am I so it works. It’s super warm and really cozy.

      • Thank you!! This is much appreciated. They are 50% off so I’m going to go for it. By chance do you remember if you got the petite medium or the regular medium?

        • Anonymous :

          Just looked it up — got the regular medium, and it works great for me. I will say that the fabric has a little more sheen to it than I realized, but I don’t mind it. Seriously warm coat! Love the details.

  37. Can someone explain (big picture) start ups and how their funding works esp in NOT tech spaces? Seems like every third person I know has started their own company. Some producing goods and services with some value and some that leave me wondering how they’ll ever monetize. I’ve been approached by someone from a former job (though not someone I was close with) re my interest in joining his start up. From what I can tell he has shared space (like a we work office), and has 4-5 employees. When I look at it though, seems like some of his employees are part time and some are college interns. Is that bc he just can’t yet pay 5 full time employees with benefits? Is there a way to figure out how funding works and how much he has? I know people always talk about “rounds” of funding but I don’t quite get what that means – are initial rounds easier to get than later ones or vice versa? I want to do my diligence from a distance so I can ask the right questions. He’s a bit of a talker/charismatic type so I can “rely” on him for education as he’d never admit challenges, would make it all sound perfect.

    • Totally depends. He could be bootstrapped/self funded and not taking a salary. He could have a few small investors in addition to his own $ (friends/family/angel). He could have early stage formal funding from a bank.

      He could have a client that signed on for a Dream and is using that to fund more.

      This is the sort of thing you should ask and not feel badly.

    • blueberries :

      In a round of funding, a company is valued and a group of investors contribute a certain amount of money for a given stake in the company. A first round of funding is more likely to be primarily friends and family money (not arms-length venture money). Well-regarded investors in the space are typically (but not always) a better sign than friends and family investors.

      Most start-up companies have little cash and therefore pay crap cash and benefits, but do award equity. If the company is successful, the equity may eventually more than make up for the crap cash comp. In most cases, equity will never make up for crap cash comp and will likely be worthless. If the company doesn’t have good legal advisors, it’s pretty easy to screw up equity comp, which can hurt the employee’s finances badly.

      Don’t be afraid to ask a ton of questions and ask more questions if the answers don’t make sense. I wouldn’t trust someone who was hand-wavy about details or tried to make me feel dumb for asking questions until I understood.

    • Anonymous :

      To give a more direct response, it’s most likely that he can’t pay 5 full-time employees with benefits. Startups in this situation often take on college interns. I’ll also second the response from blueberries for funding and compensation. Startups often give equity to compensate for smaller salaries, but if the startup fails, your equity is worth nothing.

  38. You guys. I just want commiseration. My Christmas present for my brother was stolen from our apartment building’s lobby (no doorman). It was the perfect present, and I haven’t been think excited to give someone a gift in years. It wasn’t expensive — but it’s now Out of Stock and not expected to be replenished.

    I know that the person who stole it probably needs it more than me, but I am thinking all sorts of negative things about this person.

    • If you got it from Amazon, it may not have been delivered yet. I read an article about workers marking it as delivered to meet the prime delivery dates and not get charged (can’t find online now).

      If not, maybe order it again- tell your brother it got stolen and present it to him a bit late.
      You could put a “no-questions asked” type flyer with a reward for a 20$ gift card in the lobby asking for the package back. I won’t generally recommend it because you’re literally rewarding a thief but if you’re attached to the gift/it would cost you to replace it anyway this may be a good option for you

    • Anonymous :

      Hope you are able to find something else in time! I’m sure that he will love whatever you give him! :)

  39. How do you all handle job searching over long periods of time. I separated from my firm a few months ago and I feel like every day has been the same. Any ideas on how to shake things up?

    • Would it help to change environments, like going to a coffee shop or something?

    • I would try setting a daily challenge – apply to 5 jobs, reach out to 3 contacts etc and then be done for the day. I think with long-term job searching, it’s especially difficult because there’s no “off time” because you aren’t done with your work at 5pm or on weekends etc. I would try sticking to the daily goal and take well-deserved breaks.

      Hope that helps

    • Break up your day with yoga or an exercise class, or whatever activity you genuinely enjoy doing and raises your spirits. Put it on your calendar and make yourself go (or meet a friend there if you can). Also, if you find that you have extra time on your hands, you might want to begin a project you’ve never had time for that would allow you to be creative and think about something other than job searching. I checked out a bunch of books from the library on interior decorating. It was inspiring and free. Also, podcasts can be great too.

  40. I’m looking for suggestions for jeans for my DH. He’s a casual dude who wears exclusively shorts. He needs a pair of jeans so he can “dress up” (he’s tech in Silicon Valley) in situations where shorts won’t fly. He hasn’t bought a pair of jeans in 5-8 years. He has a really skinny butt and legs and is 6-1 height. Probably does not want skinny jeans. Are there good brands for his body type?

    • Banana Republic Rapid Movement line. They are the only jeans my SO wears (also in tech and also hates skinnies). They are so stretchy you can literally squat in them, but the dark wash especially dresses up really well. Sizing is very consistent across washes too.

    • biglawanon :

      My husband is of a similar build and likes Lucky. I’d suggest getting a dark wash.

  41. Am I stuck in moderation? If so, my apologies for the repeat post.

    Just need to vent. Someone stole my Christmas present for my brother. Literally stole it. It was delivered to our apartment building and left by UPS on the foyer table. None of our neighbors took it accidentally. This is the fourth package that’s been stolen in two years.

    It wasn’t expensive (a male Forever 21 sweater), but it was the perfect gift given an inside joke — and now it’s out of stock.

    I’m sure that the person who stole the package needed it. I should be gracious. I should be charitable.

    But right now, I am wishing all the bad karma on them.

    • Our packages get stolen within about an hour of them being delivered to our house if we aren’t home to take them in immediately, so I commiserate with you. Don’t know how Forever 21 will handle it, but when we tell Amazon our package has been stolen they usually issue a refund.

    • Ugh, that is so frustrating. I’m sorry.

      Someone stole my daughter’s “big” xmas present a few years ago. I was so upset. I called the company that shipped it and they replaced it with express shipping, and I had it sent to my company’s mail room, which was a big no-no but I explained the situation to the mail room guy and he was very understanding. In the end, it arrived on christmas eve at 5PM, and I had both the shipper and the mail room guy absolutely on team Anon’s Daughter & they were checking in constantly to make sure it was gonna happen.

      I guess I tell this story to say, most people are good and nice but there are definitely some a-holes out there.

      Maybe check on eBay for the exact sweater? or call F21 and explain? Maybe they have low stock but not no stock?

    • Anonymous :

      What even is this “I should be gracious” nonsense? Someone committed a crime against you. You’re entitled to be mad. That person didn’t steal an unknown box because they “needed” it – they didn’t even know what it was! – they stole because they’re a jerk.

      ANYWAY. Yes contact the retailer and get a refund. Most retailers are pretty good about this. And if they’re not then write a scathing review. Sorry this happened to you.

  42. Anyone here have any experience being in a long distance marriage because of your or your spouse’s job? How long was the period of separation? How often were you able to see your spouse?
    Any advice or insights is greatly appreciated!

    • I had a long distance marriage during law school. DH loved his job, so he stayed in our city. I left during the school year for 3 years but came back over the summers. We saw each other twice a month because it was a short, inexpensive flight and DH had flexibility to work remotely periodically. We were young and childless so it worked out fine. It was hard being away from each other, though!

    • I have done this multiple times and I’m doing it now. Frequency of visits has varied from once ever 2-3 months to every weekend. Once he was a 3 hour drive away, and once I was literally on the other side of the world, so it varies. Right now we’re at about monthly. We’ve done probably 3 years at a stretch and we’re 1 year into another 3 year stretch. Also, sometimes it’s his career that makes this necessary and sometimes it’s mine.

      It depends on how long we’re talking, but my observation is that there’s a type of person who can do this for a stretch. We’re both very introverted, independent people, so while this is really not optimal, we’re not missing each other so much that it’s hard to function or anything. We’re also very career driven. We text throughout the day and facetime at night.

      Not my favorite thing, but completely doable. You need to be honest with yourself about what you need, though.

    • Anonymous :

      Yep, my husband is a professor and this is very common in his field. I don’t think we know any dual career couples in academia that haven’t done at least some long distance.
      We were bicoastal (CA-NY) long distance for two years while he did a postdoc. I chose not to move because it was only two years and by the time I’d taken the bar (I’m a lawyer) and found a job in the new state, his postdoc would have been at least half over. We were able to see each other for about one week at a time every month, which is a lot given the distance. This was due mostly to DH having a super flexible schedule (his institution let him teach a lot of classes that met only once a week so he could come out for 6 days at a time) and us having plenty of money for plane tickets due to my Big Law job. He also spent summers and his 4-week Christmas and 2-week spring breaks with me, so it wasn’t as bad as it initially sounds when you say “two years.” Honestly it wasn’t bad at all – I missed him of course but it allowed us to both throw ourselves into our careers in ways we probably wouldn’t have if we’d been living together. When we were apart we pretty much did nothing except work, which translated into a lot of career success for both of us. When we were together, we had to do some work of course, but we prioritized spending time together so it was really quality over quantity. I think it made our relationship stronger and my career would definitely have suffered if I’d moved with him and started over at that point (only to have to do the same thing two years later when he got a tenure-track job) so we really have no regrets.

    • JuniorMinion :

      I’m doing this now but only for 4-5 months. We see each other when we can (4 hr plane flight + 2 hr drive on my side) but its usually every couple weeks. I work 980s so I get every other friday off. Its definitely doable – I will say I was a person who lived alone in my early 20s and loved it so while I miss him, this is definitely a situation I already knew I was comfortable with.

    • We did it for nearly 9 years, after 12 months into dating , somehow managed to get married then spent the first 3 and a bit years of marriage living apart. At the beginning it could go 6-8 weeks without seeing each other. We had to get really good at speaking on the phone. We never thought it would last that long but we kept thinking about our long terms goals as a couple and that’s what got us through. It took some getting used to when we were finally living together and he was there every night (but was lovely, and is still lovely – now expecting our first child so we have used our time together wisely!).

    • Living Apart :

      I’m late to this thread and not sure if you are checking. But I am doing this right now, different countries but same time zone, 3 hour flight away. We have been averaging visits every 2 months or so. I’m learning to plan for the transitions – the hardest parts are usually right before leaving each other, partly because we hold off on discussing important matters until the end of a visit so as to not “ruin” our time together and partly because I have a tendency to pick fights as a way of creating distance when my abandonment issues are triggered. I don’t advise this. Regular communication is key, and not just about the easy or day-to-day stuff. Keeping the bigger picture in mind of why we are doing this, and revisiting the question occasionally, is important. Not sure if this applies to you but be honest with yourself about whether this is a temporary separation but you are still very much together or whether this is a trial separation where you are seeing how it goes. Plan for the expense, both financial and time wise. Have a standard answer ready to give to friends, family and colleagues who ask why you are apart, preferably one that doesn’t invite follow up questions.

  43. Has anyone dealt with anything like this?

    I’ve been dealing with symptoms for a couple years that therapy and meds haven’t addressed. My psychologist was amazing for talk therapy, and we checked those boxes, so I moved onto my GP, and later, a psychiatrist, for meds. While the psychiatrist is great (and takes insurance!!), she is not at all interested in really discussing things, and so I’m normally in and out of her office with a refilled prescription in 15 minutes or less.

    The problem is this: Mentally, cognitively, I feel scattered and forgetful and fuzzy headed, like my mind is kind of like that cloud that follows Pig Pen from Peanuts. The scattered and disordered-ness is stressful and it sort of creates a loop where it gets worse, particularly at work where I feel out of my league. I know anxiety and depression can cause these things, but I feel ok *emotionally* and have for over a year now, so I’m not sure that it’s anxiety and depression. The scattered-ness has remained through a series of anti-depressants. I’ve had basic lab tests and everything is normal for vitamins and such.

    Have any of you dealt with anything like this? I’d love to move past this and get my mind back.

    • anon for this :

      This is SUPER common! Talk therapy is rarely something you do, check off the boxes, and are done with, as life changes and triggers happen and all that jazz. Your psychiatrist is clearly not the right fit for talk therapy but the meds seem to still be potentially useful. Best bet? Make an appt. with your therapist (since it seems you liked them), make a plan, and go from there. You may find that talk therapy with meds is best for you, even if the visits become less frequent during easier times, or you may work together to figure out whether you can keep talk therapy and taper off the meds (never do this without professional guidance as some have super scary side effects). Sending gentle hugs!

      • Oh gosh, sorry, mental fog means I didn’t explain well. There’s nothing “wrong” that I’d need talk therapy for – I love my job (just run of the mill work insecurities, ya know?), my family’s great, I have an adorable dog…overall, life is really good. I would literally have nothing to say to a psychologist other than, “Hey, my head’s foggy and I can’t think clearly.” What I meant to express in my original post…but forgot because that’s the way things go for me…is that maybe I’m not using the right words with her? Maybe there’s another description that someone else here has experienced that could help me frame it for my doctor so that I can help her have a light bulb moment?

    • Are you sure this isn’t a side effect of antidepressants? This could have many causes, but it’s certainly a very noticeable side effect of several drugs I’ve taken. I’m definitely not suggesting that you stop taking them, but it could be worth considering a dosage change or just accepting that it’s a cost of drugs that make you feel a lot better and not something that you should blame yourself for, just work with the best you can.

    • Rainbow Hair :

      When I started on Wellbutrin, I had massive aphasia — like I would be at payless on the phone with my mom and saying, “um I’m looking at… damn it… you know, I’m looking at… shoes. I’m looking at shoes.” It was bizarre and very noticeable and my doctor said it should go away after a week or two, and if not to come back in. It has gone away, largely, for me, but that experience makes me think that maybe what you’re dealing with is something like that?

    • It sounds like there might be a medical/neurological cause for this, rather than an emotional one. Maybe thyroid? It can cause a sluggish/cloudy-headed feeling. So can low vitamin D (I take a 5000 iu supplement twice a week which helps energy and alertness for me). I’d do some research on this, as what counts as medically normal is not often normal for women. Maybe get a second opinion from a doctor. If nothing comes of it, take vitamins, hit the gym, maybe try whole 30 in case it is food-based.

    • Anonymous :

      It’s called brain fog and it’s a common symptom of depression and anxiety, as well as the drugs that treat those. Unfortunately, my psychiatrist said it’s hard to treat unless you get rid of the source of the anxiety and depression (which in my case is not possible). She suggested meditation.

  44. Holiday etiquette? :

    I’m going home with my SO for Christmas for the first time this year (with a caveat.) He’s one of five, and the entire family + most of their extended family will be there. The caveat is that we dated in high school, so I have met all these people before, but many of them have not seen in 11+ years (we are from a small town, so I’ve probably seen a couple of them in passing at another high school graduation.)

    What is appropriate to take? Alcohol is out — would something like a nice bottle of olive oil be an appropriate hostess gift? (my mother lives about 10 minutes down the road but we’ll be staying with his folks.) I was going to take some cookies, too (a specific fun recipe I make and have won a couple contests with/sell as a side business.) — I’m guessing I wouldn’t be expected to take gifts for all the siblings, right?

    Thanks for any tips! I am nervous but excited.

    • Woah you aren’t staying with your mom?!?

      I’d go a bit bigger on the gifts. Send fliers ahead of time, do a big basket of goodies.

      • Holiday etiquette? :

        You couldn’t pay me to stay with my mother, but we are going to see her at one point.

      • Never too many shoes... :

        Did you mean “send flowers”? I spent a few minutes thinking how weird it would be for her to send fliers (or flyers) for her side cookie business and then bring them with her.

        • Anonymous :

          I interpreted it as fliers for her side business too and thought it was such a weird suggestion. Flowers makes way more sense, although I think it would be overkill.

    • Here’s how I’d break it down: 1) a “thanks for letting us stay with you” gift for his parents, 2) presents as necessary for Christmas morning for whoever will also be at SO’s parents house (discuss with SO), and 3) an edible contribution to the big family gathering (I’m guessing there is one?).

      I met my now-fiance’s family back in May for his grandmother’s 85th bday. Something like 45 members of the extended family were gathered. I made banana bread for his parents as a hostess gift and a pound cake for the big family potluck gathering.

      Olive oil is a good choice if you know she’d use it. Personally, I’m just a grocery store brand girl myself, so I don’t know that I’d appreciate it as much as I should.

    • I think the olive oil and cookies are perfect! I would not bring gifts for his family. I think even though you know them if you haven’t seen them in 11+ years you can treat it the same you would any other introductory Christmas with a new SO as far as gift giving is concerned.

    • Anonymous :

      Is SO giving gifts to his family? Can those gifts be from both of you? I would not set the expectation early in the relationship that I am buying separate gifts for all these people. His family, his emotional labor.

    • Since that’s enough time for everyone to change and grow, I would act as if you are just meeting these people for the first time but to say “it’s great to see you” at meeting (so you’re covered if they realize they’ve met you before and they don’t feel bad if they later find out they met you but didn’t remember it). I would bring cookies on a dish that’s disposable or not important to you (so no worries about getting it back or the like). I might even do two kinds or three (or mix homemade and store bought) so it’s indicative of effort more than like a pot-luck at work (but I love to bake so maybe that’s just me). I wouldn’t bring anything more, nothing would be expected, especially since bf is likely gifting people so it’ll be assumed to be from you both (since women are often the gift buyers in relationships). If there will be lots of kids, you could always get a few cheap card games and put it in a nice basket or something for the kids to play while adults are socializing (though totally not necessary as they’ll likely have gifts to play with too, but maybe this if you felt certain you wanted to bring something). I might, however, drop off a small hostess gift and a handwritten thank you note after you have left from the end of the visit (whether you drop it off by leaving it there on the bed after you leave (for them to find when changing the bedding or mail something upon return).

      Hope this helps!

  45. Swallowing my pride :

    I read with interest last week’s thread about a diving in-house legal career and the need to take a poorly perceived job next month. The replies were sensible but I completely understood the feeling of sadness and fear as to future career aspirations.

    I agreed to follow a great job opportunity for my husband to the other side of the world. For a month after the decision was made I suffered a terrible sense of loss of family, friends, home and job. I have a new home, but for over a year now I have had no life of my own. Family is thousands of miles away and although I have met people it takes time to make friends and I have no one I can call on to meet up with socially. I am most struggling with the lack of job as it not only impacts my sense of self-esteem but also means that I am completely isolated. Applying for jobs means I am home alone at the computer day in and day out.

    I have a good degree from the top ranked university globally and I then obtained further qualifications. I worked in law for over 20 years and held senior roles including at the largest global professional services firm. Despite this, I’ve been told many times that the country in which I’ve found myself is “parochial” and skills and experience gained overseas count for nothing here. I cannot even get interviews as I have “no local experience”. I’ve been open-minded as to whether I work full time, part time, in contract roles or in interesting volunteer positions but have made no progress. I knew I was leaving a job but did not realise that I was abandoning my career and that makes me very sad.

    From reading the thread from the other day, I now realise that I need to swallow my pride. I no longer have the status I had before but I need to get out there, earn my own money and be amongst other people. People here have said that I “might” be considered for administrative roles so those are the ones I’m now applying for. I’m specifically looking for the advertised jobs which pay the least. I’m finding it difficult to express my administrative experience but am doing my best in application forms and in covering letters.

    Should I also make major changes to my resume? Or are organisations happy to see people with senior experience apply for the most junior positions available? For example, I could remove all prior role titles but leave the organisations.

    I found this blog when I felt isolated following the move and am grateful to the people who participate and allow me to feel part of a community. Thank you!

    • Anonymous :

      Not sure if you’ll get this, but I’m sorry this is happening to you.

      However, instead of applying for entry level positions, why don’t you spend more time and get a feel of what employers actually want and tailor your resume to the appropriate job postings? (aka postings that recognize your 20 years of experience)

      Perhaps you need to talk to more people. People who actually work in the field and can give you dependable opinions? Perhaps you are not marketing yourself with the right language?

    • Anonymous :

      This is a long shot, but are you in Japan by any chance?

      • Swallowing my pride :

        No, similar time zone though, hence the difficulty in posting during the US working day!

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