Dear Abby

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT - Abi­gail Van Buren Dear Abby is writ­ten by Abi­gail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Con­tact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los An­ge­les, CA 90069. To or­der “How to Write Letters f

Girl­friend ex­pects to see fire­works when her par­ents meet his.

DEAR ABBY: I have been with “Tom” for two years, and I sus­pect that he will be propos­ing soon. He is 27 and I’m 24. Here’s the prob­lem: He wants our par­ents to meet be­fore he asks.

Abby, I have put this off be­cause I’m sure they will have noth­ing in com­mon. My par­ents are small-busi­ness own­ers and con­ser­va­tive. His par­ents are pot-smok­ing swingers – lit­er­ally.

How do I pre­pare my par­ents (and my­self) for what I ex­pect to be a tense and un­com­fort­able meet­ing? Should I sug­gest talk­ing points? Should I fill my par­ents in on what is to come? I want this to go as smoothly as pos­si­ble. I would ap­pre­ci­ate any wis­dom you may have. – NO WORDS ON THE WEST COAST

DEAR NO WORDS: Your dilemma re­minds me of the plot from the movie “Meet the Fock­ers.”

I’m sure the one thing your par­ents WILL have in com­mon is a de­sire for you and your boyfriend to be happy to­gether. Build­ing on that, you and Tom should talk to your folks and pre­pare them for the en­counter. Try­ing to hide or min­i­mize their dif­fer­ences would do no good be­cause they will soon be­come ob­vi­ous. Do not waste your time or energy pre­par­ing “talk­ing points” for Tom’s par­ents, be­cause if they show up stoned, they prob­a­bly wouldn’t be able to re­mem­ber them.

DEAR ABBY: Three months ago, my sis­ter “Diane” said she would like to get the fam­ily to­gether for some pro­fes­sional fam­ily photos. The pho­tog­ra­pher she chose was avail­able only on one par­tic­u­lar day. Un­for­tu­nately, my hus­band couldn’t get off from work that day.

Diane then sug­gested we take the pic­tures with­out him. I said it was in­ap­pro­pri­ate and re­fused. When I asked if we could use a dif­fer­ent pho­tog­ra­pher at another time, my sis­ter told me to for­get the whole thing.

To­day I was vis­it­ing my par­ents and I saw the fam­ily photos – taken with­out me, my hus­band and our child. I had no idea they had gone ahead and taken the pic­tures with­out us. I am an­gry and hurt. I’m es­pe­cially mad at my mom be­cause she knew how both­ered I was that Diane sug­gested ex­clud­ing my hus­band.

Am I jus­ti­fied in feel­ing this way? Should they have waited un­til the whole fam­ily was able to get to­gether? Or should I suck it up and not ex­pect ev­ery­one to ac­com­mo­date my hus­band’s

work sched­ule? – OUT OF THE PIC­TURE IN HOUS­TON

DEAR OUT OF THE PIC­TURE: Yes, yes and yes.

DEAR ABBY: Un­til my daugh­ter was 18, we did all the tra­di­tional birth­day cel­e­bra­tions. On her 18th birth­day, she turned the ta­bles say­ing, although she was born on that day, I had done all the work of giv­ing her life.

Now, at her re­quest, we spend her spe­cial day cel­e­brat­ing each other. She takes me to din­ner and buys me flow­ers, and I let her. And now on my spe­cial day, I do the same for my own mother.

This has be­come a tra­di­tion, and my grand­chil­dren now fol­low it. The only gift nec­es­sary is the time we give each other. – AP­PRE­CI­ATED IN IDAHO

DEAR AP­PRE­CI­ATED: I like your daugh­ter’s idea very much. It makes per­fect sense to me. In my opin­ion, what makes any hol­i­day spe­cial is the time peo­ple who care about one another spend cel­e­brat­ing to­gether.

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