Hold the ham

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - YOUR DAILY BREAK - An­nie Lane

It’s al­most the hol­i­days, and I’m ex­cited to spend time and en­joy great meals with ex­tended fam­ily. But there’s one thing I’m never sure how to deal with. I’m ve­gan, and the rest of my fam­ily is not. That wouldn’t be a prob­lem, ex­cept ev­ery time I have din­ner with them, my aunts, un­cles and el­der cousins have a laun­dry list of ques­tions for me: “Why are you ve­gan?” “What’s wrong with dairy?” “How do you get pro­tein?”

The only ques­tion that re­ally gives me pause is the “why” one. I’m per­fectly fine with the fact that my fam­ily mem­bers eat meat, and I wouldn’t ques­tion them about it or pres­sure them. Yet they put me in an un­com­fort­able po­si­tion, as I feel awk­ward talk­ing about why I find it cruel to eat meat while they’re in the mid­dle of en­joy­ing their meal. It makes me feel bad and guilty. I don’t want to ruin their ap­petites or seem in any way as if I’m judg­ing them. I’ve told them, “I’d rather not talk about it right now. It will gross ev­ery­one out.” And they in­sist they want to know and can han­dle it. (Of course, they al­ways seem to for­get by the fol­low­ing year, be­cause they end up ask­ing me all the same stuff again.)

Is there any­thing I can po­litely say to pre­vent a game of 20 ques­tions this year, or do I just need to suck it up? — Tired of Talk­ing About


They’re ask­ing, so you shouldn’t feel guilty for giv­ing them an­swers. Per­haps spare them the gory de­tails, but do be hon­est. I think th­ese con­ver­sa­tions will feel less tire­some once you let go of the fear of of­fend­ing them. They’re sim­ply cu­ri­ous. Give thanks for the op­por­tu­nity to share some­thing you’re pas­sion­ate about with re­cep­tive rel­a­tives.

My clos­est friend has de­cided to have a des­ti­na­tion wed­ding, which is caus­ing me some de­gree of an­guish. Not be­ing a fan of this type of wed­ding, I am trou­bled about my ex­penses and, more so, by the lack of re­spect for guests. We have to spend $3,500 for a week­end to share this mo­ment, and this is ex­pected from me be­cause of our close re­la­tion­ship. I would like not to at­tend, but I am sure that this would mean a sig­nif­i­cant change in, if not the end of, my re­la­tion­ship with my friend. For the record, I am a man, and my friend is a wo­man. Does this gen­der dif­fer­ence have any­thing to do with our dif­fer­ing views of fi­nan­cial prac­ti­cal­ity? — Debt-sti­na­tion Wed­ding

No, this isn’t a gen­der thing. No rea­son­able per­son, male or fe­male, should ex­pect loved ones to shell out that much cash to at­tend a wed­ding.

Ac­cord­ing to the most re­cent Amer­i­can Ex­press sur­vey data, the av­er­age guest will spend $673 on a wed­ding — a hefty enough chunk of change. That your friend is ask­ing you to spend over five times that is ab­surd.

Talk to her about your con­cerns. Tell her that you con­sider her one of your clos­est friends and want to be there for her big day but that you just can’t af­ford it. It’s un­for­tu­nate, but she should ex­pect that some peo­ple won’t be able to make such an ex­pen­sive trip. That was her (and her part­ner’s) choice. If she stops be­ing friends with you over that, she wasn’t too good of a friend to be­gin with.

. I think th­ese con­ver­sa­tions will feel less tire­some once you let go of the fear of of­fend­ing them.

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