Sec­ond thoughts over two-fam­ily va­ca­tion

The Buffalo News - - LIFE & ARTS - –J. – Not Griev­ing at All

Dear Carolyn: We have been best friends with an­other cou­ple for 12 years. Each fam­ily has a daugh­ter. Al­though we had to re­lo­cate an hour and a half away, we still get to­gether monthly.

I asked them if they would want to rent a larger ve­hi­cle this sum­mer and take a joint fam­ily driv­ing va­ca­tion. They liked the idea.

Now we are find­ing dif­fer­ences in how each fam­ily va­ca­tions. We like down­town ho­tels, they like book­ing a house on­line. We like fine din­ing, they go food court. We’d pre­fer a cou­ple of days at the beach for our daugh­ter, they sug­gested a so­cial jus­tice day. I am a be­liever in po­lite, di­rect con­ver­sa­tion, but am at a to­tal loss as to how to scotch this va­ca­tion idea. I think it could hurt our friend­ship and I feel like a to­tal heel.

Carolyn Hax

Why can’t you al­ter­nate? Each fam­ily en­joys half this road trip as pre­ferred, and half try­ing the other fam­ily’s way.

Or, one-third your way, one-third theirs, one-third sep­a­rate ways, since a shared ve­hi­cle doesn’t pre-empt your choos­ing dif­fer­ent things at any given des­ti­na­tion. (And giv­ing each other some air.)

I don’t know. I don’t think it’s that hard to back out of the va­ca­tion, if that’s what you re­ally want. Just be lov­ing, re­spect­ful and frank, and raise it as a con­ver­sa­tion topic vs. a fait ac­com­pli – “For best friends, we seem to have wildly dif­fer­ent va­ca­tion styles. What do you think, are we forc­ing some­thing here?” They might even be re­lieved.

But I find it hard to be­lieve you’ve never thor­oughly en­joyed do­ing some­thing you wouldn’t other­wise have planned for your­self – es­pe­cially with peo­ple whose com­pany you go out of your way to keep.

We can get so much of what we want streamed or served to us ex­actly when we want it, and mid­dle-class-and-up kids es­pe­cially have known lit­tle else; is our will­ing­ness to be flex­i­ble the price we’re pay­ing for that? If this were my va­ca­tion, I might treat it as a chance to re-learn how to bend.

Dear Carolyn: My fa­ther is dy­ing af­ter a life­time of being the bully of the fam­ily. Af­ter one aw­ful episode, he and I didn’t speak for five won­der­ful years; he ended the es­trange­ment when he needed my ex­per­tise.

As you can imag­ine, I’m not sad he’s dy­ing, I just wish he would fi­nally die. But how do I ac­cept the con­do­lences of those who re­ally do love their fa­thers? I’ve tried say­ing thank you, but I don’t feel hon­est. But peo­ple re­ally don’t need to hear about what a rat he was when they’re try­ing to be nice. What should I say?

A “thank you” isn’t for the ac­cu­racy of their con­cern, but for the fact of it.

So, you can hon­estly say, “Thank you for ____”: being nice, car­ing, your kind words, think­ing of me. When the truth is too messy for your lik­ing, a truth is per­fectly ap­pro­pri­ate.

My con­do­lences for hav­ing a bully where a fa­ther ought to have been.

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