Dear Annie: Recently, I invited my best friend, “Evan,” and his family of four to join my family at a popular out-of-state theme park. Our children are similar ages, and we have always gotten along well even though we live in different states.
My wife and I are members of a vacation program and offered to use our hotel points to save Evan a great deal of money. We didn’t expect anything in return, but we had discussed how much fun we’d have together. This didn’t happen. Evan and his family ignored us, made no effort to interact with my wife or children, and had other friends and family join them at the resort and in our shared rooms. They frequently went their own way in the theme park and were distant during the rare times that we were together. The final insult occurred on the last day, when they simply left the resort without saying goodbye or even thanking us for the stay.
Clearly, Evan took advantage of our kindness, and interactions since indicate that his family is oblivious to their behavior. Are we wrong to have expected them to spend time with us? Evan and I have a long history, and I want to preserve the friendship. I prefer to drop this issue, while my wife wants to wash our hands of these people completely. Is there a tactful way to address this and salvage the friendship?
— No Explanation Given
Dear No: The friendship you are trying to preserve is the one between you and Evan, so let your wife know that she is off the hook. Even if there is some reason for their rude behavior, that is not an excuse. They also were unappreciative of your generosity, although that may have created some awkwardness that contributed to the problem.
It’s fine for you to remain in contact with Evan, but don’t plan any more vacation trips. If Evan should bring up the possibility of getting the families together again, simply say that he and his kids seemed uninterested in spending time with you before, so you think it’s best not to repeat the experience.
Dear Annie: I’m 26 years old, happily married and have a beautiful 2-year-old daughter. My oldest brother is an alcoholic. He was in a terrible auto accident last year and nearly died. I don’t want to enable him by continuing to welcome him into my life.
I’ve tried to explain this to my parents and my sister, but my words fall on deaf ears. Last month, my brother and I got into an argument at my parents’ house because he is jealous that I have a better relationship with his children than he does. It ended with me saying, “Stay out of my life.”
Now, I’m the black sheep of the family while the others still welcome my brother with open arms. I love him, but I can’t deal with watching him kill himself. Am I wrong to walk away?
— Loving Sister in Missouri
Dear Sister: This isn’t about right or wrong. It’s about what you can live with. Tell your parents that you are contacting Al-Anon (al-anon.alateen.org) because you want to do what’s best for your brother and also for your family. It will help you deal with your brother and at the same time let your parents know that you care about him.
Dear Annie: “Sticky” said she’s having a hard time in Florida because people don’t use their air conditioning. We moved to Florida 40 years ago. It took us a couple of years to get acclimated, and our electric bill was an incentive to be moderate with the thermostat.
A few years ago, we moved from humid Florida to bone-dry Arizona, and that has been a harder adjustment. Not everyone has the same definition of comfortable.
— Old Man Gone West
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