At weddings the stratospheric expectations and high emotions can be combustible. At Christmas the tangible evidence of how people value each other can be hurtful. If you’re lucky, at Thanksgiving the worst that happens is Uncle Abner undoes his belt at the table and later everyone falls into a carbohydrate-induced stupor. But having Nancy’s mother at Thanksgiving is like putting a firecracker in the stuffing. If you don’t want to look this woman in the face, then tell your friend you’re going to volunteer at a soup kitchen. Given that Nancy has her mother for a mother, and also has a father who is dying, it would be more considerate, however, for you to spend the holiday with your friend, who could surely use your support. Nancy will have enough on her plate besides Thanksgiving dinner, and there’s no need for you to fill her in on the extent of her mother’s extracurricular activities. Your father shouldn’t have confided in you, especially the cringe-inducing fact that the romance started with complaints about a desperately sick spouse. So try to forget what you never should have known, and be thankful Nancy’s mother is not yours.
My husband and I have a close group of friends and family, and our children have all grown up together. We are all in our 30s and 40s and for the most part lead successful and ordinary lives, except for the fact that most of us are regular marijuana smokers. I smoke only on rare occasions, but my husband smokes daily, as do the majority of our friends. We understand that it is illegal and take as much care as possible to limit our risks. It is so normal in my world that I really don't think about it much. Recently, however, one of our friends told us that his 13-year-old son caught him smoking and was pretty upset about it. He told his son that he knew it was wrong and promised to quit (which, of course, he won't do). His son will likely tell my 14-year-old son all about it, and my son is no dummy. What do we say when he asks if we smoke, too? My husband wants to deny it, but do you think we should just be honest?
Dear Mary Jane,
You should assume your friend’s son has already told your son. And a 14-year-old does not have to do too much sniffing around to conclude his father is a pothead. If you think daily pot smoking is fine for adults, I don’t understand why you’re considering lying. Maybe it’s because you’d prefer that your son didn’t grow up to do as you do. I agree that our drug laws are ludicrous and destructive. But however much you think you’re minimizing your risks, you two run the chance of ending up in jail and destroying your family. As you’re contemplating what to say to your son, have your husband try an experiment in which he doesn’t smoke pot for a week. If he can’t do it, that should tell you both something. Maybe the message is he needs some help, and that you also should expand your circle of friends. If your son asks about your pot use, you should own up to it and be honest enough to say you hope he never starts, because you both don’t want him to end up with a habit like that of his father, who can’t stop.
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