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Dear Harriette by Harriette Cole

DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m trying to avoid spending Christmas with my family members because I cannot afford to get them presents. My family is big on giving gifts, but this year has been really tough for me, and I won’t be able to afford to buy something for everyone. I am already being hounded about where and how I will spend the holidays and what I want for Christmas. I don’t want to avoid them completely, but I would feel so bad about myself for showing up to Christmas empty-handed. What should I do? — Can’t Afford Gifts

DEAR CAN’T AFFORD GIFTS: Now is the time for transparency. It would be a shame for you to miss being with your family because you are low on funds. The past nearly
two years have been extremely hard on many people, thanks to a range of repercussions from the pandemic. Thousands of people lost their jobs or suffered reduced income. Many businesses closed. It is taking time for everyone to recover. If there ever was a time for loved
ones to have compassion about your plight in
life, that time is now.

Contact key family members, including whoever would be considered the leader of the family, and explain your situation. Be
specific and include your trepidation about showing up empty-handed.

I recommend that you buy or make a card for each family member
and include a heartfelt sentiment directed to
that person individually. Express your love for them and keep it moving. Go and be with your family with your head held high!

My friends and I share locations with each other through the Find My Friends app. I don’t usually pay too much attention to the app except when my friends and I are planning to meet up with each other. A few weeks ago, I noticed one of my girlfriends at
the apartment complex where her ex-boyfriend lives. Her ex treated her terribly, and she promised me she would not see nor speak to him again. Should I confront her about this? It’s clear that she’s been lying. — Friend’s Location

DEAR FRIEND’S LOCATION: Rather than calling her out and using her location as evidence, check in with her. Do it
in person if possible. Ask her how she has been doing and what she has been doing. Ease into
the topic by listening to her carefully. If you can, allow the conversation to unfold naturally. Ask her if she’s dating. You can also ask her if she has seen
her ex. Let her tell you if she chooses to reveal her reconnection with him.

As much as you may want to call out your friend for visiting her ex, I suspect that will backfire. If she is seeing him again, your reprimand will not make a difference, and if you tell her you caught her at his place by using the app, she may delete herself from your friend group there. Then if there ever is a serious problem or need for you to know her location, you will have lost that connection. She is an adult. You

have to let her be.

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