Carolyn Hax: Family potlucks include a healthy serving of benevolence
08/26/2014 12:00 AM
08/25/2014 12:03 PM
While I’m away, readers give the advice.
On expecting others to rally to your cause: Over a decade ago, my dear wife’s family started a tradition that could be a wonderful and inspiring tradition for others with a cause. The matriarch of my wife’s family (their father died years before) was going blind and needed a cornea transplant in order to save her sight. Not having the funds, her extended family came together in a potluck reunion during which they auctioned off items (to each other) created by each family or individual, and the money went to a well-known eye clinic in support their mother’s surgery.
Since that time, the families support various charities through their yearly reunion auction: for wounded veterans, a Down syndrome network, and other wonderful causes. People would likely find support for their charities if, in other years, family members were able to select their own cause’s financial support. This can do a lot to bring families together in a mutual interest, create a positive environment of giving and provide the joy of simply having fun together.
On paternity leave arrangements that get fathers involved: After the births of both of our children, my husband was able to work out an arrangement with his offices to take his paternity leave by getting to work late and leaving early for about a month, instead of taking off one or two weeks completely. This meant he was able to provide continuity at his job during the entire period, but could let me sleep in and relieve me around 4 o’clock in the afternoon.
This was great help to me, and it made him feel necessary. He also was able to attach to our girls without being exhausted after a full day of work. It worked well both times. I appreciated his employers’ ability to give him that flexibility.
On choosing not to react when the spouse of a friend hits on you: A close friend’s popular, charismatic husband “hit on me” decades ago. I just laughed and acted as though I did not believe him when he started telling me all the sad parts of his marriage and acting too familiar with me verbally. He got nowhere, and I treated it like a big joke.
I acted naturally when I saw both of them later, he acted naturally, and all went well. They had a good, long and happy marriage and seven children. He was an excellent husband, and she loved him dearly.
He died, and, to this day, she never knew how boorish he acted toward me. She and I are still close. In short, in retrospect, my treating it lightly took him off the hook, and harmed no one.
Baton Rouge, La.
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