DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: My neighbours have lit up their yard so bright with blinding Christmas lights I had to buy blackout curtains to get to sleep at night. I am so mad! I put the bill in a Christmas card in their mailbox with "Merry Freakin' Christmas," on it this morning and explained the reason I wanted payment. This afternoon I got the card and bill back, ripped in pieces in my mailbox. Now what? -- Furious With Neighbours, St. Vital
Dear Furious: Now, you just let this fight go. Your bedroom windows are darkly covered for the two months necessary. It's all part of the cost of living when you live in a neighborhood close to others. Sometimes living next door to other people will cost a bit of money to maintain privacy. Since you want lots of that, next spring you might plant pyramidal cedars across the side of the house -- they can be taller than a fence. In the meantime, relax and let your blood pressure go down. Christmas is over in a month.
DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: My friend is 22 -- a newlywed we'll call Wendy -- and now she's an orphan. Her dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer, so we bumped up her wedding so she could dance with her father. We invited all her family and everything was wonderful. Then her dad went into the hospital and people started getting mean. Her uncle told her it was her fault her father was sick because she moved out and got married. Her aunt told her that her husband isn't a part of their family and the bride's father had hated her new husband. (If he didn't like the new husband, why would he have gifted his wedding ring to him?) And her mom's mother, who has never been friendly, said, "You looked fat at your wedding." And she wonders why she wasn't invited to the wedding. "One day you're going to need my money," she said.
After her dad died Wendy was uninvited to the funeral. We went anyway, but she was shunned. No one sat with her and her husband because (to quote her mother) she needs to "learn respect." How do we show them it's wrong to treat people this way? Moving out and getting married did not cause her father's death. Please help. -- About to Roundhouse Kick An Entire Family
Dear Roundhouse Kick: You can't fix people who are unreasonable and looking for someone to blame for loss of a loved one. Your friend's best bet is the geographic cure: getting far away from this nasty pack of people who haven't even learned the social grace of back-biting -- instead they bit her right in her face.
There is no hope for fixing this group so she must build a chosen family out of her kinder friends. A good way to start would be to have a Christmas party at her house or invite friends to join her and her husband for a potluck or a holiday dinner celebration at a funky inexpensive restaurant that will be more fun than a family-of-origin Christmas by far.
Please send your questions or comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org or mail letters to Miss Lonelyhearts c/o Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6